Archive | June, 2012

“nobody makes the first jump”

11 Jun

This is what my anesthesia attending said to me following my first attempt at intubation on a live person, followed by, “You’ve seen The Matrix, right?”

Clearly, I was not exactly successful.  Everything seemed to go smoothly, except for my initial difficulty wedging open the mouth of a woman who was missing, or in the process of, most of her teeth.  Then we didn’t see her chest rise and fall with the next breath, and the end-tidal CO2 monitor didn’t record its characteristic wave with the next exhalation.

“And we’re in the esophagus.  Been there.”

let’s count the ways…

10 Jun

Med school does terrible, wonderful things to one’s sense of humor.  In the final days before the surgery shelf, I know a lot of us are going through the Carlos Pestana Surgery Vignettes (for the first time, for the fortieth time).  I sincerely hope what our predecessors said about them being written gold is true.

Perhaps because we’re all so tired of studying the same but slightly altered scenarios, the answers for which will likely still succeed in eluding us in five days, the times when Pestana demonstrates an underlying playful snarkiness becomes a welcome comic release…for example:

The middle of the neck is packed with structures that should not have holes in them.

Let’s count the ways in which potassium has been pouring into her blood…

Yes, Carlos, let’s.

And if you really need a 6:55 break from the grind, check out my former post-bac classmate in the Undacova Gunnaz:

overheard in the ED

7 Jun

A resident to his student:

Always ask the nurses what they think, and take their advice.  They know their patients; they know their shit; ED nurses are never wrong.

badass surgeons…who happen to be women

3 Jun

On Friday, I had my “mid-clerkship review” (two weeks from the shelf, and two weeks after I completed all my other surgery requirements) with the director.  After a few minutes of feedback, our conversation shifted to advice on where to find the best nursing bras and on how to be a mother who also happens to be a surgeon.  When I looked across the desk at her, I saw a woman who was young, brilliant, beautiful, a little silly, kind, down-to-earth…who seemingly had it all.  Though I’m not convinced on surgery, it’s hard to not be a little inspired by that kind of figurehead.

There were a few moments during Penn Preview (a shopping weekend, if you will, after admission notices and before tuition deposits) when I started to have an inkling that I should go to Penn, one of which was listening to this director speak as we watched a laparoscopic procedure on the flat screens of the Flyers/76ers Surgery Theatre.  She said, “During my clerkships, I tried to like anything but surgery.”  I just loved the idea that, although you can certainly still have autonomy in choosing career paths, there was a certain element of the field choosing you (a little like the sorting hat).  And I loved even more the kind of moxie it requires to take the hard road because you know it’s where your passions lie, and no where else.

The surgery department still feels like an old boys’ club.  But when I look back at my eight weeks, there were three high-powered women who I admire so much, who stood out as shaping the direction of their given specialty and each seemed to have succeeded in getting everything they could have wanted, both professionally and personally, by being talented, working their asses off, and having skin thick enough to withstand the criticism and chauvinism that must have been much more present during their training.  One of these women hopped on the exercise bike next to me a the gym last week as I had just about had enough; she kept me on the bike almost an hour longer than I had intended just because I was hanging on her every word.  At one point she said, “I’m so thankful my memory is short.  If I could remember how awkward I was in med school, all the poor presentations I must have made, the hostility and criticism I received during training, I would have a hard time showing up for work, let alone having confidence in the OR.”  And to think, she didn’t even have mentors like herself along the way.