Posted in Health, Literature, Medical, Philosophy, Theology

The Difference between a Surgeon and a Physician

I always stand guard against over-generalisations and over-simplifications but sometimes there is no choice but to succumb to the banalities of common literature. A surgeon is a medical doctor who specialises in doing operations (as the British say) or operating theatre procedures (as the Americans call it) while a Physician on the other hand specialises in prescribing drugs and everything else other than “cutting to effect a cure”. There are overlaps of coarse: Surgeons also prescribe medications and Physicians also do some surgical procedures. The subject of my essay however is not about the qualifications and job descriptions of the two but in the juxtaposition of personality traits that continues to pique the interest of any individual who finds themselves picking lilies, thorns and roses in the rich field that is the medical profession.

Scientific work has been done to better understand these differences. A few come to mind. Rene Warschkow et al did a comparative cross-sectional study on personality traits in Internists (the American term for Specialist Physicians) and Surgeons in Switzerland using the Frieburg Personality Inverntory and published some interesting findings. In general, Surgeons viewed themselves as having excessive achievement orientation and extraversion (talkative, energetic, enthusiastic and assertive) while their counterparts, the Physicians, admitted to having decreased aggressiveness. In the study Surgeons had the stereotype of being less inhibited, more excitable, aggressive and strained while Physicians on the other hand were almost balanced and had the stereotype of having highly developed social orientation. McCulloch et al also published interesting findings on tolerance of uncertainty, extroversion, neuroticism and attitudes to randomised controlled trials (how a doctor accepts the new science) among one thousand (1 000) Surgeons and Physicians who were mailed questionnaires and replied. Surgeons were found to be more extroverted (the talkative doctors) and less neurotic while also being more intolerant of uncertainty. However, no difference was found in the attitudes regarding clinical trials.

On the 27th of September 2013, at the International Conference on Residency Education, Dr Joseph M. Drosdeck of Wexner Medical Centre Ohio made a very fascinating presentation on his findings in a study he did on 68 Surgical participants and 124 non-Surgical participants on the Five Factor Model (also known as the Big Five Inventory Survey). I have to admit this single work of science – the Big Five Inventory Survey – has been the single most powerful driving force behing this nifty essay. Drosdeck compared five aspects of personality:

1. Extraversion (explained above)

2. Agreeableness (sympathetic, kind, mature, caring and affectionate – both hostility and indifference)

3. Conscientiousness (organised, thorough, diligent and planful). Good impluse control also falls under this category.

4. Emotional Stability (Neuroticism) – calm in the face of adversity. Low scores were associated with Anxiety, Depression and self – consciousness.

5. Openness to Experience (Intellectual, creative, artistic – Conventional andConservative) OR

Preference to familiarity

I found Drosdeck’s conclusions very fascinating. He concluded that there are indeed inherent personality differences between Surgical and non-Surgical specialties AND personality traits change during medical training. This is exactly what we ALL have known: Surgeons are born but can be made. Physicans are born but can be made. Now that I have the warm embracing cushion of fact allow me to embellish and indulge.

I know a real Surgeon. I have met him. He has a very deep voice and he loves his drink. Legend has it he once vomitted into an open abdomen while operating. He was called to an emegerncy (even though he was not on call) while lubricating and because he is a real Surgeon he responded. The patient survived, made a full recovery and the Surgeon is still a real Surgeon. I remember a particular day. I was seated somewhere in a plain dark corner while the Surgeon introduced us the meek medical students to Surgery. He said and this I remember clearly for it was during one of those few moments I actually paid attention during a lecture, “A Surgeon has eyes of an eagle, the heart of a lion, hands of a baby……”. He must have said more but I blanked out as usual. He is a politician, loves authority, thinks he’s the greatest Surgeon on earth, thinks being a Surgeon is the greatest call on earth and believes, “God’s greatest gift to mankind is a functioning anus.” He has childish tendencies. I remember one day in theatre we had a very interesting case and my other boss, the other real Surgeon, decided to grace the theatre with his presence. In came in the real Surgeon late, takes one look at the other real Surgeon and sulks his way through one of the best acts of thievery I have ever seen. I believe a Surgeon has to be a very good thief. He has to break into a home, take what he came for and leave everything as close as it was before he broke in. He has to go in, grab, fix and get the hell out of there before he gets caught. Before he gets caught by the Creator.

I know a real Physician. I have met him. He talks well, dresses well, walks fast and praises everyone….at the appointed time. He is eloquent. When he talks you have no choice but to listen. He makes sure you know that he knows what he is talking about. He smells good too. The nurses talk about him as if he invented soap. I heard one say, “He smells of water”. Not ‘like water’. OF water. He too loves authority though he seems to shun it. He is soft. Soft-spoken and very very verbose. He loves euphemisms. AIDS is not in his vocabulary but it certainly is what he knows best. It is ‘retroviraemia’. He can recite all the latest guidelines but never calls Diabetes ‘high blood sugar’ unless talking to a patient. It is ‘glycaemia’. He can do a full examination in under ten minutes and come up with ten different diagnoses. He knows all the drugs: their names, uses, dosages and everything about them that you do not want to know. He thinks “Surgeons just like cutting and nothing else”. He thinks they are not intelligent. He is very gentle. Even his handwriting is gentle and delicate.

A doctor is either a Surgeon or a Physician. Paediatricians, Radiologists, Psychiatrists, Anaesthetists, Oncologists, Gynaecologists, Haematologists, General Practitioners and the works. Every doctor is either a Physician or a Surgeon………….or a Pathologist. Now those people are different and special. They have their own category. I know a Pathologist.

Posted in Health, Philosophy, Theology

On faith healing and our Medicine: KICKING THE HORNET’S NEST

 

It might appear as if the ever flourishing false prophets and popcorn faith healers have made a huge dent on the coffers of trained Physicians through their promise of instant cures which unfortunately occur less frequently than they claim to do. Quite to the contrary, the effect has been a huge boon in critical cases that failed to respond to pricey anointed oils, stickers, bangles and cucumbers who find themselves paying for expensive tests, drugs and procedures which could have been easily avoided if only they had come in sooner.

It is with despair and anger that doctors in Christian countries perpetually attend to patients who snub evidence-based medical advice in preference to consistently unreliable charms and chants conjured and propagated by those who claim to be God’s elite. It is indeed not uncommon to see a patient twice at both extremities of a spectrum of hellish experiences of deception that comprise the act of attending and believing in these myriad false churches. A typical case of a young lady coming in with abdominal pains secondary to a growing ectopic pregnancy who refuses surgery and instead opts for a US$300 one-on-one session with “my Papa” but later comes back with a ruptured tubal pregnancy that requires $600 life-saving blood transfusion on top of the surgery originally advised on rings true in the minds of most doctors practising in a Zimbabwean hospital.

The driving force of this madness is the belief in the myth that seeking professional advice or imbibing prescribed medication is a testimony of lack of faith. The notion is that one only needs prayers and impartation (through physical objects such as oils, stickers and such) for complete healing. The simple rebuttal to this draconian contention is that the Bible does not teach that. It is with utter disgust that we find these “anointed” objects actually being sold in these churches. Buying a blessing? Purchasing a miracle? Are these not the things that Jesus Christ physically and violently destroyed in the temple of Jerusalem. What is it he said about the function of churches (temples)? These false prophets and their flock might benefit from reading Mark 11:15-19. What are these churches really based on if not on the Holy Bible which they obviously have not read or choose to distort or ignore?

Here is my argument. I believe doctors are part of God’s miracles. The Son of God Himself chose a Physician (by the name of Luke) to be part of his elect Twelve. Getting professional medical treatment is not mutually exclusive with faith in God and in His healing. Doctors are simply instruments used in the grand scheme of preservation and perpetuation of life. It would most definitely be imprudent for one to pursue faith healing without at least knocking on a Physician’s door.

Posted in History, Philosophy, politics, Theology

Zimbabwe Must Wake Up: SENTIMENTALITY has failed. It’s time for PRAGMATISM.

This country has always been governed by emotions rather than practicality. Both civil wars (the First and Second Chimurenga) were triggered by sensationalism over the land issue. The reality was that those who fought for the land did not know how to exploit it. The dilapidation of once productive farms we have seen since the land invasion validates this point.

It is rather unfortunate that greedy, selfish and ambitious politicians have time and time again vandalized this emotive vulnerability. They promise to give land to the masses but they loot all the best land and plunder it right in front of the electorate. It baffles the mind that Zimbabwean voters have continued to be this gullible to the extent of regressing to pre-colonial politico-religious beliefs of a sacred land run by the wise and old till their death. This is a dangerous precedence.

What Zimbabweans seem to forget is that religion has always been and will continue to be the most powerful political force in this country. The First Chimurenga was started and led by spirit mediums. Similarly the Second Chimurenga was largely propelled by a baseline belief in supernatural backing in the form of Nehanda Nyakasikana, one of the spiritual mediums who led the Shona people south of the continent from the kingdom of Ethiopia. Most people do not even have a modicum of comprehension of the later fact.

Religious influence in Zimbabwean politics somewhat died out with the exit of the first President of Zimbabwe, the Reverend Canaan Sodindo Banana. From then on Mugabe shifted to the stirring of people’s emotions with his oratory on “certain enemies who need to be kicked out.” The enemy has continued to change since independence from the British capitalists. First it was the ‘Ndebele dissidents’, then it was the Commonwealth, the West, the ‘traitors’ MDC and so on. Mugabe and his ZANU-PF cabal have now come to a point where they have run out of ‘enemies’. I am almost certain there is an adage out there which goes, ‘When hyenas run out of carcasses to eat they kill each other till only one remains.’ ZANU-PF cannot survive without fighting; it is in their DNA.

Since they have now seemingly run of prey to kill they have turned against each other. The hunter has become the hunted. The hunted however has made a fatal error: they thought they had totally destroyed opposition politics and quickly returned to their own squabbles without bothering to check whether the enemy was truly dead and buried. Their blow was powerful but only maimed the prey not kill them. Over the past four years the opposition has silently re-grouped and re-strategized and is now reasonably prepared for an all out war.

Only one presidential candidate was needed and they now have him. The most powerful arm of the electorate, the war veterans, have seen the light and are ready to talk business. The largest group of the electorate, the youth, are all riled up thanks to Pastor Evan Mawarire who played to the tune of the well-tested fallacy of sentimentality to effect political change. It appears almost all conditions are now conducive for true democratic change. All the fuss about voter registration and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is just an issue of technicality. It represents a welcome shift in Zimbabwe politics. A transformation from putting emotions first to relying on good old facts as the dictum of governance.

The sheer number of opposition political parties which are converging to put practical matters over and above matters of self-interest and sensationalism gives credence to the preparedness of Zimbabwe for authentic democracy. Communism is on its way out.

Posted in History, Philosophy, Theology

WHY I READ

A lot of benefits have been proposed and verified as proponents for the value of reading. From improvement of empathy to increase of intelligence and everything in between. I agree with all of them but my personal reason for reading is the therapeutic effect it has on me.

I have long struggled with cyclic variations of mood and affect for all my life; depression, anxiety, mania and even downright psychosis. Reading takes it all away. When I open a book and smell the pages (I know it sounds weird) I immediately divorce myself from reality. From the very moment I read the first sentence my imagination takes the pilot seat. I shut the world outside and immerse myself in the beautiful realm of possibilities and probabilities. I do not care whether it is fiction or not, I just enclose myself into a conclave which is far much wider than the confines of time and space.

As I read D.H Lawrence I find myself in the slums of England. As I read James Joyce I find myself in Ireland. As I read Dambudzo Marechera I find myself in the Rhodesian ghetto. Gunter Gruss takes me to Germany. Homer transports me to Greece. Stephen Hawkings gives me a ride on the shoulders of time itself. Wole Soyinka rents me a room in war-torn Nigeria. Henry Gray gives me a tour of the human body. Napoleon Hill teaches me all there is to know about success. Sun Tsu takes me through a crash course of military training. All these authors and more give me access to the deepest pits of their minds. At the end of it I come out renewed and redeemed. Reading to me is like charging a cellphone, it keeps me alive.

It is very hard to initiate and sustain physical human contact. Friends and mentors are always infallible. Relationships of any form take time to mature and take too much effort to leave room for self-introspection. Why should I invest years of my life gleaning life lessons from a few individuals when I can get the same wisdom and knowledge in a few hours? Books are my friends, mentors, teachers, therapists, medication and soul-mates. If I do not read I will die. It is that simple.

Posted in History, Philosophy, politics, Theology

WILD ANIMALS BELONG IN THE WILD NOT IN AN ARK

It was with absolute shock and disdain that I learnt that wild animals are being exported to China from Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park if the report in The Times is to be believed. A combination of the dependability of the esteemed newspaper and the plausibility of the portrayal of the Zimbabwean ruling elite as a cabal of selfish and myopic individuals persuades me to unreservedly believe the story in the greater chunk of its entirety. It is reported that 35 elephant calves, 8 lions, 12 hyenas and 1 giraffe were ferried from the named Zimbabwe game reserve to Chimelong Safari Park in China’s Guangzhou province. The author of the article rightly inferred that this monumental exodus was inspired by the murky rationale of involvement in ivory farming by the first family to pay for military uniforms in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Grace Mugabe’s name has been specifically identified as the chief architect of this deal. This alone raises a lot of questions but I will not bother to expand the intricacies of the demerits of the deal. It is on record that Grace Mugabe is corrupt and downright dumb. Paying a debt to the DRC through the sale of a nation’s heritage for personal aggrandizement is the hallmark of the first family’s grandiosity and nearsightedness. Which debt are they paying for? Why not sell their own cattle and oranges to pay for their obviously personal debt?

The fact that a nation’s wildlife belongs to the people and not to the state is non-existent in their consciousness. If these animals belong in China then why does the country not have their own elephants, lions, hyenas and giraffes.  Both Darwin and God agree that animals are where they are because that is where they are supposed to be. Who then is Grace Mugabe to change these fundamental laws of nature?

The argument of leaving nature alone supersedes any justification for transportation of wild animals from any part of the world’s remaining ideal wildlife to a human-made conclave. The only time that has been sanctioned was millennia ago when Noah offered refuge to all the animals on earth in his ark. Since then nature has not sanctioned such a radical move so why are people defying the laws of nature? Those wild animals belong in the Zimbabwe wild. Who has the authority to act contrary to these basic biological laws? Only the selfish and the stupid. Enough said; the writing is on the wall.

 

 

Posted in Philosophy, politics, Theology

A ZIMBABWEAN CHRISTMAS

Many among my readers do not even know WHAT a ‘Zimbabwean’ is let alone know WHO a ‘Zimbabwean’ is. The name denotes a nationality or citizenship of a little teapot-shaped country in the lower parts of the continent with the cursed name of ‘Africa’. Sometime in the recent past I swallowed a bitter truth that research consistently showed that more than 30% of the American pupils did not know that Africa was not a country but a continent. For the few learned ones of this broad group who dwell in the shrines of the  learned ones (the world of books) the country of Zimbabwe can at least be remembered as the last country in the alphabetical order of all demographic groups in the entire world who brave it to call themselves ‘nations’.

All accounts and analyses point to the mug-shot of a country with a dictatorial leader who pisses over the whole nation just as the despot kings of old massacred the peasantry in the dark ages. Without going into the economics, a conclusion can be reached through a transparent audit of the dismal state of the economy to the effect that the country is a failed state run by imbeciles and war-mongers who have total and demonic ignorance of how a nation is supposed to be run.The people in the high offices always turn up to work marveled by the ‘LUCK’ of having been appointed by the great leader himself into a leather-laden office in the nominal cabinet. The long and short of it is that Zimbabwe is a country on the continent called Africa in the Southern hemisphere of the planet called Earth. This particular country is led by an imperial king called Bob just as North Korea have their ‘self-omnipresent’ king called Kim. Mugabe has made a cesspit of the nation and the country continues to wither on in the harsh climate of Antarctic-cold politics that defy even the summer solstice of the little Sub-Saharan nation.

Zimbabweans are a peaceful (at worst cowardly) group of dark-colored individuals who know where they came from but do not care where they are going. History itself has betrayed them into thinking that war will always be the most loyal remembrance of their existence. Many died fighting for a black Commander-in-Chief but an equal number if not more of the survivors have lived to ask the infinite question of WHY that has continually been banished from all pursuits of an individual’s mind to state the obvious.Zimbabwe does not have a President, nay it has an absolute monarch called THE Mugabes. Every intellectual who is worth his word will testify to the fact that in the midst of all the chaos in the country a consistent pattern of conferring power from the king to the queen regardless of due inheritance of the subordinates (Mnangagwa has no blood-relational links to the Mugabe dynasty making him an outsider) the name Mugabe will forever prevail. The ‘queen’ said so herself a the national shrine for deceased heroes conveniently called the National Heroes Acre. She said, “Mugabe will continue to rule even from his grave.” At face value this might be taken to mean that Grace is a delusional schizophrenic harlot who wants to gain personal capital over the king himself just like the biblical harlot Jezebel.

It is absolutely impossible for one to express an innocent view of a typical family Christmas holiday without first venting their anger on why they got themselves in this hell-hoe in the first place. The president is always sound asleep everywhere he goes, his minions tear at each other like savages even in his presence, his illiterate wife continues to bitch around with an attitude of a Hollywood diva, all his new friends in his own country are his grandchildren and still millions wonder why their Christmas seems to be more of a burden than a celebration in comparison to the stories they are told of life on the other side by their fortunate relatives who  ‘made it out’. Life on the other side is largely devoid of common-place nuisances such as power cuts, water disconnection, inaccessibility to one’s own money, fear of seeing a reflector vest of any kind and other nuances that pretty much everyone else take for granted – hence being called ‘human rights’.

In earnest truth Christmas for a Zimbabweans depends on where you spend it. Christmas for Zimbabweans abroad is definitely a MERRY CHRISTMAS indeed but Christmas IN Zimbabwe is just another Christmas whose appointed time on the Roman calendar happens to fall on the 25th of December.

 

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Posted in Literature, Medical, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Theology

A SILENT MIND KILLS

That slimy pulp of tissue between your ears cannot function without functioning. The mind was meant to be used; when it stops working you lose your humanity. Note my graciousness to Science by stipulating the non-functionality of the brain as the loss of one’s humanity and not the end of one’s life. Reference is made to the thousands of patients on ventilator machines whose brains have thrown in the towel.

It is such a pity that the majority of this species voluntarily shut down their super chip. They have chosen to be sparkling tube gazers (couch potatoes), assassins of anything with more than two full stops and religious zealots who worship Time. Ever since our ancestors invented learning words have become the most lethal weapons in human existence. The more words one knows the more power they possess (thus explaining the power women have).

An idle mind, a silent mind, creates a vacuum in which unfiltered thoughts, ideas, emotions, beliefs and such invade docile nerve cell circuits. A lot of Science has been published on the subject and almost every blog in existence has had a say on the value of reading. Even Spiritualists bow down to the power of words; The Bible, The Quran, and other sacred texts. If the evidence is so overwhelming why do people continue to choose to destroy themselves? Have their minds been taken over by “neuronal viruses” in the form of thought insertion and withdrawal as in a classical Schizophrenic patient? Psychotic perhaps? What if everyone is mad expect for those who read? Open a book, read and save your humanity.