Monday, December 15, 2008

Just Gotta Press On

What's it like to have the ground freeze beneath your feet, the mud tracks becoming solid, within the span of a day? A little disconcerting I must say. I think I must utilize the final evolution in my winter-gear. Time to bust out the eskimo-like coat. I hoped it wouldn't have had to come to this this year, but alas.

I apologize for not blogging in the last several days. I've been quite busy studying for my finals this week. Two down and two more to go! On Wednesday I'll be DONE.

You know, it's kind of sad when in order to study for an exam, you need to think about all the ways people die. For one class it's cancer - breast and colorectal especially. For today's toxicology final I had to review things like alcohol poisoning, drug overdosing, heavy metal exposure (lead, mercury, etc), and such. And on Wednesday is pathophysiology - so basically what happens when something goes wrong with the body. So. Much. Death. No wonder doctors have some of the highest rates of suicide.

Here's my public service announcement. Do NOT take alcohol with Tylenol (acetaminophen). Both damage the liver in large quantities, but the combination creates something called reactive oxygen species that literally use electrons to punch holes into the surrounding liver cells, resulting in liver failure. Death soon follows liver failure. See?! Death!!

What's sadder is when you see something that makes you initially get excited before you realize what's going on and then get sad. For example, KS-F told me her cousin has colon cancer. At age 22. Right away I suspected FAP genotype (basically, you start getting colon polyps at age 10-12 and these have a 100% chance of becoming cancer by the time one's 17 if left untreated). I was excited to know what's the likely cause of colon cancer in such a young person, and I suggested genetic counseling for her family (though she seems to be fine, so she didn't inherit it). Then I realized how ridiculously sad it was to have colon cancer at 22.

Later I talked this over with AG-F and she agreed. The genetic counseling students would get all excited over an interesting/unique case in conference, but then they meet the people. And when you meet the people these diseases affect, you can't help but feel sad (and a little ashamed that you were so excited by the disease in the first place). Such is the world of health care professionals. The day I stop seeing people as people and start seeing people as just walking symptoms/diseases is the day I've lose my humanity.


Anonymous said...

I actually have taken tylenol (because I get really bad headaches) and gone out partying afterwards lot of times. Didn't now it was that bad. Thanks for the info!

Shane said...

Hmmm ... seems like a semi-depressing topic to study.

Anyways, goodluck!

naturgesetz said...

It's a fine line, isn't it? On the one hand, you need a certain degree of professional detachment so as to be objective, and because for a lot of people feeling personally at stake with each patient would be unbearable. On the other, you are dealing with a person and need to realize that.

You have to care about people, but not too much.

Zee said...

LOL, when i first read heavy metal exposure, I thought about the music.


(I hope that lightens the mode a little)

Anonymous said...

You'll never see that day cause you're not that kind of person. Now knock it off. -.- You're just naturally inquisitive about everything, you're just reminding yourself that people are involved. It's a difficult dynamic for the best academic to deal with.

Actually, when I'm ill or injured, I become morbidly obsessed with my own condition. I actually like it when the doctor's interested in it at an academic level. But, then again, I'm weird.

Aek said...

Anonymous: I'm happy to be of help! :D

Shane: Yeah, it sounds depressing. But I assure you I wasn't in a depressive mood.

Naturgesetz: I think as I currently am I care too much (though I may not always physically show it). It burns me all the time. The alternative is no better - to guard one's heart against all harm. Maybe I can balance it so I'm not permanently charred.

Zee: Errr, mode? Surely you meant "mood." XD

James: Who knows, who knows.