Archive | January, 2011

#1 on the to-do list

29 Jan

Learn to be left-handed.  So far, I’ve figured out how to write my name without making the “j” and the “e” backwards.  I’m hoping I get up to the kindergarten level of penmanship by the end of the week.

6- to 8-week hiatus

28 Jan

It seems as though I was really tempting fate with my last post.  I didn’t even make it to Spruce Street.  Somehow, between the trolley tracks and the dappled icey patches on 11th, I ended up sprawled on the side the road, my bike about ten yards behind me.  Five gentlemen seemed to appear out of nowhere, scooped me and the spilled contents of my backpack off the ground, and rescued my bike from on-coming traffic.  One of them said that it was a gnarly fall; the others concurred.  Just a little sick that I take pride in this…must have to do with the whole youngest child’s need for attention and recognition.

My first thought was that I just got the wind knocked out of me.  I tried to put my backpack on and get back on the bike, but the right shoulder was not having it.  Fine, I’ll spurge on public transportation and strap the bike to the rack on the front of the bus…but I couldn’t really do anything with the right arm, so I came to the conclusion that lifting the bike might be a bit of an issue.  I grabbed a poor patron of Good Karma Cafe to help me get my bike to my apartment building, and then I called John. 

 Together over the phone, we determined that I didn’t have any nerve injury, no tingling or numbness, and I felt that, were it not for the pain, I could move my right arm in all directions.  So John agreed that I could probably wait it out for a bit.  I had a neighbor come over to help me get my coat off, but we couldn’t slip it over the shoulder due to swelling.  That was my cue.

Everyone in the ED felt pretty confident that I dislocated my shoulder.  They gave me a bunch of percocet and sent me to radiology.  But first, here’s some comic relief: it’s standard protocol in the ED to have women in their childbearing years submit a urine sample in order to rule out pregnancy.  Easy enough, right?  Okay, imagine you’re trying to complete the task, one-handed, and it’s not your right hand.  Now imagine that the damn sealing tape on the cup is so unfathomably strong, you’re reduced to slitting it with your lower teeth before clamping the cup between your feet and unscrewing the cap.  And the door the bathroom sticks…so you’re literally throwing the left side of your body (much to the discomfort of your jostled right shoulder) into the door in an attempt to flee from the bathroom of disgrace, before you finally surrender to knocking for the nurses to let you out.

When the PA returned from radiology, he hesitantly started, “Well, the good news is that you didn’t dislocate your shoulder.”  Pause.  “You have what we call an acute fracture of the proximal humeral head extending to the surgical neck of the humerus with impaction and displacement.  The fracture line extends superiorly.”  Well, I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure that means I crushed part of my arm closest to the shoulder. 

So, what does it all mean?

  • It’s confirmed, I’m an idiot.  I have no one to blame but myself.  I tried to save $4 in bus fare and ended up spending $75 in copays, and that’s just the beginning.
  • I’m sulking a lot because it feels like I can’t do anything: write; type comfortably (many body and hand contortions were attempted in the writing of this post); cook; clean; brush my teeth effectively; take off the shirt I was wearing the day of the accident (I eventually did, but many a tear was shed); perform any physical activity; make it through a lecture without falling into a drug-induced sleep.
  • I think showering and putting on deoderant are my greatest challenges; so I expect many of my friends will start to avoid me when the stench gets too bad.
  • I’m not 100% decided, but I’m likely having surgery on Monday morning.  I want to heal quickly and correctly.  Since the bones are already displaced and it’s not possible to cast this part of the arm, I think surgery might be my best option.
  • I might be taking the MDTI final orally.  Good God that sounds terrifying.
  • Finally, although I’ll try to write from time to time, I think I have to take a 6- to 8-week break from blogging.  It saddens me considerably, but I hope you might check back in periodically.  And thanks for sticking with me thus far.

Happy snow days everyone!  Be safe and toasty warm!


f— it

26 Jan

I’m biking.  To meditation class, then the library, where West Wing and Planet Earth cannot tempt me.

Taxi drivers of Philadelphia, I implore you to have mercy on the pathetic demonstration of machismo you’ll witness on Spruce Street.  No points for running down a stupidly stubborn med student with wet hair.


snow day

26 Jan

I’m sure he’s heard it before, but seriously, if your last name is Williams, shouldn’t you think twice before naming your son William?  A pearl from Dr. W. Williams’ rheumatology lecture:

If you remember nothing five years from now from this lecture, please remember her (St. Therese of Lisieux, Patron Saint of Tuberculosis) quote: “Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing.”

*   *   *   *   *

I’m not as hardcore as John…in weather like today, I bag the bike.  Taken from my bus stop:

Or I stay home and VC unless small group requires my presence.  I chose to become a doctor so that I could spend my days in scrubs.  I chose to go to Penn so that I could stay in my pajamas until the day of scrubs arrives.  Not really, but it’s a pretty sweet perk.


25 Jan

On Sunday evening, John and I had the good fortune of having a double date with the lovely couple above for restaurant week.  Everything about Fork was spectacular…the artfully constructed courses warranted gesticulations so grand on my part, that my fork literally leapt out of my hand during one particularly scrumptious morsel.  John: “Shoooot!–we can’t take you anywhere.”

I met Jon M (half of said gorgeous couple above) on the interview trail last year.  Either I had made a decent impression or had succeeded in sufficiently embarrassing myself, but he somehow remembered me when we saw each other six months later at Penn Preview.  And I’ve been tagging along after him ever since.  He’s an exceptional mind and a dear friend to me…and part of me looks forward to the last few days of cramming before an exam because it means I have additional excuse to study with him.

Jon took the beginner’s course in medical Spanish last semester.  I might be getting this story wrong, but I believe at one point, the students were asked to describe their significant others or friends in two words in Spanish.  Keep in mind, Jon studied French in college; he was only a few weeks into learning Spanish.  When asked to describe his wife, Jaime, this is what he could come up with: “tall” and “nice.”  Good effort.  Fabuloso! I wish I spoke Spanish.

sweet nothings

23 Jan

Next weekend will be productive; it’ll really have to be.  But for now, a few responses from the husband…glad we’re still in the honeymoon phase of our relationship, or something:

During our attempt at studying together, spoken in monotone, all words in the same breath: “I-love-you-more-shut-up.”

“You make me unproductive.  Slow as molasses in January, enjoying your company or some such bullshit.”

John, you take my breath away with your compliments.

friends as inspiration

22 Jan

When the whole med school thing popped into my head, I’m a little embarrassed to say, I did the age math.  Ugh!  I’m going to be in my thirties when/if I graduate, and my mid- to late-thirties when I finish residency.  And then my life is practically over.  Okay, an exaggeration for sure, but my attitude was ludicrous nonetheless: a) although I sometimes wish it were otherwise, I’m definitely not an anomaly, as taking years off before school is pretty standard, if not the norm; 2) I think, just maybe, there is life past 35 (haven’t we learned anything from Sex and the City?).

Sometimes it’s a little difficult to watch the friends from college go on and become doctors while I’m only starting school.  But much much more often, it’s nice to have people I love and admire kind of show me how it’s done, become the type of physician I hope to be.

Lisa is a pediatrician.  I think she was always supposed to be a pediatrician.  She has a gentle warmth and kind temperament about her that attracts people, especially children.  I got to know her in the Dominican Republic, watching her play baseball with the children of Esperanza.  I was trying to describe her to my neighbor yesterday…she’s one of those exceptional people who is able to handle stress and keep all her ducks in a row, like a real adult or something.  She always had a life outside of med school, making time to have lunch with me on the corner while studying for the boards, volunteering at a camp for children with special needs while serving as president of UVA Med.  And, when she stayed with John and me for her Boston interviews, I discovered that she wears a purple suit.  Love that girl.

Yesterday I came home to find a package with my name on it in curly print.  Inside were some treats in tupperware and a note: “Nothing like some hot chocolate and cookies after a hard day of school/studying.  Good luck with this semester!  xoxo, Lisa”  Did I mention that she’s in her intern year?  She probably made the cookies post-call.  I think I’m a few months older, but I still want to be her when I grow up.

who da man?

21 Jan

That’d be John (I know, big surprise, right?), who just diagnosed an elderly woman who presented with lower back pain as having an aortic thrombus, right above the bifurcation…and saved her life.  And, thanks to MDTI, all us MS1s know how brilliant that is.

John, while I can’t promise the finest muffins and bagels in all the land, you may drink from the keg of glory–er, from the 12-oz-bottle of Dogfish Head–that I have waiting for you in Philly.  Safe travels via Megabus, and I’ll see you in a little over 16 hours!

PennMed Yoga

20 Jan

I can barely touch my toes.  When I stop practicing yoga, I quickly become unable to touch my toes.  And that is the most superficial benefit yoga has shown me.

One year ago, the lovely Lisa C (an MS2 I’ve come to admire considerably and feel fortunate to call my friend) decided that yoga should be available to PennMed students and staff free of charge.  But, in a city like Philly with studio classes easily going for 20 bucks a pop, where could a debt-laden student find such a class?  Or a generous soul willing to teach?

Enter Ms. Julia Horn:

A native of the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, Julia studied dance at North Carolina School of the Arts and then Tisch School of the Arts in New York City.  She performed worldwide as a principal member of the Yoga-Dance troupe Tripsichore Yoga Theater and, since then, has become a teacher and choreographer of great merit.  Julia has created original yogic performances for a world tour of Hong Kong, Singapore, Bali, Thailand, Paris, and Iceland.  Her diverse performance background and small mountain-town upbringing infuse her teaching with a rich, artistic, and nature-driven vision that inspires students of all levels.  Julia currently teaches to the greater Philadelphia community at Studio 34, YogaChild, and Shani Yoga Shala, and now to cancer patients at the Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology.  Students who recently completed Mod 1 might also appreciate how the language of gross anatomy is seamlessly incorporated into her classes, as Julia has attended a number of anatomy trainings and has held a life-long interest in medicine and health.

Basically, Julia is the shit.  And we get to have her all to ourselves every Monday at 5pm in the student lounge.

***Our first yoga class of 2011 will be MONDAY, JANUARY 31st, at 5:00pm***

~ One hour ~ All levels class ~ Faculty, staff, students are invited ~

~ Donations suggested ($5-$10) ~

~ Medical Student Lounge ~ 2nd floor Stemmler Hall ~

I very much hope to see many of you on the 31st!  If you’ve never tried yoga before or you’re an experienced veteran, this is a fantastic space to start or continue your practice.  Remember, I’m the girl who can’t normally even graze her toes, so inexperience and inflexibility really are not valid excuses.  I think you’re going to love it here!

dear upenn:

18 Jan

I would appreciate it if you would stop offering rad elective courses.  “Mind-Body Medicine and Mindfulness Meditation: Theory and Practice”??  THROW ME A FREAKIN’ BONE!  How am I supposed to say no to that?  After the half-credit intensive bioethics class I threw myself into this past weekend, I think I need a class on meditation to recover, no?

Clearly, I am a terrible medical student.  I really should just embrace being a permanent class-taker–a student of life, if you will–and, rather than find respectful employment, wear a sign that says “will think for food.”  The coherence/quality of my thoughts, however, is questionable at best.