05 February, 2012

bottle that feeling up

I recently read Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. This novel did not receive very high reviews amongst the literary community, but it was strongly recommended to me by several medical students and physicians. Like them, I loved it. I suppose it stems from a love for the intertwining of medicine and art. Verghese is a physician who displays passion for pure, simple, hands-on medicine. He lauds the skilled physician who considers the whole of the patient and is able to diagnose with only his hands. Reference: "A doctor's touch" TED talk.

Throughout the novel he describes anatomy and disease processes in a clear and beautiful manner. Well, beautiful compared to a textbook. Apparently it's gibberish to the non-medical ear. Either way, I soaked it up and felt inspired to continue along this path to becoming a doctor. It made me want to really know my stuff - well enough to write about it without having to reference Netter's, well enough to feel minute but essential differences between radial pulses. (Shoot, I still get excited when I feel a liver edge.)What I'm about to say may sound crazy, but it was enough to make me think that studying for boards might not be that bad. Synthesizing all that I have learned the last 2 years, putting the pieces together and seeing the bigger picture of what all this time and discipline has really been about.

Wow. I wish I could bottle that feeling up and carry it around with me for the next 5 months.

Maybe a little Ethiopian food will help as a reminder. You see, most of the novel is set in Ethiopia and descriptions of the food sneak in every now and then. Of course, I became curious about sour injeera and garlicky wat. Finally, this weekend, we went to the Ethiopian Diamond with one of our favorite food-loving couples. To be honest, the experience itself was worth a lot more than the food. Don't get me wrong, it was tasty, but I don't think I would get excited about leftovers. The dinner itself was fabulous. The restaurant was filled with groups of people from every ethnic background imaginable, all eating with their hands, smiling. I love eating with my hands, like adding in that additional sense makes the food that much better. Ian had a bit of a cold, but medical students are pretty proud of their immune systems and nobody minded his hands in the mix. The sour injeera, salty meats, sweet honey wine, and friends to share it with all combined to make a beautiful evening.

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