Saturday, October 17, 2009

Weekend Off

This is my first weekend off -- and in town -- since April 25. Holy cow. To be honest, the only reason I didn't sign up for a moonlighting shift was because I had 50/50 planned on going home to Chicago to see my parents and sister. I opted to stay back because I've got a presentation, a grant and a research proposal due in a week and a half.

Wow, April 25. That's so sad. Half of those weekends I was working for my fellowship, but the other half was moonlighting. I don't think people fully understand medical education. You work like a dog in med school to get good grades, learn the material and get to the residency you want. Then, residency is (at first) a lot of overnight call working 24-30 hours at a stretch. When you get to be in your final year of residency, you have less call and more consults/clinics - that means more 8a-6p type hours. So, you start moonlighting. Working extra clinic shifts at night, covering for attendings to make extra cash. At first, it's not a big deal, because you're so USED to working all the time. Now that you have free time, it's easy to give it up for some extra money, because you're not used to having the free time.

Then it's a vicious cycle: you get used to having the extra money, so you can't stop moonlighting, but you're so tired you want to stop, but if you stop you can't pay the new car payment or go visit your folks, etc. You establish a new income for yourself that you can't let go.

Well, I'm taking the weekend off. I'm nearly done with all of my work, and I'm going to have a day filled with no medical stuff tomorrow. I'm going for a long run in the morning. I'm going to enjoy a cup of coffee with my husband. I'm going to church for the first time in a loooong time. I'm going to look for a new satchel for work. I might even go to a cafe and read a book for fun. Crazy!!

I'm getting more and more of the mindset that life is for living. Not for working. If I never see the pyramids in Egypt because I didn't want to work X number of extra shifts, then so be it. I'll enjoy my friends and family right where I am. Life is too short to be living for tomorrow. Time to live for today.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

One Phone Call

On Friday, I had Hepatitis Clinic. I love that clinic. I'm the only fellow that loves that clinic. I'm not sure why it is so hated by the GI and ID fellows alike. I only know that I find the patients interesting, the disease fascinating and the attendings knowledgeable and fun. Most of them.

I had one patient whose wife kept calling his cell phone during our appointment. He kept answering and telling her he'd call her back when we were done. From what I gathered a) she was supposed to come to the appointment with him but couldn't because of some other family situation; b) she was going to be coming to pick him up when he was done; c) she was afraid he was going to die.

Now that last statement is humorous because people don't die of Hepatitis C when they've had it for 20+ years. Death from Hepatitis C comes on slowly as the liver starts to fail. I'm not sure why she thought he was going to die, but she was very concerned about him. On her last call, I took the phone and told her that I would have more information for her after our visit, so could she please wait and we'd call her back.

After we were done and the attending had concurred with my plan, I asked the patient if I could call his wife back. I spoke with her for about 6 minutes. She had a lot of questions, mostly not understanding the chronic nature of Hep C. I took my time and explained things to her, and she was very grateful.

As I walked the patient out to the front desk where he could check out, he said, "You know, thank you for calling my wife. A lot of doctors don't like talking to the family, so it means a lot that you called her. I appreciate that." I remembered back to when my mom had my grandma's surgeon call me regarding her operation and how everything went. How much it meant to me and to my family that he took the time. I said he was quite welcome, and that I was looking forward to meeting her at this next appointment.

It's the little things - one phone call - that can mean so much to our patients.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New Patient and Correction

During my moonlighting today, one of my patients was a Cambodian refugee. I'm not sure when he came to the US and under what circumstances. He tried to commit suicide some time back, but it didn't work. He's terribly nice, and he currently has an infection that he'll recover from. I've seen him once before, actually, several months ago. I don't remember why.

As I sat with his chart, I didn't really think about his infectious issues. Instead, I kept wondering what he saw in Cambodia. What horrors did he experience? What was is like right before he came to the US? Did he come here first and then seek asylum, or did he try to get it prior to leaving his homeland? Was that his family that just walked out of his room? Did they come with him? Was he scared when he arrived here? Did he fear deportation? What kind of adjustment period did he go through? What lead him to eventually try to kill himself? Is he glad he failed?

So many questions for this soft spoken man. None of them relevant to his current infection, so none of them were asked. I mostly hoped and prayed that he was glad to be alive, and that whatever atrocious acts he saw and experienced were outweighed by the love he gets from his family and friends.

Correction: in my state of overwhelming gratitude (and in the confusion of too many initials) I left out an amazing friend. JS: Where to start! From an random roommate a true lifesaver. Thank you for your support.

Friday, October 2, 2009


I'm feeling very emotional today. Not like I need a box of Kleenex or anything. Just overwhelmed by the wonderful people in my life.

I'd like to take a minute to thank some wonderful people (who may or may not read this blog, but that's beside the point):

AL: You are my glue. Seriously. Doesn't matter how far apart we are. Glue.

MW: Thank you for your wonderful blog which I have just stumbled upon. I still regret that we didn't spend more time together in DC.

JL: You're my rock in LA. Thank you for being there. Oh, I love the lungs, too. Remember that.

LR: My other LA rock. Thank you for trusting me and for being so trustworthy. We'll hike again soon.

RM: Our time at G'town went so fast. Thank you for being a great listener.

JB-C: Leaving stupid voicemails to each other will never get old. No matter how long it's been, when we talk it seems like we never left.

My sibs: You all rock. Thank you for making me a better (and funnier) person. Thank you for loving me through everything, even when I didn't deserve it. Thank you for keeping me humble. Thank you for giving me so much more than I could ever give back.

Remember to tell the people you love how much they mean to you. It'll make their day (and probably their week).