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.

Sickening Reality

I’ve come to realize that there aren’t many things in this world that faze me. Sure, I get surprised here and there, but I take the surprises with stride and usually maintain control of myself and my emotions. Very few times have I been left physically and emotionally stunned about anything.

What happened last Tuesday night completely floored me.

I got to my friend’s apartment to watch the 2016 presidential election with several other people that night, the same election that the majority of America and the world was watching. All of us in the apartment were telling jokes, eating snacks and talking about whatever came to mind as the election results began to trickle in. Clinton was initially down by quite a bit and we all were rolling our eyes, confident of the fact that she would catch up and surpass Trump’s numbers. We all were absolutely sure that America surely wouldn’t go on and elect a candidate whose political inexperience was painfully obvious and whose rhetoric throughout the campaign trail was ridiculously abhorrent. We just knew that we would be celebrating the first female president of the United States and that President Obama’s legacy would be continued.

As the night went on, more and more states began to go red. There were some going blue, but it was apparent that Trump was gaining ground. As that happened, online predictors began to question Clinton’s possibility of winning, which started to concern us. I was personally confident that Clinton would make a huge comeback, especially after winning California, Pennsylvania, Virginia and perhaps Florida. However, I was beginning to feel concerned about the fact that so many people actually went to the polls and voted for Trump, for he was winning a lot more states than I anticipated him winning. Well, Clinton ended up winning California, barely winning Virginia, but ended up losing Florida by a very slim margin. And after all that, Trump still got ahead. Now all of us in the room were really beginning to worry. The jokes were just about over. The impossible thought of Trump actually becoming the 45th president turned into a frightening “maybe”. The night dragged on, with the hours alarmingly drifting by. Around 1:30 AM or so, that man actually ended up clinching Pennsylvania. That’s when the maddening reality began to sickeningly sink in for me. Donald Trump now had a better chance of winning the election via the electoral college than Hillary Clinton. Trump really just needed a couple more swing states and he had it in the bag. He was leading in the polls in the states he needed. The margin wasn’t that slim either.

I couldn’t bear to watch the election coverage any further. Neither could anyone else in the room. What was supposed to be a cheerful night with celebrations of the fact that the Trump/Pence combo would be effectively shut down turned out to be the beginning of a nightmare scenario. I wanted to believe that maybe, just maybe, there would be a drastic turn of events after I went to sleep…but my gut was telling me otherwise. It was becoming gravely clear that the man who preached bigotry, racism, xenophobia, sexism, divisiveness and hate among other things would clinch the most powerful position in this country. After a very restless night where I was tortured by my unsettling thoughts and where I ended up dreaming about the damn guy during the very little sleep I got, I woke up and looked at my phone for the overall results. My stomach dropped as I read the title of the first news article I came across:

Donald Trump Elected 45th President of the United States of America

The words seared through my brain as I lay there in absolute shock about what just happened. My mind then began to drift back to an article I read and shared over the summer that was written by Michael Moore, detailing how Trump would win the presidential election. I also remembered the various articles and emails I read that stated the scary possibility of waking up the morning after Election Day and reading the very statement that I bolded above this paragraph. I had told myself that that just couldn’t happen and that things would be fine as long as I continued to pressure people to cast a vote. I had unwavering faith that there were more people overall who would vote against the hateful rhetoric that the Republican presidential candidate was spewing than side with him. I mean, it was obvious to see the kind of game Trump and his allies were trying to play on the American people; drag Hillary Clinton’s name through the mud by repeatedly attacking her for those damn emails and saying that she was untrustworthy while ignoring everything else she’s ever done in her life. They just used fear tactics and name-calling to appeal to people that just didn’t want her in office, the majority of these people being white, uneducated males. Sure, Clinton isn’t perfect and has definitely made mistakes. Sure, the Democratic party has some flaws. But you mean to tell me they’re so flawed that we just HAD to put someone like Trump in power?? You talking about flaws, the Republican party is in freakin’ shambles! Trump himself is very seriously flawed!! SMFH. The scary thing I never really anticipated is, there are a huge number of educated people that ended up voting for Trump as well, even if they outwardly said they were disgusted with what he had to say. It awes me to watch how these same Trump supporters refuse to face the fact that the nominee they support is much more untrustworthy than Hillary Clinton and has a long history of being very wishy-washy. Hell, the things he’s done within the past couple of months alone should be enough to appall these people who want “someone they can trust”. Trump has even said he likes to keep people IN SUSPENSE!! But yet, his supporters voted for him and he is now the president-elect of the United States.

The day following the election, I was more depressed than I had been in a very long time. I really tried to just bury myself in my studies to avoid thinking about what the election meant for the country. With the Trump/Pence combo elected and the Republican party in control of both the House and Senate, the future was really looking bleak for this country, especially since we have been having such a progressive surge these past eight years. Sure the Republicans barely have control of the Senate and sure there may be a system of checks and balances between the moderate Republicans and the extreme right-wing. That doesn’t change the fact that 60+ MILLION AMERICANS SUPPORTED the rhetoric and policies that Donald Trump proposed to the world. OVER SIXTY MILLION AMERICANS. This means that roughly half of the people who voted in this election decided to support the platform that promoted hate, racism and divisiveness over progressiveness. I don’t care how anyone that voted for Trump/Pence tries to spin it so that they can make themselves feel better about their decision; you voted for hate. The fact that so many people let this happen infuriates me. By the way, you know what happened the last time the Republican party was in full control of the government? Ding Ding Ding! You got it! THE GREAT DEPRESSION. What a hell of a fun fact. What makes everything sting even more was the fact that Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote…so more people voted for Clinton, yet Trump gets the presidency. What a democracy. To tell the truth, I’m just as concerned about Pence being in power, because I feel that he’s almost as bad, if not as bad, as Trump is…except he’s experienced in politics and knows how to keep his mouth shut. Which means that once he’s in power, he can make powerful moves that can really shift the course of this country…echoing the whole Bush/Cheney dynamic we had in the 2000s. Just think about that.

Days have passed since the election and now I’m not depressed or even devastated anymore. I’m just pissed. I’ve had time to vent, reflect and think about what has transpired recently and how some people around me just can’t seem to realize what exactly they’re advocating for by voting for Trump. White privilege is real man. Ignorance is very real, and is extremely bliss. I’m ashamed and embarrassed to be part of a country that elected an extremely entitled, wealthy, & selfish businessman/TV celebrity who puts divisiveness over togetherness, hate over love, racism over inclusion, fear over trust, xenophobia over acceptance, terror over calmness; the list goes on and on. This guy beat out an extremely qualified candidate who stands for everything that Trump doesn’t stand for…who just so happens to be a woman. Donald Trump is the definition of white privilege. Good luck trying to convince me otherwise. I’ve gathered myself together since Tuesday and also had a pretty good weekend, but I’m still upset overall. I’m an optimistic guy and all, you know that…but I just don’t see it being possible to unite a country under someone who stands for divisiveness. When the Ku Klux Klan is parading in celebration of a presidential election, it just HAS TO BE OBVIOUS that we are facing a very serious problem. Also, Trump’s 100-day plan is not going to help unite this country AT ALL.

There’s SO MUCH MORE I could say about this, but I think I’ve got my point across pretty clearly. I’ve vented long enough. If I’ve learned anything about this whole spectacle, it’s that I can never assume anything about anybody or anything ever again. If Donald Trump was able to make it to the White House as the 45th president of the United States, anything is possible. There are many unsettling beliefs that are held by many people in this country, and the support of those beliefs clearly showed last week. There have also been an increasing number of attacks on marginalized populations by hateful people who feel entitled by the results of this election.

It feels like we’re living in a nightmare. Like, we’re that alternate universe that we all like to joke about.

It’s absolutely terrifying.

At the end of the day, I just can’t bring myself to just sit back and accept the fact that Donald Trump and Michael Pence will be in charge of this country over the next four years of my life, especially after having being blessed with President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden over the past eight years of my life. I refuse to be complacent about these election results. I’m very aware that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Action needs to be taken.

Something is going to happen. I don’t know what it’s going to be or when it’ll take place, but something drastic is going to happen as a result of this election.

May God be with us all.

If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I didn’t even talk about how the new government will begin to try and repeal the Affordable Care Act! Mannn don’t even get me started about all this again…I got four tests to study for that I’m taking before Thanksgiving. Let me go ahead and post this before I begin writing a novel.

Image result for obama trump handshake

President Obama’s face says it all.