The Strength of Endurance

Well, this week was quite an adventure, to say the least.

In fact, it was so much of an adventure that I’m actually typing this post on a plane back to North Carolina from Minnesota. Wait, why am I on a plane? Better yet, why was I in Minnesota? Aren’t I supposed to be at camp getting ready to start the week? Lol, I’ll get to all that later on in the post. 😉

I want to start off by talking about my first full week at the Victory Junction Summer Camp. Simply put, it was both a touching and challenging experience. It was also pretty tiring, yet very fun! And I’ve been eating reeeal good here. (Shoutout to all the free meals I’ve been getting here on a daily basis.) Me and the other counselors in my cabin were assigned to care for a young group of boys aged 6-9 who were diagnosed with various blood disorders and gastrointestinal conditions. If you didn’t already know, having to look after seven little boys who like to play around at all times of the day isn’t the easiest thing to do. Them being hyperactive, hating to go to sleep, having very different personalities and testing our rules to their hearts’ desire didn’t make things any easier either. Plus let’s not forget, they have chronic medical conditions that require our attention. At the same time though, it was really fun interacting with them and engaging them in various activites across the camp! Some of the activites we did included fishing, paddle-boating, archery, playing with horses, bunnies, goats & llamas at a barn, playing in a waterpark, making arts & crafts, playing video games, watching Joey Logano speed around our camp in a racecar at what we call “NASCARnival”, and various other things. Before last week, I had never even done half of those things before! Also, the kids who were NASCAR fans flipped when they saw Joey, who just so happens to be a famous NASCAR driver. I had no idea who he was, so I looked him up and he happens to have a net worth of over $20 million. Go figure.

Although I was working as a camp counselor for the week, I made sure to observe what the medical volunteers were doing with our kids whenever they came around so that I had a better understanding what measures these kids needed to take in order to keep their lives as “normal” as they could. Although the kids were living their best lives at camp like any other kid would, their conditions still had to be managed quite frequently by the medical team as well as by us counselors. There were a lot of ostomy bag changes, IV flushes, device recalibrations, trips to the onsite clinic after any one of the kids with his respective bleeding disorder would suffer from a fall, wound or sustained nosebleed, and dressing changes. It was unreal to witness the resilience of these little warriors and how candid they were to each other when talking about how they live with their respective illnesses. Like, two kids would be having a candid conversation about how many times per day one of them would have to change his ostomy bags and how many times the other boy had to get ports placed in him due to various infections. Then a minute later they would talk about a movie or something and I would be just standing there like:

shocked eddie murphy GIF

It was amazing to see how the kids interacted with each other, especially when some of them found out that they had the same condition. It was as if they had never met someone else with their same illness, much less someone their own age. The moment that those particular kids discovered they had the same diagnosis was a precious one that I’ll never forget. Moments like that was one of the reasons why this camp was built in the first place. Alongside moments like that, there were other times where the boys would spontaneously get into altercations with one another. Having to deal with those issues weren’t as precious, as you could probably imagine. But with that said, I think that because this camp is structured the way it is, it forces the kids to learn how to get along with their peers in a non-school setting away from home. Good thing with most kids their age is that they’re good at brushing off conflicts and can get back to playing together rather quickly. Reminds me of how simple my own life used to be when I was a kid…good times, good times.

All in all, my first week at camp was a successful and unforgettable one, even though I was missing the majority of the World Cup games and felt like the world was passing me by while I lived in the camp bubble. Along with interacting with the kids, I’ve made good friends with the counselors in my cabin as well as with various summer staff workers outside of my cabin. I’m looking forward to getting back to camp and meeting our next group of campers, who will apparently have various types of neurological disorders and will be teenagers. It’s also going to be a short week due to the 4th of July taking place on Wednesday, which only gives me less than three days to establish relationships with them. That just means that I gotta make the most of my time with them!

Alright that’s all I got for today! See ya later!

Lol I’m just messing with you, you thought I forgot about the whole Minnesota thing didn’t you?

Yeah you did, don’t lie.

The reason that I traveled to Minnesota a day after leaving camp was because I had to be in attendance for the SNMA’s first National Leadership Institute of the 2018-2019 term. As a member of the Board of Directors, I’m required to attend these conferences, which take place every three months at different locations throughout the country. This conference just so happened to take place at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. I must admit, Minnesota wasn’t on my bucket list of places to travel to. However, I was very surprised at the incredible diversity of the city and was completely blown away at how enormous the Mall of America was! Like bruh, there’s a whole amusement park with rollercoasters and ferris wheels and whatnot in that mall! Not to mention the Marriott hotel and the aquarium. And don’t even get me started on the ridiculous number of stores and restaurants (*cough* Benihana’s *cough* Hard Rock Cafe *cough*).

We had a meet-and-greet on Friday night, where all the pre-meds, medical students, physicians and University of Minnesota SOM faculty mingled and chatted with one another. The majority of the conference took place on Saturday, where we had several excellent presentations concerning various topics such as working to combat the current devolution of our society, being an effective leader, the rich history of the SNMA, adequately caring for people afflicted with disabilities while addressing their concerns in an effective manner (this session was led by people who actually suffer from various disabilities, which made it even more engaging), the potential dangers of social constructs and how they can be used to oppress various populations of people, the incredible importance of social workers, the hazardous nature of making assumptions, dealing with microaggressions, the importance of health equity and advocacy (this presenter used the Black Panther movie to reinforce his message which was very effective), the power of social media and writing op-eds, the various ways in which business can affect the practice of medicine, being knowledgeable about health insurance in order to effectively advocate for the patient, and financial planning. I was also able to attend and participate in the two Board of Directors meetings that took place at the conference. Yeah yeah I know, that was a lot. But there were just so many great things that were shared with us, and I want you to get a good birds-eye view of what we talked about at the conference. I wish I could go into more detail about some of the topics that I’ve listed here, but I don’t got all day to type this already lengthy post out. Plus, I’m going to be landing soon and I want to be pretty much done with this post by the time I get to NC.

So with that said, I’m going to go ahead and end this novel here. I had a great time at the conference and was able to not only reconnect with people but also make new connections with some wonderful people. Overall, the week was quite an eventful one! I’m looking forward to seeing what this upcoming one has in store!

I hope that your week is a splendid one! And have a Happy 4th of July!

“Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit.” – Bernard Williams

– Black Man, M.D.

Straight Grindin’

Alright I knew I would be hitting the ground running when I got back to school…

BUT DAMN!!! *in my best Chris Tucker voice*

I don’t think I’ve really been able to catch much of a break since getting back from Atlanta last Monday. I started class Tuesday morning with four lectures of Renal Pathology (that I FINALLY finished getting through yesterday), followed by another four lectures the next day that I’m still working on getting through. (Yes, I’ve been playing the catch-up game again. 😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊) And I have about ten or so lectures this week before my Renal Pathology exam on Friday. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Well, it is. But you would think I would have been able to get through my eight lectures from last week by now. You know why I haven’t been able to? I’ll gladly tell you. Because I had another Clinical Skills Exam (“affectionately” called CPX for those of you not familiar with it) this past Wednesday where I not only had to go in and interview a standardized patient before performing a focused physical exam on her, but also had to document our encounter as well as provide an assessment and plan for her care. That took quite a chunk of my Wednesday overall. In my opinion, it may have been my best performance yet, but you never know these days. I’m just gonna hold my breath and hope that I don’t get another email stating that the history-taking portion of my encounter was “Unsatisfactory” and that I will need to “remediate my history-taking skills”. I don’t even wanna hear the word ‘remediate’ anymore. I’m tired of remediating my history-taking dammit. Lol.

I then tried to get through some more of Tuesday’s lectures after finishing my standardized patient documentation, but I didn’t get very far. Plus I was tired and wanted to get some sleep in order to attend a Case-Centered Learning (CCL) session early the next morning. Thursday turned out to be a pretty long day as well. I attended the CCL lecture and then attempted to study some more before having to go to my actual Clinical Skills class, which ended up taking up most of my afternoon. The class was especially interesting this time around though, for we learned a practical and helpful method to go about breaking bad news to patients as well as how to take a “SOAP Note”, which is a quick daily progress note of a patient that includes an evaluation of how the patient is doing from both a subjective and an objective perspective, a current assessment of the current health of the patient and a plan of care for the patient based on the overall evaluation and assessment of him/her. We also learned how to access patient files, which comes with a HUGE amount of responsibility and actually made me feel more like a healthcare provider instead of a second-year med student tryna stay afloat in this choppy sea of lectures and exams. It was pretty cool, to say the least.

After getting back from Clinical Skills, I played the catch-up game a bit more before having to attend a meeting for the annual “Share the Health Fair” taking place this Saturday. I’m going to be working as a station leader at the glaucoma screening station at the health fair all day, so I had to make sure I knew what the set-up was going to look like as well as make sure the volunteers working at the station that day knew what to expect. On top of all this going on that day was the fact that it was my Founders’ Day, so of course I had to celebrate for a bit with some other fraternity brothers in the area. I finally got back to my place later that night, studied for a bit and then crashed in order to attend a review session the next morning because Lord knows I definitely needed that. I attended the review session and then was able to get some more studying in after that, but my studying was cut short (yet again) by a mandatory presentation I had to attend where my class was formally introduced to the scheduling procedures for our third-year clinical rotations. By the way, this presentation further proved to me how freakin’ close third-year is. The fact that I’ll have patients in the near future that I’m somewhat responsible for is mind-blowing man. In addition, clinical rotation schedules are strict AF. I’ll have to be at the hospital damn near every waking hour of my week, although I’ll get weekends off on some rotations. So that means I’ll have much, much less control of my time. It’s gonna be a hell of a ride, that’s for sure.

Right after leaving that presentation, I made my way to Charlotte in order to fly to Irving, Texas (it’s near Dallas) for the SNMA National Leadership Institute. First off, I traveled back in time. That’s just cool to say. Also, it was ’bout cold as fuhhh over there! You would think Texas would be hot or whatever. But nah. It was 22 degrees when I landed. And it stayed cold the whole weekend. I wasn’t reaaadyyyyy! *in my Kevin Hart voice* But it IS January, so I guess I should have known better lol. The conference was fantastic overall though! I was able to interact with regional and national leaders in the organization from all over the country while representing my school. I also learned quite a bit from the sessions that I attended, including tips on how to efficiently plan your goals, why understanding the business side of medicine is particularly important, the importance of understanding the value of a personal brand, how to verbally communicate with people in a proficient manner in under a minute, and how to take advantage of the plethora of post-career opportunities available for medical school graduates. In addition, there was a SNMA Leadership Panel presented to us, which was made up of prior SNMA leaders who are now practicing physicians and the Dean of Texas Christian University’s future medical school came to talk to us about the innovative curriculum that they’re working to provide to their future students. Finally, we were given a talk during dinner last night that focused on the vital importance of voting in all government elections and being leaders in our respective communities. All in all, I’m happy that I had the opportunity to attend this conference and I feel that I’ll be making use of many of the connections that I made here, as well as many of the lessons that I learned here, in the future.

So now I’m back in Winston, where it actually snowed quite a bit while I was gone! Now all I need is to throw a snowball at someone and to drink some hot cocoa to be perfectly content. I’m lying, I won’t be content because I still gotta get through these lectures.

confused hand robert downey jr frustrated sigh

I hope you’ve started off the New Year on a phenomenal note! Keep on working towards your goals and powering through your resolutions! Those who say they can and those who say they can’t are usually both right!

Be the one who says they can!

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston  Churchill

– Black Man, M.D.