Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A last look at 2011.

Before the dust of time sweeps away the footprints behind, let me just pause for a moment and glance back at that older realm not so long ago.

2011: the Year of First-Times.

It was my first time experiencing winter. I went to North America by myself (okay, with a group of people, but they're not my family, so still...). I saw the United States of America for the first time. I also saw Canada for the first time. It was admittedly a strange experience, like I had known and lived in these countries for ages. I guess thanks to the media?

2011 was also the first time I wore a graduation robe and earned a scholarly title. I earned my 3.5-year-worth Bachelor of Medicine. The robe was a fine thing too.

Then of course I finally entered the clerkship years. This in itself was a BIG first-time, consisting of smaller first-times. Read on.

I made my first non-UPH medical student friends. Call me antisocial, but I had rarely gone out to a medical students convention or things like that. My friends were mostly from the non-medical community, and of course I'm very happy to have them because they keep me grounded [read: sane]. Fellow medical people, however, have the obvious common grounds with me, and we can talk in the same language, laugh at the same nerdy jokes. We know how grave or how trivial a medical situation is, we don't have to talk about it, we just look at each other's eyes and we'll understand. There's this indescribable comfort of being in the mainstream, when other times you are in the minority.

Along with medical students, it was my first time personally relating to full-fledged physicians and nurses. I did have sort-of doctor friends, but they are actually my mum's friends or colleagues, so I could never really be sincere with these people. But the doctors I met and engaged with during my clerkship, well, they were for real. It was astonishing, but also nice, to see, for the first time, that I could talk to these people without having my mum beside me. I felt great. I felt belong.

I met Virgilio, my first Timor Leste friend. I'm getting good at recognising people from the region :)

The first time a CENTIPEDE was found in my bathroom. I certainly hope this would be the last.

I did all these for the first time: suctioning, taking off the NGT, tracheal intubation, LMA, antibiotic skin test, independently prepping patients for anesthesia, actual venipuncture on a patient instead on a classmate, bagging, installing IV line infusion, operating various ICU machineries like the EKG, ventilators, and auto-injectors, getting over my fear of ampoules, and adjusting myself with the "OR culture". Thanks to the anesthesiology rotation for most of these.

Saw my first jaundiced patient. I used to wonder how yellow these patients can be. Answer: unmistakably, abnormally yellow.

Joined Postcrossing. A long time lover of handwritten postcards and letters, I am now officially a Postcrosser.

First time spending Dec 25 AND Dec 31 at the hospital. This made me realize that while both dates only happen once in a year, they are really not very different from other days. People put meaning to a certain date, celebrate it, and that's that. Life goes on. And the ill is still ill.


Looking back, 2011 was a year full of accomplishment. I think I have become more independent, more confident, more obedient, more resilient. I feel overwhelmingly blessed and especially thankful for it. I hope yours is also filled with stuff, small things, big things, worthy to be told to the next generation.

Now let us step forward to a brave new world of 2012! Happy New Year!

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