I have also learned that there is more to academic prowess than an ability to retain facts and figures. Chemistry is one branch of science that has always bewildered me, and one that required constant resitting in order to attain the necessary components of my agricultural science degree. My eventual C passes for chemistry 101 and 102 are personal Badges of Honour.
Biochemistry however? A different story entirely, as it lends itself magnificently to rote learning. A university lecturer advised me “Brett, there’s more to biochemistry than rote learning.” At the end of the year I was able to tell him that there was only 30% more.
Most days I do the Dominion Post’s 5 Minute Quiz, and also the Stuff online quiz. Perfect scores in both generally elude me. I guess that’s one reason I keep returning.
One question asked earlier this week in the online quiz was about a condition known as Hidradenitis suppurativa. My eyes latched onto this for several reasons. One because it was incorrectly spelled. Another because it’s a rare skin disease known to few, including many medical practitioners. Another because I was afflicted with Stage III of this condition for most of my 20s. The dispassionate description outlined in the attached Wikipedia link doesn’t do HS justice. It’s much worse than that in terms of its physical and emotional impacts. Some sufferers have it much worse than I did. Most are women, which is something that really breaks my heart.
Salvation for me came in the form of a referral from a compassionate and bemused skin specialist to the surgical team at Hutt Hospital’s burns and reconstructive surgery unit. I owe those talented surgeons and the nursing team so much it’s hard to quantify. They changed my life. Being a patient in Hutt’s burns unit is also pretty humbling and good therapy in itself. Seeing young kids and others who have been burned within millimetres of their lives made me realise that what I had gone through was nothing in comparison.
These burns kids didn’t want sympathy. They just wanted a chance to live a normal life, do what other kids did, and be accepted by people they interacted with. Rehabilitation for them was going to come at a huge cost, probably requiring years of surgical and medical interventions, not to mention the impact that being badly scarred can have on interactions people have with others, interactions generally tarred with some sort of negative prejudice. While they may have come to terms with their current condition and how to manage chronic and acute pain, the rest was going to be a journey of discovery for them and those who loved them.
Our society struggles with people who are a Bit Different. I applaud the television advertisements promoting mental health “disorders” and Sir John Kirwan’s nightly message that depression is OK and manageable. Yet in spite of this, people with disabilities and others who aren’t “normal” still have to battle for acceptance and equality. I guess progress is being made, even if that is at a glacial rate, as homosexual folk in our communities can attest. As my Grandfather once said, how we deal with injustice is one of the things that defines us as people.
You won’t see that sort of stuff in a quiz.
Stephen’s mother had four children. The first was called April, the second May and the third was called June. What was the name of the fourth child?