Wednesday, January 14, 2009

shinyin's busy eating pancakes...

Lingesh sent me an interesting link today. It was a story written by Topher, who is a Caribbean medical student at St. George’s University. I liked his medical school metaphor : pancakes every morning. Here's the article, enjoy reading: (don't forget to watch the video at the end- it's classic!!)

Medical school is like trying to eat five pancakes every morning for breakfast.

At the beginning of each course, we’re given a syllabus telling us how we’re going to be graded, the question break-down for each test, and the schedule of lectures each day for the next 4-5 months. Nothing is going to sneak up on you unless you can’t read the print on the page (in which case you’re blind and things sneak up on you all the time).
But it’s sunny outside or snowing outside or Tuesday. Whatever. You’re in medical school to become a doctor, not to be in a classroom (scheduling conflicts here) and you find yourself out on the weekends, maybe catching a movie on the weekday, and so on. You blow off the first week of any course because the material is supposed to be introductory and you certainly blow off the first week after any exam to recuperate. Maybe you take off two weeks if it was especially difficult and draining.
Eventually though, the next exam is closer than the last exam and you have to return to the desk and pretend to be a serious student. The first week back studying, you won’t be as efficient and as familiar with the material as you were leading up to the last test, so there’s some built-in catching up to do. You can’t understand the material taught TODAY because you blew off the introduction, so until you catch up, you keep falling behind. By the time you’re back in your stride the exam is so close you can feel it’s breath on your neck and you still have material to cover on a first pass. Let’s not forget: you haven’t reviewed or committed anything to memory at this point. It’s now that you understand the truth:
Medical school is like trying to eat five pancakes every morning for breakfast.
You know you can do it. A Premed advisory committee endorsed you saying, “He has the stomach for it. He’s committed.” And you prove them all right. Every day you show up with your first-year optimism and your annoying hunger for learning and you clean that plate (just kidding, it’s adorable). But you begin to notice that those pancakes are slowing you down a little each day and the sugar highs and lows are screwing with your sleep. Smart person that you are, you decide to pass on the flapjacks one day. You think to yourself, “Self, I’m going to eat ten pancakes tomorrow so that I don’t have to eat any today.”
But it never stops. Turns out that “self” isn’t the most responsible lender, and before you know it there are 40 pancakes in front of you and your plate needs to be clean by tomorrow. So yeah, at this point it looks impossible. But really, it’s your fault.
In the future, as I like to imagine it, I’ll be in charge of all medical school admissions. The process will be six weeks long and will consist of nothing more than showing up each morning to eat five pancakes, at which point you can then go about whatever you were going to do that day. At the end of the five weeks a few jaded, newly diabetic hopefuls will come to my office and, mixed with both pride and resignation say, “I did it. I finished those goddamn pancakes.”
“Wow,” I’ll say. “That’s very impressive. You must be very proud, and your parents must be very proud. Just one more thing.” They’ll reflexively clutch their stomachs, shifting their girth from one hip onto the next and groan, “What’s that?”
“Regurgitate it.”

As much as i liked to laugh at this metaphor, i could not. I find my very self in those shoes. My stacks of pancakes is nearly as high as the ceiling, standing tall and proud, like the Petronas Twin Tower, overlooking me, challenging me to gobble them down.
You see the pancakes. You dream of pancakes. You hallucinate of pancakes!
I am developing an evil plan to drug the examiners, and maybe smuggle the stack of pancakes into the exam hall and throw them all in the bin!! Who's with me?? - in my dreams!

The truth is, noone can help you eat those pancakes.
You have to settle your stack of pancakes.
Sometimes, i felt the walls closing in, almost suffocating, as the days count down, time cruelly past us, the pancakes stack higher.
We cannot afford to give up, can we? Just merely inches away... How we managed to get this far is a mystery. How can we go on, another mystery. Yes, we are just inches away, inches away to graduating, to finally achieve our dreams, make your parents proud, save lives, blah, blah, blah..
little do we realized, this is just the beginning...

Okay, I have to get back to my pancakes~


  1. Really hit me on a very very personal note. I'm a pathologic procrastinator and always complain there is too much to gobble down. Sigh. Now i know its all my fault.

  2. sigh i have the same problem too. am slowly trying to be better! my clinicals are starting soon so i better buck and not procastinate anymore!!!!

  3. ah great, im getting more depressed...

    and while I've got 5 pan cakes a day now, I'm worried of the 10 tomorrow, 20 the day after tomorrow, and the tower i'll be having in a year or two's time.

    I think I need a referral to Psychiatry... -.-"

  4. Hey there, Im a medical student too. From IMU.

    All I can say is. Ditto.

    Hehehehe :D


  5. sigh, totally agree with the author and u all, realized not only me got so many pancakes to eat, mine is much taller than the petronas twin tower, mayb ad reach the moon...gambate all my friends!jom, pancaking

  6. You're almost there....Hang ON.....btw how many pancakes can you telan at one go??

  7. Lingesh, same here,.. but my pancakes probably much more than yours... worst till, i have problems with digesting these pancakes, and i usually take longer than the average population to ingest them... and i have a whole lot of unfinished work.... write-ups and all... what more revision... arGhhHH.. procrastination kills!
    zzzyun, trust me, when you start clinicals, do be serious and get to learn as much skills as you can.. obtain clerking skills fast so that you will be able to study after that... if anyone tells you that 3rd year(5th sem) is honeymoon year, don't fall for it!
    yee ming, you better start eating your pancakes now.. don't wait till you have accumulated as much as i have... i think i am beyond home, need a pancake eating machine... then maybe pour them all in via NG tube...
    Terri, thanks for dropping by ^^
    Yummy huh? hehe... i wonder will anyone ever get sick of pancakes...
    miaomi, reach the moon?? now i understand what you meant by mooncakes, WAHAHA! then shouldn't mine be SUNcakes (with the sun being further).. or even better, STARcakes!
    Robinson Crusoe, thanks, will hang on~ i think i chew very slow on this particular pancakes... if i try to telan, might get choked, siGhhh....

  8. I couldnt help, but to laugh at the situation that we fall in. Life as a medical student, in MALAYSIA is very much similar.
    One of my lecturers told me a similar story of moving bricks.
    But this pancake story is definitely more witty, hah.

  9. chee koon, life's like that... i think it's not just medical school.. i guess other faculties like law and architectural can be equally stressful and demanding...

    a story of moving bricks?? haven't heard that before...
    do share with us ^^

  10. interesting post... i really like how it is related to the pancake story and even more amusing to find that it is true... :)

  11. don't worry... you're still at your early years med school... realizing this early is good.... remember to eat your pancakes daily ya... procrastination can be a problem.. =(

  12. me no like pancakes!!!

    But nevertheless, I'm still eating pancakes. But I think at least mine is not as demanding as med school students...

    (Ding! +1 for positive thinking!)

  13. exams can be such a stressful thing... but that is just the beginning, i suppose... the working life would be even more demanding... siGh...

    (Dang -1 for negative thinking)

    but i guess, we'll survive.. ^^

  14. haha... Exams are ok if you're well prepared for it. I think everything would be ok if we had preparations for it. Mentally as well as physically :)

    (Ding Ding!! +1 Countering Shinyin's Negativeness)

    well, as long as there are no more pancakes on the table that is... *roll eyes*

  15. i hope so too... that everything will be okay :)

    (DING +1 : shinyin tries positive thinking)

    the following month will be one hell of a month~ God, pls help me..


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Author's Note

Dear friends and readers, Thank you for dropping by and leaving comments/ shoutouts. More importantly, thank you for being there... please accept my apology that, lately, i may be busy with work and not have time to reply youir messages/comments, but rest assured, each and everyone is read, and highly appreciated :) have a nice day! ^^

of love

Today, i heard a story which was not a story of falling...
of living in the dark end of winter turmoil..
instead, it was a love story..
of a couple who did not live happily ever after...
but they live, loving each other..