Switch Up

I’m on the home stretch of my second rotation of third-year! Which means that I get to show “the powers that be” how much knowledge I’ve accumulated while on this rotation via my Shelf exam this Friday! How exciting is that?? Like, when else will I get the amazing opportunity to impress upon myself how much I’ve learned in Obstetrics & Gynecology? There’s no better way to do it than to take a standardized 110-question exam within a 2-hour-and-45-minute time window on a Friday afternoon! I just feel like — okay, I’ll cut the BS 😂.

Yeah, my Ob/Gyn shelf exam is this Friday and yes, I’ve been feeling the pressure of it as of late. I really want to perform as well as I know I can, especially since the exam plays a large role in my grade for the overall rotation. I learned that first-hand in my Internal Medicine clerkship where I did okay on my shelf exam but not as well as I would have liked, which ultimately impacted my overall clerkship grade that — in a way — contradicted the positive feedback I received from my evaluators. It really proved to me that shelf exams will play a determining role in my grades, no matter how well I may perform in the clinic. So with that said, I’ve been working particularly hard on studying for this upcoming exam from day one of this current clerkship. I’ve also been using the whole reframing mindset that I’ve practiced in the past, where I’ve been working on viewing this exam as a welcoming challenge to overcome as opposed to a stressful barrier on my path that is stopping me from achieving my goals. It’s gotten me this far, why stop now? And honestly, the fewer unwelcome surprises that are thrown at me on the exam, the better. They can miss me with all that. With all that in mind, I’m just going to keep working hard on reviewing my material this week and perform to the absolute best of my abilities on Friday!

I was quite studious this past weekend, only breaking away from my studies to hang out at Melissa Harris-Perry’s house for her annual homecoming celebration and to further celebrate Wake’s homecoming with other alumni & friends at a nearby venue. Before the weekend started though, I journeyed through another week full of unforgettable experiences at the hospital! I continued to work the night shifts that I told y’all about in my previous post up until Wednesday morning. During those nights, I was afforded the opportunity to deliver some more placentas, bringing my placenta count up to five! I also tagged along with interns and residents in managing patients in the Emergency Department, checking in on laboring patients, and interviewing patients coming in to the triage unit. There were also stretches of time during the shifts where things slowed down, so I was able to (thankfully) get quite a bit of studying done. Ultimately, I managed to witness and assist in the live births of 14 newborns during my time on the Labor & Delivery service! But, unfortunately, I was not able to deliver any one of them with my own hands 😔. It was an overall great experience nonetheless!

Just when I was starting to get used to the night schedule, I had to switch up my circadian rhythm yet again in order to start my experience on the Gynecology surgery service this past Thursday. In the two days that I was on that service I scrubbed into multiple procedures, those of which included a vaginal hysterectomy, an abdominal hysterectomy, a bilateral oopherectomy and ROBOTIC removal of endometriosis lesions. Yes, ROBOTIC. It really looked like the physician was playing a video game on the machine…except that the stakes were massively higher. And in case you were wondering, hysterectomy = removal of the uterus, oopherectomy = removal of the ovaries, and endometriosis = endometrial tissue found in areas outside of your uterus. The procedures were very interesting to watch and assist in. I also found myself asking a thousand questions while observing the procedures, those of which were answered by the very patient surgeons.

During one of the operations, I found myself thinking about just how much I still don’t know about the human body and medicine in general even after studying it in detail for the past two years. It both astonished me and bummed me out at the same time…but then I quickly reminded myself about how much more I actually do know compared to my college self and even my first-year med student self. I’ve learned an unbelievable amount of information in these past couple of years and it’s important I keep reminding myself that I’m more knowledgable than I perceive myself to be, because I have a strong feeling that I’ll continue to experience these skeptical thoughts about my knowledge base throughout my medical education and even during my residency years. This is why having friends outside the medical field is essential; you realize how smart you actually are when you see that they have no idea what you’re talking about lol. It also works well for them, because when they talk to you about their area of expertise, you’ll most likely look at them with utter, hopeless confusion. I say all this to say that it is of the utmost importance that I have confidence in my abilites and my growing knowledge, because without confidence I’ve already defeated myself. With confidence however, I’ll be much more likely to obtain better results, enjoy more opportunities of quality learning, and provide higher quality patient care which will in turn lead to safer patient care! If you’re a fellow health professional student reading this, please take this advice to heart and recognize that you’re more powerful than you may allow yourself to realize! If you’re reading this and are not a student in healthcare, please take this message and apply it to your life as well! Don’t unnecessarily put yourself down if you know that you’ve been working hard towards your goals!

I’m finishing this rotation up on the Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery service, which I sincerely hope is just as cool as it sounds! Please feel free to wish me luck on this last week and on my shelf exam! 😁

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

– Black Man, M.D.

Life Comes At You Fast

Whoa.

I only have less than two weeks left of my OB/Gyn rotation.

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How did that happen?? It really wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t even know there were different stages of labor, and I sure as hell couldn’t have described each stage for you. Orientation for this rotation doesn’t feel like it happened that long ago…because in reality, it didn’t. August 14th, the date we started this rotation, was less than a month ago. That just goes to show how rapid the turnaround of these rotations are, especially after the massive 12-week rotation of Internal Medicine; the rotation that literally ate up most of my summer. It’s almost absurd as to how much new information I’ve learned in these past four weeks, and it just as ridiculous as to how much I still need to cover before my shelf exam next Friday. Fortunately for me, I’ve been making the time to get some major studying done, especially after this past week where I worked one full day and three half-days at a nearby free clinic! But then I started my 4-day stretch of OB night shifts on Saturday night. Yeeaaah, life comes at you fast.

Let’s start with my time in the free clinic though. During my week there, I must’ve seen about 50 patients…it was so freakin’ busy man. But with that said, I was able to see and do a lot of different things in addition to interviewing the many patients that I came across. The vast majority of my patient interactions consisted of prenatal visits; a TON of prenatal visits. So I ended up getting a lot of experience in using the Doppler ultrasound to listen to the heartbeats of fetuses and in measuring the fundal height of the uterus to see how big they were. In addition to playing a part in the prenatal care of patients, I was also able to participate in some pelvic and breast exams, assist in contraception counseling, observe both IUD and Nexplanon placements and removals, watch how Pap smears are performed, and help patients view their babies via ultrasound. As you can see, it’s easy to imagine how awkward things can potentially get if you aren’t prepared for what you’re going to see in an OB/Gyn clinic. Thankfully, my ability to ward off awkwardness in a clinical setting has vastly improved over the years right along with my ability to stay comfortable in uncomfortable situations. There’s always room for improvement though!

With the free time I was afforded this past week, I was able to not only get a lot of studying done, but to also work on making the multiple responsibilites that I have as a student-leader flow smoothly with one another. At first glance, it looks like I have so much to do that it seems like I’ve unnecessarily overburdened myself. But once I took some time to simply list out and organize the things that I had to do, all of my seemingly looming tasks became much more easier to digest and carry out. I’m relieved that I took the time to do that when I had the chance, because my free time practically vanished as soon as my first night shift started. After having to labor through the process of completely flipping my sleep schedule, I began my first night shift strong. I ended up getting some pleasant surprises when I realized that some of the patients I saw earlier in the week in clinic were in labor at the hospital! Those families were actually happier to see me than I would have expected them to be, and one of the mothers even told me that she had just been telling her whole family about me the previous day! Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised as well as honored about the fact that I was memorable enough to elicit praises from them. All I had really done was check those patients up during their prenatal visits, but based on their families’ reactions after seeing me, you would have thought that I was one of their beloved cousins that they hadn’t seen in years. It was pretty wild and awesome at the same time! Talk about continuity of care!

There was a good amount of excitement as well as some mild lulls during my first night shift. It was harder than I thought it would be to keep myself awake and alert the whole time, even with the huge amount of sleep I was able to enjoy before I ventured off to the hospital. (God bless the residents I worked with who were working 24-hour shifts.) I don’t know what it is about the night shift, but it just feels vastly different from the day shift, even though the hours are similar in length. Maybe it’s the fact that I automatically find myself wondering why the hell I’m still awake after seeing something like 3:16 AM when I look at the clock to check the time lol. I found myself eventually drinking a cup of coffee to keep myself going throughout the night and when I wasn’t actively triaging patients, checking on my assigned patients or following interns/residents around, I was working on answering questions from a question bank. Overall, I think it’s safe to say that it was a successful shift overall!

After trucking through the end of my shift, I returned home and started typing out the first paragraph of this post before my body decided to crash on me at around 8:00 AM. I then woke up around 1:30 PM still pretty tired but unable to go back to sleep, so I got up and chatted with my roommate and girlfriend before attempting to finish this post. I got to about half of the post before I realized that I wouldn’t be able to finish it before going back to the hospital for my second night shift, which started at 5:00 PM (I felt like I had literally JUST left the hospital). So I made my way back to the hospital and spent my evening checking in on my assigned patients, helping triage patients and shadowing a nurse for a few hours. While shadowing the nurse, I assisted with the birth of a newborn by coaching a first-time mother in labor for a couple of hours. The birth was simply beautiful and the emotions of the new parents after laying eyes on their new addition to the family was unforgettable. Their eyes were filled with a dazzling mix of joy, excitement, disbelief and love as they caressed their newborn. Having the privilege to be a part of that wonderful moment was amazing. Now I’m sitting here FINALLY finishing this post during a lull in my current shift. I can’t believe that it literally took me all day to write this…but that’s what happens when your sleep schedule gets flipped-turned-upside down.

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Make your week a marvelous one! And I sincerely hope and pray that those of you affected by both Hurricanes Irma and Harvey are safe and sound. Sadly, the rebuilding process will be incredibly hard for some of you…but with assistance, strength and an incredible amount of perseverance, the job will get done.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – 9/11. Never Forget.

From Past To Present

So I know that today is Monday and that I’m writing this post today as opposed to yesterday, which was Sunday…my bad y’all. 😅 I was up and about pretty much all day yesterday and got back to North Carolina late last night. I was going to write the post when I got back, but I was quite tired and I wouldn’t have put a good faith effort in updating y’all about the incredible week that I just had. So I waited until this morning to do so, especially since it’s Labor Day and all. In a way, it feels like Sunday lol. And by the way, Happy Labor Day!

I spent the weekend in D.C. with my girl, where we visited a handful of the museums at the National Mall, visited a few of the monuments there, got rained on while trying to visit the White House (how fitting), ate at several D.C. dineries, and hung out with some of our old friends. Apart from spending time with our friends, the highlight of the trip was finally being able to go to the National Museum of African American History and Culture! I had been waiting almost a year to visit it because it has been so hard to get tickets for it in advance…we were only able to go because I was willing to wake up at 6:25 AM to secure same-day tickets. I’m glad I did, because what we saw in there was simply stunning. There was such an unreal collection of items in the museum that accompanied a brutally truthful account of our history. I can’t even truly begin to describe all the thoughts flooded my mind as I took in the harrowing struggles that both Africans & African-Americans experienced as a result of both the slave trade and the harsh realities of racism and discrimination. The exhibits made you realize just how insane and cruel the idea of racism is. They also repeatedly reinforced the truth of how the ridiculous construct of racial divide had been created simply to maximize the profits of greedy individuals. However, the museum also exhibited all the successes that African-Americans were able to achieve despite our struggles, which was highly refreshing. Ultimately, we were only able to visit the museum for a couple of hours, so I definitely need to make another trip back in order to really take everything in!

Before making the trip to D.C., I spent the week on the Labor & Delivery service where I continued to provide care to pregnant patients during my long yet rewarding shifts. Ever since my last post, I’ve witnessed the births of eight other individuals, most of which I lended a helping hand in delivering! Most of them were vaginal births, and two of them were via C-section. One of those C-sections resulted in the birth of twins, who now share the same birthday as me! 😄 (It was also the first C-section that I had ever seen! Scrubbing in is still a struggle though…I gotta work on that lol.) As a matter of fact, I witnessed the entrance of four newborns into this world on my birthday! Being able to witness the birth of a individual is truly a special experience, especially when it occurs on your birthday. You just feel a special type of connection to the newborn, although chances are that you’ll never see them again. Also, while running around trying to help out with births, I managed to deliver three placentas! I think it’s safe to say that I’ve already gotten used to the unusual sight of an umbilical cord and a placenta exiting a mother. 😅 However, I haven’t delivered a baby on my own yet, which is something that I plan on doing on my upcoming night shift in Labor & Delivery. Stay tuned for that!

Kept it short this time! Truth be told, I actually have to start getting my life together before tomorrow starts. I’ll be spending my time at a free health clinic in downtown Winston-Salem this week before starting night shifts on Saturday night. Yeahhh, I don’t have much of a weekend coming up. Eh, whatever. Y’all continue being great and I hope that you fully enjoy your Labor Day!

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

– Black Man, M.D.

More Life

Yeah yeah, I know the phrase “More Life” has been played out/is in the process of being played out (just like most of the other phrases Drake has popularized in the past)…but if you saw what I saw this morning, you wouldn’t be able to help but agree that it’s an extremely fitting title for the experience that I’m about to tell you about! Also, I’m currently pressed for time and it took me all of 2 minutes to come up with this title…so I’m sticking with it. 😤

So to start off, my first day on the labor & delivery service was today! (Yes, it’s Sunday. Trust me, I’m WELL aware.) I’m going to be on this service until Thursday and won’t be back on it until a couple weeks from now, where I’ll spend about four nights working the night shift on the labor & delivery service. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, labor & delivery service = the magical place in the hospital where babies come from. (You starting to catch the drift of the title? Clever ehh? Ehhhhh??? *nudge nudge* 😉) I began my day at 6 AM at the hospital, where I met with my team and proceeded to participate in check-in (getting updates about the overnight patients from a doctor on night shift). Then soon after, I tagged along with a resident and checked on a few patients that needed attention at the moment before getting back with the team to talk about all of the patients we had on our service (talking about all our patients with the teamrounding). As soon as we finished our table rounds, we got notification that one of our patients was beginning to deliver!

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The resident I was following earlier sped off to the patient and I simply followed right along because 1) I didn’t know any better and 2) I REALLY wanted to witness the birth of another human being in real-time! After getting to the room, I proceeded to watch in absolute awe as the mother miracously pushed a brand-new, beautiful human being into this world in less than 30 minutes. As much as I’ve studied and reviewed the whole birthing process, I couldn’t help but stand there looking dumbfounded as I heard the baby cry for the first time in its life. It was such a fascinating and wonderful experience. As the family coddled and adored their new member, the mother’s placenta was delivered (if you aren’t familiar with what a placenta looks like, the sight of it would probably freak you out) and her lacerations were all stitched up. Thank God for anesthesia. I really couldn’t believe how well the epidural was working for the mother…like, there was a freakin’ needle being threaded all throughout a very sensitive area of her body!! Yet she couldn’t feel a thing. Plus, all of her attention was devoted to her new bundle of joy so she wasn’t even concerned with what we were doing. Strangely enough, I began to deeply consider and appreciate the power of anesthesia as I stood there and watched her stitches being placed. Because of a simple painkilling drug, the doctors were able to heal the mother in what appeared to be a graphic manner while she enjoyed her very special moment in an oblivious fashion. Incredible.

So that was my Sunday morning.

After receiving the unforgettable opportunity to witness the start of a new life, I went about the rest of my day following the residents and interns around as they attended to both current and new patients while answering the barrage of questions that I frequently unloaded upon them. I also helped admit a few patients to the service, viewed a few ultrasound procedures and studied Ob/Gyn material in the lapses of downtime we had. Before I knew it, it was 5 PM and I was headed home to get some more work done as well as to write this post. It was a great day overall!

I was in such a great mood today not only because I was excited to witness births, but also because my girlfriend planned a whole surprise birthday event for me that took place yesterday! She got me good y’all…she had planned out this event with a few of my good friends here at Wake over the course of a few weeks and had about 30+ of my friends show up to yell “SURPRISEEE!!!” as I turned around to face them unexpectedly haha. Y’all really should have seen my face when I saw all those people there, some of whom I definitely did not expect to see there! I really wish someone had snapped a pic of the hilarious face I must have made when I realized that I had just been tricked into attending my very first surprise birthday party! 😄😂 It was simply an awesome feeling to know that all those people showed up just to celebrate my upcoming birthday with me. I felt so loved lol. Shoutout to my girl and everyone who helped make that birthday surprise a reality, I deeply appreciate each and everyone of y’all!!

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As for the rest of my week, I was mainly working in outpatient clinics affiliated with the Wake Forest Baptist Health Center throughout Winston-Salem and Lexington County. During my time in those clinics I managed to witness a colposcopy, watch the placement of an IUD into a uterus, observe a couple of operative hysteroscopies, interview a patient who spoke a language I had never heard of before, delve deep into the intracacies of the different types of birth control with one of my preceptors, realize that there are a good amount of patients who will understandably not be comfortable with me being in the room while a pelvic exam is being performed on them, and learn more about both the menstrual cycle and the various types of assisted reproductive technologies that is made available to patients. I also was tasked with giving a presentation to my colleagues on Hormone Replacement Therapy earlier in the week, which can be found in the linked text! Take a look! That is, if you even care to look at it. Because you probably don’t. Don’t lie. You won’t hurt my feelings. Okay maybe just a little. But it’s all good.

Whew! I said I was pressed for time, yet I didn’t do that great of a job at keeping this short. That’s what happens when you actually have some exciting things to talk about. But whatever, I feel good about being able to reflect on my fantastic experiences and for giving you something to do with your spare time! I sincerely hope that you have an outstanding week!

#MORELIFE 

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“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melodie Beattie

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – My prayers are going out for all of those afflicted by the wreckage that Hurricane Harvey has brought to Texas and the neighboring regions. Hopefully our fractured government can lend some assistance to the many people who have been tragically impacted by this storm.