Thursday, February 24, 2011

Doctors Who Stalk

We had a lecture on lipid disorders.

One of the slides in the Powerpoint presentation featured a woman's eyes with xanthoma (fat deposits under the surface of the skin).

Here, the doctor paused. "Okay, this picture is of this patient - this is a true story - I first saw this woman on the train and she had this xanthoma around her eyes." He glanced at the slide again. "So I kept staring at her."

Some of us chuckled and even he broke off with a laugh when he realized how creepy that sounded.

"It's very typical for some people to not be aware of their condition, but anyway, so I kept staring at her and then this stop comes up and she gets off the train." He nodded. "So I followed her."

Now, we all started laughing.

"True story! So I caught up with her and I gave her my name and number -" He shook his head with another self-deprecating grin. "Good thing she still decided to come to the hospital anyway. She came to our office a few days later and we treated her. She actually wanted the xanthoma removed surgically, but without real treatment for her underlying condition, it would have recurred. But after we helped her, I think she's doing really well now. Nice and healthy life."

Score one for doctors who stalk.

Better than certain doctors who act like they can't be bothered to care.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Red Reflex (Not A Superhero)

We have a practical exam for physical diagnosis coming up.

During a practice session last week:

Doctor: "So during the exam, you should announce your findings and steps for the preceptor."
Me (holding a fundoscope): "Okay."
Doctor (looking at me): "So you should say 'I see the red reflex.'"
Me: "I see the red reflex."
Doctor (eyes still on me): "Yep."
Me (what else now?): "I see the red reflex."
Doctor (still staring): "Uh huh."
Me (dramatically now): "I see the RED REFLEX!"
Doctor (turning away with a laugh): "Good!"

He flourished a hand like the maestro he is.

The red reflex is the reddish-orange reflection from the eye's retina that is observed using an ophthalmoscope in a dark room. Abnormal white spots or an absence of a normal red reflex can be caused by cataracts, glaucoma, retinoblastoma or retinal detachment. Red, good. White, bad. Kinda like Lunar New Year colors. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Captain Planet, He's Our Hero

When I was a kid, my cousins and my brother and I would play "make-believe anything". No, that's not what we called it, but we were really, really into this make-believe business. We acted out anything from our own hot creative mess of a Mighty Mutant Morphin' Club to The Boxcar Children to camping with a blanket over four chairs until we grew so big, one of our cousins was inevitably stuck sleeping "outside under the stars". And we loved to pretend we were Captain Planet's Planeteers. We even made our own paper rings, we were that legit yo.

Except whenever we played make-believe, my brother - the youngest - always got stuck with the less than heroic role. We were always "saving" him and he was always getting "hurt" or "kidnapped" and he could never ever be Fire because my older cousin already got dibs, but we tried to pretend his Earth power was still cool. Usually by going "AHHHHH!" and staggering around the room whenever he brandished his ring and belted out, "EARTH!" Like we were in some epic earthquake.

I remember now that we must have fed him some line such as you can play Earth and Heart. Two powers! What a bargain! But honestly, years later, I couldn't even remember there was a Heart person until a friend recently mentioned it in a late night conversation. Why were we discussing Captain Planet? Can't remember, don't ask haha.
Him: "No one ever wanted to play Heart. He was useless."
Me: "Heart? There's no element like that."
Him: "There is a Heart power. No lie. He was that short little kid with a monkey -"
Me: "OH! Wait ... what exactly did Heart do?"
Him: "Exactly. What does Heart do?"
Well, apparently, Heart can speak to animals ... and care about people a lot ... and I guess, recycle really well.

So naturally, my little brother would gamely pretend to talk to a stuffed monkey for all of five seconds before "EARTH! EARTHQUAKE!"


This comic made me think of him and our cousins and our younger, more carefree years. Do I feel old.

If we had played this Guntron team though ... yeah, bro would probably have been the bullet. Haha.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

My friend baked cookies and cupcakes for class:

See the ones with heart shaped icing? They're specially indicated for her closest friends, her "crew". Naturally, I got one of those hearts haha. Since it was a red velvet, she saved me a second funfetti one. This is why we're so close. She feeds me and I get fed. (Yes, technically, this may appear to be more of a parasitic relationship than mutual symbiosis, but let's not tell her that.)

The school also had a candygram thing going on today and I received two from some generous classmates. Ah, this is truly what Valentine's Day is about: baked goods and sweets.

Finished off with some dinner plans after class and ... seriously, this day is all about food for me.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day with your loved ones too! :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Tap This

We practiced the neurologic exam last week. As part of the deep tendon reflexes overview, we checked for the ankle jerk reflex which is elicited by tapping on the Achilles tendon along the back of the foot.

"I've found what helps is to kinda ..." The doctor climbed up a table, leaning forward and hiking a leg up so that a knee was propped on the surface like so:

"Ah, like a stripper," my brain thought.

"Ah, like a stripper," my mouth said.

Clearly, my brain-to-mouth filter was on strike.

My group laughed and I tried to do a ninja shuffle to the background before the doctor can arch her back for a clear look at who was blurting out such inappropriate comments.

After the session:
Friend: That was one of your - no, your second most funniest line in class.

Me: ... You're remembering the missionary sex thing, aren't you?

When we practiced the visual fields exam on our partners, I just couldn't get her eyes to converge. So I sat there for the longest time bringing my finger close to her nose again and again trying to make the girl cross-eyed.

The doctor cocked her head. "You sure you don't see any convergence? It should be pretty obvious."

Feeling like a failure, I stammered, "Uh, well, her left eye kinda ... but it wasn't really ... I mean, the eyes didn't really move close together and -"

The doctor gave me an amused, indulgent smile as she shifted her seat next to me. I got out of her way, cringing. I will be branded as the dumb medical student who can't even get a patient to follow a freaking finger through the air. They will look at me in the future and think this is the girl who should go home and play with her fingers in some corner.

The doctor moved her finger in a wide H. The girl's eyes followed her finger perfectly. Then the convergence test and ...

"Huh. You're right."

"I am?" I tried not to sound too satisfied. Oh, who am I kidding? I was probably beaming.

"What?" The girl gaped at us. "There's a problem with my eye?"

"Yeah, have you ever been told your left eye's a little weak?" The doctor sat back in her seat.

"Uh, no, I wasn't even aware that ..." The girl looked worried.

"What happened?" The other girls in the session glanced over us.

"My eyes won't converge," my partner explained.

"Really?" One of them brought her finger up. "Look at my finger." Zoomed in toward partner's nose. Her hand dropped back down. "Oh, wow."

We were all fascinated. I was also probably smiling inappropriately again.

My partner touched her eye. "Well ... damn. Thanks for picking up on that."

"Uh, no problem. Don't worry. It'll be okay." And I poked her with a broken tongue depressor to distract her.

Kidding, that came a bit later. Sensory exam for pain, oh yeah.

A note about my masterpiece up there: I know, you're in awe of my artistic prowess. Since my drawings are so eerily lifelike, I purposely left the face blank to protect the identity of my instructor. Please don't be intimidated by my boundless skills. I'm still human.