Let’s be real, when have I ever not been in some sort of awkward stage? Pre-teen years, teenage years, young adult years – maybe it’s just me, I am and will forever be awkward. But being in school at this stage of life has been a bit unnerving. They said the average age for medical school is 25 – so really, I should think great, I’m right where I’m supposed to be. However I feel like I’m caught in the middle. Perhaps it’s because I’m in the South where marriages tend to happen sooner. Or maybe because it’s a relatively small town. But I feel like I’m caught in between two types of people. On one hand, you have the fresh out of school students who want to continue living out their college years by going to parties, drinking daily, and goofing around. On the other, you have the students who are married and/or have children and despite their age (as some of them are younger than me!), they are very formal, by the book, with no interests in socializing. I know I’m not twenty-one, but I’m also not an “old fart”. I want to hang out with friends, watch Netflix, maybe go to a movie, hike, etc. But I also don’t necessarily need alcohol in the picture to have a good time. I want friends who are at a similar point in life where I am – they’ve grown a bit so they’re not searching for the crazy, but who still enjoy exploring and winding down.
It’s funny, you would think that after deciding to take a break from school last June and focus on work and traveling, I would have had all the time in the world to resurrect this blog, catch up on my Goodreads book list, and reacquaint myself with the girl who began this blog. But life literally escaped me. True, I tacked on a few more responsibilities and I engaged in #teamnosleep more often than not. But there are periods of last year where I can’t even tell you what consumed my time. When I try to recall last summer for insistence, I need to pull out my Google Calendar and visibly see what my time commitments were – and I think the summer flew by simply because I was following that motto “work hard, play hard”. In 2016 alone, I worked over 2000 hours as an ER scribe. And this didn’t include the occasional babysitting gig, my weekly shift at the local yoga studio, or my new position as Anatomy/Physiology STEM Coach at a nearby community college.
That being said, I feel such a void currently now that my hectic scheduled has dwindled down to simply school. And I know that’s a good thing – to not have to worry about financial commitments and to simply be a student and learn. I haven’t experienced that since high school! But at the same time, for someone who followed a routine – “work in the ED from 6P-4A, teach Anatomy/Physiology from 9-5P, repeat” – I feel out of my element. Additionally, I’m away from my support system – my friends and my family. Besides the occasional text or Snapchat, I am completely and utterly alone. It is difficult to simply not fall into a whole, and that is why I am so grateful for classes that I am taking, which keep me motivated.
Anatomy is one of my loves. I fell in love with the subject when I took it at my local community college and then gained respect for it when I dissected a donor and proceeded to use that donor as well as others to teach the lower-level Anatomy classes. Do I have an edge? Well slightly, but that doesn’t mean I came in with all the knowledge. I was introduced to multifidus, the branches of the axillary artery, and I finally now understand the brachial plexus (because for some reason, it just did not click in my head years ago). But what I am learning, specifically clinically-oriented Anatomy, has been absolutely riveting, that I want to learn more, I want to learn everything – what’s before, after, and under. So when other students ask me if I study a lot, I laugh, because I honestly waste more hours trying to decide whether I want to resurrect this blog than memorizing innervations. That doesn’t mean I don’t study at all, but when I review the material, I do it with the intention that I will be using this information when I treat my patients.
“Student, you do not study to pass the test. You study to prepare for the day when you are the only thing between a patient and the grave.” – Mark Reid.
At 4 AM yesterday, I went off to babysit a child who was about to become a big brother. At 7 AM, his father sent me pictures of the latest addition to our population. Although the delivery itself had some complications requiring a C-section, the outcome was a healthy baby boy. My charge and I spent the rest of the day looking at pictures of his new sibling and celebrating the day of his birth.
At 6 PM the same day, I headed to the ED to start another 8 hour shift. Not even thirty minutes into the shift, we had two full arrests come in by paramedics. The physician whom I was scribing for took the 97 year old who was in respiratory distress. The other ER physician took the 4 year old pediatric cardiac arrest. As far as I know, our 97 year old is still thriving, albeit in critical condition in the ICU. The 4 year old, who was running in the park just an hour before, was pronounced dead shortly after her arrival. There are a lot of terrible sounds in the world. But the sound of a mother screaming out her daughter’s name is bone-chilling. It is a wonder how anyone – physician, nurse, respiratory technician, EMT – can continue on with their jobs after losing such a battle.
January 29th marks a witnessed birth and death. Life works in strange ways, doesn’t it?
So I am writing this post in the lounge floor of the One Stop Hostel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It’s almost 4 PM, but as my day started early around 0630, I figured now would be a good time to get my affairs in orders and send a few updates. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to post about this trip or not, especially as this year’s trip has nothing to do with medicine whatsoever (i.e. GapMedics). However, I was reminded yet again that this is my personal blog and therefore can choose whatever topics I would like to talk about.
Today began with an early start due to this wonderful guide (http://www.fodors.com/world/asia/cambodia/experiences/touring-phnom-penh-2814532), which gave me wonderful directions to seven different places. Since you can definitely walk around Phnom Pehn (though, would I call it walker-friendly? – you definitely need to not be afraid of walking on roads and/or around rubbish), it was great to simply tour the city on my own two feet. However, what took the most out of me was not the amount of walking or the heat or the price of admission to these various places (which were steep). It was the non-stop calling from tuk tuk and moto drivers alike asking if I needed a ride. At first, being so naïve, I thought they were genuinely caring for my well-being, as a 20-something old-young woman roaming the streets of Phnom Pehn by herself. But when the tuk tuk drivers began following me asking where I was from and how long I was staying here, that’s when my suspicions began to rise. My one bit of advice to anyone traveling to a foreign county – spend a day researching anything and everything about the places you’re going to. It may “seem” like a waste, but it’s better to go into a country well-informed than become a pawn in the large scamming scale.
So when, on my way to the Royal Palace, a tuk tuk driver came up to me and told me that the Royal Palace was “specially closed” this morning and pointed to a few monks leaving, I knew I was being scammed instantly. Rather than letting him take me to another destination “until the Royal Palace opened” I told him no thanks and that I would rather get pictures of what I can outside. Lo and behold, the palace was open. And although I KNEW this guy was scamming me and I had one-upped him, I still couldn’t help feeling irked. I mean really, I’ve been to so many other places and in those cities, none of the tuk tuk drivers ever harassed you to the point where you were sick of going out. I was so read to cave at the end and just pay a $1 to get a ride home so that I can avoid the constant “lady, tuk tuk?”, “miss, where are you going today”.
Between working a number of shifts in the ED, prosecting, teaching Anatomy, and babysitting, I have not had a chance to sit down and update this blog. It may be due to the overnight shifts, which have been warping my sense of time, but I legitimately thought that we were at the end of October up until I resurfaced the other day to find out that it’s only mid-October! I guess with the on-going application cycle, it’s best to keep busy and not become obsessed with the intricate workings of medical school admissions.
Anyway, I wanted to write a brief post highlighting a new book by Freida McFadden aka Dr. Fizzy. It’s called 11 out of 10: A Collection of Humorous Medical Short Stories, and as you may surmise, there are a number of contributors to this particular novel including, yours truly!
A quick disclaimer, my short story is definitely not that great when compared to some of these seasoned writers. I wrote it about two years ago, and in retrospect, it definitely sounds “green” to me. If I had the chance to re-do it, I could probably come up with funnier material, especially with everything I’ve encountered as a scribe thus far. But I digress. Regardless of how funny (or not) my own story is, I can guarantee that it is part of a collection of amazing stories written from various perspectives. The best part is that 100% of the proceeds will be donated directed to “Deworm the World“, a charity hand-selected by Dr. Fizzy herself.
So, if you have a moment, check out the links above. Even if you’re not interested in the book itself, consider donating directly to the charity as all it takes is mere pennies to get the appropriate medication to these children who are riddled with parasitic infections.
Yesterday, during a scribe shift, I encountered two critical patients. There were so critically ill that my doctor stopped seeing new patients halfway through his shift so that he could move back and forth between the two and try to keep them from worsening.
Now for one of the patients, this doctor decided to place a central line in the femoral area. He invited me to come watch, but what seemed like a simple procedure turned into an Easter Egg Hunt. He pricked the patient numerous times in her left leg, in search for her femoral vein, but instead, nicking the femoral artery a few times. He then tried the subclavian, but once again, nicked the artery in his search for the vein. He tried the internal jugular vein once before deciding to put an end to his efforts. Now I understand that this isn’t an easy procedure, so I don’t believe the physician lacked any skill or knowledge for not being able to successfully place a central line. But as he continued to dig that needle in the patient, over and over, my eyes couldn’t help but drift to her face and empathize with the amount of fear and pain she was probably feeling. I wanted to hold her hand, comfort her – or at the very least, get the physician to snap out of his search so that he can acknowledge that there was an actual person attached to those veins and arteries.
Imagine my relief when the nurse, who was juggling both critical patients (as well as a few other patients), came in and began comforting the patient, requesting that he give doses of Ativan to ease the patient’s mind. Nurses are really the patient advocates, especially in an ER setting.
One profession is not subordinate to another – rather, the field of nursing vs doctoring are a dichotomy. Two completely different fields. And yet, nurses simply do not get the credit they deserve. A patient will wake up, and if saved from a life-threatening circumstance, will thank the doctor profusely. But he or she will not remember the nurse who spent hours ensuring that he or she were comfortable and well-cared for during his or her stay. We mustn’t forget, nurses are the heart of the ER.