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.

Putting It All Together

Guess who’s all caught up with his lectures? THIS GUY. *points to self*

Guess who has an exam in five days? THIS GUY. *points to self again*

Guess who’s totally not ready for it? THIS GUY. *points to self yet again*

Thankfully, there won’t be any new material presented to us this week. We’ve pretty much already learned everything that is going to be on this upcoming exam, which is nice to know. Instead, we’ll be using the knowledge we’ve acquired over the past two-and-a-half weeks to solve patient cases in class. We will also have a class session on Wednesday where patients with respiratory problems will come in and talk to us about how they’re coping with their respective conditions. I always appreciate when patients take time out of their day to come and talk with us; it really brings a lot of what we learn to life, which makes it easier for me to remember certain things and also allows me to fully appreciate the fact that what I’m learning has the power to literally influence and save the lives of other people. A couple other things on our schedule this week include an Ultrasound Lab, a simulation lab with a dummy patient, a Jeopardy review game and a “field trip” to the hospital wards. Overall, I think that the integrative nature of this week will really help synthesize a lot of the subject material we’ve learned. Also, it’s awesome that we get a week just to review everything we’ve learned because I very much so need it. Like, very much so.

While I was playing catch-up with my lectures this past week, I got the chance to go to the annual Medical Student Research Poster Presentation Day at the old medical school next to the hospital, where a lot of my friends presented the research projects they worked on during the summer. There was such a diverse array of research topics that were undertaken by my classmates. It was so cool man. These research topics included: The Influence of Summer Camp Cooking Classes on Children, Assessing Cultural Awareness and Peer-Peer Microaggressions in Medical Education, The Mortality Gap in Black and White Breast Cancer Patients in Chicago and the Comparison of that Data to other US Cities, The Association Between End Stage Renal Disease and Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia, The Use of Information Technology Among a Diverse Sample of Adults with Type 2 Diabetes, Sustainability of CPAP in a Regional Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Accra, Lineage Tracing and Labeled Stem Cell Fate-Mapping in Murine Bladder Regeneration, and The Effects of Trauma on Reproductive Behaviors in HIV Populations. There were over 50 students presenting their posters, and they all looked splendid and professional while presenting their summer work. I was happy to show up and help support them! It also reminded me that I still have yet to perform some kind of meaningful research project, let alone present a research poster…

A few other things I ended up doing this past week included helping set up a Ophthalmology Interest Group lunch talk where we had an Ophthalmologist come in and talk to the audience all about her journey and what life is like in her career path, learning how to use respiratory support equipment by actually using them on dummies, going through a few patient case presentations with a facilitator and a small group of students, attending a lecture about healthcare disparities and how it relates to respiratory diseases, and talking with the Dean of the medical school about how my experiences here at Wake have been so far. Each of these events were great in their own way, and I was able to take away quite a bit from each experience. I could talk more about each of these experiences in detail, but I don’t feel like making this an unnecessarily long post. Plus, I need to go back to reviewing for this upcoming exam. 😭😒

Before I leave you though, I have one more thing to say. Guess who’s about to be back in Lenoir next week for his second and final week of his Community Practice Experience? THIS GUY. *points to self one more time*. I know some of you remember what my time was like the last time I was in the quiet town of Lenoir…if not, here’s a reminder. Last time was cool and all, but I have a feeling that this time will be even better because I know a bit more than I did before and I’m also a lot more confident in talking to patients than I was back in February. Plus, there’s good Southern food waiting for my roommates and I at the restaurants that we dined at last time. I’m sure it’ll be a fun time, especially since I don’t have to worry about really studying anything that whole week. I just gotta get mentally prepared for the severe lack of diversity that I’m about to walk into in that little country town…

Y’all have a great week!

“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.” – Bertrand Russell

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Yes, I’m VERY salty that Miami lost to FSU…BY ONE POINT. I missed most of the second half because I was at a birthday party, but best believe when I got the update of the final score on my phone, I was not pleased. Damn it Florida State…

I See Freedom Around The Corner

I want to start off my post by wishing all the amazing mothers out there a

Happy Mothers’ Day!!!

You Africans out there know what’s good! Sweeet Mooothaaaa!!!

Being a mother is a very difficult 24/7 job that hands out no paychecks, but it’s one of the most precious jobs that we have in our society. I know firsthand how hard my own mother has worked all these years in raising me & my clan of siblings…it wasn’t easy. At all. So I appreciate her strength and sacrifices each and every day. I once told her that I would never know how to pay her back to show how much I appreciated her…she told me to finish school, become a doctor, look after my siblings and to buy her a Mercedes-Benz for her and my dad so that they can ride all around Cameroon when they retire. Guess I gotta follow through now huh? 😂 If you’re fortunate enough to have someone you can call your mother, please value her and try not to take everything she does for granted. More likely than not, she has made tremendous sacrifices for you that you may or may not know about.

As for me, I feel like I just wrote my previous post a couple of days ago. This past week really flew on by. Now I just have a couple more days of lecture and three tests standing in my way between now and the end of my first year! Gotta power on through to the finish line! I knocked out my last Clinical Skills exam of the year last week and I gotta say, I’ve come a hell of a long way from my very first one back in October. I couldn’t even take a proper HPI (History of Present Illness) back then…now I can breeze through the entire interview (HPI, Review of Systems, Past Medical History, Family History, Social History, Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual History) with relative comfort. 😁 I handled my interview during my exam pretty well and managed to remember most of the components of the Neurological physical exam too. It was a lot to remember man. I actually almost ran out of time (45 minutes) for once lol. I did forget to do a few minor things, and had a hiccup when I forgot how to turn on the fundoscope 😂😂😂. A fundoscope is a handheld instrument that you can use to look into the back of a person’s eye (the retina). I stood there in the dimly lit room for almost 30 seconds trying to turn on the light on that freakin’ thing while trying to dissolve any awkwardness by maintaining a conversation with my standardized patient. I never did figure out how to turn it on on my own. My grader, who was on the other side of the one-sided glass/mirror, had to speak through the microphone to tell me to hit the switch on the wall the fundoscope was connected to in order to turn it on….😅. Boy did I feel stupid. Overall, I felt pretty comfortable with the patient encounter and my grader told me that I did a very good job! So that means that I can basically be your doctor…..just don’t come to me when you actually get sick or hurt. All I’m gonna do is take a history and maybe a physical exam then look at you like:

Lol, but seriously, don’t call me for any medical questions or advice. I’m not the one 😂. I’m just a med student tryna make it, go and get your actual doctor on the phone.

Remember that one ophthalmologist I talked about back in January in my Knowledge is Power post? The one who I went to have a meeting with in his office and ended up having me ask my questions to him in the operating room where he was operating on the retina of a newborn baby? Well I ended up shadowing him again a couple of days ago, and all I can say is that this man is a BOSS. I spent all morning with him power walking (And I thought that I walked fast…) around the clinic to see patients and to watch him give eye injections to certain patients. We must have seen about 25-30 patients in that short time period…it felt like we saw 60.While he was attending to each patient, he was doing like 10 other things, not to mention informing me of what he was doing and answering my questions as the morning went on. He was extremely busy, but what really struck me was how calm and collected he was throughout the whole morning. It was obvious to each patient that he was very busy, but they were all pleased with the time he spent with them because he never rushed the patient and he made sure to answer any questions the patient may have had. We even spent about 25 minutes with one elderly patient who was worried about getting an eye injection that she needed. She was actually 98 years old, but she looked like she was just hitting 70! She was walking on her own and everything too! Black don’t crack y’all lol. It took her niece, her son on the phone and the doctor to finally convince her to go through with the treatment. Throughout it all, the doctor never rushed anyone although he was starting to really fall behind schedule. So that just meant more power walking for us after he finished with that patient. All in all, it was a fabulous experience and I can really see myself doing what he was doing in the future.

That’s all I gotta say today. Make sure to have a wonderful Mother’s Day and a sensational week!

“A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected.” – Amy Rees Anderson

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. Congratulations to all of you that are graduating from college this month! A special congrats to the Class of 2016 from the University of Miami!!! I wish I could have been there to watch you all walk the stage! It’s wild to think that I graduated from there on this date a year ago…

Knowledge is Power.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since starting medical school back in July, it’s that it really has a way of humbling you. I knew when I started med school that I didn’t know much about medicine and that I would have a lot to learn…but looking back now, it’s scary to see how very little I knew about the field I was trying to start a career in. Aside from Immunology, Biochemistry and the basics of Biology, I really didn’t know a damn thing about the medical field the day I graduated from the University of Miami. The limited scientific knowledge I had did not make Anatomy any easier and the whole Biochemistry course only lasted a couple of weeks here. I’m happy to say my major in Microbiology & Immunology is making my life a bit easier during this Microbiology/Immunology block, but I’m well aware that my safety net will not last long. Even to this day, it’s incredible how much I still do not know about medicine and what it means to become an overall effective physician. It’s like the more I learn, the more I realize how much I haven’t learned. I’m also finding that with an increasing knowledge base, I have so many more questions to ask and answers to find. Every time I begin to understand a concept, there’s suddenly 100 new questions that I need answered in order to feel like I legitimately understand it. I’m literally on a never-ending quest to catch smoke with my bare hands. It’s like an undying thirst for knowledge; an insatiable appetite.

But it’s eerily entertaining.

I actually enjoy being able to ask questions about new concepts, because it only increases my knowledge base on the subject. Figuring out how certain mechanisms work and why they work the way they do is so cool to me and allows me to appreciate the human body that much more. It’s a wonderful feeling when you can finally connect something you learned about a system in the body to a disease process such as diabetes. It’s an even better feeling when you begin to understand the mechanism of the disease process and how it shows the symptoms that everyone is familiar with, like why people with sickle-cell anemia are more likely to suffer from frequent bacterial infections and sepsis, or why people with untreated diabetes can go blind via diabetic retinopathy.

I know, I know…..I’m a nerd. I’ve always been this way…I can’t help it. 😅

I guess the medical field just tends to attract people that find pleasure in figuring puzzles out. Guess I’m in the right place.

On another note, I have a question I want you to answer. Can you tell me how in the hell a 20-minute meeting about my summer research plans ended up turning into an almost-3-hour long shadowing experience? Not that I’m complaining…I was actually very excited! It was just crazy though…I had walked into the ophthalmology department expecting to meet an ophthalmologist in his office so that he could help direct me in what I should be doing this summer. 30 minutes later, I was scrubbed up and having casual conversation with the doctor in the (really hot) Operating Room while he was performing retinal-laser surgery on a premature baby in order to save her vision.

The retina is in the back of the eye, by the way.

I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. This doctor was literally having a full-blown conversation with me while LITERALLY saving a kid’s vision with a laser machine attached to his head, a magnifying glass, a few metal tools and some eye drops. The fact that this guy really made the time to talk with me about my future goals while on the job really struck a chord with me. Hell, I’m still in absolute awe. I didn’t even want to say anything at first in fear that I would distract him from his meticulous task, but he kept telling me to ask him any questions I had on my mind. So I unloaded my barrage of questions ranging from why he decided to become an ophthalmologist to what disease he was working to fix on this baby. I almost forgot to ask him about my research interests, which was why I was there in the first place. Even after all my questions, he let me not only continue to watch him finish the surgery; he invited me to follow him around the ophthalmology floor as he continued about his day, meeting new patients he had to perform surgery on and discussing details with his fellow. (A fellow is a doctor that has finished residency, but is in training to specialize in a specific area of his/her field of medicine.) It was an awesome experience, to say the least. Doctors like him really make me appreciate studying medicine here at Wake Forest.

Overall, my first week back from break has been one of the calmest, if not the calmest, school weeks I’ve had since starting Anatomy back in August. The combo of having very little afternoon classes and actually having a background in what we’re currently studying has been reassuring. I was even able to find time yesterday morning to volunteer at Wake’s annual Share The Health Fair, where I got the opportunity to help screen patients in the community for glaucoma. Granted, I’ve been studying pretty much all weekend because it’s still a ton of material to cover…but I’ve felt a lot better going over this material as opposed to the Biochemistry and Genetics rush I had before winter break. This upcoming week though…it’s looking like there’s about to be a lot more activity going on. I’m ready though, I ain’t worried ’bout nothin’!!

Y’all be blessed!

 

– Black Man, M.D.