Appreciation of Life

Do you know what it feels like to realize that you don’t have your laptop charger after driving 4+ hours away from the location where you last had it? And then coming to the crushing realization as you fruitlessly search for it that you completely forgot to pack it in your bag before you headed out on the road? Well, guess who’s currently experiencing that WONDERFUL feeling right now? SMH.

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Aside from this mishap though, I had a pretty eventful weekend with my family and family friends back at home! We had gathered for the wake of my late grandmother at a nearby funeral home and then proceeded to celebrate her life back at my family’s home with food, music and good vibes all around. I talked to family members and family friends that I hadn’t seen since I was a little kid and some that I had never even met in my lifetime! They all came from all over the country to pay their respects and to spend time with my family as we continue to work through our loss. It was incredible! I was also given an opportunity to say a few words at my grandmother’s wake and I made sure to make the most out of my farewell address to her. Overall, the weekend was one filled with love and connectedness, even though the house was packed with overnight visitors throughout the weekend. We all made it work though! My family, especially my parents, sincerely appreciated the outpouring of support and love that we recieved from everyone that came through as well as from all the people who’ve given their condolences and prayers to us.

Switching gears to my most recent week of Internal Medicine, I found myself working in the ACE (Advanced Care of the Elderly) Unit of the hospital in order to help care for, you guessed it, elderly patients. Every patient that was on this floor was 65 years old or older and, for the most part, had multiple comorbidities associated with their chief complaints. While on this unit, I was made very aware of just how important it is to review the medications of this patient population in order to assess the various interactions and adverse effects that they can have on these patients. The elderly are especially vulnerable to the effects of medications, and can very well develop unwanted symptoms as a result of medical treatment targeted for another issue. In addition to learning about the effects of medication on the elderly, we were made aware about the risk of falls in this patient population and about the various causes of cognitive impairment that the elderly can suffer from. All in all, it was a good and productive week that flew by especially fast due to the July 4th holiday landing on this past Tuesday!

I’m now officially two months into my Internal Medicine clerkship with one more to go before I switch over to OB/GYN! That also means that I’m about 1/6th of my way done with my third year! Time keeps flying by man…I’m literally trying to slow it down at times because things are moving too fast for me lol. This month will be my general medicine month, where I’ll see a wide array of patients who will be just as diverse as the illnesses that we will be working to treat while they’re in the hospital. I’ll also be working night shifts for the first time all of next week! That’ll surely be quite an experience…

Have a fantastic week and continue basking in the (almost unbearable) summer sunshine!

“Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life.” – Dr. Christiane Northrup 

– Black Man, M.D.

Facing Tranquility

You know, it’s quite annoying that I have to be at the hospital tomorrow, only to be off on Tuesday for the July 4th holiday. I mean I’m not complaining or anything for the free day off, but it would have been more ideal to return from my weekend trip to Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon as opposed to having to return here this afternoon.

But such is life.

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I had a peaceful 5-hour drive back to Winston that happened to fly by due to the audiobook (Michelle Obama: A Life) that I was listening to. I picked up this new listening-to-audiobooks-during-long-trips habit not too long ago and I must say, I’ve enjoyed listening to them more than bumpin’ music the whole ride. It really makes the drive go a lot faster, especially if you’re listening to really good books. I’ve learned so much about the Obamas from this book as well as from President Obama’s two other books and as a result, I have an even greater level of admiration for them then I already did!

As to why I was in Atlanta, I was just visiting my girlfriend and her family because I had a relatively free weekend to do so. As always, I had a wonderful time with them! I also had a blast crushing her in mini-golf at a rooftop arcade…but then she came back and beat me (barely) in skeeball. Lol. Between going to the movies, eating out at various restaurants, accompanying her as she coached her kids through a swim meet and just hanging out at her house, the time spent with her was very satisfying. Can’t wait to see her again when she finally moves to UNC next month for her combined master’s/doctorate program!

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I spent this past week at a hospice care facility, where I spent time talking to patients there while learning more about the roles of healthcare providers in hospice care. It was my first time ever going to a hospice care facility and I was definitely blown away at how beautiful the center was. There was lively greenery all around the facility, the patients’ spacious rooms had a very homey feel to them with their hardwood floors and radiant rays of sunshine beaming through the windows, and there were flowers stationed all throughout the facility. The atmosphere there was very calm, quiet and peaceful as well. Family and friends were constantly visiting their loved ones and the patients there all seemed to be content with the care they were receiving at the center. The beautiful scenery at the center drew an incredible contrast to the tragic stories that the patients carried with them. It was so sad to hear about the terminal conditions of these people and to watch their families try and prepare themselves for the imminent passing of their loved ones. However, it did make me feel better to witness the amount of quality care that these patients received as they waited to pass on.

Along with talking to the patients and their families, my two classmates and I were granted the opportunity to understand the roles that the chaplain and the massage therapist played at the center. The chaplain spoke with us about how vital his role was to the patients he serves and how he attended to their spiritual needs. In particular, he emphasized the spiritual tasks of making meaning & finding hope and on the principles that he uses in his everyday routine, which include understanding the ministry of presence, embracing the struggle, normalizing feelings, promoting life review, addressing unresolved issues, and utilizing the spiritual resources most comfortable with the patient. As for the massage therapist, he spoke with us on how he uses integrative approaches to help tend to the patients needs. With using the power of the healing touch and manipulating chakra flow, he seeks to make patients cope with their chronic pain better via unconventional avenues. Learning about these perspectives proved to be quite interesting!

One other experience we took a part of was learning from the perspectives of caregivers who were staying in a nearby Family House dedicated to housing caregivers from outside the county. Both myself and a nursing student spoke with one of the caregivers there, who shared with us his perspective of how healthcare has been delievered to his loved one. He specifically emphasized the importance of providing hope and of being compassionate as healthcare providers. He also stated that he has always remembered the providers who had been especially compassionate as well as the ones who had lacked compassion. I’ll forever remember the stories he shared with us and his overarching message of the power of compassion will continue to be one of my guiding principles as I continue working in the healthcare field.

Now that I’ve completed my week of hospice care, I’m headed to my week of inpatient geriatric (elderly) care, meaning that I’ll be back in the hospital after having been working in outpatient care for the past couple of weeks. This also means that I’ll be waking up around 5:45 AM this week, since I have to be there by 7 AM. Ohhhh how much I’ve missed waking up at the crack of dawn. But just like the previous weeks have been so far, this week should be a good one!

Make your week a good one as well! Happy (early) 4th of July to my American readers!

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – July 4th is cool and all, but it’s too bad my people weren’t granted that glorious freedom as well on that special day. Lemme not get into all that though.

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Moving Along With Time

I can’t express in words how much I hate moving.

Like, I HATE MOVING.

The whole process of taking everything down in your apartment, packing it all up, transporting all your items to the UHaul, driving the UHaul to your new place, UNLOADING everything from the truck, carrying those items unto your new spot and rearranging everything once you’ve finished bringing everything in the apartment is a struggle from the depths of hell. That may be a bit dramatic, but I don’t care. I spent ALL DAY yesterday moving from my apartment of two years to a new one up the street, mainly because of rising rent prices. Plus, the new one had a better deal overall and was cheaper than what I was paying this past year. And furthermore, my roommate had decided that he was going to move out of our apartment to a house closer to the hospital. Soooo I made the executive decision to endure the struggle of the moving process, even though it’s one of my least favorite things to do. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on your perspective) I don’t own many things, so I was able to start and finish the whole process in one day! So I’m currently all moved in and enjoying my new apartment, which also happens to have a skylight in it! I’m also even closer to downtown Winston-Salem now, so many of the restaurants are within walking distance from me. Only thing missing is a grocery store, which I still gotta hop in a car and drive to when necessary. Closest thing I got to a grocery store is CVS about a block away. Yeah, I wouldn’t wanna grocery shop there either.

But you didn’t click on this link to read about my moving struggles. You clicked to read about how my latest experience in my Internal Medicine clerkship went and what you could possibly take from my experience so far. Or you may have clicked for another reason unbeknownst to me. I don’t care. I’m just glad you’ve taken some time out of your precious day to read what I end up typing on this post. For that, you are much appreciated. I’m grateful for your attention. Thank you!

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As a sidenote, take a listen to that new DJ Khaled album, Grateful, if you haven’t already. It’s 🔥🔥🔥! The album also got me through the hassle of the moving process. Did I already tell you how much I hate moving? My disdain for it is up there on the list next to being ignored. And having insomnia. Insomnia is the absolute worst.

Lol okay, I’m done.

I spent this past week working at an outpatient clinic for the underserved in downtown Winston, where I interacted with an interesting array of patients. During the week, I worked on my history-taking and physical exam skills as well as my patient presentation skills. I also wrote up a few patient notes and was able to get some good feedback on those from my attendings. One interesting aspect of my time in the downtown clinic was participating in this program called CarePlus, where healthcare providers travel to the homes of certain patients to make sure that these patients are getting the care that they need. I was able to ride along with a nurse on one of these trips and was afforded a unique perspective of distributing healthcare as a result. We traveled to three different patient homes, all in places that I wouldn’t have ever ventured to otherwise. By going to these places and experiencing them with my own eyes, I could fully appreciate how much of an effect the environments of these patients had on their overall health and on their respective perspectives of the world. I was already well aware of the types of environments that a vast majority of the underserved population routinely inhabit and of the power that an individual’s environment has on their life. This experience only heightened my awareness of that absolute truth. Overall, my experience in the clinic was a great one! The atmosphere was inclusive, the people that I worked with were very friendly, and I didn’t have to wake up at 4:45 AM each morning. How can you beat that? Plus, I’ve been doing quite well so far in staying disciplined in my studies. I’m seeing a steady increase in my knowledge base and I’m getting better at reasoning through these practice questions. Yes, they’re still hard as hell…but I’m learning a ton from them!

With that said, I gotta get back to them. I took an unexpected (and extended) break from studying this afternoon, but I got free food and good vibes from friends in return! So now that I’ve used up a good portion of my afternoon, it’s time for me to get back to the grind and prepare for my week in hospice care coming up. I have a strong feeling that this is going to be quite an emotional week…

Y’all be sure to have a lovely week! It’s hard to believe that I’m already halfway done with my first rotation of third-year!

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” – Jim Rohn

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – R.I.P. to the King of Pop!

Same Building, Different Views.

Happy Fathers’ Day to all of you dedicated and respectable fathers out there adequately taking care of your families!

I was thankfully able to make it home this weekend to not only spend Fathers’ Day with my dad, but to also celebrate my siblings’ graduation from high school as well as to spend some necessary quality time with my family after several tough weeks of dealing with my grandma’s rapidly deteriorating health and eventual passing. I wasn’t able to stay home for long, but the time I spent with everyone was extremely worthwhile and refreshing. I didn’t get much studying done while at home, but I did get a rejuvenating dose of motivation to continue grinding! I also received an unexpected dose of motivation from the Financial Aid office a few days ago, who decided to update me on the amount of money that I currently owe to the government.

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Go ahead and try to guess the amount I’m currently shackled with. Here’s a hint: I currently have a six-digit negative net worth. Let’s just say that with the amount I owe, I could easily purchase a $200,000+ house in a nice surburban area.

LAAAWWWWD.

But it’s all good though, I’m gonna pay it all off in the distant future. No point in worrying about something that I can’t necessarily control for the moment. All I can do is continue learning from my clinical experiences and formulating a foundation of knowledge that I’ll effectively utilize for the rest of my career as a physician.

Speaking of which, I had quite an interesting week in my most recent week as a third-year medical student. I was afforded the opportunity to participate in a week-long collaborative interprofessional practice immersion experience (Walk In Their Shoes “WITS”), where I took on the role of various providers of healthcare and learned about their respective responsibilities on the healthcare team. I was also able to gain valuable insight from these different providers of care and appreciate the various perspectives that they harbored. I ended up taking on the role of seven different healthcare professionals overall! At certain times of the week, you could find me working as a Nurse Assistant, a Speech Therapist, a Bridge Nurse (Nurse Navigator), a member of the Rapid Response Team, a Charge Nurse, a Pharmacist, and a Bedside Nurse.

  • Nurse Assistant: I spent the majority of the morning watching the nurse assistant routinely take vital signs, attending to the patients’ needs and helping clean patients as needed. It was a relatively slow morning so I was able to study a bit as well!
  • Speech Therapist: I assisted with monitoring and testing the swallowing function of various patients. In between seeing patients I ended up learning A TON about this profession from the speech therapist that I was following, who was very enthusiastic about teaching me everything she did! She was also quizzing me constantly in order to make sure I understood what she was saying. It was a very interesting experience!
  • Bridge Nurse (Nurse Navigator): In this role, I observed how these nurses worked to “bridge the gap” for patients as they were getting ready to be discharged from the hospital. They did so by communicating interprofessionally with other folks on the team (social workers, physicians, pharmacists, etc.) with the goals of not only preventing the patients from having to return to the hospital, but to also make sure that they understood what they needed to do once they were officially discharged. This is such a neat and highly necessary concept that I very-much-so believe positively influences the quality of patient care.
  • Rapid Response Team: I spent the afternoon responding to calls from different departments of the hospital and adequately managing the situations that we were informed about. Nothing too crazy happened during my experience, so we were able to have some great conversations with one another during our downtime. The people I worked with on the team, who were all nurses, were extremely laid-back and just simply cool people to be around. I had a blast spending my afternoon with them!
  • Charge Nurse: My morning as a charge nurse was pretty chill overall. I helped monitor a couple of patients and observed the charge nurse manage the other nurses on the floor. She was fun to be around and had a great personality that the rest of the nursing staff thoroughly enjoyed!
  • Pharmacist: As an inpatient pharmacist, I was given a tour around the pharmacy lab as well as the pharmacy “outpatient clinic” located in the hospital. I also learned a great deal about the roles of the different staff members of the pharmacy team in the hospital and observed as the pharmacist gave updates about each patient’s medications. This was a really cool experience!
  • Bedside Nurse: This was my busiest experience all week. We were literally on our feet all morning as we gave scheduled medications to our patients, educated them about various things and attended to each of their specific needs. It was great!

It was so cool to experience each of their perspectives of healthcare and to witness the impact that each of their respective professions had on the quality of patient care. In addition, my already immense respect for nurses only further increased after having worked alongside them all week. From the Nursing Assistants to the Nurse Practitioners, it’s very obvious just how critical the nursing staff as a whole is to maintaining quality patient care.

Now that WITS week is over, I’m spending this upcoming week at an outpatient health clinic. I’m looking forward to not having to wake up at 4:45 AM! If you didn’t already know, the hardest part of third-year so far for me is getting out of bed at ungodly hours of the morning. But I’ve been getting used to it!

Time for me to get a bit of studying in. Make sure to have a wonderful week!

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6:31

– Black Man, M.D.

Letter to Grandma

Bonjour MamiCo!

I pray that you are resting well, now that your suffering has come to an end. You left us way too soon in such a sudden manner, but we both know that God’s timing is perfect, no matter how imperfect we may percieve it to be. I was excited to come and see you this upcoming weekend because I hadn’t seen you in so long…but now that I’m unable to, I want to dedicate this post to you and tell you what I’ve been up to as of late. I’m sitting here chuckling because you would have no idea how to even read this English that I’m typing — forgive me for not being as fluent in French as you would have liked me to be. If you really wanted to though, you could probably copy and paste this whole post in Google Translate…but then again my younger brother would probably have to show you how to do that lol. I can vividly imagine you yelling his name and him running down the stairs to get to you, only to stare blankly at you in confusion for about a minute as you asked him in French how to work the computer you would be reading this on.

Okay, okay, I’m done rambling.

I just finished my first month of my third-year in medical school! Can you believe that?? I’ve been actively caring for patients for about four weeks now, specifically patients with heart issues my first two weeks and patients with kidney dysfunctions these past two weeks. C’est une bonne chose, n’est-ce pas? It’s already been a month and I’m still here trying to wrap my head around the fact that I’m really part of a team in the hospital working to save lives on a daily basis. If it’s crazy for me to think about where I’m at in my life now, I can’t even begin to imagine what you must be thinking about how much I’ve evolved ever since you first saw pictures of me as a chubby baby with a distinct, golden birthmark streaked across my cheek. Time flies huh?

This past week I had some pretty interesting experiences with several patients greatly varying in ages, who all made it known how appreciative they were of my care. I even found that my presence in one of the rooms of my patients had a calming effect on her and her regularly visiting family member! All I’ve really been doing for my patients is waking them up each morning to ask them how they were and to perform a physical exam before going back to my team to present the patients’ conditions to them as well as to work on my patients’ notes. Then I would go back to my patients later in the day just to chat with them for a bit. It amazed me how much they loved the simple fact that I would go back to check in on them in the afternoon. As a matter of fact, it continues to amaze me, and the things I learn about these people are incredible. Likewise, they’ve all been impressed at how far I’ve come at such a relatively young age.

However, even with all the excitement that comes with caring for patients, it continues to be a struggle to make myself study the material that I need to learn for my first shelf exam in early August. Granted, I’ve gotten creative with my study habits over the past couple weeks and have been able to get some good studying in while at the hospital. But once I get home, my drive plummets. I literally have to force myself to stay awake and work on practice questions for this test that’s sooner than I like to realize. It makes me wonder how in the world the interns and residents make it through the day with energy left to do other things when they get home. They work 10x harder than us medical students, and still have other things that they need to study just like us. I guess I’ll find a way to make it work when I get to that level, just like I’ve found ways to make it work in other scenarios both in the past as well as the present. I’m sure you would tell me to do the same thing, for you’re not one to listen to excuses haha. Compared to what you’ve been through, my struggles pale in comparision!

Now that I just finished my Renal rotation today, I’m heading into my Transitional Care Month. In this month, I’ll be participating in an immersion program called Walk In Their Shoes and will be working with the Geriatrics team in order to help take care of elderly patients. I’ll also be learning how to care for patients in hospice care and I’ll gain some experience working in an outpatient clinic in the city of Winston-Salem. With Walk In Their Shoes this week, I’ll take on the roles of different kinds of health workers in the hospital such as nurses, pharmacists, members of the rapid response team, and speech therapists. This collaborative program was created in order to give us the perspectives of other critical members of the healthcare team and to better appreciate what they do for a living. I’m honestly pretty excited to see how this week turns out!

Alright grandma, that’s all I have to update you with. It’s probably not as exciting as watching my brother and sister graduate from high school, but I hope it’s enough to make you very proud to call me one of your grandchildren. It really sucks that I wasn’t able to talk to you face-to-face one more time, but I’m sure we’ll meet again. When we do meet, I’ll be sure to tell you and the rest of the older generations in our family all the incredible things that your grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren and beyond have accomplished! You all will be so proud of having helped maintained lineages of excellence! The whole family is currently in deep mourning for you, but I pray that we gather the strength to turn this sorrow into a joyous celebration of your life. There is so much more that I wanted to learn about you, but I guess I’ll have to now get these stories from my parents as well as from the huge extended family that you’ve blessed us with. I’m incredibly grateful that I was granted the opportunity to have a memorable relationship with you, for you were my last surviving grandparent. May you forever Rest In Peace MamiCo. Looking forward to catching you on the other side! ❤️❤️❤️

MamiCo and me

Colette Ngantcheu

December 5, 1949 – June 10, 2017

“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.” – Billy Graham

– Black Man, M.D.