Dec 26, 2010

Good news

My dad got discharged from the hospital on Christmas Eve; he's doing much better, sounds really positive, and is making all those lifestyle changes the majority of my patients refused to consider, so that's a huge load off my shoulders, and I get to go see him in a couple of days before burning back to NYC just in time to conscientiously avoid Times Square for New Years.

Speaking of Times Square, I was there today, because I was trying to score Broadway tickets but gave up because they're expensive even on discount, and more importantly, scoring those tickets would have involved standing in an outside line during that whole blizzard thing we're having today.

Because on my mom's time off work, I spent a great deal of it either interviewing or lying in my house in a useless deep depression prior to Christmas, I decided we'd go out today to Midtown 'in the snow', maybe ice skate a little, and do it up. "In the snow" is quite different than "in a blizzard". Today while... let's say... fording a path through Rockefeller Center to see the tree, the wind and temperatures were such that my scarf actually froze through solid. I also had the same little faux-fur lined hood black parka that *everyone* in NYC owns, and that caked with snow and froze too.

It was a good reminder that though I typically avoid Midtown, I actually do like Grand Central Station a lot, which is where we ducked for cover for a while to "see the holiday decorations and eat", by which I mean "get out of the 40 mile per hour blinding snow, and was that thunder and lightning, holy crap get inside".

Christmas was nice; my mom came along with two of my friends and I cooked a massive feast thanks to a generous contribution of fake talent both from, plus Yoshie taking on my roommate's usual role of following me around the kitchen cleaning dishes and trying to keep me from lighting stuff on fire.

The menu:
Spinach salad with mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, red onions, balsamic vinegarette and feta.
Rosemary lamb chops with balsalmic reduction
Yams with sugar and orange peel stuffed inside a shelled orange and coated in a caramel pecan sauce
Cashew broccoli
Ice cream sandwiches from Bierkraft (they're amazing; I can't top them)

This is probably more detail than anyone wants, but my cooking usually amounts to searing a steak or boiling ramen water, so I was pretty pleased with myself. Plenty of Christmas movies, wine, beer, and eggnog too. Traditional route.

Christmas in NYC reminds me of why it's going to be so hard to leave NYC. Well, currently, it would be difficult because I'm snowed in, but yesterday, we managed to procure lamb chops, eggnog, and beer on Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, I was able to snag gourmet macaroons at night. I'm spoiled completely rotten. I kept saying the adage while I was cooking of "If I screw this up, we can get take out." How can I live elsewhere?

I'm off rotations right now for interviews and the holidays but start up again after New Year's. The whole reality of not being a medical student anymore after April keeps hitting me intermittently.

Dec 19, 2010

A pause, not one that refreshes

I was out earlier screwing around with my friends, eating one raw oyster from a good oyster bar because they were too expensive to order more, drinking, waiting two hours so that we could have fries at the Breslin, and getting mysteriously screwed out of the hot chocolate we'd planned on.

We're goofing about baby names due to one of the party having a bun in the oven, and that became the conversation as my roommate and I did our nightly home stuff... in the kitchen:

"I knew a girl that wanted to name her baby Diamond Katana. I begged her to have her tubes tied."
"Oh, that's pretty."

My phone rings and it's my dad, and sounds bad on the phone and I'm punchdrunk and slaphappy at this point and I say "TELL me you are not flaking out of coming down here on Christmas".

At which point, I get to feel like a complete asshole because the man's just had his first heart attack, is in the CCU, and he's scared, and no one's telling him things, and he really wanted to see me. For that last part, he sounded like he was crying, and I never see my dad cry. People barely even see me cry.

I'm split in two. I'm that family member calling the desk and wondering about prognosis, and if I were able to be at the hospital right now, I'd be the one looming around. Since I'm not there, I'm the bastard family member just leaving someone in their hour of need. "Daughter," they'll say. "Hasn't seen the guy in over a year. Bet now all of the sudden, she starts threatening litigation and all other manner of crap. What a scumbag".

The split was my first year medical school split. My maybe I can help even though I can't do anything. My maybe having the knowledge of what exactly happened will secure it in my mind so I know... well, I don't fucking know, how worried I should be?

So my first questions to my dad are who his doctor is, if I can speak to him, what was the quality of the heart attack. I call the charge nurse, apologize for bothering him, explain that I'm a medical student, so he'll dish me the dirt... STEMi, for starters. Shit. 100% occlusion of the left anterior descending artery. (roommate's response: that means he must have crazy collateral circulation) (Me: way to make lemonade out of those lemons). Stint in place, thrombolytics pushed within 90 minutes, standard stuff. Watching him in the CCU. Quick, med student. What's the most common cause of death within 24 hours of a heart attack? Arrhythmia. What complication arises within 3-5 days? When will the patient be able to return to physical activity? I'm getting pimped by my own fucking subconscious.

Through that din, which without the personal involvement, is similar to my normal mental din, is the thought that I don't want my daddy to die. I don't want him to miss Christmas. I want him to come to NYC so I can take him to nice places to eat, maybe a show on Broadway, show him the tree at Rockefeller Center, because turista nonsense or not, it is beautiful, and skate for him at the same center, because he always wanted me to when I was a kid and I couldn't. I want him back to NYC in June, when it's not horrendously cold, so he can see me graduate, become a doctor for the rest of my life, everything I've worked for, and I want him to be embarrassing me from the audience by yelling my real name too loudly when I walk across the stage.

Med student me knows that while this period is critical, it is also frequently survived. People live years and years post heart attack with little incident. A scare tactic to really motivate you for your diet. I know all this because I've seen all this. I've disinterestedly draped a stethoscope over all this. "You're stable, sir. Please relax. Turn your phone off. You're in the CCU. No, I cannot talk to your daughter right now to tell her everything's fine. I'm a doctor. I'm busy."

But for now, Dartmouth looms, as do a bunch of important travel decisions. I really really want to just go back to before that phone call.