Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy belated Valentine's Day!, by blogger of the month Amanda Norwich

How can you say "no" to that face?
Happy belated Valentine's Day! Although this is not a holiday generally recognized in Israel, being it is devoid of any Hallmark cards, we still find ways to celebrate. Yes, there is love without Hallmark. I know, unbelievable! For instance, while taking a break from Virology lab one of our very best class bakers (ehem Kiki Fabian) handed out an amazing batch of homemade brownies shaped like hearts! Delicious and gluten-free. Not to mention we just learned that chocolate is healthy for your heart, so really what more could you ask for?

Alert! Medical students having fun.
Just to catch everyone up to speed on the rest of the week, we did have a Zumba/dinner party, in that order if anyone was curious. It was really a great time and an awesome workout if anyone gets the chance to shake it like a polaroid anytime soon. After sweating it out we went upstairs to taste the dishes each group had made based on heart-healthy diets like DASH and had a proper feast. The next day we had a poster session in the amazingly warm Beer Sheva sun and completed the week with a wrap up session. All in all the entire week was a great opportunity for me to grow, both as a medical student and a temporary resident of Israel. Things are not so different here, despite the language barriers.

 No matter what diabetes is called it's always high blood sugar and heart disease scares most of us out of our pants. What was really eye-opening was getting to see the emotional pain the patients who were willing to talk to us went through. At the wrap up session the professor in charge of coordinating the week said if all we got out of our activities was the ability to empathize more with patients suffering from heart disease he was happy. If that's the case, he succeeded in my eyes. Even though it seemed like at times my level of emotional involvement with the patients was extreme, perhaps far beyond anything I would allow myself normally, I don't have any regrets. 

During one particularly hard interview one of my classmates from Goldman (BGU's medical school) allowed herself to openly cry, while I found myself tearing up as well. Even though I know it would be impossible to feel this kind of connection with everyone throughout my career, there's no better time to do it than now when we don't have any direct responsibilities or life-changing decisions to make. And now the naive sentence I'm sure every medical student says at some point - I hope I never become jaded. That I let myself feel connected to patients even though it can be hard. If there's anything I've learned this week from the marathon runner who had a heart attack with no apparent cause or the woman who came in for a simple test and was told she had to go into open heart surgery, it's that sometimes medical tools are fallible at best. And often there's little to nothing we can actually "fix." So the best tool we have is to listen and sometimes that's enough.

Shabbat soup.
On a less serious note, we ended the week with possibly my favorite part of being in Israel - Shabbat dinner. It started out as an attempt to host a group of students from both classes, but since they're in finals right now that didn't work out. However, the night was still amazing as we shared soup, pasta, cheese and brownies over candle light. Perhaps not a meal with the healthiest glycemic index, but I've also learned you have to indulge yourself a little every once and a while. Because life is short and really, who doesn't love chocolate? - blogger of the month Amanda Norwich
PS - Happy (belated) Anniversary to Mr. & Mrs. Kalansky from MSIH Class of 2015!