Dec 30, 2011

We don't need no water... wait, yes we do

F*** indeed, neighbor.

Went to the scene today and chatted with some of the neighbors, including, I believe, the one that took this video, so we have some record of stuff.

Long story short, absolutely nothing left. I was captivated by the sound of the broken glass and tinder crunching under my new boots. My closet, I was told, fell outward, which sparked a brief hope of finding my bedbug costume, and one of my displaced neighbors, Superman, as we all call him, started climbing through the collapsed stuff to pick through the things that looked like clothes. Half of a pair of jeans, I think.

Lots of people were driving by to loiter, and I didn't really mind that, because it's probably what I would do. I gawked at the house on Rutledge that burned earlier this year. I took some pictures of my place just for the hell of it, not because I think I really need to document anything. But one of the landlords from across the street saw me and the neighbor and were like "do you live nearby?" and I'm like "I'm the third roommate". "Ohh... Was yours the red car? It was a trooper." "No, mine was the black nissan." "Oh... It exploded." "I know." "Do you have a place to go?" "Yup."

I went to the hospital today, one, because one of my attendings kept insisting that I do so, and two, because in an amazing show of foresight, I kept some of my insurance paperwork there, and the degree of support and concern was amazing and humbling. I've only been at my residency for six months but everyone rallied. I got hugs and offers and even though I immediately called a friend needing a roommate as soon as I heard, people were all "Where is she staying" and eager to make sure I wasn't sleeping in a Red Cross shelter. Despite everything, I feel really lucky.

I think that's one of the keys in a residency program too. Not "Who will hug me if my house and car burn down" because that is an oddly specific question to ask at the pre-interview dinner, but just how close knit a program is makes a huge difference in overall happiness. Our department has happy hours, parties, and an open door policy that nurtures an environment where someone could come home from vacation with nothing and find everything she could hope for, to get back on her feet, within her program's walls.

Family has also been absolutely amazing. Getting the news was surreal, and occurred around the small cousins, and it's difficult to know how to react in any appropriate fashion since presumably singing four letter words in the major and minor scales is not recommended for the TV-Y crew. I was helped out, taken shopping, given clothes, and perhaps really importantly, distracted so I couldn't dwell on it.

I'm safe and sound tonight back in Charleston. Things are moving along; I'm trying to release my car to the insurance company and get a lease agreement moving along. Good times.

Dec 29, 2011

Eulogy for Dexter

I realized I didn't post a picture of Dex in his prime of life, so here's one of his death. He's behind the mini cooper, who is also totaled.

He was a nice car. He delivered me to Maryland without murdering me and synced my ipod really well. He died in a blaze of glory that was dripped from my house, which was undergoing its own blaze of glory. RIP Dexter. Flights of angels, and the like.

Dec 28, 2011

A funny thing happened while I was in Houston...

My house burned down. And the car out front.

As ya do. As they say.

I'm not entirely sure what the proper response is. I'm trying for the dark humor. The "fire sale". The "blackened fish tacos". Everything I own is gone. My new car is gone. The roommate's dog, whom I love, is safe. No one is hurt. But there is decent coverage on all of Charleston's news outlets, that show my home, and everything I own, save the suitcases I have in Houston, up in flames. My neighbors talking about how hard it is on them, because the firefighters evacuated them before saving *their* homes. Not mine. There's only so much they can do. By the news report, I'm the "fifth person", after the Red Cross helped four, who is "out of town", as the news reporter says, "thank goodness". As do I.

I have family. I have friends. I have a general worthlessness to the things I owned. A Wii my mom got me. A regifted futon. An Ikea dresser I got in New York. A computer that was already on the fritz. A brand new car that was engulfed in the front. But I have friends, I have family. I have a job and a place to stay. I have a roommate's big sloppy dog that's not dead. I have... I don't know... a fresh start? It's not a fresh start. It's a charred start that hurts when I think of the emotional losses. The med school diploma. The pictures from Prague. The episodes of hell, Dexter, the show that named my car, who's dripping melted plastic in a parking garage downtown. My external hard drive. I had a flashing minute, before I left for Houston, where I thought "I should put that in my file drawer at the hospital" before I thought "nahhhh, what could happen". The blackmail photos of my roommate and my friends in New York. It's done.

I'm in Houston. I'm not sure what the response is. I'm not sure how I should feel about the arsonist speculation (which I don't really believe) and they claims to my insurance company. I'm moving in with someone I really like. But I feel odd; I feel disconnected. I feel like never going back to pick through the condemned wreckage to see if I can find the necklace I bought in Venezuela, the luck dragon my boyfriend and I got in Chinatown when I was hammered, that I used as a puppet to order tickets to a midnight showing of the Dark Crystal, the few bills of Costa Rican money, my checks that couldn't spell "Union Street" correctly.

Is stuff important? I don't know. I've moved so many times. I frequently joke that every time I move, I want to pile up everything I own and light it on fire, and now that job's been done for me. When I talked to the claims guy for my car, he says "Is your address still on Nunan Street?" and I say "Not anymore" because it's not. The CAT-AT in our living room, the life sized Anakin Skywalker that scared the shit out of the roommate. The fridge with the door that would never close. I'm moved with a suitcase to a nice apartment in West Ashley with a new, different dog and a new roommate and a new life in the same city.

I packed a bunch of my clothes to Houston because I had to check a bottle of port for Christmas. More than I would normally. Dress clothes. An electric blanket.

I don't have scrubs. Those stupid throwaway pieces of cloth the hospital provides us, but we have to return them to the machine to get them back and mine are burned.

But stay tuned for us on the news. We're top billing. They don't know our names or the dog's name, or if the cat I never liked is alive. But they know about the smoke that actually changed the city skyline for a while, the neighbors that were so horrified by our loss, the possibility of the Arsonist At Large, or if you're me, more probably, the Squatters That Were Cooking.

Can I just stay in Houston?

Dec 24, 2011

Another month of surg path down

Why are there so many Christmas trees around?

Oh right, the holidays... so today was the last day of work; I raced home, swinging by Charleston Beer Exchange to buy my roommate a "thank you for ferrying me to the airport at the break of day" six pack hand picked by a man with a moustache that said he was up to the job, then home to do the *absolute* worst packing job I've ever done in my life, and now, en route to bed as I wash my last shirt.

Warning to cousins: I may end up wearing bathing suit bottoms and a winter jacket. Not a good packing day for me.

This month has been an interesting one. As I've mentioned, I'm feeling more "getting the hang of it" in surg path. This is partially related to learning how all the systems work and what's supposed to go to what, which is a far greater contributor to competence than... you know... knowing what's under the microscope.

There's a certain logic that's emerging that seems absolutely obvious now most of the time but just wasn't when I started. Example...

My first month on, I had a uterus with potential endometrial cancer. I asked for help and was told to submit as much of the endometrium as possible, since obviously, that's where the cancer is.

So I proudly scraped every bit I could find off to make sure there was no spot unsampled. Bring on sign out... "Do you have any sections showing the depth of penetration into the myometrium?"


"The most important prognostic criterion?"

"Uh... I scraped it off."


(Puppy frown)

Fortunately, the beleaguered attending was able to salvage some unmutilated sample from the specimen, but not a proud day for me. Looking back, I have no idea what possessed me to think that would be a good idea. I wrote some of it down in my notebook so that I never go fully butt wild on a noob because I'm already realizing how much of an idiot I was a whole three months ago. By the time I'm in fourth year, it's going to be insane.

Part of my increasing, let's say "comfort", with my current lot in life is only now realizing that other people are going through *exactly* the same thing I went through.

Ishie, having mastered the art of "track down the screwed up slides" is charging through the halls between the resident on yesterday and the histo lab, is stopped by colleague who looks close to tears.

Colleague: "Um... do you know anything about... um... pancreas?"

Ishie: "Ah... my archnemesis. Not really. Sucks macro; sucks micro, gotta go".

Ishie sees colleague later, who is on hour 4 of read out or what I like to call "staring impotently into a scope until someone either helps you or you panic and then stop caring".

Ishie: "How'd it go?"

Colleague: "I hate pancreas."

Ishie peers in scope... "Breast, eh?"

Colleague: "I have four more... is it bad... I feel like I just don't care."

Ishie: "Diagnostic inertia."

Colleague: "This isn't cancer. What is that?"

Ishie: "I'd probably hedge my bets and call it sclerosing adenosis. It's probably wrong, but shows you were paying attention."

Female voice from dictaphone: "...Goodbye."

Colleague: "No!! You bitch!"


While grossing placentas, which is tedious.

Ishie: "Dammit."

Different colleague: "What?"

Ishie: "This umbilical cord inserts but then, it's membrane bound all the way to the edge, and I don't remember what that's called."

Different colleage: "Where's the actual insertion point?"

Ishie: "Central. What should I call it?"

Different colleague: "Central."


Other colleague: "This is case SP-76-7872, patient's name is Jane Doe. Preop diagnosis of missed abortion. Specimen A is received in formalin in a container labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, and... wait a minute" (presses rewind)

Dictaphone: "Please scan the bar code."

Other colleague scans bar code: "beep"

Other colleague: "GODS. This is case SP-76-7872, patient's name is Jane Doe." (presses rewind)

Dictaphone: "Please scan the bar code."

Other colleague: "I'm going to break this phone."

I have done every single one of these things. It makes me feel peaceful. It also makes me feel good to be the go to girl among first years for prostate. It's a weird source of pride but there you have it. I'm good at prostates. I looked at so many at Brooklyn Hospital that it just stuck, so now I can scan away on forty slides feeling downright zen despite getting twisted into indecisive convulsions at trying to phrase "This guy has a giant icky infected boil in his arm" into pathology speech.

But enough with that! No more surge path this month or this year, and I'm off to see my family! I haven't seen any of them since I took my step 2 CS and my uncle ironed my white coat for me while my aunt took me shopping and my cousins took me drinking. I'm full of awesome sauce for it.

Happy Holidays everyone!!! May your ovaries all stay manageable sizes!!!!

Dec 17, 2011

A Caribbean M.D. is Weird Enough for Me.

See what I did there?

If I had to use one word to sum up what medicine feels like, it would be "Imposter".

Things are weird. Not bad weird. Just weird weird. Sometimes good weird.

I'm not sure if I'm a hipster or a yuppie or just desperately trying to pretend to be one or the other. I scathingly referred to my new brew as "Nut Brown Budweiser", which seems to put me in the hipster category, but I spent the evening at an Aquarium party for who knows what while eating different select cheeses and staring at fish, which seems like the latter. I did that while wearing a seemingly ironic dead alligator purse, which seems hipstery, until it's known that I only did it because it's the ONLY purse I have that can double as an evening purse, and then we're just back at imposter.

My point being, when I think "I'm a doctor", I don't think this:

Hi, I'm a turtle. I have nothing to do with pathology

I'm not sure why this party was being thrown. It was supposed to be impressing something on someone, but I don't think that someone was us. So we drank Chardonnay and watched albino alligators and sea turtles and ate brie, and attempted to do the electric slide, while I fidgeted and adjusted the dress I borrowed from my roommate, pretended to be deliberately avant garde with my eBay dead alligator purse, and made that level of polite conversation you see in movies about social functions like this one. If this had been a movie, you would have seen me through a fisheye lens prattling at the protagonist about sales on purses at Kohl's because the media has taught me that this makes good conversation, and to be fair to them, it totally does.

While a bald eagle squawks in front of the whole purse/shoe conversation because... pathology?

I'm okay with it though. It keeps me in wine and free meals until Christmas.

We had a fancy pants party last week as well, though this one had a more discernible motive and involved our department, but still, everyone climbed into the Charleston finery, went out to a posh venue and sipped champagne and ate sushi and danced the macarena or whatever else uncoordinated white people such as myself do. Of course, then all the residents bailed and went to a dive bar (the hipster is strong with these ones, Obi Wan), but still.

If I were back in Blood Bank, this would be a more natural progression of "nice clothes with a white coat and reviewing charts and occasional (gasp) seeing patients, and feeling all real-doctory and stuff, but I'm not. I'm in surgical pathology again. I live in comfy oversized scrubs that I rank according to how much formalin-soaked uterus juice they have on them on any given day. I run place to place; my pager goes off constantly.

Weirdly still, I'm starting to learn the whole way of it. For visiting newbies, (hi!) this is a marked deviation from my previous coping methodology which was sobbing hysterically into an open specimen until someone helped me.

I'm at 70 hours this week for the first time. And I haven't cried once.

Yesterday, I grossed. I've been getting faster and more efficient at it, so worked through my sheets as quickly as was possible and got it all on my run. This grossing day included some particularly juicy ovaries and placentas that sprayed blood, formalin, and unspeakable evil all over the place. But then... I have one attending whom I really like a lot but I feel like I've been letting her down a bit lately. Mainly because she's been following up cases that are in my custody while I've been attempting to score at least five hours of sleep a night. This is the same attending that's an amazing neuropathologist and has been trying to teach her knowledge to us. It becomes apparent to her through a few lectures that not a single damn person in our residency program has read the damn chapter(me included!) and she's beginning to get pissed.

So we end up with bonus unknown slides. This is essentially the pop quiz of pathology and consists of looking at tissue under a microscope while said image is projected onto a big screen and you have to describe the tissue and get the diagnosis (or something approximating it) while your colleagues stare at you, and the nice ones try to cough answers. Tres stresful. So I want to go home last night but I'm like "I can't even fake neuro, so I'm going to look at these unknowns", and try to cheat by pulling the patient numbers, which are obscured, which just serves to make me study. Two hours later, I realize I've been punked into reading the chapter I was attempting to cheat to avoid reading.

Morning came. 7:30 I'm there for frozen sections. Get a little breakfast. Go to neuro unknown conference. First two neuro cases go... for the second, I'm called up to drive the microscope. I do. My pager goes off after I get as far as "Uhh..." and I'm off to the frozen room. OR 8 needs frozens because their surgeon doesn't understand what frozens are for. I freeze lymph nodes in that time period, because I enjoy destroying diagnostically important tissue that doesn't freeze well. I go back to conference. Five minutes passes, during which I proudly have all my late night-compiled notes in front of me so I can act all gangsta about knowing that the nastiness in that person's skull is from their gonads. Beep goes the pager. Back to the frozen room.

The frozen room is where surgeons bombard you with spare scraps of their patients and expect you, in 20 minutes, to tell them what's wrong. This leads to conflict.

Some surgeons just call you to harass you. Some send an entourage of residents and fellows to come down and troll for blood. If they sense your weakness, you get overwhelmed and apologize profusely for the delay. If you sense *their* weakness for violating your territory, you adopt killer attitude and throw them out.

This used to be prime Ishie-cry territory, but I went with it. Describe the specimen, print the slides, freeze the piece, make the slides, run it to the attending. Rinse and repeat.

I get a tumor bank. No problem. I'm inking stuff and cutting into necrotic horrible looking tumor while the PA cuts other frozens in the background. I got this. I'm smearing awfulness onto a petri dish and dumping a piece of something else in cytogenetics material and running each to its proper place. It's good.

The morning hell cycle ends and I run to my mailbox, which is full of "special stains". My pager goes off three more times because the stuff I need deboned is coming out. Slowly and inconsistently. I grab those. All the stuff I grossed the day before starts coming out.

My attendings from the previous week all want something. Do you have the mesh? The mandible?" The Ki-67? Do you have the new levels? What did you think?

Meanwhile, I'm like... I spent 14 hours in a plastic shirt chopping uterus. Unless what you're talking to me about relates to being in a plastic shirt cutting uterus, I'm less than useful to you.

But I get it. I gather my old cases, start dictating addendums, and start making house calls. "Dr. S. I have the two decal slides that show infiltrating ductal carcinoma and I dictated them but..." etc. Then it's multi-houred "Benign Reactive Lymphoid Hyperplasia" (tonsils) time. I get those out. Throw in some transected fallopian tubes. A positive for cancer biopsy. A Vulvar lesion, grade 3. I dictate it off and keep going. I find myself minus one endometrium, and I wind up elbow deep in uterine fragments, wondering if I should be more worried about there being uterus on my upper arm or the carcinogens said uterus has been sitting in. I turf some stuff; I read up on the immunostains. I chat with the histologist, who calls me doctor.

I get it. Or, I'm finally starting to get it. This whole cycle, and I'm okay with it, hard as it is.

But then I'm running home to change into a cocktail dress so I can look at a bald eagle while eating homemade mac and cheese and drinking wine. Weird.

Meanwhile, stuff heard in the grossing room:

"Dammit, it looks like someone slaughtered a goat at my station."

"Wow! That looks like a honeybaked ham! Jamie!! Doesn't that look like a honeybaked ham?" "That's disgusting."

"Yo, Anna, you happen to see my dead twins around?" "Ah, the Carson kids. They're downstairs."

(after cranking at the cryostat) "Marster! Dinner is prepared!"

"Check it out; it's Godzilla's ovary."

My attending: "More blue." "More blue?" "Don't use the timer. Use the Force."

"Wanna see my carotid body?"

"I'm comfortable enough with my masculinity to wear a pink shirt, but to let another man run his hands all over me? No way. Let me see that uterus."

"Oh my god, I absolutely LOVE Florence and the Machine. Her voice is ama... SHIT, this ovary just exploded on me.

"There's a frozen from OR5." "Tell him to go away. Tell him Tyler went away. Tyler not here. Tell him the gate's closed."

"Can I put my butt warts on your run?"

Dec 15, 2011

You want me to tell what to whom?

"I bivalved the uterus. The endometrium looks normal."

"All right, let me come see. Okay, you're calling the OR."

"... what?"

"Call them and tell them."

(Deep breath) "Okay." (picks up phone)

"Wait! What are you going to say?"

"Uhhh... I... this is pathology."

"Do you have a name?"


"Do you have a degree?"


"So use it! Women, we always do this. You're DOCTOR Sancho and you have his results. Now what are you going to say?"

"Um... this is Dr. Sancho from pathology. The... uterus..."

"I examined the corpus and..."

"The endometrium appears benign. There are no polyps or lesions visible."


(Picks up phone) "Hello! This is Dr. Sancho from pathology. I examined the uterine corpus and the endometrium appears benign."

"Oh! This is his nurse. I'll put you on with Dr. ScarySurgeon."

"Hello? This is Dr. ScarySurgeon. You're on speakerphone."



Accessioner: "Ooh, that's Dr. ScarySurgeon? Tell him to call ahead on his frozens. I can't, but you can."
Ishie: "I'm a first year. He'll beat me up and take my lunch money."
Accessioner: "You have lunch money?"
Ishie: Dammit.

Dec 2, 2011

The elusive monkey

But just when you thought I had a big long blog post prepared for you, I'm back on surgical pathology! Mwa ha ha ha ha. And still without a home computer. I'm looking at a hard drive wipe, but I'm also looking at a device so buggy that it won't avoid the fatal errors for the two days it would take to do a full back up onto my external. Le Sigh.

I'm also left with the quandary of having that Dr. Horrible link come up as one of the first things I see, because I could probably watch Slipping and Bad Horse on repeat for as long as it would take me to fix my home computer.

But instead I'll say, I went to Costa Rica! Woo hoo!! After fruitless years as an anthropology major with an advisor who was a big primatology guy, as well as two years in Grenada and a trip to the Philippines, I'm finally gonna see some frigging monkeys!

Dammit. It's like they know. We went to this one beach where I overheard a guide say to a group "You need to be careful about leaving belongings on the beach. The monkeys will open your bags and rummage through them."

Monkeys are actually a *problem* in this country. But for me? No monkeys.

However, as I was walking through a particularly scenic rainforest, this guy nearly fell on me:

They're not graceful animals.

They also kind of look like Chewbacca and an orangutan had a drunken, regret filled night in Las Vegas. And died the result green.

I heard a cracking noise above me, and something crashed down out of the trees. When I saw it was a sloth, I had a brief insane moment where I whipped my camera out and was like "I need to get this picture before it gets away". Then I took like 25 pictures because... sloth.

We also stayed in a place that looked like this:

And I did this:

So I'm thinking f- the monkeys.

Anyway, I'm late to bed but the short of it is:
Costa Rica= awesome
Blood bank rotation= awesome
Having a week of Xmas vacation over surge path= awesome
Having additional source of income= awesome
Getting to go to Houston for the holidays to see extended family for the first time in forever= awesome
Seeing mom in Maryland over Thanksgiving and learning fun-facts about the Amish= awesome
Being back in surge path= This time will be totally different! What's that ominous music?
Dad back in hospital for Thanksgiving= unawesome

Nov 25, 2011

Pending... pending... Thanksgiving loading

Hiya guys, lots of stuff lately conspiring to keep me from you. My dad's in the hospital again, my computer's internet has been completely disabled by ZeroAccess and Combofix can't seem to restore it, I'm sick, and I've been in Costa Rica, but now I'm in Maryland with my mom. And then there's the whole doctor thing.

Happy Thanksgiving/murder a hypertrophic chicken day. Specific updates to follow at some point.

Oct 30, 2011

Happy Pre-Halloween!

I'm stuck inside doing a PowerPoint presentation for Halloween, so figured I'd share some Joss Whedon vaguely Halloweenish action with you guys, since it distracts me from having to screw with fonts.


Oct 28, 2011

I'm proud of us as a species...

Last night, I feel like I watched human accomplishment summed up neatly into a three hour window.

You see, RockStar and I decided to watch a horror movie, being all close to Halloween and everything. Since Netflix inexplicably didn't have access to the Ring, despite it turning nine years old this year, we watched Night of the Living Dead.

Then we watched the first episode of the Walking Dead.

Evolution in action people. It's not like Night of the Living Dead just has bad special effects. I feel that's an unfair accusation to lodge against the past. Just everything about zombie culture has improved so significantly. Even our fictional media response. In Night of the Living Dead, we get "The murderers... they seem to be feasting on their victims... more on this as it unfolds", and despite my unfavorable view of our current media, I feel fairly confident that after one morgue attendant got dragged screaming to his death, the first headline would be "HOLY CRAP, ZOMBIES. F'ING RUN. IT'S TOTALLY ZOMBIES. HEADSHOTS KILL THEM"

I object to sequences such as the following:

Useless woman watches nearly equally useless sibling get murdered by zombie while pathologically not helping. Woman eventually runs and trips over high heels, because... chicks, am I right?

Time elapses. Woman is on ground. Woman is not getting up. More time elapses. Woman is screaming and kind of shuffling around. You're like "Aw, that's sad, she must have broken her tibia." Eventually woman gets up and runs like a deer. The directing required to fix this oft repeated scene seems like it would be easily repaired by going "Okay, now fall and then start running again. Like maybe as fast as someone who was out for a casual jog would if she tripped and got up."

Then someone chucked a molotov cocktail about a foot from a car they were using. This is why the younger generation thinks people from the "past" are dumb. This is our resource for behavioral studies on people from the 60s and 70s. Not a good legacy.

I feel like this is a better source for remastering than say... adding a big "NO" to Star Wars. Just saying.

So then Walking Dead... which is frigging awesome. Good cinematography, good acting, still enough human stupidity to be believable. Zombie-win. And it's a network show too, which blows me away. I've been watching a ton of movie channel shows lately and have forgotten what's allowable on network tv so naturally when a small girl holding a stuffed animal gets shot in the forehead in the first five minutes of the first episode, I was like "Hmm, HBO or Showtime?" Nope. I'd just forgotten how much violence we're willing to tolerate at the expense of frontal nudity. But I watch Dexter, so I'm okay with it.

Speaking of zombies, I may have mentioned this, but I've come to grips with the fact that if there is a zombie uprising, I'm dead. Like first 15 seconds of the movie dead. I'm the one in the white coat mucking around the hospital morgue that's like "What's that soun... ARRRGHHHHHHHH!!!!"

When I'm a zombie though, I'm going to totally bite our dog. Because you know what's cooler than a zombie? A zombie with a zombie rottweiler.

ANYway, I'm still in blood bank. Hooray! Blood bank is giving me some interesting "You learn things by teaching" moments. Many of the principles behind what the blood bank does are confusing. Extremely confusing. I'm learning them now as part of the whole rotation, and I have a great instructor and lots of packets to aid my learning.

As the first year resident, when I have the pager, I'm the first one people talk to. I'm not the *last* one people talk to, thank goodness, but I'm the gatekeeper, only *I* get asked the riddles. I'm the anti-sphinx.

In clinical medicine, you largely talk to patients. This is a mixed blessing because the level of patient understanding ranges from not knowing what a liver is and why drinking antifreeze should not be a cost effective alternative to vodka, to being experimental pharmacologists that realize my puny knowledge of antibiotics is inadequate. But *most* patient interactions involve de-med-schoolizing your knowledge to an audience that didn't attend medical school while med-schoolizing their symptoms to arrive at a diagnosis and management plan.

In blood bank, I talk to doctors that almost exclusively are higher on the food chain than I am, and techs that should be. When I'm asked questions, it is almost exclusively stuff I either flat out don't know, or think I know until I start trying to explain it to someone with a medical degree.


Ishie studies material and periodically checks the internet. Pager goes off.
Ishie: "S***" (checks pager. Sees blood bank number)
Ishie: "Whew." Dials.
Blood bank tech: "This is what needs to be done but someone with different letters after their name has to say it needs to be done. Do it."
Ishie: "No problem!" (does it, calls back blood bank)
Ishie: "I did it! They say it's cool."
Blood bank tech: "Good girl. You get a cookie."
Ishie: (wags tail happily)


Ishie studies material and periodically checks the internet. Pager goes off.
Ishie: "S***" (checks pager. Sees foreign number.)
Ishie: "Double S***" (dials)
Senior resident/fellow/attending in other specialty: "Yes, this is Dr. ScaryName. We have an extremely sick patient named Joe PleaseDontDie, medical record number IHopeYoureHoldingAPenInYourHand and we've already done all the stuff that you learned about in medical school and most of the stuff you've learned about in blood bank, but now we need to know if we need really hard-to-get blood products, or if we can use this type of blood product that you read about a little while ago, but it involved a lot of letters and numbers and while you feel kind of okay about it, you definitely don't feel qualified-to-give-expert-advice okay about it?"
Ishie: "..."
Dr. ScaryName: "Hello?"
Ishie: "Uh... so what is the patient's relevant blood value?" (starts hastily flipping through stacks of papers and pulling up patient history and labs)
Dr. ScaryName: "DangerouslyLowNumber"
Ishie: "Oh! Yeah, that's pretty bad."
Dr. ScaryName: "So... what should we do?"
Ishie: "Vasovagal syncope is mediated by the autonomic nervous system"
Dr. ScaryName: "Did you see that on Scrubs?"
Ishie: "... yes."
Ishie: "Umm... I think you should... let me clear this with my attending first. Are you going to be at this number for a minute?"
Dr. ScaryName: "No. I have to go see sick people."
Ishie: "Ah... well... let me page you in a minute." (hangs up, dials attending)
Attending: "Hello?"
Ishie: "Daddydaddydaddydaddy, this really smart doctor called me and asked me a bunch of questions and I don't want to accidentally kill anyone and then I scraped my knee and the neighbor boy made fun of me."
Attending: "There there. Do this thing. You see, this antibody is causing the problem, but we will need to talk to the Red Cross and they will find a donor and patient will be far less likely to die."
Ishie: "Cool! Thanks!" (confidently gets back in touch with Dr. ScaryName)
Ishie: "Do this thing! You see, this antibody is causing the problem, but we will need to talk to the Red Cross and they will find a donor and patient will be far less likely to die."
Dr. ScaryName: "Okay, thank you. That is very helpful. One question, just in passing... How would that antibody arise when patient was negative for it last time, but we don't have a record of previous transfusions?"
Ishie: "Well what happens is when a patient..." (knowledge decay)
Dr. ScaryName: "Hello?"
Ishie: "Dammit!"

Then I get home from work. This gives me another opportunity to learn by teaching smart people because my roommate will be all "how was your day" and I'm like "incredible (blood bank on a bad day is less exhausting than surge path on a good day) though I had a rough call towards the end of the day" and she'll ask me what happened and then it starts over again, but now I'm explaining the situation to an intelligent layman, so then I realize how incredibly convoluted the entire thing sounds. Blood involves a lot of really difficult concepts to grasp so I found myself at the end of the evening struggling to remember what blood group antigens typically do since most of them have some nebulous function beyond being your body's self destruct button if someone with different blood attempts to help you.

For example... did you know there are different blood groups? Of course you did! You guys are hardcore. ABO, no problem. You may know what blood type you are. You rock stars even know about Rh stuff I bet. Did you know the whole Rh positive negative thing consists of several different genes closely linked, any of which can be different and create conflict? Neither did I. Duffy blood group? MNS? Lutheran? Lewis? Kell? Some are IgG. Some are IgM. Some are IgMs that act like IgGs. Some aren't important. Some *usually* aren't important until they become important. Some bacteria like to temporarily screw around with your minor blood groups because bacteria are bastards, have been here longer than you have, and resent you because your DNA is all locked up in a nice looking nucleus acting like it's better than they are.

Fortunately, I'm surrounded by awesome people that don't make me feel as dumb as I possibly am AND I don't have to take too many calls per day because everyone's pretty good at this stuff and the hard stuff doesn't come up *that* much. But it's still some serious brain strain. Either that, or I'm already a zombie.

Oct 10, 2011

A quick and unrelated gripe

since work is going so well. My blood bank attending is super cool and is a man who spent most of my first interaction with him talking about falconry because as the saying goes, you may think a man is awesome, but you don't KNOW he's awesome until he talks about being in Ireland with a giant f-off bird sitting on his wrist. He spent today going into exquisite detail about blood groups and (drumroll), I actually understood him. This is stuff I didn't even bother trying to learn in medical school because it's so complicated. And... I'm liking it. Between this and veering toward hemepath, I may end up being *that* pathologist.

Speaking of blood, that leads me to my latest gripe. My beloved Dexter is back on, and has named my car. And I love the movie channel shows because they seem to be much better in quality than the other shows, plus, hey, bonus sex, violence, and profanity.

Problem being that these shows often go on extremely extended breaks since there aren't as many episodes in a season, thus spend the entire first 1-2 hour-long episodes expositing awkwardly while having conversations no sane person (or serial killer) would have.

"Remember, we want to go back to being friends again."
"Yes. Like before the divorce."
"Yes, before when we were just friends, but then friends that did it, but then got married, but then got unmarried and hit the reset button."
"I would like that very much. Let's talk about the paths our careers have taken over the past year even then we've both presumably been here every day and have seen each other."
"Yes indeed. I would like that a lot. Isn't it a shame about all those significant events in the last five years that have happened to our friend?"
"Yes! And our tech has interns! He is so wacky. I like how he is sexist but in a benign and humorous way."
"Me too!"
"He is such a quirky contrast to our other friend who is totally normal."
"Yes, it's a shame our normal friend keeps disappearing late at night to go fishing. And says weird pointed things out loud while staring off into space and talking to his dead father about suspected killers who keep vanishing."
"And how!"
"Isn't it great how we're no longer sexually attracted to each other?"
"Sure is!"

Gods, make it stop. If new viewers want to know what happened for the last five years they can:

A. Watch the first "previously, on movie channel show" bit that's like ten minutes long.
B. Reference a Wikipedia page that will cover all the plot points, probably feature pictures of the major characters, and possibly expound on the recurring thematic elements and how they relate to an arcane Elizabethan play, depending on the employment status of the contributor.
C. Watch whatever they missed on Netflix in chronological order.


That is all.

Oct 8, 2011

Ishie 2.5, the Reboot

Wow, where to even start.

I've been smiling a lot lately. That's been out for a while.

So essentially, as you've no doubt been guessing, the first month of residency was okay, the next two months systematically broke me, and now, I'm building myself back up with a great deal of help from starting a blood bank rotation, aka, "Now you can rest and learn about what you've been doing for the last three months".

The last week of surg path was actually pretty good for me. The surgeons gave me a break, PLUS I finally started to feel a little more confident in my skill level which spelled not getting home at midnight which spelled not getting snarked at by the fellow which spelled being able to get to lectures in the morning which spelled not sobbing uncontrollably into a pancreas.

As part of the whole "I'm not going to be that person anymore" thing, I chopped all my hair off, gave it to Locks of Love, and told the stylist to do whatever she wanted with it so long as it was short and some variety of red, so my 'do looks a bit more like Ed in my profile picture, which I kinda love. My hair's never been this short before, and never this successfully red, since I tried to dye it myself in high school with clairol and it ended badly.

But the big news: I GOT A CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't even properly express how big this is to me. I haven't owned any type of car in over two years, and I haven't had regular access to one in over four years. I've had rentals and Zipcars and etc, but never MY CAR which I can do whatever I want to with, with the loan in *my* name. And it's a new car, which I've also never had before, since some variety of witchcraft and the economy has led to used cars holding their value to an insane extent and the financing is better on a new car.

And he's so pretty. I named him Dexter because it sprang to me and it fit, so now he's Dexter forever. He has automatic *nothing*. I was so desperately afraid of getting taken advantage of and snake oiled, since I have *literally* never done this before that I went in with a paper full of Kelley Blue Book values and was like "NO. No power windows. No power locks. No trunk light. You're lucky I'm caving on not having manual transmission. I know the base price of this vehicle and I'm sticking to it" To his credit, the salesman was like "O..kay." When the maintenance guy went through the orientation with me, he kept checking his list going "Uh... well the cruise cont... no.. Um... so... this is how you turn on the air conditioner."

Which was the only feature I care about. Charleston is hot 6 months of the year and excruciatingly hot for another 3 months.

I still bike to the hospital, because it's genuinely faster, but ARGH SO GREAT. I hadn't realized how much I had completely adapted my life to be carless, and how much I would absolutely adore going back to a vehicle life. Example... I can use shopping carts again. I haven't had much of a use for them when people haven't been bussing me around because whatever I can carry in the store is what I need to either shove into a backpack or load up my arms with. Most of the food I've purchased in the last three months has been cylindrical because it fits well in my bag. "Hmm... I'd get this head of lettuce, but that's going to get crushed. More olives, cookie dough and wine. Perfectly shaped."

And I love Trader Joe's and Whole Foods because I'm gradually turning into a hipster f-tard, and in Charleston, they're inexplicably next to each other and now I can fill up my car with fancy schmancy stuff from them and stock the essentials from Costco, on the same trip, without holding someone up for an hour to watch me shop. And as much as I loved those stores, it was totally out of my biking range here, and in New York, anything obtained by them had to be carted home with upper body strength. Even in Grenada, my grocery abilities were limited by how much stuff I could haul onto a bus during a rainstorm.

Can you tell I'm excited? Also on the exciting scale, I got doctor treatment at the car lot, which I didn't even know was a thing since the "Catch me if you Can" days. Usually it seems to be more the assumption that I have way more money than I do with a general thought that my salary (heh) is what's wrong with health care today. My credit got pushed through without a lecture on not spending four years running up revolving debt AND installment debt, and I got a lower interest rate than any average I looked up, and as I tried to look tough in my little blue dress while pretending I know how cars work, the guy was like "Oh... credit check for DR. Sancho. You're a full MD right?" "Uh... yes?" and then boom.

I keep driving across the big bridge in Charleston just because I can now.

Okay, that's it for now. So long story short. Life. Not sucking. Stay tuned.

Sep 20, 2011

Monday Monday, not as bad as before...

I'm afraid to jinx this streak though since we're on a three day cycle, bad days tend to beget bad days and good days tend to beget good days, but today ruled. I was on top of my game, the specimens were few and far between, and I didn't put stab myself with anything.

My patient car-owning roommate also took me to Costco, which is a store I've been gradually discovering in bits and pieces and am filling more with love for it. I'm also stocked in pasta, meat, and beer for the next month, with the added benefit of not having to bungee it onto the back of my bike and steer it through the ghetto. A twofer.

A short update, but hopefully a more reassuring one.

Sep 17, 2011

Friday is a better day to write...

If each of my weeks of surgical pathology were presented as a topic of a medical school lecture, it would be presented as a fluctuating graph, similar to the sort of thing you'd see in LH and FSH curves.

Monday: Okay, this week is going to be different. This week I'm going to be more not-terrible at things and not get overwhelmed and I'm totally not going to start crying in front of colleagues/attendings/patients in the parking lot.

Tuesday: Well, Monday didn't go as well as I'd expected, but I'm still kicking and I have the opportunity to get some learning experience and even if I'm here late, I'm going to salvage these cases and not be an incompetent braying jackass. I'm going to ask the chief resident for some advice on time management without cry... well, not much crying.


Thursday: Tomorrow is Friday, I just have to make it for today and tomorrow and I'm going to run damage control, but I can't believe I lost it that badly yesterday, fortunately the transcriptionists haven't mentioned hearing my voice break at 11 PM on the dictations because I realized I still had four liver biopsies left and don't actually know what liver is supposed to look like IS THAT CANCER?

Friday: I'm so tired. Did I seriously not screw up these cases as badly as I thought? Is that attending praising me? Life has meaning! I'm going to go sleep for twelve hours...

Saturday: I'm going to get groceries... and do something today. And I have a little time? I'm studying some lung! I feel like I'm finally getting this!

Sunday: Studying dermpath. Slight impending feeling of doom, but I've done some reading! And rested! Next week's gonna be awesome!!

While I definitely feel like the weakest link right now because my colleagues are suspiciously good at this stuff, the early surge path months could best be summarized by the following scenario:

(In a dead quiet room, an intern stares meaningfully into a microscope, scans a slide, stops, frowns)

"What the f*** is that?!?!????"

(Other interns crack up, both in sympathy, and in the realization that their dictation now has someone else's exasperated exclamation in the middle of it. Ponder that the transcriptionists haven't killed us. Other interns gather at the scope. Several appear puzzled.)

Just-studied-that-topic intern: "Normal breast tissue"

(embarrassed silence)

Yeah. It's not a program problem, honestly. There just seems to be no way to be a first year resident and not feel about as useful and intelligent as a squirrel wearing oven mitts.

Speaking of dexterity impairments, I contributed to *last* week by plunging a contaminated scalpel through my thumb. Yeah, *through*. I don't like to screw up small.

Funny thing? I'm constantly overwhelmed by crippling feelings of panic and inadequacy about my overall competency as a physician, yet having a knife stuck in me largely made me feel really really embarrassed about having arranged myself in such a way to get a knife stuck in me rather than being that concerned that there was, ya know... a knife stuck in me.

Here's the thing too.. we wear cut proof gloves... they do not prevent against stabbing with great force, which should both tell you that you shouldn't use them in a joust and that I was doing something stupid.


(knife plunges straight down, left thumb is briefly pinned to cutting board)

Ishie, to herself: That probably glanced off the glove and is caught on it. The sharp pain I am feeling is likely due to the blunt force hitting my thumb.

(blood quickly spills through cut gloves and two layers of latex)

Ishie, to herself: Oh.

(pulls up scalpel)

Ishie, to accessioner around corner: Um... If there's an... incident, who should we call about that?

Accessioner: Did you spill something?

Ishie: Sort of.

Accessioner: What do you mean?

Ishie: I cut myself.

Accessioner: Badly?

Ishie, evaluating blood puddle on table while applying pressure: Um... pretty badly.

Accessioner, rounding corner: Oh my god!

Attending from other room: What's going on?

Ishie, to herself: Oh good. Let's bring everyone in on this.

Attending rounds corner, pushes Ishie's hand into sink. Ishie experiences sensation of water running from one side of tissue to other. It feels really weird.

Ishie: Sorry sorry sorry, I was being dumb. It's no big deal.

Attending, simultaneously: Don't worry, infection is really really rare, we'll get it taken care of. We'll test the patient. Was there more than one specimen?

Ishie, to herself: Oh right, I should be worried about that.

Why social stress panics me and trauma doesn't remains part of the deep lurking mystery that is my psyche.

Everything got taken care of really quickly, people came to back up my workload, I was off to the ER, everyone was making phone calls, and it was bam bam bam. Very impressive. And I'm fine. Extremely clean cut, sealed with dermabond, a week and swelling is going down with no signs of infection. Also, the ED at this hospital is really nice looking. While I *love* New York, don't get me wrong, the hospitals tend to have a more, let's say, 'lived in' look that doesn't look as clean even when it is.

So I kind of feel like a mess. I do feel like I'm getting somewhat better at things (except cutting stuff), but really slowly. I'm *really* slow at grossing and usually require a great deal of help, and then I'm doing decently on diagnoses, but it takes me a really long time. And I make dumb errors. Dropping stuff, putting stuff in the wrong boxes, forgetting where paperwork goes even when I've been shown fifty times, being completely incapable of recognizing squamous cell carcinomas anywhere.

Seriously, I hate that cancer so much. And it pops up everywhere. And it's frequently so obvious that the other residents, med students, janitors, and elementary school children that wandered into the hospital are like "Oh, that's an SCC", and I'm like "Where??? Is it behind all that red cancery looking stuff???" Gah.

So that's the update... I'm still dumb, but people are being relatively cool about it. Let's hope the idiocy is low-grade and transient.

Aug 31, 2011

The reboot

Hi boys and girls, it's me, your bipolar blogger.

So, lemme see how I can sum up and still get to bed in time to not be miserable during lecture (yes, we still have lecture in residency)...

It sucks. Then it doesn't. Then it sucks worse, then someone jumps on your back when you're at your lowest moment of suck and you feel like it sucks worse than it EVER sucked, and then a few people throw you a life preserver and you get some peace, and then you can't get your stupid character to climb the first stupid rock cliff in Shadow of the Colossus in the ten minutes that you're "taking a breather", and you want to start crying because your video game avatar isn't respecting you and your animated horse ran away.

It's not that I'm miserable all the time. It's that I'll be REALLY happy or even moderately content, perhaps when I'm pouring steaming liquid nitrogen over a piece of uterus while going "MWA HA HA HA" since it's impossible to play with liquid nitrogen without feeling like a mad scientist, and then I'll feel like I'm really a bus ticket away from leaving. Like taking off, leaving, like walking into my program director's office and being all "Sorry, you've been cool, but I am flat out not equipped for this" and then getting on a bus somewhere else and just... waitressing in a border city or whatever people that make decisions like that do on tv.

Also? I'm weird. I get weirder when I get stressed, and I am at my weirdest when I'm stressed-but-putting-a-good-face-on-it, which leads to interchanges like the following:

Histo tech: Dr. Sancho?
Me, taking a minute to realize that means me: ...
Histo tech: (politely rattles off a hundred things I have to do, about fifty of which I don't really understand)
Me: ... uh... I totally know what you are talking about. Here's my tray of pathology things. You are welcome.


Me, thoughtfully: That's the first time in my life I've actually been called 'Dr. Sancho'.
Histo tech: Oh! I'm sorry! Do you prefer 'Dr. First-Part-of-Hyphenated name'?
Me: Actually, I prefer 'Batman'.

(long awkward silence)

Me: But 'Ishie' is fine.
Histo tech: ...Batman... got it.
My brain, to me: What the f***, Ishie. Seriously.

Yeah, that happened.

First month, full on training month. We were never really allowed out without a handler. We spectated a bit, and did stuff, but if we broke down, we had a senior to bail us out immediately. I mentioned this before.

Second month, as I also mentioned before, is when you're somewhat in charge, except you don't know anything. I spent a lot of this last month feeling like I had conned my way into residency and was absolutely not smart enough to be a doctor. I kept reassuring myself that everyone feels as dumb and unskilled as I am, but then had a fellow jump down my throat, question my commitment to everything and say I was unskilled in pretty much every way, which made me cry for half a day. Which is not only demoralizing but frigging embarrassing. Since Irene was chilling off the coast waiting to put the extremely publicized cinch on all my friends and loved ones up north, I blamed it on allergies, specifically the type of allergies that make you sob uncontrollably.

Since I live in the South, which is known for its politeness, the response to this was favorable. Additional note, gender stereotypes be damned, anger + exhaustion + self-loathing = unexpected waterworks. As someone that has belly laughed through Benjamin Button, not a fan of this response.

I honestly toyed around with quitting, like not next year, but just two weeks notice, flat out. I felt unique in this response before talking to My Friend, the Pediatics Resident who not only tried the same thing but was waylaid by the three people that tried it before her. Apparently, residency is hard. Who knew?

I took the advice of one of my peers and approached the next day with my "head held high" which I think took on the appearance of a gargoyle grin the whole day, but it was an effort. The "I'm happy, keep moving" day was punctuated by an unexpected moment of credit to counteract the unexpected beat down. I was staying late trying to get all my stuff done, helped by an attending, and out of the blue, the guy that hadn't said anything in twenty minutes, tells me how he felt awful his first month of residency and that I was working hard and doing a good job.

To my credit, didn't start crying again. Said a "thank you sir" meekly, with ABSOLUTELY NO MENTION OF BATMAN, and went home.

I took the weekend to reboot, and went at it again on Monday. I was greeted with the chief that's been helping me tell me that as the end of the month ritual, he was going to leave me to it and I was going to be in charge of entering all the diagnoses in without help on that either.

Oh, and today, I'd been signing them out officially with the fellow that hates me.

Holy matrimony, Batm... NO MORE BATMAN.

Guys, I actually did it. Yesterday, on the announcement that I was for real on my own, I felt the panic rise, but I was like "I'm just going to do the best that I can", cranked the headphones and the pseudo-happiness up and just pretended I knew what I was doing, walked into sign out today with a smile on my face, prepared to get verbally dismembered or fired or whatever, and frigging did it. I didn't get every diagnoses right by any stretch of the imagination, and I did a couple things that were flat out stupid, but I smiled the whole time, didn't cry, and didn't feel like a complete incompetent. And I went home feeling pretty happy.

Given my residency cycles, this is likely to descend into chaos by the end of the week, but hey, baby steps, right?

In other, related news. They gave me a medical student. Which is the worst idea ever. It's like dangling a vial of crack in front of a junkie. I'm brand new, so I'm not very helpful for teaching, BUT I do have tons of stuff that I take extra time to do because I'm still inefficient and this stuff has no educational value whatever, particularly if someone doesn't want to go into pathology, which 90 percent of people don't. This is known as "scutwork" and it's the bane of medical education existence. So you are going to give me a medical student, who is supposed to do whatever I tell her to, that I can run all over the hospital fetching paperwork to save myself time, that then gets her out of my hair if I scut her, so I don't have to reveal that I have nothing to teach her because I'm a frightened idiot?

GODS. I'm being good, I swear. And this isn't a fourth year crashing into interview months that is more comfortable with disappearing on an August intern. We're talking brand new clinicals, which if my background is any indication, means you think anyone with "Doctor" before their names can and will call every place you hope to apply to tell them you suck while probably talking the USMLE people into taking ten points off your looming Step 2 exam if you take more than 45 seconds to answer a courtesy page.

I even got the "I'm still keeping my options open" answer, which on this end, is adorable. I got asked if it was okay to leave to attend a scheduled lecture. This was the first time in my entire medical education that I realize residents truly don't care if you're there. I got a pager number. I realized that interns really don't know med students' names. I got someone eagerly looking at me for deep medical knowledge and being all "Don't cut yourself on the cryostat. Seriously, that blade has been places that would make Rambo puke."

In my quest to not be a terrible person, I'm trying to do stuff that I would have wanted done for me at the beginning of my third year if I were in a pathology rotation, other than my sage advice of: Get UWorld now. Seriously. Do it while I'm standing here. I'm currently going with "play with the cryostat" (CAREFULLY) since that enticed me pretty early on by being a big machine with a big knife in it. Any other suggestions? I tried "be let out early to study" but they have the afternoon lectures. I remember from third year that "Go study" is helpful to an extent early on, but you don't feel the Step 2 crunch as heavily, and being dismissed for hours when you still have to be at the hospital is tedious.

Laypeople, chip in as well... I'm not around the forensics cases this month, so that's not an option since it's the most obvious "let the student do something fun" choice.

Aug 28, 2011

Dated References

So I spent a lot of the last week like this:

But I'm going to try to spend the next week like this:

We'll see how it goes.

And thanks to R for the tvtropes appropriate update on my profile picture.

Oh, and attention medical students: do not click on that link or you'll be sucked into this.

Aug 25, 2011


Do you have talents outside medicine?

Do you have talents inside medicine but feel like you'd be happy as a PA, nurse, chiropractor, or radiology tech?

Do that.

Aug 22, 2011

Aug 12, 2011

*This* is why I became a pathologist

I was going "back to the bucket" (go back to the original specimen and hunt through formalin soaked tissue scraps) on a tumor which I refer to as this individual's abdomen being full of "unspeakable evil" and the attending said "You did have a rough day on Wednesday" and I made some sort of chuffing noise, and she said "Makes you wonder why you went into pathology", etc.

Same attending, special stains come out on *another* abdomen full of unspeakable evil and everything is negative. This tumor looks awful, is everywhere, and as of right now, cannot be identified. On standard microscopy it looks like generic unspeakable evil, it's not forming patterns; it's hard to even determine what organ it came from. Special expensive stains are sent out which show... nothing.

From my internal medicine days, it was about halfway through the equivalent process that someone would say "mm... cancer.. bad prognosis" and I'd go "What kind of cancer" and they'd say "Does it matter?" or turf it to another specialty.

My attending, on the other hand, begins flipping through her encyclopedic knowledge of zebra and unicorn diagnoses, turns to her wall-o-books and starts hunting for other stains she can do to force this thing into the light.

This scab picking approach to problem solving is why I'm becoming a pathologist. Because when the stains came back negative, I stopped thinking "It's Friday and I want to go home", and started with "We're not giving up, are we?" It's because every pathologist's office is filled with tomes like "The Color Atlas of Bodily Fluids" and "Vaginal Lesions" and papers and slides stacked to the ceiling.

I just need to remind myself of that the next time I'm crying into a bucket of formalin.

Aug 10, 2011

Emo Thelonious Monk

This title is a direct quote from this interchange:
Autopsy tech coming up to the surgpath area: You're still here? Oh you poor thing.
Ishie: (grunt)
Tech: Well, it looks like you're almost done!
Ishie: This is a uterus.
Tech: Ohhh...

(music wails in the background)

Tech: What... is this...?
Ishie: Kid A by Radiohead. Good album to sulk to.
Tech: I... I don't even know how to describe that. It's like... emo Thelonious Monk.
Ishie: That may be the the best thing I've ever heard. Thank you, madam.

So I've been having kind of the miserable day in the middle of a rough couple of weeks.

I hit my milestone today while confirming something I always suspected was true which is that all interns, regardless of how easy their programs are or how cool their coworkers are or how much they like their field WILL have a moment, probably in the first three months, where they start crying at work. This is frequently accompanied by sentiments such as "I don't think I can do this" or "What did I do" or the simple but effective "I can't".

There are varieties of these meltdowns too... pathology is a good field for low nuclear meltdowns because people generally leave you alone; and there are a lot of times you are by yourself and can work it out. For instance, today, quiet crying at the grossing station as you gaze upon your sisyphean task can go practically unnoticed where the sort of meltdown you get in other specialties, which is often brought on by many people yelling at you at once, tends to lead to breaking down in front of your abusers, which is the worst form. Or the "feel it coming, find a hiding place" cry. So far, I've only managed the quiet one, and it was brief, but it was there. I came close a couple other times this week.

We're doctors now. It's official. Training wheels are off and ain't no one else going to handle this crap. If you don't do it, people are just going to get angrier and angrier until it gets done while more work piles on top of it. Your pager goes off in lecture, in grossing, while you're dealing with other urgent matters. I'm running around clutching decal slides in my hand finding the magic person that's supposed to receive them all with this entire realm of "THIS MATTERS". My training is secondary to the fact that I have to do a doctor job now. And that means doctor job, doctor hours, the presumption of doctor intelligence. Machines to monitor, techniques to know, medical knowledge, searching databases and surgical reports. Gah.

It's scary. And right now, I gotta be honest, it kind of sucks. People are generally nice to me; I don't really want to be doing anything else (well... sitting down watching Game of Thrones and drinking a Blue Moon, but you know), but it still kind of sucks. Today, I was at a grossing table for 12 hours slashing away at specimens that only grew in complexity while my scrub pants literally fell off my butt. I didn't eat, I didn't go to the bathroom; I stood there, without taking my smock off, for 12 hours without cease. And I came out and felt like death. And tomorrow, I deal with the consequences of today.

On the other hand... and I've been trying to stay on the other hand, since I can be task loaded and miserable or I can be on the other hand, I've seen a really cool polycystic kidney, got to play with liquid nitrogen, got to screw with the power tools, got to be scared to death of a potentially infection hazard during a frozen section (false alarm) and the rest of it. Cool stuff. That's what I keep telling myself. Cool stuff.

I also have an attending who is super nice and seems to know me by the fact that I fear grin at my superiors and support staff. It's not that I'm a nice person; it's literally something chimps do when they're scared. So I'm the smiley girl. (Who saw that coming???? NO ONE!) So this one attending always goes "still smiling?" and I'm always like "Sure am, sir!" or lately, been lifting my head up, twisting what is probably a deeply disturbing jester leer at him and nodding meekly. He said "Feel like you're handling things"? Yup? LIES. "Getting a bit overwhelmed?" "Oh, sir, you're such a card..." LIES. But what to say? "Help me. I had no idea anyone would ever give me this much power. I am retarded but really good at taking multiple choice tests. Please resign me to a tedious position that can be replaced by robots... sir.

So staying the course. Despite today's waterworks, I'm determined to be happy. I know I have it good, dammit; I'm not going to waste hours in the weepies over getting exactly what I wanted. Time to put on

Or, if you prefer...

Aug 3, 2011

With Apologies to T.S. Eliot

But August is the cruelest month.

July was a training month for us, which means we literally were never without a handler, which is comforting, and in those sorts of situations, you always *feel* like you're learning everything. This is especially true when people are letting you do things, so you feel like you're in charge, but you always have them over your shoulders, often helpfully making suggestions.

I did have one fourth year that made me run a couple frozens by myself, which in itself was a little panic inducing, but still, the fact was I knew that he was there, and the very nature of the whole thing made it so that I knew if things went really wrong or if it were too complicate a specimen, he would rescue me.

July is also when I heard a lot of "I'm gonna be here for a while, so why don't you run on home?" which makes you hear the "go home" and not the "I'm gonna be here for a while".

August, we're let loose on our own. Today was my first grossing day, which is seriously intimidating.

I think I explained this elsewhere but pathology schedule is gross (cut stuff), preview (guess stuff) and sign out (be pwned on stuff).

Grossing seems like simply the grossEST as it's the opportunity to smell like unspeakable evil, splash formalin on yourself and such, but doesn't seem like the hardest. The real difficulty comes in interpreting what you see. The problem being, grossing badly brings down the whole house. If you cut poorly, the slides come out poorly, and the most skilled diagnostician on the planet cannot figure out margins that you haven't inked, false margins you have inked, or specimens that are mangled and only consist of blood clot. This failure not only potentially gets you in trouble with your seniors, but more critically, can directly screw up a patient's care. I can potentially apologize to my higher ups all day long, and they can think "Hey, she's a noob", but some patient could potentially wind up minus a diagnosis or with an additional surgery or whatever because I can't cut and paste.

So no pressure. Being faced with an increasing load of specimens and staring at something relatively simple like a skin lesion, I felt a pretty piercing hint of anxiety. For complex specimens, you page an attending or fellow (which I'm trying to get used to, since medical school taught me to NEVER DO THIS, and pathology residency teaches you to ALWAYS DO THIS. It is always easier to have a pro orient a specimen than have a pro un-fuck one). This leads to someone hand holding you, but under mounting pressure, you do things like "dictate while someone is telling you what to dictate and still forget what they said 30 seconds ago because there's a microphone in front of you".

Gods. In the end, I still feel incredibly lucky. This was probably my worst day of residency so far and the most "not fun" one, and it was still punctuated by not once getting yelled at, having three of my colleagues stop by at different after-hours times to offer help, and having two attendings come by after hours, one to do a complex specimen *for me* and the the other to take the load off, which included him staying three hours after leaving time and dictating half my remaining case loads so that I could leave at a semi-reasonable hour.

I have a less intensive residency than most and definitely a less malignant residency than most. I'm not sure how I would manage if either of those features were not present. But it does make me feel good that at the end of the day, my "bad" day consists of learning opportunities and people helping me. Tomorrow, I find out if my grosses were okay, and I'm really hoping that they were.

Night everyone

Jul 21, 2011

Social Reality Check

So I was wandering around the interweb before bed and discovered this thread, granted an old one: Dating a Medical Student. I focus on what medical school is like and the whole doctor scene, because hey, I'm self centered, but this is the whole "Other" view.

I'm not a student anymore woot, but it wasn't so much just the original post that paused me, but all the comments. It seems like dating us requires the same level of support group as one needs to, say, cope with being in love with a meth addict... who gambles... with babies.

Now, if I'm on youtube or something, I feel confident in the fact that the average commenter makes less sense than a monkey smearing feces on the keyboard, but this whole thing consists largely of well thought ideas and whole trends I see rampantly in myself, and previously defined more as "Weird independent female" and less "medical student stereotype". Are we that insufferable? Are we really that inevitably well defined?

Jul 19, 2011

Medical mysteries in action...

You creep around the corner of the kidney, and there you see it, a throbbing gelatinous evil blob of tissue. You've fought this beast before. You bring your scalpel down and it screams. You grab it with the forceps so it can't wriggle out of reach and stab it again, cramming its protesting pieces into separate cassettes, so it can't reform vampire style.

Sighing, you resheath your blade in the curiously inefficient "safety" device used for them and take a deep breath. "Looks like I just blocked *your* flow", you say smirking, as hot lab ladies flock to your sides.

The next morning... the hearing... you're hungover... those ladies wouldn't entertain themselves after all, and with gams up to where their gams go, well, you don't tell em no. Still, no reason to ruin a good day. You stroll up to the corralled kidney tumor and throw its body under a microscope, give its family a good funeral, give a little lesson to is brothers... but wait... your blurry vision clears... you clean the scope.

That's not your tumor. It's a stranger. You look through the books on em, maybe bluff him a bit. Yeah, tumor. We know about you. We know about your brother. You're rare huh? Must be sitting here thinking you're pretty badass. So rare that the dregs down at county won't know what to do with you eh? I tell ya what, punk? I put condor eggs in my gin fizzes. That give you an idea what I think of rare? I spat in his face. You make me sick. And you're going down. I stormed out of the lab, before he could see he was getting to me.

As I brushed through the doors, the secretaries hastily fought for my arms. "Don't go!", they were flapping. The dames could wait. I had a book to read.

Jul 18, 2011

Skills to learn...

For the past four years, I have not regular access to what people would conventionally call a "kitchen". Not that I was an exceptional cook before that. In Grenada, after a semester on campus with a stove top, I got my wonderful little apartment that featured a propane stove that my former Peace Corps working friend had to show me how to use, the oven was too small for almost anything, and two of the burners worked. The settings on those burners was "large open flame" and "No large open flame". Could make the hell out of some old fashioned popcorn though.

Moving onto Brooklyn, I graduated to a surprisingly similar gas/two burner functional half kitchen, which my roommate used enviably, but I mainly lived off of takeout, both as a function of kitchen size and laziness.

Now I live in a large three bedroom house that has a ginormous kitchen with an electric (gasp) stove. Roommate 1 cooks like a mofo. Like "Oh, these peaches are about to go bad and bazam restaurant quality pastry." I also have a yard now so the first thing I did upon having access to a vehicle was buy a grill because if there's one type of cooking I can do it's "Char things over fire" (thanks, Grenada!).

So I'm finally trying to cook quality food. I am pretty pleased with my blackberry cobbler and tonight, upon being too lazy to stop at the Piggly Wiggly (yes, really) on my way home from work, concocted a stir fry out of rice noodles and pale ale (no sherry) and it (drumroll) didn't suck!

I consider this further evidence of my whole "medical school delays maturity" hypothesis. By next year, I'll be buying car insurance and all matter of other things that most people master around age 25.

Jul 16, 2011

Free pizza remains awesome

Yeah, I pretty much talk about food and booze. If you're looking for decent medical advice, this may be the time to StumbleUpon elsewhere.

The patient-information-free update... soooo difficult.

If this entire process has made me anything, it's paranoid. Not mature, by any stretch of the imagination, but I start to think "You know where I went to school; you know where I'm doing residency; if I tell you the cases I'm grossing, you'll know who my patient is, and you'll HIPAA until I cry uncle."

So, pathology seems to be a two way street. If you guys are complete science dorks with a love for a full night's sleep, this is seriously the way to go. I spent time today trying to think of a residency that generally has better hours, and I couldn't think of one. On the minus side, it's very hard to tell anyone what you do. You will either bore them or horrify them. Possibly a little bit of both. In completely unrelated news, the roommate that now knows how I spent the day thinks I'm hardcore metal, but I believe may be a little wary of me. I went to a bar for my Friday night fuel, and generally introduced myself to the young and innocent by saying "I work at the hospital". One, because they're all youngsters and I seem to get carded enough to pass for one of them, and two, because "I'm a doctor" both carries with it snob weight *and* requires a little explanation of what I do... which may involve either "I sat at a microscope for ten hours" (boring to the public) or "I (censored) a baby and now you're horrified, and I have to be all "Oh, but... it wasn't cool. Except it was. Sigh. Who wants a free round?"

For those of you that can't connect the dots (hopefully most of you), I'm in a University program now, and it rules. Every day, we get "zebra cases". It's not that we have a bunch of the same rare stuff, but whether I'm grossing (cutting up surgical specimens), previewing (pretending I know what these things are) or signing out (having the attending demonstrate that I don't know what these things are), it's always some bizarre things, because pathologists just don't do that much normal.

Today I got to really have control of dictation for the first time. It is the most intimidating thing. English is genuinely my first language. I always got A's in the subject matter; I worked as a frigging technical writer, and public speaking does not give me hives. When you stick a specimen in front of me and a microphone in my face, it's magical. I literally forget how to name colors. I will be looking at a pink strip of skin and thinking it's a pink strip of skin, and my dictation will read "Uhhh... (rustling) Uhhh... Specimen A is... uh... submitted in formalin... and... uh... is... a... color... I think it's pink... that is.... 5... by 2 by zero point 3.... centimeters... wait.... zero point four.... centimeters... in... uhhh.... aggregate... and consists of... a... uhhh... puce fragment of... sorry... addendum... my name's Ishie... I work for ya'all."

It's like pulling teeth.

So that's a life lesson. All the times where you thought acting or reading or any other performance based field was a stupid overpaid profession, just to let you know, you probably suck at it. A lot. Like, you should feel bad, you probably suck so much.

Along with dictating, I'm grossing. I'm learning how to cut specimens so that they show me what I'm interested in. Tumor margins, type of tissue, how the normal tissue looks, whether it's near the blood vessels, that's all based on my decisions. The negative side is that it's stressful. I don't want to sample a curiously benign scrap of tissue only to have the rest of it be malignant horror cancer. The positive side is that I feel like by the end of the year, I'll be a kickass sushi chef, and won't have to pay 2 bucks a slice for scallops.

Reading/signing out... it is difficult to describe how tired this makes you. My friends are working from 6 AM to 10 PM six days a week, and I am decidedly not. But after about hour 6 on the scope, you start to go cross eyed. You feel dumber than usual. You require the department's free pizza for brain carbs. Yeah.

I can't complain too much though. I was talking about this on the phone with my mom today. I am doing exactly what I wanted to do since I was a tween. It's fucking cool; I can't lie. I cut up a case today that I was uncertain about because it was a complete mess, and on section, it was absolute textbook of a condition that fascinates me. I hope I never stop realizing how lucky I am to be where I am, in a program that's awesome and not malignant, and just be at this whole stage of my life. I can see how people would start in this field and completely hate it; I do. If you want to "help people", as we all wrote in our personal statements, and then are counting the mitoses in a high power field, you may not feel very doctory, particularly when you're trying to pick up a history major that's 9 years younger than you, but whatever you do in medical school, if you love it? Freaking do it. Your residency will be so much better by virtue of it.

Jul 3, 2011

White coats obtained, time for a three day weekend

So I dunno how much of this blog is like "Shut up with your whining already" and how much is like "Shut up with you're 'my life rules' crap", so I'm just going to go with the latter because on the odd periods that I give in to complete egocentricity and reread previous entries, the whiny ones are where I want to slap myself the most. Plus, I don't feel whiny right now, because dude... I'm not sure when the other "this residency can't be this good" shoe is going drop, but it hasn't yet, and they're long past the point of needing to lie to us.

It's various stuff coming together too. I've had some nastiness in my life where it seemed like the forces of nature converged to make everything suck. Oh, you're out of money? Well, this seems like a good time for your car to break down. While you're walking to a phone booth (they had those back in my day, you damn kids)? Good time for someone to yell stuff out a window at you and then it starts raining.

This is like the reverse of that. My colleagues are awesome; I like all of them. Unless you count the discriminating finesse of the match (aka, the blind dartboard of chance), the hospital has nothing to do with that. The hospital is gorgeous. The other residents are nice. The attendings are friendly. They have parties, like, a lot. The hours aren't horrible. My insta roommates on Craigslist turned out to be great in a house I like, a situation which I really threw myself into without much of a safety net, and easily could have ended in a spectrum of awful from "meth lab" to "human skin suit". Stephen Colbert randomly shows up the day I start residency.

It's not *completely* random, granted. Homeboy is from here, and the school has a Colbert library for a reason, but I tried for two years in New York to cross him off my NYC bucket list along with the Daily Show to no avail, and boom, he shows in Charleston on July 1st.

Scored tickets to that, because, really? and then as I was sitting in the best altitude sickness seats that thirty dollars could buy, the interviewer came on stage and said "Stephen would like to welcome everyone to the lower seats" or something like that, so I ended up 5-10 rows from the stage. And he talked for two hours. And did a song and dance from Strangers with Candy. The whole time I had a complete doofus grin on my face.

Today was the full GME party (as opposed to the outgoing residents' party, the welcome to our department party, and the late fourth of July party next week) and it was held at a marina. After discovering the open bar and caterers walking around, I walked to the end of the pier to a pod of dolphins that was just chilling.

I keep expecting to wake up in some dystopian nightmare strapped to a wall explaining to a man in a metal clown mask that I was in a beautiful world where I could tie Stephen Colbert and dolphins together logically without performing questionable genetics experiments.

Awesome ones though. Note to self: satirist/dolphin hybrids. Good idea or great idea?

Farmers Market and beach, also quite nice.

But enough of that. Residency.

Like in your fourth year of medical school, once you've decided on a specialty (or have matched into a specialty), you become intolerant of anyone distracting you with stuff that's unrelated to it. This is a problem during orientation because if you're not in primary care, you are going to spend a lot of time trying to surreptitiously check facebook while being taught the software for assigning prescriptions to the outpatient clinic, a skill I will need precisely never. Similarly, orientations involve a lot of stuff that is probably important in some broader scale, but the people at whom they are directed are not going to take them seriously either, so everyone just ends up pretending to pay attention. Examples? Drug abuse and sexual harassment. Is it important not to steal drugs from the anesthesia cart while asking your patient what she's got under her gown? Certainly. Is a talk going to deter someone? Probably not.

Our sexual harassment guy was pretty cool though. Not only did he focus on the bizarre problem of hair touching (WT-holy-F), but he referenced Sexual Harassment Panda. On the first thing, despite the answer of "When is it appropriate to touch a colleague's hair?" being "NEVER", I feel like my answer "When it's dangling into a patient" should have gotten at least half credit.

But let this all be a lesson to you people out there. Do not pet the hair of people you work with. Addendum, you're freaks.

July 1st was the official start date, so we got oriented to our actual departments so that was extremely exciting. We got our laptops (my Grenada laptop made it to the end! Against all frigging odds!!! Infected by viruses with *no* battery left and unable to close, it lived long enough to see me to a departmental laptop. Rest, sweet, computer. You have earned it.). We got books and a microscope. We have an interns' pen to ourselves that has about eight cubicles that are large and have a ton of desk space, and the common area has a fridge, microwave, two coffee pots, and a water cooler just for us. It is fantastic. I did sign out with an attending and resident in the morning, which reinforced how much I need to study (Mystery tissue. Fallopian tube. Mystery tissue. Mystery tissue. Thyroid. Mystery tissue. Fallopian tube. That can't be normal. And no, dorks, not struma ovarii). Different cases.).

Afternoon, I had frozen sections but the day before a holiday weekend is not generally a heavily hit surgery day so spent part of my time learning how to click around Windows 7 at my desk, and the rest of the time haunting the gross lab to see how things are done.

Here's a thing I realized about myself that I'm trying to fix. I feel like book-smart wise, I can handle it. If I don't know how tissues look, I can study them effectively. If I don't know how to gross a spleen, I'll ask someone and learn and do it well. I can learn diseases and be good at all that.

I am absolutely *useless* at the general functional stuff. I was that medical student that wandered wide-eyed around the hospital clutching a piece of paper that had been passed off to be by someone because I had no idea where to put it, who to give it to, or who to ask. I get lost in hallways. I have no idea what the chain of command is. These are things that take me from seeming smart to seeming completely infantile, and usually, it leads to someone yanking whatever I'm holding away after I've had it for two hours, going "Oh for goodness sake!" and then putting it in a file basket that was five feet from where I started and has a sign on it with red font that says "ISHIE, PUT PAPER HERE" and a clip art image of me slamming my head against a wall.

So my New Year's resolution, since for residents, the New Year is July 1st, is to observe the day-to-day function stuff carefully and deliberately early on, so that I may be less of an idiot later. We'll see how it goes.

In other news, I continue to hate confrontation passionately, because I like fulfilling the stereotypes of my specialty. I live in a for-real house now that features a side yard that has a gate to it from the sidewalk. Today, Roommate B and I heard a lot of rummaging we mistook for the mailman that turned out to be a guy that had helpfully let himself through the gate into our side yard and was scavenging the trash because someone in our place just moved out, so he was collecting cds and perfume and such.

After several minutes of careful deliberation on how to handle someone trespassing and scattering garbage, and discounting such barbarous behavior as simply yelling "Hey jackass; get off our property" out the window, we decided that the most polite and ladylike way to handle the entire unpleasantness was to let Roommate C's Rottweiler out the back door.

In our defense, there was still another fence between the guy and the dog.

So let that be a lesson to you. Ms. Manners says, "Release the hounds."

Jun 27, 2011

First day of doing stuff

Albeit, not a lot of stuff.

Computer training today, which was about 4 hours of learning how to use a lot of charting techniques I'm probably not really going to need, but it wasn't bad. Entering scrips and having to sign them "MD" in the system adds a level of importance that probably isn't warranted. Had a fabulicious dinner out on Johns Island with some of my co-interns. My colleagues are taking turns on the "provide transportation for Ishie" charity, of which I am the sole beneficiary. I swear, I will eventually get a car.

Next up, pager training on Wednesday. The for real stuff starts on Friday, but then we get the fourth off, so I'm kind of feeling like a bum, but in a good way.

In other news, Charleston has a crapton of mosquitoes. Like more than Grenada. It's amazing. I've counted thirty bites on my legs *tonight*. Time to put that bottle of DEET back by the door.

Jun 25, 2011

Requisite Grad Shots

How could I forget?

Today I found an amazing farmers market at Marion Square, thus continuing my increasing love of Charleston. Said market included a roti stand (!!!!?????), banh mi, and beignets. So much for losing weight here. Though the bike helps.

So everyone's just nice here?

Is that the way it works?

I lived in Charlotte, NC when I was in high school and aside from making some amazing friends, mark it down as one of the absolute worst periods of my life. The concept of "nice" when I lived there seemed less to do with nice and more to do with "being completely and often hostilely in my business for no particular reason". I recall specifically an incident where I was wearing the standard issue Nine Inch Nails shirt that EVERYONE in my age bracket owned and a woman walked up to me with "You know that band worships the devil".

So when people say a region is "nice", I generally snort derisively. Which probably isn't nice.

People here are NICE. Like not kidding around nice. And it leads to my getting way more things done in a day than I thought possible. If I don't have this paper or that paper, it's "Oh, well, let me see what I can do... well, we can do everything else today and you can just bring that in on Monday", "Oh, that's fine, your driver's license will be just fine. California? How exciting!" Bam, conversation, bam out. Waitresses, Rite Aid techs, employee health.

So today I managed to get my third, count em, THIRD TB test in as many months, pop onto my bike, take out money from one of my accounts (without a bank card), put money into the other account, get my rent check out of it, pick up a back rack for my brand new bike, and fill a prescription. In about two hours. I don't even know what to do with the extra time. And the feeling of well being. I did spend some of it attempting to put the rack on my bike, which was way harder than it looked, so that drained my goodwill, but then my roommate refilled it, only instead of goodwill, she used moussaka, which I think is an acceptable substitution.

I have another resident mixer party tomorrow. I feel more like I'm courting than working, but I'm certainly not complaining.

I'm hoping for a beach trip this weekend.

Jun 20, 2011

Home sweet home in the lowcountry

Sorry for the lack of updates; I've been busier than I've perhaps ever been and having to make a number of spot decisions that have all ended up working out better than anyone could reasonably expect.

Graduation. Awesome. Really had a good time, and saw so many people, some of whom I hadn't seen since Grenada, and it was fantastic. My dad flew up from North Carolina, I took him to see Mary Poppins (on Broooooooaaaaaaaadway), and I got to parade around in my cap and gown (which we actually got to keep this year) plus a hood. They kept the speeches fairly brief and to the point. I'm sure this is horrible sounding to Ivy Leaguers, but after enduring hours of drone in UCD's gymnasium, a succinct presentation that felt like it was *to* us rather than *at* us at Lincoln Center was greatly appreciated. I did get hooded upside down, but I don't think most people would be able to tell. Most importantly, I WALKED WITHOUT A CANE OR A LIMP. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Weirdly, despite nearly everyone at graduation having both a job and a diploma in hand already, no one took the opportunity to do anything weird.

Incidentally, they played Grenada's national anthem. To the surprise of most, it was not Temperature by Sean Paul.

So the pomp! The circumstance! The OMG I need to move to SC this week and either find a place to live near my hospital and buy a bike or find any place and buy a car!

That bit was a little nerve wracking. My initial living plans fell through so then I thought "I don't have anything to do until a physical/drug test on the 22nd, and then some social stuff, and then orientation the 27th, so I'll find a place when I get there since I have plenty of time." Which is true, but when you're in a moving van driving to a Motel 6 and honestly don't have a real address to give them, it's freaky.

I'd been surfing Craigslist, and found a few leads; contacted one agency that specializes in matching people with roommates, was wandering around, and so forth, but then found a place on Craigslist that's biking distance from the hospital, costs half of what my rent was in Brooklyn, and comes complete with one of my new roommates' huge friendly Star Wars-named dog. And available this weekend, which is a plus when you're returning the van on Monday. And y'all... (I can say y'all now that I have an address in the South), this place, which is a for-real house, which I have not lived in since I was 12, has a washer/dryer (the holy grail), a backyard with a fire pit, a balcony, a walk in closet (!!!!), a giant pantry, and a giant kitchen. No words. If these two can be half as cool as my last roommate, I'll be happy, since I got all emotional and weepy when he left.

Dropped by to meet people, confirmed no one was a serial killer, signed the lease, made out the check, rented a storeroom for some of my mom's stuff, hauled that around (Charleston was about 96 degrees today; there were a couple moments where I honestly thought I was going to die), bought a bike, tossed it in the back of the much emptier moving van, went back to the house, dragged everything upstairs while nearly getting killed by my futon (no more bunk bed!) and drove back to the motel.

Whew. It's... done. I have an address in Charleston, a job starting up, I'm a doctor and it all happened. And this particular move even happened without a whole lot of drama or stress, which is completely unheard of in a move. I was much more frazzled and emotional moving from Park Slope to Sunset Park for six weeks because our lease was up.

I have a bicycle! I haven't had a bicycle in four years. I feel so environmentally conscious. Or more realistically, broke, and I don't want to deal with car payments and insurance for a while, though for graduation, my mom gave me enough money for a sizeable down payment. Thanks mom!

So now, the only thing that stands between me and employment is my ability to pee in a cup on demand. Better start drinking!!!!