Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Snip Snip

Today I learned all I ever need to know about cicumcision, as it was my job to assist with four of them. This week I am in the newborn nursery at the hospital, and one of the fun things we do every day is to remove foreskin.
My official job was to use a dropper to give the babies sugar water right before and then during the procedure. The baby would be strapped onto a special board, legs tied down in spread eagle position, and then I would begin giving them drops of sugar (it was probably the first time these new little humans had ever expereience the sensation of sweetness, and the look of delight on their faces when the drops hit their lips was undeniably adorable). We give them sugar water because it makes the babies release endorphins, the body's "feel good" chemical. After a few drops of sugar and once they get a little of the feeling good, the nurse starts injecting lidocaine into the base of their penises to get them numb. During the rest of the procedure, my job was just to keep giving baby the drops of sugar.
I also liked to say reassuring things like, "Better now than later," and " Don't worry, we won't take off too much," or, "I promise this is the meanest thing two women will ever do to you." I think it made the babies feel better, but it also made the nurse performing the circumcision start to laugh, and I thought the babies would like a steady hand rather than the humor.
The nurse who did the job was so quick and efficient that I barely had time to ever really figure out exactly how the skin got taken off. By the fourth job of the day, though, I was able to adequately aim the dropper at the baby's mouth and watch the entire procedure from start to finish. Does it look rather barbaric? Yes. Does the baby seem to be in pain? Not really. Is there a lot of blood? There can be. What happens to the 1/2 inch of skin that gets snipped of the baby's wiener? That I never found out.
So, as you fall asleep tonight, just think that somewhere in this world, there are babies without their foreskins, and there are foreskins without their babies.
Good night.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Where to Begin?

Now that I have this blog thing, I have been racking my brain about exactly which part of the story to jump into first. "The story" being how I went from a creative writing major with no idea about what to do with her life to a frenzied medical student with a few definite goals and one chaotic schedule, and how this right-brained lady deals with the left-brained world of science and medicine.
There are two question I hate being asked. The first is "What brought you to Kansas City?" (in reality I still haven't exactly pinned down the answer, but I know that roughly 89% of it had to do with a shaggy-haired fellow named Tommy whose life goals included becoming either a rock star or a ninja, who since has become nearly bald,  my husband and an attorney...)
The second question  is, "Have you always wanted to be a doctor?" The true answer to this question is NO, I have not always wanted to be a doctor. You tell people in the medical profession this, though, and they look at you as if they are just now noticing your second head poking out from your neck.  For some reason, the majority of my classmates, established physicians, etc, just can't seem to fathom not having the desire to be a physicians since the moment the exited the womb. 
Perhaps this has actually been some of the source of my struggle over the past two years . I didn't have that sense with in me that I was finally doing what I had always dreamed of doing, and that there was no obstacle great enough that I wouldn't be willing to overcome it to get to my dream. I lack a certain element of resolve that you can practically see dripping from some medical students. They are like those people we all know who dedicate their lives to a sport, who dream of one day playing college or professional basketball, baseball, or soccer, and who are willing to endure early morning practices, bruised and swollen body parts, and being yelled at to go faster and play harder. They think that kind of thing is fun. I think that kind of thing is torture. 
And I tend to think that the people who put up with this are a little bit crazy.
Anyway, the same dedication that sends some people to the gym or field at 5am also runs through the veins of students who are capable of sitting still, reading books, memorizing lists of info for 12 hours at a time, barely taking a break to eat or drink (which is probably why they never have to break to pee or poop).
Long story short...compared to most of my class, I am a slacker.
So how does this apply to the big picture story of how I ended up in medical school, dealing with these over-achieving people on a daily basis?
Good question.
I don't have a solid answer, except to say that in the past four weeks, I have actually started to feel as if I AM doing what I was always meant to do.
For four weeks now, I have officially been a third year medical student. This means that I no longer sit on my butt in lectures 5 hours a day and then go home and sit on my butt for several more hours. Instead, it means I spend an average of 10 hours a day with real, live patients instead of real, dead books.
Right away, during the first week of this new phase of my education, I started to feel something strange stirring inside me. Yes, much of it had to do with what seems to be recent-onset lactose intolerance, but in addition to the weird things going on in my gut, there was also something weird going on in my head and my heart.
I was having fun.
I was learning.
I was learning and having fun.
And then, before you know it...I was getting up at 5am to be at the hospital by 6:20.
More than that, I was getting up at 5am everyday, and managing to be a pleasant person.
Then one day the thought came into my mind as I was on my way to examine a patient, "I can't believe I actually get to do this everyday."
I stopped in my tracks for a brief second, and it occurred to me that even though I haven't always wanted to be a doctor, that suddenly I am doing exactly what I think I was meant to do, but just never knew that I was meant to do it.
And so, I guess that gets us pretty much caught up.
I spent 25 years wondering what the hell I was supposed to be doing with my life, and within the last 4 weeks realized that even without having a definite goal or any reasonable plan, I somehow ended up exactly where I think I am supposed to be.

This feels better than a bubble bath.


Friday, July 23, 2004


So it begins...
If you made it here, that means you have recently gotten an email from me, had a conversation with me, or have been stalking me. No matter the reason or method, I suppose I am flattered that you have come to read my little takes on the world. Hopefully most of what I have to share will be happy and lighthearted, but I am sure there will also be an ample amount of bitching and perhaps a tad bit of moaning. I will try to keep the bitching and moaning to a minimum, though.
And now, please raise your trays to their original upright position, fasten your safety belts, and prepare for take off...