No Time For Baby Steps

Shoutout to Daylight Savings Time for completely disorienting me this morning.

I woke up at 7:30 this morning real confused after my alarm went off…then I remembered that we sprung forward an hour, meaning that I lost an hour of sleep. Smh. So in my half-asleep state, I decided to be nice to myself and give myself at least an extra 30 minutes of shut-eye. I turned off my alarm and completely forgot to reset it because, well you know, I was half-asleep. I blinked and it was 8:55 AM. Had me like:

waking up

So that’s how I started my day. I’ve been doing practice questions and going over my answers ever since then. As a matter of fact, doing absurd numbers of practice questions and reviewing them has literally taken over my life ever since I took my final exam last Tuesday. I’ve actually been answering numerous Step-style questions every day since then. It’s been an annoying, yet fruitful experience so far. Annoying because these questions are hard as hell and are making me feel inadequate and whatnot. (Boooyyy do I have room for improvement.) But on the flip side, it has been fruitful because I’ve been learning and re-learning SO MUCH information while reviewing these questions. I can feel my knowledge expanding exponentially with each day that passes, and I just hope that my efforts in retaining all of this knowledge for test day prove to be beneficial. But yeah, this is what my life is going to look like for the next several weeks, so don’t go and set your expectations high for my next few posts. I can almost guarantee that I’ll fall short of the standards that you may have already set for my content. C’est la vie.

kanye west shrug shrugging kanye shrug

Lol I don’t really have much else to say right now. I actually would like to get back to reviewing my questions…but before I go, I do want to shout out the fact that Winston-Salem is recognizing the work that a group of us medical students are putting in for the S.Y.S.T.E.M. program that I talked about with y’all a few weeks back! Us and our mentees were featured on the local news last Friday afternoon, which was really cool! I’m real happy that I was asked to be a part of this program and I hope that our exposure reinforces the importance of mentorship and representation to the public.

Aight, I’m outta here. Make sure to have a fantastic week! And to all of you who are on Spring Break right now, just know that I TOTALLY envy you.

“There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” – Robert F. Kennedy

– Black Man, M.D.

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.

Resisting The System

First off, I want to express my deepest gratitude to President Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, both of their families, and the Obama administration as a whole for doing what they could to make this country a better place. I distinctly remember watching the Obamas on CNN as they graced the stage in Chicago on Election Night back when I was a 15 year-old high school sophomore. I also remember not having to go to school during his first inauguration due to snowfall (it was like a 1/2 inch of snow lol). I remember watching his inauguration in awe and beginning to wonder what all of this meant for the country. That’s when I really began to both watch the news and pay attention to how politics were played out in this country. Having a leader such as President Obama in the Oval Office during such a critical period of my growth has been a blessing and an honor. He has inspired me to learn so much about so many things and has been a powerful symbol of hope, love and equanimity. Getting the chance to see him speak during my sophomore year of college was a highlight of my college career!

obama-speech-at-um

I took this picture…as you can see, I was hella close to the stage!

I actually videotaped most of his speech…I have no idea why. It really sucks to have had to see him and his administration go, but it feels good knowing that he will continue to interact with us as a fellow private citizen. It’s also dope that he and Michelle created Obama.org! Best believe I will be a frequent visitor of that site; I already got it bookmarked and everything!

obama-u

A dope picture that I didn’t take!

Now that I’ve had the fortune to mature during Obama’s presidency, I’m ready to fully resist anything that threatens the progress his administration made in this world. This so happens to include almost all of Trump’s agenda and the agendas of the many Republicans that support him. It was so amazing to see all the Women’s Marches happening across the world yesterday…it just shows how insane the predicament we’re in is and how many people are willing to fight against hatred and inequality. Shoutout to all of you who took the time to participate in the marches! I admire each of you!

If you plan on resisting the current government but aren’t really sure what to do, the easiest thing to do (other than signing petitions) is to either write emails to your Senators or Representatives or to call them! Calling is more effective though and it only takes a couple minutes to do so, if that! You can click this link to find the contact info of your senator. Or you could just dial (202) 225-3121 (U.S. House switchboard operator) and ask to be connected to your state representative! I personally plan on calling the NC senators everyday in order to help fight against the craziness we’re up against. One person calling may not do much, but if many people are coordinated to call on a constant basis like Michael Moore is suggesting us to do, then I believe that we can make some sort of impact. If that means annoying them to death and jamming up their call lines, so be it. And you don’t need to have a speech rehearsed or anything, just tell them how you really feel! We’re currently on an uphill struggle, and it’s definitely not going to be an easy battle…but just like others in the past have, WE WILL PERSEVERE.

Okay I could go on and on about that, but I need to finish up this post and get back to studying because I’m still a med student lol. We started the Musculoskeletal/Rheumatology block this past week and it has been pretty straightforward so far. There’s a lot of little facts associated with the different rheumatologic conditions, which have been annoying to memorize, but I’m positive that I’ll be able to efficiently categorize the diseases and get them all down before our exam next Monday. But didn’t I just take a Renal pathology exam a little over a week ago? Yes, yes I did. These tests have been coming in like rapid fire yo. This ain’t no joke. I did do pretty well on that Renal exam tho! After this block will be the Endocrine/Reproductive block, and…..that’s it. Then I’ll be studying for the Step exam. Boy am I ready to get that exam over with.

On a final note, I’ve recently gotten involved with a minority male mentoring program that one of my friends founded, called S.Y.S.T.E.M. (Supporting Young Scholars Through Empowerment and Mentoring). The overall goal of the program is to provide support and guidance to young men by building meaningful mentor/mentee relationships. We plan on supporting the growth and development of our mentees by strategically partnering with schools, engaging in group-based mentoring & one-on-one meetings, and providing models of success that focus on emotional/behavioral management, professionalism, personal, and academic growth. We started working on the new program a few months ago, and this past Friday we all finally got to meet our mentees, who are all in 4-5th grade. Our main topic of that meeting was managing stress and emotions, so we spent about an hour discussing their thoughts on that and how us as students in the medical field each manage our own stressors and emotions in our everyday lives. It was a great event overall and the kids were actually really excited to interact with us! I’ll be looking forward to the rest of the meetings that we have with them over the course of the semester!

system

That’s all I have for today. Do your best to stay full of perseverance and empowerment this week!

“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.” – Zig Ziglar

– Black Man, M.D.