Archive | September, 2009

I’m Really Lucky

It seems like a pretty common occurrence for us to overestimate how unlucky we are and underestimate how lucky we actually are. If you think about it, “luck” evens out in the long term (unless you believe in some outside force that controls “luck”, in which case, I can’t change your mind). But if you agree with me, then if we were being completely rational all the time, there would be no reason to complain about how unlucky we are. If we were completely rational, we would tell ourselves “well, when I decided not to take my umbrella today, I did so with the realization that it was still going to rain 10% of the time, and well, it so happens that this was the 10% of the time that it was going to rain”.

But no, instead, we go “damn, I’m so unlucky – how could it rain?” But when it doesn’t rain the other 90% of the time, we never say to ourselves, “wow, I’m so lucky that it didn’t rain!”. Now, you might say to yourself, well, that’s not getting lucky because it’s not supposed to rain the vast majority of the time. And I’m here to tell you, sorry, that’s actually not the case. You are getting lucky.

The reality is that anytime something occurs above the expectation, well, then you’re getting lucky. So if it’s supposed to not rain 90% of the time, but in this specific instance it did not rain, well then in this specific moment, it did not rain 100% of the time. Thus, you were on the good side of variance – which is being a bit lucky.

Now, if this scenario were to occur over a long period of time, say years, then most likely it will have rained 90% of the time in the long run (unless you get really, really unlucky). But most of the time when we talk about luck, we’re referring to specific, single events, in which case we often misunderstand luck.

One of the interesting things about our conception of luck is that we seem to overestimate how unlucky we are (while underestimating how lucky we actually are). For some reason, our minds tend to focus on and remember the times we were unlucky way more than the times that we are lucky. Maybe we are naturally cynical and whiny, and we like everyone to know how unfair our lives are.

A common example I read in a book was how we often remember and complain about the times we get stuck in a long line at the grocery store, but how often do we really stop to think and remember the times when we ended up at the fast line?

I dwell on how “unfair” or “unlucky” my life as much as the next person. But not today. I can complain all I want about how much life sucks or about how much stupid crap happened the other day, but the fact is that I’m really damn lucky, and I should admit it. I think we all need to do it more. Or at least admit how lucky we are as often as we complain about how unlucky we are, you know, to balance.

I don’t want to go into a whole spiel about everything I should be grateful for, but I do want to say that I have some damn awesome friends. There are a lot of things in this world I’m willing to lose, but losing my closest friends would destroy me. I am human, so I’m a social creature by nature – take that away from me and life will seriously blow.

The end of this past week was a bit emotionally taxing for me. Some sad, depressing stuff happened. Last night I hung out with my closest high school friends and had a great time, and felt rejuvenated today. Went out for some solid Korean BBQ, and then ended up at my friend Jason’s place just to hang out. Mad props to Jason for figuring out that my laptop wasn’t completely broken in the first five minutes. Turns out I had a corrupted driver, so he transferred all my important data out, wiped my hard drive, then reinstalled the operating system and copied my files back. Thanks for saving me $1,500+ or whatever the heck I was going to spend on a Lenovo Thinkpad. This is why you should never assume you know what’s going on when you honestly have no idea how something works.

The karaoke on Friday seemed to have helped me eliminate some of my self consciousness when it comes to singing. I guess 4.5 hours of karaoke does that to you. Played some Rock Band last night, and I felt a lot more loose and willing to let big notes fly on the microphone.

Anyways lots of good conversation, lots of good jokes. Just an all around solid night. I feel really lucky that despite many of us ending up at different universities, we still find time at least once a month to just meet up and chill.

So there you go, me bragging about how lucky I am. Try it sometime, you’ll feel a ton better.

Alright, I better spend the next half an hour trying to cram some more anatomy into my head before calling it a night. Have a good week! :)

Medical School Week 3 Reflection

I sit and type this on my brother’s 9 inch netbook because my Dell Inspiron 1420 seems to have basically crashed. It started off yesterday when I started seeing flashing zig zag lines and flashing blue and green screens, and it culminated in basically crashing or whatever you call it last night. I basically can’t even get to the log in screen now, it just goes black with zig zag flashing lines.

Fortunately I was able to back up my most important folders on an external hard drive (including my medical school notes, I would be very sad if I lost those!). It’s just frustrating because my last Dell laptop’s screen busted, and now this one just busts after maybe 1.5 years of use. I guess I’m not buying a Dell ever again.

A Light Week at Medical School

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Medical School Week 2 Reflection

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Courses

I realized I probably never actually explained how medical school, at least here at the University of Toronto, works in terms of courses/curriculum. For this first year, we are doing three courses at a time, with two of those courses running throughout the year while the third will change a few times during the year.

The two courses that remain the same are ASCM and DOCH. The Arts and Science of Clinical Medicine (ASCM) course (which runs half day a week) is where we work in groups of 5 or 6 students in a hospital setting, led by a tutor (who is a physician), to learn actual clinical skills like taking a medical history, doing a physical examination, etc. The Determinants of Community Health (DOCH) course also runs half day a week, with the goal of teaching students to “be aware of the social, physical and emotional needs of individual patients and communities as a whole”.

Finally there is the variable third course which takes up most of the week. Right now we are doing the Structure and Function component, which covers “Gross Anatomy, Embryology, Radiologic Anatomy, Histology, Cell Biology, Cardio-Respiratory Physiology, Haematology, and an introduction to Pharmacology”. But by the end of first year we will also have covered Metabolism and Nutrition, as well as Brain and Behaviour.

First Interview Attempt

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Having an Open Identity, Friendships

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Open vs. Anonymous?

One of the things I thought about when I started this blog was whether I should be open about who I am, or whether I should be anonymous. Of course there are pros and cons to being open about my identity. The pros of being open is that people who know me will find it interesting, I get credit for any ideas I write about, etc.

But some cons are that it will influence the way people view me without having met me or immediately before meeting me. For example, during my orientation week, I met two people who told me they saw my blog. Immediately I start thinking, “oh crap, what does this mean? Do I come off as an okay dude when I write, or do I sound arrogant and like a jerk?” I honestly feel like my writing is only a small extension of who I am, and that the way I come off when I write is not all that close to how I am in person. I think I write in a pretty blunt, purposeful manner, but I don’t really conduct myself that way in real life.

Another con is that having an open identity forces me to be careful about what I write. I am hesitant to write negatively about anything or anyone because I know words and ideas can be misconstrued and really bite you back hard. Some of you will be upset about that, because I know I try to come off as honest as possible – but I’m sure you also understand I have to be cognizant about who might end up reading this and what the ramifications could be. On the other hand, if I were anonymous, I’d probably be a lot more open about any less than happy thoughts or criticisms.

Once I got into medical school was when I actually started worrying a bit about this blog. Would it alienate some classmates who saw it?

Friends

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Reflection on 1st Week of Medical School

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I woke up at 7:50am on this beautiful Saturday morning after sleeping at 2am. I was exhausted from the entire first week of medical school, and I was looking forward to finally sleeping in. Of course, my biological clock is apparently broken now, and I woke up around the same time I normally would to get to class. Damn. I actually turned on my laptop to write a blog entry complaining about this, but then the internet wasn’t working, and I realized I should probably at least try to “sleep in” or else I’d be grumpy the rest of the day.

So what to say about the first week of medical school. I think I said this last time, but the days are long. I’m not used to being in school for 9am to 5pm with only a one hour break. But more than that, it’s the fact that I’ve been in lecture most of the time that’s getting to me. I’m going to be frank and say that I don’t think I’m a school person. I think I used to be when I was younger, but something changed, and now I find it hard to sit still in class. It’s one thing if I was extremely fascinated with what we were being taught (for instance, I guess I could watch TED lectures for seven hours a day if I have to), but I’m going to be honest and say that I’m not interested in, for example, human anatomy. I guess that’s okay though – I mean, even one of our professors came in and said he hated anatomy when he took it here.

But it didn’t make me feel better during our anatomy labs, where we are dissecting cadavers. Some of my peers are more into it, excited about learning some of the different veins or arteries, and walking around to check out the other cadavers. Me, I’m not as excited – I’m just not all that passionate about the human body. I’m just trying to get through the lab if I’m being completely honest.

And so for a short while, I started to feel a bit bad and it made me start to question why I’m even here in medical school. I am clearly not at all interested in the basic sciences they are teaching me so far, and some of my peers clearly have an enthusiasm for the human body that I do not.

But the more I started thinking about it, the more I realized it was okay. I remember that I didn’t come to medical school to learn histology or anatomy. While I knew I would have to do those things in my journey to be a physician, that’s not what I was looking forward to. Maybe I’m looking too forward, but I’m excited about being a physician some day. That’s what excites me more than anything else in this whole process.

I mean, we all have different reasons for wanting to be a physician, and along with those, we will have different interests. I want to be a physician for the intellectual challenge, for the dynamic team environments, and for the privilege to impact people’s lives in a positive way, among other things – but needless to say, a genuine interest in the human body is not at the top of the list.

What does this mean? Honestly I don’t think it means anything, and I don’t think it should. Do I think I will be a good doctor? I believe I will, or else I wouldn’t be in medical school right now. I wouldn’t be here right now if I didn’t genuinely think I would be happy being a physician and that I would be good at it.

I think sometimes we forget that there isn’t just one way to look at something or go about doing something. We get too caught up in trying to figure out the right or wrong way to frame something that we ignore the reality that sometimes there is no right and wrong and there is just different.

So I don’t like sitting through lecture learning human anatomy and I don’t get excited about identifying the location of the lateral thoracic artery – that’s okay. I still believe I will make a darn good doctor and a few months of anatomy isn’t going to discourage me from trying to live up to those expectations.