Jan 28, 2012

Wow, that was dark

See title. Goodness.

So, sorry about that last one folks. I contemplated deleting it and as I said at the intro to that post, didn't even initially post it, but then left it for the sake of honesty and completeness I suppose?

I asked my mom for her opinion, and it was like, med school/residency is the ups and downs, which is a point for leaving it up. Then I'm like, this is a very specific situation for which it's hard to imagine anyone looking for advice. Grenada's rock fever with study darkness with fulminant breakdown? Sure. That's at least half the student body and everyone that has a medical school related meltdown feels like they're alone in it and everyone else is succeeding. Same with residency. Normal stuff. We laugh about it now at work because we were all in various stages of it without knowing the others were suffering it. Doctors seem to be bred with a specific blend of arrogance and self doubt that starts a spiral of "I'm smart and med school/residency shouldn't be hard. I am struggling. Therefore, I am stupid and everyone around me is smart and ohmigod."

This peculiar blend of impotent rage I feel intermittently in this really specific situation? Not so much relatable. At least I hope not.

But enough of that. Tonight was really really good. We had a mini spontaneous surgical pathology girls' night bitch-a-thon, and it was a bunch of fun with great people that did, I admit, involve some poking fun of surgeons. Lighthearted, I assure you. My mom sent me a hard drive that I got today that has all of my diving pictures and California pictures and the like salvaged so I did not lose those, and that was really incredible. The response of you guys, as I've mentioned, has been fabulous, and it helps me quite a bit. Surgical pathology ends in three working days (but who's counting) and I'm pretty excited about it. While being the bread and butter stuff, it's really work intensive, so it'll be great to have a break working more normal hours. I am getting a lot more of the diagnoses and have a general idea of logic and workflow, which I've mentioned before.

Good stuff. I'm planning a trend of increasingly positive blog posts to follow, but right now, I'm crazy tired. Night all.

Jan 27, 2012

Good few days, bad few days

Okay, I wrote this yesterday night when I was in a *really* dark place, so I almost didn't post it, but figured it's honest, so I'd go ahead. I'm feeling better now, I am. It's almost the weekend; people are being nice to me, I pulled doctor-card on a surgeon and John Legend got properly replaced by Nina Simone, but DAMN, was I feeling nasty yesterday, so:

So here's the reverse.

Call it PMS. Call it delayed anger. Call it whatever, I'm feeling it. Maybe I'm just feeling tired, and I'm at the culmination of two months of surgical pathology...

I've been getting really nasty sleep lately, hence the 1 AM post, worse than usual. The week after the fire, it was nightmares and anxiety dreams, and I could pinpoint and be like "Yes, that dream I had where the insurance company repossessed the rental car and yelled at me was likely stress related to this situation" but lately it's just like "Wake up for no reason at 5 AM sucka!"

So I try to wind down again, and I miss lecture AGAIN and I wonder how my eval is going to go with all that crap missing, and I struggle to make it from new home in new car on time to at least get my duties done.

This morning, I got my first speeding ticket since I left for Grenada. My fault, of course. I overslept (again) because I couldn't sleep (again) and was racing to work (again) so I could make sure I was there for frozen sections and I got busted.

The whole where are you going in such a hurry, and I don't even really make eye contact with people or emote anymore because I DON'T CARE, so the second I hit "I'm a doctor and..." I get the instant cop-black-out, the "rich doctor", the "I'm the problem with health care" and nothing else I have to say matters like "my pager is going off" and "I'm in scrubs" and "This car costs less than yours" and "The address on my license is no longer valid because that address burned down" (he asked if my license info was accurate, and when I said 'no, it was burned', he got busy writing down... my old address.

Fine, ticket, whatever. My insurance company needs more money anyway. They just took a 13 thousand dollar loss.

I was following a car most of the way to work (before the ticket) with a bumper sticker that said "God doesn't believe in atheists". I haven't put similarly anti stickers on my car because A... I haven't had a car that's lasted more than 3 months, and B... people who put stickers like that on their cars are assholes and I'm trying not to be an asshole.

Things God believes in in Charleston:
-Shooting a 5 year old in the face
-Burning down three houses and killing a cat
-Letting an arsonist go free for NINE YEARS with dozens of fires
-More unsolved homicides than Dexter has to clean up in Miami

Things God doesn't believe in in Charleston:

Cool, we've nailed God's priorities. God doesn't have to like me. Lots of people don't like me. God seems to like the Patriots. I'm thinking of putting *that* sticker on my car, but I'm guessing someone would then cause yet *another* insurance hit on it if I did.

This whole asshole thing has been eating at me. When I got my new car, I went asshole mode because I was honestly so livid about having to shop again that I didn't care who I offended, and in doing so, managed to circumvent the type of people that would try to eke an extra two grand out of an arson victim.

It's a weird title to wear. As I left the parking garage today, having had a last minute surgeon dumb of specimens that kept me three hours late, I decided that in lieu of jumping off said parking garage, which crossed my mind, I would put in one song on my iphone... put it on repeat, and BLAST it. just freaking BLAST it.

That song turned out to be Stereo by John Legend. Is it a good song? I don't know. Probably kind of. Do I like it? I don't know. Does it have a really loud obnoxious baseline that you can jar the city with for no other reason than you're an asshole? Yes it does.

So I did that. No "I hope I'm not bothering anyone" or that crap, just one song, on repeat, for 25 minutes. Loud enough to hurt. Loud enough for people at home to have a brief moment of irritation and rage and assume that I'm a 16 year old ethnic kid outside, and I can say "I'm causing that feeling in you because now I'm the one with power and you're not, and I'm tired of being nice".

Amazing, that is. There's a truly almost zen moment where you can look at everyone else and go "Hmmm... nope, don't care".

That seems to lead to enlightenment or flipping out. I'm not sure which path I'm on

Our landlord is being fined by the city to tear down his eyesore. No one has contacted us. No one seems the least bit curious as to why we'd want to see if we had anything left. I found out our landlord is trying to tear it down by hand because of our local yellow journal. People are in the comments section saying "Just bulldoze it!!!" That's OUR STUFF, motherfuckers, why don't you go bulldoze your pets? Why don't you go bulldoze your face. John Legend in your house, how's that? Like the bassline on that?

It's just stuff! It's OUR stuff. Clothes and pictures and memories and niceties and handiness and long nights talking and playing Mario Kart stuff! Just stuff. Not just their stuff.

Did you have renter's insurance? NO. I did not have renter's insurance, so fuck me. This is the first question, which they might as well rephrase into "Is this your fault?

Wow, that sucks, well your parents' homeowners...

"Mmep. Oh"

People are being different levels of helpful. There's pure help: "Hi, here's a hug/check/gift card. I'm sorry this happened. See ya" There's the Monday morning quarterbackers.. Gods are there... why didn't you get insurance? Why didn't you put your external hard drive in a safety deposit box? Why did you live in the ghetto? Why were you speeding? Why didn't you set your alarm sooner??

That voice already lives in my head. It's called "Crippling self doubt" and it's an old war buddy of mine that likes to sleep on the fold out. Crippling self doubt doesn't need your help. We go WAY back. Crippling self doubt has been with me from the start, and you have no hopes of taking his place, so you might as well just put yourself on Team Supportive and stop giving me advice that isn't advice. "You should have" isn't advice. It's superiority seeking.

I'm half contemplating hulking out at my court date, since now the arsonist and I both get one, but I don't want to go to jail because my toilet wine always lacks complexity but there's a huge part of me that says "Everything in my life has turned to shit since I moved to your town. Transport me somewhere safer, like back to Brooklyn."

But that's that, I suppose.

Jan 17, 2012

A good few days

I'm kind of cautious about characterizing my days, because there are some spectacularly good ones to spectacularly bad ones and it's not always easy to tell which they are.

This weekend, new Roomie made chili qualified as "f'ing amazing". I got my Xbox, which was my "thank goodness this was belated" Christmas gift, so we set up with work friends and played Just Dance 3 for an embarrassingly long time. Which was awesome. Last night, Rock Star contacted me to see if I wanted one of his guitars since my beloved Takamine solid top got turned into firewood, so I met him downtown for tea and now I have a guitar so I can start work on the "Ratboy blew up my economy car" blues. It's gonna have four chords, all of which are 7s, and start with "I woke up this morning". Wait for it to show up on Pandora soon.

I've been putting off and rehashing an HLA presentation for about two months now. Pathology is difficult and studious and such. Blood bank is confusing, immediately consequential, and has a lot of letters and numbers. HLA beats up blood bank every day and hangs it on a locker by its underwear.

So I had a five minute presentation that was killing me. I did a first version of it about a month ago, which was extraordinarily bad, and I didn't know any of the case details. I got last minute belled out of doing it, and then was hacking some stuff together (which also sucked) which then got burned up by the fire. This last one I did on an extended weekend sleep deprivathon that was more my MO in college.

Unless my colleagues are being really forgiving, which is likely, it didn't suck. Despite my rambling it on 4 hours of sleep. So then I had sign out, but my attending got detained at the main hospital for over an hour and I didn't have many cases anyway...

So I propped up a chair to put my legs on in the sign out room and threw my sweater over my face. The accessioner pops her head in at some point where I'm halfway to Edward Norton's house, and I startle up a bit and act... I dunno, normal?

Her comment? "You know these lights have a dimmer switch?" and dims them.

Guys, that is as close to authorized naptime as you can get without having a yoga mat on the floor.

So nap at work. Frigging awesome. And almost no real work to do in the afternoon so I could get caught up on my other stuff. It's going to get me back tomorrow though. I'm getting all the breast cases in the land.

What else... music at work is interesting because a lot of us listen to music while we're grossing because we can. I'm included in that. It gets weird when we need an attending to come help orient a specimen, but we don't turn the music off because I am not laying a greasy Hep C liver covered finger on my precious iPhone.

Leading to this:
Attending: Okay... the stitch is here, so... this.. yes, this is anterior
Shirley Manson: I'm waiting... I'm waiting.... I'm waiting
Attending: So if we whip this around like this, I'm thinking this is the uncinate process
Shirley Manson: I'm waiiiiiiiting. I'm waiiiting.
Attending: And we can dissect the pancreatic duct from this axis.
Shirley Manson: I'm waiiiiiiiiiiiiiting
Attending: She's waiting.

Greasy finger exceptions are for F*** You, White America, and ANYTHING by Tenacious D. Jack Black is killing me. An hour of Pearl Jam goes by but the second I need an attending, I start to hear the beginning of "Ya don't always haveta f*** her hard..." and I'm going "Excuse me! Hold on... gloves off... fast forward!" "What was that?" "Nothing!"

I do really like my new car guys. It's all RRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrRRREEEEEEEEE when I take off in traffic.

Jan 10, 2012

Jean Grey is reborn as...

This is Phoenix. She's my new ride.

This is Dexter. He was my old ride. As you know.

Truth be told, though it kind of feels like I'm cheating on Dexter, I think I like Phoenix better. I thought I'd be fine with an automatic transmission, considering how absolutely adamant I was about not learning to drive a manual until I was in my 20s, but manuals are SO much fun to drive. Additionally, my go to car for a very long time was a 2001 Hyundai Accent that survived until my third year of medical school, though I didn't use it for any of my med school time. And it was a manual, and Phoenix is also a Hyundai Accent, albeit a 2010 model with more features, but the response is exactly like my old car only a little punchier. Also, lights and trunk latches and such.

But Dexter was my first. First new car ever, first financing ever, first total loss/gap insurance payoff.

Let me tell you, if you ever finance a car, get frigging gap insurance. I would have been paying a thousand extra dollars on a car I no longer own because a hoodrat burned it down.

Right, the fire... so... new update. Yes, it was in fact arson. Said arson was committed by a 14 year old boy who was attempting to fight the squatters next door for some giant I-don't-give-a-f*** reason, and when they didn't emerge (because they weren't there), he set their house on fire very deliberately, which subsequently spread to everything else.

As a doctor, I feel like I should understand environmental pressures, along with conduct disorder and other things that create this sort of... child. I know the inevitable progression to Antisocial Personality Disorder in adulthood and all sorts of organic biological nonsense. I get it.

Problem being? I don't care. I lack empathy for the unempathetic. Does that make sense? If you are schizophrenic, and the voices tell you that the girl on the subway is the devil threatening humanity and you murder her to save humanity, you certainly need to be locked up and heavily medicated, but to some extent, I understand that you meant well and you have a demonstrable chemical imbalance that is both putting crazy things into your head WHILE giving you a bonus lack of insight into your own condition. It isn't who you are, and before the disease took you in your teens or twenties, you had a whole other person you were before your dopamine levels went tits up. Got it. And I sympathize. I don't want to be on the subway with you, but I sympathize.

The axis II stuff, the personality disorders, it's harder. The person's bastardry is a part of who they are. When you take the schizophrenia away from a schizophrenic, they're a normal person. When you take the antisocial personality disorder away from a person, you're removing a key part of who they are, which is a jerk. When I did my psych rotation, I could deal with crackheads, gang members, and bipolarity but the antisocial personality disorder people were just GARGGGHHH. And the attempts to manipulate into their own worldview, double GARGGGHHH. I can't take it, and for some reason, the same function that allows me to forgive other behavior just doesn't extend to people who are incapable of being able to have a basic sense of empathy.

So I became a pathologist instead of a psychiatrist, because it's very difficult to treat your patients if you hate them.

The hearing was today. My colleagues, who have already been wonderful, made sure I was covered so I could go. I got a call on Friday from first the fire chief, and then the SC equivalent to the DA that started with "We have you listed as the owner of one of the cars that was damaged?" And I was like "Um... that's kind of an understatement", so I told her our side, and she emphasized that she wanted to see us at the hearing, and I forwarded her all the pictures I took of our home and Dexter, which seemed to make her happy. I thought it was just going to be my roommates and I but there were at least 15 victims of this nonsense, including our landlord, who at the end of all this was like "Oh, I owe you guys your security deposits", which was nice.

We can't name names, obviously. A juvenile hearing is a bit like a bail hearing, except no money in kiddie cases, so it's whether he can be under "house arrest" with his parents (no) or stay in juvie (yes). The fact that this was a possibility made me choke on my coffee, but turns out I should have had a little more faith in the state, because even his lawyer didn't put up any kind of a fight to get him out. I never saw him though; he waived his right to be at his hearing, but his parents were there, and refused to look at any of us. He's likely going to be locked up until the trial, and I'm guessing he's not going anywhere after that. The prosecution passed some of my pictures up to the judge.

I feel an odd sense of closure. I'm not sure whether I should blame general perceptions of the government on the media with the idea that if you're under 18, you can torch half a block and go home to your xbox, but I was actually impressed and feel like justice will be served and all without my having to put on Christian Bale's growly voice and patrol the streets. Which is good, because I can't fight for crap.

Friday was a really bad day for me. It started waking up from a nightmare, as many of the nights this last week have, and then I got lost on my new way to work, causing me to be 15 minutes late to lecture despite leaving well in time, had a bunch of stuff go down on complicated cases at work, and then my insurance company called to say my settlement would be minus a thousand dollars and my rental car was up on Wednesday. This was also the day I learned that the fire was arson. Honestly, before that I felt strangely fine. Nightmare ridden and dyspeptic, since doctors are the kings and queens of somatization, but fine. Friday, the combination of the end of the comfort zone of driving around in a rented Chevy Impala and the new information that this was a motivated attack gave me a full dose of rage-a-hol, which was hard to try to keep under wraps, especially with everyone at the hospital being so wonderful.

And it's gotta be confusing to them.
Day 1: Hey colleague! Funny story, my house burned down, still need a roommate?
Day 2: Thanks for the pick up from the airport! Red wine and Incredible Hulk? Hooray! Look at this awesome bed!
Day 3: Wow, coworkers, this support is amazing! How am I doing? Fine. Nope, haven't seen the house.
Day 4: Yup, saw the house. Nah, figured from the pictures nothing was left anyway. I got a computer and can watch Dexter again!
Day 5-6: Springing Dexter from the junkyard! Wow, look how damaged he is!
Day 7-9: Doop doop, surge path, hmm, not so bad! I'm having fun! I feel like I'm getting it this time around!
Day 10: (*&(*&)(*&@(*&(*!! ******* BURNED MY HOUSE DOWN RAWRRRRRRRR

Friday night, I saw female former-roommate for the first time since the fire, and we drank margaritas and her boyfriend gave me the third season of Arrested Development, because he's awesome at gift-giving and likes to demonstrate it. Seeing them helped a lot. Saturday, I decided to turn my misanthropic bend to the positive of using it to intimidate car dealers since the Wednesday of rental car expiration is not a good day to car shop, nor is it ever a good idea to do your shopping on a day that you're desperate.

So I went to a few dealerships, and test drove a few cars. The dealership where I bought Phoenix had a 2009 Nissan Versa with a hatchback and a stick shift, which was kind of my final opportunity to revitalize Dexter and remake him in an image I actually initially wanted, but were too expensive and not available, respectively. It was even black. But the response was a little sluggish and no features, including no auxillary jack, which is a dumb thing that is critically important to me since five minutes without my iphone causes me to cry uncontrollably and chew my elbows.

I had finally settled on Phoenix as "a car I like and I'm tired of dealerships", which had a price on the window that was hilarious, particularly since someone mentioned in front of me having trouble moving it off the lot because no one wants manual transmission anymore. Dealer fail 101. States he "might be able to come down a little on it".

I'm usually a people pleaser. I don't to offend people or have them be mad at me, which to people selling anything, puts me in a sort of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo position (how's that for graphic imagery?). Fortunately, Friday left me in a state of pissed-offery and the fire taught me to spurn strong attachments to any material item, PLUS I hate shopping and was being forced to do this again, so I rode into Saturday with a rampaging chip on my shoulder. Which is a plus if you're buying a car. Which seemed to carry across, such that he was like "So, you're not from Charleston?" since Charleston is billed as a polite city. I pulled the Brooklyn card, neglecting to mention that I lived in high-gentrification Brooklyn for two years and moved there when I was 29 so it gives me absolutely no objective excuse to be an asshole. I can even fake the accent. I can also fake a Caribbean accent, but it's harder to sell people on. And it's not like my home state of California is known for having manners.

I also don't think I was a lot of fun for them. They kept doing that "Excited about getting a new car???" thing, and I was like "Not really."

I also fortunately have the Kelley Blue Book application on my phone. So I'm idly tapping away on it while he's talking (HIGHLY RUDE) about the car's features. Because I'm entering them one by one. So he finishes, and I turn the phone around and slide it over to him because its "excellent" condition for the same car with the same mileage is 1500 dollars less.

I frigging love technology.