urological surgery: an interpretation

By Georgia Carter

you are in a submarine. you are looking through a periscope. all around you is blackness, the crushing shade of water when the sun is a distant rumour. you hang, suspended motionless in the current that stirs up flecks and clouds of matter. below you, thrown into relief by your tiny circle of light, stretches a fleshy coral reef. outcroppings, patterned with crazy brain-like shadings, shadow near-invisible holes, and malignant little jellyfish try to pattern themselves after the pinkish floor they cling to.

with your curved little instrument you dig away at the reef. satisfying lumps of material slide easily off the whole. what is left turns pale and fluffy at the intrusion, its stuffing almost frothing out like a slit couch. beeps and sizzlings accompany your work.

you turn your attention to the floor, scraping delicately at the jellyfish. silky red flags unfurl from their hiding places and spiral smoothly into the dark. your instrument begins to roughen, blacken, and the smoky smell of a barbecue left unattended rises incongruously around you.

a jellyfish clings to your cauteriser, suddenly squid-like, red and white like a sunburnt beachgoer. you manage to scrape it off against the floor, and it too whooshes away with the current


Feature image from National Geographic

“Have You Tried Being Happy?”

By Adya Choudhary

“At the root of this dilemma is the way we view mental health in this country. Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it’s still an illness, and there should be no distinction.– Michelle Obama

I came across this quote the other day as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed. It’s an interesting idea, to liken a mental illness to a physical one. Depression and anxiety seem far removed from a broken arm or leg –  but, at their core, are they really that different? Continue reading

Depression: a pop-up joke by my brain.

By Rav Gaddam

As I write this, I am sitting in class, questioning how I got here. Not medicine, or life, or anything as deep and meaningful as that, but more how did I get to this class, all the while feeling sad and teary?

As Maria von Trapp once said in a brilliant movie, “Let’s start at the very beginning, A very good place to start.”

This morning, I woke up before my alarm, and I did what I do every morning; I start my day telling myself that “Powerful people get back up every day”, then dragging my hideous PJ clad-self into the shower to begin the routine; a ninja wash, waging and winning a war against my hair, breakfast sculling and then off to placement.

Here, things diverged from the routine.

Normally, I would pretend to be 100% interested in my placement, soaking up things like the knowledge sponge I am, all the while secretly day dreaming about lunch. Once in a blue moon, an intern or a consultant will interact with me and ask me a question (which I usually improvise an answer to), and slowly but surely, lunchtime appears.

But today? Not so much.

Today, I got to the placement, joined the handover, and then, I had a funny feeling. It’s the feeling that you sometimes get when you know your housemates are up to some mischief (like perhaps sticking your flamingo candles to the roof). Call it intuition, call it a warning shot, whatever floats your sailboat. Turns out, I was right to be on guard, cause today, my brain decided to play a fun little prank on me.

What was that joke, you ask? Well, I went from being Pooh Bear to Eeyore in under 5 minutes.

I’m going to be honest with you; if I were to have a hidden OSCE talent, this would be it. If there was a station to see how fast you could go from being relatively functional to crying on the floor about how you didn’t wear matching socks today, I would blow the examiner away. I would be the percentile that was above the percentile, an ATAR score of 100, if you will.

So today, at placement, I went to the bathroom and cried.

What triggered me? Who knows, I probably never will. But for some reason, my brain just decided that that today is the day for a cry. I like to imagine that perhaps there are little people in my head going “TODAY, SAD RAV WILL BE ACTIVATED.” Yes, I know I do med, but I still have an overactive imagination, so the people in my head will continue to be there to make the decisions that I make.

I digress from my point though.

Depression is a funny thing; a little bit HAHA funny, but a little bit frustrating funny too. Your doctor tells you to remove your triggers, your therapist tells you to challenge your thinking, your mum tells you that you are powerful, you can dust yourself off and rebuild again. Despite all that great advice though, sometimes you just don’t know when it might hit, or what you might be doing (fun fact, I once broke down while eating a HSP, and I don’t know if you have ever seen a person ugly cry while also shovelling food, but trust me, ain’t a good look).

What does it feel like, I hear you ask?

Well, imagine watching a really sad movie (not sad because they are terrible like Twilight, more sadder like Marley and Me), and take the part of the movie you cried in, and put it on replay. That feeling of sadness, despair and a little hint of hopelessness, all combined with irritability, anger and tears, that’s what depression feels like for me. It usually just tracks along most days in the background like all the advertisements on the interwebs, but every once in a while, it pops up despite your ad-block, so you just have to emergency quit Safari and hope that you didn’t lose anything important in the tabs you just also accidentally closed. Somehow, while all of this is happening, you’re also expected to trundle along and keep smiling/being derpy and continue to be a medical knowledge sponge.

So where to from here?

Well, I do need to get through this class, despite my mind telling me that this is not worth it. Then, home would be a good start. A hot shower, a call to the therapist, perhaps a visit to Officeworks or Aldi. I am fortunate/unfortunate enough to know what to do when I get in one of my spirally low moods, but not everyone might be at this point yet. Figure out what helps you from spiralling downwards and deploy it as necessary. Ask for help, and if anyone even mildly gives you any shame about that, either:

  1. Cut them out of your life
  2. Ask them why they are doing it, and get them to challenge their thinking
  3. Walk away like the BAWSE you are and let the haters do their own thing

Most importantly though, be kind to yourself. Love yourself, even if your brain decides to throw a tantrum and ruin your productive plans and be accepting that some days/weeks/months can be an absolute shit-show. Even if you are completely “normal”, you are bound to have a bad day, but if you’re somewhere along a mental health issue journey (like me), know that you might have more hurdles than most, so be accepting of that, get your warrior mode on and be that powerful person and try to get back up every day.

Forgive yourself for having the bad day. It’s ok, and know you will always have people to help you get back up again.

Oh, and just to bring this to a full circle, how did I get to class? I drove myself. (HAHA funny joke, I know, I am now set to do stand-up as my back up career.)


 

Medical Student Gets Lucky; Consultant Buys Team Coffee On Student’s First Ward Round In Five Weeks

By Christopher Nguyen

In a feel-good news story for your Monday evening, The Auricle has received word about some miraculous happenings at Monash Medical Centre.

Third year medical student Jean Allen, attending her first ward round of the rotation, has managed to swoop on her rotation group’s hard work and take advantage of a free cup of increasingly transient and ineffective liquid Ritalin: a good old-fashioned coffee.

“This is the first ward round I’ve attended in this rotation and it just happens to be the one where the consultant’s finally warmed up to the medical students enough to shout them a soy cap. I reckon I’m off to buy a lottery ticket today.”

Her less truant counterpart, ward partner Michael Jamieson, scowled in the corner with his long black, ruing the early starts and daily four-hour sessions spent roaming around the hospital trying not to get in the way of important routine procedures on the ward rounds each morning.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t annoyed. I’ve tried every trick in the book; getting here earlier than the registrar, chanting my full name three times whenever someone’s asked for the medical student, even scrambling for my stash of fifteen pens that I’ve slowly been giving away in the hope that the consultant realises they’ve been taking my pens before taking pity on me and shouting me that elusive coffee. I’ve even declined going to the outpatients’ clinic to subject myself to an afternoon of tagging along with the intern on the ward and being an absolute pest while they’ve done paperwork to try and cash in on just fifteen glorious minutes of team bonding and that damned free coffee I desire. It’s just unfair, ridiculously unfair. I had half a mind to oust her right there and then. I was going to go all Damian from Mean Girls on her.”

In light of these revelations about the underground world of ‘coffee hunting’ from the higher ups, we went in search of more comments on the current state of arse-kissing at a third-year level and future forecasts for the field.

“I reckon it’s all about picking and choosing the team based on the vibes you get,’ remarks one student wishing to remain anonymous. ‘Things like whether the consultant wears a tie doesn’t give you much to go on; it gives you an idea of whether you should bother showing up at all, because you’d probably be grilled on how they used to treat a rare condition back in the 1960s. I’ve heard some people use the consultant’s reaction to the classic ‘I have a tute’ excuse to get out of ward rounds as their litmus test for whether they should persist with trying to get some sweet, sweet bean. If they show interest and ask you about your tute trying to catch you in a lie, you just know you’re in for a bad time. My yard stick is whether the consultant continues to ask for your name despite forgetting it at least 5 times. I’ve got this general surgery consultant and she’s up to 4 now; she puts in the effort to ask every time, I’m definitely in with a chance. She’s operating tomorrow and there’s a prime twenty-minute window between her second and third case; pick your battles wisely, I say.”

At the very least, it’s abundantly clear that this issue hits home for many medical students; both in its familiarity and importance. As another student explains and/or complains, “How am I supposed to know whether I need to buy myself a baseline coffee to get me going in the morning if the field is so volatile these days? What if consultants suddenly start buying us coffee before ward rounds? Would I even want to live in such an unpredictable climate? I can’t have two coffees within 30 minutes. I haven’t experienced enough stress and hardship for that yet.”

What started as a positive snippet of news has become an investigation into an extreme sport as old as time itself. The competitive nature of coffee hunting and today’s incident may even perhaps be an allegory for the challenges of finding advantage and favour, in order to further our individual causes at the expense of our relationships with our fellow peers, only contributing to the mutual self-destruction of cohort morale. This, however, isn’t the time for speculation into any hidden meaning behind a seemingly harmless and friendly sport occurring every single day.

Despite all this, our team is left with more questions than answers as they assess the facts that remain: first, that team coffee rounds will perennially be unpredictable, perhaps on purpose to drag students out of bed to ward rounds; second, that the coffee conundrum of whether to bank on snaring a free coffee and forgo the self-funded morning perk continues to stew in the bleary minds of students; and lastly (yet most terrifyingly) that it’ll only get even more messy in fourth year as coffees on the ward are exchanged for babies in the labour suite. The Auricle understands that the dynamics only get more tense when the stakes are higher and midwives and logbooks are involved.

Reporting for the Auricle and signing off,

Christopher Nguyen


Feature image from The Independent 

Getting Outside

By Ash Spittle

By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard of some of the most important positive emotions that contribute to a sense of wellbeing: gratitude, joy, and love, to name a few. But there’s one that is not often discussed, and that is awe. Awe is the feeling of goodness on a grand scale, of feeling overwhelmed by greatness, and often happens when we are looking at something magnificent like a landscape of huge mountains, or a wide-open ocean stretching as far as the eye can see. I’ve always felt happiest down by the beach or amongst the mountains and I’ve noticed that the first glimpse of ocean as I’m driving down to the beach, or the first time I see the mountain peaks on the drive to the snow, is met with a feeling of relief, relaxation, and happiness. Only recently have I learned that this sensation is a well-recognised phenomenon. Awe.

I’ve been lucky enough to get more than my fair share of awe in the past six months. In December I did the Annapurna circuit trek in Nepal with one of my friends. At the end of our trip, as we reflected on the two weeks of walking, we both agreed on the two best days of the walk – the days when we had the most incredible view of the Himalayas. On each of these days, as we reached the top of the hill, an expanse of enormous 8000-metre-high peaks simply stopped us in our tracks. We just stood there and admired them, feeling overwhelmed with awe, and couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day (despite our blisters!). Today it’s Easter Monday, and just yesterday I was walking over the Tongariro pass in New Zealand: home to some spectacular red volcanos and sparkling emerald lakes. I feel so lucky and happy to have been able to see that amazing landscape and appreciate all that the outdoors has to offer.

Of course, we can’t have these awe-inspiring moments every day. Even if some of us end up working up in the mountains or down by the beach, in a place that makes us stop and stare, it’s certainly not going to be the majority of us, and it is most definitely will not be the majority of medical school. Right now, our days consist of being inside our cars, public transport, lecture theatres, and hospital wards, often with not a lot of time for anything else. So how can we bring a little bit of awe into our everyday lives?

I firmly believe that being outside in the open air is like being in the mountains or at the beach on a mini scale. I know that the days when I take a moment to appreciate my surroundings are the days I feel happiest in all aspects of my life. So here a few of my ideas for how you can get outside every day, for no other reason than to put a smile on your face.

If you’re a morning person:

If you don’t already, try setting your alarm 10 or 15 minutes earlier, get up and go for a quick walk around your block. Look up at the trees. The leaves are changing colour at the moment and, as cheesy as it sounds, it really is beautiful. If you don’t like walking, find a spot to sit outside and stretch or wake up slowly.

On your way to uni:

Do you catch public transport? Take a moment when you’re walking to and from the train to look up at the sky. Most of you probably have to get going early, and Melbourne has some pretty impressive sunrises to offer. Do you drive your car? Park your car just a bit further away (like a million people before me have suggested) and use the time it takes to walk to relax and enjoy the cool autumn breeze.

Coffee time or lunch time:

If you brought your own lunch, take it outside to eat in the sunshine. If it’s raining, find somewhere under shelter and enjoy the smell of the rain. If you’re at the hospital and have a bit of time, walk to the café down the street to get your coffee, or go around the outside of the building to get to the good coffee place instead of through the over pass (yes MMC, I’m talking to you).

Catching up with friends:

Got a standing brunch date at your favourite café? Try switching it up for a coffee to go and a walk around your local park instead. You can appreciate the outdoors together and save some money at the same time!

Have you got a whole free weekend?!

Get outside and find yourself some awe! We’ve got the beaches from St Kilda down to the Peninsula, we’ve got the Dandenong Ranges just an easy walk from the Belgrave train line, there’s the Yarra Trail (my personal favourite) and all the other bike paths along rivers in Melbourne, and even something as simple as your local duck pond. If you’re really feeling adventurous then head down to the Great Ocean Road or up to the Victorian High Plains and walk, sit, and enjoy.
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