A pluripotent newsletter stem cell
I’ve finally pulled my finger out of the aorta and started the Medlife Monthly. Thank you for subscribing.
Cardiac stem cells develop into an organ you might've heard of, something called 'the heart'. But it takes a while until they assume their final form. So please allow a little while for the embryological development of this email before you rank it in a newsletter tier list.
I regret taking so long to start. I dithered because I didn't want to waste your time nor inbox space, and I worried that if I talked about things I'm doing, it would feel too self-promotional. However, like an unmyelinated axon, I'm not the quickest; so it finally dawned on me that I don't need to worry about that. If people don't like it, they'll unsubscribe. But I hope you don't. You might have signed up a long time ago and never received anything till now (see above), or might not recall signing up at all - partly because I changed software midway through writing this and hamfistedly imported a large list from my website - if that’s the case I do apologise. Dammit Jim I’m a doctor not a proper journalist. The format I envisage will be part blogesque longer form writing, and part narcissistic self-promotion.
I’m launching the newsletter and a second project, with the hope of dovetailing them together. That second project is a podcast. Yes, I looked at the podcast market and I thought "You know what demographic is sorely under-represented? Men in their 30s".
I actually started off as a writer and always thought that would be my side hustle. Somewhere along the way I got really into this whole being a doctor lark and let it fall by the wayside, but prior to that I wrote a monthly column (‘Rohinplasty’) in a student newspaper I used to run. I have no idea if anyone read them but 13 years on I look back on those columns with great fondness and I’m really glad I documented lessons that I learnt as a brand new doctor.
So in many ways, this is my attempt to recreate that, as a new chapter in my career begins. I’m starting as a consultant cardiologist, which is the most senior level of doctor in the UK. I took a slightly circuitous route here, but long and interesting journeys can be savoured. I’m currently thinking of calling it The Medlife Crisis Podcast: Still Practicing, to reflect the fact that not only is medicine a career where you keep learning and getting better, but also that remarkably my medical licence to practice has not been withdrawn for crimes against comedy.
If you’ve come here from my YouTube channel, the newsletter and podcast are going to be somewhat different. The pillars of my religion will remain unchanged, namely medicine, science, comedy and taking the piss. But the new projects will be a bit more about the soft skills I’ve learnt and will continue to learn as I embark on consultant life. Expect them to be a bit more introspective, esoteric, and even philosophical. Lots of ideas aren’t suitable for a YouTube video and this way I’ll be able to start a conversation with you directly.
It’s a common joke that educational YouTubers are one job offer from ditching YouTube for ‘old media’, usually TV. I personally know many who hanker after a TV career, which I struggle to understand as the very very little TV that I’ve done has been scary and rigid and awful, and not at all fun. YouTube and Nebula give me such creative licence to do almost whatever I want (more so in the case of Nebula). So it might surprise some of you that I’m now a regular on the oldest of old broadcast media, radio. But I’ve found that radio is a happy halfway house. I don’t have the freedom of YouTube, but it feels much more genuine and relaxed than TV. I choose my topics and write my own script. Balls to TV, basically.
BBC Radio 4’s Inside Health is a current affairs health programme and I’ve been given a little segment entitled ‘Roving Rohin’, where I rant about topics like the cardiac complications of being too fit or why medical headlines are so confusing. I’ve got one more episode to come in this season. In a few weeks I’ll be on the Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry, a highly enjoyable science show on Radio 4. All of the above can be accessed from anywhere as podcasts. And indeed, it is the fact that I’ve enjoyed dipping my toe into radio, that I’ve realised making my own podcast could be manageable. Could be. Famous last words.
This month’s videos.
Quiet month on the channel as I was pre-occupied with wrapping up my old job, school holidays etc but I really enjoyed interviewing Drs Bonnie Posselt and Beth Healey, two amazing space doctors, about their work in analogue space missions - simulated missions to Mars, on Earth. It was part of a wider video about applying to become a European Space Agency astronaut. I’m eagerly waiting on my rejection. The video hasn’t done so well and I think that’s mostly my own fault. It took me a while to edit and I ended up posting right around the time Bezos and Branson were dicking around at the fringes of space, which pissed a lot of people off. Seriously guys, read the planet. Secondly, there have been a multitude of scicomm-type people making videos about “applying to become astronauts” via schemes like the #dearMoon or #inspiration4 and so on. Novelty trips. Some of the advertised ones are almost certainly not even going to happen. And I suspect a lot of people assumed I was doing that, making a fun “vote for me!!” video, rather than an official application to become a pukka astronaut.
Then I thought I’d try something I hadn’t done before and repurpose one of the talks I give from time to time, which was a potted history of cardiology and cardiac surgery, in the form of 4 major chapters.
Narcissistic self promotion.
Yes, I realise that a subheading of ‘narcissistic self promotion’ in a newsletter that is entirely narcissistic self-promotion is redundant, but so is your right kidney and I don’t hear you complaining about that. I am using a very loose definition of the word ‘news’ in order to class this as a newsletter, thus in forthcoming issues I’ll update you on what I’m up to or have recently done, such as events. Not in a vlogger-cum-influencer kind of way. Don’t expect accounts of dinner with my friends or shopping hauls, because - and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before - but I’m not a vlogger.
Joking aside, maybe I can use this opportunity to reiterate a message I try to pass onto as many enthusiastic budding content creators or nascent online personalities as I can. For all social media’s ills, I still think all platforms have a huge potential to educate and so I encourage people to engage, if they want, but I am always a bit taken aback by how freely people share their lives online. Just because you want to use the Internet to spread some information, it doesn’t mean you need to become the product. Of course, bring your personality to it, but don’t make your personhood public.
In the last month I unexpectedly won (inhale) The National Union of Journalists and British Association of Science Writers Stephen White Award for reporting of science in a non-science context (phew), becoming the first YouTuber to do so. Which was nice.
I recorded a 3 part podcast series called The Wondr of the Stent, about the fascinating little-known history of coronary angioplasty and stenting. Episode 1 comes out tomorrow [Apple] [Spotify] [Acast].
I know what you’re thinking, why didn’t the ‘Radio’ section go under the ‘Self promotion’ heading? No idea.
That’s all for now.
Did you use the transesophageal, subclavial or femoral route when pulling said finger?
I've got your email. Happy! Finally! A joy to read. Then, I was wondering how would someone give feedback?! Reply to the email? Surely not. Glad I found the share button which led me here. (Maybe you want to give some hints in your next newsletter to others that might find themselves in the same situation.) Also, I am glad for my right kidney, so I definitely don't mind the redundancy in your case :)