October 26, 2006

Vandalizing the Mosque

Posted in Iramville at 3:07 pm by Iram

I have been in Lubbock only nine weeks, yet over this short time I have developed a deep admiration for the Muslim community in this small city. After living in Houston for 19 years I always assumed that every Muslim community was split into factions with widely differing points of view. In Houston we have mosques that are predominantly Arab, mosques that are predominantly Pakistani, mosques that are predominantly for Africans, mosques that are predominantly for converts, and mosques that serve as a catchall for everyone else. At the Rice University MSA, on whose board I served as President, we had two polar factions that were determined to pull everyone in the middle towards either the liberal or the conservative side. It’s sad to think about the Muslim Ummah being divided into these superficial categories, but I’ve seen it happen time and time again. Even within the defined groups we consistently had bickering and fighting over when to start Ramadan, when to celebrate Eid (we always have two of each Eid), and whether going to the Eid Mela is haram or not.

Amidst all of this discontent I left Houston and found myself in the middle of the Muslim community of Lubbock, where I have yet to feel as if I am a new member. Everyone here is warm and welcoming. I go to prayers and have learned to not be surprised that I, a Pakistani, would be standing in the prayer line next to a Syrian and an Egyptian, behind a new convert from Mexico and catty-corner to an American lady. The mosque does it’s best to support all of the community members, as evidenced by the close ties between members of the community and the mosque as well as the connections between the mosque and the Muslim Students’ Association (one of the most important ties as the MSA represents the future of the Muslim Ummah). The Muslims of Lubbock, many of whom are doctors, do their best to give back to their surrounding community as well, as I recently witnessed in the form of a $750 check to the South Plains Food Bank during the MSA’s Fast-A-Thon two weeks ago. Being a part of this small, but close-knit, group has helped me find a place within my religion. Until this point I always felt that something was amiss: we were practicing a religion of peace and solidarity but could not maintain unity within our own community. In Lubbock I have found the type of Muslim community that I always wished we had in Houston.

Looking at this community from my perspective, it saddens me deeply that anybody could be so ignorant as to deface the new Mosque that has just recently been constructed. I was not around to see the first few vandalizations of the mosque, during which, as I understand, much more significant damage was done. But even though this time the only damage was a bit of spray paint that can easily be washed away or painted over, it will leave a deep scar. Despite everything that the Muslim community does for Lubbock, there are groups that are able to ignore all of those facts and act simply out of spite or misconceptions and deface our place of worship. It is disheartening in a way, because it shows that no matter what we as individuals or as a community do, we will never be able to erase all of the ignorance and hatred that prevail in this part of the country.

October 14, 2006

Taboo

Posted in Randumb at 1:33 am by Iram

I think that somebody needs to invent a new game of Taboo – one especially for medical students. At Game Night tonight there were certainly incidences where being a medical student made it too easy to answer some of the questions because the anatomy vocabulary at our dispense is nowhere near what the developers of Taboo could have imagined as possible word choices to put on their cards of taboo words. I mean, who else besides a med student would ever come up with using “orbicularis oris” to talk about the word “whistle”?

October 12, 2006

Traumatizing situations

Posted in Iramville, Randumb at 2:22 pm by Iram

We’re only eight weeks into our first year of medical school, but many of the members of our class have already experienced traumatizing situations that will probably remain with them the rest of their lives, and will likely be the stories they tell their grandchildren about their medical school experiences:

1. Being splashed as your cadaver falls too quickly into a tank of old formaldehyde and thrice-used cadaver juice

2. Having to deal with a leaky rectum that wasn’t tied tightly enough when the intestines were pulled out of the abdomen (yes, cadavers still have their feces intact and in their digestive tubes, and these feces will squirt out under pressure)

3. The distinct “crunch” of the bone crusher at work

4. Having the tied up cadaver hand come untied and conveniently fly into your mouth

5. Going home and looking in the mirror to see bone shards tangled into your hair

6.  Cadaver fart – a very unique, but memorable, experience

October 11, 2006

Denying care

Posted in Iramville at 12:28 am by Iram

There are two things that I can think of that must be amazingly frustrating for physicians: one would be an unsuccessful treatment that results in poor health or even death, and the other would be a patient that denies care. Today, I had a run-on with the latter. A 74-year-old man came in to the neurology clinic, where I was doing my second round of clinicals today, and announced that he had ceased taking all medication because he did not want to deal with the nausea anymore. He would much rather let his disease take its course, and he had already made all the arrangements to have his children take charge of his property and his life decisions. It was very sad for me to watch because although there are plenty of drugs out there that he has yet to try he was unwilling to even consider anything that listed nausea as a side effect, which is just about every drug currently manufactured. In addition he already is unable to live alone and without any medication his health will probably decline. Thus, he will no longer be able to live in the comfort of his own home and will soon have to be placed in a managed care home to ensure that he has a constant caregiver.

It was a very difficult situation to deal with because as a logical individual (and an economics major), I always feel that I can make a list of costs and a list of benefits and logically figure out what decision to make based on the contents of these two lists. But when patients come in and tell you of such decisions you have to fully respect their right to autonomy and their prerogative to do as they wish with their health, even though their reasoning may not even fit into one of the categories on the cost benefit analysis chart. With my personality in particular I had an even more difficult time watching this whole interaction between the patient and the physician with whom I was doing rounds because I am a very solution oriented individual. When I am told of a problem, I like to hear all of the details and then I will immediately go into problem solving mode to see what needs to be done to make everything better. When I’m not allowed to go into problem solving mode, though, I get frustrated because it feels like there is something that I can do to make somebody’s life better and I’m not being allowed to do it. I understand that patients have the right to make their own health decisions, and would certainly like to make sure that my own physicians respect my right to autonomy, but I wish sometimes that patients could realize how we feel about their decisions after all of the dedication and effort we put into taking care of them.

October 10, 2006

Update and deep thoughts

Posted in Iramville, Randumb at 2:51 am by Iram

We just finished the second section of Anatomy, and it is a bit difficult to realize that I’m already two thirds of the way through my very first Block in medical school. With all of the hard work and hours that I’ve been investing into my education each day goes by ridiculously slowy, and yet the weeks seem to fly by at a rapid pace. It feels like just yesterday that I was walking across the stage to have Dr. Dalley give me my white coat, the whole while hoping I wouldn’t make a fool of myself or do anything retarded that would embarrass me in front of the man that many medical students here almost worship. Now, seven weeks later, I can joke with Dr. Dalley as he rushes down the hall to one meeting or another, or I can poke my head into his office when I’m in the general vicinity and say hello (normally en route to the Student Affairs office where we get free coffee and candy). Time is flying by and it won’t be long (iA) before I’m walking across that stage again, but this time with a full length white coat and an air of confidence and resolve.

This bloc in general was a bit odd because a lot of the time I felt like I really was not learning the material the way I wanted to learn it. It can get very frustrating when you spend 10+ hours a day studying something and yet, day after day, you feel like it’s still not sinking in. I definitely hit the peak of that frustration Sunday afternoon, while I was stressing about our Monday exam and praying that I could pass this one the same way I passed the previous one (Alhamdullillah). Even now, after surviving through the exam without a major nervous breakdown, I am not entirely confident that I fully know the head and neck anatomy backwards and forwards. It will definitely be the section that I will have to review again for the final exam and for the Step 1 because I doubt that this will stick as well as the back and arm anatomy stuck.

The head and neck section was good for one thing, though. Our cadaver this time around was a 42 year old male who died of colon cancer. It was a bit shocking to perform the dissection on this body because each time we cut a new structure with the scalpel we were reminded of how young this particular man was when he died, and of how many people we each know who are in that same general age range.  It’s a very scary thought to realize that this body in front of us really could have been anybody. After death, the 42 year old man and the 89 year old woman are almost exactly alike save for a few anatomical protrustions that everybody is aware of and don’t need explanation. I have heard many people say that after death you will take nothing with you. It won’t matter if you were the random hobo on the street corner of Miami or if you were Bill Gates. In the end, you end up in the exact same place. Seeing death face-on through the imagined life of a cadaver really drives home the idea that we should always stress good deeds and moral actions. You never know what breath may be your last, and while your money and status end up in the court of law your deeds will follow you to the grave.

October 5, 2006

More medical student quotables

Posted in Iramville at 3:54 pm by Iram

“Did you guys play footsie under the tank?” – Bhavik

“The extent of some people’s culture is the bacteria on the back of their neck.” -Raphs

“I think I’m going to name my daughter platysma.” – Padma

“Do you really have to wave the scalpel in the air when you talk to me?” – John

“Rum, rum, yum, yum, in my tum tum.” – Kumar-Swamy