People keep asking what I'm up to these days.
I finished my Master of Public Health degree at UBC in December. You'd better believe I'm going to attend the cap and gown ceremony in May. What did I learn? I learned to run basic data analysis in R. I learned the importance of asking the right question. I learned about diseases of despair. I remembered that I love academia.
My MPH was embedded in my Public Health residency program. I did a rotation at the TB Clinic this fall. Yes, TB as in tuberculosis, consumption, scrofula, the King's Evil. Yes, it's still around. There are 300 new cases of active TB in BC in each year. Then I did two psychiatry elective rotations, where I witnessed psychiatrists using words with a surgical deftness and grace that amazed me.
There’s constant feedback as a doctor, most of it affirmative: from patients, colleagues, the regular paycheques. I wrote for months at my kitchen table with no feedback at all. And then the book comes out, and there’s some fanfare and applause—some of it literal. It feels like overcompensation for the months of lonely work. We don’t applaud the steady work, like seeing patients for years on end, or being a mother. We celebrate productions with a release date. It’s fun. It’s confusing and exhausting.
Something else that I hadn't anticipated: the book was optioned for screen adaptation by Jenkinson/Goode Productions. An older woman at church recently whispered to me that I'm pretty enough to star in my own movie, so I guess that's set.
I've taken a leave from my residency program to focus on invitations related to the book. Most are speaking engagements -- some academic, some literary. Favourites so far have been the Galiano Literary Festival; the Just Faith Forum at Willoughby Church, which had a slice of boterkoek waiting for me in the pulpit; and the after-dinner keynote for the 10th Annual Island Health Pharmacy Conference, where the audience was in Harry Potter costume and a cash bar had done brisk business for three hours prior to my talk. The Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville was a top contender until a freak snowstorm resulted in all events at the University of Virginia being cancelled hours before I was due to deliver my lecture.
I'm having fun. Starting to itch to see patients again, though. And to get at the next book.