Vision Within Division

I’m finding it harder and harder to focus on my studies in the midst of all this BS happening around us.

It’s only been a little over a week since Inauguration Day and Donald Trump has already caused chaos in this country by issuing 14 executive orders (including one banning immigrants from several countries in a racist manner), trying to rush through the hearings for his cabinet picks (the vast majority of them are highly unqualified/unsuitable for their chosen positions), removing critical areas of American policy from the White House’s website, and repeatedly AND BLATANTLY to the American public, just to name a few of his actions.  As a matter of fact, click here to get a better overview of what his first week in office has looked like. It’s so sad to see how quickly he’s dismantling the progress that we’ve made as a country and how much he’s embarrassing us as a country. It doesn’t help that he has lil’ friends in the government are helping him embarrass us as well. From the topics of education, immigration and women’s rights to healthcare and climate change, the Trump administration just seems to want to set us back decades while increasing their wealth and political power. It’s insanely frustrating. Although I’ve been signing countless petitions, calling Congress multiple times a day on a daily basis, encouraging others to contact their representatives, and keeping up with current bills via this new app called Countable (you should really check it out), I still feel like I should be doing more to save the progress we’ve made in this country. But even with all the pressure people are putting on the current government, it just seems like things are rapidly getting worse. Plus, how much more can I do before I start to see a negative impact on my grades? And with my Step study period approaching, I really need to be able to adequately focus on studying the enormous amount of material that the exam covers. This all just sucks man. It really does.

And it’s only been a freakin’ week. Jesus.

Ima keep fighting though. And I have a good number of friends who are just as frustrated as I am but who are still fighting as well. We just gotta stick together and keep resisting this oppressive system of hatred and racism.

Alright I’m done venting for today. In other news, I just recently ranked my clinical rotations schedule for third-year! I’m sure different medical schools have different ways of choosing rotations, but here at Wake we are given 16 different schedules that all have the same rotations, but in different orders. After we are given those schedules, we need to choose the rotation order that we prefer the most and then rank the rest of them in preference order, all the way to 16. Hopefully I’m able to at least get one of my top three choices, although they say that it doesn’t necessarily matter what order we get since we’re all going through the same rotation schedule. But still. After we send our rankings in, a computer chooses which students get what schedule via some weird algorithm and we find out our finalized schedule a couple weeks later. So I should know what my third-year schedule is going to look like by mid-February! Regardless of what schedule I get, third year is definitely going to be one hell of a experience. I’m really hoping that I’ll enjoy it!

Earlier last week, I got the opportunity to shadow an ophthalmologist at a nearby clinic for an afternoon. He performed three different cataract surgeries while I was there, and they were all absolutely fascinating. The first two surgeries involved a laser breaking down the cataract in the lens of the patient’s eye. The doctor then scrubbed in and took out the pieces of the cataract manually as I looked on. I was actually able to scrub in for the third surgery though! It was my first time ever scrubbing into a surgery, so of course I was awkwardly going through all the motions that scrubbing in entails…but then once I was scrubbed in, I was able to view the surgery through the microscope! It was so cool man. This specific patient had to have his cataract removed manually without help from the laser, which made the surgery a bit longer. He actually went into asymptomatic atrial fibrillation during the surgery and also had this condition called “floppy iris syndrome“, where his iris just kept flopping around during the surgery. I saw firsthand just how steady and calculated the doctor’s hands had to be in order to successfully complete his eye surgeries. One bad move and you could literally rip a hole in someone’s eye. Then before you know it, you’re facing a judge. You don’t want those problems. It was quite an experience overall! I’m thankful to be in a place where physicians are more than willing to have students come in and witness what they do in real-time.

This past Friday, I was able to attend a talk on the current state of the nation that was hosted by the hospital. The keynote speaker was Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry and she gave some hypotheses as to how and why we ended up in the current situation we’re in. Some of the things she touched on included the surprisingly large number of white women in this country who actually haven’t historically voted for Democrats, how Trump supporters reflect race/gender values that have been salient throughout the history of this country, our incredible ability to filter and forget things about certain people, the true nature of the 13th & 14th amendments, picking the right battles to fight that are in line with your social justice mission and how strategic cooperation is intertwined with the very nature of democracy. She also made a good point about the hallucinatory effects of the media and that there’s a good chance that representatives higher up in the government are actively working on solving the current issues plaguing our country right now, even if we don’t see them on the news or anything. It was quite an interesting talk, especially since Dr. Harris-Perry was giving it from the perspective of a self-proclaimed black feminist. In the interest of not going on another long rant, I’ll end here.

Shortly after the talk with Dr. Harris-Perry, I met with my lil’ 5th grade mentee again along with the mentors & mentees involved with the S.Y.S.T.E.M. initiative that I talked about in my previous post (Resisting The System). The kids were even more excited to interact with us than they were last time! During our time with them, we talked about how they’ve been implementing the lessons we discussed in the previous meeting in their daily lives. We also played an icebreaker game with them and continued to expand on the importance of understanding one’s emotions and stress levels. I’m loving the program so far! And last but not least, I had the opportunity to sit on a medical student panel at the annual Pre-Med conference hosted by our medical school yesterday morning. There were about 80-or-so students (high school, college and post-grads) in attendance in all! Being able to sit and talk with students in a position that I was dying to be in just two short years ago continues to humble me and allows me to continue to appreciate my growth as well as the circumstances that allowed me to get to where I’m at.

Another blog entry complete! Let’s continue to stay as positive as we can while fiercely resisting the forces that threaten our inherent goodness!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – Jesus Christ (John 13:34)

– Black Man, M.D.

Resisting The System

First off, I want to express my deepest gratitude to President Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, both of their families, and the Obama administration as a whole for doing what they could to make this country a better place. I distinctly remember watching the Obamas on CNN as they graced the stage in Chicago on Election Night back when I was a 15 year-old high school sophomore. I also remember not having to go to school during his first inauguration due to snowfall (it was like a 1/2 inch of snow lol). I remember watching his inauguration in awe and beginning to wonder what all of this meant for the country. That’s when I really began to both watch the news and pay attention to how politics were played out in this country. Having a leader such as President Obama in the Oval Office during such a critical period of my growth has been a blessing and an honor. He has inspired me to learn so much about so many things and has been a powerful symbol of hope, love and equanimity. Getting the chance to see him speak during my sophomore year of college was a highlight of my college career!

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I took this picture…as you can see, I was hella close to the stage!

I actually videotaped most of his speech…I have no idea why. It really sucks to have had to see him and his administration go, but it feels good knowing that he will continue to interact with us as a fellow private citizen. It’s also dope that he and Michelle created Obama.org! Best believe I will be a frequent visitor of that site; I already got it bookmarked and everything!

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A dope picture that I didn’t take!

Now that I’ve had the fortune to mature during Obama’s presidency, I’m ready to fully resist anything that threatens the progress his administration made in this world. This so happens to include almost all of Trump’s agenda and the agendas of the many Republicans that support him. It was so amazing to see all the Women’s Marches happening across the world yesterday…it just shows how insane the predicament we’re in is and how many people are willing to fight against hatred and inequality. Shoutout to all of you who took the time to participate in the marches! I admire each of you!

If you plan on resisting the current government but aren’t really sure what to do, the easiest thing to do (other than signing petitions) is to either write emails to your Senators or Representatives or to call them! Calling is more effective though and it only takes a couple minutes to do so, if that! You can click this link to find the contact info of your senator. Or you could just dial (202) 225-3121 (U.S. House switchboard operator) and ask to be connected to your state representative! I personally plan on calling the NC senators everyday in order to help fight against the craziness we’re up against. One person calling may not do much, but if many people are coordinated to call on a constant basis like Michael Moore is suggesting us to do, then I believe that we can make some sort of impact. If that means annoying them to death and jamming up their call lines, so be it. And you don’t need to have a speech rehearsed or anything, just tell them how you really feel! We’re currently on an uphill struggle, and it’s definitely not going to be an easy battle…but just like others in the past have, WE WILL PERSEVERE.

Okay I could go on and on about that, but I need to finish up this post and get back to studying because I’m still a med student lol. We started the Musculoskeletal/Rheumatology block this past week and it has been pretty straightforward so far. There’s a lot of little facts associated with the different rheumatologic conditions, which have been annoying to memorize, but I’m positive that I’ll be able to efficiently categorize the diseases and get them all down before our exam next Monday. But didn’t I just take a Renal pathology exam a little over a week ago? Yes, yes I did. These tests have been coming in like rapid fire yo. This ain’t no joke. I did do pretty well on that Renal exam tho! After this block will be the Endocrine/Reproductive block, and…..that’s it. Then I’ll be studying for the Step exam. Boy am I ready to get that exam over with.

On a final note, I’ve recently gotten involved with a minority male mentoring program that one of my friends founded, called S.Y.S.T.E.M. (Supporting Young Scholars Through Empowerment and Mentoring). The overall goal of the program is to provide support and guidance to young men by building meaningful mentor/mentee relationships. We plan on supporting the growth and development of our mentees by strategically partnering with schools, engaging in group-based mentoring & one-on-one meetings, and providing models of success that focus on emotional/behavioral management, professionalism, personal, and academic growth. We started working on the new program a few months ago, and this past Friday we all finally got to meet our mentees, who are all in 4-5th grade. Our main topic of that meeting was managing stress and emotions, so we spent about an hour discussing their thoughts on that and how us as students in the medical field each manage our own stressors and emotions in our everyday lives. It was a great event overall and the kids were actually really excited to interact with us! I’ll be looking forward to the rest of the meetings that we have with them over the course of the semester!

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That’s all I have for today. Do your best to stay full of perseverance and empowerment this week!

“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.” – Zig Ziglar

– Black Man, M.D.

Keep Ya Head Up

So I’m STILL not over the results of the election.

To tell the truth, there’s a very high chance I’ll never be over what happened less than two weeks ago. The aftermath has been even worse with Trump picking extreme people for his cabinet who could completely halt and reverse the progress that we’ve made in this country. Don’t even get me started on the increased incidence of hate crimes that have been taking place around this country. There was even an incident at the Starbucks I used to go to frequently on the University of Miami campus! There’s a lot of crazy things going on in the nation, and it makes me sick. I can’t even go on social media or watch the news anymore without feeling anger rise within me. It’s really disheartening and ridiculous to see the hate and foolishness that we’ve been witnessing on a daily basis. Like, why was First Lady Michelle Obama called an “ape in heels” and perceived to be “fluent in ghetto” this past week?  It’s as if people harboring these ignorant values feel like they can finally come in the daylight and show everyone how racist they really are. It’s so pathetic and infuriating at the same time. I hate having to sit here and helplessly watch all this go on while having to continuously study for upcoming exams. I feel like I need to be helping make some kind of effective impact against these dangerously ignorant beliefs that goes farther than calling state senators, marching in the streets and posting things on social media…but it’s almost as if Trump and all his supporters will keep doing whatever they want, regardless of how over half of America feels about it. It feels like such an uphill struggle but like I said before, I refuse to sit back and feel useless. If Trump, Pence and the fools in the Republican party that support them want to try and make this country worse, they’re not about to do it without heavy resistance. We gonna fight back as hard as we can for as long as we can to make Trump’s presidency a living hell for him.

Aside from all that, I took both my GI block exam on Thursday and my MAPS (medical ethics) exam on Friday. And I now have my cumulative Heme/Onc & Cardiology final exam tomorrow, along with my cumulative Pulmonology & GI exam on Tuesday.

movie computer annoyed someone smh

I feel like I did well on the GI block exam, even though I was feeling physically sick throughout the exam. I was feeling nauseous and my stomach was not cooperating with me. Go figure. I WOULD be the guy feeling nauseous while taking a test on the Gastrointestinal system. We got an email the next day saying that everyone passed the exam, so that further confirmed my feelings about how I felt about my performance. The 20-question MAPS exam on Friday was okay. You never really know with medical ethics, especially with those questions where you feel that there are multiple right answers. In preparation for these last two massive tests coming up for me, I’ve been studying relentlessly in order to try and remember everything I’ve learned since August, and it’s been pretty torturesome to say the least. I’ve just been hitting main points and praying, because I feel like it’s just honestly futile to try and re-learn everything I learned in the past already in three days. I’m just gonna be doing practice questions up until I take these exams. I just wanna be done with all this and go home for Thanksgiving break! I’m sooo close, yet sooo far…

Speaking of, I attended two awesome Thanksgiving dinners that some of my friends were hosting last night. It was a wonderful study break, and I had some of the best dinner that I’ve had in weeks haha. Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches were REALLY getting old 😅. I relearned how to play Spades (don’t you dare judge me), caught up with people I hadn’t seen in a while and played an intense game of Taboo. Good times, good times. I really can’t wait to get home and spend some quality time with family!

But first, I gotta power through these practice questions.

Y’all stay up and stay blessed!

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela

– 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.

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President Obama’s face says it all.