Sergei Shushunov, born on October 31, 1954 and moved to a communal apartment straight from the hospital. For those who don’t know: communal apartment is shared by several unrelated families where kitchen, bathroom, toilet, etc are used by all, and the families take turns cleaning them on a weekly basis, or not cleaning at all if agreed. They were common back then in many parts of the Soviet Union, but I think Leningrad (once again St. Petersburg) had the largest share. Partly because 6 years after the end of WWII, with 3 years of bombardment and shelling, the city was not completely rebuilt, partly because it was a home to huge factories, constantly absorbing fresh hands, which were coming from all over the country and needed living space and partly because nobody gave a damn and the money were spent on other no less important projects like space exploration, thermonuclear explosive devices, submarines, Red Army hockey team, Bolshoi Ballet, Cuban revolution and other inedible and uninhabitable things.
I suppose I S learned a lot in my youth. I learned to play clarinet well enough to consider going to conservatory. I learned to be a cartographer and managed for a brief period of time to earn a living by making maps. Later I picked up an axe and learned to be a carpenter. I learned to sail, to fly a small plane, to weld, to shoot straight. I learned to test limits of my physical endurance, including swimming in ice water. I have learned a few more useful and not so useful things, but it was medicine that finally captured my attention.
My medical education lasted for 6 years from 1971 to 1977 and, by the end of it, scared and inexperienced novice I was thrown into year-long pediatric emergency medicine training. Once it was over, I thought I knew a lot, but I kept learning. Interesting thing followed: the more I learned medicine, the less I thought I knew it. By now, after a total of 7 years of post-graduate training, 35 years of practice and numerous courses I think I know very little. A paradox? Yes. “The more you learn the less you know”. Despite of that over the years my confidence as a physician grew steadily, and it’s possible that in the following 20 or 30 years of practicing medicine I will be able to conclude that when it comes to saving lives, the bulk of knowledge is less important than practice and confidence. I hope I have enough time to explain this dichotomy to myself…