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Showing posts from 2016

Ranger Tom

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A couple of weeks ago we went camping- me, my sister, my mom and dad, and the boys.

We've been camping a million times, and I'm pretty sure the secret to a good camping trip is constant eating.  Everything will be good as long as nobody runs out of snacks.

On this trip, pretty much as soon as we pull into our camping spot, Dad notices that the pipe to the water faucet is leaking, and leaking quite a bit. I call the ranger's station and they say they'll send someone right over to look.

Several park rangers show up in multiple vehicles.  They establish, that yes, the pipe is busted and will need to be replaced.  They bust out some shovels and plumbing supplies and speedily and handily fix the pipe and are on their way.

While they were working, my dad went over to check out the situation.  He introduced himself to the one ranger that ended up doing all the work, Ranger Tom.

Ranger Tom was friendly and seemed to drive by our campsite all the time.  Everywhere we went, …

Shaking the Trees

Some times you just have to shake the trees to see what falls out.




My AHA moment

People keep asking me lately, how I went from a degree in Anthropology and Religion to medicine.

To me, it was the only clear path forward, due to an AHA moment I had in the bone lab one day.

During undergrad, I took a course called Human Osteology one semester, and was hooked on bones.  This led to me volunteering at the CA Pound Human Identification and Research Lab, (AKA: the bone lab).  To me, it was pretty much the coolest thing ever that you could take a tiny bone fragment and tell all sorts of things about someone from it.

One day, I was tasked to help articulate a skeleton.  I remember that I could tell by looking that the skeleton was male and elderly.  I don't think I was given any information about this guy, other than what I could deduce from looking at his skeleton.  And as I inspected his skeleton, I noticed that there was wire in his sternum, four or five pieces maybe, each individual piece twisted closed like a bread-tie.  His sternum had grown back together aroun…

Ham-Ham Goes for a Walk

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The Background

For a couple weeks I watched a pair of Labrador retrievers for a friend of mine.  They were about 2 years old and super-rambunctious.  They were pretty excited about living in the country for a while.  Zoe in particular, was really excited.  She wanted to escape and do dog-things all the time.  She once managed to get out of her crate, off the screened porch, and out of the yard in less than two minutes.  Her ability to throw herself over the fence was continually impressive to me.  She and I went round and round to try to get her to stay in the yard. I respected her damned determination to escape and explore- can't fence her in.  Eventually, I thought we had reached a detente.






















Zoe was a great guard dog.  She liked to alert me when strangers were approaching, or when strange things were happening.  She had different levels of alert too, one bark that said "Oh hey, the kids are outside" and another that I'm pretty sure was saying "SHIT, INTRUDERS! …

The A--hole Stories.

The other day I needed to answer an essay question for a job interview.  There were a couple of essay prompts- write about a time you used common sense, write about your favorite book or movie, or write about a funny story that happened to you.

I texted my mama the prompts to ask her what I should write about and she immediately replied.

                      "Shit Saba - Gone with the Wind - Rascal Story."  

I wasn't exactly sure which  "Shit Saba" story she was talking about, so that was out.  Gone with the Wind isn't my favorite book, so that was out too.  That left telling The Rascal Story.  Now Mama's totally right, The Rascal Story is funny.  But I might as well call it "The A--hole Story," because it involves me calling a baby an a--hole, which I then tried to play off by pretending I called him a "rascal" instead.

Maybe it's not the most appropriate job interview story...

A couple of days later I was telling my sister how…

Take-Out Menus and Rabid Kittens

Me: Stupid blanking dog pooped on the porch TWICE TODAY
Sept 14 8:24PM

Me: TWICE BABYDOLL TWICE
Sept 14 8:24PM

Babydoll: Damn dog!
Sept 14 8:27PM

Me: Grrrrrr!  Bad dog!
Sept 14 8:29PM

Babydoll: Do you need the phone number of the nearest Chinese food place?
Sept 14 8:35PM

Me: For my piece of mind?  I guess I am nicer with egg rolls on board...
Sept 14 8:35PM

Babydoll: That's how I threaten Princess.
Sept 14 8:35PM

Me: Ooooooohhhh. I don't think they'd want her, she's too scruffy.
Sept 14 8:36PM

Babydoll: Eh, she doesn't know that.
Sept 14 8:36PM

Babydoll: Everything tastes good fried.
Sept 14 8:36PM

Me: Then yes.  Imma start yelling about mooshoo pork
Sept 14 8:37PM

Babydoll: Mooshoo DOG!
Sept 14 8:37 PM

Babydoll: Maybe that's a secret command for "don't poop on the porch"
Sept 14 8:38PM

Me: Kung Pao Labrador!
Sept 14 8:38PM

Me: Does this work on Princess?
Sept 14 8:41PM

Babydoll: Eh.  When I wave the menu at her sometimes.
Sept 14 8:54PM

Me:  The…

"Normal"

During one of my rotations, I took care of a man who suffered from a condition called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, more commonly referred to as BPH. 

In general, I am not impressed by BPH.  "Benign" is in the title.  We give you some meds and you’re fine. If not, we offer you surgery and you’re fine.  It’s benign, the bottom line is that you’re fine!*
But this guy, he wasn’t exactly fine.  He was getting up to pee more than 15 times a night.  More than 15 times a night.  And had been doing so for years. 
(Yes, you read that correctly.)
He had been peeing more than 15 times a night for YEARS. 

YEARS.  
When I finally regained my composure enough to ask him why in the world he hadn’t dealt with this years ago, before, say, he was peeing in the double-digits, he nonchalantly told me “all of my friends get up at night to pee.” 
He thought this was “normal.”
Now, “normal” isn’t really a word that holds a lot of value in my family.  It’s always sort of been equated with average…

Hey, check this out!

My experiences in West Virginia weren't the greatest, so I wrote about them to deal with my feels.  You can read one of the essays I wrote here.

Go ahead and stick a fork in me, I'm done

There is an intensive pre-med framework in place at UF.  There are counselors specifically dedicated to students in the pre-med track.  These counselors pretty much direct you in everything that you need to do to get into medical school from the moment you set foot on campus and declare yourself to be "pre-med."  That was a problem for me, because at no point had I considered myself to be "pre-med," let alone declared myself "pre-med."  I spent half of undergrad with the plan of becoming a forensic anthropologist.  It wasn't until I spent some time in the bone lab that I realized living and breathing humans were the ones for me.

Once I decided medicine was going to be the right path for me, I made an appointment to see the pre-med counselor.  I figured the counselor would be able to give me some good advice.  The meeting started out fine.  She told me what remaining classes I'd need to take and that I should probably get some research experience.…

WHERE DO I LIVE?

We (medical students of the Caribbean variety) move a lot.  This is known.  Some of my friends are moving for each of their elective rotations.  Elective rotations only last a month.  So, some of these nuts I call friends, are moving once a month for months and months at a time.  And these aren't little moves.  They're going from places like Brooklyn to Kansas to Canada and back again.

All the moving is intense and can some times get just a little bit confusing.


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A couple of months ago, L and I had to go to Newark, New Jersey to take this practice exam.  We had to be there at 7:30 AM.  We looked it up and figured out that it would take us about an hour and a half to get there by train, which wasn't too bad.  It was supposed to be three trains, one to get us out of Brooklyn and into Manhattan, another to get us somewhere within Manhattan, and a third to actually take us to Jersey.

We made the first train just fine.  All was good.  We were waiting on the second train in …

It takes two to make it awkward

We were required to take a class during each of our basic science semesters called: Doctor-Patient Relationship (DPR).  I've mentioned this class here before- it always sort of cracked me up that we had a class to teach us how to be decent human beings and interact with other people.  
Over drinks one night, a couple of us were casually reminiscing about those classes.  I couldn't remember the name of our first DPR professor and accidentally called her "Floppy Johnson-" Freudian slip, my bad.  
Dr. Floppy Johnson was this sweet (and odd) little old lady who strongly believed in the importance of making your patients feel comfortable no matter what you were asking them.  She taught us how to take sexual histories from the patients.  She made us role-play at asking and answering these questions.  I think she even made some students act out a couple of scenarios in front of the class.  At the time we all giggled and did as she asked, but I'm pretty sure most of us w…

If you've been called "sensitive" lately, this is for you

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
               -Eleanor Roosevelt



This is one of my mama's favorite quotes.  She likes to remind me of this when I am feeling particularly crappy.  Her take is that you have a choice when unpleasant things happen.  You can either take whatever thing someone has said or done to you and internalize it as truth or you can say "nope" to the whole kit and caboodle and not accept the crappy thing and move on.  (She was pretty much advocating for "resilience" before that word that got thrown around a lot)

That sounds mostly reasonable.  You can't control what other people do or say, but you can control how you respond to those things.

However, I did say "mostly reasonable."  Because to me, on further evaluation, Mrs. Roosevelt was cooking up some bullshit.

People are always gonna try and tear you down.  People are mean.  People are thoughtless.  People are shitty.

Saying that it takes …

Weird Animal Metaphors and Bonus Eyeball Tetanus

Mom: Got apples on both trees, eat your heart out John Clark
May 22 12:50 PM

Mom: Made quiche out of yolks from angle food cake, sun dried tomatoes and Swiss cheese.  Soooo ggoooooddddd.
May 22 12:51 PM

Mom: I can still learn something
May 22 12:51 PM



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Mom: Nothing says "loser" faster than some scraggly chin whiskers
May 23 6:43 PM

Mom: Especially ones that curl under the chin
May 23 6:43 PM



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Mom: Take a guess on what woke us up at 3 AM by incessantly triggering the driveway alarm and being ever so visible in the moonlight
May 24 6:43 AM

Mom: Yep, you got it, your dog Memphis, Rhetta not so visible with dark fur.  They dug out.
May 24 6:44 AM

Mom: They have lost their sensibles
May 24 6:45 AM

Me: Oh no!  Where? How? Why?
May 24 7:41 AM

Mom: Dug under front fence, we think counter-attacking a possum.  Plan for today when Clayton comes home is to smoke the culvert
May 24 8:42 AM

Mom: We love some smoke and fires
May 24 8:43 AM

Me: The dogs will be so happy if you get that possum for …

Stories from the Saba Files

The first time my parents came to visit me on Saba, I think they were pretty shocked.  Apparently my descriptions hadn't done it justice.  They stayed for a couple days, got the full tour of the island and that was that.  
During their time on the island I had my favorite taxi driver, Garvis, (that is NOT said "Jarvis," you say it with the "G") cart us around.  Garvis was my favorite because he would show up on time consistently.  Once I was hitchhiking to the airport and he gave me a ride for free.  Garvis was my guy.
My parents liked him too.  He pretty much gave us a historical tour of the island while driving us place to place.  When we stopped for lunch, he decided to come in with us and grab a beer.  My parents liked him enough that they wanted to buy him a beer.  He joined us and continued to tell us awesome stories about the island. It was really sweet.  We finished our lunch and then decided to walk back to our hotel.  Garvis had to go pick up more fares…

Yellow Flies, Citrus Greening, a Possible Alien Abduction, a Possum in the Compost, and a Dead Armadillo

Mom: Corbin and I were discussing garden gloves; He said "I don't have gloves, I have hands." Funny.
May 12 9:52 AM



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Mom: Pop has taught Corbin to say "What's up girl?" to the women walking by the car
May 16 1:25 PM



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Mom: Have you been abducted by aliens
May 16 1:45 PM



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Mom: No no no, breathe. You got this far.  Keep paddling
May 16 3:15 PM

Mom: You can see the shore
May 16 3:16 PM

Me: Cause I'm drowning?
May 16 3:16 PM

Mom: No YOU are NOT. You got this.
May 16 3:17 PM



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Mom: Memphis has possum treed in garden
May 17 7:32 AM

Mom: Rhetta helping herself to compost, Memphis hunting
May 17 7:32 AM



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Mom: The yellow flies are so bad, they're biting through 40% DEET
May 18 4:19 PM

Mom: I had to knock em off Clayton with the broom, now don't know what's worse, bruises or bites
May 18 4:45 PM

Mom: It's getting dark outside, the yellow flies have taken over Florida
May 18 4:45 PM

Mom: We're holed up in the house, scared of the elements and cows

That Time I Accidentally Implied an Organ Sale was Happening

The other day I was reading this article about reciprocity/game theory/human nature.  And by "article," I might mean that I was reading HPMOR again, but shhhh, leave me alone, the science is still good.  Basically, it was discussing how to get people to do things for you that they don't necessarily have any reason to do.

How do you do that?  The obvious answer is to incentivize the thing.

I can offer you $5 to do the thing for me.  Or, I can offer you something "free" up-front (worth less than $5), with no strings attached, and then ask you to do the thing I want.  In the second option there is absolutely nothing stopping you from taking the "free" thing from me and not doing the thing I want you to do.  It seems like it people would generally do the thing that gets them the more money, or just take the "free" thing and bounce, but neither of those is usually the case.  Social science experiments have shown that the second option works bett…

More Texts from Mama

Mom: Awww, I'm really serious, it just comes out that way
Apr 26 4:47 PM



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Mom: Put this in your data bank: a chicken does not like a bath in a bucket
Apr 27 7:24 AM

Me: Uhoh, did Corbin decide his chicken was dirty?
Apr 27 11:57 AM

Mom: Yes, but changed his mind quickly
Apr 27 12:05 PM



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Mom: Corbin put his chicken in the dryer, lucky chicken he can't turn it on
Apr 28 7:05 AM



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Mom: Looks like I am going to have to buy a geranium, further proof of our weather connection
May 2 10:44 AM

Me: Or just do a rain dance
May 2 3:17 PM



Strangers on the Internet

Lately I keep getting offered ads/links to this artist named Emily McDowell.  They were everywhere so I finally clicked on the link.  

The bots at google know me pretty well, because I loved her stuff.  She makes cards and prints and coffee mugs with cool sayings on them.  I wanted to buy all of them, but there was one in particular that really stood out to me.  It said "I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet."  (You can buy it here)

This pops into my head all the time now.  I have taken to repeating it over and over like a mantra: I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet.  I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet.  I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet.  I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet
Between Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and reality TV a decent amount of our recreational time these days is spent watching or clicking through "aspirational" nonsense from strangers on the interne…

Texts from My Mama

My Mama is a fabulous lady.  She is funny and fierce and sometimes weird in the best possible way.  Since I don't live close, we text a lot to keep in touch.  Her texts are priceless.  Here I offer you some of the best.  I'd warn you that they're context free, but that's the joy of her texts in general- they're almost always context free.

Mom: You know it is just a matter of days before this melodious mockingbird turns on us and starts attacking
-Apr 19 1:56 PM



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Mom: That will make Whitney happy
-Apr 11 10:47 AM

Me: Huh?
-Apr 11 12:03 PM

Mom: Your blog Whitney and jesus
-Apr 11 1:05 PM



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Mom: Where the blank is the honey
-Apr 3 10:07 AM

Me: On the right in the pantry
-Apr 3 10:18 AM

Mom: The new one?
-Apr 3 10:19 AM

Me: As far as I know
-Apr 3 10:20 AM

Mom: Omg found it
Apr 3 5:16 PM

Me: Where was it?
Apr 3 5:44 PM

Mom: Right in front of us in pantry
Apr 3 5:44 PM



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Mom: Where oh where are you
Mar 20 3:35 PM



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Mom: I am so proud of you!  I am so lucky to be a part of your life
Feb 23 9…

So this happened (UPDATED)

Y'all!  I'm so excited!  I wrote this thing and then convinced Pulse- Voices from the Heart of Medicine to publish it!  I'm so excited!

You can read it here:  We Pretend That We're Not Afraid

Pulse Shout-out: They're really cool (I promise).  If you sign up for their newsletter you'll get an email (no spam) filled with awesome stories/poems/etc related to medicine and the human condition delivered to your inbox every Friday like an end of the week present.  



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UPDATE (as of 5/13/16)

And then this happened: http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2016/05/we-pretend-that-were-not-afraid.html


Ain't Nobody Gonna Wait for You

I'm not the best of fliers.  This is known.  For me a good plane trip is anyone where I don't end up tossing my cookies everywhere.

Flying back to NYC is always an adventure because there aren't any direct flights.  I'll have to take a couple of connecting flights.  These flights are usually pretty short, which is great on one hand, but not great on the other because with shorter flights I swear there's more turbulence, and in my case more turbulence means more cookie tossing.

When I finally land in NYC I always sort of want to throw myself to the ground and just lie there and catch my breath for a moment.  But I can't do that, because it's New York.  And in New York you gotta go fast.  Everyone is always moving.  And they're going fast.  I don't hate it.  Fast is fine.  But it always takes me a bit of time to get my land-legs back.  And to quell the roiling nausea.

The taxi queue at LaGuardia is really really really far away from the luggage retri…

The Greatest Love of All

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It seems like hospital I'm at encourages religious organizations to come in and preach to/at the patients.  I know that hospitals have chapels and chaplains and offer religious respite to those who want it.  But I don't really think that this hospital really focuses on the who wants to talk to the preacher/chaplain/priest/nuns bit.  
The nuns can be a bit too much at times.  They wander through the hospital and try to give everyone these fliers about how Jesus is "The Greatest Love of All."  They're prepared too, they've got the same flier in Spanish, just in case you don't speak English.  They like to give them out in the elevator where the patients, families, and staff can't really say no or wander off.  One of the nuns was pretty ingenious about getting her "Greatest Love" message out there and stuck the flier in the elevator's safety warning panel.  It's been there for months.
In my head, that elevator became THE GREATEST LOVE O…

Learning to Lose / Is My Name Potato?

A while ago, I read and then reread a story called "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality."  I fell in love with this story.   It's a fan-fiction reimagining of a world in which Harry Potter is still an orphan, but instead of growing up miserable and belittled with the Dursleys, he is raised by adoptive parents who love and cherish him.  They allow him to become the boy he is supposed to be and train him in the "Methods of Rationality," which, for the purposes of my explanation, I'll just say basically means they teach him how to be a scientist.

There's a chapter that keeps popping into my head lately.  Harry has been winning too much.  He wins too easily.  He doesn't suffer fools.  He loses his temper.  He defeats his enemies gleefully and taunts them with their losses and stupidities.  Honestly, he's a little becoming a little bit of an asshole and maybe a little bit out of control.  He needs to be reined in.
Harry's mentor decides t…

The Long-Lived Case of the Library Vagrant

Last January was cold.  Weather forecasters threatened us with "Snowpocalypse."  New  Yorkers were miserable.  Everyone hid inside for warmth as much as possible.  We even had a patient who nearly froze to death in his own apartment, but I digress- that's a story for another day.
We spent a lot of time in the hospital library last January.  We mostly needed somewhere to wait that was warm.  We'd stake out and claim functioning computers (of which there were few) to do our homework while we oh-so-patiently waited on our attending to show up.  He would either mosey in around 3PM or simply not show up at all.  When he did show he spent a lot of time justifying his lateness by complaining about the cold and having to dig his car out. The hospital library is not a nice place.  There are maybe half a dozen functioning computers in the entire place (out of probably 40 or so).  The computers that do work are hot commodities.  It's like middle school all over again, people …

Playing Possum

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When I was home this last time, studying for the boards, an opossum decided to take up residence under my house.  This could have been okay.  Mr. Opossum and I could have lived in continued obliviousness to each other had he not decided that he wanted to make a nice nest out of the insulation under my house.  Now, take a moment and imagine the sound of an opossum thumping around under your house ripping/tearing/clawing insulation out with his nasty Mr. Opossum teeth.  That is not a pleasant noise.  And Mr. Opossum decided that the insulation directly under my bed seemed like the best nesting material just for funsies.  So I decided that Mr. Opossum had to go.
Dad set up a live-trap at what we thought was Mr. Opossum’s entrance under the house.  He baited it with an old chocolate glazed donut.  When I didn’t catch Mr. Opossum the first night, Dad tried to tell me that there was no Mr. Opossum under the house and that I must have misheard the whole thing.  I figured I could wait Mr. Opos…