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Guilt. Coffee. Insane.

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Every time I check my E-mail to find a new follower or a like from a tried and true follower, I’m ridden with guilt. I’ve been so busy I’ve resorted to such large amounts of caffeine to stay awake that I could probably be admitted to an addiction center. Or maybe I could be admitted straight to the psych ward because I’m so crazy busy. When I disappear, harass me. The guilt will bring me back. I’ll grab another cup of coffee, and actually have a few minutes to enjoy it while creating something that doesn’t require full brain power. It sounds… relaxing.

Cheers to trying to take a few minutes to post something more frequently.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Photographic Memory

 

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Centering Myself in the World

“Hah,” we all say, “when on this wonderful green Earth do you expect us to do that???” Yes, that many question marks are indicated. I am speaking about making time for ourselves, which we all should be doing. We medical students all equate this question as equal to “What is the meaning of life?”

The best part is that they are telling this to a bunch of Type A personalities who have, quite likely, never even heard of the word “break” before without it referring to a destructive verb. I’m lying, kind of. We actually have heard of it, but we have  no idea how to use it as a noun. Now, they (the behind the scenes brains of the school) are telling us we have to take these breaks or we may just fall to pieces. Imagine a beautiful jigsaw puzzle and add a young child or tornado or some equivalent. That kind of fall to pieces.

Although for most people these breaks include one (or possibly more) mood altering substances, I have found other ways to find a center to my life. I may be lying a bit. Alcohol is may or may not be a wonderful thing. (Here is where I say in moderation and on occasion like the future doctor in me should… but I may not say that this time.) My word, I ended up way off topic.

One thing I now do is during the times I become bored to the point of nearly falling asleep either in class or while studying, instead of Facebooking (it is a verb) or clicking through 964 StumbleUpon sites, I look for free stuff or coupons that are running around all over the internets. Productivity + free stuff + 1/2 procrastination + receiving mail = happy Kristin. I am still quite novice at this whole get hundreds of dollars for free stuff, but I think that a free toothpaste and occasional granola bar is a good starting place.

On a completely different note, I’ve been very happy with, and very good at, being a fatty the past week. Examples: an excess of pad thai (if that is possible), top the tater and potato chips (if you haven’t heard of this, you are missing out on all sorts of life and happiness), homemade spinach artichoke dip, homemade guacamole secret Californian recipe style, a pumpkin pie blizzard (which is amazing all in itself since I have had ZERO sweets since 4th of July due to a silly New Years resolution), and enough Halloween candy to make me sick. *wipe drool off of keyboard* Oh, and to top it off, I haven’t worked out in the past week… or three… Fatty acid synthesis FTW! I apologize for so much nerdiness in one short sentence. Please do read on, I promise I won’t do it again.

The other thing that has been important in centering myself has been organization. My mother would be so proud of me! I have the page flag thingamabobbers and post it notes with color coded messages for what I need to study, shiz I know, and things that I have no clue in the land of unicorns as to what is happening. These last ones are literally labeled “WTF MATE???” I have a calendar printed *gasp* AND the various readings, papers, and skills sets marked on appropriate dates. I have five colors of Highlighters and nine different colors of pen ink for various topics. It’s like a fricken rainbow in this binder, minus the males and plethora of riches at the end. Bummer. I think all this time spent on making things so organized that I can’t possibly not know what is going on helps, but it may just prove that all med students end up with OCD.

P.S. Although I wish to be credited with the honest genius thoughts behind this picture, I sadly cannot. Speaking of breaks, mine is long over. I did it again. I was “productive” on my “break time.” Way to go and prove my own point.

 
 

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Fixing the Break

At this point, any health care reform change implemented is like placing a band-aid on a broken femur; it may improve the cosmetics, however, what really needs to happen is orthopedic surgery.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2011 in Snippets of Life

 

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The Best Medicine

Spending a day in bed, cuddled up with the best blanket and a magically, auto-refilling cup of vanilla soy chai lattes, repeatedly watching Wall-e is the only cure I can think of for this burnout mode I have found myself in.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2011 in Snippets of Life

 

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Time to Smell the Roses

MAKE IT STOP. MAKE IT STOP!

As an update, I am about a month into medical school. The two sentences above about summarize my thoughts recently, however, only in the best way possible. They warned us in the beginning that we were going to be receiving more information than we could ever handle. They equated it to “drinking out of a fire hydrant”. You remember the viral quote going around on various sites about undergraduate college? You know, “Good grades, 2. social life, 3. adequate sleep: Pick two and welcome to college.” The medical school version is, “Choose only three things in your life you need to survive school. Welcome to medical school.” Well that is easy. 1. I have to eat, and 2. I have to sleep at least some. 3. Hmmmm, well since I am in school I should probably study…

Our class quickly found out what they meant after the first two days of lecture. In eight hours of lecture, I had completely covered my entire undergraduate biochemistry and genetics courses, and learned a good portion of a nutrition course I was not fortunate enough to have taken. “Yeah, but at least it is stuff that you already learned, more or less.”

At the two week point, I was at the school every weekday from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. to study for our 20 point quizzes that covered approximately 16 hours of lecture. Mind you, this was just to get through the information once, and the stuff that I struggled with more than others, twice. I have even been found in the library frequently! Also, I study on weekends for at least six hours per day. This is saying a lot since I rarely studied as an undergraduate, never once studied in the library, never read a textbook, put a weak 20 hours into studying for the MCAT, and generally didn’t spend more time than I had to doing anything school related.

Now, at the one month mark, I am preparing for my first test. I have to review 92 hours of lecture from seven different professors, including well over 1,000 power point slides, just for around 100 test questions. I won’t be tested on overall concepts (since it is the details that kill people), and if any student didn’t have test anxiety before, I’m thinking they at least have a little now. You want to know how I know this aside from the panic in everyone’s eyes and the mini-freak out sessions that everyone is having? It is 11:00 p.m. on a Saturday night and all of the study rooms here at the school are taken.

The point is this: I am actually enjoying my life, as are most of my classmates. It is definitely not the same kind of happiness I found before, but I can’t picture myself doing anything different. To all of you applying out there, you have to know that medical school is undoubtedly what you want because once you get in, you will be miserable if you can’t tolerate schedules similar to mine.  I was recently asked by a friend if I regret my decision to enroll in medical school, and I could honestly answer I do not. I find joy in the little things in life now more than ever. I giggle every single time one of my professors says “vurrrry” instead of very, and when he calls various tissues “beautiful” or “gorgeous.” I love the mnemonics my classmates come up with to remember random information! I like that ordering a pizza or getting a cup of coffee is the highlight of my day. It is my favorite when a classmate brings in his two month old son to gawk at. It’s the little things that make my hours of studying fly by. Okay, that is a lie because it is the vast amount of information in a small amount of time that makes the time disappear magically. Either way…

I realize this is an amazingly boring post, but I am hoping that it will help all of you future medical students realize what a commitment you are taking, and what you have to do to prepare yourself for it. I highly recommend learning to study earlier in life compared to once you are already in medical school. It would be smart to over schedule yourself just enough so your free time is limited to a few hours on weekdays so you get used to not having any free time. (Plus this gives you an opportunity to volunteer, job shadow, pick up a part time job to pay for the extensive loans you will inevitably end up with, or conduct research.) The last thing I would recommend for undergraduates hoping to get into medical school as well as other med students: don’t give up. I’ve been told it will be worth it, and I have no reason not to believe that it won’t!

 

P.S. If you have any questions about the process of applying, interviews, or school, do not hesitate to ask! I am by far not an expert, but I may be able to help you out!

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2011 in My Inspiration and Motivation

 

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Thanks for saving my life. *cough*

 In the emergency room, I find myself torn between wanting an adrenaline rushing, gory, severe patients and wanting people healthy. The cardiac arrests or heart attacks, stroke patients qualified for thrombolytics, medical mysteries, and overdoses: these are what makes emergency medicine worth pursuing. However, what kind of a person am I to secretly hope some unfortunate human being has to enter a hospital under those conditions? I feel… heartless. Yet at the same time, the people that aren’t significantly injured, such as the viral respiratory infections, chronic pain patients, sniffles, bumps, bruises, and coughs annoy me. Don’t waste the doctor’s time on such frivolous matters when there are people that are literally dying down the hall. The perfect example of this: We go from a heart attack victim’s room, into a mystery decreased level of consciousness patient’s room, into a room where a guy has a cough. This is where I feel as though I lack empathy and compassion. 

I do know that the patients are in pain. As a doctor, the mission is to find a cause for the pain and make it stop. The problem is this: there is a disconnect between the patient’s expectations and what the emergency medicine doctor is able to provide. The emergency department is a place where people go when they have something that could be considered a medical emergency. It seems like it should be a simple concept, yes? MMERrrrrr, wrong. The emergency department appears to have become a place to go when you don’t feel like making time to schedule an appointment later in the week with someone who would be able to better assess your symptoms and define a definite answer. Although severely painful, dental pain is not deadly. Ear infections are not life threatening. As Bill Nye the Science Guy would say: Did you know??? That over 80% of ear infections resolve on their own without antibiotics? Now you know! 

Emergency medicine is to rule out life threatening causes, not to find the exact source of your symptomatology. For example, there are hundreds of causes for chest pain. You walk into an ER and they are concerned for five: myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, coronary artery disease, acute coronary syndrome, and pneumonia severe enough to cause sepsis. Not concerned for one of those? Well, here is some pain meds and a discharge instruction sheet on unspecified chest pain with instruction to follow up with a primary care doctor. 

What about cancer? Cancer is life threatening. This is true. Additionally, cancer will not likely kill you within the next one or two days, especially if it is a primary diagnosis. That breast lump that has been present for two months and growing? The doctor will just take a simple chest xray, tell you it is a mass, and refer you to a primary care doctor or oncologist for a biopsy procedure. The first step could more than easily be performed in a primary care setting, for a lower cost, and wield one less hoop to jump through in the course of evaluation.

 Okay, okay. I understand that most hospitals will not accept a person for an appointment if they do not have health insurance and are unable to provide at least a down payment on their fees at the time of scheduling. I also understand that you will be paying a impressively greater amount on the exact same tests if you go to the emergency department.

Now that I have vented and clarified that issue, I have more to say. Many ER physicians become desensitized to the severity of situations. “Oh, you have a patient that had a stroke resulting in right hemiparesis today? Yeah, well, I had one with 98% arterial blockage in three of his coronary arteries, found after he was emergently sent for coronary angiogram.” A critical page is called and the doctors pull out their rock, paper, scissors hands to “fight” for what is being rushed in on ambulance. As the adrenaline begins pumping, it seems the majority lose all other human emotions. You do realize that when someone becomes scared, love is what gets them through? Doctors, even in urgent situations, need to remember this. When they observe a patient is severely ill, rudely asking family if they have any end of care life plans, with expectation of an immediate answer, is not appropriate. Again, I know this is valuable information that is needed in that moment, but there are better ways to approach this situation. 

Other situations that tear at my heart are the teenage mothers-to-be that come in all doe eyed in the headlights. They don’t know how to care for themselves, moreless for another very dependent being. Oftentimes, the mother does not have the support of the father, the grandmother/father to be, and lost most of her close friends because she is busy being responsible for the situation. Where is the love for these patients? Some doctors walk out of the room and make jokes about making sure to add “poor judgment” as a part of the physical examination. Give them a break. For the love of all that is good, leave them alone. They have it rough enough the way it is. Raising a healthy baby is not easy when it appears they are merely a product of their social class.

Then again, where is the line drawn? Am I supposed to feel sorry for the patient who has been non complaint with his dialysis treatments, not taking his recommended medications, and continuing to use substances that he has been reminded on numerous occasions is detrimental to his health? Am I supposed to feel empathy for the patient who has smoked two packs per day, dang near lived at McDonalds, rarely checked his blood sugars, and never exercised when he is told he is having a heart attack? What about the man with known treatable cancer, likely curable with chemotherapy and radiation, who refuses all treatments stating his God will cure him? I am not even going to begin on the drug addict, pain seeking, “accidentally” compulsive liars. Yes, a doctor is supposed to feel compassion and pain towards these self inflicted train wrecks.

All of this leaves me in limbo. How many jokes are appropriate to get me through those rough days? How many ill-timed, stifled giggles need to be tallied before I shift from having a sense of humor to becoming rude? Are any of those tallies erased when my heart goes out to a patient? I have seen several doctors struggle with the fine line between the wanted honesty and presumed mockery exacerbated by frustration.

 At least limbo has adrenaline, joy, humor, health, death, and a concoction of other elements that make me get into my very plain navy blue scrubs every morning. And it has coffee in all of its sweetly bitter, life giving deliciousness.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2011 in My Inspiration and Motivation

 

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