Open letter to my future self

If you are reading this, it is probably the year 2022, and if you have done right by yourself you should be in possession of your MD.
I cannot begin to imagine what the rest of the journey must have been like after second year. I write to you, not to warn you of any future dangers ( Gee-o-dee has your back ), but instead to remind you of a few past experiences wise 21 year old you believes hold important lessons you should carry forth into the unwritten chapters of the rest of your life.

#FAILURE 

Remember your first ever test as a medical student? That was the stuff a baptism by fire is made of. You failed with distinction! If you had failed any worse, they probably would have handed you an honorary MD just for being able to take that kind of blow to the chin. ( LMAO sorry mate 😂 ). It was necessary. Failure is necessary or inevitable on the success journey. It kept you grounded and lucid. And more than anything it forced you to come back harder & correct!

#PERSISTENCE

Public health was undoubtedly the most ‘medical’ course you had all first year, with the ever smoother than peanut butter Dr Edouard Swana. It was a course you really enjoyed. However come exam time, your body betrayed you. Tonsillitis & malaria. One day out and the recurrent fever is still stopping you from doing the traditional ‘last revision’. So you got your mother to inject you Novalgine at strategic times in order to break the fever. One injection at 17h00 on Friday evening. Revise half the work and sleep. Soldier through the fever Saturday morning  and revise another portion. One last injection at 12h00 the same day. Travel an hour to campus & revise the last portion. Then kick ass during the exam. Hannibal himself couldn’t have put together a better plan. Persistence earned you two distinctions that year my friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

” Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. “

 

#DEDICATION #SACRIFICE

Anatomy will certainly be one of your favourite courses even long after you start practicing. I’d bet my arm on this. Having general surgeons teach you , just made it all the better, especially Dr Mbey. Many people can master a craft but only a handful of people know how to transmit their knowledge of this craft and the hunger to learn it. He managed to do it so brilliantly. All while explaining certain surgical procedures he’s had to perform, that you understood nothing about but were so keen to listen to. You understood that this course would require special attention. This meant sometimes hibernating in your room for two weeks, all day doing nothing but studying. It also meant skipping out on family events or football matches. Even switching your phone off for weeks was a no brainer. Understanding the sacrifices necessary as well as embodying the determination to get things done always pays off.

#DISAPPOINTMENT 

You always thought people who said things like, ” It is disappointing to work so hard and not see that reflected in my results”, were just whining instead of working harder. Until biochemistry taught you that you cannot be good at everything & sometimes enough, just isn’t enough. At times you performed under your usual standards. Keep on performing. Keep on keeping on. It’s okay to not be good at everything ( but you better be good at the majority of things. You want to take part in the business of saving lives remember? Don’t settle into mediocrity, you know what I’m saying ? )

#GOOD#HABITS

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to success is found in your daily routine.

– John C. Maxwell

You know that 04h00 alarm that you hit snooze on? Just before the 05h00 one that serves as the curtain call before you eventually wake up at 05h30 ? Yea, learn to respect it. Continue to respect it.  You’ve experienced the importance of time between midnight and eight o’clock. Plus it has been scientifically proven that some of the best times to study are first thing in the morning or after a siesta.

Anxiety is not your friend. I REPEAT, ANXIETY IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. Walking out of an exam hall due to stress induced diarrhea because you were anxious not about the test you are writing but about the upcoming one is something I am sure you haven’t forgotten. Live today. Live in the now. Tomorrow can wait it’s turn.

Remember that guy that said, ” do not identify with depression. Do not identify with that which isn’t constant.”, that man is a genius. Doubt & all other negative emotions are like grey clouds that come and go. Use them as fuel to check that you are still up to par with your ultimate goal.

#life #inspiration #medical

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Half Time; Second Year 

Halfway through my biomedical match and I must say the expression, ” medical school is like taking a hosepipe to the mouth and having no choice but to swallow”, couldn’t be more true !

The difference in workload and difficulty level is tremendous compared to first year. I remember being able to do whatever I wanted to because I would eventually take up a few weeks to go my reading ( I am the type of student who wastes his time in compulsory lecturers. I learn better on my own at home)

Well that’s not the case anymore. My old ways lead to being behind on a lifetime of reading ( excuse the hyperbole ). I strongly doubt that there’s a medical student  out there who will tell you that they aren’t behind on reading. However if you find one, I’ll show you a medical student who doesn’t feel guilty about ‘not reading fast enough’ when they actually do read. But those feelings along with that of anxiety and feeling overwhelmed are things I have become a custom too. A new version of me was necessary for this stage of life. Even copped  myself a handful of new grey hairs ( they will go a long way in achieving the experienced doctor look 😚 )

 

 COMFORTABLE WITH UNCOMFORTABLE

This academic year has been good, we no longer have to deal with the majority of the cold-hearted lecturers from first year. 97% of our masters are medical doctors. Every now and then when they take a break from dropping knowledge on us they chip in some helpful study tips as well as some advice based on personal experience ( oath a good majority failed second year back when they were students.. ). The highlight of those five minute breaks is the roasting each specialists does. I realised each specialist thinks their speciality is better than that of their colleagues.

The surgeons, ” the surgeon is the doctor by excellence. He isn’t limited to administrating drugs, if need be, he will open you up and like Jesus chase away the demon ( see problem ) …. In the beginning only surgeons were doctors, it is for the sake of job creation that we handed them certain organs and systems. Pediatricians are lazy, Pathologists are philosophers, gynecologists, are they even doctors? ”

The pathologists, ” All doctors will go to heaven, all of us. Whether or not the rest ( see lawyers, engineers etc.. ) make it too, is not our problem. If there was a VIP section in heaven , it would be reserved for pathologists. If we were to get in by order of speciality, pathologists would get in first. We are the closest to God, we understand the mystery behind his creating man ….    Surgeons are worthless little people who just want to cut into everything. Gynecologists aren’t considered. Why should we consider them ? ” 

I thoroughly enjoyed anatomy, especially the osteology & arthrology modules. Neurology has always been the goal but orthopedic surgery is starting to whisper to me. 

I look forward to the few months left ! 

Who am I

“We must believe that we are endowed for something, and that this thing, at all cost, must be attained”

For me this thing at the age of nine, was to be a profesional wrestler. Like Batista from WWE! ( I know, I know, but what did you expect ? They told me I could be everything I wanted to be! ( ˘˘̯) ).

Later on at the age of twelve, they told me to be something a bit more ‘serious’, ( A sort of euphemism for “ find yourself a profession that is more lucrative & respected in africain society ” ). So I turned towards the motivation of all human beings; Money. The devil’s weapon some would say.I decided to be a business man, the spitting image of Donald Trump. ( we are in 2007, with his t.v show The Apprentice & his infamous phrase, « You’re Fired». Nothing to do with the radicalised politician of 2016.)
I then felt better in my own skin. The subject science was now biology & technology was now physics & chemistry.I had ny head in the clouds, a whole lot further actually! I dreamt of visiting space. I dreamt of making men visit space like the egineers that work for Sir Richard Branson.
At the age of seventeen I experienced & lost the craziest of loves, said goodbye to a part of my family, left the country that raised me & tolerated my adolescent crisis, in conclusion abandoned an entire life.

After the Journey through this labyrinth, searching for the answer to the question « who am I ? », finally I had an answer!

I wanted to be a doctor!

I wanted to treat people.

I wanted to lengthen lives.

I wanted to give hope.

I wanted to be the hero in the white coat armed with a stethoscope.

This will, acconpanied by my inclination in science, resulted in me being at the University of Lubumbashi (UNILU), on the medical faculty campus, in the undergraduate auditurium for first year biomedical students on the 15th of November 2015. My first lecture of a 6 year & 18 months internship programme that will make me;
Dr Leyka Kalombo Moussa Franck.

It is for this thing that I believe I am endowed, and this thing, at all cost must be attained!

First Year Of Medical School 

I think any first year will tell you, you never really know what to expect from your first day or year on campus.

Very quickly you realise that you are categorized into one of two groups;

Exhibit A: The type of first year that is overly prepared. You’ve packed all your textbooks & notepads. Now you are walking around like the half man half creature from 300. 

Exhibit B: The type of first  year that is a tad bit too cocky. You have come underprepared & lectures are going full steam ahead. Now you’re asking yourself, “ Nani Ali ku tuma ufunze medicine ? ” (Swahili for “who sent you to study medicine”). 

But! They say it’s the exception that makes the rule. So maybe, just maybe you fit into the third & infamous group of first year’s that show up with the right amount of artillery, ( This med school thing is war, stop playing!). For most people ( There is absolutely no supporting statistics for this, so this could be complete banter… ( ˘˘̯) ) first year was the sort of date you wouldn’t go on twice.The sort of date which you return home from & look at yourself in the mirror & think, “hmm look at me! I really sat through all that!”.

In all cases for me first year was like finally kicking game to the female you’ve been plotting on.

Act 1:
 THE PERFECT MOMENT

You stalk her like prey. Patiently waiting for the perfect moment to speak to her. If you miss your opportunity, woops! STRIKE THREE! It’s a wrap! That’s what trying to figure out when to study was like.

I mean I start at 8h00 & finish at 18h00 but need another hour and a half to get home. I get home tired & hungry. The routine usually consisted of going back & forth in my head trying to prioritize what I’ll do first; shower, eat, watch t.v, study & sleep or eat, shower, study, & sleep. The first two, regardless of the order are easily accomplished. However when the effects of splashing (hydrotherapy/shower) kick in, my eye lids start to flutter & Hozier has an Arsonist’s Lullabye to get off his chest.


Act 2:  
 THE ENCOUNTER



1001 rehearsals should be enough to know, what to say & how to say it. 

Okay, you’ve got her in sight, playback the tape in your head. Then decide you’re going to wing it. “It shouldn’t be that hard. I’ll go with the flow”, you say. WRONG! (Unless you live under anointing of the mac gods, you don’t wing an encounter with the object of your affection.). At this point I am in the examination hall for my first one on one with the professorial staff. Very quickly it is clear that the two-day/night-before studying trip just won’t cut it. The body count escalates with every question.


Act 3:
WALKING THE PLANK

You get another chance to either sink or swim, to pull your socks up, to come correct, ku acha miza (Swahili for “to stop the games” ), if you will.

With this half a chance handed to you, you summon the wolf in you. Sugar must be had. After all, she’s just a woman & you’re just a man.

At this point, I mastered… Haaha, no I am lying. At this point I more or less manage well my time. Socks are knee high & med school is my sweetheart.We argue often, but that girl is mine.

Euthanasia 

Yup! I support euthanasia.

In a world where men have come together around a table, in the name of who knows and set rules for the rest of us to abide by as though they were the founding fathers of mankind, I think the very minimal right each one of us should hold onto; is the right to call time on our stay in this realm. 

The news was on last night and there was a segment where a Dr was being interviewed. This doctor, who is now the face of the pro-euthanasia movement in Switzerland, had a story that hit close to home for me. Bear in mind I am not yet a doctor nor do I know what products to administrate to somebody in order to help them die peacefully.

This doctor had a wife who was diagnosed with an incurable medical condition. The type that over time will lead to the loss of vital functions but not before dragging you into an abyss of daily, minute-to-minute cycle of sheer pain.

One day, whilst alone with him, she told him that she couldn’t anymore and that he should help her die peacefully.
“You’re a doctor. You know what to do to make it stop. You know it will get worse. Why won’t you help me? ” 

I paused and asked myself, imagine what it must have been like to be in his shoes. In front of somebody you possibly love more than yourself. That somebody is rotting away (no sugarcoating allowed!), and between your two ears is a brain containing; 

  1. the knowledge that it will only get worse.
  2. the knowledge of what to do in order to make her death less painful.

Then I thought, hold on! I could maybe fit this princess foot into one of his slippers;
Not too long ago, my little sister woke up one ‘good’ morning and abracadabra had lost control of her lower limbs. Then it was her arms and digestive system. With treatment everything was back to normal.

Did you know they say lightening never strikes the same place twice?

 BOOM! Months later the problem was back and this time to stay! After various exams and scans the problem turned out to be a brain tumor so small yet so majestically situated that it was causing paralysis of her body from the feet up.The fun bit is it could not be removed.

Okay let’s recap on what my story & that of the Dr have in common; 

  • Loved one with incurable medical condition? Check!
  • Second party with knowledge that it will never get better? Check! 
  • Loved one who is begging for the curtain call? …

Now during the interview the doctor didn’t mention his response to his wife’s request.

One day I was alone with my sister whose respiratory system was now the target of the tumor. She once, & only once ( I emphasize this because I want the courage & resilience with which she fought to be clear as day ), after months of suffering and having lost her legs, arms, eyes, 80% of her hearing and other parts said, ” I’m tired, I just want to die ”

            ” I’m tired, I just want to die ” 

I thought to myself, “me, in your shoes, in half the time, I would have given up!”. But the Christian-faith reflex was stronger, so I pulled out the bit about “the will to live being enough to sometimes save a man’s life” 

Weeks later she passed on. 

Had we been aware of euthanasia and had it been legally established in law like in Switzerland, would I have spared her the bit of gospel? YES.

Is it completely absurd that men in parliament/Congress who you probably didn’t vote for, get to decide when and how you can put an end to your suffering? YES.
Is it absurd that these same men decide when enough pain is enough? YES. 

Euthanasia is defined as the practice of intentionally and painlessly killing a human being or animal for humane reasons, especially in order to end great suffering or poor quality of life.

There is nothing humane about forcing someone to live out their pain until one day their heart gives into the torture.
These people’s lives who you so willingly appropriate yourself from a distance don’t, “pass on”, “follow the light at the end of the tunnel”, or “Find their way home”.They DIE! after GREAT SUFFERING! 

and you sirs and madams show great sociopathic trait in opposing yourselves to their right to a peaceful death.

YUP! I support euthanasia

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