Half and Half

Being a DES tutor is becoming more and more a full time responsibility. Kelly and I spend an hour’s worth of work before both anatomy and biochemistry review sessions to make sure that we have a solid presentation of the material for those who attend. We put on our show, answer any questions, and start prodding the students with the gaul to feel comfortable with the material. With preparation and execution, it comes to four hours every wednesday night and a cool 50EC.

Right after our exams finished, the first term’s began. This meant that any time in the library was not my time, but their time. This meant post-it notes on desks, mini-conversations walking past the door, and five or six one-last-questions a day. Somebody somehow got my cell phone number. After all of this bother Kelly and I were both very curious as to what impact we had. Did we help at all? Some students over the past week have come up to thank us for their A’s, others have come up to me to say that they almost failed. Seriously, they walk up and say, “Hi topher. About biochem, I almost failed.” Not awkward at all. So no, I don’t think we helped. I think the people that were going to get A’s got their A’s and the people that thought just showing up to a DES session would be enough got the rest. I have decided to lower my exposure and move to Sunday mornings at 10am. I can’t wait to tell you the stories about hungover responses to lipid synthesis.

My back tire blew out the other day and I have spent the last week trying to get it fixed. This has led to two amazing discoveries: there is a Grenadian yellow pages that might as well be a single sheet of paper saying “No, we don’t do that. You should ask somebody else.” and if I really want a good job done on my bike, I should go to the roundabout that splits Mont Toute, Lance Aux Epines and Grand Anse where, at the corner by the fruit ladies, there is a guy named Leon that hangs out there sometimes in the mornings, has a short black beard, and usually wears a grey sock on his head. Only in GND.

My friend Jarret is doing an amazing thing. He has started an organization called “Finding Smiles” whose goal is to entertain the orphans and sick children of Grenada. He has been meeting with the President of Grenada, the Health Director, the Dean of SGU, and exchanged letters with Patch Adams of the Gesundheit! Institute. This Saturday is SANDBLAST (some of you may remember it from last term) and Jarret has asked me to host a slackline demonstration from noon till three for the organization. “You know, just set it up, let the kids play on it, and try to have a few neat tricks to show them.” I’m scared for everyone involved. My neat trick will be neurotic safety and sustained unease.

Sherin is off in New York enjoying the rain and buying me a corncob pipe and a can of spinach. Once I shave my head and draw an anchor on each forearm the transformation will be complete. Look forward to the pictures from Halloween everybody!

Realized this morning that I’m not yet a year into this whole thing, topher.

Not funny Addendum:

The more and more that they teach us here, the more distressing the information becomes. We just finished up the endocrine system before midterms. Not only do I know people in my class with hyper- and hypo- thyroidism, but one of my classmates just discovered that his persistent sore throat was in fact thyroid cancer. He was flown back to the states, emergency surgery was performed, and during the tumor’s removal the nerve supplying half of his vocal chord was cut. Our class knows in uncomfortable detail all the problems that lie ahead for him. In Neurology, we’re learning about Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease. Some of my friends have parents with these diseases in the early stages; this cannot be easy for them. I wonder how many people in my class anticipated what knowing all of this was going to do to us.

These last few weeks there has been much talk about a classmate of ours that tried to cheat on an exam, was caught by no fewer than six people, and tried to pass it off as a misunderstanding. The people that turned in this student wrestled with the decision for days knowing full well that an expulsion from a medical program would brand this student forever with a scarlet C: something you wouldn’t wish on an enemy. They realized that any guilt or sympathy they felt paled in comparison to their obligation to future patients that might be harmed by the type of behavior that cheating forebodes. They did it knowing that they would have to face the accused one by one and restate their accusations. I couldn’t be more proud of my class for making that painful decision and I cannot imagine how heavy the mistake of your life must weigh on a person.

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