“But I’m just an M1”

This past Thursday I had an appointment with the same patient I have been seeing since November. I am part of my school’s student-run clinic. Each patient is assigned to one team, made up of an M1, M2, M3 and an M4. As an M1, my role has been mostly to take vitals and to practice my history taking skills. When the time comes for the physical exam, a senior student takes over, or I do as much as I can remember and then ask for assistance under the pretext “We haven’t learned that yet.” I then take the backseat and relax as I observe the senior student fly through the physical exam. I take mental notes at my leisure, nowhere near as obsessively or as tediously as I take notes when I know I will be tested on something later.

However, this past Thursday was different. I was running late and texted my teammates that I was about six minutes behind schedule. I had gotten stuck in traffic and was struggling to find a parking spot nearby. Defeated, I eventually parked a few blocks from the clinic and sped walked my way over, trying my best not to transform into a giant blob of sweat. When I burst into the patient room, my M4 looked relieved. “Here she is!” she exclaimed. “We’ve been stalling for you! You’ll be leading the physical exam today. Whenever you’re ready.” I was still trying to catch my breath while at the same time mentally reviewing basic history taking and the physical exam. My mind could only get as far as “OPQRST” before awkward silence had filled the room for a bit too long and it was time to begin.

I nervously waved my hands in the air trying to feign confidence while running through the history taking portion of the exam. To my surprise, my nervousness began to fade away as confidence started to creep in. The physical exam felt natural. At this point, I had done it dozens of times before without realizing it was slowly becoming part of me. It was no longer an act, I wasn’t just pretending to know what I was doing. The end of the physical exam was followed by words of encouragement and positive reinforcement from not only my fellow classmates, but from the patient himself.

The importance of learning had never hit me quite as hard as it did that day. I had gotten into the habit of picking and choosing what I believed was worthy of my time. Practicing and trying to perfect my physical exam always took the backseat when put against studying a list of drugs, or reviewing a lecture. I hadn’t given the physical exam the respect and importance it deserves. What good is it to know every hypertension medication in the book if I can’t detect a heart murmur? What if I bypass something I think of as miniscule and unimportant and miss something big? There is no excuse for carelessness, especially in a field where the stakes are so high. Obviously, we go into medicine knowing we will be working with patients and that everything we learn is for our future patients. However, it is always a humbling experience to be reminded just how important it is to take our studies seriously – as if someone’s life depended on it…which one day, will be the case.

 

 

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The Politician

I broke my Tinder hiatus over Thanksgiving break. At last, I had finally come across some free time and what better way to spend it than *drumroll* on Tinder?! So that’s exactly what I did. During my short break, I swiped left on dozens of profiles, none quite seeming to catch my attention. The more I swiped, the more I wondered why I redownloaded the app in the first place. After a while, I did stumble upon a few that caught my eye and began to have pleasant convos. However, most conversations ended with “I’m from *insert far away state here*. I’m only here for Thanksgiving.” So alas, I gave in and deleted the app once more.

Christmas break came around and of course, boredom reared its head and I soon found myself on Tinder once again. I was warmly greeted with a slew of “only here for the holidays” lines and was ready to throw in the towel when I came across a profile that made me chuckle. The first picture showed a bunch of people gathered outside of a house. In the center of the picture was a guy with his arm wrapped around a girl, whose face was replaced with a white bubble that read “This could be you!” I laughed and figured what the heck? and swiped right. Match.

*Fast forward past plenty of pleasant talk and some internet stalking* *He said he was a writer and to my surprise, he had a few published books on politics and economics. I don’t know the slightest thing about either subject but nonetheless was incredibly turned on by someone so passionate about their field* Anywho, we agreed to meet up. We went out for food and drinks. I was excited and optimistic about this Tinder date. This guy seems like a catch. And he can hold a convo! What more could a girl want?

Low and behold, I was slightly caught off guard when he turned out to be…exactly what he portrayed himself as. He was tall, as he had claimed, and very. very. very. into politics and economics. Our whole conversation centered around things that I didn’t understand and found myself uninterested in. He was nice and polite, but there didn’t seem to be a spark . I left our date feeling disappointed and letdown. I was more-so upset with myself for setting unrealistic expectations for this guy. He was a great guy – ambitious and intelligent and exactly as portrayed! I don’t know exactly what I expected out of him. I think I had this idea of him – in my mind I shaped him into the perfect guy for me. Ideally we’d click, fall madly in love, and live happily ever after. This wasn’t the case. To be fair, I think he shared the sentiment. He didn’t seem too enthusiastic about getting to know me and near the end of the date we both said goodbye, hugged, and said we’d meet up again maybe in about a month. I drove away knowing I’d probably never see him again.

Although I didn’t quite find what I was looking for on this date, whatever it is that I’m looking for, I did get something out of it. First of all, it made me realize that I unfairly set high expectations for people and end up falling for the idea of them rather than who they truly are. It also inspired me to listen to a few Podcasts on politics and economics since it turns out I don’t know much on either subject. So all in all, I didn’t walk away completely empty-handed from this encounter.

Life is beautiful

As a current medical student (and as a neurotic, obsessive perfectionist) I’ve dealt with my fair share of self-applied stress, sky-high expectations, and all-consuming fears of failure. I’m all too familiar with the thoughts and fears that rear their ugly heads at 2 in the morning: Fear of failure, of disappointing my loved ones, of disappointing myself. Fear of giving my all and still falling short. Thoughts of how far I’ve come quickly being replaced by thoughts of how far I still have to go.

However, I believe that as the years go by, these thoughts and fears – although still existent and not going anywhere anytime soon – are decreasing in frequency as I become more confident in my abilities and as I take a step back from my “medicine is all that matters” mentality and remember that there is more to life than just this stressful academic world that I often trap myself in. I remind myself to take a deep breath and stay in the moment as much as possible. I am blessed to be where I am. I am blessed to have the people I have in my life. I am healthy. I am loved. It’s so easy to forget all that you have when you are solely focused on all that you have yet to acquire. It’s easy to take your blessings for granted, to forget that there are people out there that would kill to be where you are right now.

It’s easy to box out and forget about important people in your life because you’re too wrapped up in your own little world. Call your grandparents if you’re lucky enough to still have them. Check up on your best friend. Pet your dog. Tell your parents, significant other – anyone you truly care about – how much you love and appreciate them.

This is not to say that our thoughts, worries, and fears are invalid just because there are people “worse off”. It’s natural to be afraid, to be stressed, to be worried. We are all given unique burdens to carry; life throws different challenges at each and every one of us and we all deal with them in different ways. All I’m saying is that sometimes it helps to take a deep breath, take a step back, put things in perspective and remember that life is beautiful. 

White Coat Ceremony

This past Friday I took the Hippocratic Oath. I stood up with my classmates and together we swore to be “loyal to the Profession of Medicine.” The days leading up to this ceremony had been filled with orientation activities: icebreakers, games, meeting the faculty, getting to know the building and, of course, getting fitted for our white coats. We had even had a few days of classes before the actual ceremony, so med school was well under way. However, it wasn’t until that moment – the moment I stood up with all my classmates and recited the oath – that it hit me. I’m going to be a doctor (God willing). I am vowing to dedicate my life to helping others to the best of my abilities. I am committing to being a student for life – promising to always strive to learn more in order to be better equipped in helping patients. I am pledging to keep what is shared with me which is “not fitting to be spoken…inviolably secret.”

I am doing all of the above…because I want to. I know it won’t be easy. I know there will be times I will probably question my choices and want to call it quits. However, I recognize the honor and privilege it is to be where I am. I am being given the opportunity to learn the art of medicine. Yes, I will graduate with a mountain of debt. Yes, I will spend the better part of my twenties sleep deprived and with my head in the books. Yes, some days the most human contact I’ll have will be holding the hand of a cadaver. But the privilege to be there for patients at their most vulnerable moments, to have someone entrust you with their care – you cannot put a price tag or time limit on that.

So here’s to the next four years. I know they won’t be easy but I’m ready.

The One On Tippy Toes

I feel like my Tinder experience wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t have at least one story about a guy who may have exaggerated a bit about his height. So here’s my short guy story.

So it’s just another late night Tinder sesh when I come across a dark-haired guy with a warm smile. His description says “I’ve realized guys weren’t meant to take selfies.” I think about how true that statement is as I scroll through his pictures, all of which are non-selfies. I’m initially lured in by his genuine-looking smile, but I’m completely sold by a picture of him posing in scrubs with three small children in what appears to be a house made of clay.  However, I do get a little suspicious when I come across a picture of him and a girl…and he’s only slightly taller than the girl…but, I give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she’s an abnormally tall girl and he’s only average height? I decide to focus more on the medical mission trip picture and swipe right. Bam, immediate match.

We talk a bit on Tinder and after about two days we exchange numbers. We talk some more via text. At one point, we talk about sports and how I was glad we liked the same team because liking a rival team would have been a dealbreaker. He replies “dealbreaker huh? Is 5’x a dealbreaker?” I’ll admit, I do tend to go for taller guys but I realize how shallow it is to rule out a great guy just because he didn’t win the genetic lottery and ended up being average height. I reply that it’s not and we continue talking. For some reason, height comes up again the next day. He makes a joke and lists his height again, this time adding an inch. This is an immediate red flag. I wonder so which height is it?! The first or the second? Is he consciously lying about his height? Or was this a simple accident, since the numbers are right next to each other? Again, I give him the benefit of the doubt.

We eventually agree to meet up. On the day of the date, he tells me he’s running a little late. I say it’s no big deal and decide to wait in my car until he calls since it was a place I had never been in and didn’t want to deal with having to find each other inside later. He finally calls, I answer, and surprise #1. His voice does not match his looks at. all. It’s sort of higher than I expected and a bit nasally. I’m a little caught off guard and still processing as he tells me that he’s waiting outside the restaurant. I make my way over and as I’m approaching, I see him sitting on a bench and I notice that he looks a little on the small side. He sees me, stands up, and my worst fears are slowly confirmed. He’s shorter than me, by about an inch.

Instead of sitting down I suggest we head to the restaurant bar, already wanting to cut the date as short as possible. We sit down, have a few drinks and talk. We have a great conversation, as he’s a pretty entertaining guy, but nothing more. Truthfully, I enjoy talking to him but know that I see him in a different light than how he sees me. Our date eventually comes to an end and we exit the restaurant. I tell him how I have to go home, so I can’t stay and linger much longer. He insists on walking me to my car even though I try my best to avoid this because I know what’s to come.

We get to my car and as I go for the goodbye hug, he goes for the kiss. On his tippy toes. I turn my face at the last second but he still catches a bit of my lip. I run into my car and drive off. We text a bit after that. I thank him for a great time, conversation eventually dies down, and I never hear from him again. And that, folks, is my short guy story.

How Not To Blow Your New Relationship

So often I come across people who put endless amounts of pressure on themselves to find a relationship but when they do it’s all too easy to carry that pressure into the relationship itself.

To want something so badly for so long – you could be forgiven for not knowing what to do with it now that it’s finally here.

So here is my simple guide to making a success of your new found love.

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Be Yourself.

Firstly let’s get the obvious out of the way. An age old cliche but when it comes to relationships never was a truer word spoken. Have faith that who you are is enough because if it’s not then you are with the wrong person. It really is as simple as that.

Sometimes when we meet new people it’s very easy to disguise our flaws and occasionally adopt personality traits which deep down…

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Dates 3, 4, 5, 6…

My second Tinder experience was with a guy we shall call Hoodie, because that is what he wore to our first date (in his defense, it was a nice hoodie, and we did go to a local, very very casual restaurant to watch a football game and grab some wings…so more of a first “encounter” than first “date”). Anyhow, Hoodie and I had exchanged messages via Tinder for about two weeks. I’d check Tinder every once in a while so there were some breaks in our conversation.  Eventually, he asked for my number so that our messaging would be less sporadic. We exchanged numbers and then we really started getting to know each other. I enjoyed his sense of humor. He seemed funny, smart, and quirky. Plus, he was pretty attractive. After about two weeks of texting from sunrise to sunset, he asked if we could finally meet. I agreed, and that brought us to our football-game-chicken-wing “date.” Things were a little awkward at first and it seemed like his mind was elsewhere. I asked him questions about school, his family, embarrassing stories, and so on, but I felt like I was the only one keeping the conversation going. Eventually,  I gave up and asked if he was ready to go. He paid and we headed out. He walked me to my car and we just stood there for a while, talking about the game and about how good the wings were. I couldn’t bear the awkwardness any longer so I hugged him, thanked him for a good night, got in my car, and left.

As soon as I got home, I checked my phone and saw that he had just texted me. He went on about how he had a great time, and really wanted to kiss me goodbye, but was too nervous because he didn’t know how I’d react. He said I was different from any other girl he had talked to, a “good” different, but different nonetheless. I wasn’t sure I wanted to buy his pity excuse so I just laughed it off and went on about my night. He then told me the next time he had off from work and asked if he could see me again. I figured I didn’t have much to lose, so what the hell.

Our next date was a complete flip from our first. He was noticeably more relaxed and talked a lot more than the first time we met. We shared more stories, talked about friends and family, our likes and dislikes, and so on. It all felt…right. At the end of the night, again he walked me to my car and this time, we kissed.

We’ve been on a few more dates since then. We’ve gotten to know each other pretty well and I feel that he just gets me. I learned that his last (and only) relationship was one that lasted 3 years. It’s been well over 2 years since it ended, but it’s obvious that he’s not the type to rush into things (neither am I). We try to see each other once a week, although since the semester has started we’ve both been pretty busy. Snow has also ruined some plans. However, I’d say we have done a pretty good job at making an effort to see each other. This has been going on for about two months, so I don’t want to rush anything or jinx it but all I can say is: so far, so good. He has done sweet things like brought my favorite candy to our third date, given me one of his shirts because I liked the funny logo it had on it, and so on. Whatever this is, I can already tell it’s something different than my relationship with Cerebral.

So I don’t want to say I’ve fully succeeded in refuting the “solely-for-hookups” theory…but again: so far, so good.