Guest post by Priyanga Singh.
The beginning of love
My introduction to cartoons was in daily news paper strips, At that time I was very young and illiterate (by which I mean I wasn’t going to school yet) so, technically, cartoons were the first thing I learnt: ‘doodlogenesis’ occurred before I could write a word. Blank paper, pencils and scissors still fascinate me, inviting me to draw, cut and glue and that’s all I have been doing mostly.
Drawing as a way of learning
I was terrified by cell structure in 6th grade and I remember my mother drew cell structure step by step, first the nucleus then the mitochondria and soon the whole cell was fascinating.
Since that day drawing is my way of injecting information into my brain. Cartooning gives it a personal touch, characters come from the lacunas of my weird imagination.
Entering medical school. Drawing and surviving.
I struggled to retain reams of medical information and there was a time where I felt I was in the wrong carrier, but after I started to draw, and things became easier.
In my medical school training I learnt to make stories out of medical case scenarios, it helped me to remember better. I used to write those stories on plain paper and stick them in my books, this way I could revise topics easily and it was fun reading subjects.
This illustration depicts me surviving medical school with the help of doodling and cartooning.
Teaching in college.
After graduating as a pathologist I worked for a year at Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal, it was an awesome experience. In the beginning I got frustrated because the students didn’t perform well in topics I have taught, but it improved a lot after the introduction of cartoons and drama in my classes. A few of the students said I was the funniest and most engaging lecturer they ever had.
In my opinion “If reference books are the main course, then cartoons are dessert: no medical meal for the mind is complete without a dessert. Every medical student deserves desserts.” I personally eat desserts as a main course – they just make me happy and deeply interested in medical science. Also, I prefer inventing new recipes (foodie me).
Here are few desserts from my kitchen …. (I am very much receptive for praise and more praise).
Figure 1: Endocarditis by candida in IV drug users.
Figure 2: Mucor penetrating blood vessels
Figure 2: Cryptosporidium the introduction
Figure 4: Disseminated candidiasis
Figure 5: Aspergillus conidias reaching alveoli
Drawing as catharsis and meditation.
I have deep interest in philosophy, psychology and existential questions. I post my current cartoons on my Facebook page Quotes Cartoonified, Also, in few cartoons I tried to immortalise my dead dog (he was very intellectual and loving, in my belief one can learn “unconditional positive regard” from pets).
A love for graphic medicine.
I came to know that the Graphic Medicine website and community existed somewhere at the end of year 2017, the moment I saw there is conference happening in Vermont I was so happy. Attending the conference was awesome experience. Art in its all colours has deep respect and a special place in my heart. It has inspired me and opened up a new genera of books on public health and graphic memoirs on illnesses people suffer which I never knew existed. After the conference I have read Sick by Gabby Shulz, The Bad Doctor by Ian Williams, and Rx by Rachel Lindsay. I updated my list of books to read from graphic medicine website.
I am possessed by the idea of drawing cartoons so much that this lifetime seems short to me. I wonder how many comic artists feel that way.
Hope and obsession with cartoons in medicine.
I prefer to define myself as a pathologist who is a self-taught illustrator, I am fascinated by the idea of including cartoons as an inevitable dessert to the main course medicine meal. I daydream about teaching medical students in this media, I hope to make it possible in this short life of mine, I am open for suggestions and more ideas.
I grew up in India , did my National Board Diploma in pathology from SDMH Jaipur, a DCP (diploma in clinical pathology) from KMC Manipal and my medical degree, MB BS from SMS Medical college, India. Currently I am residing in Quincy, Massachusetts and looking forward to opportunities in Medical Education and narrative medicine.