Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'd like to take back everything I said about Hurricane Irene being a dud. Turns out, while Jersey City was spared, a lot of inland areas of New Jersey are underwater. Of course, these places happen to be right next to where my new pediatrics rotation is. The part of the highway I have to take to get to the suburbs flooded and collapsed. Who knew that could happen?

On a normal day, it takes nearly forever (or 45 minutes) to get out there. Yesterday it took me an hour and half to get there and two hours to get home! Because that major highway is closed for the foreseeable future, all the other highways are overloaded. On my drive home, I ended up taking 6 different highways to get home because everytime Judy the GPS found me a new route home, the road would be closed. She finally diverted me onto a toll road that only had two ticket lanes going. Guess who had to sit in line for 30 minutes because her EZ Pass is still sitting on her desk?

I took the wrong route home yesterday, which I realized about 4 seconds after I got on the highway onramp and it was too late to turn around. I kept telling myself that the other route must be equally bad because the thought that I more than doubled my commute was going to make my head explode. Sure enough, I took the other highway today. 40 minutes. Needless to say, Hurricane Irene is officially dead to me.

Also, I'd like to break up with Pediatrics. I like kids and all, but mostly when they're happy and cute. They're so much less cute when they scream. And yesterday, they all screamed. All. Day. Long.

Kill me.

I think my problem is that I like control and calm. Pediatrics is uncontrolled chaos. There's just way too much yelling and crying and crazy moms threatening to leave their crying kids with the doctor if they don't behave. Don't even joke about that. I will walk out of here and never come back if you leave that screaming kid alone with me.

My attending's practice attracts a lot of autistic kids, whom I normally love because they're quirky and socially awkward and way too smart for their own good. Autism plus doctor's office equals full-on Linda Blair nightmare because on the whole, autistic kids don't like to be touched and here's this stranger sticking point objects into their ears and nose. Oh the torture. For everyone involved.

It's just a matter of time before I come down with some sort of fluminant upper respiratory Strep-fluenza-croup infection because kids are big walking fomites.

The bright side is sometimes I get to hold babies, and discuss favorite Michael Jackson songs with 8 year-olds, and watch my attending give the sex talk to embarrassed 16 year-olds. Oh, and I have a 5 day weekend.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jersey City vs. Hurricane Irene

That was the most disappointing hurricane ever! Now I'm pissed that I subjected myself to torture at the hands of Walmart on Friday. All for nothing.

It rained off and on pretty much all of Saturday. I spent the day over at a friend's house watching movies and killing time until the hurricane started. We decided to venture out for dinner because nothing was happening, so we ate at this Irish pub that was having hurricane drink specials. I've come to the conclusion that we should have fake hurricanes all the time because no one was out on the roads, we found street parking on the weekend (a certifiable miracle), and they suspended all the parking laws until Monday so you could park basically anywhere.

The storm started in earnest around 11 pm and by that time it was pouring and the wind was picking up. My cousin called me in a panic, wanting to know if I was prepared. He's lived through two hurricanes in Florida, and he was, needless to say, unimpressed when I told him that not only was I not boarding up the windows and filling the bathtub with ice water, but I wasn't even at home. He kind of freaked me out a little with all his disaster talk, so my friend filled the bathtub with water (not because we were going to need it, but to shut me up). Needless to say, we never lost power. The Dish even worked through most of the hurricane, which has to be some act of God because I had one of those my senior year in college and we lost all reception anytime the sky even thought about sending rain.

The storm was over by 10 this morning and I ventured home. I was expecting to see at least some damage from the storm, a few tree limbs down, anything to prove that we'd been through a hurricane.

I'm seriously disappointed that Hurricane Irene did not bring her A game, because how can I say I survived a hurricane when I've been through worse thunderstorms in the middle of the country? And now I have no choice but to go to work on Monday. Thanks a lot, Irene.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I miss predictable Midwestern weather patterns. Not to say that tornados are predictable, because they're not, which is what can make them so devastating, but at least I was comfortable with Missouri's weather. I know what to do when the tornado sirens go off (if you're a true Missourian, that means going outside to look at the sky before maybe going down to the basement). This whole Hurricane Irene deal is not okay. 

My anxiety manifests itself in a excessive preoccupation with natural disasters (and also the ability to convince myself that I have all sorts of rare medical conditions), mainly because my brain is hard-wired to go directly to the worst-cast scenario for everything. So weather phenomena are like a field day for my nerves. 

When I was little, I used to be deathly afraid of tsunamis whenever it would rain. Yes, I lived in Missouri, possibly the most land-locked state in the US. Completely logical, I know. So whenever it rained my dad would make me go get the mail from the mailbox at the end of the driveway. I'm going to pretend that he was doing it for my own good, helping me get over my completely irrational fear, but I'm pretty sure it was mostly just entertaining to watch me work up the nerve to leave the porch and then race down the driveway and back before the 20 foot tidal waves got me. Thanks, Dad. 

I've spent most of the day checking the Weather Channel's website for updates on the impending doom. New Jersey is officially in a state of emergency. They're preparing to evacuate prisons. When they start evacuating the criminals, that's when you know it's serious. The problem with all of this is I don't know what to do in event of a hurricane. The Weather Channel is offering helpful advice like:
        Please begin to think about and act on your hurricane preparations. Now is the time.

Thanks for that. Real helpful, there. 

I went to the store Friday after work to buy supplies because I figured bottled water and a flashlight might save me the Hurricane. So I went to Walmart...and now I'm going to need therapy. There were so many people there that the police were directing traffic in and out of its parking lot. Although they really should have been inside because there were so many people you could hardly move. I figured that most people would be there buying the basics like canned food, water, bread, etc, but the people of Northern Jersey seem to be approaching a possible future without electricity and running water like it's a 4th of July BBQ. Every cart seems to be full of chips and cookies and hamburgers, sandwich meat, cheese...most of which require the electricity to still work in order for it to stay edible. Or maybe it's just they haven't worked out this whole electricity concept yet. 

I passed more than one person who decided that the threat of extensive flooding made this weekend the perfect time to buy that new flat screen, HD tv they'd been eyeing. 

I went straight back to the bottled water section, hoping that there'd be some left. 

Not so much

By 4pm on Friday there wasn't a bottle of water, a battery, a flashlight, or a generator to be had in New Jersey. So instead I just bought some non-perishable food, like pretzel M&Ms, you know, the essentials.
The storm isn't supposed to hit until late Saturday night, so last night I went out with a bunch of other med students to celebrate the end of our rotations.

I got an email from our program director about the Hurricane yesterday, telling us to "use your best judgement" on whether to go to work on Monday. I start my Pediatrics rotation, where apparently the attending doesn't actually let you talk to the mini-humans. What do you think the chances are that I can use my "best judgement" to claim emotional distress from the Hurricane and not go in?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Today was my last day on Radiology. I had my attending fill out my evaluation yesterday because I never know when he's actually going to be around. He wished me luck on my next rotation and told me to keep in touch (which is funny since I can guarantee that he has no idea what my name is). I told him that I still had one day left on the rotation and that I'd be in the next day. The radiologists were all shocked that I was going to actually come back. Apparently, once their evaluations are signed, students rarely return.

He should not have told me that because the temptation was almost too great. Especially early this morning, when I'd hit the snooze button three times too many. I decided to go in anyway, at least until noon (yeah, grueling, I know) and then I'd go home and take the exam that I didn't study for and call it a day.

Of course, all of the interesting patients waited until my last day to show up. The minute I walked in the door until the moment I left hours later, we went from one procedure after another and I didn't have to identify a single anatomic structure on a CT. We spent the last three hours of my work day in the CT room watching my attending basically invent a procedure on a patient that desperately needed a catheter placed but had no accessible peripheral veins. He was all pumped about this, but the other radiologist looked slightly less enthusiastic about it. So did the patient for that matter.

At least for me, radiology is almost always as dull as dishwater. I spent the last two weeks sitting in a dark room looking at abdominal CTs and chest x-rays, being lulled to sleep by radiologists quietly repeating the date 15 times into their handheld dictaphones. Today it was as if the circus had come to town. Half of the surgery department, all of the radiology department, an anesthesia resident, the CT techs, my resident and I are all crammed into this space smaller than my freshman dorm room, all of us peering at a computer monitor to watch the progress of a 12 cm needle as it got closer and closer to its intended target.

The radiology tech, this high strung older man who looks like he belongs at the North Pole helping Santa make toys for good little boys and girls, is running around about to blow a fuse because every attending in the room is trying to tell him what to do. The patient is screaming everytime the radiologist tries to draw on his skin with a marker. The department director is hovering around making sure all the T's are crossed and I's are dotted so the department doesn't get sued when the procedure doesn't work.

And my resident and I just keep saying to each other "Why hasn't every day been like this?"

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The leg bone is connected to the foot bone...

I'm currently on my two week radiology rotation. The first day I stayed until lunch and then went home. Obviously I am such a gunner. I would put in more effort, except my attending thinks medical student equates more with secretary than, you know, student.

The other day I was observing him put in a fluoroscopy- guided PICC line (a central catheter designed for long-term medication administration) on a patient. This involves having everyone in the room wearing the lead shield aprons. So he's got this 50 lb apron on with a sterile gown over it. His phone rings and it's still clipped to his belt. Instead of just letting it go to voicemail, he asks me to get it. So I have to go digging around under all this stuff without breaking sterile and grab his phone from his pants. I can't decide who was sexually harassed in this situation, me or him?

Then I have to answer the phone like I'm his secretary. But here's the problem: the person on the other end has an accent and he's talking a mile a minute and I can't understand a single word he's saying. He wants to talk to my attending but I'm scared to interrupt him because he is currently trying to float a catheter up a vein in the patient's arm and into the superior vena cava, which I'm guessing takes some amount of concentration. I eventually just gave up trying to figure out what the caller wanted and told him my attending would call back when he was done.

Later that day we're doing the same procedure on another patient. As soon as my attending was sterile, his phone rings. I made the other med student get it.