Saturday, September 24, 2011


Here was my day yesterday:

1: Dad comes in at 5:40 pm for his 5:15 emergency add-on visit with his son:

"Your son has asthma. He's going to need to start using this albuterol pump to get his asthma under control."

"Albuterol? Are you sure? My wife isn't going to like this. She's not really okay with our kids taking medication."

WTF?!  "Yes I'm sure, he's wheezing in every lobe of his lungs, everytime he coughs he can't catch his breath and his oxygen saturation is low. He's not getting enough oxygen into his lungs."

"And that's serious?"

"Yes, not being able to breathe is serious."

"Well, I guess we can we'll try that medication. At least for a little bit."

2. Mom and 1 year-old baby are here for a well-baby visit. Mom pulls out a sheet of questions. Oh goodie.

"Is it okay for my baby to play with toys?

"Is it okay that he poops four times a day?"

"He gets three meals a day. Am I feeding him too much?"

"He's starting to walk. Should I be letting him do that?"

3. Mom to her 4 year-old girl here for booster vaccines:

Mom "You're going to get lots of shots today! Are you scared? You should be scared. It's going to hurt. A lot."

Kid: ear-piercing screams

4. Mom to 6 year-old who won't stop playing with the scale out in the hallway:

"If you don't start behaving right now, I swear I will leave you here with the doctor. How would you like that?"

Me (internally): I'm guessing your kid wouldn't mind that as much as you might think...

Is pediatrics over yet? The kids are cute, but the parents are going to be the death of me.

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's September 12th and everything is back to normal around here. Everyone seems to have recovered from the whole "Let's love everyone extra" of yesterday, which is kind of a relief because all the niceness was starting to freak me out. People in the grocery store kept striking up conversations with me. They even voluntarily moved their carts out of the middle of the aisle so I could get through , which might seem like common courtesy in any other part of the country, but here is like an act of God if you don't have to resort to pushing their cart with yours first. It was all very Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Don't get me wrong, I think that sentiment is great, but it seems a little phoney when it only applies to one day of the year (man, this makes me sound like the hippy I desperately wanted to be in high school).

I knew everything was back to the status quo today when a transit bus decided to cut me off in rush hour traffic because he couldn't be bothered to check his mirrors before all 20 feet of him changed lanes. I was so happy that everyone was back to being rude again that I forgot to honk.

The empty lot next to my house has this stray cat and I want to adopt it. I keep asking if he wants to come home with me, but I think he's shy. He'd really come in handy this winter because my landlord has started bringing up the M-word and I don't really want to have to move out because Mickey's little cousins are coming to visit.

What I really want is one of those hairless cats that look like Voldemort. It sounds like the perfect pet because A: it's a cat, which means that it has no use for you as long as you make the food appear on a regular basis (ie, perfect for a med student) and B: because it's hypoallergenic and C: they just look hilarious. I did a little research on hairless cats last month during my radiology rotation because, let's be honest, what else was there to do. Sadly, hairless cats are the insecure sorority girls of the cat world. In other words, high maintenance. Because they have no hair, you have to bathe and moisturize them with special hairless cat soap multiple times a week. If I wanted to put in that much effort, I'd get a kid. The death of a dream...
See you in your nightmares...

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I haven’t been here long, but New York City, I think, is one of those places that you either love or hate, and it doesn’t take too long to decide your position. There’s something undeniably special about the city that is hard to put into words. Despite the insane housing prices, the eye-watering smell on garbage day, never ending traffic, and the evil known as toll roads, there’s just something about this place that makes me want to stay here forever. It’s sad to know that I never got a chance to meet this city before it lost its innocence. 

9/11 is different here, more real, less theoretical. For everyone here, whether you were here 10 years ago or not.

It's a different kind of loss, and a different kind of mourning, to live here now. To know that as I drive across the Pulaski Skyway, headed home from the hospital, with Manhattan's skyline in front of me, that I've never known that view the way it was meant to be. With the Twin Towers, the tallest in the bunch, watching over their shorter companions. 

I wasn't planning on going down to Ground Zero today, given the possible terrorist threat, but this year might be the only chance I have to be there for an anniversary and it just felt wrong to sit at home and read about it on CNN when I'm a 20 minute bus ride away. 

So I went. I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting. More crying and less Asian tourists flashing the peace sign to their cameras, I guess. 

In high school, I went to the Oklahoma City Bombing memorial six or seven years after the bombing occurred. Even though I wasn't there on the anniversary of the event, the sense of loss was still palpable. 

But Ground Zero felt a little more like Times Square than a memorial. Leave it to America to turn the most devastating tragedy in its history, at least of this century, into a tourist trap. There were people everywhere selling red ribbons, and programs, a small American flags. The obligatory nut-jobs were there waving their end-of-the-world signs in the air and yelling about evils of a capitalist economy. And there were thousands of people posing for pictures in front of the new WTC building in between talking about where they're going for dinner and asking that fireman passing by if he'll pose with them.

And all I could think was, ''Ten years ago, thousands of people died here. Just a few hours ago, their families came and read their names aloud in remembrance and cried over their names etched into the new memorial. And across there street, behind the mesh fence, there is still a gaping hole in the Earth. How can you even smile, much less laugh here, today?"

I didn't stay very long at Ground Zero. I walked downtown toward the end of the island where Battery Park sits. Flags of Heroes, American Flags with the names of everyone who gave their lives on 9/11 making up the Stars and Stripes, were erected all over the park's grounds, one for each person who died. 3000 flags.

As I walked back to the WTC subway stop, I passed this Irish pub that, ten years ago, would have sat in the shadow of the Towers. Outside there were FDNY firemen (and women), all in uniform, milling around. The atmosphere was reminiscent of a class reunion, and it was obvious that for many of them, this is the only day of the year they get to see one another. The older generation of firemen, the ones who were most likely there that day were shepherding little clusters of younger guys who probably in middle school a decade ago. There was more celebration among the FDNY than there was a block away among the tourists. And here, unlike with the tourists, the mood felt right. Here, you get the sense that the right to smile and laugh has been hard won. Because life goes on. Even if a small part of all of us has been left ten years in the past. 

Walking past that pub was the most fitting book end to whole the day. It just felt right that a day that started in tears for what our country has lost, that was followed by unease of walking around Manhattan and seeing policemen carrying automatic weapons, ended with a display of human resiliency and hope.