What A Week

Aiiiiiight…..so this material for Neuroscience Exam #2 is starting to stack up on a youngin’.

We’ve had three weeks of lectures (23 lectures to be exact), and we have another 10 coming up this week. And our test is next Monday. We’re gonna be tested on material that encompasses all 33 lectures.

So with all that said the real question is how did I end up back in Miami this weekend? Lol I can’t seem to stay away from this place…plus my girlfriend and I are doing what we can to make this long-distance thing work. In order to be down here however, I had to grind hella hard last week and make sure I was on top of my studies at all times…which meant locking myself in my apartment and enjoying the company of general anesthesia, traumatic brain injuries, epilepsy, movement disorders, anticonvulsants, yeah you get the idea. So I’m happy to say that I’m all caught up in terms of lecture material, but I’m by no means comfortable for this test yet. ESPECIALLY after the fiasco that was last exam a.k.a. the first test on the brain that I tested my brain on. Ever since then, I’ve been searching for ways to study smarter while at the same time studying harder (Idk how much harder I can study 😩) and have also been making sure to look at the things that the professors told us not to worry about because as you are well aware, we “didn’t have to worry” about drugs for last test….aaaannnd we all know what happened with that. 😐 Gotta keep my guard up. At the end of the day though, if I’m passing then I’m passing. Being able to comfortably apply the material that I’m learning to the USMLE Step 1 exam and to patient encounters in the future is more important to me than getting a high score on these exams in front of me today.

I know I said I locked myself in my apartment this past week to stay caught up, but I also had to leave at times for my mandatory afternoon class sessions. We also had a mandatory lecture one morning where we not only learned from a neurologist about what different movement disorders looked like, but also witnessed what the terrible condition of Huntington’s disease looked like in real-life. One of the neurologist’s patients came in to talk to us about what life was like with the condition and showed us what she could and couldn’t do because of her affliction. Fortunately, she’s still in the early stages of it so she’s able to drive when it’s not raining and she can still do daily activities by herself, but she’s had a very hard life ever since being diagnosed with Huntington’s. Because the disease is genetic, she was forced to witness her mother succumb to it…so sadly, she has the dreadful knowledge of what’s next to come for her. But through it all she’s been trying to maintain a positive attitude about life, which was evident with her interaction with us. She was joking around and making light of her condition, but also strongly desired to be saved from her suffering. Huntington’s is a terrible, terrible disease man.

In my clinical skills class, we’ve been learning how to conduct a neurological exam. It consists of the set of maneuvers your doctor makes you do whenever you go to a checkup. You know, where you follow his/her finger, resist his/her force, walk in a straight line, etc. After practicing the maneuvers with classmates, it’s been confirmed that I don’t have a patellar reflex…😅. That’s where your leg is supposed to kick out after being tapped on the patellar tendon at the knee. Both my class facilitator and another doctor didn’t believe me and banged on my knee endlessly to make it work, but they got nothing. So if any of you out there happen to not have a patellar reflex, don’t worry. We’re in this together. In the same class, we talked about how different it is to talk to older patients as opposed to middle-aged and younger patients. We had a discussion about how ageism is subconsciously reinforced throughout the healthcare setting due to the fact that most of the elderly people we encounter are typically frail or sick in some way, shape or form. Because of that, healthcare professionals and students make the assumption that an elderly patient will need to be accommodated in some shape or form, so they either dread interacting with them or end up treating the elderly patient like a kid that doesn’t understand certain things. Adding to that, the healthcare professional or student will typically consult one of the patient’s family members or friends instead of directly interviewing the elderly patient. All of this leads to a good amount of frustration from a number of elderly patients and thus negatively impacts the doctor-patient relationship between them as a whole. I believe it’s important to not only interact with elderly patients the same way you interact with other patients but also to realize that older patients have lived lives full of experiences up to the point that you met them. Disregarding them as old, frail people that are hard of hearing and are lost in their own world is just wrong. Some elderly people may even be in much better physical and/or mental shape then the younger doctors that treat them. Funny huh?

And last but not least, we discussed the topic of allocating health resources to certain patients that need them in my medical ethics class this past week and the agonizing decision-making that goes into allocating these resources. As a matter of fact, we took it a step further and actually played a game called “Who gets to live?” where my small-group class served as an allocating committee and chose which three out of five patients would receive dialysis. Our choices were based on various factors of the patients’ lives that were given to us one at a time. We were given the patients’ marital status, age and # of children at first and were forced to make a decision on who would receive dialysis and who would die. After that initial decision, we were then slowly exposed to their salary/insured status, occupation, comorbidities and race/ethnicity and we had to make decisions each time we were given a new factor of their life. It was agonizing man. I literally felt like I was allowing people to live while sentencing others to death based on my judgment of their life….which is exactly what I was doing. While playing this “game”, I felt like each of us were creating some kind of “value” or “worth” for the patients we were deciding on, whether it be social worth, economic worth, etc. It had me thinking seriously about how this actually used to occur in real life before funding was passed to allow dialysis for anyone that needed it. I couldn’t imagine having to be on a committee that decided who would perish simply because there weren’t enough resources to go around. When it came to race/ethnicity, my group unanimously agreed that race shouldn’t be a factor in choosing who got to live. But then one of our facilitators brought up the point of “restorative justice”, describing that one could argue that race/ethnicity should be considered when you take into account that some people in certain groups (ex. African-Americans) were simply born into the condition they were in due to social injustices and the environment they grew up in that reflects those said injustices. The foods these people eat and the habits they pick up would be a direct reflection of how they were raised/the environment they grew up in, which in turn could influence their long-term health. She really knows how to keep us thinking man. This session was, without a doubt, the most fun/interactive one we’ve had all year. If each ethics session was structured in a similar way this one was, I feel like it would be a MUCH more popular class.

I sure left you with a good amount to read this time around lol. Definitely made up for last week’s post…

Hope you have an extraordinary week!

Pressure can burst pipes and create diamonds. Only you can decide what it will do to you.

– Black Man, M.D.

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