University of Minnesota

“If It Isn’t Fun.” – Coasting Out

May 4

Only a couple of stressful peaks are left to survive before the end of medical school. When I complete my Senior thesis on Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome, and take the medicine final exam, that ol’ MD degree will be mine. I must pick up my engraved commencement invitations.

Dr. Hughlett came back to Tulane this week for a surgery refresher course and is staying with me at the Marine Hospital. We get along well. His deliberate and thoughtful manner must come, in part, from his great responsibility in the field in the Congo. But beyond that is his habit of submitting all his thoughts to God in devoted prayer. He returns from prayer with unflinching decision and purpose. This exercise of faith is regular, trusting, knee-cap-scraping, Bible-thumping. The combination in him of science, objectivity, logic, and professional skills on the one hand, and simple prayerful faith on the other, is new to me. It is also quite magnetic and awe-inspiring.

The General Adaptation Syndrome, the theory of Hans Selye about body responses to stress, embraces shock and the hormonal and physical mechanisms in reaction to disease or trauma, and it even contains explanations of chronic diseases. Though not widely accepted, its study is an interesting way to close off and to integrate my medical schooling.

In our national politics these days, the militarists are ascendent. Just two years since World War II ended and soon there will again be a universal draft. Physicians will be needed, and, of course, I am acutely eligible. For the second time in this century our country has abandoned the chance for a real world government in the emasculated United Nations. I expect that my generation will have to throw itself once more into the slaughter pens constructed by the last generation of nationalists.

I’ve even thought of expatriation (to France, to South Africa?), but on reflection I realize basically how fortunate we are to live in the only country where there’s any semblance of freedom. These days, however, with wide repression of liberal views, there’s danger of losing lives in a brand new war. And when at home we speak out against militarism, we reap professional and social rejection.

May 21

A Senior’s Sigh of Relief

At long last, the seemingly interminable pressure of medical school is off. Only a couple of times this week did I feel again the spasms and boring within, with the shallow hyperpnea, from anxiety and tension.

Between final exams there’s quite a social whirl going on. While I’m without a steady girlfriend these days, I have found in nurse Kitty a pleasant and intelligent if somewhat neurotic companion for end-of-the-year picnics and other diversions. Later, there’s always beer and relaxation at Tyler’s Tavern, noted for its oak trees growing from the floor through the ceiling. Today, I made a long walking photo tour, solo, from the Napoleon Avenue Ferry landing to Westwego.

I feel acutely the need for a real and close companion, both intellectual and otherwise. I am told that certain ones are pining to join me, but if, in fact, I know them, then they don’t appeal.

Tomorrow, we learn our Senior class standings on which depend exemption from final exams and a near-future course of study versus continued playtime. For the sake of my poor, smoldering hepar it would better be study.

In world news, the Battle of Palestine is now on in earnest. The British withdraw and support the Arabs. The chances for a Jewish homeland appear to sink once more.

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