Monday, March 30, 2009

My first and best choice

On the flight to Baltimore, the guy next to me asked why I was going to Baltimore. I said, "I'm interviewing for a residency spot I'm never going to take. I'm going to New York for my residency. You couldn't pay me enough to work in a notoriously tough program while living in a war zone. Unless you're from there, of which case, uh...I'm sure it's great."

He wasn't from there. (Nice that I wouldn't have to snack on my own foot so early in the day.) But, he did ask the obvious question, "So...why are you interviewing there?"

"Well, the chief of anesthesiology at my school was kind enough to write me a letter of recommendation, and he's from this program in Baltimore."

"So, you're going to make him happy?"

"I'm going to keep him on my side. He's well connected in anesthesiology, and I may need him to make a phone call for me to a chairperson in New York City when it comes time for me to rank programs."

And then, it came time for me to rank programs.
And I sort of loved the program in Baltimore.

The residents were normal. And happy. None of them had been shot. I met one resident who had spent a year at a phenomenal program in New York before she relocated to Baltimore for her husband's job. She said that while she loved New York and was happy there, she was even happier in Baltimore. The program was less grueling. The anesthesiologists got along better with the surgeons. The attending physicians were more supportive of the residents. The surgical cases were incredible.

I flew from Baltimore to New York the next day and interviewed at the program that resident had spoken of. It was a great program. My favorite in the city. But, on my flight home, as I thought about both of these training programs, I just had this feeling about Baltimore--this feeling like maybe I belonged there.

And that is the story of how I chose Charm City over The Big Apple.

The past week has been spent completing paperwork for my Maryland credentials and license (you can adopt a kid, start your own business, and buy a farm with less documentation) and trying to find an apartment in a neighborhood where they don't routinely shoot crime scenes for The Wire.

I'm still occasionally making that excited squealing like a girl noise, but I'm working on keeping most of that on the inside (where it can't rupture the eardrums of innocent bystanders).

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lucky number 13

I had planned to get up early today to post something before my ER shift. Instead, I got up early to get sick.

I've taken care of a dozen patients with gastroenteritis this week.
They were kind enough to share.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

For the next four years

I will greet the dawn singing this...

I got my first choice!
And this is a great time to be my blog friend, because the real life friends have to suffer my spontaneous bouts of squealing like a girl. Their ear drums are not likely to survive this day.

In other fabulous news, Graci also got her first choice! If I could find a musical about New Haven, Connecticut, I'd link to that, too.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It helps beyond words to plant bulbs in the dark of winter.
~ Anne Lamott

Monday, March 16, 2009

I got a job

And I find out where on Thursday.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A treatable condition

I called off work today. It's 52 degrees and sunny, and I just happened to wake up this morning with a serious condition whose only treatment is not working when it's this nice outside. Plus, I was scheduled to work with the three most annoying ER attendings--the trifecta of useless tests and consults. Come in with a headache after drinking all night and you're more likely to get a brain biopsy than you are a Tylenol and the not so subtle hint that a hangover is NOT A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

So, I woke up this morning and called the first attending to say that I was sick. She didn't believe a word of it and was obviously miffed that I didn't seem all that bothered by the fact that she didn't believe a word of it. But then, someone came in with the oft fatal condition known as sinus congestion, and she had to let me go so she could call UNOS and order a nose transplant.

This is my last opportunity to be a completely irresponsible and inconsiderate shitty, shitty team player. I couldn't do stuff like this last year. Last year, I was working my ass off for good evaluations so that I could get into a residency. I can't do stuff like this next year. Next year, I'll be a resident--someone with a real job. What I remember from when I used to have a real job is that with a paycheck comes a certain responsibility to, you know, show up at work. Even on the sunny days.

Speaking of a real job, I find out tomorrow if I have one or not. Tomorrow at noon, the residency matching program will let me know if I matched anywhere. They won't tell me where until Thursday. But, tonight is (hopefully) the last night I have to try and sleep through those oh shit, I'm $150,000 in debt in a recession economy with no job and no other marketable skills dreams.

In the meantime, I'm going to the park to treat my condition.

Friday, March 6, 2009

ER, take 2

I don't know what it is about working in the ER, but after a twelve hour shift, I feel like I've been at an amusement park (sans rides). I'm exhausted, my feet hurt, and I really need a shower. At one point this afternoon, I thought, "Hey, it's Friday...FRIDAY!" But then I remembered that I still have two more twelve hour shifts to do before I get a day off. So, for me, it was really only Wednesday; and no on ever thinks, "...WEDNESDAY!"

My greatest accomplishment of the day was teaching the third year medical student how to do a pelvic exam. (On patients. I taught her on the patients. I'm not that committed to her education.) By the end of the night, I'd made an amateur gynecologist out of her. And, to be honest, it was nice to teach someone something. My alma mater's motto was, Having light, we pass it on to others. This was similarly inspired, Having speculum...

I would like to say that I saved a couple lives today, but I actually left before the life saving occurred. The helicopter was hovering overhead as I walked out of the ambulance bay doors tonight and headed to my car.

I remember walking out of the nearby health education building after orientation during my first week of medical school. The helicopter was circling around to land where I stood tonight, outside of the ER. As we craned our necks back to watch it land, the student next to me said, "You know, in a few years, that will be us waiting for that helicopter."

"I know," I said, wide-eyed and grinning, "I can't wait."

If you had told me then that I would walk away from an incoming trauma, I would have told you that you were nuts.

Tonight, the third year student--the amateur gynecologist--was the one who couldn't wait. When the attending asked, "Who's going to take this trauma?" She volunteered before he could even say, "It's a guy with a crush injury."

When I rotated through the ER this time last year, that was me. But, while I would have happily been in that trauma bay if the guy had come in earlier, I wasn't going to stay late to see him tonight.

I haven't grown disinterested in the last year. I've just learned...there will always be another helicopter. Plus, I really needed a shower.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A viewer's guide

Ahh, Anthony Bourdain... how I love thee.
(It's the start of a killer sonnet.)

I'm watching Mr. Bourdain eat his way through Sri Lanka. I don't know what it is about the guy, but I have the hots for him. He writes, he looks good in those boots, he's foul-mouthed, and he travels around the world without making embarrassingly ethnocentric remarks everywhere he goes.


I'm sure that in real life he tastes like an ashtray. His travel stories must get old after awhile. And, if he drinks as much at home as he does on the road, he's probably less than mind-blowing in the sack. But, that's the thing about having a shameless crush on some guy you only see on the Travel Channel... it's completely unfettered by shit like real life.

The best thing about TV--it's not reality.

When you forget that, you and your side swept bangs end up abandoning your integrity for the chance to smear makeup all over The Bachelor's pillowcase. And when they televise your fifteen minutes of heartache, it will have all the dignity and grace of a public execution.