Awkward friendships

A few days ago I was thinking again about the people who have come in and out of my life. Especially the group of students I hanged out with in first year. Surely that was memorable! It is where we first learnt how to cook, how to do our own laundry, how to do our own shopping. That was also the group of people whom I first went to the markets with, explored the Italian restaurants along that street, and Asian foods in the city. I lived with them for half a year and saw them regularly thereafter for at least another half a year.

Yet most of them are strangers now, and worse than strangers because at some point we talked, hanged out, took photos together. I was thinking about why I didn't become friends with most of them. I guess they were always more my ex's friends than mine to start with, and when we stopped talking they stopped talking to me too. Maybe I didn't spend enough time with them, maybe they didn't click with me because we were different (ha, I remember how they used to tease my "Australian accent"). Still, I can't help but feel resentment for the sake of the seventeen year old version of myself. What was wrong with me that you didn't want to be friends with me? Back then, I would want to be friends with someone or a group (haha, the stereotypical thing of teenagers wanting to fit in, maybe) and be quite sad when they ignored me. I guess now when people don't show interest in conversation or prefer other friends to me, I'm less bothered because I recognise that for whatever reason, we don't get on fabulously and that's okay - after all, friendship has to be two ways.

Then last night my mind was bothering me about all the other people in my life that I have awkward relationships with. It was simple when we were little - there were people you liked and were friends with. Then there were those you didn't like, you might hate each other and either be friends again, leaving all that in the past... or you wouldn't talk to each other and never had to deal with each other again. Now I have "friends" who were never friends in the first place, and I wonder what it will be like when I move back to M because I'll be bumping into plenty of them. Friends who I made an effort to be friends with, but who didn't respond. I have friends I'm sure have some underlying dislike for me, but ask to catch up nevertheless, goodness knows why. Perhaps that's a notch better than the friends who hate me and never want to see me again. Friends (that I've known for years) who remove me on Facebook without any precipitant cause, and especially if they are people who I will definitely meet and have to talk to in the very near future. Even if I don't happen to click on their profiles, it's just sooo obvious when you have them in the "people you may know"/"suggested friends" section. I have friends who I get annoyed with, and who get annoyed with me, and I suppose sometimes we get over the sourness and sometimes we don't, but it's hard to tell. Then there's a bunch of people who I don't know, and who don't know me, but we are wary about each other because they are caught indirectly between relationship issues - eg. they're the girlfriend of someone you were close to, or they're good friends with someone who hates you, or they had a strange fling with the guy you're going out with, or whatever the case may be.

I felt sad, thinking about how I've accumulated so many friendship issues that make me feel ergh inside when I think about them. I guess I don't need to think too much about things that have past, but will try to start on a new page when if I happen to meet these people again. Oh yeah, just to keep things balanced - there are a handful of good, meaningful friendships too, and some acquaintances whom I never had the opportunity to get to know better, but would be delighted to do so. It's been better in the past two years since I left M, and I'm not sure if it's the nature of the people I've come across or if it's changes in my own character that has made friendships easier to come by.

You should know this

So it's two weeks until "the biggest" exams of our six year course. Last semester, when the tutors said "you should know this", you said (silently in your head of course) "no we shouldn't, we just started clinical school." Now you think, yeah you're probably right, and feel incompetent.

You should know this. This is bread and butter, you should know this. The diagnostic criteria for X and Y conditions, the long prognostic criteria for A and B. The myriad of medications and their individual side effects. The eponymous name for some weird and wonderful clinical sign. The latest updated evidence for some particular change in management.

"I'm screwwwed," says my classmate, who actually has a great knowledge base. I guess medical students tend to either be excessively arrogant, or downplay their abilities.

Maybe it's just me talking to myself to prevent any nervous breakdowns, or excess anxiety. But I stop and remember that there are so many years of medical learning ahead of us. It's okay not to be able to present a short or long case at a physician level. It's okay not read journal articles to know the latest happenings in the field. After all, cardiologists, for example, generally only need to read the relevant journal papers to their field. If we were reading journal articles for everything, wouldn't that need to be for all topics in medicine, surgery, and sub-specialties? Besides, there's already enough basic stuff I don't have time to read. As long as we keep learning consistently, now and in the years to come, we will be competent doctors.

The tutor means well, just wanting us to aim high (did you know: my primary school's motto was "aiming high"?) I used to love 100%s and ha, "beating" others at school and would be moody when I didn't. I liked learning, and I still do, but the competitive element has faded. I can never quite figure out whether I have a healthy outlook to life, or am being a defeatist. That is, how much of it is because I recognise that studies and grades don't come first, and want to pursue many other things apart from my career. And I wonder how much of it is due to the fact that I can't score top marks even if I wanted to, being with a cohort of students who excel academically, have photographic memories, are walking computers/textbooks (and similar abilities), or students that can study exceptionally diligently. Or all of the above. In a way it's good for us to be grouped together, so that we don't have elevated perceptions of our abilities.

Can you tell, I'm not too fond of the typical med/vet/dent/etc student mentality, there's so much obsessive and other slightly pathological personality traits. Wonder if I will come across some extreme cases when I go to my new clinical school?

Multiple sclerosis

I am reading about the disease and thinking about the long case I did today. Just as the intern promised, he was the nicest patient. We talked about the multiple sclerosis, and how he coped at home. Sitting there he looked fairly well.

Then when the physiotherapist came and asked him to do some exercises, I suddenly realised how debilitating the disease was. The slow unsteady steps of an otherwise healthy, middle aged man, in walking down the corridor. The stiffness of the affected arm, and inability of the fingers to open or close. The immense difficulty in moving from the chair to the bed, lifting the entire weight of his "buggered" leg with his good arm, then the difficulty again in getting out of bed. I would prefer an amputated leg (below knee though). It's hard to appreciate the convenience, in us who have four working limbs that move the way we want them to.

We discussed multiple sclerosis earlier on, how its progression is scarily unpredictable. How it doesn't really get better - even some cancers have the potential to be cured. It's great though, that there are medicatiions to slow the progression of disease. At least this man sounded like he had a stable and supportive relationship with his wife and grown up children. Compared to other patients with multiple social issues - with questionable partners, being parents of young children, those who had mood issues along with their physical illnesses. Having family members around, and being connected with people who care is so important. Seeing the key role of spouses being the carer for so many of the patients we see, we often joke about  how important it is to find someone who will honour their marriage vows - in sickness and in health. I guess that also often makes us reflect whether we would be able to take care of our spouse if they had a serious chronic condition. It's so easy to say when you're in love, isn't it?

Side note: whilst looking up "vows" I came across Vows Now, wow there's all sorts of interesting stuff. Short three minute ceremonies and if you want, everyone including the celebrant will wear fancy dress party themed costumes...

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