Reshaping The Vision

First things first. If you haven’t seen Black Panther yet, you’re missing out on a real treat! I went to go see it last night and I gotta say, IT WAS SO DOPE!! It had me geeked literally from start to finish, and when the movie ended I couldn’t believe that I had been sitting there watching it for 2+ hours. Time really had flown by while I was appreciating not only the battle scenes, surperb acting, and advanced world of Wakanda, but also the multiple layers & dimensions that the movie unveiled via the engaging dialogue that the characters participated in. Also, for the first time in my life, I intentionally dressed up in a specific way for a movie outing. I just couldn’t help it, I had to show my support for my Wakandan brethren!

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Plus, it’s not everyday that I get to wear my traditional Cameroonian clothing lol. Judging by all the social media posts I saw this weekend, I expected about half of the people in the movie theater to be sporting dashikis in pride. So I’m sure you can understand just how surprised I was when I only counted a grand total of two people in traditional African clothing at the theater, including me. Go on and take a wild guess at who the other person was. Chances are you’re absolutely right. But that didn’t stop me from proudly walking around like a King from an advanced African nation! 😤 Lol but in all actuality, it’s not all too common that I watch a movie that really lives up to its hype plus more. It’s even less common that I’m able to deeply relate to a movie as successful as this one has already been. It hasn’t even been out for a full weekend and it’s already making history. This movie better get a rack of Academy Awards next year!

Okay now that I’ve gotten all that fandom off my chest, let’s talk more about the other updates of my life, including my first week on the Ophthalmology service. To start off, the difference between the working hours of this service and the previous one I was on is literally like night and day. With 8 AM start times on most days this past week and end times around 5 PM, I’ve been afforded quite a bit more free time in which I’ve been able to attend to other matters in my life and to study more for the upcoming Shelf exam. The amount of sleep I’ve been getting has been glorious, to say the least. In addition, I’ve already learned so many cool things about the eye and have also learned useful physical exam techniques when it comes to examining this organ. I’ve been able to get a lot of practice with using the slit-lamp on patients, assessing eye pressure via tonometry, and checking retinas via direct ophthalmoscopy. I even learned how to figure out one’s refractive error (a.k.a. glasses prescription) using retinoscopy!

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Although I’ve spent the majority of my time in the clinic so far, I did get the opporunity to scrub in for a day in the Operating Room, where I assisted (watered the cornea; it’s an extremely important job, don’t debate me) with multiple cataract surgeries. I never did get tired of watching the surgeon perform these operations. I also got the opportunity to go over to Greensboro for a day to volunteer with a vision van screening being held in conjunction with a health fair at UNCG! That was a great time, especially since I really got the opportunity to independently work on my ophthalmic skills. And lastly, I was able to sit in on an interesting guest lecture concering pediatric ophthalmology and the various pathologies that can be found in the eyes of younger populations. Let me just say, there are a LOT of things that can go wrong with your eyes/eyelids. Like, it’s baffling.

My experience in Ophthalmology overall has been a very positive one so far, and I’m definitely looking forward to these next two weeks on this service. It really is cool to be able to rotate through this specialty, because it’s allowing me to not only learn some important pathologies to watch out for as well as some great physical exam techniques to use in my future career as a Pediatrician, but to also get some closure after having spent a good number of years chasing down a career in this specialty. It’s still kind of wild how I ended up adjusting my career path; I’m actually still not used to saying that I’m going into Pediatrics. As a matter of fact, I’ve been asked by multiple Ophthalmologists this past week if I was interested in ophthalmology and I find it pretty ironic that I’m now telling the people in the very specialty that I’ve been gunning for all this time that although I still do like this field, I have interests in establishing a career in a different specialty. Some of them were understandably surprised to hear me say this, because they’ve known me for a while now. But regardless, the people in this department have been very willing to help integrate my interests while on this rotation by allowing me to work with a pediatric ophthalmologist and teaching me things about the eye that will be useful to me in my career. For that, I am very grateful.

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Alright now that I’ve said everything that I needed to say, it’s time for me to get back to studying, sending emails, and working on these presentations that I have to give next week. I hope that you have a marvelous week!

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” – Carl Bard

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – For Valentine’s Day, my girlfriend got me a coupon book full of “coupons” she made up that I can use to get her to do specific tasks for me. How creative is that?? I just wanted to share that because it was such a great gift lol.

P.P.S. – I also wanted to say how much of a shame it is that on the same day as Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, a terrorist/murderer decided to shoot up a school in a peaceful neighborhood in Parkland, Florida and take the lives of 17 innocent individuals while injuring a number of others. It’s just so sad and disgraceful how stubborn some of our government officials are when it comes to enforcing stricter gun control laws, even when so many lives have been unjustly taken by these terrorists. There’s just so much going wrong with this country, it’s almost impossible to wrap our heads around it all. Calling reps doesn’t seem to do anything, at least not in North Carolina. My donations are probably helping a bit, but not much at all to do anything substantial. I’m exercising my power to vote on a continual basis. I would march more and whatnot, but I’m in the hospital pretty much all the time. I can speak out on social media, but that only gets me so far. Trying to get the people currently in power to listen is like yelling at a brick wall. What a time. Maybe this latest mass shooting will spark some change, especially with the activism of the students at the school. But it’s looking like the only that will bring about any real change is removing the people that are hindering this country’s progress from office. Although it’s exhausting and can feel purposeless at times, I’ll keep doing my part and I hope you keep doing yours.

Setting Sights On Free Time

After three long, grueling, educational and interesting weeks, I’ve finally completed my experience on the Surgical Oncology service!

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The hours that I worked while on that service were some of the longest that I’ve ever worked while in medical school. However, I also saw some of the most intriguing things that I’ve ever witnessed during my time as a medical student and assisted with some of the operations in ways that I never thought I would be ever able to do as a student. Like, I was literally burning off connective tissue from the intestines at one point! (With guidance of course 😄) The operations that I got the opportunity to participate in ranged from simple and quick 30-minute procedures to complex and arduous 9-hour marathons. It was quite amazing to be able to cut open the body of a living person and appreciate the organs that keep all of us healthy on an everyday basis. Some of the tools that we would use during the surgeries were pretty cool too, almost extravagant even. I never knew there were so many surgical tools out there made specifically to burn flesh! Also, it never failed to blow my mind whenever we would see someone we performed a major operation on awake and speaking to us the very next day, as if we weren’t inside their body less than 24 hours prior. Of course they had to stay in the hospital for some time in order to recover, but it was still pretty wild to have full conversations with them shortly after having literally touched their guts.

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Overall, these past three weeks were hard yet fulfilling, and I experienced so much during my time on this service. The team I worked with this past week were filled with excellent people who allowed me to do more than I could’ve ever anticipated. I also felt like I had really gotten into the groove of things by the time Friday rolled around, and I could really feel just how much I had grown from when I first started Surg-Onc. For example, when one of my classmates joined me on the service early last week, I found myself informing her of how the service was run, how to perform tasks and present patients in a way that the team would appreciate, and the things that she could do to maximize her experience during her time in Surg-Onc. I surprised myself at how much I knew while I was talking with her, because I literally hadn’t known anything about Surgical Oncology when I first started just a couple weeks prior to our conversations. I’m glad that I got the opportunity to participate in this experience and am even more happy that it was the first service of my Surgery rotation, because now I can look forward to having some more free time to study and get other stuff done. That’s right, no more 4:15 AM alarms!! Well, only until I get to the Anesthesia service in three weeks. I’ll have to be at the hospital at 6 AM at that time, which means I’ll be back to waking up around 4:45 AM lol. But that’s still 30 more golden minutes of sleep than having to wake up at 4:15!

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Now that I’ve completed my Surgical Oncology experience, I can look forward to starting Ophthalmology tomorrow! I’m pretty pumped about these next three weeks because as you may or may not know, I’ve had a particular interest in vision care for a long time now. Although I’m now pretty set on a career in Pediatrics, I’m excited to be able to work alongside various Ophthalmologists and to fully immerse myself in a field that I had previously been pursuing for years. I’ll also have more free time on this service to adequately study for the Surgery shelf exam that I’ll be taking a little over a month from now. Now you might go and say, “Christel, that’s so far away! Are you really pressed about studying for that test now??” And my response to that would be, “Yeah I know it’s not coming up soon…but past experience in my previous rotations tells me that it’ll be here before I know it! Plus, I’ve barely had time to even think about it these past three weeks, let alone study for it!” I’ll definitely need all the free time I can get to prepare for it. I’ll also need this newfound free time to work on SNMA stuff in preparation for the Annual Medical Education Conference next month (I can’t believe AMEC is only a month away!!), to work on my fourth-year schedule, to work on this blog and to do other tasks that I’ve recently been forced to put off. I’ve already been able to use some free time this weekend to participate on a student panel at the annual Pre-Med conference that my school’s SNMA chapter organizes each year, and as with every panel I’ve ever participated on, I thoroughly enjoyed it and was reminded of how blessed I am to be where I’m at! Oh, and I’m definitely going to be using some of my free time to make up for the sleep that I lost these past few weeks! I have a feeling that these next few weeks will prove to be ones that were worth looking forward to! *knocks on wood*

That’s all I got for you today! Be sure to have a fantastic week and an affectionate Valentine’s/Single Awareness Day! And I don’t know about you, but I’m HYPED to go see Black Panther this upcoming weekend! Got my outfit planned and everything…😏

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

– Black Man, M.D.

Marathon Days

I’ve definitely been spending much more of my waking hours in the hospital than out of it as of late. I’m here acting like that hasn’t been a thing ever since third year started, but I’ve particularly noticed it these past couple of weeks. Maybe it’s because unless I happen to be gazing out of a window in the hospital, I don’t see daylight much these days. Shoutout to these frigid winter months. Maybe it’s because I’ve been consistently waking up at the ridiculously early time of 4:15 AM each day and getting back home well past 5 PM on a normal basis, sometimes ending my shift as late as 7 PM. Or maybe it’s because I haven’t had anywhere near as much free time as I’ve been able to work in during the past several months leading up to this rotation, so I just feel like I’m on a continuous grind. Regardless of whatever it is, I’ve definitely been feeling like I pretty much live at the hospital. 😅

I’ve been staying very busy while scrubbing in and out of surgeries, attending meetings, attempting to study, filling out applications, trying to get my future together and checking in on patients, and I’ve been learning so much while I’ve been doing so. I’ve also realized that because of my schedule, I haven’t seen a good amount of my friends in some time and I’ve been paying less attention to what has been going on in the outside world. It’s really crazy how fast time can fly by you and what you can miss when you’re deeply focused on a particular task. In this case, the task is performing as well on this Surgical Oncology service as I can while trying to keep up with deadlines, meetings, assignments, my studies, leadership roles, my family and this blog. I’ve been able to keep everything in check so far only because I’ve been making a determined effort to effectively utilize the little free time I have during my marathon days and on the weekends. Praise God for the weekends!

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Although the time I’ve spent on this service so far has kept me very busy and has forced me to become more coffee-dependent than usual, there’s no doubt at all that I’ve been getting my money’s worth! From being allowed to have full control of the camera during a laparoscopic procedure to burning off vessels during a bilateral mastectomy, I’ve definitely been made to feel like I’m a useful part of the team, which I’ve really appreciated. I’ve even been able to work on my suturing skills by helping (okay, okay, attempting to help) close surgical wounds on some of the patients that we’ve operated on. Also, while in the operating room (a place that I’ve now become very accustomed to) and in the clinic, the attending physicians that I work side-by-side with further ensure that I’m getting my money’s worth by assessing my knowledge base and then sharing their own knowledge with me. It has been a wonderful learning experience so far, and with this upcoming week being my last week on this service, I’m going to make sure to soak in as much as I can because this may very well be the last time I ever get to see these kinds of operations.

Overall, I’ve liked my experience on this rotation so far. But if there’s something I’ve learned these past two weeks, it’s that you gotta more than like Surgery to want to pursue it….you have to absolutely LOVE it. You have to love it because you’ll be spending a TON of time in the operating room learning how to perform various techniques in many different types of operations, and when you’re not in the O.R. you’ll be very busy managing the multiple patients that you are actively caring for. This lifestyle would leave little time to do other things outside of your job, for you would be practically spending a vast majority of your waking hours at the hospital. That’s not to say that surgeons don’t have the free time to do whatever else they want to do, because they can definitely find time to do other things that they are passionate about. But with that said, I believe that the happiest surgeons are the ones who absolutely love what they do for a living. I’m so thankful that we have people who love to do surgery, because we absolutely need them and it’s not a career path built for everybody. Shoutout to y’all who are embarking or have already embarked on this career path!

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I’m all ready to take on this last week of Surgical Oncology, and am even more ready to start my experience on the Ophthalmology service next week! It’ll be nice to have some more free time to study and get other things done as well but with that said, I’ll forever cherish the unique experiences I’ve had on this service.

Have an awesome Super Bowl Sunday and a glorious start to Black History Month! I’ll most likely be missing the majority of the game and the commercials due to my insanely early bedtime…but that’s okay because in return, I get the amazing privilege to help improve the lives of people stricken with cancer! 😄😄😄

“Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.” – Bill Bradley

– Black Man, M.D.