Full Speed Ahead!

Alright, I’m back from my week-long Thanksgiving break and am ready to cruise right on through the last two weeks of my Psychiatry experience! Then after that comes my Neurology rotation, where I’ll be working for two weeks before shimmying right into my two-week-long winter break!

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This is such a great time of the year because I always come from Thanksgiving break refreshed and ready to take on anything in my path, only to get to some rest again after powering through my work like a madman for about a month lol. Plus, everything is so festive and delightful! Only thing that irritates me during this time of the year is the cold weather that just keeps getting colder as we march into the winter months. It’s times like this where I miss the wonderful, comfortable “winter” weather of Miami. But on the other hand, the holiday season always feels more authentic to me when you can actually see your breath while walking outside! Ain’t nothing like sitting on your living room couch all snuggled up in warm pajamas with some hot chocolate in between your hands and flashy holiday decorations set up all around you as the snow drizzles outside your frosted window. (Try saying that whole run-on sentence in one breath. Bet you can’t…..and if you did, I’m still taking pleasure in the fact that I just made you talk out aloud to yourself. Hehehehe)

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Just take a second to appreciate the beauty of this deliciousness. Makes you want some right now huh? Yeah, me too 😓

Overall, I had a very restful and moderately productive break! I spent some of it with my girlfriend and the rest of it with my family and friends back at home. As always, it was a bunch of laughs, catching up, good food, FIFA and Monopoly all bundled up together in a week of fun. The Thanksgiving feast was amazing, to say the least! I cannot emphasize enough on how CLUTCH free, homemade food is man. I swear food tastes so much better when it’s free 😂. I also am proud of the fact that I got through a good amount of study questions during the break, something I told myself that I was going to do during the break but wasn’t sure if I would stick to it. I’m so glad I stuck to the plan because it only makes my life easier as I kick everything back into full gear in order to perform to the best of my ability on next Friday’s shelf exam!

Oh and one other thing before I wrap up this short post. I finally had the chance to help give a presentation to local high school students about the process of successfully getting from high school to medical school/any other health-related grad schools! As of late, I’ve been facilitating the execution of this outreach program (WCBD Ambassador Program, created by the White Coats, Black Doctors organization) here at Wake and have been setting up times for students to go to local schools in order to talk with the kids there. I hadn’t been able to go give a presentation yet because of my schedule but with the break last week, I finally had the opportunity to do so. It was a great discussion! The high school students were being interactive (although it took some effort on our part at first) and they had some excellent questions to ask us about our own experiences regarding the process of getting to where we currently are in our lives. It really was refreshing to share some useful knowledge that I take for granted with these kids and it forced me to put the experiences in my life so far into perspective, something that I recommend people do every once in a while. The teacher emailed me later on to tell me that the kids were talking about us and our presentation after we left and were excited that we came to talk to them! It was so dope to hear that! If we could help positively influence and inspire at least one person during our presentation, my trip from Chapel Hill back to Winston just to give the presentation would have been totally worth it.

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I hope that your Thanksgiving was a fulfilling and memorable one, and that you didn’t spend all your savings on Black Friday shopping! Have a fantastic week! And be sure to remain thankful for everything that you have in your life, as well as for the things that you don’t have that you wouldn’t want! 😊🙏

“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Yeah yeah, I know Miami’s winning streak just got snapped and all…but we still going to the ACC Championship this upcoming weekend!! We just gotta beat Clemson now, and our season can still (hopefully) be saved! Best believe I’ll be at the championship game cheering on my ‘Canes!!

Mind Trip

You know, if I was asked to describe what I thought about my Psychiatry experience so far in one word, the word I would use is peculiar. I would use this word because it essentially describes not only the patient population I dealt with this past week, but my interactions with them as well. As a matter of fact, I’ve had some of the most peculiar moments of my medical school experience within this past week. Although I had learned all about various personality disorders and mental illnesses in the past, I had never really seen any of them in real life until now.

Witnessing people with conditions such as schizophrenia, mania, borderline personality disorder, and bipolar disorder in real life was just as interesting as it was bizarre. I had to keep reminding myself that I was in a Psychiatric ward whenever I interacted with my patients because they acted so abnormally. I had a patient who literally screamed at me in anger at one point, but then had a cheerful conversation with me about ten minutes later.

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There was another patient who was pleasant to chat with, but was also actively hearing voices in her head at the same time.

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And let me not forget about the person who seemed to be disgusted with me from the moment I met her and made it hard for me to help care for her until her last day when she suddenly warmed up to me and actually laughed with me at one point.

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These are just a few of the many strange encounters that I experienced while on the inpatient adult Psychiatric unit this week. Although I was dealing with people who could prove to be very unpredictable at times, I never really felt unsafe or bothered. If anything, I was quite perplexed as to how these patients ended up the way they were. But there were times where I did get annoyed about how the patients were acting towards my team and I, and those were the moments that I really needed to remember that I was in a psychiatric ward.

Because the patients here usually had more control over their own fates than the kids in the Child Psych unit did, we were able to do more for them than we could do for the latter, which made the experience a less depressing one overall. It was also cool to see how the patients on the unit were able to participate in group therapy, where they were encouraged to create and execute their own goals daily just like the kids in the Psych unit were able to a couple of weeks ago. And last but not least, I can’t forget about how awesome my team was! We ended up having a great time with each other, and the residents were so thankful for having us medical students there to help out because according to them, it was a rougher week than usual on the unit. I totally believe them…some of the patients did not make it easy for us to do our jobs lol. Overall, I had quite an interesting time while on this unit.

Whenever I wasn’t directly participating in patient care, I was either studying shelf-related material or attending lectures on topics that included antidepressants, psychotherapy, psychosis and opiate addiction. I even randomly attended a dinner presentation on financial investements on my own volition, because learning about money is also important! Some of the takeaway points I could appreciate from these lectures included: questioning why certain treatment protocols exist and determining where they come from, putting more emphasis & focus on the positive qualities of patients while interacting with them as opposed to strictly focusing on the problems that they have, and being more aware about the financial options that I have when it comes to investing for my future. Each of these takeaway points are things that I plan on making more of an effort to become better at as time goes on!

With this past week over, I’m now halfway done with this rotation! In addition, I get a whole week off for Thanksgiving! I’m SO going to take advantage of this time off and spend the majority of it with my family. I hope that you enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday and that you remain thankful for the blessings that you have in your life!

“Train your mind to see the good in everything. Positivity is a choice. The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.” – Unknown

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – MIAMI IS 10-0!! WE STILL UNDEFEATED BABY!!!

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Shattered Hope

Remember when I said last week that my experience in Psychiatry would surely be a unique one? Turns out I’ve been right so far. Like, VERRRY right. I knew that this rotation was going to be unlike any of the ones that I’ve experienced so far….but DAMN!

I definitely wasn’t fully prepared for what I saw this past week. Many of the patients who came in had such depressing and traumatizing stories, thus either creating their mental ilnesses or exacerbating the mental illnesses that they already had. What made it worse was that all the patients that we saw were under the age of 18! I literally couldn’t (and still can’t) believe the things that some of those kids had to go through. I can see how easy it would be to become very dispirited while working in a field such as inpatient Child Psychiatry. It’s some emotionally draining work man. Like, I only was on that service for a week and I found myself having to put more mental effort than usual into keeping my positive vibes up while trying to not become demoralized everytime I learned about a new patient’s story. It made me wonder just how people working in this field could function effectively on an everyday basis while living happy lives. I eventually realized that it all came down to using various forms of coping mechanisms. The members of my team must have learned how to utilize their own coping mechanisms successfully, because we were all still able to keep things light-hearted and have as good as a time as we could, given the serious nature of the conditions that we were treating.

Something else that I noticed while on this service this past week was the high level of interdisclipinary teamwork that occurred on an everyday basis. We worked very closely with not only the nursing staff, but also with the social workers and the PAs from the Emergency Room. Because of the fact that the vast majority of these young patients lived in the midst of dreary social situations, it was very necessary to have multiple realms of patient care involved, especially social work. As a matter of fact, it felt like just as much of our energy was geared towards trying to help improve the social conditions that the patients lived in as it was towards stabilizing the acute conditon(s) that these kids came in with in the first place. There were multiple family meetings that took place during the week and both the Department of Social Services & Child Protective Services were contacted on a regular basis. Having witnessed all of this, I can see how social aspects could make providing adequate care for this patient population frustrating, especially since it’s usually not the kid’s fault for being thrown into the situation that they’re trapped into. There’s only so much that medicine and social work can do in some of these situations. It was an eye-opening experience overall, and it really made me appreciate the life that I’ve been blessed to live so far. It has also given me all the more reason to appreciate the field of Psychiatry and the very important work that the people in this field of medicine do for their patients. However with all of that said, I’m not entirely sure if Psychiatry is necessarily for me. I still got a good three weeks to go though, so my mind is still open!

I’ll be working on the inpatient Adult Psychiatry service this week, which is quite of a big deal for me. Why is that, you may ask? Well if you think about it, I’ve been dealing with children exclusively for the past seven weeks….which means that I literally have not had an adult patient ever since ending my Ob/Gyn rotation back in September. Kinda trippy huh? To tell the truth, it’s going to be pretty strange having to transition back into adult care. It just won’t be the same. 😔

That’s pretty much all I have to share with you this week! And oh yeah, MIAMI IS 9-0 BABY!!! Last time that happened was back in the early 2000s! That UMiami-Notre Dame game last night was a spectacular sight, to say the least! We also clinched a spot in the ACC Championship game! Best believe I’m gonna be there rooting for the home team! 🙌

College Football GIF by Miami Hurricanes

Make sure to have an outstanding week!

“If you are feeling low or trampled, unappreciated or forgotten and you are reading this, realize it is an illusion. The hope is real, you are valued, and what lies ahead is brilliance.”Tom Althouse

– Black Man, M.D.

Christel Wekon-Kemeni, (5/8) M.D.

Yooo it just recently hit me that I’m 24 weeks into my third year, which means I’m at the halfway point of this school year!

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That’s wild man! Unbelievable really. How’d I get to this point so fast, after only three rotations? (Internal Medicine – 12 weeks, Ob/Gyn – 6 weeks, Pediatrics – 6 weeks; duh, do the math Christel.) I’ve got five more to go, but all of them will now be four weeks each with the exception of Surgery, which will be an eight-week rotation. It’s going to be interesting to go through a four-week rotation for the first time…it was tough enough finding ways to study for a six-week one. And I can only imagine that these rotations coming up will go by even faster than the ones that I’ve already completed. Craaazyyy.

Now that I’ve got half of third-year behind me, I’ve officially leveled up to a “5/8” M.D. even though it’s not technically the end of the semester or anything. But then again, there really isn’t a such thing as a “semester” when it comes to third-year. Regardless, I’m a step even closer to attaining my medical degree after having finished the Pediatrics rotation that I thoroughly enjoyed. (I’m going to miss the lil’ kiddos 😔) I took my shelf exam this past Friday and although it was tough, I don’t think that it was as notoriously difficult as people made it seem. Then again, maybe these same people managed to make me nervous enough to prepare harder for it than I would have otherwise…because Lord knows I went Super Saiyan in preparing for this exam. I think I’ll be getting my score in the next couple of days, so we’ll see what’s really good once I get that. Soon after finishing up my test, I left NC for Miami to celebrate in my alma mater’s Homecoming festivities for the weekend. It was LIIITTT!!! I got to see a ton of old friends while showing my roommate a great time down there, and the football team showed the hell out with a very convincing win against VA Tech, making our record now 8-0! I couldn’t have asked for a better Homecoming experience! 😄😁😄

In order to be able to enjoy my dope weekend, I had to power through one final week of my Pediatric rotation, where I spent time in both the Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes clinics. There were a number of endocrinologic conditions that I had the opportunity to help manage while rotating through these clinics, and I was given a good amount of independence with handling the patients’ concerns. I even had a special moment with a patient’s father, who was both surprised and delighted to see me because I looked like him, dreadlocks and all. He had been nervous in coming to the clinic with his child and understood how his outward appearance could seem intimidating to some people. But by simply being present in the room, I had put him at ease immediately and he went on and on about how appreciative and proud he was to see someone like me in the position that I was in. It was very humbling to hear him say all of that without even knowing who I am!

Something else I appreciated during my week on that service was my interactions with my attendings. Because I was the only student they were working with, I received a lot of one-on-one time with them and they were very happy to work with me! We also had some wonderful conversations while waiting for patients to show up to their appointments. One of the convos I had with an attending focused on the importance of keeping an open mind while going through third year and fully taking in my experiences in each rotation by learning as much as I can. Although I had already realized the high importance of these mantras, something she said that I took into account was the fact that there will most likely be instances in the future where I’ll be using the knowledge that I’ll be acquiring throughout the year, regardless of what specialty I choose to go into. I can already hear the endless barrage of medical questions coming from neighbors, friends and family members in the near future. We also talked about how important it is to do what makes you happy to get up and go to work each day and how pretty much everyone is going to need a pediatrician at some point in their lives (that was her trying to sway me towards her field lol). I had similar conversations with other attendings as well as convos about the conditions of the patients and college football. Talking about football only worked to increase my excitement about my imminent trip!

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There’s one more thing that I want to touch on before wrapping this post up. While at the diabetes clinic, I got the opportunity to interact with quite a few families with kids that had been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. As I talked with these patients, all I could think about was how tough it must be to have to deal with this medical condition…especially as a teenager. Like, it’s hard enough to be a teenager in the first place. Adding a chronic condition like diabetes to the mix does very little to help the adolescent experience. So with that said, it didn’t really surprise me when I met patients who weren’t compliant at all with their treatment regimen. Hell, I’d be pissed too if I had to, on an everyday basis, critically analyze what I ate in addition to doing several blood checks a day to monitor my sugar levels while most people around me got to live their lives freely. After all, besides from the fact that they had a dysfunctional pancreas that couldn’t pump out insulin, these were all normal, everyday kids who just wanted to fit in with their peers. God bless their hearts and the hearts of those of you who have to deal with Type 1 Diabetes or any other chronic conditions on a constant basis.

However, there were also patients who were very compliant with their treatment and who had a positive outlook on their life. They had come to the realization that although their situations were less than ideal, things could always be much worse. I truly commend them for their optimistic attitude and for just being grateful in general, because it surely isn’t easy living the lives that they live. I thought it was cool that the clinic provided materials such as cookbooks that were tailored to this patient population. I also was able to learn all about the gadgets that these kids use to give themselves insulin, and how their dosing schedules are set up throughout the day. Overall, my experience at the clinic made me even more aware of how fortunate I am to not have to deal with a lifelong chronic condition and provided a very important perspective that will influence my thoughts and actions throughout my career as a physician.

That’s all I got for you today! With another rotation down and my awesome Homecoming weekend complete, I’m ready to kick off my experience in Psychiatry! I’m sure that it’ll be quite a unique one…

Y’all be sure to have an invigorating week!

“A grateful mind is a great mind which eventually attracts to itself great things.” – Plato

– Black Man, M.D.