Christel Wekon-Kemeni, (3/8) M.D.

Winter Break is Here!!!

And you already know what that means…

I’m three semesters deep into my MD program!!!

tv happy smile excited the fresh prince of bel air

After next semester, I’ll be halfway done with medical school! Isn’t that insane? And soon after next semester, I’ll be starting my clinical rotations in the hospital! I can hardly believe it. The closer I get towards obtaining my medical degree, the more surreal it all feels. Rounding in the hospital as a third-year medical student still seems like a foreign world to me…yet I’m going to be be doing just that in five short months. And then before I know it, I’ll be graduating from medical school with my M.D. I’ll officially be a physician. A relatively inexperienced physician, but a physician nonetheless. Incredible.

But before I get to third-year, I have to get through my final semester of basic science classwork and through the USMLE Step 1 checkpoint. That test is really creeping up on me yo. Winter Break is gonna come and go and then January and February will fly by. Then it’ll be March, which is when I start my Step Study Period. Then April 10th will come and BOOM. I’ll be taking one of the most important tests of my life. Boy am I ready to get that test over with. Too bad I’m nowhere near prepared to take it. It’s all good though, I’ll get a study schedule ready and will commit to it when the time comes.

Enough about all that though.

I felt that the renal physiology exam I took this past Friday went pretty good. It was a short test (60 questions), but the questions were really detailed so I had to take quite a bit of time with about half the questions. However, I felt confident about the vast majority of my answers overall. But as we all know, we never know how well we truly did until we get those scores back. So there’s that. When school starts back up again in January, we’ll be tackling renal pathology, which I hear is a bit easier than it’s physiology counterpart. That’s always a good thing to hear, although I actually didn’t mind renal physiology at all. Don’t get me wrong though, it was definitely tough as hell to wrap my head around at first.

A couple days before the test, I took a study break by volunteering at the DEAC free clinic run by Wake’s medical students and practiced my patient interview skills there with an older lady who needed to check her bloodwork. She had been advised to start a healthier diet a few months back after it was discovered that her triglyceride (molecule of fat) levels were really high. She took on the healthier diet challenge, so she was excited to see the results of her hard work, and also expressed interest in smoking cessation after being a smoker for 34 years. She also came with complaints of a sinus infection, which has afflicted her a few times a year for the past 30+ years. It was nice just being out in the community and helping solve real medical issues that real people were having instead of being hunched over a desk answering practice questions about the physiology of the kidneys. I helped gather her information, was able to practice my presentation skills to an experienced physician, took her to the lab so her blood could be taken, and helped decide what medications we were going to give her. I always tend to have a nice experience every time I volunteer at the DEAC free clinic…I should really go more often.

Finally, I was given the opportunity to assist in giving a presentation to Black high-schoolers interested in health professions yesterday morning at a local YMCA. The 50+ group of high schoolers were actually called the Young Black Achievers. Pretty dope name, in my opinion. As one of the three presenters, I talked with them about my journey and how it shaped me to be where I’m at today. They were high-school students, so you can imagine their restlessness as they sat there for a couple hours as we talked. But it was a great experience overall, and I’m glad to have been able to talk with them as well as to help answer all the questions they had. I also learned quite a bit about the other two presenters, both of whom were my classmates/friends. Representation is so key y’all. It really matters!

I have a great feeling that this Winter Break is going to be an awesome one! I have a ton planned for it, including spending quality time with my family, traveling to Atlanta to visit my girlfriend and her family, and flying down to Miami to attend a wedding. I’m looking forward to it all!

I hope you have an unforgettable and a happy holiday season! Be sure to count your blessings!

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – Special shoutout to my girlfriend because today is her birthday!! Happy Birthday Babe! 😁

The Joy of Resilience

It’s been about a week since we started the Renal block, and I believe it’s safe to say that the physiology of the kidneys is complex as hell. I’ve been hammering away at it all week and I still am far from comfortable with how the kidneys work…and we have an exam on the physiology this Friday.

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However, the more I’ve studied it, the more it’s starting to click for me. Go figure. Contrary to the opinions of many, I’m finding that I actually don’t hate Renal physiology. As a matter of fact, I see it all as a very intricate puzzle that needs to be put together. The many ions and transporters that are involved in concentrating urine and keeping the body in homeostasis can get confusing, but it’s also very intriguing. It’s especially intriguing given the fact that many things that happen in the kidneys relate to other organ systems I’ve learned about already like the heart, brain, liver, GI system, etc. Overall, I’ve been slaving at understanding this material, but I haven’t been necessarily suffering. I just need to get it all together before Friday.

Then I’ll be on Winter Break ya bishhhhh!!!

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Gotta stay focused tho. I have five whole days of work until then.

In this block, we’ve all been assigned to meet with a patient on dialysis treatment at a local dialysis center. My assigned day happened to be last Wednesday, so I went ahead and drove up to the dialysis center that I was assigned to that day in order to learn more about life as a dialysis patient. When I got to the unit where all the patients were, I was randomly given someone to talk to, who happened to be a black male who looked to be somewhere in his early 60s or so. We introduced ourselves to each other and began to talk about where we came from. A couple of minutes into the convo, he mentioned that he was a Kappa, which completely took me by surprise. When I told him I was one too, boooyyy did his face light up! He started grinning from ear to ear and then proceeded to spill his whole life story in pure excitement. He spoke with me about how he had been a teacher for 34 years, in which he taught middle and high school students and how strict he was as an educator. He also talked about how strong his marriage has been throughout his time on dialysis, how his college days helped shape him up to be the man he is today, how tough being on dialysis is and how important a positive attitude and unwavering faith is. I’ve been aware of how often patients on dialysis need to go to a center in order to get treatment, but just hearing it come out of the mouth of someone I was talking one-on-one with really made it real. He has to go to a dialysis center three days a week, and the treatment takes about four hours each time. That’s a LOT of time just sitting around being hooked onto a machine. He described to me how he’s met a good number of people from all walks of life in the center and how grateful he is to be at the dialysis center at Wake due to its state-of-the-art care and facility. We (He) ended up talking for almost an hour and a half, which I felt flew by really quickly. He was really grateful to have been able to talk with me, and I felt the same about being able to gain some knowledge of his perspective of life as a dialysis patient. It was a wonderful experience overall, and it helped put a face to the material I’m learning in the Renal block.

Apart from school, I’ve had a pretty eventful weekend which included fellowshipping at two different houses that belonged to physicians, visiting the elementary school that I’m helping to start a mentorship program at, attending the annual medical school holiday party, wrapping and delivering Christmas gifts as Santa to kids afflicted with sickle cell anemia, and going out to Chapel Hill to mingle with some SNMA medical students at Duke and UNC. Now that I just typed that, I’m looking at it and am saying to myself how crazy it is that I actually did all that in the past couple of days. Everything I did this weekend was pretty fun though, especially being able to dress up as Santa Claus and watching the faces of the resilient kids light up as they received their gifts!

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The costume had me looking absolutely ridiculous though 😂😂😂. I didn’t have a white beard, and my pants were extremely short…so my red Nike socks were in plain sight along with my Lebron’s. Someone told me I looked like the Santa from Friday After Next. Lol, I was also being hella extra in my costume and just having a good time with it overall. My friends that were helping pass out gifts to the kids thought it was all so funny. Even the older ladies in charge of the event were in tears as I came out in my highwaters! I think it’s safe to say my friends and I helped bring some joy that morning to everyone in attendance!

Okay, time to crank out this last week of study before winter break.

Y’all have a stellar week!

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” – Zig Ziglar

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I had my last medical ethics class and my last Health Systems & Policy class last Monday! No more long Monday afternoons!!

The Five-Day Block.

Good God.

Last week was a lot.

Buuut I finished the Derm block thooo!!

Having a week-long block was an intriguing, yet annoying experience that I would never want to have to go through again. I was literally studying at all times, even having to sacrifice an hour or three of sleep in order to stay caught up. It didn’t help that I was also busy doing other things outside of studying during the week. Felt like finals in college all over again B. Wasn’t fun. But looking back, it’s amazing how much I was able to learn between 8:00 AM on Monday morning and 1:00 PM on Friday afternoon, which is when I took my Derm exam. The amount of material I learned and hammered in my brain during that short time frame could EASILY be covered in a college semester. EASILY. Shiii, it was a bit fast-paced even for medical school standards. But whatever, I learned everything I needed to learn and I felt pretty good through the test, which was one of the most straight-forward tests I’ve taken since being at this school. Another thing I realized while studying; you gotta have a strong stomach to be a Dermatologist. There were a ton of disturbing images that we had to look at, a few of them even making me cringe a little. Also, when it came to viewing disease images on the body, NO parts of the body were spared. Yeah, think about that for a sec. You can imagine how unpleasant some of the sights must’ve been. If you want to check out some of the skin diseases for yourself, go ahead and Google either psoriasis, bullous pemphigoid, seborrheic keratosis, elephantiasis, herpes simplex virus type 2, intertrigo, human papillomavirus, epidermolysis bullosa, toxic epidermal necrolysis, and/or hidradenitis suppurativa. Those should give you a good idea of what I’m talking about.

And that’s only a small sample of what skin conditions are out there. Happy clicking!

Aside from being in lecture and studying, we were given the opportunity to practice basic cryosurgery, punch biopsies and shave biopsies on a cadaver in the anatomy lab. Before I go on though, I gotta comment on the body that we used. She hadn’t even been embalmed yet, so she looked as if she was asleep. She also looked as if she was in her 30’s, and she even had highlights in her hair! It was soooo weird yo. You would think going through anatomy lab last year would have prepared me for anything…but those bodies last year were embalmed already, so they were grayish and pretty much all of those cadavers were of elderly people. This one looked as if she could have been alive just yesterday, and she was mad young. I couldn’t even manage to look at her face, which was thankfully covered. It was all just way too real. But anyways, it was fulfilling to have been able to practice performing those different types of biopsies and to have been able to use the liquid nitrogen “freeze gun” to freeze pieces of skin. It’s not really called a freeze gun, but I like the sound of that lol. We were also able to practice suturing skills, which I may or may not be getting better at. But I did suture a cut shut, so I’m getting somewhere!

The next day, we got the opportunity to go on a “field trip” in a dermatology outpatient clinic, where we rotated through 11 different stations to get some first-hand experience with the subject. Most of the stations had real patients with real skin diseases and were able to explain what their life has been like with their respective conditions. Some of these conditions included CREST syndrome, necrobiosis lipoidica, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, alopecia areata, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and vitiligo, just to name a few. It was absolutely fascinating. There was also a station where we looked at slides through a microscope, a station where we were given a mini-lecture on certain diseases, and a station where we learned how skin allergies were tested. It was a fun experience overall! Even after everything I’ve gone through with this block though, I don’t think I want to be a Dermatologist. It’s hella chill and fascinating and all, but I don’t know if it’s for me. But I’ve learned to never say never, so we’ll see.

Outside of this block, I was given an opportunity to travel to NC State in order to participate in a medical school panel for some of the students there. It was refreshing to talk face-to-face with pre-meds and to realize how far I’ve come since being a pre-med student myself. It was actually stunning to realize how far I’ve come. Some of the students were asking things that seemed to be common sense to me now, but I know for sure that I had once asked those same questions when I was in college. It was also invigorating to be able to tell them that although med school is tough, it’s probably not as crazy as they expect it to be. With my week being as busy as it was already, you may be sitting there asking yourself why the hell I decided to go to Raleigh to participate in a medical school panel on a Tuesday night? Well, to tell the truth, I was asked to do so over a month ago and I agreed without actually knowing what my schedule was going to look like lol. But even when I got my schedule, I decided to stick with it because I know myself. I knew I’d be able to manage that and still stay caught up in my classes. Plus, I love getting opportunities to help motivate college students achieve what they want to achieve. I truly do believe that if you really want to do something, you’ll find a way to make it happen. So I made it happen.

A couple days later, I helped set up a training event for people interested in Sight Savers, a glaucoma screening program run by the Student National Medical Association here at Wake. It was pretty cool to see how many people showed up to be trained. The free Qdoba’s was also fantastic. Students were trained to use machines that are designed to calculate visual fields and visual acuity. They were also trained to calculate eye pressures using a tonopen, which is a little pen-shaped device that you tap into someone’s numb eye repeatedly in order to get an eye pressure reading. It sounds terrifying, but it’s not. Trust me. Now that we got a fresh new crop of students trained to use the machines, hopefully we can do some good work in the community sometime soon.

A couple of days later (yesterday), me and a small group of SNMA members got together and helped construct a couple of houses with Habitat for Humanity. We used the experience as fellowship while at the same time doing some good for the community. It was a great experience! Me and a couple of friends were crawling around in a crawl space under the house though, which was actually pretty crazy. But I learned quite a bit about how insulation works in a house, as well as how water is pumped through the pipes that I saw while in the crawl space. There was even free Bojangles thrown into the mix. Great times, great times.

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I only got two weeks until winter break. The only thing standing in my way is the first part of the Renal block, which I have an exam for on the last day of school before winter break. I’ve heard mostly bad things about the Renal block, but y’all know by now that the things I hear don’t faze me as much as they faze other people. But I definitely know that it’s not going to be an easy block, especially if they had to separate it in parts. I can do this…I can do this…I can do this…WOOSAHHH, WOOSAHHH.

Make your week a fantastic one!

“If you’re distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” – Marcus Aurelius

– Black Man, M.D.