Saturday, December 8, 2007

questions about government policies on hiv/aids

so we're all supposed to question everything, aren't we?
at least, we learn pretty fast that it's cool to question anything the previous generation did.
but does someone laud you if you question the current "in-thing"?
here's a few of those questions

Saturday, December 1, 2007

child abuse scandals in the U.S., the known and the unheard of.

now we've all heard of the priestly child abuse scandal in various dioceses in the U.S. and the huge sums of money being paid as settlements, and we've all felt horrified. we trusted the priests, and this is what we get. nothing brings out anger or disgust in most of us than the abuse of children.
it has all been discussed in the minutest of detail by the media, and if this public humiliation is the penance the church has to make, then so be it.
and i suspect you would all feel the same anger and disgust boil up inside if i said children are being abused by others in positions of trust, namely school teachers. but how come no one is talking about it? read about it here.

a different view on reproductive health

i've learnt medicine in a system that praises reproductive health services for women, which largely is composed of contraceptive and abortion facilities (please note, by clubbing the two together, i'm not suggesting that they are at the same level as wrong practices, just that they are two wrong practices).
in fact, it is often clubbed in the public health services along with child health services. pretty smart, i think, because if someone opposed contraception or abortion services being provided by taxpayer money (their money), they can always be painted as being opposed to child health by extension.
but i've also learnt my faith and morals in a system that tells me that abortion is murder, and contraception an insult to a woman's dignity as a person and the rejection of god-given fecundity.
but as they say, a lie repeated a thousand times may start seeming to sound like truth after all. so it was with me and the wonders of reproductive health services. but obviously, there's two sides to each story. so here's a counterpoint.
oh, by the way, i get the feeling i've used too many 'but's' in this composition, BUT i can't seem to get around it! (yes, i'm well-known my sense of humour).

Friday, November 30, 2007

all religions are equal?

often, it is easy to cross the thin line between the secular and the anti-religious.
secular, to me , is something essentially religiously neutral. i think of it as a situation where religious identity is irrelevant in the immediate context, example shaking hands with someone.
but it is no longer simply secularism to suggest that all religions are equal.
it is a secular state of things when all are given the same rights irrespective of their beliefs, but that does no mean that all religions are equal.
read an interesting article demolishing these apparently secular but actually anti-religious assumptions.
read it here.
chew on it.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

so what's the penalty if abortion is criminalised?

here's an interesting article on the above question.

the silence of the good

an article about how most of us would like to not know about the evil that surrounds us, for comfort's sake. yeah, i do it too- "do what you want, just leave me out of it; don't rock my boat!" read it here

"Hi, Slut"

this is the title of the first chapter in wendy shalit's new book, 'girls gone mild' and it makes for good reading. there are many quotes i'd have liked to put up, but here's one i thought was representative of the axioms she's trying to fight:
“All choices are equal until you kill someone.” (And even that may be OK if you had a bad childhood.)

and here's where you can read the whole first chapter. i'm sure the rest of the book will be interesting too.

the kite runner- khaled hosseini

finally, an unforgettable book!
usually, reading a book just means forgetting the plot and the substance as soon as i start the next one. but this one is going to stay with me a long time.
it's a story about an afghan boy growing up in a affluent home, at a time when afghanistan was still a peaceful place. but amir is scared, and usually needs someone like his servant and best friend, hassan, to defend him against the bullies. he yearns for the love of his father, which he does not seem to recieve. his father, potrayed as any child would potray a father they love, admire, and are extremely in awe of, is afraid that "a boy who can't stand up for himself will grow up into a man who can't stand up for himself" ( can't vouch for the exact words as i don't have the book in front of me, but it's close enough).
the tale goes on to describe how amir fails in the test put before him, and he tries to cover up. he grows into a tortured soul who never forgets that he has failed not just those he loved, but himself too.
from afghanistan to america, and then back to taliban-held afghanistan, the story follows amir in his attempt to set things right, to redeem himself, and to find, in the words of the book, 'a way to be good again'.
it is a touching tale, filled with reality. who can't identify with the attempt to stand up for oneself, and overcome one's greatest fears? i certainly can. i see so much of myself in the scared child, the one who runs and hides when it would have been correct to stand up and be hurt for it. it describes with frightful clarity the fear, the self-disgust, the pathetic attempts at gaining what one desires even at the cost of others, and the courage that is just a readiness to be hurt and pay for one's mistakes.
and it is no fairy tale in it's ending either. it is extremely realistic in telling us that much as we would like for things to be 'happily ever after', life rarely turns out that way; that though we have a chance at redemption, we may not set all things right.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Abalone Cove Stormset- Flickr Shot

Abalone Cove Stormset, originally uploaded by Dan90266.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

will anaesthetists please make up their minds about 'it'!!

i guess everyone undergoing a specialist's training in anaesthesia has to go through 'it', but i'm about ready to throw a tantrum right now because of 'it'.
and i do mean a real, no-nonsense, fists-and-toes-banging-on-the-floor-and-bawling-away kind of tantrum because 'it' irritates me no end.
'it', my current bugbear, is 'how to do things' in the practise of anaesthesia.
here's how things work. a junior anaesthetist and a senior anaesthetist are posted in a theatre for one whole working day, and provide anaesthesia for all cases coming to that theatre on that day. so the junior has to basically do what the senior wants him or her to. obviously, one allows for the fancies and peculiarities of individuals; i always thought of it as "when in rome...."
but sometimes, it gets to be too much.
here's a few examples:

most people think 100 micrograms of fentanyl should be diluted in a 10 cc syringe for various reasons including being able to titrate the dose, and that giving 100 mcg together can lead to chest wall rigidity. and i guess if everyone does it, it leads to less confusion. but there is a guy who says it's a waste of a 10 cc syringe, and that he's never seen chest wall rigidity, and that most adults can take 100 mcg without any problems. so he uses a 2 cc syringe. that is all very well but for the fact that the same guy insists on using a 10 cc syringe for morphine. when i asked him why not 2 cc, the answer was not very clear-cut. so i guess even people who attempt to sound logical are doing stuff more out of habit than anything else.

i've always been taught here that if one uses a regional anaesthetic technique (like a caudal or epidural or brachial plexus block) in additional to general anaesthesia, one can do without morphine, and thus avoid it's problems. in general, isn't it better to interfere minimally with the body? but there is a person here who absolutely loves morphine and insists on giving it even in patients getting additional regional anaesthesia. the apparent reason is that the patient has pain in the mouth and throat from the endotracheal tube or laryngeal mask which needs to be treated with morphine. fine, the person concerned is an expert on pain management and i'm not about to say he or she is wrong, but surely there is no need to get angry because i did not give morphine till you told me to. i mean, was i supposed to divine that you like to do other than what i had been told to do till then by everyone else?

how does it matter whether i take air or saline or saline-with-a-bubble-of-air in the syringe while finding the epidural space by loss-of-resistance technique? then why insist that it has to be done in any particular way? interestingly, one day, before putting in the needle, i asked one senior what he wanted me to use, and this guy happened to not like that at all! " what do YOU like to use? go ahead and use it!" is what he said! imagine that! on the one day i decided to ask instead of getting rapped on the knuckles (metaphorically) after starting!

truth is, there are more than a few ways of getting from point a to point b in anaesthesia, and i guess i must walk all of them during the training period before i get enough freedom to choose what i'm comfortable with. but i wish they weren't so dogmatic about sizes of syringes and the like. i think i've decided to be a little less picky about the small print when i get the opportunity.

there's someone i hate

was describing to the best friend how the day went, and it started me off on a train of thought that's......., well, for want of a better phrase, thought-provoking.
and the best friend threatened to blog about it if i did not.
so i have, by verbal acclaim, and depending on said person's honesty, declared my right and my intention (though fulfilled very late) to blog about the issue.

was telling him how much i dreaded working with one particular senior colleague in my department. well, i just found out that i'll be doing a 24-hour duty with that person in a few days time. and already, i can't stop thinking about it.
so why do i dread working with the guy?
well, truth is, he was my senior in medical school, and we lived in the same hostel. as things were not too long ago, seniors had a lot of freedom to behave as they felt like with freshers. and this guy, and his bunch made life miserable for me in my first year in medical school.
i guess things were magnified by the fact that i was all of 17, away from home for the first time, in a new culture and environment. still, i never look back to those incidents with any sort of peace or happiness. i just can't seem to forget the nasty behaviour (do i sound like a sissy, or a victorian lady about to swoon?).
but i realised something important about myself as i was describing all this aloud.
i realised that all this while, i kept saying that i dreaded working with the guy because he was pretty nasty to me, and that he surely hated me for one reason or the other.
what was not said, was that 'he hates me' is just a "christian's" way of saying 'i hate him'.
i don't mean all you lovely christians out there, i mean me, the one who keeps trying to be christian, but never succeeds.
and yes, i realized i do hate him for making me miserable so long ago.
is that so wrong? i think it is wrong, but right now, i can't help it.
maybe i'll get the strength to get over it sometime, and look beyond what was miserable in life, to what was, and is, wonderful in life.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

it's not that special a place, it's the people who make it seem so

as you know, i've been in this place for the past six years. started off as a medical student in 2001, finished exams and did my 'year of the intern' in 2006, and luckily, got in to do my post-graduation in anaesthesia this year.
as i have mentioned in some previous posts, i'd come to love this place and be extremely comfortable in it. in fact, i contemplate continuing here on a long term. but once internship was over and all my classmates went their different ways, things have changed.
oh don't worry, i still like this place and would love to continue here, but now i wonder if that is not partly due to the general inertia and lack of columbus-like spirit in my nature.
because i've come to find, that if i had to recommend this place to someone, most of what i would have to tell them would be about the great times spent with friends.
and that is what i miss now. that is why, even people who left this place singing of freedom and life elsewhere, often come back- simply because this is the one place where at least some of those irreplaceable people who left an indelible mark on their memories are most likely to be found in person.
yesterday, two of my friends came back from different places to meet us (if i was feeling nasty, i'd say it's rather convenient considering they're here mostly to meet each other).
but that's neither here nor there (exactly! it's conveniently halfway between here and there as far as they are concerned!).
the point is, a bunch of us managed to get together for dinner. the dinner lasted the usual duration of little over an hour. what followed, though, was the most enjoyable time i've spent in a long while. a bunch of us just standing in the hospital campus yakking away and mixing new stories with old memories. we went on for over 3 hours i think.
thanks BONO, those were precious moments.

Monday, August 27, 2007

nothing happened, again

as i mentioned previously, was not looking forward to discussing the contraception issue with my senior on sunday evening.
but as it turned out, the patient never turned up for surgery!
so monday has been rather predictable. not unpleasant, and reasonably predictable.
thank you, o one who watches from up above. and thank you all who pray for my peace of mind.
had been telling my brother about my fears over the phone. those who know my brother know that we're chalk and cheese, that we don't think alike on most issues. but over the past 5-6 years, since i've left home, i've often found him to be my best support in any kind of situation. and even on this issue, he never told me i was being ridiculous, or to drop the whole thing; he never told me i was right either, but he never told me to back down. he was just quietly supportive- 'stick it out,' he said, 'because i know you want to, don't you?'

Saturday, August 25, 2007

about contraception

i was going through some of the material in my mail folders dealing with contraception, and i decided to put up here the best philosophical argument that i have come across against it. it's quite long, and requires patience to wade through. it is not for those who like to skim through and expect to find any neaning. it also took me three or four readings to get some of what it meant (and don't start the "so? you're slow! we all knew that! dialogue). anyway, here it is:

Contraception and Chastity at orthodoxy today

a test of faith

i've been describing in some of my previous posts the crisis of faith i've been having. well, now i'm up against a test of faith. i need fortitude to stand up to it. so listen to my story, and pray for me.

on monday, i was posted to provide anaesthesia for 4 cases of sterilization/ caesarean with sterilization. i knew i'd have to refuse. and there lies the trouble. in the medical hierarchy (or probably in any hierarchy), refusing to do what a superior tells you to is considered......, well it's just not done. the thought of the consequences to my further academic prospects if someone decided to take offense, is rather unnerving.
but the decision had been made; so i steeled myself up, prayed desperately, rehearsed appropriate lines, and went to see the patients. having seen them, i reported their condition to my assigned senior anaesthetist, and proceeded to tell him about my 'problem'- that i would not be joining in the cases due to a religious belief. thankfully, my senior was a rather nice guy, and he just spoke to the senior anaesthetist in the adjoining theatre, and they exchanged juniors for the day. i'm thankful to them for their tolerance and to my fellow junior, who suddenly found herself lumped with another's cases.
and now it's happening again. on monday (is their something inauspicious about mondays?), i am again posted for a sterilization case. this time, the senior is not a nice guy. in fact, it is one of my seniors from medical school days who made life miserable for me in my first year. he detested me (why? that's another story).
i've been thinking, why do i keep telling myself that he dislikes me and that is why we can't get along? truth is, i detest what he did to me and the way he treated me all those years ago, and have never been comfortble around him. so yes, maybe i hate him too, but i'm quite sure he's going to be extremely cheesed off at my refusal and he won't be mincing words expressing himself.
and so it starts all over again. the sinking feeling in my chest, the nerving up to face a situation that makes me feel like a nerveless jellybean, the fear of consequences, about how i'll face all the reprimands and comments,.....
the last three times the situation arose, nothing happened. while in internship in obstetrics and gynaecology, and in community health, i refused to perform or assist in sterilization. then too, i was quaking in my boots thinking about possible repercussions. but nothing happened, thanks be to god.
which is why my best friend told me that nothing is likely to happen, that people are likely to respect freedom of religion and tolerate my actions (even if they consider it extremely ridiculous and medieval). i hope that is so. i fervently hope that is so, but my heart never fails to do cartwheels and settle somewhere under my intestines whenever the thought strikes.
i'm not at all worried about not being able to explain the teaching of the church to people, because honestly, even i find it difficult to understand and even more, to express. i know that even if i tried, i could not even begin to hope to convince anyone with my current level of understanding about the reasons contraception is wrong. my main reason, from the beginning, has been that i believe in majesterial infallibility (understood in it's correct sense, not in the caricature always presented by less-informed people).
as usual, the inexperienced writer does not know how to put together a piece with it's usual parts- beginning, body, and end. i feel, that literally, i've waded into something and don't know how to get out of it (this article, i mean). so pray for me, that god will put to rest my fears, and teach me to trust in him to provide all i need.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his fellow man.... the feast day of st. maximilian kolbe

august 14th is the feast day of st. maxilmilian maria kolbe. i found that out today as i happened to go for morning mass (for a change, i know).
since i've always been inspired by his story, i thought i'd share it with you all (who all, i wonder)
anyway, here's the links, take your pick:
1) catholic forum's saints index
2) wikipedia article
3)from the jewish virtual library
4)kolbe net

and before i go,
st maximilian, pray that we to may have the courage to do as jesus calls us to do when the need arises, amen.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

people have problems

yes, everyone has problems
and some of them make mine seem inconsequential in comparison
it's really humbling to see people get on with their lives despite all their problems.
and the funny thing is, i would never know some of these till they told me about it. not that i could do anything about it having come to know about it.

take for example a middle-aged doctor working in my hospital. he's good at his work, and a very jovial person; also a good teacher. the other day he asked me to try and get some information for him related to getting his medical degrees and diplomas attested so he could go work elsewhere. so the usual thoughts go through my head- probably wants to make more money. not in a judgemental sense, but in a matter-of-fact way. belive me, where i come from, it's perfectly understandable that people want to go elsewhere for better financial returns for their hard work. later the story came out. he had a son with chronic renal failure with a failed transplant. all these years of treating the renal failure and transplant rejection was obviously a big financial strain. so his wife decided to start working elsewhere to make ends meet. once she left, the boy became moody and difficult, and refused to eat or take his medicines. so now, he too wants to go join his wife with his family.
and you'd never know that there was a tragedy of this magnitude behind the smiling face, and competent professionalism. and what about the courage to deal with all this for so long?
almost makes you question god's judgement on the trials he puts some people through.
teach me to trust. lord, that all things will be made beautiful in your time.

jeremiah 7 scares me

my daily reading brought me to the book of jeremiah a few days ago, and in due course of time, i reached chapter 7. frankly, it scares me. read on:

The word that came to Jeremias from the Lord, saying: Stand in the gate of the house of the Lord, and proclaim there this word, and say: Hear ye the word of the Lord, all ye men of Juda, that enter in at these gates, to adore the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts the God of Israel: Make your ways and your doings good: and I will dwell with you in this place. Trust not in lying words, saying: The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, it is the temple of the Lord. For if you will order well your ways, and your doings: if you will execute judgment between a man and his neighbour, if you oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, and walk not after strange gods to your own hurt, I will dwell with you in this place: in the land, which I gave to your fathers from the beginning and for evermore. Behold you put your trust in lying words, which shall not profit you: To steal, to murder, to commit adultery, to swear falsely, to offer to Baalim, and to go after strange gods, which you know not. And you have come, and stood before me in this house, in which my name is called upon, and have said: We are delivered, because we have done all these abominations. Is this house then, in which my name hath been called upon, in your eyes become a den of robbers? I, I am he: I have seen it, saith the Lord. Go ye to my place in Silo, where my name dwelt from the beginning: and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel: And now, because you have done all these works, saith the Lord: and I have spoken to you rising up early, and speaking, and you have not heard: and I have called you, and you have not answered: I will do to this house, in which my name is called upon, and in which you trust, and to the place which I have given you and your fathers, as I did to Silo.

(from the douay-rheims-challoner version)

Monday, August 6, 2007

pascal and the god-shaped hole

pascal once wrote that there is a god-shaped hole in each one's heart
how true that is!
and to think that i believed it in theory all these years, and now, suddenly, am finding myself on the wrong end of the thought
the implication being, of course, that only god can satisfactorily fill that hole in our hearts, and anything else we try to shove in, will only be like a square peg in a round hole.
so here i am, thinking that perhaps, i need to clean my room; or get back to studying regularly; or exercise regularly; or eat healthy; or declare my love; or a million other things
what my mind is conveniently, or rather eagerly, ignoring is that i need to get right with my maker again.
is it tough?
you betcha!
but is it what needs to be done?
oh yeah.
no matter how many times the prodigal son walks away, the father will be found waiting at the gate for him to come back.
so pray for me that i may go back to my father's house, where even the servants live in love and comfort; whereas i wallow with pigs

the seventh harry potter

i managed to read the last harry potter in a few breathless hours over the weekend, and thus managed to throw my usual schedule out of kilter. as a result, i have an extra pile of dirty clothes waiting to be laundered, and the room's till dusty.
but anyway.....i'd say it was well worth it
the first three books had an innocence to them that was refreshing. i really loved the unbeatable combination of boarding school life and magic.
the next three books were dark and brooding
i still remember thinking that as far as writing or children went, the death of cedric diggory in the fourth book was an extremely badly-managed piece. but i guess from that book on, rowling was no longer writing just for children
the fifth and sixth books did not make any special impression on me. almost felt directionless.
but this one was, oh wow!
deathly hallows has some interesting theological elements in it too.
the idea that victory over death being in meeting it head-on and fearlessly seems to ring a (christian) bell.
i loved the ending. some say it was too corny and sugary. but you know me, i'm a die-hard romantic, and totally fall for the kind of endings epitomized by this one.
and i always end up imagining the future.
right now, i'm wondering about remus lupin's and tonks' kid. both parents died fighting voldemort. wonder what he'll grow up into. another harry potter?
but perhaps, it is too good an ending to keep dragging further into the future. it looks good where it lies.
thanks j.k. rowling, it was a really good series.