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Showing posts from 2015

You must be very strong.

For me, I can’t say I’ve really lived in a place until I have a coffee shop there.  The coffee shop can’t be a chain, those don’t count.  It has to be some weird local place that represents the feel of the city.
My hometown is a coffee-rich city.  There are probably more than a dozen independently owned, quirky-in-their-own-way coffee shops about town.  But, when I’m in Gainesville, my go-to place is Coffee Culture.  It is low-key, the wifi is fast, the baked goods are eclectic and delicious, and the music selection always pleases me.  And, of course, the coffee is delicious.  In fact, the coffee is so good that my parents- adorable coffee snobs that they are- love it.  Coffee Culture is the golden standard to which all other coffee shops are measured.
It took me almost the entire 6 weeks I was in Miami to find somewhere that wasn’t a chain coffee place.  When I finally did find a place that was quiet enough that I could study and delicious enough I wanted to go back, it wasn’t even re…

Life is hard and things are shitty sometimes

Life is hard and things are shitty sometimes.  That seems obvious, but I think it's important to acknowledge it.  Say it with me: Life is hard and things are shitty sometimes.
Lately I find myself pretending everything is okay when it isn't.  This is bad.  It's unhealthy and it's becoming a pattern.  And I don't think this is a problem that is unique to me, I think this is something we all do- we put on a brave face and power through.
It seems easier to power through.  Feelings are messy and no one likes a mess.   
A couple of days ago a patient that I had become invested in died.  I say invested, instead of liked or knew because he was already comatose when he became my patient.  He had no family.  He was dirty and his story (what little we knew of it) was sad.  But he was a fighter.  Every day for a week or so when I checked on his progress he would have invariably pulled himself a little further out of death's grasp.  Until the day that he didn't.  He died …

"Turn at the Hill"

L and I arrived on Saturday.  We drove to Wheeling, WV from the Pittsburg airport.  It was a picturesque little drive- all rolling hills and towns nestled in valleys.  The town of Wheeling seemed pretty cute, quaint almost, until we couldn't find the dorm.
We used Google Maps to navigate and input the address that the school gave us.  This address took us to a parking lot behind a soccer field on the local Jesuit University.  There were no signs designating which buildings were which, but none of them looked like they could be a dorm to me.  In a valiant effort to figure out where we were supposed to be we called the contact number we were given and described what we could see.  What we got in return was "turn at the hill."  When we asked if there was a different address we could put into Google, what we got in return was "turn at the hill."  When we asked what the name of the building was, what we got in return was "turn at the hill."  You  see where …

Why can't we take a rocket to Heaven?

When I was a kid, about 12 or 13 years old, I had this running list in my head of all the people I knew who had died.  These were people whose funeral's I had attended with my family.  Most of these people I knew personally, although a few were family friends or acquaintances that I hadn't actually met.  From what I remember there were about a dozen people on this list.   I would repeat their names over and over while I counted them on my fingers.  
By the time I was 12 years old I had been to a dozen funerals.  Looking back that seems like quite a few.  This is most probably due to the fact that I have a large extended and Southern family (meaning that our definition of "family" is a good deal broader than most people's definition).  However, at the time I didn't know that was a lot.

Thinking on it, I don't remember feeling particularly sad while I repeated my mental list.  I think I was mostly incredulous.  I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that…

Who Did You Murder?

This is terribly belated because I couldn't deal with it for a long time.  It wasn't funny because it was too goddamned terrible.  Now it's still terrible, but full of absurdist this-can't-possibly-be-my-real-life humor.

Imagine for just a moment that you're a psychiatrist in an inpatient psychiatric facility.  You see people everyday who are quite ill and having a difficult time in their lives.  It's your job to try and help these people, both with counseling and medications.  A lot of your patients have dealt with situations so traumatic as to be inconceivable. You can't even imagine how bad things were for them.  But still, you try.  You offer support and a safe space and most of all you listen.  But maybe you've done this too long.  You've heard too many stories.  You know too much.  You become inured to human tragedy and dignity and are at this point just going through the motions.

Now that you've gotten yourself into that headspace allow m…

The Adventures of Mini-Skirt

This is incredibly naive of me, but I like to hope that my medical school peers are in medical school for some sort of positive reason.  Maybe they don't want to save humanity, but hopefully they are at least all decent human beings who can treat their future patients with respect and dignity.  Expecting respect and dignity out of my peers is too much.  That bar is too high.  Within reach for one in particular is laziness, shocking levels of incompetence and a blatant disregard for informed consent.  This leads me to introduce you to Mini-Skirt.

Mini-Skirt earned her name when she showed up to orientation in nude colored pantyhose, ankle booties, and a mini-skirt on the day it was supposed to snowpocalypse.  So she started by setting the bar low, but hey, so you don't dress professionally- that doesn't mean you're going to be a bad doctor, right?  Don't go judging books by their covers and all that.

Unfortunately for Mini-Skirt, from what I can tell her story prett…

Puke and Rally

Every since I was a kid I've been, what my family calls "a nervous nelly."  Change is never and has never been my friend.  All sorts of normal childhood things bothered me: riding the school bus, swimming lessons, any sort of after school activity. When I got nervous, I'd puke.  As soon as I'd puke I would be okay.  Not great, but no longer a big ole mess.  This got to the point where it became legendary in my family.  Add to this nervousness a wicked penchant for car sickness and I have puked quite a bit.  To this day I still get a free pass to ride in the front seat of any vehicle that any relative of mine might be driving.  They take my puking seriously.

Thankfully it has been years since this has been a problem.  Riding the bus on Saba was a little iffy for a while.  Imagine little ole carsick me riding in the back seat of a 15 passenger van that has at least 15 people and their backpacks sardined into it at a high rate of speed up and down a windy mountain r…

Burned Out Buildings and Emotional Exhaustion

As I got on the eerily deserted interstate and drove south I felt a weight beginning to lift off of me.  The weather apparently agreed and the further south I got the terrible misting rain that plagued me for six weeks began to lift and the sun began to shine.  The rain and the cold and the damp made six weeks in Shreveport terrible.  Where I come from it rains, no, it storms and the skies empty and and the thunder and the lightening put on a show and then that nonsense is OVER.  I did not take to perpetually grey skies well. 

Combine the terrible weather and the fact that Shreveport looks like something out of a horror movie set and it really was not a good place for me.  When I say it looks like a horror movie I mean that there are burned out buildings everywhere.  There was even one right across the street from the hospital.  These wouldn't have bothered me, but it wasn't one or two, they were everywhere.  No neighborhood was spared. Shreveport once had some big headquarter…