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.Ā šŸ˜©) 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!

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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!

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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 forĀ 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 reasonĀ šŸ¤¦šŸæā€ā™‚ļø).

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.Ā šŸ¤žšŸæ

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.

Starting Off Strong!

Well would you look at that, it has already been a week into the New Year!

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My first week of 2018 was spent in Atlanta, where I enjoyed a fantastic week full of relaxation, goal-setting, and brainstorming. New Year’s Eve was a blast, and New Year’s Day was full of some spectacular college football games. The other days of the week seemed to blend together, all the way up until yesterday when I returned here to good ol’ Winston. Within those days, I FINALLY watched Girls Trip, Bright (wasn’t a bad movie at all, despite what the movie critics say), the new season of Black Mirror (shoulda seen my face when I realized there were only six new episodes), the new Dave Chappelle Netflix specials, the series premiere of Grown-ish, and some other stuff I can’t think of at the moment. I can’t remember the last time I watched that much TV. I also ate a lot of good food from multiple restaurants, met a few of my girlfriend’s old friends and went ice skating for the second time in my life (first time was as a first-semester college freshman and my dumbass had decided to wear a v-neck t-shirt with some cargo shorts back then…I wasn’t so dumb this timeĀ šŸ˜Š). I was wobbling about 97% of the time….buuuutttt I DID NOT FALL!!!

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It was a fun and restful week overall, and an awesome way to finish up my two-week long break from my clinical rotations. I honestly don’t even know when I’ll have that much time off from school again. Probably sometime deep within my fourth-year. Who knows. All I know is that I made the most of my break and I feel more than ready to return to the grind and knock out these last two weeks of my Neurology experience! Then comes my eight-week Surgery rotation, and I’ll be ready for that too, belieeeve that! I’m not letting anything stop me, scare me or slow me down man! Remember, a positive mindset = positive results!

Lol can you tell I’m pumped up? This holiday break really invigorated me, just like pretty much all my breaks in the past have done. Also, I just feel so grateful for where I am in my life and where I’m headed, Lord willing. There are hundreds of millions of people in this world who would kill to be living the life I’m living, so why wouldn’t I be pumped up about being able to continue my medical journey? I know how hard I’ve worked to get this far, how hard I’m willing to work to reach and surpass the goals I’ve set for myself and how much support I’ve been blessed to receive along the way, so what reason do I have to complain or become discouraged? As you can see, when you take some time to put things into perspective, you realize just how great your life is and how much worse off you could be! Perspective is key, never forget that!

That’s all I got for you today, short and sweet! I have a really good feeling that 2018 is going to be such a dope year; I hope that you feel the same about this year as well! Let us continue to prosper and reach our desired goals as we move further into this year!

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” – Stephen Covey

– Black Man, M.D.

Facing Tranquility

You know, it’s quite annoying that I have to be at the hospital tomorrow, only to be off on Tuesday for the July 4th holiday. I mean I’m not complaining or anything for the free day off, but it would have been more ideal to return from my weekend trip to Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon as opposed to having to return here this afternoon.

But such is life.

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I had a peaceful 5-hour drive back to Winston that happened to fly by due to the audiobook (Michelle Obama: A Life) that I was listening to. I picked up this new listening-to-audiobooks-during-long-trips habit not too long ago and I must say, I’ve enjoyed listening to them more than bumpin’ music the whole ride. It really makes the drive go a lot faster, especially if you’re listening to really good books. I’ve learned so much about the Obamas from this book as well as from President Obama’s two other books and as a result, I have an even greater level of admiration for them then I already did!

As to why I was in Atlanta, I was just visiting my girlfriend and her family because I had a relatively free weekend to do so. As always, I had a wonderful time with them! I also had a blast crushing her in mini-golf at a rooftop arcade…but then she came back and beat me (barely) in skeeball. Lol. Between going to the movies, eating out at various restaurants, accompanying her as she coached her kids through a swim meet and just hanging out at her house, the time spent with her was very satisfying. Can’t wait to see her again when she finally moves to UNC next month for her combined master’s/doctorate program!

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I spent this past week at a hospice care facility, where I spent time talking to patients there while learning more about the roles of healthcare providers in hospice care. It was my first time ever going to a hospice care facility and I was definitely blown away at how beautiful the center was. There was lively greenery all around the facility, the patients’ spacious rooms had a very homey feel to them with their hardwood floors and radiant rays of sunshine beaming through the windows, and there were flowers stationed all throughout the facility. The atmosphere there was very calm, quiet and peaceful as well. Family and friends were constantly visiting their loved ones and the patients there all seemed to be content with the care they were receiving at the center. The beautiful scenery at the center drew an incredible contrast to the tragic stories that the patients carried with them. It was so sad to hear about the terminal conditions of these people and to watch their families try and prepare themselves for the imminent passing of their loved ones. However, it did make me feel better to witness the amount of quality care that these patients received as they waited to pass on.

Along with talking to the patients and their families, my two classmates and I were granted the opportunity to understand the roles that the chaplain and the massage therapist played at the center. The chaplain spoke with us about how vital his role was to the patients he serves and how he attended to their spiritual needs. In particular, he emphasized the spiritual tasks of making meaning & finding hope and on the principles that he uses in his everyday routine, which include understanding the ministry of presence, embracing the struggle, normalizing feelings, promoting life review, addressing unresolved issues, and utilizing the spiritual resources most comfortable with the patient. As for the massage therapist, he spoke with us on how he uses integrative approaches to help tend to the patients needs. With using the power of the healing touch and manipulating chakra flow, he seeks to make patients cope with their chronic pain better via unconventional avenues. Learning about these perspectives proved to be quite interesting!

One other experience we took a part of was learning from the perspectives of caregivers who were staying in a nearby Family House dedicated to housing caregivers from outside the county. Both myself and a nursing student spoke with one of the caregivers there, who shared with us his perspective of how healthcare has been delievered to his loved one. He specifically emphasized the importance of providing hope and of being compassionate as healthcare providers. He also stated that he has always remembered the providers who had been especially compassionate as well as the ones who had lacked compassion. I’ll forever remember the stories he shared with us and his overarching message of the power of compassion will continue to be one of my guiding principles as I continue working in the healthcare field.

Now that I’ve completed my week of hospice care, I’m headed to my week of inpatient geriatric (elderly) care, meaning that I’ll be back in the hospital after having been working in outpatient care for the past couple of weeks. This also means that I’ll be waking up around 5:45 AM this week, since I have to be there by 7 AM. Ohhhh how much I’ve missed waking up at the crack of dawn. But just like the previous weeks have been so far, this week should be a good one!

Make your week a good one as well! Happy (early) 4th of July to my American readers!

ā€œNobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.ā€ – Maria Robinson

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – July 4th is cool and all, but it’s too bad my people weren’t granted that glorious freedom as well on that special day. Lemme not get into all that though.

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New Year, Harder Hustle.

First things first.

I would like to wish each of you a

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

We all had both great moments and terrible moments last year, but through it all we were all able to not only learn from them, but grow from them as well. 2016 was a hell of a year in many different aspects. Best believe, 2017 will be a new year full of opportunities and further growth! Whether you plan on working on a new resolution or continuing to further improve on an already existing resolution, the arrivalĀ of the new year is definitely a wonderfulĀ and convenient checkpoint that is available for your usage. As for me, I’m using this checkpoint to not only improve on existing resolutions that I established for myself long ago, but to also double-down my efforts on school, for there is going to be quite a number of unusual challenges coming my way this year. From studying & taking the Step 1 exam to transitioning from second-year to third-year, I’m absolutely certain that I’ll be much busier than I have been inĀ recent memory. However, the challenges that will surely present themselves to me this year will only serve to solidify my faith and strength as well as my determination in reaching the goals that I’ve set for myself. With patience, perseverance, and positive vibes, I’m sure that I’ll be able to handle any circumstances that may come my way and that I’ll be able to make the best out of them in order to further evolve into a better version of myself. You have the power to overcome the challenges that may run into you as well! As long as you can conceive it and believe it, you can absolutely achieve it!

With classes starting back up in a couple of days,Ā it’s only right that I recap how the rest of my break went. It has actually been an awesome week! Ever since I wrote to you last Sunday, I’ve done quite a bit of travelling. As a matter of fact, I’ve been on an airplane on threeĀ separate occasions within this past week. And after leaving from Atlanta tomorrow, it’ll be four times. I’ve definitely set a new record for myself with that lol.

I spent the rest of Christmas Day with my family, cousins and close family friends, playing card games, FIFA and catching up with them throughout the night. We also had a pretty fillingĀ dinner! It was almost like a sequel to Thanksgiving Dinner! The next morning, I left home and drove to Greensboro, NC in order to catch a flight to Atlanta to spend some time with my girlfriend and her family. I’ve been straight up chillin’ since I got here, and have been continuously blessed with good food and company, just like I was back at home with my own family. I watched a good amount of football, Food Network (didn’t have much of a say in that), and Netflix, as well as hit up Lenox mall and the movies to watch Fences, starring both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. I then had to catch a flight last Thursday afternoon to Miami in order to attend a wedding that one of my fraternityĀ brothers invited me to. I had only been to one wedding before, so I wasn’t really sure of what to expect. It turned out to be a really great time! It was a small, outdoor wedding and it was actually quite breezy. The reception was really fun too, and both the bride and groom looked ecstatic the whole time. I had a blast catching up with my brothers and am honored to have been able to attend the wedding ceremony. I flew back to ATL yesterday morning for New Years’ and went out to dinner with my girlfriend and her family at this all-you-can-eat Italian restaurant called Maggiano’s. Soon after that, I brought in the New Year with her, some of her sorority sisters, and some old friends that I hadn’t seen in quite a while. I then woke up this morning, praised God, and am now here typing this post. Like I said before, it has been an awesome week. I just have today and tomorrow left until I start up the never-ending grind again, but I’m ready for it. Could I use another week or two of break? Well, yeah. Of course I could. But beggars can’t be choosers right? So if I gotta suit up and get back to grinding on this Renal pathology, then so be it!Ā Better to be mentally prepared for the grind than to be dreading it…POSITIVE VIBES PEOPLE!!!

I hope you all brought the New Year in a safe and fun way and that you start it off on a high note! Here’s to a blessed and prosperous 2017!

“Never allow waiting to become a habit. LiveĀ your dreams and take risks. Life is happening now.” – Paulo Coelho

– Black Man, M.D.

Breathe In, Breathe Out.

I officially finished my Cardiology block last Monday!

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It was a tough block, but I found the material to be interesting overall and contrary to a large portion of my classmates, I actually liked interpreting EKGsĀ šŸ˜…. I took my Cardiology exam and I ended up doing pretty decent on it…I missed a few questions that I definitely shouldn’t have missed, but that’s neither here nor there. I feel comfortable with what I’ve learned in that block overall. I then found myself in Greensboro after the exam with some friends and had lunch at this pretty good burger restaurant, where I ate this massive burger that definitely didn’t help raise my HDL levels (good cholesterol) or lower my LDL levels (bad cholesterol). Talk about irony. We then ended upĀ bar hopping for almost four hours…and since it was a Monday afternoon, you can imagine how empty the bars were. And no, I did not get drunk lol. To tell the truth, I was ready to leave after the second hour…but between playing Catchphrase at one bar and Shuffleboard at another, I did have a great time winding down with friends. Then that night, I proceeded to finally start watching Atlanta, which is Donald Glover’s very popular new show. So far, I absolutely love it. And this is coming from a guy who doesn’t like to watch TV. I then had a free day of rest on Tuesday, where I got a lot of things outside of schoolwork done. Needless to say, it was awesome not having to open a book or read notes that day.

Then we started the Pulmonology block on Wednesday morning. I had heard very good things about both the course director of this block as well as about this subject in general, so I was ready to get going with it. The very first thing the Pulmonology course director did after we walked into class was read a wonderful poem for Tori and express his condolences to us. I immediately knew that I would like this guy as well as this block. And so far, I have very little to complain about in regards to subject material. Compared to the vast intricacies of the heart, the physiology of the lungs have seemed pretty straightforward to me. Then again, maybe that’s because I’ve already learned a ton about both the heart and the blood, both of whichĀ the lungsĀ work very closely with. How cool is it that the more organ systems I learn about in the body, the easier it is to grasp the new ones I come across? It’s like a huge game of Pokemon or something; the more experience I have in learning how certain organs of the body function, the higher of an overall level I achieve! Just like the more experience your Pokemon get in battles, the more they level up. And the exams are like gym leaders that I have to battle in order to move on to the next block/the next gym leader! Lol, this analogy is actually so stupid. I’m mad I actually had the nerve to come up with it. I was such a Pokemon nerd growing up, can you tell? I was the guy who would play the games on the Game Boy, beat the game and restart the game just to beat it again. I was so damn proud of myself when I finally completed my PokeDex with the 150 original Pokemon…I don’t have Pokemon Go though. I admittedly was gonna download it when it first came out, but the servers were crashing…so I took it as a sign that I wasn’t meant to have it because Lord knows I would have been looking like a fool trying to catch ’em all.

Okay I’m starting a new paragraph because I just went way off-topic for no good reason. I have my first Clinical Skills exam (CPX) this Wednesday, where I will be tested on a standardized patient encounter. I’ll be interviewing the patient as well as performing any necessary physical exam maneuvers on him/her. Here’s the catch though: I have to come up with my own interview questions and physical exam maneuvers. In the past, we were told what we had to do during the CPX, but now they’re loosening our leash quite a bit. I’ll also have to do a write-up of the patient and turn it in within 48 hours of the encounter. Oh the joy of being a second-year student. This is gonna be fun.

On a more serious note, I really can’t stand the fact that more and more black men are being murdered by law enforcement. It’s really sickening, to say the least. I could write down all my feelings about it, but that’s not going to do much of anything. I’d only be preaching to the choir for the most part. Plus, I’ve already penned most of my feelings about this issue back in my Chills post. The level of ignorance that is currently present in this country when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement just baffles me. The fact that many of the people who have much to say about Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem come up short of something to say when a black man is unjustly silenced by a bullet is painfully astounding. The fact that we have to protest and demand that our lives be seen just as equal and precious as theĀ lives of other Americans is pretty damn sad. The poisonous mentality of seeing white as “Okay, let’s de-escalate the situation” and black as “UP TO NO GOOD” just reinforces the prejudice that certain groups of people have for Black people as a whole. That unfair bias is a HUGE part of the issue that we are facing today in terms of racial equality. The different shades of color and various cultures thatĀ make up the people of both this country and this worldĀ is what makes humanity so beautiful. Black lives matter just as much as the lives of any other human life in this world. So why are we being disproportionately killed off? Why is the killing of a black man by law enforcement becoming more and more desensitizing in this country? Why does it seem that hashtags of the slain have become a part of daily life in this country?

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WHEN WILL THIS NIGHTMARE END?

“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but it is fear.” – Ghandi

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I had a dream a couple nights ago where I was talking to Rihanna and she told me how much she loved reading my blog. Lol, a man can only dream, right? But they say dreams do come true…