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.


Oreleona said...

wow i love reading ur blog! it encourages me to push on harder, i cannot wait till i get into Med Sch, finish and start residency!

heyroth said...

It's actually even harder to pick up on other grad students. Sure, you have things in common, but you can't use smoke and mirrors of big technical words like "whole cell patch clamp technique" and look cool.

"oh so you connect nerves to glass pipets all day?"

*meekly "... yup."

"cool, i'm going to talk to this hipster who's whacked out on some form of cleaning solvent. Thanks for holding my purse.."

Ishie said...

Connecting nerves to anything actually sounds pretty cool. Heh heh. Now hold my purse. ;)

heyroth said...

Hah, you should see how many chicks it works on at neuroscience conferences.

In fact, here's a little Flight of the conchord parody done at UCSF.