When Life Gives You Lemons…

So I got this Anesthesia midterm exam tomorrow and I have no idea how it’s going to go down. All I’ve heard about the exams on this rotation is that they were ridiculously hard (apparently it’s all resident/fellow level material 😐) and that the questions on these exams were very nitpicky. After having read ten dense chapters of this “Basics of Anesthesia” book I’ve been lugging around these past couple of weeks, I can see why this midterm has the potential to be so difficult. I have no clue what questions I’m going to get, and there’s no way that I’m going to know everything that I’ll probably need to know for this test. There’s just way too much information to absorb. It also doesn’t help that I’m not that motivated to study day and night for it, not only because it feels pointless to do so (I’ve had so many people tell me how notoriously difficult it is, including Anesthesia residents), but also because I have no interest in going into this specialty and won’t be using the majority of what I’ve been learning after this rotation is over.

However, I’ve been mindful enough to seriously work on skills like establishing IV access, bag-mask-ventilation and intubation, because I will absolutely need them in my future career as a Pediatrician. I’ve also picked the topic of “Pediatric Airway Management” as my presentation topic (I’m required to present a topic to my classmates and an attending physician, in case you missed that on my last post) because again, I’m going to tailor my experience in this rotation as much as I can to my career path. And by picking that topic, I’ll be more engaged in creating my presentation because I’ll be learning very useful things that I’ll more than likely be implementing in residency.

Speaking of, I finally finished my interview season last Tuesday at UVA! The interview day was a great one, and I had a wonderful experience overall while at Charlottesville. I had actually never been there before, so it was cool to be able to briefly check the town out. I’ll admit, it’s a neat little town; I could see why some people would be happy settling down there for some time. And because it’s a college town, the presence of UVA is very palpable throughout the area. The people in the pediatric department at UVA were all very kind and welcoming, which I really appreciated. Overall, I’m glad that I decided to make the drive up there to complete that interview, even though I had to reschedule it from last month and I ended up missing a day of my current rotation because of it.

I must say though, the scenery up to Charlottesville from Winston-Salem and back was quite dreary. 😅 Although I spent the majority of my childhood in Virginia, I had never been in those parts of the state before. Some of the towns I drove through looked pretty rundown and because of the season, the trees were all bare. Plus, I saw a massive Confederate flag waving in the wind at some point during my drive back. It was such a stark reminder that I was in the South and in a very different area of the state that I called home for so long. I sure wasn’t trying to get stuck around any of those parts, especially at night. So you already know that I was zipping across that state highway as fast as I legally could lol.

In addition to finishing the interview trail this past week, I got the chance to sit in on a Grand Rounds talk about caring for patients who are transgender and I also participated in my first Anesthesia long call shift. The Grand Rounds talk was an interesting one, where a speech pathologist talked about the importance of recognizing the culture of this population of people and how to help them feel welcome when they come to establish care with physicians. I learned a lot about what it’s like to live in this world as a person who identifies as transgender, and I realized just how much I didn’t know about this population. I can’t even begin to imagine the lack of knowledge that some people, especially those who aren’t accepting of other cultures in the first place, have for this community of people. Listening to the presentation also forced me to think about how my beliefs of transgender people have changed over the years as I’ve matured and how societies around the world severely marginalize this population on a daily basis. I’m glad to have been able to attend this presentation and while I’m sure that there were some people in the audience who would have rather not have been there or didn’t necessarily agree with what the speaker was saying, being exposed to this information is very important because it can very much impact the care of a patient who they may end up caring for in the future.

In regards to my 15-hour long call shift, it wasn’t really that bad at all. I actually was able to get some of my rotation assignments done during my shift and I also witnessed some very memorable events as I followed the on-call Anesthesia resident around the hospital. Some of these events included watching the resident perform an awake intubation on a patient using a fiberscope and participating in a Level I trauma in the ED, where I watched a code take place and unfortunately witnessed the life of a patient end. I have another long call shift tomorrow, and there’s no telling what experiences are going to come out of that. All I can do is gear up and prepare for anything!

That’s all I got today. I have another couple weeks of Anesthesia ahead of me before I move on to my next rotation, which is one focused on Immigrant Health & Public Health. While I’m excited about that rotation, I still don’t really know what it is going to look like…hopefully I get that figured out sooner rather than later lol. I also will be heading to Nashville this upcoming weekend for the quarterly SNMA National Leadership Institute, where I’ll be participating in educational sessions, catching up with friends from across the country, and engaging talks with the Board of Directors about what the Annual Medical Education Conference in April is going to look like. I’ve never been to Nashville, so I’ll also do a little sightseeing if I have time! Should be a great experience! 😄

I hope that you have a phenomenal week! Wish me luck on this test tomorrow! 😅

“Be the kind of person that you want people to think you are.” – Socrates

– Black Man, M.D.

Coming Full Circle

Bruh, I was thiiiiis close to being able to say that I finally completed the interview trail.

THIIIIIIIIIIS CLOSE!

(I’m putting my index finger and thumb extremely close to each other over here for emphasis, you just can’t see it….so here’s an emoji 👌🏿)

But thanks to the freakin’ snowstorm last week, a.k.a. Winter Storm Diego (really though, where do they get these storm names from? Does someone decide on random names and put them in a database or something? Alas, I digress…), my UVA interview that was scheduled for last Tuesday had to be moved to a date in January. So I have one more interview to look forward to before I can truly say that I’ve finished the interview season. This also means that I now have to miss a day of my Anesthesiology Sub-Internship to drive up to Charlottesville and back down to Winston-Salem. Thanks a lot Diego. While it is now going to be a bit of an inconvenience to have to interview in January, I’m really glad that UVA was flexible enough to allow me to do so. I’m still looking forward to interviewing there, seeing what the program has to offer, meeting the residents, faculty and staff, and finally finishing out all of my interviews once and for all! 🙌🏿

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While I missed out on my previously scheduled UVA interview, I did get to go to my other interview I had scheduled for last week, which was at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, VA. As you may or may not already know, I grew up around this area of Virginia, so it was pretty much a homecoming for me. It was surreal being able to walk around the hospital that I grew up hearing so much about as a kid in my community. Also when people asked where I was from during my interview day, I no longer had to say “I’m from the Virginia Beach area of Virginia”, knowing that most people would have no clue where Norfolk or Chesapeake were. I could just proudly say,

“I’m from this area! I actually grew up in both Norfolk and Chesapeake!”

Okay I didn’t really exclaim it all overly excited like a cornball, but you get the idea. The hospital itself was a beautiful one, and I learned that it was the only free-standing hospital in the state of Virginia. I also had pleasant conversations during my actual interviews after being served breakfast in an elegant fashion. And to top it all off, I was placed in the comfiest apartment that I’ve been in since the interview season started, at no cost to me.

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After the interview day, I was even able to drive on home to spend time with my family for a couple of days before flying out to Atlanta, where I’ll be staying up until Christmas Eve. Overall, it was a great interview day and would have been a perfect way to cap off my interview season but you know, Diego.

Before I left to come to Atlanta, I made a quick stop at my former high school to talk to some of my former orchestra teacher’s students at his request. Again, it was very surreal to walk in the halls of my high school once again after graduating from there over seven years ago. Everything looked the same for the most part, but the students walking around literally looked like children to me. It made me think about just how young I was in high school, although I really believed in all my heart and soul that I was grown back then 😂. It was also funny listening to the bells once again, which signaled that it was time to switch classes. (Wow, that bell really used to run my school life lol.)

When I got to the orchestra room, I was again hit with a sentimental wave. I met the students that were there and after introducing myself to them, I began talking about my experiences as a student voyaging from high school to college to medical school. I then turned it into a Q&A session and was instantly hit with a barrage of questions that I was more than happy to answer. I repeated this whole event with his next class as well, who had just as many questions to ask me about my experiences. Overall, there were probably about 70-80 students listening to what I had to say. By listening to what types of questions they asked, I was reminded of how much information I had taken for granted over the years. Some of the things that have become basic facts to me were unknown mysteries to them. This made me even more thankful that I was there to give them some helpful information that even I did not have when I was in their shoes, while also helping them relieve some of the anxiety that a number of them were feeling about college and medical school. Speaking of, the vast majority of them had plans on going to college and a good amount also had aspirations of working in the field of healthcare. Not to mention that they ALL played an instrument. They were an impressive group of students y’all. I had an awesome time spending a couple of hours with them and am grateful for the opportunity that one of my favorite teachers of all time afforded me!

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Those are all the updates I have for you today! Now that I am officially on winter break, I plan on living it up to the fullest, starting with my week here in ATL with my girlfriend, her family and some of our friends! Plus I just upgraded to the iPhone XS, so I’m about to be actin’ a whoooole fool 😏😜😂.

I hope that your week ends up being a spectacular one! And be sure to cherish the time you have with your loved ones this holiday season!

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I would begin saying something about the political climate and the current state of the country, but I wouldn’t even know where to start. Y’all already know the insanity going on around us. So I’m going to keep it positive and encourage each of us to do what we can to make the lives of others around us better, no matter how small or big the act of kindness is. Let’s just all continue to support the people who are actively fighting to make this country a better place to live in!

Riding It Out

Just to let you know, this is probably going to end up being a short post because I don’t really have that much to say. Plus I’m currently snowed in and have been in and out of power throughout the day and I don’t want to use up a lot of my laptop battery typing this up. In all my years of experiencing snow days, I’ve literally never lost power because of the snow…so this predicament is pretty new to me lol. I had to go layer up on my clothing because without the heater keeping us warm, it’s already starting to get a little chilly in the apartment.

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Literally woke up to this.

Smh.

But enough about my current issues; let’s move on to other things I want to talk to you about.

I was fortunate enough to be able to stay in one state this past week as opposed to having to drive across multiple states for interviews like I did a couple weeks ago. Saved me a good amount of gas and time, I must say. 😄 During the duration of the week I interviewed at UNC and Duke, both of which I had wonderful experiences at! It was really convenient that they were close to each other, which made my life a whole lot easier. As you can see, I’m very thankful that I was able to schedule those interviews next to each other seamlessly lol. Like just about every other place I’ve interviewed at so far, the people at both of these residency programs were very kind and relatable. In addition, both of these programs are strong ones and they each have their own unique features that will come in handy when I finally sit down and figure out how I’m going to rank the programs I’ve interviewed at.

Speaking of which, that is definitely going to be a tough decision. Having to decide where I’m going to spend the next three years of my life is a huge responsibility to undertake, especially since I’m going to have to factor in things that I didn’t have to factor in back when I was applying to colleges and even medical schools. While I’m looking forward to coming to a decision on how my rank list will look, I’m also beginning to dread the thought of having to comb through and compare what each program has to offer in order to come to my decision. It’ll be a long process, but I do understand that if I really want to be serious about thinking through which program I’ll be happiest at, it will be absolutely necessary to take some extra time to do so.

One thing that I do want to mention before I close out this post is the frequency in which I’ve been able to talk about this blog in my one-on-one residency interviews. I’ve found it fascinating how many times the topic of my blog has come up throughout my interview season. Some interviewers had been so intrigued about my blog that they visited it before meeting me, and there have even been a few interviews where it took up the majority of the conversation!

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When I first started this blog in the summer before my first year of medical school, I would have never imagined that it would become a solid talking point during my residency interviews. To tell the truth, I didn’t even know that it would have expanded as much as it did these past few years. All I had in mind back then was to type up and share weekly updates about my experiences as a medical student. The fact that this simple idea transformed into the full-force entity that “Black Man, M.D.” is today continues to astound me on a daily basis. Who would have thought I had it in me to create something like this? Better yet, who would’ve thought that I would be able to carve out the time these past few years to continue creating content for the blog, regardless of the challenges that medical school brought and continues to throw my way? Through this platform, I have been able to create and maintain relationships with so many people that I would have never had otherwise connected with, while at the same time helping myself reflect on my own experiences and helping motivate other people in various capacities. It’s so easy to talk about my work with this blog that it almost feels like a cheat code whenever I’m asked to describe what it is during my interviews. I could literally talk about it for days lol. As a matter of fact, I’ve already talked more about it just now than I had planned to, so I’m gonna go ahead and stop talking about it now. 😅

Remember when I said this was probably going to be a short post? Hahaha yeah, me too. Well the post ended up being kind of short, I think. Well relative to some of the other posts I’ve typed in the past, it definitely is. Okay, now I’m rambling. I have two more interviews scheduled for this week at the University of Virginia and Eastern Virginia Medical School, but the way this weather is looking, I have no idea if I’ll be able to make it to UVA for my interview on Tuesday. Hopefully things begin clearing up sooner rather than later so that I can drive up there safely! 🤞🏿

I hope that you all have a stupendous week! For those of you affected by the inclement weather, be sure to stay safe!

“Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.” – Benjamin Disraeli

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I almost forgot to mention that I got the opportunity to be Santa again at my SNMA chapter’s annual Christmas Party for kids with sickle cell that took place yesterday! I had just as much fun as I had when I was Santa a couple of years ago! The kids loved the event, though some of them weren’t fooled by my Santa outfit 😂

Blazing The Trail

First things first. I got my car back! 😄😄😄

If you happened to check out my last post, you probably remember me talking about how I had to leave my car back in Virginia to get some issues fixed while I drove around in a rental car. To be honest, my rental car was cool and all…..but its MPG was TRASH. Had me spending so much bread last week as I drove all across Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. Smh. On the bright side though, I’ve been racking up a good amount of credit card points due to all the gas I had to buy throughout the week! Okay not a whole lot, but it’s better than not getting anything at all by using a debit card. I went back home yesterday, finally returned the rental car, picked up my car (whose MPG I’ve missed sooo much) and drove back to NC today where I’ll be prepping for my UNC and Duke interviews taking place this week. It’ll be nice to sit still in one place for a while after all of the ridiculous amount of driving I’ve been doing for the past two weeks.

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As I just said, I spent the week traveling across four different states in order to complete my interviews at Emory (Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta) and Atrium Health (Levine Children’s Hospital) in Charlotte. I had a great time learning about each of those residency programs while also getting to know some of the residents and faculty members at both of those institutions. And of course, I thoroughly enjoyed the free meals that were graciously given to us lol. As I was completing these past couple of interviews, I came to realize that I have gotten pretty comfortable with the overall flow of the interview process. From my interactions with other applicants, residents and faculty to the answers that I gave during the actual interviews themselves, it felt almost as if things were coming second-nature to me. I guess that’s bound to happen after being on the interview trail for almost two months. 🙃

Also, having two interviews in the same week wasn’t really as exhausting as I had initially thought it was going to be. Sure the drives were annoying (Shoutout to Michelle Obama’s audiobook for making the time fly by), but the actual interview days themselves haven’t really been draining at all. That’s a huge plus in interviewing at Peds programs; people are amazingly kind and, for the most part, the interviews are very conversational. Only thing that’s really been draining as of late is the money from my bank account…but let’s not talk about that because I’m in a good mood right now. With seven interviews now complete, I’m fully prepared to take on the next two I have scheduled this week and to finish off my interview season by knocking out my last two interviews next week! 😄 (I previously had two more scheduled in January, but I’m canceling them because I feel comfortable with the number of interviews I currently have and I really like the places I’ve interviewed at so far. Plus, traveling to those institutions wouldn’t be friendly to my bank account 😅)

One other thing I did in between my two interviews this past week was to actually serve as an interviewer for Wake medical school applicants. Yeah, pretty crazy ain’t it? I literally went from interviewee to interviewer back to interviewee in the span of four days.

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As I sat in the room waiting for my first interviewee to enter on Wednesday morning, I couldn’t help but feel amazed at the fact that things had really come full circle for me. I recalled the pleasant interview experience I had with a fourth-year medical student back when I was interviewing for a spot at Wake’s medical school and remember feeling like it would take forever to get to where he was at in his medical journey. I also remember thinking how awesome it was that a medical student was getting the opportunity to participate in the admissions process and how cool it would be if I was given the opportunity to do the same for applicants in the future. Sitting alone in that room, I quickly came to the realization that now was that “future” I had been thinking about. I was getting the golden opportunity to interview pre-medical students who were hoping to gain access to the medical education that they had been working so tirelessly for. Granted, this MMI format that I was participating in was very different from the traditional 20-minute interviews I was engaged in when I interviewed at Wake, but the overall premise was the same: I get to have one-on-one conversations with medical school applicants and my evaluations of those conversations have a direct influence on whether the applicants receive an acceptance or not. It sure is an empowering feeling, to say the least. It is an absolute honor and privilege to be able to participate in the admissions process this year and I’m looking forward to interviewing more prospective medical students next semester, a.k.a my final semester of medical school!!

That’s all I have for you today! I hope that you have a blessed week!

“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” – Dalai Lama

– Black Man, M.D.

Shifting Into High Gear

I’ve been putting in MAD hours on the road as of late.

This past week alone, I drove from Philly down to Richmond in VA, down to Chapel Hill, back up to Richmond to pick up my brothers, over to my family in Southeast VA, BACK up to Richmond to drop off my bros, down back here to Chapel Hill where I’m currently typing up this post. I don’t even want to begin counting the number of miles that I’ve driven so far, much less the money I’ve spent on gas alone. The craziest part of it all is that my travels are only just beginning. 😩 I’m going to spend most of my day tomorrow driving down to Atlanta for my interview at Emory on Tuesday. Then on Tuesday afternoon, I’ll be FINALLY making my way back up to Winston-Salem for the first time since my Wake interview back in early October. But then at the end of the week, I’m going to be driving back down to Charlotte for another interview before having to freakin’ drive back home to Virginia to pick up my car.

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Yeah, you read that right.

Let me take a second to give you some context real quick. My car needed to pass the Virginia state inspection by the end of this month because my clearance from last year’s inspection will be expiring at the end of this week. So with that said, my plan was to take my car to get inspected during Thanksgiving break and have it pass the inspection with flying colors before continuing on with my life. Well, as you may have already correctly guessed by now, there were other plans written in the stars for me. Turns out that my car had a benign issue that made it ineligible to pass the state inspection and I got a big fat rejection sticker placed on my windshield.

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Of course I couldn’t drive around with a rejection sticker on my car, so I had to leave it with a dealership that is currently working on fixing the issue. In the meantime, I was forced to pay for a rental car, which I’ll be driving around this week until I get back home this upcoming weekend. Let’s look on the bright side though, at least I didn’t have to pay a young renter fee! Look at my age coming in clutch lol. Shoutout to being 25 and alive!

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After having to drive home and back this upcoming weekend, I’ll get a break from long-distance traveling because my next two interviews will be at UNC and Duke, which are pretty close to each other. Then I’ll be driving up to UVA the following week before driving home once more to complete my interview at EVMS in Norfolk. After that I’ll be done with my interviews for December! But then I’ll be traveling to Atlanta to spend some time with my girlfriend’s family before coming back home to spend the other half of my winter break with my own family. Then I’ll be driving back to Winston to start my next rotation.

SO. MUCH. TRAVELING.

It definitely could be worse though, so I’m not gonna complain much about it. I’m just going to be listening to a LOT of music these next few weeks. I also got Michelle Obama’s new book on Audible as well as a book by Malala Yousafzai, so I’m going to be learning much more about their respective lives too! I’ve already got a headstart on “Becoming Michelle Obama”, and I love it so far! 😁

I don’t really have much else to say other than that I really enjoyed having fun and catching up with friends and family during my Thanksgiving break. As always, the food was delicious and I had a blast playing Monopoly, UNO and FIFA with my siblings and cousins. My brothers and I even found our old Yu-Gi-Oh cards and dueled each other with them! 😂😂😂 I also spent some time helping my dad out at his pharmacy (BEDEI Compounding Pharmacy Services) and trying to get other areas of my life back in order after having spent the vast majority of my time this past month working in the hospital as a Sub-Intern.

In regards to my interview day at VCU this past Monday, the interviews themselves were a bit different from the interviews I’ve had so far at other institutions, but the people there were real nice, the food was wonderful and the hospital looked great! The pre-interview dinner was held at a resident’s house, which had the effect of making the interactions with the residents more intimate. We also got a trolley bus tour of the city of Richmond, where I learned a ton of information about the city that I wasn’t privy to before. With that interview day now over and behind me, I can comfortably say that I feel as if I’m hitting my stride on this interview trail! I’ve now completed five interviews and I think that I’ve gotten a good feel of what both the typical pre-interview dinner and the typical interview day is like. I hope that I can continue to maintain my stride as I work to sprint through these next six interviews taking place within the span of the next three weeks! 😅

I hope that you had an amazing Thanksgiving! Now that we’re all refreshed and ready to go, let’s make this last week of November a glorious one!

“Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou

– Black Man, M.D.

Christel Wekon-Kemeni, (7/8) M.D.

SEVEN SEMESTERS. 
SEVEN-EIGHTHS.
87.5 %.

It is nothing short of amazing that I’ve not only made it this far into my medical training, but that I’ve made it about 3.5 years into medical school without losing my overall positive and resilient mindset. What’s just as amazing to me is that I’ve ACTUALLY managed to update this blog with my experiences as a medical student on a weekly basis ever since August 2015, regardless of how busy I was or what I was going through.

August 2015?? Bruh!!

That’s almost 40 months! 160 WEEKS!!

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It’s absolutely incredible what you can do if you take things one step at a time with pure determination. You’ll be amazed at all the opportunities that open themselves up to you along the way and at all the progress that you end up making when you take a moment along your journey to look back and reflect on your experiences. Just by blogging alone, I’ve been able to connect with so many people that I would have most likely otherwise never connected with, while at the same time satisfying my drive to crush negative stereotypes and to help others reach the goals that they have set for themselves. In addition, the blog has given me an avenue to express my creative side in a sustained manner, which has encouraged me to keep an innovative mindset at all times. This has helped fulfill me during my journey in medicine and continues to be not only a source of enjoyment for me, but has also ended up becoming an interesting talking point in my everyday conversations, including my residency interviews! 😯

Speaking of residency interviews, I have my fifth one coming up tomorrow at VCU in Richmond, VA! Yeah I know, they’re starting to come up faster aren’t they? As I said last week, my interview season is really starting to kick into high gear and I’m 100% ready for it. I just had my Pittsburgh interview last Monday, which I think went really well overall! My experience in Pittsburgh was actually a very positive one; it was evident how happy the pediatric residents were, the program leadership was very approachable, laid-back and hilarious, and the hospital was beautiful! It even had a 24/7 Starbucks!

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I definitely got great vibes from the program and enjoyed my time there, even though my circadian rhythm was still out of whack at the time thanks to the fact that I was still recovering from my week of nights. I had also never been to Pittsburgh before, so it was cool to check out the city for a bit although I didn’t have time to really see much of anything. However, I had PLENTY of time to appreciate how cold it was 😅.

I mentioned earlier how much you can amaze yourself if you just stay determined in reaching the goals you’ve set for yourself by taking things one step at a time. It turns out that I’ve managed to do just that throughout the course of these past four weeks as I trekked through my Sub-Internship rotation at CHOP! As I sit here typing this while reflecting on my experiences during the rotation, I am still stunned at how much my clinical skills have improved in that relatively short amount of time. I came into the rotation feeling pretty confident in the skills that I had developed up until that point, only to realize that there was so much more for me to learn and experience if I were to function effectively on an intern level.

This was an experience that was truly necessary for my growth, even though I had no idea I needed it and had initially wanted to rotate through a sub-specialty elective. While it was tough at first, I eventually started to get the flow of the team and began consistently functioning on a level that I had only occasionally functioned on in the past in a clinical setting. Once I reached that level, I continued to push myself even further than I had ever done in the past (this was noticed by my senior residents and attendings on the team, who gave me very positive feedback because of my efforts 😁) and by the end of my rotation (which was yesterday), I truly felt like I was effectively operating on an intern-level.

This realization was further cemented by a comment one of the interns made to me yesterday. While waiting for an attending to arrive so we could continue rounds, my team began talking about life in residency and a couple of the interns stated that they were actually enjoying their intern year even though the workload was heavy. I stated that I was happy to hear positive things about intern year for once, because I had just resigned to the fact that although I would get plenty of excellent and unforgettable learning experiences during the year, it was going to be one of the hardest years of my life and that it would be something that I just had to power through whether I liked it or not. The senior resident replied that once you accept that it’s going to be a hard year, it really isn’t so bad. Then one of the interns said to me, “Honestly, intern year is pretty much what you’re doing now as a Sub-I on this rotation, except there’s multiple inpatient rotations and you also don’t have the added pressure of having to perform your best everyday for a grade because you already have a secure spot in the program. Plus you’re finally getting paid.

If what he said was true, then intern year really isn’t going to be as brutal as I’ve been picturing it to be. Sure, I’ll be working my butt off and the learning curve will be pretty freakin’ steep, especially at the beginning of the year, but it’ll be all for the bigger purpose of becoming the best physician that I can be for the populations whom I’ll be serving throughout my career. Plus, if I was able to sucessfully perform intern-level work at CHOP as a fourth-year medical student, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be able to effectively adjust to the work that I’ll be ultimately responsible for once I finally begin residency next year as a true intern with an M.D. behind my name.

Wow man, I’m really almost 90% of the way there. That’s just so wild to me. 

I’m really about to be someone’s doctor in six months! 👨🏿‍⚕️

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I hope that your Thanksgiving is a very gratifying one!!

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem

– Black Man, M.D.

Workin’ Day & Night

Man, it has been a STRUGGLE trying to switch my body from my night shift schedule back to my regular daytime schedule.

I finished my last night shift of the week yesterday morning and headed straight for my bed to crash, only to wake up four hours later to get ready for my flight to Pittsburgh. Packing on four hours of sleep is not the best idea, just so you know. I had to force myself to stay awake the rest of the day as I got to the airport, got through security (there was literally nobody in line…it was just me. Had me feeling like some sort of celebrity 😎), ate a pretzel from Auntie Anne’s, flew to Pittsburgh (the view of the city at night is niiiiice), got picked up by some friends from college, went out to dinner with them, came back to their place, did some quick reviewing of the pediatrics residency program at Pittsburgh, FaceTimed my girlfriend and finally got ready to go back to sleep around midnight. I’m glad I decided to go through the torture of staying awake though, because I was knocked out about five seconds after my head hit the pillow lol. Then my stubborn circadian rhythm kicked in and I found myself up and awake in the middle of the night for about an hour for no good reason. I finally crashed once more and woke up much later than I would have liked. It’s all good though, I definitely needed the rest. I just got back from a diversity brunch that the pediatrics program here in Pittsburgh hosted, and will be going to a pre-interview dinner later on this evening that should help prepare me for my interview tomorrow. It should be a great time! 😄

As you can see, my interview season is starting to shift into high gear. After tomorrow’s interview, I have one at VCU next Monday, followed by a flurry of interviews taking place in the following weeks at Emory, Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, UNC, Duke, UVA, EVMS, MUSC and the University of Maryland. There’s going to be a lot of money spent on gas and plane tickets, that’s for sure. Good thing I decided to get a new credit card for this season; I’m tryna make some money off of all these expenses lol. It’s going to be fun to get to see all these different programs and to meet all sorts of people, but I also feel like my tank will be on close to empty by the time this interview trail comes to an end. Then I’ll be chillin’ for real!

But before I fully shift into high gear, I have to focus on completing my last week of my rotation at CHOP. It’s crazy that I’ve finally made it to this last week! I’ve experienced a surge of growth and newfound confidence in my clinical skills these past three weeks, a surge that I know will continue as I blaze through this final week. I’m grateful for having been able to rotate through this hospital and am also very grateful that after a five-month long stretch of back-to-back rotations, I’ll FINALLY be enjoying a hard-earned break from clinical responsibilities! I remember looking at my fall semester schedule back in June and being like, “Dang, this is about to be a hell of a ride 😅”. Back then, November had seemed so far away…but look at us now! WE MADE IT!!!

happy philadelphia 76ers GIF by NBA

Before I forget, let me go on and tell you about my week of nights.

First off, it was strange having to be asleep in the daytime and being up all night (reminded me of my long nights during my Ob-Gyn rotation). I really felt like I was missing out on the events going on around me in the world. And at night when I was wide-awake, my phone was pretty much a brick in my pocket because everyone else was fast asleep while I was busy running around the floor admitting patients. It wasn’t like I had a lot of time to be on my phone anyway; I really was busy most of the night every shift. The team consisted of my senior resident, the intern covering the floor, and me. Yeah, just the three of us. Managing a floor that could fill up to a cap of 22 patients.

d&d what GIF by Hyper RPG

If we weren’t managing the care of patients who had already been admitted to the floor, we were working on admitting new patients onto the floor. Most of the time, we would be doing both of those things at the same time. In the rare event that we had some off-time where we weren’t being called for something, we would either be engaging in active learning with our senior resident, reading up on some information that we wanted to learn more about, monitoring our patients’ charts for any changes in their current statuses, or just talking about our respective lives. By the time the morning came around, I would be exhausted. Yet, I would have to stick around a couple extra hours most days to present patients that I helped admit overnight. I honestly don’t even know how I was able to get through those presentations…I sincerely felt like I was babbling nonsense due to fatigue, but I apparently wasn’t because everyone seemed to get the picture I was trying to paint with each of my presentations.

Overall, I actually enjoyed my night shifts! The whole flipping-my-schedule-upside-down thing sucked but once I adjusted to that, I could really begin to appreciate the laid-back, flexible nature of working at night. Oh, and shoutout to the cafeteria being open from 1-4 AM! That was extremely clutch, but it sure was tragic that it was closed from 7:30 PM till 1 AM 😕. I had even more independence at night than I did in the daytime, which is saying a lot because I already felt like I had a ton of independence during my day shifts. I also appreciated the fact that I didn’t have the time constraints that come with pre-rounding and rounding, which allowed me more time to have some touching conversations with my patients, read about things that I found interesting, learn how to be more effective in putting in the correct orders, and write some high-quality notes about the patients I admitted. I also practiced managing multiple patients overnight by splitting the patient list with the overnight intern, meaning that I took responsibility (with oversight of course) of the care of some of the patients on the list. I was really out there feeling like a doctor, and it was pretty cool!

I had a great experience on nights, but it sure does feel good to be back on a regular schedule again. It’s too bad that I won’t get to wear scrubs during the daytime and I’ll be having to wake up real early again, but at least I won’t be messing around with my sleep schedule! Plus, it doesn’t hurt to be looking fresh at the hospital with my bowtie game on 100%!

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That’s it from me today! I hope that you have a fantastic week!

Cheers to my last week of clinical responsibilities in 2018! And Happy Veterans Day! A HUGE THANK YOU to those of you who have served this country!

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – I FINALLY got my absentee ballot the day before Election Day. I had to sacrifice some sleep to get it sent out but it was well worth it, even though the House representative I voted for ended up not winning the election. After my harrowing voting experience, hearing an unsettling amount of horror stories from friends who have tried to vote, and witnessing dangerous levels of corruption and irregularities in the voting system, I’m committed to helping make some very necessary changes in the way elections work in this country. Don’t ask me how I’m going to help make a change, because I don’t know yet…but I’m going to think of something and become more engaged in voter registration and reform in the overall voting system. Hopefully the results of this election will serve to restore some sort of order and sanity in the government. Shoutout to all the elected newcomers to Congress who were inspired to run because they were absolutely sick of the current state of affairs in the country!

P.P.S. – I was able to check out Philly for a bit last Sunday in my severely limited free time! I got to run up the Rocky steps, had brunch at a Lebanese restaurant, had a photo-op with the LOVE structure at Love Park, walked around downtown Philly and visited the Barnes Foundation to look at a ton of original, expensive paintings that I don’t really care about. But it was free to go, and the value of all the art in the museum is estimated to be at about $25 billion, so I had nothing to lose by checking it out!

Evolution.

That extra hour that Daylight Savings gave me today was a glorious gift.

I got to “sleep in” and I still got up at a very reasonable time to take full advantage of my day off!

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It feels great to wake up refreshed and know that you have the full day to do whatever you want with it. My last day off from work was last Sunday, unless you want to count my interview day at CHOP that took place on Tuesday since I didn’t have to work that day either, though I was at the hospital most of the day learning about CHOP and interacting with residents and faculty members. Speaking of, I think interview day went well overall! I got great vibes from the faculty members I interviewed with and it was wonderful to meet both the Residency Program Director as well as the Chair of Pediatrics and Physician-In-Chief of the hospital system. I now have three interviews down, and quite a few more to go! My next one is taking place next Monday in Pittsburgh and just so you know, Pittsburgh and Philly are on OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE STATE. Don’t be a dummy like me and assume that they are close to one another just because they are both cities in Pennsylvania. I had to get a flight because with my tight schedule, I just couldn’t afford to drive 5+ hours to get there and another 5+ hours to get back. SMH. I’ve never been to Pittsburgh before though, so it should be a cool experience!

Back to my second week of my sub-internship at CHOP. I’ve definitely adjusted to the flow of things a lot more since my first couple of days here, and I’ve become more comfortable with my team as time has passed on. With that being said, I’ve come to realize how much this place can humble you. I’ve been consistently challenged to think independently, to provide quality care as the primary “physician” for my patients, and to adjust my performance based on the constant feedback that I’ve been receiving. In these past two weeks, I’ve learned so much not only about medicine and the reality of patient care in an inpatient setting, but also about myself and my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve come to realize that while I may know more than I previously thought I did about certain things, there are also quite a few things that I didn’t know that I didn’t know, if that makes sense.

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I’m starting to consistently think about and do important things that I had only intermittently thought about or done in the past, such as providing discharge criteria for admitted patients, referencing evidence-based research in my patient presentations, committing to specific plans for specific problems that my patients have, prioritizing important tasks to be completed earlier in the day (discharges, consults, etc.), becoming familiar with the dosing and time intervals of medication administration, coordinating care with other members of the healthcare team, giving concise & high-quality handoffs to interns starting their shift, completing concise discharge summaries, putting in orders; the list goes on and on. I’m literally doing intern-level work with the only difference being that I have a lighter patient load than the interns do, I have less experience than they do (it literally takes me twice as long to do just about anything that they do), and I have some additional support from the senior residents on my team.

While my days have been long and exhausting, my learning experience has been spectacular. There’s nothing like throwing yourself into a sub-internship position in a brand-new city at one of the top children’s hospitals in the world. Some may call it insane, but I call it yanking yourself out of your comfort zone and embarking upon a challenging experience that forces you to evolve and become comfortable being uncomfortable. Okay yeah, I admit it’s pretty insane. It’s actually not what I initially asked for when applying to this visiting clerkship program. However, when this was the only option given to me, I ultimately accepted it because I wanted to experience what working at a hospital like CHOP would be like, I wanted to expand my network by meeting brand-new people and mentors, and I wanted to make the most out of my fourth-year of medical school by diversifying my experiences as much as possible. Plus, it is all being paid for, so why not? 🤷🏿‍♂️

get your billion back make it rain GIF by Billion Back Records

It has been a tough two weeks for sure, but I can literally feel myself becoming a better clinician as a result of this experience. This has definitely been a very necessary experience for my growth, and it’s great to get this insight as to what intern year will most likely look like. Of course now that I’ve started to get into my groove, my schedule is being flipped-turned-upside down and I’m going to be working a week of nights this week, starting tomorrow night.

oh no johnny rose GIF by Schitt's Creek

I’m not sure how this is going to go, but what I do know is that I’m going to continue to do my best and maximize my learning opportunities during my night shifts! I’ll surely be admitting a ton of patients, which will give me great practice in completing the admission process and writing great H&P (History & Physical) notes. Because the night team is much smaller than the day team, I’ll get the opportunity to get more one-on-one time with my senior resident, which will give me more opportunities to elicit feedback in order to continue improving my skills. Only thing that’s really gonna suck is the fact that my sleep schedule is going to be all screwed up, especially the first couple of days. I’m sitting here trying to plot on how to alter my sleep schedule today knowing damn well that I’m going to be tired on my first night shift, no matter what I try to do to prevent it. My circadian rhythm is just that strong. *Siiiiiiiigh*

On that note, I’m going to go ahead and enjoy my day off! I’m sad that I missed both Howard’s homecoming last weekend and UMiami’s homecoming this weekend due to my rotation schedule…they both looked like a lot of fun. Too bad the ‘Canes aren’t doing so hot this year on the football field. Welp, there’s always next year….😪😪😪

Have an amazing week!

ELECTION DAY IS FINALLY UPON US!!! GO VOTE!!!

“One finds limits by pushing them.” – Herbert Simon

– Black Man, M.D.

New City, New Flow

Alright, let me start off by saying that I’m definitely going to be enjoying EVERY SECOND of my fourth-year up until the minute that I enter the hospital for my first shift as an intern next year, because if intern year is going to be even busier than I’ve already been during my first week of my Sub-Internship, I’m not 100% ready for it yet. 😅

While I’ve gotten so much great learning in the hospital this past week, I’ve had such little free time outside of it. Like, my days would usually consist of me getting up at 4:15 AM to make sure that I got to the hospital by 5:30 AM in order to adequately pre-round on my patients and write progress notes, some of whom would be people that were newly admitted overnight. Then I would go to morning report around 7:30 AM (or Grand Rounds around 8:00 AM), round on patients with various attending physicians until about 11 AM or so, work on any orders, discharges, consults, etc. until noon conference, come back from conference in order to spend my afternoon executing the care plans that we’ve decided on for our patients while at the same time coordinating patient care between various entities both inside and outside of the hospital, checking in on my patients, admitting new patients, writing H&Ps, attending impromptu learning discussions hosted by attendings, going to simulation labs and learning conferences specifically designed for the Sub-Interns at CHOP this month, writing discharge summaries, and a few other things that I can’t think of at the moment, before finally handing off my patients to the long-call intern and going home around 5 PM (plus or minus an hour).

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After getting home, I would have a couple hours to myself to take care of emails and other tasks that I couldn’t attend to during the day, before going to bed around 8:30 PM-ish, only to get up and do it all over again. And when I was on long call last Wednesday, I didn’t even leave the hospital until 9:30 PM due to a complicated admission. So yeah, long days with some awesome learning opportunities, but little free time lol. However, I did finally get the chance to explore a little bit of Philly with some of my good college friends last night after my 11-hour shift ended, although I first had to fight the urge to crawl into my bed and crash. I’m glad I was able to spend some time with them, because I hadn’t seen them in such a long time. We also grabbed some Philly cheesesteaks during our night out, which were freakin’ delicious after I put some hot sauce, ketchup and salt on them. On a sidenote, I didn’t realize how many friends I had up in Philly until I posted on IG that I was up here…even though my schedule is hectic, I’m gonna really try to make time for everyone I told that I would link up with, but it won’t be easy 😅.

Because I am here as a Sub-Intern, the responsibilites that have been entrusted to me are relatively enormous to what I’ve been used to. I mean, I knew I would be working hard and would have a good level of autonomy over my patients…but daaammmnnn! *in my best Chris Tucker voice* They really meant it when they told me that I would have full autonomy over my patients. I literally have been feeling like I’m my patient’s doctor, much more than I did when I was a third-year medical student. I mean yeah, I had a sub-internship (or Acting Internship as we call it at Wake) a couple months ago at Wake in Heme/Onc and I was doing a lot back then too. Even though I was pretty autonomous at that time, there was only so much I could do because of the fact that we had a lot of Oncology patients. So with that said, there was a good amount of oversight taking place by not only my senior resident, but also by the attendings. Because this current rotation is primarily a Gen Peds service mixed in with a few other specialties and we’re not dealing with chemotherapy on a daily basis, I am able to do more.

And BOOOYYY have I been doing more.

I honestly wasn’t prepared for it all the first day I picked up my patients. Even though I looked like I was doing fine from the outside (I got positive reinforcement from my senior resident on my first day, to my amazement), internally I was very frazzled and I felt like I just couldn’t get myself together. I was having trouble prioritizing patient tasks and trying to keep up with everything while at the same time trying to get used to this new service at a new hospital in a new city. Of course my senior resident and the other interns were there to answer questions and to support me, but because I hold myself to (sometimes ridiculously) high standards, I found myself becoming frustrated throughout the day as well as in my second day on the service because I didn’t feel like I was adapting to the flow of things quick enough. I quickly learned that while I’ll be getting high-quality education about medicine during the course of this month, what I’ll also be receiving that is just as important is high-quality education in the practical delivery of patient care in our complex healthcare system. Yeah I have the book knowledge, but I am definitely lacking on the more practical side of patient care, which I know will come with time spent during residency. That being said, I’ve been learning some very useful things this past week and am sure that I’ll continue to learn even more during these next three weeks.

I’ve definitely become acclimated to the service as the days have progressed, and I think that I’ve finally gotten somewhat more comfortable in the flow of things here. I went from asking myself on my first day why I decided to do this to myself when I could’ve been crusin’ through a much easier elective back in Winston, to being grateful yesterday that I was given this opportunity to leap out of my comfort zone and challenge myself in ways that will only benefit me in the long-run. I’m excited to be able to continue to expand my network, (try to) explore Philly some more while linking up with friends here, learn from the diverse patient population here, learn how to be even more efficient in patient care in the hospital and how CHOP’s hospital system works, and take advantage of the other various learning opportunites that will present themselves while I’m here. I’ve already grown quite a bit since I’ve been here and will only continue to grow some more as I take on this tough rotation day-by-day. It also helps to know that this is my last tough rotation of my fourth-year, so I’ll definitely be smooth-sailing after these next three weeks 😎. Well, relatively speaking at least. I still have other rotations to complete, but they shouldn’t be that difficult. But before those other rotations, I have both Thanksgiving and Winter Break to enjoy, as well as my four-week flex block that I will be using for the majority of my interviews!

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Speaking of, I got word a few days ago that I was blessed with an interview at CHOP that is very conveniently taking place this Tuesday! 🙏🏿 That definitely makes life a lot easier since I’m already up here and all. Between this interview and my next one taking place in a couple of weeks in Pittsburgh, I’ll have been able to knock out both my Pennsylvania interviews during my month up here. By the way, if you weren’t already aware like I wasn’t, Pittsburgh is about a five-hour drive from Philly. Yeah, it blew my mind too.

I guess this was one of those days where I just couldn’t seem to stop typing. I’ll end my post here so that we can both get on with our days haha. I hope you have a spectacular week!

AND PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEEEASSEEE EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE!!! IT’S CRUNCH TIME!!!

I’ve been going through a lot this past week in trying to get my absentee ballot (that I requested over a month ago) and have been sending in multiple emails and calls to my county’s board of elections because believe it or not, EVERY VOTE COUNTS. According to their office, they’ve FINALLY sent out my ballot yesterday, which is ridiculous but whatever. I REFUSE to let my voice be silenced, and it is imperative that you believe that your voice deserves to be heard, because it absolutely does. Voter suppression is real y’all, and I’m sure that there are some shady things going on with the overall voting system. However, attempting to make your voice heard with your vote is much better than not voting at all!!

“Falling down is not a failure. Failure comes when you stay where you have fallen.” – Socrates

– Black Man, M.D.

D.C. To Philly

A-hem, a-hemmm.

🎶Innnnnn West Philadelphia born and raised,

On the playground is where I spent most of my days

Chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool

And all shooting some b-ball outside of the school

When a couple of guys who were up to no good

Started making trouble in my neighborhood

I got in one little fight and my mom got scared

And said “You’re moving wity your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air”🎶

Now you already know that I couldn’t be up here in West Philadelphia without paying tribute to one of my all-time favorite actors! Shoutout to my man Will Smith, come out here and have brunch or something with a youngin’! 😄😎

Confused The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air GIF

Now that I’m all settled here in Philly after driving up here yesterday (TOLLS ARE THE DEVIL), it has finally hit me that my time in D.C. has officially come to an end. My final week at Children’s National was full of positive experiences, all of which led up to my residency interview there that took place on Friday! The interview day went by smoothly, even though both the morning traffic and the 1000+ traffic lights that I had to get through before arriving at the hospital tried to conspire against me 😒.

Throughout the day, I learned even more great things about the program than I had already known, which is saying a lot because, well you know, I spent a freakin’ month there. My fellow applicants and I were able to talk with current residents about the program, listen in on a presentation given by the program director (HE IS HILARIOUS 😂), meet the Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, get a tour of the hospital, and participate in a noon conference. Throughout the day, I had two separate interviews that felt moreso like genuine conversations rather than me being put on the spot in a glaring spotlight. Before I knew it, the interview day was over 😯. I think that it went well overall; hopefully my interviewers think the same! I honestly really lucked out with being able to schedule my interview on the last day of my rotation. This made the interview process here so much more convenient and it provided the perfect finish to my rotation experience.

neil patrick harris good job GIF by bubly

In the days leading up to my second interview of the interview season, I helped treat as many patients as I could by taking histories from them, performing physical exams, obtaining informed consents from parents if necessary, presenting them to my attendings, providing an assessment and plan, and writing notes on each patient. In addition, I continued to take in the diversity of the patient population by having conversations with parents about where they were from and the things that brought them to the nation’s capital. The topic of diversity came up during the meetings I had with the Department Chair of Pediatrics as well as with the Residency Program Director throughout the week. In my conversations with them, they demonstrated how committed they were to creating a physician workforce that mirrors the diversity of the patients in this country. The program really seems to be taking active measures in this realm, which is something that I really appreciate.

Completely unrelated to the topic of diversity, I decided to get an environmental allergy test because why not? I had never had one before and there was a nurse who needed to get some training in performing allergy tests, so I went ahead and helped her out by being a guinea pig.

BRUH.

I was floored when I got my results back.

Turns out my allergy testing came back positive for just about everything that I was tested for 😂. And I’m not even exaggerating. According to the test, I have an allergy to:

  • “Tree Mix 3” (Elm, Maple, Sweet Gum, Sycamore)
  • Bermuda
  • Johnson
  • KORT Grass Mix (Kentucky blue, Orchard, Red top, Timothy Grass)
  • Weed Mix 1 (Cocklebur, Lamb Quarter, Pigweeed, Plaintain, Russian Thistle)
  • Weed Mix 2 (Baccharius, Mugwort, Nettle, Ragweed, Sorrel)
  • Indoor and Outdoor Molds
  • Dust Mites
  • Cockroaches
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Rats
  • Mice

chris jericho what GIF by CBC

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have to avoid all of these things. A lot of these came back barely positive. Plus, it turns out that my body has been sensitized to the vast majority of these substances. However, my biggest reactions came from dust mites and cockroaches. The reaction was so positive that even the healthcare providers I was working with were flabbergasted. I told them that I had never really experienced any allergy symptoms, but I did tend to sneeze a lot whenever I was cleaning an area that had a lot of dust. I just figured that was a normal reaction for everyone lol. Also for the past couple years, I’ve experienced itchy and watery eyes on a nightly basis but I attributed that to dry eyes after my Optometrist diagnosed me with that. My attending suggested that my eyes may be getting dry as a symptom of dust allergy and that I could be experiencing itchy eyes every night because of the amount of dust that accumulates on my face throughout the day. The fact that my symptoms go away when I wash my face only made her suspicion that much stronger.

chris pratt mind blown GIF by Omaze

So I guess I officially have allergies lol. When I told my girlfriend, she was thrilled to hear that she was no longer the only one who suffered from allergies 😂. I guess I should start having some Zyrtec on hand or something now. Or maybe I’ll just keep making sure my face is clean at night. Yeah, I’ll just keep making sure my face is clean. Cheaper than popping a pill everyday.

Although I’ll miss the outpatient life (it was sooo good to me 😭), I’m looking forward to my inpatient experience here at CHOP that I’m sure will be as unforgettable as Children’s National was. I’m within walking distance from the hospital, which is awesome because I very quickly learned that trying to drive and park around here is pretty terrible. And I gotta give a HUGE SHOUTOUT to my friends (they also happen to be fellow ‘Canes 😏) up here who have allowed me to crash with them for the next month! I deeply appreciate your generosity!! 🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿

All done with this post! Bye for now! And I hope that your week is as great as the one that I’m hoping to have! ✌🏿

– Black Man, M.D.

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” – Tony Robbins

P.S. – I just recently got hit by some voter suppression tactics and I’m still in shock about it. Worst part is that I have other friends who told me that they were affected by voter suppression as well. I can’t even imagine the number of people out there who are going to decide not to vote because of the inconvenient difficulties that can spring up unexpectedly while trying to do so. Best believe that I’ll be on the phone with someone this week about this. North Carolina better give me the absentee ballot that I applied for over a month ago…they messing with the WROOOOOOONG ONE 👊🏿👊🏿👊🏿