Before I entered medical school, I was very naive and my extent of knowledge was, of course, more limited. I didn’t look at the world in the scrutinizingly clinical manner that I do now. I used to ignorantly enjoy many activities while blissfully ignoring the consequences of my actions because they were unknown to me. They say knowledge is power, and with all the knowledge medical school brings you, it definitely increases your awareness of things more than the average person, and sometimes, in a way, that ruins things that you previously enjoyed doing. Here are some of the things that my medical school knowledge has ruined for me so far:
- Junk food
Okay, everyone knows that junk food is bad. But you don’t really know why it’s bad, and when you do you never want to go back. I’ll be the first to admit that I used to like to indulge in the odd McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A meal here and there. In undergrad I would eat out all the time and be at a new restaurant every weekend. But as soon as I had my first lectures on atherosclerosis, myocardial infarctions, and hypertension and salt retention, I was out. Now I can barely look at anything that will plug my arteries without cringing. I can no longer enjoy a simple sugary or unhealthy meal without picturing some foam cells lounging around in my arteries creating a plaque ready to undergo thrombosis at any moment. Although this definitely isn’t a bad thing, it should also be okay to consume the odd fatty meal without feeling like you might be doing your heart injustice. It has definitely led to some arguments with my mother who seems to think I eat “too healthy” now, but all I see is the prevention of chronic diseases later in life!
I’ve always been an avid fan of both playing and watching sports. My favorite sports to watch growing up were always hockey and football, and I loved playing both soccer and hockey. With contact sports, I knew that there were physical repercussions, but I always thought of myself (and the players that I watched) as young and healthy. Now I can barely get through a game without singularly focusing on players getting concussed and thinking of their long-term concussion traumatic encephalopathy that they’re undoubtedly going to suffer from later in life. I wish I could simply sit through an enjoyable game instead of seeing repetitive head trauma and malfunctioning tau proteins. I even discourage those around me from partaking in contact sports now because the underlying brain injury does not seem worth it to me. Long gone are the days of enjoyable contact sports!
- Social Media
Social media is great and social media is awful. After entering medical school I found the niche world of medical school memes and the eerily relatable TikToks about UWorld, exams, rotations and so much more. Although it’s always enjoyable to relate to the memes and jokes and remind yourself that you really aren’t the only one struggling with things, there have also been some downfalls with social media since I started medical school. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and every time I see a celebrity or somebody else post about their new formula that is guaranteed to make your skin look 10 years younger, or prevent hair loss by putting the most obscure things into your body, I can’t help but cringe a little. Obviously products that aren’t backed up scientifically are found everywhere, but social media amplifies it. It’s frustrating when you see things that are so blatantly not-evidence-based, yet are doing amazingly market-wise due to social media. It feels like just about anybody these days is able to sell or do things that would normally require a significant amount of research and learning. Which brings me to my next point…
- Self proclaimed “doctors”
My mother got her ‘medical degree’ from “Whatsapp University” and that means chain messages being constantly forwarded about how rice water will cure your heart disease or how herbal tea will make your hypertension disappear. These used to make me laugh, but now terrify me a little bit when I realize the extent these messages get passed forward and get taken seriously by those who may not have a complete understanding! Self-proclaimed doctors are everywhere, and to this day my mother still loves to tell me what I should and shouldn’t be doing medically-speaking! With so much more knowledge, now I can’t help but cringe at much of the stuff that gets passed forward!
I used to be able to sleep in for hours, and dare I say, it used to be one of my more enjoyable things in life. Now I can barely sleep past 7am even if I have nothing to do. Medical school has definitely changed me into an early bird, but with that, I’ve completely lost the ability to sleep in or sleep for more than 7-8 hours.. There are too many days I wake up in stress or anxiety about all the things that I have to get done during the day, and that has definitely affected those rare days where I have nothing to do. I feel like sleep is one of those things that I’ll never fully enjoy again!
- TV shows and movies
Grey’s Anatomy? Scrubs? Dr. Oz? These are some shows that I personally cannot enjoy anymore. For shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Scrubs I immediately start going through differential diagnoses when patients are admitted. Or I inadvertently start mentally studying whatever topic they’re talking about. It used to be so entertaining to watch these shows anddream about life as a resident and admire their vast knowledge, but now my brain just wants to take in every bit of knowledge that I can get from anywhere! The worst is when a show or movie shows something or says something that isn’t factual. Before, I would be in ignorant bliss, but now it bothers me!
- Outdoor activities
Growing up, I was very active. I played a lot of sports and some of my favorite seasonal hobbies were skiing and hiking. Now finding me in the woods is a lot more difficult because all I can think about are mosquitoes and ticks. Lyme disease?! No thank you! I genuinely get paranoid while on hiking or camping trips because I cannot seem to get the picture of tick bites, carditis and arthritis out of my head, where I used to innocently enjoy these activities so much before. Obviously contracting diseases is possible from anywhere, and all you can do is what’s in your control to prevent them, but I can’t help but be a little more paranoid when I see a rash after I was outdoors somewhere!
Maybe I’m just somebody who needs to learn to control her thoughts a little bit, but I know I can’t be the only one out there who doesn’t look at things a little differently since medical school. Becoming an expert in any field predisposes you to a world of knowledge, which, in my case, has led to ruining many aspects of my life that I used to sincerely enjoy!