Kickin’ Back

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is really two days away! It’s even harder to believe that I’ve already blown through my first week of my winter break!

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It feels like I just got to Atlanta a couple of days ago. While I’ve been here, I’ve mainly been relaxing and lounging around while also catching up on some books that I’ve been wanting to read for months (I FINALLY read The Alchemist), watching some movies with my girlfriend and catching up on some of our favorite shows. (We started Grey’s Anatomy this past summer and are only midway through Season 3…I’ve already accepted that this will be a LOOONG-term endeavor 😅) Outside of all that, I’ve been able to catch up with some other college friends over brunch, meet a ton of my girl’s high school friends at her school’s five-year reunion, crack down on some work for the SNMA, begin seriously thinking about and comparing the pediatric residency programs I’ve interviewed at to each other, eat a ton of great food and SLEEP. I haven’t slept in this much in forever…I had forgotten what it was like to sleep in past 9 AM 😂. I also finally got my grade back from my CHOP away rotation and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised at how well my evaluation turned out! Long story short, my evaluators thought highly of my performance while I was there, witnessed a tremendous amount of growth in me and feel that I’ll grow into an excellent physician as long as I continue to work on some key things. It’s incredible what getting a grade of Honors can do to your self-confidence, especially when you get them back-to-back in rotations of the specialty you’re going into.

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I really don’t have much else to say other than that I got an email with details about my upcoming Anesthesiolgy Acting/Sub-Internship in January. Based off the email, I’m going to be doing quite a bit of studying due to the fact that I have a midterm and a final exam during the rotation. Sheeeeesh. I’m also going to have to be on long call from 6 AM – 10 PM once per week and I’ll be busy doing procedures and simulations for the most part throughout my rotation. I don’t think it’ll be that bad though…as a matter of fact, I’m looking forward to participating in all kinds of procedures and observing various surgeries in the operating room. It’ll also be nice to be back at Wake after living out of my suitcase for the past 3+ months, though I’ll be completing a couple more trips in January (UVA interview and SNMA National Leadership Institute in Nashville, TN). While it has been fun being on the road meeting so many new people and catching up with old friends, I’ll be happy to sleep in my own bed again and to use the space and utilities in my apartment that I’m still paying for.

Keeping it short today because we’re all busy getting ready with the holidays with our families and there’s probably a number of you getting your last minute Christmas shopping in. Plus like I stated earlier, I don’t have much else to say.

So on that note, I hope that those of you who celebrate Christmas have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! 🎄🎅🏿❄️

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his (her) dream.” – Paulo Coelho

– Black Man, M.D.

Dashing Thru Neuro

Shhhh…..do you hear that?

No? Really??

Listen closer…..now I KNOW you can hear them bells ringing!

That’s right! Santa Claus is coming to town!!

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It’s the most wonderful tiiiiime of the year, where the brisk & chilly winter air (if you live in the Northern Hemisphere) reminds you that you belong indoors with your family drinking some hot cocoa while listening to holiday music and laughing about stories that are being shared, half of which you’ve probably already heard like ten times. Christmas dinner is beginning to be prepared, extended family is arriving, and your parents are telling you to run last-minute errands before Christmas day. Then as Christmas Eve starts drawing closer and closer to an end, the anticipation of Christmas morning overcomes everyone, especially the younger children in the family and everyone in the house entertains one another in a merry fashion. Then Christmas morning arrives and just like magic, there’s a ton of presents under the tree and everyone is all smiles and just happy to be in each other’s company! It’s a wonderful experience every year and being able to see everyone all together happy and healthy is enough of a gift for me every year. I wouldn’t have said this same thing 10+ years ago, back when Christmas meant getting the newest toys and gadgets to entertain myself with. But alas, we all grow and mature and eventually realize the true meaning of Christmas and the holiday season in general!

I love this season as much as anyone else, but I didn’t come here to write up a Christmas novel or memoir. Y’all know the real reason why I’m here. So let me get straight to it.

My experiences at the various outpatient clinics I visited last week were overall positive ones! The atmosphere at the clinics was very calm, laid-back, and educational. The patients that we treated were very nice and appreciative as well. I was at five different clinics throughout the week, most of which were general neurology clinics. So with that said, I ended up seeing several cases of myasthenia gravis, peripheral neuropathy, and headaches. I was even able to witness a case of newly diagnosed ALS, a diagnosis that was not easy for the patient and his family to accept. In addition, I did get the opportunity to observe procedures involving electromyography in one of the clinics, which was pretty cool the first couple of times I saw it. It actually looked quite uncomfortable for the patients, for they were getting pricked by needles in various parts of their body so that we could study the muscle activity in those areas. And it wasn’t a quick procedure either. On average, it took maybe about 20-30 minutes to complete. After the second time around, I had pretty much gotten the gist of the procedure. Hopefully I never need an EMG study done on me. 😅

At some point during the week, my rotation group and I all participated in a coma simulation lab, where we were divided into two different groups by a Neuro ICU attending and were assigned the task of managing a dummy who came into the ER in a comatose state. You know, it’s always funny realizing how much you don’t know when you’re thrown in a situation that you thought you knew how to handle. After managing the ABC’s (airway, breathing, circulation) of the “patient”, my group was at a loss at what to do next. We threw out different ideas and acted on them, but none of us really had a structured plan in place for a situation like this. After exhausting all of the options we could think of as a group, including asking for a CT scan that came back normal, I sure as hell had no idea what to do next. So I just kept sternal rubbing the dummy and calling out “Mr. Jones”! (That’s the name I made up for him on the spot lol.) After both groups had their turn, we critiqued each other and learned some valuable lessons from the attending about managing a comatose patient. It was a cool learning experience and it further proved the point that there is a very clear difference in reading about doing something and actually performing the task in real life. I’m absolutely sure that I’ll get the opportunity to learn more about emergency care later on in the year during my Emergency Medicine rotation.

Speaking of emergency care, I was participating in just that during my night shift last Thursday. Boooyyy, was it busy. Soon after arriving for my shift, we were literally bombarded with pages about the patients that we were covering and about new patients coming into the emergency department. There were several patients who came into the hospital with active strokes and it was fascinating to watch how all the residents in differing specialties worked together in concert in the ED. The neurology residents would perform a patient interview and neuro exam while the patient was being wheeled to the CT scanner, and after being scanned the neurology resident would continue the exam while another neurology resident would assess the CT scan with a neurosurgery resident in order to decide if the patient needed immediate surgery or not. Everything would happen so fast, and all my classmate and I could do is watch and try our best not to get in the way, which we managed to fail at on several occasions. It’s almost impossible to get out of the way in a cramped place like the emergency department, just saying. Apart from answering pages from the ED, we checked on other patients in the hospital who were suffering from other conditions such as seizures and headaches. I definitely learned a lot that night from the awesome residents who were very willing to help us learn things, no matter how busy they were!

The final thing I want to touch on is the mid-rotation feedback session that I had with my clerkship director. It was a very helpful session filled with comments about my strengths and practical feedback that I can utilize in the second half of my rotation when I get back from winter break. I also got my quiz grade back (the one that counted for 30% of my grade) and I must say, I was quite pleased with my score. 😄 The director and I discussed several things, but the main lessons I took from the session included: 1) developing a mindset of thinking in which I’m actively looking to figure out what important lessons and/or techniques I will be taking away from each rotation and 2) focusing my history-taking and neuro physical exam performance on what the patient is complaining most about. She told me that her main goal for me and the other students in this rotation is to have us really learn and appreciate the neuro physical exam so that we are able to use it comfortably in not only our future rotations but also throughout our careers. So guess what I’m going to do? Yup you guessed it; adequately learn and appreciate the neuro physical exam so that I can comfortably use it whenever I feel that it’s necessary to do so!

With two weeks of a solid performance in Neurology behind me and another two weeks of relaxation in front of me, I’m in a fantastic spot mentally, physically and spiritually. I’m planning on this winter break to be an amazing one!

Have a very Merry Christmas and a strong finish to 2017!

“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.” – Earl Nightingale

– Black Man, M.D.

Holiday Cheer!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

JOYEUX NOËL!!!

FELIZ NAVIDAD!!!

What a wonderful day! And Happy Birthday to the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Waking up at almost noon today is in stark contrast to how I used to wake up all giddy and whatnot at 8 AM as a kid on Christmas Day. I was just happy to get some extra sleep after having a late night last night lol. After hearing my little sisters plead to me for a couple of minutes to wake up, I finally got out of my bed to go help pass out the presents under the Christmas tree. After waiting for an additional hour or so for the 10+ people currently residing in my house to gather in the family room, we finally began to pass out gifts to everyone. Of course, I was the designated Santa…so I passed out gifts to everyone that had been nice enough all year to receive one. I ended up getting a hat & scarf from my older sister, a Cameroonian shirt from my little brother, and a full piece suit with some brown dress shoes from my mom. ‘Twas a good Christmas indeed. Sure is an upgrade from the pajamas and wheat bran flakes I got last year 😂😂😂. Everyone else seemed to be very satisfied with what they received as well; gifts ranged from a Barbie dollhouse and Beats headphones to an iPod touch and an iPhone 7, with a bunch of clothes handed out as well. Now as I type this, everyone is playing with their new toys and a delicious Christmas dinner is being conjured up! I love the holidays!

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Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day or any other holiday in this season, I hope that you have an amazing time with friends, family and all of the other people in your life whom you hold dear. In this crazy world, times like this have become much more important to me, especially since I only see my family a few times a year. Spending time with them and old friends this past week has allowed me to continue to appreciate both them and the necessary downtime from the rigors of med school. Plus, the spirit of the holidays tend to bring about a special kind of cheer and joy to everyone. Unless you’re a Grinch. So with that said, please have a safe and happy holiday season! Stay warm and be sure to bring in your New Year with positivity and prosperity!

“It’s not possible to experience constant euphoria, but if you’re grateful, you can find happiness in everything.” – Pharrell Williams

– Black Man, M.D.