State Of Emergency

In case you hadn’t already heard, my residency application was finally submitted on Wednesday, September 12th at 8:09 PM! I’ve officially applied for my first big boy job!

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Talk about getting a weight lifted off your shoulders. My application was actually already complete on Tuesday, but for whatever reason I refused to submit it that day. I just couldn’t bear to send it off knowing that I wouldn’t be able to revise it at all once it was gone. Plus I had until Saturday to submit it, so why rush to get it in? Thanks to my growing anxiety and hesitation, you can probably guess what I ended up doing. My application ended up going through a scrutinizing process, where I couldn’t help but double-check everything that I had typed into the application. My double-check was soon followed by a triple-check, then a quadruple-check, a quintuple-check, etc. etc. I continued this maddening routine the rest of Tuesday evening and all throughout Wednesday evening until my girlfriend called me out on it and encouraged me to press “Submit”. After sitting with me for about 20 minutes, I finally mustered up enough courage to send my application in. Even after sending it in, I felt some anxiety about not being able to edit it again…but then after looking at the PDF version that was still accessible in the ERAS system one last time, I finally felt at peace with my decision to send it out early. It was liberating to not have to think about sending it out as the deadline of Sept. 15th neared. If it wasn’t for my girlfriend though, I definitely would have sent it out much closer to Saturday lol. I was also pressured to submit it by the impending hurricane that was forecasted to slam the East Coast the same weekend that my application was due. And I would be damned if I lost power before being able to submit my application.

Speaking of Hurricane Florence, this storm really screwed up all my plans for the weekend. I didn’t even know about this storm until last Sunday evening, and it very quickly became the talk of the town as we advanced through the week. By Wednesday, it became very clear that North Carolina was going to endure a direct hit from this Category 4 storm.

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With that said, the state proceeded to declare a state of emergency and widespread panic ensued. The coastal areas definitely needed to evacuate, but the forecast wasn’t as certain for more inland areas like Winston-Salem and Charlotte. We still had to take precautionary measures though, so I ended up being relieved of all clinical duties from noon on Thursday and throughout the weekend. That was actually a bummer, because it was my last week on the Peds Heme/Onc service, a service that I had grown to love. But the precautionary measures didn’t stop there. I had been recently selected to be one of the student interviewers for this cycle of medical school applicants (yay me 😄) and the mandatory training that I needed to attend was supposed to be last Thursday. That ended up getting rescheduled to this Tuesday afternoon. The annual Millenium Ball, a school-sponsored party that allows for all of the classes to celebrate the beginning of a school year together, was also cancelled.

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In addition, the World Congress of Ultrasound Medical Education conference that had been scheduled to take place at Wake Forest on Saturday, Sept. 15th was cancelled too. I mention this because I had signed up to volunteer for this conference back in the spring and I really wanted to learn all sorts of things from the world-renowned ultrasound experts scheduled to attend this event. So best believe that I was pretty annoyed about that, though I’m sure that Wake Forest was 1000x more annoyed than I was because they had been planning for this conference for God knows how long. I was then supposed to FINALLY get my locs retwisted, but I had to reschedule that for this Tuesday as well. And my girlfriend and I were looking forward to going to a nearby vineyard this weekend after I had submitted my application, but you can already guess what happened to those plans.

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So because of this hurricane-turned-tropical-storm, we’ve been chillin’ in my apartment all weekend getting work done while watching a ton of college football. The worst part is that the storm really didn’t even hit Winston that bad! I’ve thankfully had power this whole weekend, and we even went out to eat last night. So much for buying extra bottles of water and groceries. I even finally broke out my heavy-duty flashlight that my dad got me for Christmas last year! (Yes, my dad got me a flashlight for Christmas. And no, I did not ask for one. 😂) Turns out that none of our extra supplies have been necessary up to this point. But I sure ain’t complaining! I’m really glad to have been fortunate enough to not suffer the very real consequences of this storm that other people along the coastline have had to suffer. I feel so bad for all the people who have been severely affected by the storm though. Even though Winston mainly got a lot of rain and wind, I don’t want to downplay the havoc that this storm brought when it hit land as a Category 2 hurricane. R.I.P. to all of the people who lost their lives to this storm.

Now that my Peds Heme/Onc rotation is sadly officially over, I have a week “off” until I head to D.C. to start my first away rotation in Allergy & Immunology at Children’s National Medical Center! I have a week “off” because the rotation schedules at my school and George Washington University are off by a week, so I had to use one of my “flex” weeks this week to compensate for that. It’s great because I can take care of a lot of tasks that I’ve been pushing off for a while and also get some downtime to rest for a bit. I can also attend the quarterly SNMA’s National Leadership Institute that is taking place in Delaware this weekend. I’m excited to see all the thrilling attractions that Delaware has to offer!! Said no one ever. But still, I think that I’ll get some great networking opportunities at the conference and learn valuable things from the speakers there. Plus, the conference site is only about a couple hours from D.C., which is pretty convenient for me. So Delaware, here I come!

That’s it from me today. Oh and before I leave, I just want to remind you that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month as well as Sickle Cell Awareness Month. How crazy is it that I was on my Heme/Onc rotation this month? If you can find a way to support the eradication of both childhood cancer and sickle cell disease this month, I encourage you to do so! And then while you’re at it, be sure to register to vote if you haven’t already! 😄

Make sure to have an exceptional week!

“Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” – Winston Churchill

– Black Man, M.D.

 

Sessions.

Well, this past week has been quite an interesting one. From attending a session based on the perspectives of respiratory patients, where I learned that my course director was Dr. Maya Angelou’s doctor for about 20 years, to meeting Dr. John Carlos (the Olympian who raised his fist in the 1968 Olympics after receiving the bronze medal in the 200-meter race) well as Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry (again), it’s been a phenomenal experience! I feel like I have so much to say about what I’ve done these past seven days…so bear with me!

So to start off, our course director had us going through various sessions to better synthesize our knowledge of the course material in the days leading up to the Pulmonology exam that I took on Friday. The first session I attended was an ultrasound session, where I observed my lungs via, well, ultrasound. I could see my lungs move across the screen as I took deep breaths in and out. It was pretty cool, if I do say so myself. I also took an ultrasound of one of my group members and was able to see his diaphragm as he breathed in and out. Ultrasound is such a neat feature and is real fun to use, especially after you learn how the hell to use it and what organs look like in an ultrasound screen.

The next day, I attended a “field trip” session at the hospital, where a group of my classmates and I wandered around the Pulmonology wards to view patients being treated for respiratory issues and to witness how the information we’ve been learning over the course can be used in a practical setting. This involved a TON of walking around the hospital though…I swear I walked over a mile overall. Our first stop was a pulmonary rehab center, which is where recovering respiratory patients go to recover their lung function with a personal trainer. There was a nice mini-gym in the rehab center as well. We were shown an oscillatory vest, which is a vibrating vest worn by patients that have a lot of mucus trapped in their chest. The vest works to squeeze and shake up their chest, loosening the mucus which then allows them to cough it all up. Pretty picture huh? I tried on the vest and it felt really weird…I can’t imagine having to wear that thing multiple times a day. We then hit up the MICU (Medical Intensive Care Unit) where we walked into a room occupied by an elderly, unconscious man who had tubes and IV’s all in him. While there, the fellow showing us around described the machines being used to keep the man alive and showed us how they worked. We then walked around the MICU unit to other rooms and saw other patients who had a number of other procedures done on them, one of which was a tracheotomy. After that, we walked to a spirometry lab where one of my group mates blew into a huge spirometer machine in order to have her lung function read. I wish I had taken a picture or video of that 😂. Our last stop was a small lab where we watched a bronchoalveolar lavage being performed on video. All in all, the “field trip” was pretty awesome!

The next day, our whole class attended a session where various patients of our course director came in to talk about their experiences with the respiratory conditions they’ve been afflicted with as well as about their appreciation for our course director. The patients who came to talk to us included a man who suffered from acute lung failure while driving his cab, a nurse who was diagnosed with the rare lung disease of lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), and a woman diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis as a result of her prior condition of lupus, who also came with her sister and father. The cab driver made his appreciation for our course director well known and said that before him and the staff at the hospital worked to save his life, he had a distrust for doctors. After he was treated, he worked to lose over 120 pounds in a single year and really made an effort in eating healthier. He was a pretty funny guy. When the nurse diagnosed with LAM came in to talk with us, she described how the disease completely changed her life at the age of 31 as well as the life of her husband, who just so happened to be a Pulmonologist. She had been confused as to why she was always short of breath, especially since she exercised a lot and did her best to stay healthy. She now had to learn how to become a patient after being a healthcare provider for so long and she admitted that she probably wasn’t the best patient to deal with. She also talked about how she couldn’t become pregnant due to her condition and how she had to have her children via a surrogate mother. Since her diagnosis, she has worked to link up with other people diagnosed with LAM in the country and has also helped to raise funds for LAM research since it’s such a rare disease. There’s currently no cure for the disease, so treatment mainly involves managing symptoms. As for the woman diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis as a result of lupus, the fact that she survived her ordeal is simply a miracle. She had been admitted to the hospital on Christmas Eve of 2006 where she became comatose after presenting with septic shock, liver failure, GI bleed, multiple organ failure, hypertension, diabetes, and end-stage renal disease. Sheesh. Because of her critical condition, she stayed in the hospital for SIX MONTHS. SIX. MONTHS. During that time, there were multiple occasions where various providers in the hospital thought that she was going to die. Her sister specifically told us of an instance where a doctor literally told them that she wasn’t going to make it through the night. But she did end up recovering and was able to finally leave the hospital in May of 2007. After the woman was asked about how she was able to get through all of that and continue pushing through life to this day despite her limitations, she said that her faith, her family, her friends and the good doctors that helped heal her were her nonstop support systems and that they all played, and continue to play, a key role in keeping her going. Talk about inspiring. After she told her story, her sister specifically asked for us to become great doctors because our patients will forever remember us and will forever be grateful, as they are for our course director. She also said that she can specifically remember the mediocre doctors who didn’t have any hope for her sister and advised us to not be mediocre. After those conversations, our course director then shared a few messages from other patients who couldn’t make it to the session which included the power of a smile and how important it is to live a life with no fear. He then proceeded to share a message from another former patient of his, who just so happened to be the legendary Dr. Maya Angelou. He read one of her poems to us and told us how she always used to come in to talk to the medical students about the wonders of humanity. He also told us of how she would become a bit nervous about talking to medical students because she saw the immense potential we had of touching the lives of many of our future patients and their families. What a session. I’m very grateful I was able to take part in it.

Later that afternoon, me and another small group of my classmates took part in a simulation lab session, where we worked as a team to treat an interactive mannequin for his respiratory condition. With the help of a Critical Care Pulmonologist, we thought through the “patient’s” condition using the vital signs projected to us on a screen while at the same time actually treating him via various mechanisms. We also gathered a history of the “patient” by asking him questions and receiving answers from a speaker. Throughout the encounter, our “patient” went from having an asthma exacerbation to having bacterial pneumonia infection to having a tension pneumothorax. Some of the procedures we had to actually do included giving the “patient” oxygen, giving him mechanical ventilation through his mouth and trachea, listening to the “patient’s” lungs and stabbing his chest with a needle in order to decompress his lungs. It was a really cool experience overall. It’s one thing to sit and study lectures and another thing to actually take what you’ve learned and use it in a practical way. I found that even though I had already learned and studied everything that we had to do in the simulation lab, it was still kind of difficult to actually work through the various decisions we had to make on the spot. It just goes to show that no matter how much you’ve learn and study, you can only get better as a clinician by actually using your knowledge in practical situations. I loved the fact that I got the chance to use my knowledge in a practical way; I definitely feel like what I learned in this simulation experience has stuck in my head much more than the information I learned through the countless hours I spent studying lectures.

I took my Pulmonology exam Friday morning feeling much more prepared than I had felt at the beginning of the week. It was 117 questions, and we had 3 1/2 hours to finish it. It was pretty much like any other test I’ve taken in the past; there were some questions that tripped me up like always but I felt comfortable with my overall knowledge and I know I did my best. I don’t have any worries about the exam, I’m just glad it’s over with. Later on that day, I got the opportunity to listen to Dr. John Carlos speak about the topic of race relations and how it’s interwoven in sports. He spoke about why he raised his fist along with Tommie Smith in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and also spoke in great detail about the overlooked greatness of one of best friends who is also pictured in the legendary photo, Peter Norman. An Australian who was born to parents who worked in the Salvation Army, Peter was very passionate about humanity and he was very supportive of the Civil Rights Movement. He also wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in solidarity with both Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Dr. Carlos spoke on the similarities he is witnessing in present-day with the protesting of the national anthem by professional athletes and how much spending power we as consumers have when it comes to making corporations and the government listen to us. The conversation, moderated both by Dave Zirin (a political sportswriter) and Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, was a very electric one indeed! Plus, Dr. Carlos was hilarious! He reminded me of a granddad who’s always slapping his knee telling jokes and talking about “back in my day”. I even managed to get a picture with him! 😁

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And last but not least, I attended a Regional Leadership Institute conference for SNMA at the Campbell University-School of Osteopathic Medicine near Raleigh, NC yesterday. I had to wake up at 5 AM to get there by 8 AM with one of the SNMA presidents of my chapter, but it was a fantastic experience! We had a few speakers come in and talk to us about leadership, Step 1 study tips, and what osteopathic medicine looks like. The first speaker, Dr. Tiffany Lowe-Payne, presented a phenomenal talk to us. She talked about where she came from and how her circumstances led her to who she is today. She specifically emphasized four main points in her interactive talk: 1) Putting down your insecurities, 2) Picking up your signature banner, 3) Being intentional in everything you do and 4) Speaking your success into existence. Not gonna lie, by the time she had finished her talk, I was left feeling very inspired. She also had such a great delivery with her speech that I had to ask her how and where she learned to speak so effectively. In the Step talk, we got some useful info about different ways to plan for the exam as well as different tools available for us to use for both the USMLE exam as well as the COMLEX exam for D.O. students. The last talk was one where another doctor by the name of Dr. Charles Smutny III came in to speak to us about osteopathic medicine and what he does on a daily basis as a neuromuscular specialist. In addition to speaking to us about the overall concept of osteopathic medicine, he spoke on the unification of the mind, body & spirit and how important it was for us as future physicians to realize that importance. He then proceeded to perform a demonstration of his osteopathic manipulation skills on a student, where he talked through what he was doing as he felt the bones and muscles of the student after watching her gait as she walked back and forth towards him and away from him. After about ten minutes or so, he found some tightness in her neck….and popped it! We all were like “yoooo!!” Okay okay, I was like “yoooo!!”. Everyone else just gasped. And just like that, the student no longer had that tightness. My words aren’t doing it any justice though, you just had to see it for yourself. I lowkey want to learn some more about osteopathic medicine; I think it would be a pretty useful tool to have in the future, to be honest. After that presentation, we had a business meeting where the representatives of each school updated everyone else about what was going on in their respective chapters and then a small group of us went on a tour of the school. I’m really glad I decided to go to the conference…I feel like I took a lot from it overall. Only downside was that I had absolutely NO phone service in the building. 😒

Good God.

I damn near wrote a dissertation.

I’m done.

I now have to pack up and start getting ready for my week-long stay in Lenoir for my CPE. Should be a fun time. Fun time indeed.

Thanks for listening to me! I know you have better things to do but you chose to rock with me! I really appreciate you! Please make your week a stupendous one!

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude about it.”

– Maya Angelou

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – If you haven’t watched the 13th documentary on Netflix, PLEASE WATCH IT. PLEASE.

Pumping Against The Pressure

Bruh.

They doing the MOST with these Cardiology lectures.

Can someone explain to me how in the hell 23 lectures and 6 workshops managed to get packed into EIGHT school days?? (And I’m not even counting the other longitudinal classes we had to attend…) How are we supposed to manage all that in a little over a week? Like, we just started this block less than two weeks ago and we have more than enough information to be adequately tested on. This material isn’t easy either. What’s even wilder about this is that we have 24 more lectures to power through in the next two weeks before we get to our exam date for this block. 😭

TWENTY-FOUR MORE LECTURES!?!

And don’t let me forget about the workshops we have to attend in the same time span.

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You would think that I would be used to this lifestyle by now…and don’t get me wrong, I actually am. The block before this (Heme/Onc) was pretty busy too and I was doing alright. Neuroscience back in March was intense too, especially during the very first couple of weeks I was exposed to it. But Neuroscience was spread over three months. And Heme/Onc was relatively straight-forward once you sat down and played around with it for a while. But this Cardiology thing? It ain’t straight-forward at all. AT ALL. Plus, we only have a month to learn it all. The heart-body relationship seems simple at first glance, but it is so much more complex than you can imagine. Especially after you throw in Pressure-Volume Loops, Starling curves, Hypertension, EKG interpretations, Heart Failure, the multiple Alpha/Beta/Dopamine receptors, all the Cardiomyopathies, Sodium/Potassium/Calcium/BlahBlahBlah-ium channels, the Electrophysiology of the heart, and all the freakin’ drugs that can treat all kinds of heart conditions. And this is just what we’ve gone over so far. There’s a whole ‘nother storm of new material in this block that coming at us starting on Tuesday. Good God.

Funny thing is, this is probably the calmest I’ve felt all week long. Sounds crazy huh? I mean, I really was just ranting on how crazy this block has been so far. But now that I have this Labor Day weekend to study without having to think about another new lecture for a couple days, I can finally work on synthesizing all the material that has been assaulting me this past week and a half. You should’ve seen me earlier last week…I was struggling to keep up man. What got me the most was that I never really had time to actually learn the stuff I was taking in because there was always new information constantly coming at me. It came to a point where I would be sitting in lecture pissed off because I felt that I was wasting time by trying to listen to the lecturer when I could have been synthesizing the information I already learned. By Thursday of last week, I was getting headaches from just being in class. Tragic, ain’t it? Thank God for this Labor Day weekend. 🙏 I can chill out for a bit and now that I’m looking back on everything so far with the multiple resources I’m using, I can appreciate how manageable it all really is. So with that said, there’s no need to worry about my mental state lol. All I really need is God, my friends & family, and a positive mentality. I’ll be fine! 😄

I did get the opportunity to ultrasound my own heart during one of the workshops this past week though! I’ve done it before last year during anatomy, but now that I actually have a much better idea of what’s going on in the heart, I could appreciate it more this time around. I was told by one of the residents helping out with the workshop that I had a good heart. 😁 My group and I also got a clear view of my heartstrings, or chordae tendinae as we like to call it in the medical field. So in case you were wondering, that’s where the saying “pulling on your heartstrings” comes from. In addition, we got the opportunity to learn about the basics of health insurance in our Healthcare Systems & Policy class this past Monday, which I highly appreciated. I had been hoping for some kind of course on health insurance ever since last year because I actually know little to nothing on the subject, which is scary considering the fact that it will be a very crucial part of my future career. We started off with how health insurance is financed in America on a commercial level, which could be the subject of a whole other blog post. In later lectures, we’ll be getting into the many intricacies of health insurance and the extent to which money influences the many lives in this country that depend on insurance. All in all, I’m really looking forward to learning all about the topics that will be presented to us in that course. Granted, this means that I actually have to make time to look at that stuff outside of class…

Anywho, make sure to enjoy your Labor Day weekend! And do your best to carry that joy through the rest of this week!

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

– Black Man, M.D.