Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thursday Interview

My first (and thus far, only) medical school interview is this Thursday. I had hoped that I would have heard from another school by now. I'm incredibly stressed that this may be my one and only chance.

I decided to splurge and spend $30 more on a hotel room within walking distance to the campus.

My aunt- the crazy (in a fun way) one who took me on my first trip abroad (Turkey) wants to go with me. My youngest uncle lives nearby in an institution for developmentally disabled and she wants to visit him while I'm on campus.

I'm torn. It'll be nice to have someone there afterwards to talk about the experience but I'm afraid that she'll be critical of my weirdness beforehand (you know- waking up 4 hours early to obsess over my hair, clothes, review possible questions/answers etc). Besides, she doesn't really sleep. I learned that early during our Turkish adventure. I'm working the night shift all this week and will probably want to rest most of the day before the interview.

One of my favorite patients died yesterday. I found out through the hospital grapevine that he had been readmitted at the other hospital in our system for pneumonia and quickly crashed. He had been a quadriplegic who just conquered all obstacles. He ran his own business, drove and just celebrated life. It breaks my heart that someone so strong and inspirational is gone. RIP Dwayne. You'll be missed.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Last night, one of our lovely confused LOLs grasped my cheeks with her hands and told me that seeing my face made her feel better.

Aw. Shucks.

Then she tried to bite my arm.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wallet Blues

I lost my wallet last night. I spent the entire day looking for it.. under my bed, between books on the shelves, in the fridge, in the car; I tore my apartment apart searching. I drove to work hoping desperately that it would turn up in my locker or the unit lost and found.



I immediately checked my balances online and.. whew.. everything was fine. So I called my banks and cancelled my cards. I drove to the DMV and applied for a new license. Then I stopped by the bank and withdrew enough money to last the next week.

Now, I'm at home and going through a bag of cards and letters that were sent to my mom during her hospital stay, a chore that I've procrastinated on for the last year. It makes me sad.

Between a letter from my grandmother and a card from an old neighbor is... baddam bam... my wallet.


(I have NO IDEA how it ended up in this bag of letters which had been stowed deep into the recesses of my closet-- I'm blaming the cat.)


Oh and I just got rejected from Brown University SOM.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Stupid Pet Peeve

It's trivial but I hate it when I tell someone that I'm sorry as in..

"You hurt your back? That sucks, I'm sorry."


"Your grandmother died? Oh, I'm so sorry!"

and they respond with

"Oh that's okay, it's not your fault."

Argghh. I know that your Didi's death wasn't my fault! She lived in freakin' Mumbai!

Sometimes I'll clarify that I wasn't apologizing but offering sympathy and sometimes, like the cashier at the grocery store with the aching back, I'll just let it go.

It still peeves me though.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I received a phone call from my landlord today complaining that I hadn't paid November's rent which was due on the 10th.

I insisted that I had and that she had cashed the check a full week before the rent was due. We argued over it for a few minutes before I told her that I would send her confirmation today.

So my morning had been spent going to the bank, retrieving a copy of the cashed (and stamped) check, then scanning and emailing it to my landlord.

She hasn't responded yet to my message.

I've always taken pride in paying my bills early and am really irritated with this affair.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Catheter Interrogation

First thing this morning, a urologist came to place a supra pubic catheter bedside. The patient had been retaining crazy amounts of urine and neither his nurses nor his orthopedic surgeon could place a foley in him. So urology was consulted.

The doctor had called in a list of supplies that he'd need bedside by 0530. Apparently he was rather rude to the evening secretary about it, saying 'everything better be ready", in a 'you people always mess up' sort of way. But I know the evening secretary is something of a sensitive whiner, so I took her report with a grain of salt.

He arrived examined the patient and then decided to try his hand at placing the foley first, giving me and the patient's nurse a new list of supplies. We have coude catheters in different sizes and foley kits stocked on the floor so much of his list was immediately manageable. But he wanted Urojet (lidocaine) syringes too. We don't have them in our McKessen so it was a short process to get them up to the floor. He needed to write an order, I faxed it to pharmacy and then immediately ran down to pick them up.


Though it took 10 minutes tops to get them (5 of which were taken by him arguing about writing the stupid order), he was incredibly put out. I heard about how ridiculous we were, how he doesn't have time for this stupid delay.. etc, eye rolls and disdain galore.

Fortunately for the patient, he was able to successfully place the foley. Whew.

A few minutes later, I stopped in the room to check on the patient and I noticed that his collection bag had over a 1200 cc in it.

I remembered reading somewhere that draining the bladder too quickly can cause the patient major discomfort so I pointed it out to his nurse. She was busy doing her end of shift med pass and instructed me to ask the urologist if she should clamp the catheter.

So I did.

I thought he would attack me.

He completely lost his temper and flayed into me.

"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard! Why do you think to clamp the catheter? Why?" and then he waited. It took me a moment to realize that it wasn't a rhetorical questions but that he actually wanted a response.

I tried told him that I had read somewhere that it could hurt the patient if the bladder emptied too quickly but as soon as I started talking he restarted his rampage.

I was mortified. I tried to explain that I was just an aide and the messenger for the nurse but he kept at me. I can't remember everything that he said; I was flustered and just trying to escape. I remember him saying that they don't teach nurses to be doctors and thrusting a new order at me, written in block letters as though I were in grade school, DO NOT CLAMP CATHETER. It was the only completely legible order he'd written thus far.

He ended up staying to yell at me for longer than it took him to place the foley.

So much for his valuable time....

I'm totally re-writing one of my evil book characters in his honor and he's (the character) is going to suffer.


Monday, November 14, 2011


I spent hours and hours writing my med school applications. Now that they're done, I'm at loose ends and am trying very hard not to obsess over my statuses. Watched pot and all that...

So I've spent the last few weeks maintaining that creative momentum and focusing it into a story.

I am writing an FBI/armed forces thriller. Ha ha ha ha! It's absolutely ridiculous but I'm having so much fun. I've done a lot of research and am surprised at how much I've learned.

I was never really interested in military history before. Now I have a new appreciation for what my grandfather must have experienced as a ranger in the 6th Battalion during WW2. How I wish now that I had the knowledge/interest to talk to him about his experiences before he died. I didn't even realize before the significance of his being a ranger, a member of the special forces. It's thrilling to have have a personal connection to something that is so romanticized now. I'm trying to balance the romance with reality in my story.

I've fleshed out the plot and have composed about 60 pages but the more I research, the more I have to add to my story. I know that I'll probably never finish it but the process is, so far, fantastic.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


There's a nurse on our unit who come in nightly to regale us with tales of how awful her husband is. She dyes her hair only because he prefers blondes. She can't eat this or that because he thinks she's fat. He won't help her at all. He expects her to support them with her night shift and then take care of everything like chores, shopping, all aspects of child care while he sits on his duff and watches television during the day. She's always so tired blah blah blah.

Tonight's tale was about how he controls all of the money including her wages using direct deposit into in accounts that she has no access to. If he's feeling generous, he allots her a $5 weekly allowance. If she ¡misbehaves!, he'll take the money back.

First, I think she's totally full of crap. I don't doubt that the husband is a total jackass, but I'm pretty sure she stretches the truth unrecognizably.

She comes in with her stories and everyone fawns over her.. "oh he's awful!" "He should be shot for or " "You should kick his ass to the curb" and she preens under the attention.

I usually try to avoid engaging with the more manipulative staff but she put me on the spot and directly asked me what I thought in front of the rest of the crew. I tried to prevaricate but she was a bloodhound, asking me over and over.

I finally turned and told her that I thought she was spineless, that if she had such an issue with his money control to deposit her paycheck into her own damn account. He didn't hold a gun to her head when she signed up for direct deposit.

After that, she answered every phone call with "U8, Spineless speaking." Seriously, how old is she?

I would love to be a fly on the wall when she goes home and regales her husband to all of the stretched stories of how awful everyone is toward her at work.

On a more positive note, tonight was hellishly busy but I was working with my two all time favorite nurses and we totally rocked it. I love how efficient, sensitive and cool they are with the patients. Over the last year, I've learned so much from them about how to work with even the craziest, most difficult patients calmly and effectively.

Around 0300, "Dr. Armstrong" was paged to U7, one of the more dangerous pysch floors. We then heard thumping and shouts in the south stairwell. Unperturbed, Jackie, not taking her eyes off the IV line she was priming, strolls over and flips the lock on the door knob. A "Dr. Armstrong" is the hospital code for a combative patient. Moments after she locked the door, we heard a thud and more yelling.

Later, we discovered from the nursing supervisor, that one of the patients actually kicked in the door of the secured ward and escaped into the stairwell. I only caught some of the details in passing. Apparently, the patient had enough time to defecate on the stairs before pushing past the security guards to escape downtown. He assaulted one of the police officers chasing him and is now in jail. It capped the already crazy night.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I took a walk in the woods this morning and the recent wet spell we've had has sprouted some amazing mushrooms.

During college I found plant biology painfully boring but the mushrooms.... the colors, the strange reproductive cycles, their romantic ephemerality...

A mycology course (maybe a medical mycology elective?) and a taxonomy course are definitely on my bucket list. I so wished that I could identify the different species on my hike today. Is it really nerdy that I wish I were a fungi taxonomist?

Beatrix Potter, the creator of Peter Rabbit, was also a bright naturalist. She spent years studying fungi reproduction and illustrating mushrooms in England. Her scientific drawings are stilled used by mycologists to identify different species.

Friday, November 4, 2011