Since the beginning of the year, I have knit nearly 3 miles of yarn.  I wish I had kept better track of my knitting since I started knitting —  I would be interested in knowing how much I’ve knit in the past four years.  All I know is that in the past six months, I’ve probably knit more than I ever had ever before — or at the very least, have had more successful finished objects than ever.  It is partly because being in medical school is stressful and I knit more when I’m under a lot of stress, and also because I feel the need to be thrifty with my yarn.  What I have here in Dominica is all I’ll ever have here in Dominica.


-Eleven socks (five pairs, one singlet; 3 pairs + 1 singlet for me)

-Three hats (one for me)

-Four “Haruni” shawls (one for me)

-One cardigan (for me)

Yesterday, I did not knit.  Instead, I attended my first hospital rotation, during which I followed an anesthesiologist and later interviewed (while being live tele-conferenced to a classroom filled with first semester medical students: weird, scary and really annoying all at the same time) and examined a man who had been hospitalized for foot ulcers.  The anesthesiology rotation was incredible: I had the opportunity to watch four different surgeries and see the practical application of of what I have been learning in the classroom for the past 17 months.  Suddenly it all seems relevant.  Suddenly I realized how stupid I’ve been for thinking the little things aren’t important.  I also realized how important it is to have strong legs and comfortable shoes.  Chairs are in short supply in the operating room (or “theatre,” as they call it in the British-influenced medical circles).

I also realized how treacherous it is to become ill in a country less developed than, say, the United States.  In Dominica, your care, while “free,” depends on the current supply of medications on hand and the staff present.  Drugs are expensive.  Drugs with less side effects are more expensive.  Equipment is expensive.  “One use only” is expensive.   In the end, you’re at the mercy of lady luck and the agility of your doctor.

[Side note: Oddly enough, one of the reasons I began knitting was because I wanted/want to be a surgeon (I feel weird saying that because I fear I’m not smart or good enough to actually be a surgeon).  Well, that and because I have fidgety fingers.  Someone told me knitting increases one’s dexterity (it does), so I tried it.  Then I realized I could make things.  Like scarves.  Sweaters.  Hats.  Socks!   Don’t even get me started on the virtues of knitting.  I think everyone ought to knit.]

A lot of things have changed my perspective of medicine in the past month: my mother’s illness, my progression in medical school, interaction with real patients, finding out that a person’s maximum heart rate is 220 minus their age, or that an epinephrine IV bolus can both kill someone and save someone’s life (true, hands-on experience: luckily the patient was plastic).  I don’t know where I’m going yet, and I don’t know how I’m going to get where I need to be, but I’m soldiering on.  Slowly.  Exam in five days.  Sigh.