Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In the Trenches

I don't do a very good job of reading over my past blogs. Good thing I post infrequently, because then all of my stories seem new! So, forgive me if I've told this one before.

I know that I've mentioned my amazing friends. I am blessed to have a whole host of wonderful friends, all over the country. Today's focus is on my residency friends. Each year in residency is marked by "R" and the year. Intern year is R1. Second year, R2, etc. You normally stop counting after you graduate, so for me at the R3 level. An alternate way to mark time is PGY (post graduate year). PGY is better if you're doing a fellowship, because you're not an "R" anymore, you're a Fellow (so an "F"??), so PGY is more accurate. Anyway, I bring this up because my class is crazy tight and are still counting by "R"s. We're R7s this year.

I don't know it always amazes me, but our class continues to be close. We're technically 4 years out of graduation now. Last weekend, one of our classmates got married in Hawaii. There are 12 of us (of a class of about 25) who hang out on a pretty regular basis. Of those 12, 10 of us were in Hawaii to celebrate (one of the 2 who didn't come just had a baby, the other is getting married himself in less than a month).

I was telling a non-medical friend about how going through residency creates a bond that is hard to describe. "It's kind of like going to war with these people by your side..." My friend's reply: "Is that because y'all killed a lot of people?" I admit I laughed at the morbid joke. But, I think the simile really is true. You are at your worst - and you see the worst - with these people. You laugh and cry together, you share a bunk bed together, you eat together, you support each other on a daily basis. And there are definitely those days when you look across the patient's bed at your fellow resident and think, "Truly, I couldn't have made it through the night without you."

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I'll try to not turn this into a travel blog.

I am in Argentina visiting a friend who has chosen to live here for her 3 months of unemployment. She's waiting for her credentials to clear at her new hospital in Florida. Being a true adventurer, she and her boyfriend decided to live in Argentina for in the interim. Because, heck, why not. I love her spirit.

I first met W in Kenya. She was a pediatric resident, and I was a medicine resident. We landed in Kenya the same day, on different flights, and met up to travel from Nairobi to Eldoret to work at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. It was through Indiana University's consortium that exchanges US residents with Kenyan residents. It was a fantastic experience, and it lead met to create the first Handle With Care charity event, that raised over $30,000 for the IU-Kenya Partnership.

So, W and I met and immediately realized we were separated at birth. Have you ever met someone you just clicked with? Just immediately felt like you could spend hours with them and not get sick of them? That was us. And thank GOD, since we were in freakin' Kenya and didn't know a single soul. At least it felt like our souls were old friends.

We were inseparable for that month, besides working in different wards (she in peds, me on the women's ward). In fact, everyone there assumed we were with the same residency program, since we just got along like gang busters.

Since leaving Kenya in 2006, I visited her in Providence, she visited me in California, and I visited her in Michigan. And now, here we are in Argentina together. We made a pact to travel to every continent together (except Antarctica, no desire to freeze to death). I think that's a good goal to have - every few years, head out to a new place, learn a new culture, and have a lot of fun together.

I'm grateful for so many wonderful people in my life, and W is one of those people that I can't imagine not having around. I picture us as old grandmas, walking in Instanbul together, and it makes me really happy.