Sunday, April 24, 2005


How can this bloke have NFI (no f*cking idea) of what the Nazi Swastika means?! Apparently, he flew the Nazi flag, not realising what it meant! Darren Mackay's Nazi flag has caused mass offence but he does not understand why, because he didn't learn about Adolf Hitler in school history lessons.,10117,15048244-1242,00.html

Good god. That is tragic...just tragic.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The revision starts now

There are 7 weeks left till my mid-year exam. What does this mean? I have 6 weeks to revise for the past 12 weeks and keep up with the next 7. Definitely doable. In fact, at the moment, Dave, Rob and I are going through the faculty learning objectives (random selection between the four different domains - basic/clinical sciences, ethics/law, interpersonal communication, and public/preventive helth). It's a pretty snazzy and flashy system that requires the use of Microsoft Excel (courtesy of Dave), which is uber sexy. :)

Apart from uni, things are going okay. I have been feeling a bit homesick lately, in the sense, that I really miss speaking Gujarati. I have started to talk to the cat (oh yeah...that should be its own paragraph) in Gujju-che (that's what my friend Anita likes to call it). Maybe I am just a bit crazy (I can see how the old grannies with lots of cats are deemed crazy) but I think that it understands my muttering.

Okay, so, my flatmates decided to buy a cat while I was in New York. I hate cats. I despise them. I really do. Yes. Affirmative. Uh hunh. Regardless, they bought this albino Siamese kitten and named it Filipe. They didn't know that I was allergic to cats. In fact, I thought it was really stupid of them to buy something like a cat without consulting me on the issue. Whatever it has been done. The good thing is that my allergies haven't been very bad (actually quite mild) and I spend more time outside my place, which means that I have been studying more. :)

This upcoming weekend in ANZAC long weekend. Australia and New Zealand commemorate the ANZAC Day public holiday on the 25th of April every year to honour the bravery and sacrifice of the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), and of all those who served their country in time of war. More specifically, it marks the anniversary of the first major military action taken by the ANZAC in the World War I. In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula (Turkey) to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The plan was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany. They landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war.

Whew...that was a mouthful! But yes, this weekend is ANZAC long weekend. It is going to be filled with insane amounts of studying (I say this now. Hopefully this will be the case by the time Monday evening rolls around). I have two birthday dinners/parties to go to. Saturday is Nabila's party; her birthday is on ANZAC Day but no point in celebrating it on that day. Nabila is originally from Vancouver and she did her undergrad at McGill. She asked me to plan it, so I did. :) I chose a restaurant that overlooks the Brisbane River called the Jade Buddha. Afterwards, we are going to make our way down to the Port Office Hotel, which is a bi-level bar in the City that is just KICK ASS!

Sunday, like every other, will be me trying to get all my grocery shopping done for the week, washing, organising my notes, and touch footy. However, there will be some upscale debauchery after touch. :) It's my good friend Suzanne's (a Brisvegan) birthday and we are (tentatively) heading out to a Turkish restaurant and then to a funky place called the Lychee Lounge, which apparently have the best infused vodka in all of Brisbane. :) I have yet to go to the West End in Brisbane. It is a suburb on the south side of the Brisbane River. Look left - it's the fashionistas sipping lychee martinis; look right - an earthboy hippie is jamming on bongos with a jazz sax player; and straight ahead is a Middle Eastern tobacco cafe, where all sorts discuss whether apple flavour is better than vanilla. And this is at 2am. Apparently, there is never a dull moment in the eclectic melting pot that is West End. I am uber excited. :)

Sunday, April 17, 2005

You are the proud Godfather...

...Natalia Kaptembwa! A very good Kenyan friend of mine is going to be giving birth any day now. A few days ago, I talked to her and she was still thinking of a name for her soon-to-be new born baby girl.

Lillian andI had so much fun working together in Kenya. We kept the office atmosphere light and reasonably cheerful. I worked for an HIV/AIDS organization called the International Community for the Relief of Starvation and Suffering. During the spare times of the day, her and I would work on my Kiswahili and I learnt more about the idiosyncracies and nuance of East African culture. She was an incredible teacher. I would go home with a slight pain in my abs from laughing way too much. Even when I think about it now, I still give a small chuckle. :)

So, Lillian and I were talking and she was having the hardest time coming up with a girl's name. I really like the name Malaika (mah-LAH-ee-kah). In Kiswahili, it means 'angel'. The Indian version of the name would be Malika, which can mean a number of things - princess, garland/flower. However, she wanted an English (read: Biblical) name. So, I told her some of my suggestions (Christine, Ruth, Sarah, Suzanne). She shot all of them down. Then I though of the name Natalie. Why Natalie? Well, I was coming home from spending the afternoon with my friend Colleen from Calgary (she was here about 48 hours on business, which was promoting the University of Calgary at the University of Queensland Study Abroad Fair). And I rang up Natalie (she is a fellow med student from the British Crown dependency of the Island of Guersney) and she was doing some grocery shopping at Coles in Toowong Village. I met up with her as I was passing Toowong Village when I had called. We went back to her place and I marvelled at her (uber) modern kitchen and fancy appliances. I helped her make flapjacks. These aren't pancakes or flatcakes. These are rolled oats that have been mixed lots of butter and sugar and then cooked. Mmmmmmmmmm. She's heaps of fun - and she turns bright red whenever I yell out her name (most often in the lecture theatre). :)

Back to the story...I told Lilian this name and she loved it! Natalie (and its many variants) is of Latin origin and it refers to a baby that has been born at Christmas. Natal (and it many variants) mean Christmas in a number of languages. For example, natal means Christimas in Gujarati, natale in Portugeuse, and navidad in Spanish. So, the baby will be named Natalie Kaptembwa. After that process, Lillian asked me if I could be the baby's godfather. I don't think that I have ever thought about it, as the idea of godparenthood. A godparent is someone that has been selected by the parent(s) to ensure that their child(ren) are being raised as good Christians. However, I reckon that in this day in age (also my friend Gemma said this as well) that a godparent is someone that the child's parent(s) feels close to and would like to have a role in the upbringing (literal/figurative) in their child. Even though I know that I would have no clue as to how to raise Natalie as a good Christian, the honour that has been bestowed upon me is, indeed, quite great.

Monday, April 11, 2005

"He doesn't listen to a thing I say"

This week's PBL case is about a 6 year old (James), whose parents have brought him into your practice. He has been complaining of earaches (and has a whole lists of triggers associated with it) and how he has been quite disruptive in class. It is as if this week's case is taken from the earlier chapters of my life. What happened to John? He has gone deaf.

Oddly enough, until now, I haven't really looked into why my hearing, or lack of, is the way it is. For some reason, I have become complacent about it. The PBL group asked me a number of questions about what it was like, how it happened, and such things. I really didn't have much to tell them. Honestly, it never occured to me that I should know more about it.

My hearing impairment was caused by, what doctors think, scarlet fever. I know that I had horrible fevers when I was a kid. They were so bad that my parents often had to resort to placing me in a tub of ice and ice water. Hence why I hate showering/bathing in cold water. I remember how my Grade 1 teacher, Mrs. Stradecki, (read: a total bitch) was absolutely awful in how she treated me. I was ostracised from the class and became a social outcaste (which lasted for most of my grade schooling years), a child who wanted nothing more to fit in and not have to worry about (at the time it was) a stupid machine in his ear. Only if she had attended the lecture on developmental problems in school aged children that I had today. I am glad to know that doctors are being trained in properly examining and not placing judgement on cases like these.

Now, I have never used my hearing impairment as a disability. My parents made sure that I was constantly reminded of the normalcy of my upbringing. Sure there were things that I had trouble getting used to, such as talking/listening on the phone. However, these were things that I was able to overcome. It has been a long time since I've had to overcome anything new. Meaning, that being accepted to medical school was the first time that I really had to honestly examine any shortcomings I had with my impairment. The only thing that I can think of it how I will be able to use a conventional stethescope. The answer is that I won't be able to use one. I am still looking into what sort of stethescopes are available for people with hearing aids. From what I have seen thus far, there are not many out there and the prices for these things are almost 5 times more than the conventional (Litman Cardiology 3) stethescope. To make matters more interesting, University of Queensland's School of Medicine has never had an hearing impaired student. Don't I feel even more special? :)

This week will be a good one - it will be a week where I will (hopefully) be able to look at myself from the position of what has happened (in the physiological/pathological sense) and and from the position of being a hearing impaired person. Whoa...that's deep.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Can he drink beer?

"Can I drink beer?" is this week's PBL (problem-based learning) case. A quick run down: A young man (19) Stephen K. has been brought to Accident & Emergency by his mum. She says that Stephen has been losing weight recently despite eating as much or more than usual. As well, she has noticed that he always seems to be thirsty. “He drinks so much that he gets up several times each night to go to the toilet.” While still in A&E, Stephen’s blood glucose was measured on a glucometer as 28 mmol/L (RR: 3.5 - 5.5 mmol/L). A urine dipstick test indicates glucose ++++ and ketone bodies ++++.

Alright, so what's wrong with him? Don't all speak out at once because the cacophony will make me go deaf. (hahahaha). Those of you that are have been following very closely...he has Type I diabetes mellitus. Yes.

So, what does all this mean? Well, it means that Stephen will have to jab himself with insulin every day; he needs to make sure that he doesn't get hypoglycaemic or hyperglycaemic (too little or too much insulin, respectively, in his blood), and I still need to answer the question if he can drink beer.

All this seems quite simple...but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Damn metabolism! It is late Saturday afternoon and I have declined a few offers to a couple of different parties (Now I should be able to see pigs fly! I thought that the day would never come where Mr. Thankey has willingly declined a social function! There is something wrong...perhaps, it warrants a trip to the hospital?) I have a number of learning objectives left to finish (out of 8, I have finished the first two - the anatomy of the pancreas and the role of insulin/glucagon in the regulation of metabolism), which I am determined to get before I got to bed. If that means staying up all night, then so be it.

Aside from uni, I still haven't gotten over the novelty of being here in Brisbane. A few days ago, I was walking to uni and I saw a huge flock of cockatoos (sulphur-crested cockatoos to be exact)! Now, I can never say that I have seen cockatoos outside of a cage or the zoo - it was awesome! (Yes, birds are making me excited...sad but true). A few weeks ago before leaving for New York, I saw a flock of rose breasted cockatoos or, more commonly called, galahs. Also, the fact that Autumn is in full swing and it is still nice out. Sure the early mornings and late nights are a bit cooler and it seems to rain a bit more often, but I can deal with that. :) Also, I am starting to really consider where I want to be after I graduate from here. A huge part of me wants to stay here in Australia (that will depend on the benevolence of the Australian government); however, I have been looking more and more into the UK and Canada. I guess I should be keeping all my options open.

Now, there are a couple of things that I have been missing - my mum's cooking (I only wished that she was able to send care packages of food but they would a) go off in getting here and b) Australian customs would incinerate it on the spot or they'd eat it); I miss some of the cultural aspects of my life, for instance, I miss speaking Gujarati. I know that this sounds odd but for those of that can speaking another language part from English, know what I mean. I have yet to meet any Gujaratis here in Brisbane (not that I am actively searching for them) but it would be nice to speak a language that is very close to my heart.

Sorry about going back to the medical thing but I forgot about something quite important that happened this week. This was the first week (of 10) that I went to my clinical coaching course. This is a 10-week course that will help prepare me and my other classmates on the MSAT (Multiple Station Assessment Test). This is a 3-hour clinical exam that will assess out clinical skills in terms of taking the history of a patient and looking at taking exams in gastroenterology, central nervous system, cardiovascular, and respiratory. There will also be a component on the ethics and law in medicine in that exam. Okay, so my group (6 people from my PBL) went to the Greenslopes Private Hospital, it used to be primarily a veterens' hospital but now it admits all adults. My preceptor is a psychiatrist, Dr. A. Majumdar. Okay, does anyone see what's wrong with that? PSYCHIATRIST? Give me a bloody break! The very first thing that Dr. Majumdar said when we entered his office was, "I want to let you know that I am a psychiatrist and I don't know how helpful I will be with the stuff that we are to be looking over." Even if that is the truth, you don't have to let us know that! Many of us asked ourselves, "well, why the fuck are you doing this? and why are we here?" Don't get me wrong, I believe that the area of psychiatry is very interesting (it is the flavour of the month for me) but wouldn't it be more conducive for us to have a preceptor that did general medicine/gastrointestinal/cardiology/surgery etc? Also, this means that the probability of our group seeing any patients is nil. All the other groups, or at least all the ones that I have talked to, have been able to see patients and practice their skills with taking the clinical exam. Seeing patients that are commited to a psychiatric ward of any hospital requires special training, which is something that we won't have until much later. I just wished that that the hospital administrator was a bit more cognizant of those sort of things, as opposed to finding any physician that is willing to host a group of 6 students.

Mmmm, I just took an hour break to make me some dinner. What did I have? I made mutter paneer with rice (Tilda basmati of course). :) Indian food makes Veevek a very happy person (then again, all kinds of food make Veevek a very happy person).

Alright, I need to start on the remaining learning objectives while my mates are out having a good time. There is one exception that I know of - Dave. He is my partner-in-crime that being said, he is also studying. Just makes me smile knowing that there are a few of us socialites out there that are willing to take one for the team. :)

Monday, April 04, 2005

New York and back again...

It has been quite some time since I've posted (sorry about that). Things have been quite hectic with med school and getting ready for the conference in New York.

Well, first off - medical school is going well. I am catching up on the fed, resting, starvation, exericse states of metabolism (indeed very fun) and the PBL case that I missed while in NYC, which was all about anorexia nervosa.

Now, New York. I love that city. It is the one city in the USofA that I will fly over the oceans to visit. Speaking of flying over the oceans - it sucks! The flight from BNE to LAX (for those that don't speak airport code - a) get used to them because that's what I like to use; and b) you need to travel more) was almost 14.5 hours. I kept myself busy with reading Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. Absolutely fantastic book! OH MOTHER OF GOD! I just realised that it is his autobiography. GOOD GOD! That changes everything. Yes, this is definitely a book that everyone needs to read. It is about a man who escape prison in New Zealand and finds himself in India working as many things, a doctor, smuggler, gunrunner, drug dealer, casting agent, and a fighter in the Russo-Afghan war, etc.

New York was phenomenal (yes, I alway said that). I was able to see some really good friends again (Christine, Peter, Deana, Erin, Rabia, Jen T, Radford, Kevin, Jake, Tracy, Amierah, JJ, Rachel, Renee) and I was able to make many new ones! I love those times where you can renew and strengthen your friendships with a number of people from all over the world; at the same time, you invest a bit of yourself into making new friends, in the hopes of it becoming as strong as the ones that you have created and cultivated.

Prior to leaving for NYC, I told myself that I would get most of my shopping (both clothes and other items that are unavailabe in Australia) in my free time. Shyeah right! There was no free time. Sorry, let me clarify. The free time that I had was after midnight and before 8am, which meant that Veevek got very little shopping done. I did manage to buy some underwear, socks, and a polo t-shirt from H&M (I can't begin to tell you how much I love that store). However, in the little free time that I did have, I made sure to give my liver a good workout and being in the company of those that make my spirit feel so much more free and livlier.

Also, one thing that I realised in NYC is that I don't deal well with cold. I really don't. It was below 10 degrees Centigrade most of the time with the occasional wet snow, freezing rain, and sleet. Yeah, no. I'd much rather prefer the sun shining with the occasional cool breeze that comes by and evaporates the sweat. Yep, that's what I like.

Now, I am back in Brisbane. The Easter holidays end today and I head back to uni tomorrow. I cannot wait to see my friends again. Indeed this break was all about rejuvination and trying to reclaim what I have lost while studying 6 days a week - my sanity.

The onset of classes also reminds me and my fellow class mates that the June exam is looming. This is a three-hour exam that I have to write in the middle of June right before my winter break. I'm starting week 10 tomorrow and have 9 more weeks left until exam day. This means that I have to get my ass into gear and revise the previous 9 weeks, while learning the new 9 weeks. Ahhh, this is the point where Mr. Thankey will have no social life...gotcha. :)

Oh, this is completely off topic but I love IKEA. I really do. I went there yesterday with my friend Claire and bought all sorts of neat things. A bookshelf, a clamp lamp, some things for the kitchen, bedsheets, a duvet cover, and pillow cases for the newly acquired pillows (courtesy of the Hitlon). Finally, I can have some order in my room.

Alright, it is 10am and I need to bustamove on the day. Graeme is having another bbq this afternoon. Normally, Sunday is a day of rest but not for me. After this bbq, I have to get cracking on finishing up the rest of Week 9 and start revising Week 8 and 7 (a bit ambitious but the day still has 14 hours in it).