Friday, July 6, 2007

Medicine, Motherhood and Mother Teresa

There is something about the summer heat that gets me thinking – maybe it’s the long warm nights that start a fermentation process – or the break from everything that brings things together. Or just that life changes this time of year.

It all started Wednesday when I read an editorial from a third year medical student – she’s was packing it up – that was it, no more, her family had to take priority. I saw it as it would be for me – choices have to be made. We have a medical school system that has decided that it would rather choose individuals driven to the point of self destruction than pick individuals who are “well rounded,” the normal people. Now maybe they know something I don’t, like that people don’t actually want normal people to be their doctors. Maybe they don’t want someone who knows failure, sadness, depression, family issues, ailing parents, end of life needs, children (3 of the doctors in our clinic don’t know how to hold a baby properly…) etc. We have a system that rewards men and barren women – barren of soul and child. A child is not the determination of a woman, but it should be allowed. And yet here it was in today’s paper an editorial comment from a man whom I believe should be severely chastised by his peers – a scathing comment that women who want to be doctors must chose – be a doctor or be a mother, you can’t be both. Since when were they mutually exclusive? We don’t tell our male doctors – be a father or a doctor – are they not also to be involved in child rearing? If it is the case that the Canadian medical system hailed by the world, and Michael Moore (Sicko) believes that females have no place if they intend to have children then what kind of system do we have? We have a chauvinistic system, rife with machismo filth. I for one and am now glad I’ve decided to avoid that – lest I meet one these male doctors in person and give him a piece of my mind.

On to a just as cheerful note, I’ve noticed we’ve forgotten another important anniversary. Yes it is the anniversary of Princess Diana’s death; it is also the anniversary of a more influential individual – Mother Teresa. My father noted that she would be happy the world has forgotten about her – then her service can continue with out the pollution of the media. I however wonder, in the wake of Live Aid and the Princess Diana fundraiser – we have shown again that aid only occurs when it makes good TV. A fundraiser to help individuals die with dignity isn’t cheerful and fluffy, and talk of leprosy isn’t what we crave. We would rather talk about Nicole Ritchie’s “pregnancy.” We just don’t get it do we?

Well I’m not going to say I do, but I think I’m beginning to get me. Like I said to Cheryl this week - I see a destination in the distance – I just don’t know how the hell to get there… I see it clearer everyday that I have been given life to give it to others – so much so that marriage and my biological children are not necessary. My family refuses to believe so – but in the end I don’t think they really factor into those two decisions now do they?


stitchpixie said...

"(3 of the doctors in our clinic don’t know how to hold a baby properly…) "

hahahah! but you can't be type A without it now, can you

juicyjay said...

All of what you said above is why I had to get out of the med school track and find my own path. I lost my own mother for much of my youth to workaholism and depression and if there was anything I was sure of (even at the ripe age of 21), it was I didn't want to inflict that sort of motherhood on any potential offspring of my own.
I hate the system, and reject the notion of medicine as exclusively scientific or intellectual in opposition to social and holistic. But sadly there is no way to change it soon enough for us to be the great doctors you know that we'd be. Clearly there are women who do both - I know two women doctors who have children and seem to manage it well - so we know that it is possible, but part of my journey through my 20's was admitting that I didn't think I had the type of intellect and stamina that the current system would demand of me in order to balance myself as a woman, potential mother and mate, and the demands of medical practice. It's my patients' loss I guess.

I find my current pursuit of public health very healing in a way - it allows me to look at health and medicine in a way that better suits my compassionate, advocate, champion of social justice self, while still applying the intelligence I do have to make it all effective (or at least try).

In summary - we all have our own path to throw off the shackles of our parents' (and our own!) expectations and find our way through the obstacles...
...but I still think you should apply to my program. Maybe you could do a joint masters' in public health and gerontology?