Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the film

I've been pestering my boyfriend and myself (who are about the only readers of this blog) with attending the premiere of Goblet for a small eternity. Now, that the premiere's over, one would expect I would rush to my computer to write about the film. Somehow, I couldn't bring myself to it.

It might be that I expected too much. I've seen many trailers and movie clips. Checked out a million of movie stills. I was impressed. But upon seeing the complete movie, my heart sunk. I won't deny that Goblet and Order (of the Phoenix) are monstrous projects. Goblet runs at above 600 pages and Order goes to 766 pages. I knew and embraced the fact that things had to be eliminated if they wanted to keep the film running for two hours and a half. However I felt that CRUCIAL information has been cut and if you haven't read the books you will have difficulty following the action.

Visually, the film's stunning. Let me say that again: stunning. Just about every second of it has been edited by computer technology. There's a scene where Harry and the Weasleys are climbing a steep hill to get to the Portkey which will take them to Quidditch World Cup. I thought the filming crew took a bus to the nearest wood and shot the minute long scene there. I was wrong. The slope was constructed in the Leavsden Studios where the Harry saga is filmed. The wood around them was computer generated. Now, I know Harry films take a fortune to make. Wouldn't they save a couple thousand dollars just by filming such scenes on a real location?
Another consideration of mine was that (to the careful observer) many details were missing. For example: Dumbledore told Harry that Crouch Jr. died in Azkaban. At the end of the film when we find Barty Jr. very much alive, nobody explains this. Also, nobody explains who killed Barty Crouch Sr. Hagrid never gets around to actually saying he's a half-giant, but rambles on about his mother and his father. Nobody mentions that a Dementor killed Barty Crouch Jr.

There were also two big mistakes. Snape threateningly jabs his wand at Crouch Jr.'s cheek - and thus metaphorically declaring his allegiance to the forces of light, in other words: Dumbledore. In the books Snape is one of the most mysterious characters, because you can never tell with absolute certainty where his loyalties lie. This was a serious mistake the script writer made. What was also lacking, was seeing Harry mourn the loss of Cedric. There was a short scene in the boys' dormitory, but that was not enough. At the end of the film Harry is laughing with Ron and Hermione, which is just wrong. How are the movie makers going to explain Harry's nasty temper in Order? Perhaps they think no one will remember this last scene? Anyway, the ending was a mess. Considering the time and effort the crew spent on the events leading up to the Yule Ball and all the romance in the film, the ending, (which was supposed to be the climax of one of the biggest kidnapping plots in history) was very crudely done and inadequately explained. I wonder how they're going to keep things consistent with the books if they allow themselves such slips. The books have an amazing consistency and are logically leading from point A to point B... to point Z. The films don't have that feel to them and often stress unimportant events which might prove difficult to stay true and close to the leading thread of the books - Harry's fight with Voldemort.

There's more humour in this film and that was refreshing, but I somehow feel that they gave up on the major plot twists to have certain funny scenes incorporated in the final product. I won't deny that the whole Yule Ball business was funny, but it took up too much time. They put lots of effort in those scenes and forgot to repeat the same level of involvement in other parts.


Otherwise it was a good movie, certainly taking from where Cuaron left the story and taking it to new dimensions. But I rather wish the main story (kidnapping Harry) was better explained and presented. To anybody who wishes to understand this movie, I most heartily suggest reading the book first.

posted by Nadezhda | 15:09 | 0 comments | links to this post

Saturday, November 26, 2005

White Teeth (by Zadie Smith)


I finished reading White Teeth at the end of September, but haven't had the time to publish my review (cross this out and write "my thoughts" instead) before. Or rather, I forgot to do it.

But now - the time seems ripe, the soul willing...

People have told me White Teeth are very similar to some of Rushdie's works, but as I haven't read any Rushdie (just goes to show what a sinner I am) myself I could not compare. I thought the book was fun, but serious at the same time. It dealt with big themes while writing about them in a funny, quirky way, but never carelessly or thoughtlessly. I think what she claims with regard to immigrants is true, to a certain extent. I give her all the credit for portraying the "split" nationality through the story about separated and then reunited twin brothers. I smiled at her desriptions of Samad's desperate attempts to remain faithful to what his religion demands of him, because they are very realistic and just go to show that people (in a way) belong to the environment where they were born. They feel best in an environment where they have contact with their roots. (Roots - a big word in the book, and an important one, too.)

But I didn't like the Chalfen parts of the book. I certainly understood where it went and what it tried to say, but didn't like the characters. This is not to say that the characters always have to be amiable to the reader. It's just my reflection. I applaud Smith for getting the molecular biology right and for taking the trouble to include it. With such subjects I always wonder whether the writers get help from advisors or do they just read books about a certain topic and acquire knowledge that way.

So - I understood the Futuremouse project and how it went to say that in a few decades it won't be important who you were or whence you came from, because at the time life will be given to you, the time of death and all inner, bodily developments will also be scheduled. This puts the person under lots of stress - nothing is inevitable anymore, the sense of free will is lost. Things will happen without you being able to do anything about them. It's not actually the "things happening" that bothers me. It's the fact that your whole life you will dread and fear the moment when your protooncogenes'll stop working and you'll be left hoping that doctors can cure you.

But alas, Futuremouse will also enable one to get rid of the faulty genes and live healthily. But this cannot come about without some serious consequences on the world population. Also, the best way would be to enable everybody to have acess to such a treatment. If some people are excluded, this is discrimination. ...(Ok, this is really becoming longwinded and you don't have to read every thought of mine, so I'll stop.)

What I want to say in conclusion is that White Teeth certainly is a good novel and an excellent first novel. It's very ambitious, running at its 700 pages, but never boring. The ending is a mastery in itself, although I was slightly disappointed by Erie having a child whose father was unknown (I found that cheesy) and taking care for it with Joshua. But apart from that, it was good. Really.

posted by Nadezhda | 12:45 | 2 comments | links to this post

Friday, November 25, 2005

Feels like it's Christmas

posted by Nadezhda | 18:59 | 0 comments | links to this post

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

It's time for snow


Photo source:
http://www.wisegorilla.com/images/meterology/meterology.html.

When I was walking home yesterday evening, I noticed it was uncommonly cold and it was raining. Upon closer inspection I discovered that actually it was snowing - the wind was carrying snowflakes, but obviously the temperatures weren't low enough to enable the formation of a snowy layer on the grounds. As soon as the snowflakes touched the soil, they melted.

However, this allows me to hope that in the near future, there will be some snow. Which is good news. I love it when it snows. I used to wake up an hour before my usual time just so I could watch the snow falling. It relaxes me in a way hardly anything else does. Also, when it snows, it is much quieter and I like the silence and the muffled sounds. And lastly, any landscape looks best when covered in snow.

The downside, naturally, is the traffic. All vehicles seem to travel at half their usual speed the day after. It doesn't matter whether the roads have been cleaned and sprayed with salt to prevent the formation of ice. It takes me twice or three times the time I normally need to get to the city centre of Ljubljana on a snowy day. As much as I respect careful drivers, such a traffic jam is very inconvenient as usually one needs to be at the University early and if at all possible, not late. When Ljubljana is covered in snow, getting anywhere on time is an attempt, destined to fail.

Also, in the city, the snow turns a nasty shade of gray or even black in a few days (if it lasts that long), so the "beautiful" landscape soon converts to a filthy-looking one. But at least, there was the pleasure of having snow in the first place and a person must learn, never to expect too much from anything.
*
On a related note, I'm going to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on the premiere night in Ljubljana! I actually wanted to see it on Saturday (it opens on Thursday this week), but a friend of mine is celebrating his birthday and he invited us all to cinema. How excited I am or how surprised I was at his invitation, I cannot explain in words. It really means much to me and I hope it will be a good experience. People (who have seen it already) gave very good reviews, some even claiming it's the best movie yet. While I will certainly miss Dobby and Winky, I again realize that one cannot have it all.

P.S. I noticed I already wrote about seeing Harry on the premiere night. If nothing else, this speaks volumes about my expectations.

posted by Nadezhda | 10:48 | 0 comments | links to this post

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Pride and Prejudice

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

I've read P&P so many times I could quote from it even at midnight. And yes, I am a softie for a good romance. A good romance. And Austen did win me. I also like Emma and Sense and Sensibility, but P&P is my favourite Austen book.

I've known that a new film adaptation of the novel was about to be released and it starred Keira Knightley. I did not think much of her acting abilities and rather thought the film's going to be an utter mess and a disappointment. Much to my surprize I discovered that Rotten Tomatoes have given the film an 85% rating, which well, actually might mean it's worth seeing. As it's scheduled to be released in Slovenia on 19th January I might as well go and see it. And possibly change my mind about Knightley's acting abilities. If nothing else - I'll see Judi Dench as Lady de Bourgh.

The reason for my skepticism is, naturally, the 1995 BBC mini-series. I find it to be the definitive treatment of the book; while it keeps many of the famous lines and scenes, it also has a few additions - as the wet-shirted Mr. Darcy. Much to the delight of almost every female. I think that this scene alone (OK, combined with his acting abilities) ensured Firth's blossoming career and ever increasing popularity.

I liked Jennifer Ehle as Lizzy most. Then came Mr. Collins and he was everything you could expect from him. Not a moment of the series passed when I did not smile upon seeing him. And Mrs. Bennet! - she was such a laugh as well. Colin Firth certainly did justice to his character and was very convincing though perhaps a bit too stern in the later parts. In the beginning he was just as boring, self-sufficient and proud as one could hope him to be. I believe he lacked a certain warmth towards the end - not much, but a bit.

So: yes, my plan for the future visits to the cinema includes Harry Potter GoF, King Kong (I hope this is the Jackson I've come to love since LOTR) and P&P. Perhaps I'll also see Odgrobadogroba, the new film by Jan Cvitkovič. Actually, I'm seeing Harry on the premiere night - we're celebrating a birthday and I got invited. I'm very excited and looking forward to it. From what I've seen in trailers and heard from those who have already seen it, I gather it's the best one yet.

P.S. Speaking of films - RottenTomatoes have released a Harry Potter special with recaps of the films so far and a glossary. A must read for those who are going to see the film but have not read the books. Although for a more thorough coverage of the books, I'd suggest HP Lexicon.

posted by Nadezhda | 19:23 | 1 comments | links to this post

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Heart is the organ of fire

I've been to the cardiologist and am quite disappointed with the visit. To be more exact: I'm healthy and that's good news. The bad part about it is that doctors treat me like a hypochondriac.

When I entered the cardiologist's office he asked me what the problem was. I explained. He said, that judging from the ECG, I was healthy. I replied that it was not me who thought giving me a referral was a good idea. I told him I suggested my personal physician that more tests (especially a thorough blood test) should be done before I was sent there and that my doctor said this was not the usual route. She said my blood is fine and that she needs to be sure nothing's wrong with my heart.

Anyway, the cardiologist was impressed (or what?) because he agreed to do more tests. He felt my pulses and I felt stupid (I'm not dying and my pulse is OK, besides he had an exact heart rate printed on the ECG). But I'd give anything to discover what the problem is and I was quiet. He felt my jugular notch, he listened to all the heart valves. He repeated that I was OK. I shrugged my shoulders. I told him I didn't feel anything was wrong with my heart either, but that something had to be wrong. I told him that an iron test was suggested to me - at this point he manically laughed and asked who suggested this. I replied it was my running trainer and he smiled benignly and perhaps he thought that as they are generally considered clueless (with regard to medicine) such lapse in judgment might be of understanding. I didn't break it to him that actually, dear doc my iron level is seriously low as he suggested even before that that my Polar heart rate monitor was faulty. I didn't care to correct him that to this date I used 4 different makes and models of the Polar. I ran alone, so there was no interferrence from other monitors and that all these produced quite the same results.

Anyway, after that - perhaps as the last proof of my health he used ultrasound apparatus and the Doppler measuring techinques and examined my heart again - from all sides, all valves, aorta, liver and spleen. Nothing seemed to be wrong.

He again suggested I should check the accuracy of my heart rate monitor and by this time I was so embittered that I almost said: "Oh, all four? - You mean all four? And next time my doctor gives me a stupid referral to someone I think I don't need to see, I should just ignore her? They've been telling me for as long as I've been to med school that I'm still clueless and that only qualified doctors are worth listeing to. So as a medical student should I oppose my doctor, tell her she's mistaken? Oh, and by the way, cardio man did you not know that apparently erythrocytes are degraded faster in runners (supposedly because of the impact of the surface) than in other sports e.g. cycling? Did you not know I eat very little meat and almost never read meat? Do you not know that I used to drink vast amounts of green tea, which is rich in tannins and they're iron chelators? Did you know one can be low on iron BEFORE they actually become anaemic. Do I have to run for another half a year, develop anaemia and only then you won't consider me a hypochondriac?

I used to think people made up stories about doctors who wouldn't listen, who only knew one way to deal with every patient and if the patient didn't fit into their concepts, they just dismissed him as healthy? After having seen more of Klinični center and doctors in general, I now know there are exceptionally good doctors and also very mediocre doctors, incapable of adjusting to the patient's needs. It also bothers me that doctors consider me normal, just because what they exaimined me for was within the range considered normal. I have no record of my previous iron or TSH levels and therefore no way of knowing whether these values have shifted upwards or downwards. But the doctors - they just consider them normal.

I'm not arguing I should be treated where my results are normal, but am just saying it's preposterous to suggest I'm the same as ever have been. In fact, I'm not. I haven't done much for my body for the past two years and the change to a lifestyle where I jog 3 to 4 times a week for about 40 minutes is a big one. I increased the demands on my body but eat just just the same as I always did. It bothers me because doctors consider me as a regular couch poatato, which I'm certainly not. I don't have problems sitting behind my desk, I have problems running and all they do is check my heart in a sedentary, stationary position. I never had problems before I started running - I have them now.

I will take my results to my personal physician tomorrow and will ask her what she thinks about my iron levels. I sincerely hope she won't be offended by that fact that I decided to take the test by myself, as I want her to cooperate and most importantly I want to run, not just jog and hope there is a solution to what I'm experiencing. But there will be no solution of the problem if my doctor doesn't cooperate.

posted by Nadezhda | 11:52 | 1 comments | links to this post

Monday, November 14, 2005

Human body in numbers

1. The total length of capillaries in the human body has been estimated at 96 000 km.
2. The velocity of blood in the aorta averages 0,32 m/s.
3. In humans the thyroid gland has a supply of the hormone, sufficient for 3 moths.
4. Every B lymphocyte is covered by 150 000 molecules of IgM (receptors for specific antigens).
5. During the process of terminal differentiation and selection, T lymphocytes undergo numerous mitoses, but nevertheless more than 95% of them die by apoptosis.
6. Both testes combined contain about 1000 seminiferous tubules - the total length of which has been estimated at 0,5 km.
7. It takes 64 days to produce a spermatozoon from a spermatogonium.
8. An average ejaculate (3 ml) contains 200 - 300 million spermatozoa. A man with less than 20 million spermatozoa per ml of ejaculate is considered sterile.
9. A female newborn has 400 000 ova (egg cells). In her lifetime only about 450 of these will mature; others undergo atresion.
10. Fertilization of the oocyte happens in the oviduct. Once fertilized, the oocyte (now called a zygote) begins cell division and is transported to the uterus. Its journey lasts 5 days.
11. In the brain neurons typically connect to at least a thousand other neurons.
12. There are about 100 million cells in the nervous system.
13. Most synapses impinging on neurons are located in dendrite spines, which occur in vast numbers: they are estimated to be on the order of 10^14 for the human cerebral cortex.
14. Some nerves can propagate messages at speeds up to 100 m/s.
15. The longest axon in the body is about 100 cm long.

posted by Nadezhda | 23:54 | 2 comments | links to this post

Friday, November 11, 2005

Swan Lake in Maribor

Photo: Natalia Bessmertnova in Swan Lake - about the only decent Swan Lake photo I could find.

I was very happy to hear that SNG Maribor Opera and Ballet will be performing Swan Lake in the 2005/06 season. The reasons for this are two-fold. The stage in Maribor is larger than the stage in Ljubljana and such a big production couldn't be done justice on a small stage. Imagine the swan queen and only a dozen swans dancing around her, because the stage would not allow more dancers without their treading on each other's feet.

The other reason is that I think the dancers in Maribor more competent than those in Ljubljana. Having never been to Maribor to see them seems to suggest I am guessing, but at least there are facts to support my conclusions. First of all, in Ljubljana the quality of the classical ballet productions is falling. They're trying to solve the situation by doing one classical and one modern dance production a year. Also, the classical productions they do, don't follow the original (Petipa) choreography, but they rather invite some new name to do the choreography. From the technical stand point these new versions are easier and therefore the dancers dancing them don't t have to be as skilled, as prepared or as good as they'd have to be to dance the original. Now there might be financial constraints with regard to the copyrights and various permissions - but the ensemble did Balanchine's Serenade last year and that couldn't have been cheap. Also, I don't think you have to pay for the Ivanov/Petipa version of Swan Lake since it was first performed in 1895.

On the other hand, the Maribor Ballet did La Bayadere a few seasons ago and that is a gigantic production and a very difficult one, technically. They also have The Sleeping Beauty (thought not original choreography) on their repertoire and do quite a few modern pieces as well. And if my information is correct, they also tour. Something I've never heard mentioned in connection with Ljubljana's Ballet. Of course it's needless to mention that only good companies tour.

I'd dearly like to see this new production in Maribor and perhaps I will find time after the December holidays. At least I will be able to determine if and just how much better the dancers in Maribor are.

For your viewing pleasure go to For Ballet Lovers Only, there are some very nice (Swan Lake) photos - but they're all copyrighted so I couldn't post them as a part of my blog.

posted by Nadezhda | 12:55 | 0 comments | links to this post

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ten things about me

Having read the 100 things about me on Character Development, I thought it might be a fun thing to do. I don't have time (or imagination) to write 100 things, therefore I only present you with ten (perhaps) unusual things about myself.

1. I consume enormous amounts of chewing gum. Especially when I'm under pressure or am angry. If you're unsure which stocks to buy, I might suggest Wrigley's. The company's bound to make profit.

2. I hate waiting in a queue. An answer to never having to wait for anybody is to be a couple (usually not more than 5) minutes late. A time saver, this one.

3. My mission on Earth is to optimize and improve my performance so as to waste the minimal amount of time on chores and projects that really aren't that important. And to lessen the amount of wasted time. And to teach people to use a sheet of paper on both sides. And to get up earlier. But the latter is not merely a mission it's a mission impossible.

4. I don't want to get married. Something American women wouldn't understand.

5. I like to sleep in and believe this is the only reason I'm always behind schedule. I once calculated that I was exactly 30 days behind schedule - and that's 30 days of 12 hours worth of work a day.

6. I don't curse or use abusive language. The furthest I get is "shit". No F words in my vocabulary.

7. Several people thought I was British or at least spent a considerable amount of time there. Fact: I never was to United Kingdom, although I would dearly like to go.

8. My personal record at eating ice cream is 13 scoops (Thanks, Jure!) of ice cream in one go. By the time I reached the last one my tongue was almost frozen. And certainly it was less responsive to outside stimuli for several hours after that.

9. When faced with a problem or a question or a dilemma, my way of solving is to consult a book. At least that saved my parents the talking about "bees and flowers".

10. I read the complete, unabridged version of War and Peace by Tolstoy at 9 years of age. It's not that my parents were that ambitious, but rather that I had previously read Roald Dahl's Mathilda and was inspired by it. However, I hardly remember a thing about it; that is owing to the fact that the French portions of the book weren't translated into Slovenian and I skipped them. It doesn't need saying that I soon didn't understand anything at all. Later, I decided to learn French by myself so I could one day (hopefully) read the book again and actually understand it, but that impulse was of short duration.

Having completed this list I feel I could go on. But I'll save another 10 for next time.

posted by Nadezhda | 16:31 | 2 comments | links to this post

Sunday, November 06, 2005

On tea drinking

I drink a lot of tea. In fact I should say that I used to drink a lot of tea. I liked gunpowder green tea and drank it a lot, especially throughout the autumn and winter when the days are short and one needs to stay awake to study; also there's a general depressing atmosphere and one is faced with a rather difficult decision whether to stay awake at 1.30 am and continue studying or go to bed.

In high school I used to drink cappuccino when I was out with my friends, but I soon dropped the habit because coffee isn't really my piece of cake and I thought that taking in all that caffeine (when there really wasn't a need for it - e.g. to help me stay awake) was excessive. There was a year when I had several almost successive colds and my mother (and in fact every living relative I have who witnessed over two months of runny noses, sore throats and coughing) suggested drinking warm tea with honey and a bit of lemon juice. I found a tea I liked and began drinking it in vast quantities - up to a litre and a half per day.

Later, when I began studying at University I soon realized I will probably be doing long hours and thought I should try one of the teas that my biology teacher mentioned in class, saying they keep you awake longer than coffee. And as long as I can tell, it's true. Green tea has less caffeine than a normal coffee and it wakes one up slowlier, but keeps you alert for a longer time and the effects fade away slowly, at least slowlier than with coffee. I never really liked the taste of coffee either and always had the feeling that when the caffeine "stopped" working it's magic I could tell because I suddenly felt very tired, at least far more tired than I did before. Whereas with green tea this is not so. Its effects last for hours and I rarely drink it two or more times a day. One time represents two mugs of tea.

As mentioned before I drink gunpowder green tea which has leaves that are rolled tightly and they spread out when you pour hot water over them. But gunpowder is a fairly strong and stimulating green tea so it is not advisable to over do it. I have tried two other types of green tea but like gunpowder's flavour best.

And even thought it is not advisable for me to drink tea now, I have found a variety I can drink. Green tea has a lot of tannins and they prevent the absorption of iron in the body. (I am currently very low on iron, but not yet anaemic, so I should take care. In time I hope my doctor will be persuaded and will prescribe me some iron supplement.) However, rooibos tea has very little tannins and has a nice sweet flavour and despite having no caffeine (no stimulating effect) I like to drink it.

posted by Nadezhda | 21:44 | 0 comments | links to this post

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Television

I don't watch TV much. Actually, I don't watch it at all. Mainly the reason is a boring programme - too many shows and films which just aren't interesting to me. I am not that much into series (for an explanation, see my entry on Desperate Housewives), either. I find television a waste of time. However, I like Discovery channel, but they repeat the same documentaries all over again and then I don't really want to waste time seeing something all over again.

But this comming week, the TV will be a temptation.
On Saturday, 5th November, there's Road to Perdition on POP TV at 21.40.
On Sunday, 6th November, there's Billy Elliot on POP TV at 20.00.
Also on Sunday, there's The Godfather on POP TV at 22.40.
And my favourite: on Wednesday, 9th November, Lost in Translation hits the television screens at 20.00 on TVS1.

Also, on 10th November the 16th annual Liffe, a film festival begins in Ljubljana.
I'll be watching films next week. And you?

posted by Nadezhda | 10:45 | 4 comments | links to this post

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Daily, small deaths

Death is one of the moments when you stop to think, to look back. When you have to accept that your time is limited. And that it's been ticking out for more than twenty years for yourself and that you want to do so much more with your time, that there are so many things you haven't done yet (even though you vowed you will).

Lately I spent many days thinking about the way death comes unexpectedly and almost always too early. That almost regardless of the life you've had, the pain you've experienced as a result of your illness, one always wants more time when the end is near. Just another day, another week.
And there is nothing that can prepare you for death. Even the knowledge that your loved one, a close relative is in the last stage of their illness. And that her life is coming to an end.

I lost the first one of my grandparents in 1992. I remember staying awake that night and feeling lost. I didn't feel anything and knew I should. I knew the adults cried and mourned their loss, but I couldn't. I didn't especially like that grandparent and I was too young to understand the grieving. To understand that death is not like a journey, where you come back; that death is irreversible.


Eight years later my beloved grandmother died of a brain tumor. We knew about her illness, knew she had less than a year's time, knew that death couldn't be avoided and yet it hurt. I remember tears streaming over my cheeks and feeling I couldn't stop crying - whenever I wiped my eyes dry, the tears welled up again. I still cannot shake the feeling that she is alive and many times when I see a similar-looking woman on the street my first thought is always: it might be her. What shocked me about her cancer, about her way of dying is how painful it is. Until then I had always thought of dying as getting to sleep in the evening and just not waking up again in the morning. My grandmother had to have pain-killerers administered to her. First Tramal, then morphine. First pills, then IV injections. It hurt so much that despite the medicine she received, she was still in pain. She couldn't see clearly, she sometimes couldn't speak because of the pain. Her death, even though it was very difficult for me to say goodbye to her, was a means of terminating her suffering. And for that I'm grateful.

With my grandfather's death this year it was again different. I'm five years older than last time and even though I've never known my grandfather quite as well as my grandmother, or loved him quite as much, it struck me - it was a heavy blow. His death was very unexpected and I was forced to realize that some things cannot be put off forever. That time comes, body weakens and life cycle has to continue.

Two years ago grandfather's health started to deteriorate. He was a diabetic and had gangrene on his leg. It spread quickly and was giving him lots of pain; when it couldn't be postponed anymore, they removed the part of his leg from knee downwards. For some time he was pain-free and was discharged from the hospital. Then his kidneys failed and he had to have renal dialysis performed every three days. He had a mild heart attack about the same time. Later we discovered that gangrene started to spread on his other leg. At hospital he almost died from sepsis, but as they surgically removed his heel, the source of MRSA infection, he survived. Then he progressively got better. He returned home and spent his summer there. In September he was slightly feverish, so he was admitted to the hospital again. The night before he died he had his second heart attack, and a few days before that gangrene started to spread on his fingers as well. Had he lived, he would have to undergo a surgery, in which his right hand would be removed. Perhaps he would also need a heart bypass.

Thinking back I know time was right for him. Living to see himself crippled, a patient, spending his days at hospital, being unable to drive his car, which he loved so... is not a life he deserved.

When bodies start to malfunction, when they become unable to carry on with the metabolic processes needed to sustain life, when the systems start to collapse - it's time to go. As a student of medicine, I am left with the realization that human body is mortal and that any faults it might have can very severely shorten one's life. As a future doctor I also know that sustaining life for life's sake only is pointless. Machines can support life processes in a dead person, but is that what we call life? Not that I wouldn't do everything in my power to let somebody live, but there always comes a time when one needs to go. And it's always too early. I am a firm believer in palliative care and think that it is one of the most noble ways to help your patient as a doctor.

It's a circle of life and nothing was more certain for us at the time when we were born than that we shall die some day. And I don't think that's a reason for sadness - it's a reason to do things I want to have done, because tomorrow might be too late, but today the day is still as young and as fresh as to allow for action to be taken.

posted by Nadezhda | 00:20 | 0 comments | links to this post