Monday, November 11, 2013


Thanks for the support and response to my prior post, everyone! The plagiarist has been removed from Amazon and hopefully, this won't happen again. I'm revising False Facades so maybe, you'll be able to see the new version up on Amazon soon. Stay tuned, please.

In the meantime, I'm also in the midst of interview season for residency programs! Exciting and scary. I've finally decided to go into pediatrics after confirming my interest during my pediatrics sub-i. I got Step 2 CK done a while back, but I still have Step 2 CS to go in December. Smart me, planned it so that I would be cramming in between traveling around to programs. What was I thinking? Hopefully, everything continues to go smoothly into the new year.

So ... since I haven't posted in a while, I thought I should write up something about one of the experiences I had during clerkships. It's funny how things feel like it happened so long ago now when it's only been months, but at the same time, you look back at the year as a whole and feel like third year really went by in a blink. Everything was measured in blocks of time between shelf exams and you were constantly in motion, preparing for the next exam and the next. But sometimes, there are these moments that are especially memorable - whether it's in a good way or bad - that you continue to carry on as something you can look back on ... fondly?

The longest day I had during clerkship rotations was in surgery (of course) when I scrubbed in on a Whipple procedure immediately after rounds. During pre-op, the resident suggested, "Be sure to grab something to eat. This is going to take a while."

I had looked up Whipple procedure before so that I would be somewhat prepared to answer any pimping questions from the attending (you are never really prepared) and I had expected that it would be a long operation, likely lasting more than 6 hours. But to double check, I asked, "Around how long?"

The resident just gave me this faint noncommittal expression. "A while."

"Oh." I hesitated. "That's okay. I just had a cereal bar."

So much regret.

I started in the OR at 8am, watching the nurses and anesthesiologists prepare the patient. As the patient drifted away on propofol, I got the nod from the resident to go scrub and get gowned. By 9am, we were all gathered around the sterile field and the attending made the first incision.

Noon came along and drifted away. Still hadn't removed gallbladder yet.

2pm ... attending and resident still working. They didn't even need me to help suction and retract since the field was so small, I needed a stepstool to get a good peek. 3pm. Scrub nurse, pitying me, asked if I wanted to take a break. I glanced over at my resident and attending; they were so focused with laser intensity on the patient, I hadn't been acknowledged since pre-op. I wondered if they were even aware I was still there or was I just a blob at the periphery of their vision? But if attending and resident haven't taken a break yet, I wasn't going to so I shook my head, shifted my feet and continued to pretend I had thighs of steel, legs of titanium. Nurse crowed really loudly, "What a trooper! Gonna stick it out for the long haul, huh?" Attending's eyes barely flickered over to me.

Scrub nurses switched four times for breaks. Anesthesiologists changed shifts, one teasing me, "This is why anesthesiology is better than surgery." I continued to stand there, trying not to lean on patient's leg too much, hoping I get to do something, anything, or maybe the attending and resident can mention something educational to me or at the very least, mutter out loud exactly what they were probing at now. Even if it was to pimp me. Pimp me! Pimp me! Let me do something!

5:30pm. Attending and resident continued to go at it. Attending's surgical headlights set had long ran out of its charge, and had to be plugged in to an outlet. I jumped for any chance to irrigate, which essentially meant I squirted water wherever they wanted me to. New scrub nurse stared at me with more pity. My mask slipped down and I tried to shove it up with the back of my gowned arm and all the nurses jumped on me, "Oh, contamination! You should scrub out and ... maybe scrub back in later ... if you need to?" We all slipped the attending and resident inquiring looks. They didn't say anything.

Taking that to mean that I had to come back, I sidled to the door and hurried to the locker room where I crumpled into a chair and crammed another cereal bar down. Returned to the OR, scrubbed back in. Attending and resident barely glanced at me. Scrub nurse tapped my gloved hand and surreptitiously murmured, "You got food?"

I nodded, and she answered, "Good. Got to eat. Don't want you getting hypoglycemic."

By 7:30pm, the attending finally announced, "I need to pee."

Resident agreed, "Me, too."

While the attending went out to take his turn first, I asked resident, "Um, how long do you think until we close up? ... because someone is kinda going to pick me up ..."

"Oh, you could have gone home whenever you wanted," the resident answered.

I stared at him. Was this a trick question? Because I was ready to go hours ago. Why didn't you send me home then if I could have gone home at any time? Or is this reverse psychology? Do I need to continue to prove my dedication by clinging on til the very end? Tell me what to do.

The resident continued, "If your pick up is here already, you can go."

"Oh, he's coming," I said quickly. "He's here." He can be here. Right now. I will teleport myself into any moving vehicle heading home.

The nurse ripped off the ties to the back of my gown before anyone can say anything else and excused me quickly, "Go home then! Eat! Go! Sleep!"

"Oh ... okay ... thank you!" I announced to the general room with special gratitude to the nurses, gave a pathetic wave, and scurried out.

The next morning, I found out the case ended past midnight. Hardcore.