Being Thankful in a Crazy World

I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to take a break from school than I am now.

Sure growing up, I loved Thanksgiving, winter and summer breaks, but this is very different. I feel like I need this break coming up. I’m mentally exhausted and I feel like I need to leave this area for a little bit…I’ve been here since July. I need to see my family and friends again, and I just need to interact with people that aren’t just going to talk about school 24/7. Anatomy has worn me the hell out, and I still got this final CUMULATIVE exam that I have to take on Wednesday. Sheesh. I just took my fourth anatomy exam two days ago and I’m still recovering from that block of material…but they wanna slap us with this BS knowing damn well most of us are gonna be looking at this final like:

I mean come on. Like, I tried to start reviewing stuff that I learned back in August, but then my eyes started glazing over after five minutes and now here I am typing out my latest post. I don’t know how on earth I’m going to even start reviewing all of anatomy in the next two-and-a-half days. I’ll probably just do a good amount of review questions and call it a day. I’m convincing myself I know all the material I need to know for the final, I just have to find it in my head lol. Also, I’m just happy to have gotten thru my fourth test, meaning that there are no more lab dissections (😄) and NO MORE PRACTICALS!!! Speaking of my previous test, I think that I did alright on it, but I don’t know if I topped my third test. A lotta people were telling me that this test, which tested the upper and lower limbs, was going to be easier than the third test (head & neck). Nahhhhh. This was probably just as hard as the third test in my opinion, because there was just SO much information thrown at us at once. Also, it didn’t help that our weeks leading up to this test were packed with extra afternoon sessions, which didn’t give me as much time to study for this test as I had for the third one. But whatever, I did my best on this one like on the other ones and I hope it shows when I get my grade back this week.

You know, I feel annoyed that I’m complaining about this final exam. Almost ashamed. I mean here I am acting like this final is the biggest burden of my life while kids in places like Syria are living in daily fear that either them or one of their loved ones will be permanently silenced by the inferno of an explosion or the deadly penetration of a bullet. Innocent lives are lost everyday for no reason and all I can do is sit here and watch. It reminds me that I’m so privileged and blessed to be where I am, doing what I’m doing and to have such a strong support system in my life. Sometimes I wonder how and why I ended up with the life I currently have and not as a young man of Muslim faith desperately seeking refuge, or a child somewhere in an impoverished region of an African country living on pennies a day. Or as a young farmer born in the isolated North Korea. Or as the son of a wealthy billionaire in California. Or as one of those brutally murdered in the recent, atrocious Paris attacks. Only God knows. The most I can do is accept where I am and help to provide healing and peace to the world, something I still don’t know how to do on a large scale. Crazy things happen in this world every day and I’ve become numb to a lot of it, but this recent massacre in Paris has been weighing on my mind as of late. After hearing about it Friday afternoon, I first thanked God that my family in Paris and in France were safe. Then I actually fell into a mini-depression the rest of the day. I was left wishing there was something I could do to prevent things like that or the Syrian Civil War from happening, and I’m sure that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Why can’t some people just see each other as people? Why can’t they recognize that we are all the same in that we are different, and as human beings we are united? Why do we have to discriminate against and negatively stereotype each other in order to make ourselves feel better? Why do some of us insist on turning this magnificent planet into a terrible world? Hell, why can’t we all just get along? It’s highly frustrating to me that a concept as simple as love cannot be universally realized in this world; a world that has already been sprouted from the roots of greed, insecurity and pride. Of course, there is plenty of good happening in the world, but it usually gets overshadowed by the widespread evil coursing through a good portion of the people that inhabit this planet.

But I’m most likely preaching to the choir here. I’m just rambling my current thoughts. There is really no point in adding my two cents to the many issues that we are all presently facing right now. I’m just another guy with another opinion. Opinions by themselves don’t do a damn thing. Actions are what catalyze change. I don’t know if the world will ever be peaceful and equal. Human nature just won’t allow it. But we can continue to work to get as close to that goal as we can. It pains me that the most I can do is pray for the current state of the world, but if that’s all I can currently do, I’ll pray my heart out.

Y’all be blessed and have an incredible week!

– Black Man, M.D.

We are all the same in that we are all different.

We are all the same in that we are all different.

Final Push!

TEN MORE DAYS.

That’s what’s separating me from now and freedom. Well, freedom from anatomy. Biochemistry is right around the corner but we won’t talk about that right now. Just ten days. Granted, I gotta take two different tests in this ten-day span but at this point I don’t even care. I’ve finally developed a study groove in anatomy and I plan on finishing strong. Bring on test #4. Bring on that CAS Cumulative Final Exam. Speaking of which, who’s idea was it to have a cumulative final exam on 12 weeks of jam-packed anatomy FOUR DAYS AFTER our fourth exam?? Like, how could someone possibly cram details of the whole body in four days, especially right after taking an exam? I don’t know what kind of games they playing or what they’re smoking. But it’s gotta be done. So this is what I’m going to do. I’ll give it my all once again on my next exam this Friday and then I won’t stress about the final. Sure I’ll study during the four days before it, but I’m not going to kill myself over it. As a matter of fact, I’ll mix some Bernie Mac Show, Netflix movies, college football and FIFA into my studying. That’s the beauty of pass/fail y’all. If I do decent enough on the test before my final, I don’t have to worry about scoring high. Shiii, it may even be possible to score a zero on the final and still pass the class. Granted, I’m not scoring a zero…I literally won’t allow myself to tank a test on purpose lol. But I also won’t spend 18 hours a day trying to digest material that I spent the last 11 weeks learning at an accelerated pace. You see, I’m convinced they’re playing mind tricks y’all. Alongside learning the art of medicine, I’m convinced some of the faculty wanna see us stress and struggle as well as observe how we handle all the stress they put on us. They not gonna stress me tho! No suhhh, NOT ME!! I’m really about to be on that “work smarter, not harder” grind during the four days before the final. They really got me all f-ed up if they think ima be posted in the library studying till 6 AM like it was the USMLE Step 1 exam.

So yeah, ten more days and I’m done with anatomy. It’s come to the point where I’ll be unconsciously naming muscle groups in my head while I’m lifting weights. I even go as far as trying to figure out what arteries and nerves supply the muscles I’m working on. That’s when you know it’s gone too far. Anatomy has taken over my life y’all. 😳 If I had this same study mentality in college, I know for a fact that I would’ve gotten summa cum laude. But I also had a much bigger social life in college, and I wouldn’t give that up for the world lol. Enough about anatomy. In regards to the practical skills that I will actually use as a doctor, I’m finding that I’m starting to feel more confident in patient interviewing. I don’t know what it is about taking a patient’s history, but I was having a good amount of trouble at first trying to keep a conversation flowing while remembering what specific questions to ask and how to specifically ask them. So I ended up getting additional practice with my clinical skills coaches, because although I’ve been told my personality has been helping me with my patients, my patient interviewing skills were pretty sub-par. Which means your boy can only go up from here and shoot for Most Improved! The more I practice patient-interviewing, the more I realize that the whole process is a game, in a way. You see, you gotta go in there hella confident and have the purpose of getting the patient to trust you while you are getting to know the patient. Confidence is key because even if you are only four months into medical school, the patient is going to see you as a doctor of some sort since you have a white coat on. Then as you’re learning from the patient, you gotta hit the key points of the interview:

  • When did your symptoms first start?
  • How long have you been dealing with your pain?
  • Where exactly is the pain located/Where is the pain radiating?
  • How would you describe the pain? (Quality of pain)
  • On a scale of 1-10, how bad is the pain? (Quantity/Severity)
  • What are some activities that alleviate the pain?
  • What are some activities that aggravate the pain?
  • What are some associated symptoms of your condition?
  • How is the pain impacting your quality of life?
  • What were you doing when you first noticed the pain?
  • Have you had any past experiences with your current condition?

And each time questions are answered in the interview, you get points. The more points you get, the better your chances of winning the game when you have to give a patient presentation. Trick is, you have to ask these questions without coming across as cold or disassociated from the patient’s emotions. You have to let the patient have some control over the interview and show them that you care if you want to get as much information as possible. But you see how hard it is to remember all that while trying to hold a regular conversation with the patient?? Okay maybe you don’t, but I found it very challenging. And that’s just the history-taking portion! In real life, I’ll have to do a physical exam, a separate family and social history, a past medical history, a review of systems and a treatment plan.

I think my problem was that I gave the patient way too much time to talk about his/her life and that I couldn’t necessarily redirect the interview to where I needed it to go. Hell, the last two patients I interviewed ended up crying mid-way thru the conversation. That’s where my empathy skills shined bright. It goes to show how human the patients are and how as doctors we have to remember that we are treating more than a disease; we’re treating a human being with a disease that is impacting his/her overall life. I definitely plan on keeping my empathetic skills strong, and I’m glad to say that I’ve been recently doing better gleaning vital information from the patients I’ve been interviewing. As a matter of fact, one of the patients I interviewed made me promise to her that I would keep my bedside manner and active listening skills as I grow into a doctor. So I intend on keeping that promise.

I mentioned patient presentations earlier. That’s when you go to your team and present to them the information you got from the patient. I had to do that for the first time last Thursday and mannn was that a challenge. My clinical skills coach didn’t even give me time to gather my thoughts 😐. There’s actually a certain way you have to present patients and the presentation comes with certain terminology. I was forced to think quick and use the notes I hastily scribbled down during the interview to come up with a presentation. I’m not sure if that’s how patient presentations work though, I could have sworn doctors had more time to organize their notes before presenting…

Oh and I am also currently learning how to do patient write-ups, which is where we write a formal description of the patient that includes the answers to all the questions that we asked them in the history-taking portion of the patient interview. The overall write-up also includes the other parts of the patient encounter such as the physical exam review, the family and social history, the past medical history, the review of systems and the treatment plan for the patient. But we’re taking baby steps right now, so I’ve only done the HPI (history of present illness), family/social history and review of systems portions. I thought it was simple enough to write a description of the patient, but I’ve been ripped both times I’ve submitted a write-up so far lol. I’m not sure if my coach is just being hard on me or if my write-ups actually suck, because I genuinely thought I was doing a good job on those. 😅 Well we all gotta start somewhere right? I’d rather suck and learn valuable advice now than go into my third-year with no prior clinical experience. Shoutout to Wake for having us interact with patients often throughout our first two years of medical school, this experience is really helping me out.

Alright, I’m finished.

Thanksgiving needs to hurry on up and get here.

Have an incredible week everyone! Stay positive and focused on your goals! Be blessed!

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. Shoutout to everyone back in Miami that got tapped into Iron Arrow!! I was very excited to see all of the new members of the tribe! I wish I was there for the tappings and for Homecoming…nevertheless, Welcome to the Tribe! Y’all deserve it!!!