Raafia Siddiqui is second year medical student at McMaster University.

 

 

 

 

The surgeon asked me for the second time, “So are you here alone?” “Yes”, I answered, this time a bit impatiently. I was a 20-year-old with other things than this appointment but my family doctor had noticed a lump on my throat and insisted I see a specialist. We were supposed to discuss the results of the biopsy today.

After my response, the surgeon placed his hand on my shoulder and let out a long sigh. I asked him, “What is it?” His reply was very short and urgent, “There’s a lump - and we have to take it out”.

Immediately, I understood what he meant and began pressing him with questions, “Is it malignant? Has it metastasized? What type of cancer is it?” Although I felt I had to pry answers out of him, the specialist finally told me I had a thyroid tumour, which he believed had begun to spread.

...continue reading

1 Comment

Meghan Kerr is a medical student at University of Toronto.

 

 

I was swept into this world,

Feet taken out from under me

My trickling stream no match

For the roaring torrent, and

Their confluence, ...continue reading

2 Comments

Mark Speechley is a Professor of Epidemiology at Western University

 

The age-old debate over who should be addressed as ‘doctor’ lives again in recent letters to CMAJ. Of course, it is important not to confuse the public. Since more people get sick than get university educated, members of the public are more likely to have met a physician-doctor than a professor-doctor. As a PhD epidemiologist, ‘the population is my patient’. Consequently, when I meet my medical colleagues in the hospital, I do not expect to be addressed as ‘Doctor’, but should the whole population be in the hospital, and the crowding in the corridors be so acute that I would have the statistical power to practice my profession by expertly assembling the massed throngs of gurneys into long rows of cases and controls, or exposed and unexposed, as appropriate, I would most certainly expect to be addressed as such.  ...continue reading

1 Comment

In this next "Med Life with Dr. Horton" podcast, Dr. Jillian Horton talks with both Dr. Deepu Gawda and actor Alan Alda.

In the first segment, Dr. Horton and guest Dr. Deepu Gawda, internist and associate professor of medicine at Columbia University, answer a listener question from a physician who is under so much work pressure that s/he is viewing patients only as units of time. This person wants to get back to connecting with patients in a meaningful way and is looking for advice.

In the second segment, Dr. Horton speaks with award-winning actor Alan Alda, who leads workshops for physicians through the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. They discuss how doctors can focus less on pressure from the "system" to be more time efficient and instead be more present for patients. They also talk about ageism in medicine.

...continue reading

1 Comment

Vivian Gu is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at the University of British Columbia

 


Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Held every year, it’s a gathering of more than 9000 government officials and representatives from advocacy groups and NGOs worldwide. They come together in throes, dressed in everything from stiff suits to colourful swaths of cultural garb, and for two weeks, assemble to advocate for women and the challenges they face back home. By the end, a collection of recommendations is aggregated to shape the global agenda on gender equality and the empowerment of women worldwide for the year to come. ...continue reading

Philippe Barrette is a psychotherapist, workplace facilitator and former Assistant Clinical Professor at McMaster University, Department of Psychiatry.

David Streiner is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, and the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University; and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

 

 

Halfway through, Roma, the 2018 award-winning film set in the early 1970’s, the audience is suddenly confronted with witnessing a stillbirth. The scene elicited audible gasps from some viewers in a screening we attended, when the perfectly formed, dead baby was removed from its mother’s womb.

In the film, Cleo, the nanny and domestic worker for a middle-class family living in Mexico is rushed to hospital following an emotionally draining 9 months. Cleo’s boyfriend abandoned her shortly after learning of her pregnancy, and the family have endured marital tensions and a separation.

After an initial examination the assisting physician at the birth says, “I can’t hear a heartbeat," ...continue reading

Brianna Cheng is a MSc Epidemiology student in the Class of 2020 at McGill University.

 

 


is it possible to mourn the living?

 

time’s grasp on youth seems ever loose

while draining those already

shaking

dithering

moaning

clutching that metal receptacle

you cursed and swore

words you would never use

begrudgingly accepting this fifth, sixth appendage

that appear with age

(which I swear the developmental anatomy textbooks

did not include

not because their ink ran out

but because there is still a deep fear within us all

about what it means to be old and frail)

 

what happened?

i mean, besides a few creaks

you were the picture of health

you’d cry “1000 steps a day”

and diligently proceed to walk

up and down home’s narrow halls

up and down

up and down

a steady force within our walls

learning tongues and news

with sharp wit and humour

an independent spirit

who had inspired my love of

good literature, medicine,

and above all,

people.

 

you were a life force,

and especially

mine

 

i know im not a doc (yet) grandma

but

i know we need to

confront this together

and acknowledge this together

sometime

when we’re both ready

 

for now,

maybe it’s better

we both just allow ourselves to

feel and sulk and be at odds

if only to remind ourselves

we’re both still here

even as some lonely, disjointed echoes of

who we both used to be.

we can mourn together.

Michael Scaffidi is a medical student in the Class of 2022 at Queen's University

 

 


Listen to the Michael's composition here: https://open.spotify.com/album/2arp3Jqp1ksVuovmRE3KA0, and read about it below.

"This is a piece that I wrote for the 2nd Annual Jacalyn Health and Humanities Conference at Queen's University and decided to later publish. "Sonata in C, Journey Through the Valley" tells a story of what a patient experiences when given a serious diagnosis. Specifically, I strove to show how disruptive this event can be through the use of a highly dissonant "diminished chord". In addition, in contrast to the peaceful, almost indolent first theme using triplets, the second theme uses the infamous theme of "Dies Irae" (Day of Wrath), which is derived from a Latin hymn that is often used throughout classical and film music to signpost death or an ominous event. ...continue reading

Parisa Selseleh is a medical student in the Class of 2022 at the University of Manitoba

 

 

Dear you,

I must be honest, I was not looking forward to seeing you in the gloomy October day that coincided with my birthday. Despite my eagerness to learn about human illnesses, I was not ready to shatter my ignorance of human mortality and the hearts that give up. I slowly walked the long hallways leading to your current resting place, the Gross Anatomy Laboratory. Then, I saw you covered by an orange body bag, and in the blink of an eye, I became a medical student.

I had a vague understanding of what it meant to be in the business of mending bodies and minds, but I felt the gravity of my role the moment I saw how. I did not have much medical knowledge when I first met you but slowly, you taught me. How lucky I was. ...continue reading

Kacper Niburski is a medical student in the Class of 2021 at McGill University. He is also the CMAJ student humanities blog editor. Follow his writing instagram: @_kenkan.

 


 

ventricular septal defect

you would not understand

what it means to fall in love

with the blue

to come to pour it

to read it in the cracks of light under heavy spines

to see it in green marseille waters ...continue reading