28 January 2013

Change we can believe in

Obama was elected President in 2008, the year I started medical school. His re-election has come and gone, but I still haven't graduated. One day (it's approaching?). MD? What the f***.

I am glad I haven't changed much. I still see medicine and all it has to offer in a romantic light. I'm still a fool. I don't say much but someone recently told me my CV and experiences all scream "academic physician." I bet deep inside, I still believe that whittling away constantly at the unknown will eventually produce something of significant value. That's probably not true, but it does increase my chances.

Physicians are fascinated by suffering*. You'd think it was the opposite, but everyone sits and analyzes the failures. What happened? When was he first diagnosed? Then what happened? What happened two weeks before death? If you ever start to encounter a series of questions like this, let me just pare it down for you - the questions they're really asking is - What was that one singular moment that caused that monumental decline?

Take these two cases:
1. 63 y/o male dies 7 months after a diagnosis of glioblastoma multiforme.
2. 28 y/o female dies 4 months after contracting TB.

The first is interesting to me, but the second begs the question above. AIDS? Pneumonia? Car accident? What else happened? Physicians are fascinated by suffering.

Speaking of glioblastomas, look at this thing:

Terrifying isn't it? Sort of like an astronomer looking at the blistering surface of the sun, or a computer scientist watching his code compile, or getting on an expressway using an onramp that's downhill.**

Maybe it's the fact that after 100 years of research, mortality has not even doubled. Or the fact that people throw dozens of agents at it without significant benefit. Or the idea that even with a perfect resection, it always comes back. Like an intracerebral manifestation of evil, sending a chill wave across my torso.

Let me enjoy my pizza and Coke Zero*** please! (Heated up in a hostel oven).

*: In good and bad ways.
**: Try it
***: Nothing more refreshing than a cold Coke, but I can't afford the calories, so Coke Zero it is.

1 comment:

Kevin Baker said...

That's not what it looks like when my code compiles. Wikipedia sez there's no link between high EM fields and glioblastoma. :-D

Anyways, three cheers for root cause analysis! I don't think it's fascination with suffering as much as the fun of trying to understand the machinery of such an insanely complex system.

So much left to discover...