I’m drafting this post in my family’s hotel room in a resort on a beach in Cancún, Mexico. Before arriving, I didn’t realize that Cancún is on the Yucatán peninsula, where 65 million years ago a big-ass meteor caused a mass extinction that nearly ended all biodiversity on the planet.
But life went on.
I’m here passing some time during my two-week winter break. It’s a welcome change of pace. I feel as if I’ve just emerged, gasping for breath, at the surface of a deep dark pool of clerkships. It’s a suitable analogy not just because I went snorkeling in brilliantly clear cenote water but because last year actually felt like a protracted dive into the depths of medicine. When you’re submerged underwater, you’re acutely aware of each second of precious oxygen escaping, but each dive is over before you realize it. And when you emerge, you might be surprised to find yourself far from where you started, pushed askew by the powerful currents underneath.
When I was busy this year, life continued on around me. Continue reading Life Goes On
A hospital floor is so noisy. Despite posting signs reading “Quiet is Healing” in the halls, it’s mostly an iatrogenic cacophony.
Some of it is necessary distraction, like IV Pump alarms, telemetry alarms, bed alarms, telephone rings, beeper beeps (lol, yes still a thing). Sadly, they’re all dissonant tones! Phones are B-E trills, heart monitors are a high B-ish, beepers are mostly F#. Why couldn’t they be harmonic in the same key so that when they inevitably pile up it’d be a pleasant chiming instead of this din of ding-dings we have to yell over? Continue reading Music Against Medicine
Top 21 Vital Organs. You’ll never guess #18!
Modern medicine has gotten really good at replacing organs. That, or modern medicine just lops off organs because they’re not vital. Here’s a ranking of the pieces of the human body ranked from least to most valuable, judged by how often/easily modern medicine excises or artificially imitates them. Continue reading Least Vital Organs
“Nothing else looks like this. I’m sorry, ALS is the only disease that does this.”
That’s what I said when trying to convince my patient’s husband. The three of us were like motionless statues amidst the hospital ward bustling around us, her lying immobile in bed inside, her husband and I standing outside disagreeing amicably for hours. We were arguing about her “equivocal diagnosis of ALS.” Fighting on one side was his staunch denial and his faith that there could be some overlooked alternative diagnosis. Battling it was us as their medical team and our scientific certainty that this was truly ALS. Continue reading Nothing else looks like this
I have things in my life that I call my “sentinel activities”: cubing, music, running, studying. They’re activities that push the boundaries of my body and mind, and I can measure all of them with extreme precision. Continue reading Sentinel Activities
At 6 am on Friday, I was my team’s first to arrive. A new patient had just been admitted, he was Chinese, and he had a neurological complaint. I immediately jumped at taking his case because I knew that, even as a med student in a strange intermediate stage of education, I could actually help. Continue reading The cost of growing
Good timing for today to be the year’s only 25-hour day. One extra hour summoned from seemingly nowhere (nowhen?).
Time is on my mind. These days, I’ve been at NYP Queens again for my Internal Medicine clerkship (affectionately called MEDICINE), which means the hours are inflexible, thanks to the 5:30 am shuttle (again) and the chronically traffic-choked commute back at 5:45 pm. Add to that evening lectures, a bunch of written assignments, and studying for the hardest shelf exam of them all, and I get a time during which when time is in short, short order. Continue reading Making Time
A family brought a Mrs. M to the ER on the last day of her life. They shouldn’t have.
Her home hospice nurse told them not to. Mrs. M was 80, with metastatic cancer and on palliative care, resting peacefully at home when she became feverish and confused. The nurse told her four adult children that she should stay at home and made comfortable to pass in the tranquility of home surrounded by loving family. Continue reading When Full Code is Wrong