Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Today is your birthday. 23. And you are stuck in the hospital. On a clear liquid diet. Waiting to have your colon taken out because this fucking ulcerative colitis just won't stop ulcerating. Food leaves you doubled over in pain, bleeding.

You are supposed to be out, celebrating with friends. And in five days, you are supposed to move up the coast to start medical school. The best laid plans of mice and men...

At midnight, I crept into your room to leave balloons and a card from me and Blake, the other intern, on your bedside table. I snuck back out quickly. If I had lingered a second longer, I'm afraid I would have cried.

I truly believe all those things that I've told you. The moment you step foot onto that med school's campus, it will not matter how long it took you to get there. You will come through this terrible experience a stronger woman and a better doctor than can ever be made in the classroom.

When I wrote you that prescription for Walt Whitman--From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines--I meant for you to fill it.

But still, I imagine how incredibly disheartening this must be. To be five days away from moving to medical school. Five days. And to have to postpone it all for a year.

I know how scared you are, too. No matter how I reassure you that you'll still be a gorgeous woman who will live a normal life, you're the one who has to face going into that OR whole and coming out with a bag on her stomach. Nothing Walt Whitman or I say can really make that okay.

It's times like this, people like you, that make me understand the pull of primary care medicine--the doctor who knows you through the years, who will get to see what I'm confident will be this story's happy ending.

When Blake and I give you our contact info and tell you to keep in touch, to let us know how it all goes, we are both really hoping you do just that. This time next year, call one of us to bitch about how you can't get that nasty cadaver smell out of your nose after anatomy lab.

We'll ask how you spent your 24th birthday. Tell us you went out with your friends, that you had one too many drinks...and that you ate cake.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


It makes cleaning the apartment so much more enjoyable.

Friday, July 24, 2009

On call

"Transport came and picked up the guy in 12. He's officially discharged."
"Is that the one who called me a fucking whore when I said he couldn't leave the floor to smoke?"
"Yep, that's him."
"I'm going to miss him."

"Uh...I think the guy in 14 might be having a little heart attack."
"Well, as long as it's just a little one..."

"I need you to specify a calorie count for this patient's diet. The admitting doctor forgot to do that."
"It's 3:30 in the morning...are they bringing the patient a meal tray right now?"
"No, but you know, breakfast will be here before you know it."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday morning

I woke up at 8 feeling like I'd gotten to sleep until noon. Are all these 5 am mornings turning me into a morning person? I never would have thought that possible, but I think that's possible.

A short walk to the neighborhood cafe and on the way, a chat with Lee, the Italian woman who lives on the corner. One of these days, I'll take a picture of her backyard for you. It is just the cutest old lady decorating with flowers and sea shells project you ever did see. I say project because the whole yard looks as though it belongs in a shoe box, on display, as a diorama of itself. This morning she was standing in the middle of her work of art, right next to the bird bath that is the centerpiece of it all, screaming and clapping at the pigeons perched on the wire overhead.

"Good morning, Lee."

"Good morning," she said, sounding unconvinced.

"Are you trying to scare the birds away?"

"Yes. They poop. They poop everywhere. On de flowers. On de shells. On de chairs." (Strong emphasis here, as few things are more offensive than defecating on a sweet old woman's lawn furniture.)

"They want to come and take a bath, that's fine. But they are not allowed to sit up on dat wire and poop in my yard. Take a bath here and poop somewhere else!" she yells, waving her hand at somewhere else.

"Is it working, the scaring them away bit?"

"Naw...look at them. They couldn't care less."

Indeed, they looked exactly as though they could not care less, as though they had no intention of holding their bowels until they got to the suggested somewhere else.

Pooping on a perfectly lovely diorama.
Some gall, those pigeons have.
Some gall.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A good gig

Long time, no post.

Sorry about that. I've been a little busy with work. Like 100 hours a week busy. (In truth, that actually sounds a lot worse than it feels. As the people in the Phoenix say, "It's a dry heat.")

This won't really be much of a post. I should have been in bed an hour ago because I'm on call tomorrow night. I'm off this weekend, though, so hopefully a lengthier diatribe is soon to follow.

For now, in brief...

There have been some incredibly amazing gratifying moments--times when I think, damn, this is good gig.

And, there have been some incredibly exhausting frustrating moments--times when I have to remind myself not to chuck a chart at the wall.

I have had some really good doctor moments.
I have had some really crappy doctor moments.

(This is starting to sound like the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities... It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.)

At some point last week, as I was hiking up the stairs between floors, it suddenly hit me...this place is beginning to feel like home. That may sound a bit depressing, considering the aforementioned "this place" is a hospital, but in fact, it was a rather comforting realization.

I still don't really know what I'm doing most of the time. I can find the call rooms and the cafeteria but never made it to that code yesterday because hell if I know how to get to cath lab.

But, the nurses seem to be on my side. The case managers help me blow through my discharges. The attendings don't care that I'm the only resident who doesn't wear her white coat. And every day, I meet someone new that I genuinely like.

Much more often than not, I must say, it's a really good gig.