Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ah! This is a relief post for me. I used to wonder how a hero and heroine act in such intimate scenes and that romantic flare doesn’t light up. Do they turn off their romantic parts of their brain and turn on the reasoning portions in the front of the brain? Do they seem themselves as business partners and don’t feel a whiff of romance between them? Strangely, I found an answer in two Canadian ice dancers aka 2010 Olympic champions: Scott Muir and Tessa Virtue. I like her name so much, as I don’t have the second part of it.

The pair’s passion for dancing is said to offset any possible romance that can happen on the ice. Their fans email them asking them to get married as they make a good couple; so funny. The couple say they grew up together and that makes up for the personal distance not affecting professional achievements. But I remember a Telugu movie, in which the hero and heroine are raised in adjacent homes, go to the same college and realize their friendship is care-turned-love, when they are away from each other for few days. Love is such a messy thing that defies all clean definitions.

In fact, Muir and Virtue’s closeness made Muir’s aunt get them over to the ice and exploit that closeness in another way. They say they treat the dance as a business that seems to have become so intense that makes Muir say that they are “hanging out for sure…[but] can't imagine not being in each other's lives in some way.” Wowah! So is this inseparable bonding not love? How can they live with others and still like each other? The 1984 Olympic champions have an answer. Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean say a “false identity” was imposed on them by calling them a couple and plainly saw romance as “non-existent”. The funny thing was when asked when they would get married, both used to say “Not this week!”. But they did get married but not mutually.

All I can say is that what we see may not be what it is and what it should be is what we did not possibly see. So, I should stop fantasizing about what was cooking between a boy and gal, who seem to be acting much more than what I think they would have as pals. I’m vulnerable to so many biases as well.

Talking about biases, I just read a nice effect to which I think I over- and under-qualify as well: Dunning–Kruger effect. Named after two Cornell University researchers, it means (from Wikipedia):

The unskilled suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than in actuality; by contrast the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. This leads to a perverse result where less competent people will rate their own ability higher than more competent people.

So how can the incompetent be made adept at what they are good at: let them bootstrap their skill levels so that they realize what their deficits were. I can indiscreetly say I do this: learning to challenge my brain, to read and recollect as much relevant knowledge as I should, has greatly helped me realize what my deficiencies were.

Just an example: a colleague who turned a mom for the first time and offered a nice little girl recently asked me why many Indian women are being forced to undergo cesarean: delivery of a fetus by surgical incision through the abdominal wall and uterus (from the belief that Julius Caesar was born that way). Frankly, I gave an off-the-cuff to-my-best-brainy answer.

In any case, I rethought about her interesting question, as I’m pretty fascinated by embryology. Of course, her gynaco told her that the reason is high blood pressure or to prevent a condition medically called eclampsia. Vaginal delivery becomes unviable, mostly due to three reasons. One, prolonged but unsuccessful labor patterns (docs may resort to injecting the hormone oxytocin to boost contractions or stimulate the amniotic sac, the nice nursery where the fetus grows). Two, fetal distress: the baby may not be able to tolerate the labor pains of the mom and its heart rate may slow or infection may spread in the womb. Third, the baby may be in a malposition, improper for proper delivery. A common malposition is breech birth: to emerge with buttocks or feet first, rather than the head. Yet this position can be corrected (so I think the third reason can be safely ruled out).

Other reasons for caesarean can be a displaced or bleeding placenta, the tube that nourishes the baby with oxygen and other essentials. Though these maybe strong reasons for not undertaking a usual delivery, the conditions should be too evident and persistent for such an action -- a blip on a screen may be a missile or static; a blob on an X-ray may be a tumor or a harmless thickening. So for this differential diagnosis needs to be done, not just by the doc but partly by the patient as well. The more a patient, especially in childbirths, participates in the diagnosis, the better. So what is differential diagnosis: eliminating all those not possible among the listed symptoms for a condition.

It’s like the patient informing the doc about all her symptoms and the physician zeroing in on a certain condition/disorder -- and the patient still asking “What else can it be?” In this way, patients can be well-informed about what’s happening to them and with it, an empathetic bond develops with the physician. Many Indian docs seem to have forgotten the very premise on which the Ancient Indian medicine rests: prevention is better than cure. So, a C section can be pretty much prevented, if women are let to do their usual chores (but with extra care and slowly) rather than isolating them completely and suddenly imposing a harsh procedure on them.
Whatever it is, I think women in India or world over should be held in high regard just because no man can endure those labor pains. No, that’s not another reason for having reservations, nonetheless.

Now, you got why I called it a relief post!

No comments: