the VA

6 Feb

I think I’m in love.  It must be love if 14 hours in the hospital flies by at the blink of an eye.  If 5 hours of sleep feels like a total luxury.  If I feel like an idiot 98% of the time, break down in tears of frustration at embarrassingly regular intervals, and yet still feel profoundly lucky.

(Rereading these last few statements, I notice how easily these could be attributed to those of the victim of an abusive relationship…now that’s a horrific, potentially accurate analogy for a medical student if I’ve ever seen one…llllllllllllll)

I’ve been at the VA Medical Center for the last week now, and I’m pretty thrilled that I get to be there for my last three weeks on general medicine.  So much more to follow, but to note:

  1. LOVE Vets!  They are stoic, tough, adorable, moody, cranky, emotive, talkative, pensive, cooperative, combative, crazy, brilliant, supportive, and so much more.  And their war stories are the stuff of legends.
  2. Wearing scrubs during long call has got to be one of the best traditions.  This is why I entered medicine.
  3. I have never seen teamwork and education prioritized anywhere else to this extent before, with out ulterior motive.

Today, the intern on service and I spent two hours draining over six liters of fluid from a man’s abdomen.

Oh, and this just occurred to me: one of my residents commented that I was good at explaining illnesses and procedures to patients in words they understand.  I wonder if it’s because I try to do so here.  This is important to me.  The majority of readers are not in a medical career.  If I say anything that needs further clarification, please let me know.  I promise, the use of med jargon is not to make me feel smarter…when you’re saturated in a language, it becomes too easy to forget what words are those of everyday.  My second day on the wards, I asked an elderly obese woman with a prior heart attack if she had a history of hypertension.  “Oh, God no!”  And then: “Do you have a history a high blood pressure?”  “Oh yes, for many years!”  My point being that, in this conversation, I was the idiot.  So quickly we forget.  I’m a college graduate, and I can honestly say that before post-bac and med school I had thought there was a difference between hypertension and high blood pressure.  Otherwise, why would anyone choose to create a perfect synonym with the same number of syllables?  You don’t even save on time by saying “hypertension.”


4 Responses to “the VA”

  1. Larry February 6, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    God Damn !!! You are doing the right thing. It brings tears to my eyes to realize that you are doing the thing you were born to do. I’m glad your mom knows. I can feel her pride. This is why in January 2001 she told me to put that extra $2000 into your trust fund, because it would be well spent.

    Take care of those vets. Talk soccer with them. I am so glad that you connect with them.



    • annaojesus February 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

      Thanks so much, daddio, and sorry for the late reply! Vets are the greatest!

      What a kind comment–means the world to me 🙂

  2. Erica February 6, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

    You’ve always been so good at explaining med jargon in a way that’s informative without being condescending. You’re going to be such a great physician 🙂

    • annaojesus February 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

      Thanks so much, E! (And I really hope so!) I worry about being condescending, especially because most of the time I feel like a total idiot, so I really have no excuse to be condescending :/ Your faith means a lot to me!

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