When I was in 6th grade, medicine consumed my mind.
At that age I was a very weak boy compared to my friends and classmates. I had tonsillitis every couple of months regardless of season and weather. I was always coughing and sneezing. My muscles were nonexistent. My mom tried to isolate me from all possible infections and my immune system became completely inactive. During chilly days, I had to wear a heavy coat, scarf, and hat). I missed a lot of days of school, but it gave me more free time to read about medicine, anatomy, and physiology.
The cold war.
It was all during the era of the cold war and Soviet Union where we prepared for nuclear war against America.
Soviet Union was a special country. One of the strongest in the world and at the same time, the “Empire of Evil” as Ronald Reagan named it.
We were told that Russians didn’t want the war, that Soviet Union and other communist countries were the most peaceful in the world. America and NATO didn’t like use because at school they taught us Americans wanted to destroy our country and would not stop unless they knew we could fight back. Soviet government encouraged us to play war games, wearing toy weapons and using fake ammunitions. Every boy had at least couple toy hand guns, AK, etc. At school we had two hours each week when we were taught how to use gas masks, and special chemical protection devices (chemical suites, gloves, respirators). They even created a war game “Zarnitsa,” where kids from one school fought against kids from another. Everything felt real. Each school had an army headquarters, phone and radio connection, generals, captains, and soldiers. Girls mostly were occupied in headquarters preparing paperwork, making phone calls, and drawing signs. Boys from the high schools administered and directed the tactic and strategies. The young boys ran through the streets with weapons looking for boys from another school. One team was wearing red and another blue, or black. Of course, the red team represented Soviet Union and by definition must win the game, however both “armies” tried hard. They did not know that regardless of the real number of “injured” or “killed” soldiers from whichever side the winner was still red. Now I understand that it was a hypnotherapeutic trick. The connection between red and the winner was implanted in our unstable subconscious minds and the suggestion that “Soviet Union is always the winner” became an axiom for all of us.
15 years old military physician
I found a great position for myself in the game. I realized that many kids became injured, both fake and for real. Fake injuries were a result of “shootings” and “stubbings,” and real injuries happened because boys jumped from the roofs, fences, etc. During the day, many kids needed first aid. Also, at some point the “Americans” used chemical weapons and we had a lot of “casualties” that needed to be properly addressed.
I proposed to have a hospital as well as paramedics that could help right on a field at one of the game’s preparation meetings. The bosses (the principal, the representative from each school district, and the supervisors) found my proposal reasonable and I became a “military doctor”. I can’t even describe how happy I was at that time. Instead of running with a gun on a street, I healed wounded soldiers and provided real services. That’s how I started my medical career.
The education system in the country was different compare to the US system. After graduating high school, students should know in advance what they want to learn and what specialty to choose. Depending on this decision, a student can either attend Medical University, a Polytechnic Institute, or College that prepared teachers in different specialties, etc.
I attended special classes for high school students with the plan to attend Medical school after graduation. During these classes, I learned anatomy and physiology on a college level. I even attended a few surgeries at the hospital. Medicine became my dream and my destiny at the same time and it made me happy.
At 16, I graduated high school in 1971 and in September of the same year attended State University of Medicine and Pharmacy.