How I became a medical doctor
After graduating from high school I was invited to undergo a particularly challenging selection process to become member of the German academic elite. I passed the exams and there I was. One of the chosen few.
In the US this would have translated into a scholarship from Harvard. In Germany it translated into a couple of Deutsche Marks for book expenses. I did not even get into medical school because in those days entrance into German medical school was decided through a lottery system and I do not do well at lotteries.
It looks like Spirit had better plans for me than going to Harvard medical school- or any other medical school for that matter.
Instead I studied Sinology which seemed difficult enough for my thirsty brain.
Apart from the book money I also received regular invitations for tea with a personal tutor, who happened to be a famous medical professor. After my first trip to China I was invited to another one of those meetings. About ten of the most powerful men of my university, most of them from medicine and yours truly, female and not a doctor at all.
In those days everybody was still very enthusiastic about everything Chinese and they kept asking questions about everything. I even had to tell a Chinese joke, which I did not know, but I just made one up and everybody was so delighted. We had tea and cakes. I was a star.
I could not wait to tell everybody, what I really wanted to tell:
While I was in China I had become very ill and through that illness I had encountered Chinese medicine. My mind was set. This was it. While in my own country nobody would have been able to treat this disease for the Chinese doctors it had been a breeze. It looked as though Western medicine was not that omnipotent after all?
So when my tutor asked what had impressed me most, I told them so.
The room went very quiet. The smile on the face of the powerful man never wavered but his eyes contracted ever so slightly.
I was unabashed.
He was a medical professor, after all, and there I was, having just found out about a new way of curing people. He must be delighted. Medicine is about curing people. Or so I thought. I was that naive at the time.
“Do you think, Chinese Medicine can treat real diseases?”, he asked. Smiling.
“Oh yes. In fact, I think it is so much more effective than anything we can yet imagine.”
The room went perfectly quiet. About ten famous medical professors looked at me, the second year student of Antropology and Chinese, who dared to have an opinion on medicine.
I had managed to shoot myself in the head.
Needless to say that I was not part of the German academic elite for very much longer. My mother called and told me, that there had been some formal issues and that was it. She also announced that she and my father did not see any point, really, in keeping up communication with me, if I was so intent on throwing my life away. I had this kind of family.
So all of a sudden I was alone. Utterly alone. Which was a good thing because I learned how to fight.
More than ever I was intend on becoming a doctor. If I was a doctor, they would have to listen. Plus, you have to know the enemy.
A couple of years later the lottery system was abolished. I passed some more exams and entered medical school. Medical school was easy enough. If you can learn Chinese characters you can learn anything.
I also really love science. I am good at biology, chemistry, pharmacy, neurology. I thrive at it. One of the reasons I had been picked to be part of the Brilliant People in the first place.
My love for science was one of the reasons I did not enjoy medical school at all. The process of becoming a doctor is not about learning science. It is a way of deconstructing people – including all the usual ways of brain wash: shaming, isolation, starvation, sleep deprivation. And then, bang, you are told that you are better than everybody else. Just do what you are told. You have to believe it.
Navy seals are made this way. Suicide terrorists. It works most of the time.
But then again, if you can survive a couple of winter months in an unheated Chinese dormitory learning thousands of Chinese characters and hundreds herbs, you can survive Medical school without going crazy.
I told myself so and so I did.
The brainwash did not work on me: What I learned at medical school is, that the medical system is a powerful system, a system that needs to be reckoned with. And not in a good way.
I still think, that medicine is not that great.
I still think, we can do much better.
I actually think, we will do without it in the near future.
I will still speak my mind.
Would I still shoot myself in the head? Oh yes. Anytime.
There are others to follow me. I am not alone any more.