A Smaller World

You know, waking up at 5:20-ish AM this past week hasn’t been so bad at all. Yeah I know, sounds kind of absurd, doesn’t it? Here I was thinking that I was going to be struggling to wake up before sunrise, especially since it had been a number of months since I’ve had to do that. (It’s hard to believe that I was consistently waking up at 4:15 AM for three weeks of my Surgery rotation…now THAT was a struggle. 😩) I didn’t really mind waking up so early this past week because it turns out that I had a very positive first week in the Neonatal ICU!

happy best gif GIF

Now I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting when I first started. I just figured that because it was such a high-stakes environment, all the health providers on the floor would be very serious. I also thought that seeing all of the sick babies would bring about a somber atmosphere and that I would be the only student on the service working with residents, fellows, attendings and all of the other people on the team who worked in various specialties. Plus, the ICU literally stands for Intensive Care Unit, so I assumed that it was about to be an intense experience in a world that I had no familarity with.

Booooy was I wrong.

Okay, I wasn’t totally wrong. There definitely were a lot of sick babies on the floor, with some of them being as premature as 24-26 weeks. It was sad to see these babies suffering from the medical conditions that they have been unfairly afflicted with and to see them with multiple IVs, tracheostomy tubes, and dialysis ports, amongst other things. We tried to help alleviate their suffering by talking to them and playing with them whenever we were pre-rounding or visiting them throughout the day. Also, of course everyone was very serious about taking proper care of the patients. However, although they were serious in delivering excellent care to the babies, the atmosphere of the NICU was actually much lighter than I had anticipated. The team that I was working with was full of laid-back people who liked to laugh and have fun while at work (probably to help process the emotional turmoil that the NICU can bring), which surprised me a bit. It probably shouldn’t have though, because this is literally what the field of Pediatrics is all about. Plus, to my total surprise, I wasn’t the only student who showed up on the first day of the rotation. There was a PA student starting at the same time as me who was going to be working with me for the duration of the rotation, which was a relief to me. I can definitely handle being the only student on a service (I’ve done it numerous times before), but I’ve always had an even better time whenever I’ve been paired with other students!

With everyone on the team being really nice, likeable and compassionate, my first week in the NICU has been a wonderful experience. And of course they’re all really intelligent, so I’ve learned a ton of information as well, especially from the fellows who have given my colleague and I some useful presentations regarding both the maintenance care of infants and the various pathologies that affect infants. And what’s probably the best part of the experience so far is that I don’t have to worry about having to study for a Shelf exam! I can literally learn whatever I want without worrying about the fact that I need to answer study questions and learn high-yield things!

Happy Ftw GIF

Because I don’t have to focus on learning specific topics, I’ve been able to learn more about maintenance care of these patients, about the various machines that are helping these babies survive, about the psychosocial factors regarding the care of these patients and their families, and about all the random things that I come across while exploring this new world of medicine. The only assignments that I have are to deliver two separate presentations on topics of my choosing, but otherwise I’m free to learn whatever I want! I’ve also found myself thinking about what the futures of these patients are going to look like and if they would eventually end up going to camps like Victory Junction when they were older. Overall, I’ve had an awesome time so far and I hope that these next three weeks are just as awesome!

In addition to starting my NICU rotation, I had the “pleasure” of finally taking my Step 2 Clinical Skills exam in Atlanta on Friday. I literally had to drive straight from the hospital to ATL on Thursday afternoon, but I ended up getting there at a decent time thanks to my team allowing me to leave from the hospital earlier than usual. Being able to stay with my girlfriend’s parents at their house was also VERY clutch. I got a good night’s sleep and was fed very well both before and after my exam. The actual exam itself was pretty similar to the clinical practice exams that I had taken on two separate occasions throughout this past year, so I thankfully wasn’t blindsided by anything. It was pretty long (I interviewed and wrote notes for 12 standardized patients) but the day honestly flew by very quickly. Plus, we were fed lunch during one of our breaks at the testing site, which ended up coming in pretty clutch. (I had forgotten to pack snacks for whatever reason 🤦🏿‍♂️).

Even though my school had given me good preparation for the exam and I’ve repeatedly heard that Step 2 CS was a exam that pretty much just tests your English proficiency and your communication skills with another person, I didn’t want to blow it off as something not to take seriously. Plus, I had already been recently burned by my Step 2 CK score, so with that in mind I took the time a few weeks leading up to the exam to review various standardized cases in order to review all the different diagnoses and workup plans that could come in handy on test day. I also visited the USMLE site a week in advance to make sure that I knew all the information regarding the test and even watched the video on the site to ensure that I was familiar with everything on test day. I wasn’t about to give myself any chances to drop the ball! Although there are a few things that I could have done better throughout the test, I want to say that I feel satisfied with my performance overall. But I’m gonna just wait and see what my score is looking like before I proceed to jinx myself. 🤞🏿

After a very easy drive back from ATL, I’m now back in Winston, all ready to focus on learning some more in the NICU this week!

Let’s all make this week an extraordinary one!

“It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving.” – Mother Teresa

– Black Man, M.D.

Unforgettable Memories

I had to take a step back a few days ago to fully process the fact that it’s already been three years since I first created this blog.

Three years!

Oh My God Wow GIF

That’s crazy man. Three years of typing out weekly posts about my experiences as a medical student. I didn’t know how possible that would be when I first started, but I remember telling myself that if I just focused on making a habit of typing up one post at a time on a weekly basis, things would eventually work themselves out. And look what happened; things really did work themselves out! Now I can’t fathom not typing up an update on my life each week lol. I’m so glad that I had the foresight to do this and am grateful of all the love and support that I have recieved as I’ve worked to expand this blog. I’m also very grateful for all the people across the nation that I have met over the years as a result of my blog and my growing online presence. I literally wouldn’t know about a quarter of the people I know now if I hadn’t started blogging! It’s so wild just how much this hobby has expanded my network, which just continues to grow more and more with each passing day!

And to think that this whole project was birthed from the fact that I couldn’t find a blog that I could fully relate to while I was transitioning from college to medical school. Who knew that it would become the cathartic and inspiring entity that it is today? I sure didn’t. I thought that I would just be scribbling down my thoughts on a routine basis. I had absolutely no idea that I was going to add sections such as Med School 101, Useful Blogs or the popular Health Career Spotlight Series further down the road. I didn’t know that I would teach myself basic HTML and CSS code simply to design parts of my website in a particular way. And the thought of this blog being a potential talking point on my residency interviews never once crossed my mind until one of the physicians that I look up to suggested that I put it on my CV! Overall, it really has been an honor to serve as a source of inspiration for those of you who are motivated by the content in this blog, and I hope that I’ve been able to adequately fill the void that inspired me to start all of this in the first place as a rising first-year medical student.

Now onto my last week at Victory Junction. 😭

I spent my final week at camp working as a medical volunteer again, but this time I was given the opportunity to float around different units to maximize my exposure to as many medical conditions as possible. Because I was able to do this, I ended up interacting with a lot of the kids at camp, all of whom ranged from ages 6 to 16. Having this kind of exposure also allowed me to connect various conditions (some of which I had never even heard of) to their presentation in children, which was very helpful to me. The campers this week all had some sort of past or present disorder involving either their hearts, lungs and/or kidneys, so you can only imagine the variety of illnesses that were present in this group of kids. Also, because some of these children were immunosuppressed, there were A TON of medications to sort through and distribute. Like, I literally spent 30 minutes on accurately sorting out one camper’s 15+ different medications. Can you imagine having to take 15 medications every single day of your life? Or even having to accurately distribute 15 medications to your kid at specific times throughout the day? I had many experiences like this throughout my time at camp that gave me some perspective on the lives that these kids live on a daily basis. For example, I witnessed a couple of kids get a 4+ hour session of hemodialysis while at camp. They get these types of sessions about three times a week, every week. I was also with a couple of other kids who had to get peritoneal dialysis on a daily basis as well as very frequent dressing changes on their catheter site.

I remember the many kids with sickle cell the week prior who needed to take many extra precautions such as keeping warm and staying hydrated constantly to ensure that they wouldn’t suffer from a sickle cell crisis. Yet, they will still have medical complications down the road and will need to have access to pain medications to alleviate their chronic pain while trying to avoid being unfairly categorized as “pain medication-seeking patients”. And I can’t forget those kids living with ostomy bags that needed frequent changes throughout the day, or the kids with various levels of neurological impairment that I helped care for as a camp counselor. Yet, even though all of these young people have either faced or are currently facing challenges that would potentially cripple you and I, they seemed to just treat them as an everyday thing as they had the times of their lives at camp. I was especially blown away at their stage day (talent show), where one of the teenagers performed various acrobatics such as back handsprings and backflips, and couple of other teens performed songs that they composed themselves. I was equally touched during one of our nightly “cabin chats”, where a few of the teens shared some very personal details about their lives with a small group of their peers, counselors & us medical volunteers. Witnessing all of the great memories that these kids were creating gave me great strength and further reaffirmed my decision to dedicate my career towards helping young people like them live the best lives that they possibly can.

I’m bummed that my time at camp has all come to an end. I’m really going to miss many of the aspects of it, especially the positive & laid-back atmosphere, and the connections that I made with the many kids, counselors and medical volunteers. And I can’t lie, I’m really going to miss having three free and filling meals a day. 😭 The good news is that I can always go back to work as a medical volunteer after I recieve my medical degree!

With my second rotation coming to an end, I now have my upcoming NICU experience to look forward to. I haven’t worked in the hospital ever since I finished my Emergency Medicine rotation a couple of months ago, so I’m going to have to quickly calibrate myself back to the hospital environment and to waking up at like 5 AM. 😅 I’m interested to see how this next month is going to turn out, and am so looking forward to finally taking my Step 2 Clinical Skills exam in Atlanta this Friday and getting it over with! 🙏🏿

I hope that you all have an outstanding week!

“Do you really want to look back on your life and see how wonderful it could have been had you not been afraid to live it?” – Caroline Myss

– Black Man, M.D.

In My Feelings

As per usual these days, my week has been a pretty great one.

Well, except for the moment of utter shock and disbelief I had in the middle of the week that left me with a bruising “L” (for those of you unaware, L stand for Loss) that I’m still working on getting over. If not for that “L”, this week would have been an awesome one….but whatever. More on that later.

Unlike the first two weeks at Victory Junction where I worked primarily as a camp counselor helping care for the kids in my cabin 24/7, this week I worked as a medical volunteer where my duties primarily consisted of organizing and distributing medications to kids in the two cabins assigned to my partner and I, attending to any immediate medical needs of the campers, and playing with them throughout the day while trying to anticipate any medical needs that they’ll suddenly require. It was intriguing to be able to participate on the medical side of the camp and I got the opportunity to learn new things from the nurses and the doctor that I was working with. Also, because I was now a medical volunteer I got my own room and bathroom, which was a nice change from having to share a cabin with a bunch of counselors and children. I can definitely say that my sleep quality was much better this week lol. It also didn’t hurt that I had WiFi in my new room, so I could actually get some work done in my downtime without having to travel across camp to a WiFi hotspot. And last but certainly not least, I can now drive the golf carts across camp to get to where I need to go as opposed to walking everywhere! I loved being a camp counselor, but the medical volunteer gig definitely wins the convenience factor!

not bad michelle obama GIF

With this past week being Sickle Cell week, we had to take a number of precautions at camp to ensure that we minimized the risk of anyone suffering from a crisis. We had to warm the pool up to almost hot tub temperatures, we kept all the buildings warm, we made sure that all the campers stayed hydrated, and we kept everyone inside the various facilities the one afternoon it rained so that the campers wouldn’t get wet and cold. Although the vast majority of the kids this week had some sort of variant of sickle cell, there were a few kids who were dealing with other illnesses that weren’t sickle cell but just so happened to come to camp this week for whatever reason. This allowed for the campers to learn from each other and make friends with people that they may have otherwise never met. I noticed this with the campers that I was medically responsible for. A lot of them had sickle-cell disease, but there was also a few of them with a variety of other conditions. They all ended up getting along fairly well and it led me to wonder if they would end up keeping in contact with one another outside of camp. They may have been the second-youngest group of campers (10-12 years old) but with technology these days, anything is pretty much possible. All in all, I’m absolutely honored and grateful to have been able to meet and care for these kids. They were an active and hilarious group of kids with a good number of them gravitating towards myself and some of the other Black counselors I was working with, presumably because we looked like them and they felt that they could relate to us.

happy tears awww GIF by Jay Versace

Okay so about that bruising “L” I was talking about earlier. I’m shaking my head as I’m typing this because I still can’t believe that this happened to me. But sometimes life hands you lemons, whether you’re ready for them or not. In this case, I was pelted with a 50-pound, absurdly salty and ripened lemon. And some of the lemon juice got in my eyes. And nose too. It may have even chipped a tooth. Simply put, it was a disastrous lemon.

On Wednesday afternoon, I finally got my Step 2 CK score report back. You know, the exam I took in mid-June that I spent close to a month vigorously preparing for. Although I had been anticipating my score results for a while, I hadn’t thought much about it in recent weeks simply because I was too busy preoccupied with other things going on around me. I was actually a bit surprised when I got the email that my score was ready to be viewed. During my scheduled personal break time, I went to the common area of my two-room cabin and logged into the NBME website. Then I clicked on my Step 2 CK score report and closed my eyes. I quickly recapped my strong performances on the question blocks I answered during my preparation for the test and my opinion of how test day went. I thought about how calm and collected I was when I walked into the test center and how my aura of confidence helped me get through both the easier as well as the tougher questions on the test. I reminisced on how good I felt after answering the last question on the exam and how accomplished I felt as I walked out of the testing center and got into my car. I didn’t feel like I aced the exam or anything, but I was absolutely certain that I hadn’t failed it. At the very least, I felt better about this exam than I had felt when I left the testing center after completing my Step 1 exam last year.

As I began to open my eyes, I braced myself for a score that would reflect all the incredible amount of time and effort that I had put into preparing for this exam ever since the beginning of my Internal Medicine rotation over a year ago. My eyes finally locked onto my computer screen and I cautiously scrolled down the report towards my score. The first segment I hit was the Pass/Fail block. My eyes locked onto the word “PASS“. I had passed Step 2 CK! I gave myself a fist-pump and then took a deep breath, closed my eyes for a quick second, sent up a quick prayer, opened them and scrolled down in a quick motion to the numerical score.

When my eyes finally locked onto my numerical score, my world came to an abrupt halt. I stared at the score in complete shock and disbelief. I literally couldn’t stop looking at it.

My mouth gaped open.

I blinked.

Then blinked again.

Then kept blinking because for several ridiculous seconds, I had convinced myself that this was all a dream and that I hadn’t really seen my real score yet. When I realized that I obviously wasn’t asleep, I began to look at the room around me in a daze. I really was in a state of mental shock. I looked up at the ceiling, then looked down at the screen back to that damn number. I scrolled up and scrolled back to it. I then scrolled down further on the score report to see the very generic section breakdown that graphed my performance on various concepts. The graph was all over the place. It claimed I had performed okay on some concepts, relatively well on others and not so well on the rest.

My ears began to ring in the stale silence that surrounded me. I exited the score report, logged out and logged back into the site. I was now beginning to feel the initial stages of panic within me. I clicked on the report again and, you guessed it, nothing had changed. I then started asking the silence around me, “What? How? Why?” These questions then morphed into statements such as “This has got to be a mistake. This can’t be real. How could this have happened? There’s no way that this is my score. I prepared so well for this test! I thought I was doing okay throughout the exam!!” I began to Google the possibility of rescoring my exam and once I learned it was possible to do so, I started reading more into what the process was like. (FYI it costs $80 to do so and there’s almost a zero chance that anything will change. Talk about a ripoff.)

By this point, my panic had transformed into anger. The thing was, I didn’t know who or what to become angry at. I wasn’t angry at myself because I had genuinely believed that I had given my all as I prepared for the test and I really did feel like I was doing relatively well on the test overall. Sure, there were some questions that I didn’t feel confident about and there was also a pretty tough block of questions that I had some trouble with. But overall, I thought that I had performed decently on the test, especially since there were a ton of questions in multiple blocks that I felt sure that I knew the answers to. I had walked out of the test center not entirely sure of how I performed but like I said earlier, I felt better leaving it than I had felt after taking Step 1. Plus, there were absolutely NO indications during my preparation that would have foretold this result. No red flags, no warnings, nothing. Also, it wasn’t like I had a bad day or no sleep the night before. I slept okay, had some breakfast and coffee, had many snacks on hand at the test center and wasn’t distracted by other things while I was taking the test. I literally had no excuse or reason as to why I recieved the score that was coldly staring back at me. I wasn’t angry at the test or the testmakers either because I thought I had done alright on it. I had believed that everything had gone right. There was literally no place to direct my growing anger to except the pillows around me. Shoutout to them pillows for enduring my rage.

I ultimately ended up wasting over an hour being all caught up in my feelings about my score result, which annoyed the hell out of me. But I was sincerely at a loss of what my next move should be. We’re always told that Step 2 CK is an overall better test to take than Step 1, and that our score on this test almost always is better than our Step 1 score. I really did, and still do believe that studying for and taking Step 2 CK is more bearable than Step 1, mostly because it’s very much clinically based and all of third-year helps to prepare you for the exam. However, when it comes to the score part, I guess I just happened to be thrown into the rare category. The Step 2 CK score I recieved was THREE POINTS LOWER than my Step 1 score.

Yeah, I’ll say it again.

I recieved a lower score on Step 2 CK than I got on Step 1. I’m absolutely certain that this Step 2 CK score isn’t truly indicative of my knowledge base, because I know what I’ve learned and it has shown on my performances throughout third-year as well as on my practice exams. But with that said, I also am not blind to the fact that this score is what will be seen by residency programs, not my practice scores or my intensive preparation for the test. Although I know that this score won’t necessarily hurt my chances of matching, it still is really frustrating that I recieved the score I did because like I said, it really isn’t a true representation of where I stand. I’ve already spoken with a couple of advisors as well as some loved ones and they’ve all been able to reassure me that I’m going to be alright. I believe them and I know that I’ll be good.

I’m now in a much calmer mental place than I was a couple of days ago. Having to go to the weekly talent show at camp right after I saw my score report helped me put things into clearer perspective. Even though I got thrown into an unfortunate situation, I’m still a healthy soon-to-be doctor whose low point of the month was getting a less-than-ideal test score. At the talent show, I watched how joyous those kids suffering from chronic illnesses were as they went on stage to perform various talents and acts. They were happily and blissfully living in the moment. It forced me to think of just how much they have to power through on an everyday basis just to survive, let alone perform strenuous tasks that you and I may do without second thought on a daily basis. With that said, I’ll be fine in the grand scheme of things. The infectious happiness at camp as well as my conversations with my girlfriend definitely helped me mentally get through the rest of that day. In addition, I think that typing this out and sharing it with you all will further help me deal with this “L” , and if you know me then you already know that I plan to use this setback to my advantage….once I figure out how to. 😉

Phew, that was a lot! Thanks for bearing with me as I spilled my feelings onto y’all. I would join in the #InMyFeelings challenge to shake them all off, but there ain’t no way in hell that I’ll top Will Smith. I hope that you all have an extraordinary week!

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” – Maya Angelou

– Black Man, M.D.

Life In A Cheat Code

Yeah, yeah I know it’s Saturday. You probably weren’t expecting a post today but since I’m going back to camp tonight to start my third week there, there’s no telling when I’ll have time to type something up tomorrow. My schedule has been in a bit of disarray as of late with the SNMA conference last weekend and with camp and all, but I’ve been able to keep on top of things…for the most part. So with that said, posting today is part of me keeping on top of things and making sure that I have something to update you with.

black think about it GIF by Identity

The end of this week marks the halfway point of my time at Victory Junction. Yeah I know, it’s like I just started right? At least that’s how I feel. I’ve been getting into the groove of camp life and I’ve been having such a good time that I sometimes forget that I’m on a rotation. I can’t lie, I feel like I’m living in a cheat code lol. Although it kind of feels like I’m on a summer vacation, I’ve been gaining a ton of perspective these past two weeks as a camp counselor. Not only have I been able to put things into perspective while interacting with the kids here, but I’ve also developed useful skills on how to effectively communicate with them. These skills have been especially useful this past week, where my cabin counselors and I were tasked with caring for seven teens with various neurological & developmental disorders. While these teens were overall a calmer bunch of campers than the little kids from the previous week, they definitely came with their own unique set of challenges. To start off, the personalities of the campers in this group were very different from one another. Like, VERY different. As a matter of fact, they were so vastly different that the campers didn’t even have any conflicts with one another. To be honest, they all seem to be in their own little worlds. Their respective conditions also varied widely on a scale from relatively mild developmental delay to extreme developmental delay. And to top it all off, a couple of them liked to wander off on their own, with one kid having the tendency to spontaneously take off in a full sprint away from the group.

annoyed kobe bryant GIF

It was a pretty interesting week, to say the least. The campers were fun to be around though, and I personally had a wonderful time getting to know them while they were at camp. I had a couple of inside jokes with a few of them and one of the campers even made a special handshake with me! 😄 (He only used it for one day and then forgot about it, but that’s besides the point.) I also found out during the camp’s weekly stage day (talent show day) that one of the campers was pretty decent on the piano. That was dope to see!

This week was ultimately shortened due to the 4th of July holiday, so I’ve actually had an extra day and a half of rest outside of the camp. I was able to go to the 42nd USA vs. Japan College All-Star baseball game in Durham (didn’t know this was a thing) and viewed some fireworks with my girlfriend after that painfully low-scoring game. In addition to that, I’ve been putting in some serious work on my residency application, some work in the SNMA, and am working on updates to the blog. I also need to carve out some time to review some Step 2 Clinical Skills stuff, since I’ll be traveling to Atlanta at the end of this month to take that day-long exam and all. Speaking of, you remember that CPX I had to take back in May? You know, the same clinical exam that I was forced to remediate after my performance on the first one of my third-year back in October? You probably don’t, but that’s okay. Well, I finally got my results back and I’m happy to say that I passed it this time with flying colors!

College Basketball Dancing GIF by UNC Tar Heels

Turns out that the extensive remediation that I had to go through helped a lot lol. It also helped that I was much more familiar with the test setup, and I also didn’t skip whole sections in my write-ups like I accidentally did the first time. As you can imagine, this score report is a very welcome confidence boost for the Step 2 CS exam that I’ll be taking in a few weeks. While I’ll still take some time to review key concepts, I can walk into the testing center on July 27th with very minimal doubt in my abilities to think through and treat a chief complaint in a clinical setting while at the same time keeping my patient comfortable throughout the encounter.

That’s a wrap for this post! I hope that your week is a positive one! And be sure to appreciate the final games of the World Cup, because we won’t be getting this for another four years. 😭 I can’t believe it’s already coming to an end soon!

“There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed.” – Ray Goforth

– Black Man, M.D.

The Strength of Endurance

Well, this week was quite an adventure, to say the least.

In fact, it was so much of an adventure that I’m actually typing this post on a plane back to North Carolina from Minnesota. Wait, why am I on a plane? Better yet, why was I in Minnesota? Aren’t I supposed to be at camp getting ready to start the week? Lol, I’ll get to all that later on in the post. 😉

I want to start off by talking about my first full week at the Victory Junction Summer Camp. Simply put, it was both a touching and challenging experience. It was also pretty tiring, yet very fun! And I’ve been eating reeeal good here. (Shoutout to all the free meals I’ve been getting here on a daily basis.) Me and the other counselors in my cabin were assigned to care for a young group of boys aged 6-9 who were diagnosed with various blood disorders and gastrointestinal conditions. If you didn’t already know, having to look after seven little boys who like to play around at all times of the day isn’t the easiest thing to do. Them being hyperactive, hating to go to sleep, having very different personalities and testing our rules to their hearts’ desire didn’t make things any easier either. Plus let’s not forget, they have chronic medical conditions that require our attention. At the same time though, it was really fun interacting with them and engaging them in various activites across the camp! Some of the activites we did included fishing, paddle-boating, archery, playing with horses, bunnies, goats & llamas at a barn, playing in a waterpark, making arts & crafts, playing video games, watching Joey Logano speed around our camp in a racecar at what we call “NASCARnival”, and various other things. Before last week, I had never even done half of those things before! Also, the kids who were NASCAR fans flipped when they saw Joey, who just so happens to be a famous NASCAR driver. I had no idea who he was, so I looked him up and he happens to have a net worth of over $20 million. Go figure.

Although I was working as a camp counselor for the week, I made sure to observe what the medical volunteers were doing with our kids whenever they came around so that I had a better understanding what measures these kids needed to take in order to keep their lives as “normal” as they could. Although the kids were living their best lives at camp like any other kid would, their conditions still had to be managed quite frequently by the medical team as well as by us counselors. There were a lot of ostomy bag changes, IV flushes, device recalibrations, trips to the onsite clinic after any one of the kids with his respective bleeding disorder would suffer from a fall, wound or sustained nosebleed, and dressing changes. It was unreal to witness the resilience of these little warriors and how candid they were to each other when talking about how they live with their respective illnesses. Like, two kids would be having a candid conversation about how many times per day one of them would have to change his ostomy bags and how many times the other boy had to get ports placed in him due to various infections. Then a minute later they would talk about a movie or something and I would be just standing there like:

shocked eddie murphy GIF

It was amazing to see how the kids interacted with each other, especially when some of them found out that they had the same condition. It was as if they had never met someone else with their same illness, much less someone their own age. The moment that those particular kids discovered they had the same diagnosis was a precious one that I’ll never forget. Moments like that was one of the reasons why this camp was built in the first place. Alongside moments like that, there were other times where the boys would spontaneously get into altercations with one another. Having to deal with those issues weren’t as precious, as you could probably imagine. But with that said, I think that because this camp is structured the way it is, it forces the kids to learn how to get along with their peers in a non-school setting away from home. Good thing with most kids their age is that they’re good at brushing off conflicts and can get back to playing together rather quickly. Reminds me of how simple my own life used to be when I was a kid…good times, good times.

All in all, my first week at camp was a successful and unforgettable one, even though I was missing the majority of the World Cup games and felt like the world was passing me by while I lived in the camp bubble. Along with interacting with the kids, I’ve made good friends with the counselors in my cabin as well as with various summer staff workers outside of my cabin. I’m looking forward to getting back to camp and meeting our next group of campers, who will apparently have various types of neurological disorders and will be teenagers. It’s also going to be a short week due to the 4th of July taking place on Wednesday, which only gives me less than three days to establish relationships with them. That just means that I gotta make the most of my time with them!

Alright that’s all I got for today! See ya later!

Lol I’m just messing with you, you thought I forgot about the whole Minnesota thing didn’t you?

Yeah you did, don’t lie.

The reason that I traveled to Minnesota a day after leaving camp was because I had to be in attendance for the SNMA’s first National Leadership Institute of the 2018-2019 term. As a member of the Board of Directors, I’m required to attend these conferences, which take place every three months at different locations throughout the country. This conference just so happened to take place at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. I must admit, Minnesota wasn’t on my bucket list of places to travel to. However, I was very surprised at the incredible diversity of the city and was completely blown away at how enormous the Mall of America was! Like bruh, there’s a whole amusement park with rollercoasters and ferris wheels and whatnot in that mall! Not to mention the Marriott hotel and the aquarium. And don’t even get me started on the ridiculous number of stores and restaurants (*cough* Benihana’s *cough* Hard Rock Cafe *cough*).

We had a meet-and-greet on Friday night, where all the pre-meds, medical students, physicians and University of Minnesota SOM faculty mingled and chatted with one another. The majority of the conference took place on Saturday, where we had several excellent presentations concerning various topics such as working to combat the current devolution of our society, being an effective leader, the rich history of the SNMA, adequately caring for people afflicted with disabilities while addressing their concerns in an effective manner (this session was led by people who actually suffer from various disabilities, which made it even more engaging), the potential dangers of social constructs and how they can be used to oppress various populations of people, the incredible importance of social workers, the hazardous nature of making assumptions, dealing with microaggressions, the importance of health equity and advocacy (this presenter used the Black Panther movie to reinforce his message which was very effective), the power of social media and writing op-eds, the various ways in which business can affect the practice of medicine, being knowledgeable about health insurance in order to effectively advocate for the patient, and financial planning. I was also able to attend and participate in the two Board of Directors meetings that took place at the conference. Yeah yeah I know, that was a lot. But there were just so many great things that were shared with us, and I want you to get a good birds-eye view of what we talked about at the conference. I wish I could go into more detail about some of the topics that I’ve listed here, but I don’t got all day to type this already lengthy post out. Plus, I’m going to be landing soon and I want to be pretty much done with this post by the time I get to NC.

So with that said, I’m going to go ahead and end this novel here. I had a great time at the conference and was able to not only reconnect with people but also make new connections with some wonderful people. Overall, the week was quite an eventful one! I’m looking forward to seeing what this upcoming one has in store!

I hope that your week is a splendid one! And have a Happy 4th of July!

“Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit.” – Bernard Williams

– Black Man, M.D.