Saturday, December 28, 2013

Catching up: IM is hard

I am now ending my Christmas break and have finally decompressed enough to blog. (Or, I've finally realized that if I don't specifically carve out time to blog, it won't happen and all I will do is hang out with siblings, clean the kitchen, and do errands.) I am now one sixth of the way through internal medicine: two weeks down, ten to go.

Internal medicine (IM or "I med") is the meat and potatoes of the third year: it represents most of Step 2, and it teaches us basics of adult medicine. Our rotation is made up of one week of palliative care, two month-long rotations with an inpatient team of residents, and two weeks of outpatient care with a practicing physician in the community. Because our Christmas break landed in the middle of one of the month-long rotations, I have one fewer inpatient weeks and one additional outpatient week. (Cue the Alleluia chorus, because inpatient is much more intense and demanding than outpatient; this coincidence will give me more time to study and less time with resident team 1, which is keeping me hopping although I'm learning a ton.)

In one week on this residency team, I saw patients with stroke, sickle cell crisis, cellulitis, heart attack, heart failure, pericardial effusion, leukemia, sepsis, coma, and disseminated cancer. One patient died (I was not present).

The resident quizzes us a lot during the day, so studying is a must. We write notes on the three patients we see, and we see them before 8:00am, which means I'm getting up at 5:00, and that also means I'm usually missing Mass. I'm struggling to work until 5:00pm or 6:00pm, study, pray, and relax. IM is challenging me!

Formation is stressing living as Christ and being the Eucharist for others, though, so I am definitely getting a chance to do that. And St. Faustina says that one Eucharist lasts until the next, so I'm at peace as far as Mass goes. Praying the litany of humility (and just being a third year med student) is also helping me have realistic expectations of what I can and can't do, and how much I should or shouldn't know at this time in my life.

In other news, all during the OB/GYN rotation I either avoided or bumbled through explaining why I wouldn't prescribe contraceptives. Today, at coffee with my high school friends, one of them asked me about it and I explained *~beautifully~* why I thought what I did. Yay! I can have that conversation! (One down, a million to go.)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bizarre, Unsurprising, Pitiable, Absurd: a lecture on Homosexuality

I went to a mandatory lecture about homosexuality. (It wasn't relevant to medicine, although it was supposed to be.) My notes on his lecture have three phases: dutifully recording the bizarre but natural consequences of his ideas, pity for a man who was still clinging to an outdated and dystopian revolution, and shaking my head as he reduced himself to the absurd.

Big Surprises: NOT.
  • The lecturer admitted freely and happily that the LGBT community was vague. (The T was added in the '90's, another T for T-squared added shortly thereafter, then I for intersex, then Q for questioning and another Q for queer....) No one could agree on what the community was really made up of, or who should be in or out, or whether membership was permanent, or whether people who didn't want to be in were in based on criteria that admitted others who wanted to belong. No surprise to me and to anyone who knows what separation from objective truth can mean. Look at the fallout of the Reformation! Of course legitimizing a falling away from man's natural inclination will result in chaos.
  • He discussed the possibility of "polyamorous communities," or "open marriages" (his words). Again: surprise? This is an old reality with a new name. It used to be called cheating, but it's the new normal. I can forsee it happening very soon, since the youth who grew up in the hookup culture (basically a culture of polyamour) will likely live the same habits later in life. The sad thing is, love with many is love with none. When human love isn't exclusive and irrevocable, it's not love.
  • Still on the topic of "open marriages," he said that marriage is "not just for individual beauty...but also for children," meaning that consenting adults should reap not only the enjoyment of sex, but the enjoyment of children, too. But in this, he subtly states that children aren't individuals. He next stated that "open marriages" would involve "lots of complexity that kids have to deal with." Again, no surprise: we have been treating children as less than human for nearly half a century: first, the unborn, then, the born. Now, we just speak about it openly.

Forty Years I endured this Generation. That's Enough.
  • "The whole notion of labels [is] melting before our eyes...beginning to thaw and melt away." When the lecturer said this, I simultaneously pitied him and felt anger. I pitied him because he's so behind: that battle cry rose almost a century ago and now plays as cheap background music in the minds of everyone under (at least) forty. And I was angry, because this attitude has played out its destruction on my generation. The lecturer said, "my goal is to disrupt society" and "deconstruct statutes." But society is already deconstructed. My generation might say to the lecturer's, "We were raised in divorces or among divorces, breathing relativism and drinking perpetual self-absorption and agnosticism about everything except opinions and sensation. What else would you like to deconstruct?"
  • Around this point in the lecture, I wrote in my notes "So Marxist!" And one inch lower on the paper I wrote: "Two minutes later he brought up Marx. [The lecturer] studies [Marx] and says he doesn't believe everything of it." Whatever.
  • And then, because this man happened to be a lapsed Catholic, we got a good dose of pancretism, or the choice of religion based on preference of accidents (the lecturer liked Episcopalianism better for several reasons). Yawn.
  • The lecturer condemned "the puritan U.S. division of sexual and spiritual," and I was happy to hear it, since puritanism is one of the great errors of our time. But (as with his quotes about thinking deeply) this didn't pan out, since his next idea was excitement about prostitution. At this point in the lecture my notes became frustrated question marks. See above for how my generation is already living prostitution. Again: thanks for the errors.
  • "Language is unintelligible," he said, and I can't remember what he said that about. I wanted to snort, "language isn't the only thing that's unintelligible," and not in an ad hominem: nothing is intelligible in relativism. My first question to my peers who want to talk about God is always: do you think we can know anything? (And then, "how?" or "why not?" or "how do you know that?")

Nonsense is Nonsense
  • He did such an elegant job of characterizing his position as nonsense that I felt my job was done. He specifically said that this is a first world problem.
  • "Other" on forms that list "male" and "female" as genders is offensive. I was so close to laughter.
  • In Angels in America, the homosexual patient tells the doctor his diagnosis by the end. He thinks that's a great ending; in a way, so do I. It says outrightly, "we assert our statement over the truth," if you take the physician as the art of medicine personified, a symbol of the objective way the body works.
  • He used the word "tragedy" that we did not accept those who did not identify as male or female. Tragedy is a word I use more carefully.
  • "Gender and sexuality [are] entirely separated for us," he said, speaking for the LGBT community, I guess. "But that doesn't mean anything." ???
  • The lecturer was saying that about 1% of children are intersex, based on some ridiculous data counting boys with hypospadias as intersex. "I personally tend to believe this literature," he said.
  • On the last page of my notes, I have written in large handwriting (which happens when I get angry), "WHY are we talking about the ordination of women??" The lecture had devolved and I felt like I was in a Catholic-bashing fest. He exhibited one of his own paintings, which featured a photo of The Ecstasy of St. Theresa, various pornographic photos, and unconsecrated hosts (covering the genitalia of the naked figures). I was upset, but also felt vindicated. I am proud that the Church is ridiculed in the rejection of the truth: she stands with her Spouse.
  • The lecturer's last advice: find a community that allows your behavior. But that is backwards. We go into communities to become happy, fulfilled, perfected people, not children.