“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” – Proverbs 18: 21 (NIV)
Let me share this funny, maybe not so funny, but successful experience I had. I have known the above scripture for a long time. As long as my days in Living Word Academy (Secondary), my alma mater. Our patron, who doubled as our hostel chaplain might have quoted it a lot of times. Maybe not as much as “foolishness abides in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it away” that preceded almost every lashing session. Those days.
So, this verse. Rightfully seated in the book of wisdom of the good book. Generously shared with us by the wisest man that lived on earth, King Solomon. It took on a greater meaning for me when I read it afresh in the course of my devotion recently.
It reminded me of these experiences in medical school:
The medical exam is usually in two formats; the written part of the exam and the clinical part. The clinical part entails you interacting with a patient, like in a real case scenario. It is required of you to obtain a history from the patient. That is, inquire about the symptoms that brought them to the hospital, how they have progressed, their likely causes depending on the presentation, the care they have obtained so far, other aspects of their medical history, like if they have any chronic or familiar diseases, etcetera. You are then expected to do a complete general and systematic physical examination on them, proffer useful investigations to confirm or rule out suspicions, and plan a treatment for them. All of these in a specified time frame, usually 45 minutes thereabout. Afterwards, your examiners are invited and you are to present the above to them in the presence of your patient. This can be a daunting experience for a medical student, especially when you have a mean examiner.
During the course of our clinical posting, a friend of mine had one of those “mean” professors in the unit he was assigned. He was a pretty good lad and showed up for rounds everyday, that would include days he was the only medical student in the rounds. That did not go unnoticed. Not long, he was in everybody’s good book, including the “mean” professor. I teased him, “Shebi you know Professor X would not fail you should you meet him in any exam.” “Well,” he smiled, “but I would not like to meet him.” “That man has problems,” he communicated his fears. I did not, however, stop teasing him and telling him how he would surely pass if he met Professor X in the exam.
On the morning of the exam, I must have prophesied the same Prof. into his exams. I remember him rebuking me, “Anita, please, stop saying a bad prayer for me.” I was honestly convinced about what I thought – the professor being good prognosis for my dear friend. Well, guess who he saw when he was ready to present his patient? Professor X, in all his glory, unsmiling, and ready for some serious business. Thankfully, my friend had a good case; one he was well prepared for. His saving grace. Refusing to be frightened by the Prof.’s intimidating presence, and with confidence hoisted by good preparation and a vast knowledge of the case, my friend began his presentation. Cruising safely and almost arriving at the end of his physical examination findings, the Prof. cut in. Your guess is just as good as mine. He floored my friend. Now, here’s where my good – even though turned down – prophecy came to play: My friend admitted that had it been any other student, someone without that first impression in the course of the posting, they might have failed. Prof. did not fail him afterall. Phew.
My own case was before my project defense. So, this particular doctor kept coming to mind, that I would meet him at my defense. On the morning of the defense, I even jocularly mentioned, “What if I meet Dr. Z today?” Our project defense is not as serious as those of other’s, because they made it so. Of a total of 100 marks, it carries only 2 marks. Yes, you read right. For me, it was such a bother, a waste of energy and good clothes. Could it just be scrapped entirely? I didn’t see the justification in dedicating a day to this defense. That goes without saying that I could not bring myself to study for the defense. It was part of public health, so your knowledge of the course would also be orally tested. All inside of the 2 marks. Project defense was one mark, public health orals, the other one mark. Laugh harder. Asides this, I was on energy conservation mode, conserving my energy for a ‘bigger’ day, my surgery clinicals the next day. I was too lazy, even if only to read Dr. Z’s topics in public health since I had the intuition that I was going to meet him in the defense, and even verbally announced so.
When I walked into the defense room, the sight of Dr. Z almost stopped me in my tracks. But then, 2 marks… I had already passed before this defense (if I were serious enough). This was a mere formality, I trudged on. A weak smile in place, the defense began.
I said funny, maybe not so funny, but successful experience. Imagine if I had confessed negatively before my friend’s or my exam? It would have been deleterious.
If you have the energy to speak death, why not channel the energy into speaking forth life? Someone said, if you don’t have a positive thing to say, keep shut. I will advise that, too.
How has your words shaped your life? For the good or bad. Good news is, that words are life. So, build your life with the right words.
Ps: I was discussing with a friend and he said, “personally I don’t believe in the whole words and stuff of a thing.” I respected his belief, but made sure to add that it works and words are things. Yesterday, my mum furious that I handled my phone with less than perfect care, said she hated to but wished that my screen would break, just so that I may learn to handle my phone with better care. Same day, later on, my phone fell with such force that my screen couldn’t resist it. Coincidence or serendipity?