Ah, the innocence of medical school. This is a story from my third year of clinical clerkship, when I started rotating through the hospital wards, starting with internal medicine. I was matched to the gastrointestinal team, so I can recite the bacterial causes of bloody diarrhea to this day.
One patient taught me about ulcerative colitis...and a few other things.
You can also find this essay in my book, The Most Unfeeling Doctor in the World and Other True Tales from the Emergency Room.More info →
"Wonderful."--Greg Smith, M.D.
"Valuable."--The Ultimate Reading List for Nurses
Now an audio book on Audible or at Gumroad.
The hours are inhumane.
Thoracic surgeon: "Never stand when you can sit. Never sit when you can lie down. Never lie down when you can sleep."
Orthopedic surgery resident: "We do 72 hours on call on the weekends...but if you just accept that you'll have no life for five years, it's not so bad."
Fellow medical student: "You have to decide when you're too tired to eat, or too hungry to sleep."
The people are insane.
Fellow medical student: "Yes, Dr. Job's the surgeon who asked the nurse for a sterile towel. She handed it to him. He thanked her, tossed the towel over the resident's face, and punched him through the drape, so that his fist would stay sterile. Then Dr. Job kept on operating." Pause. "But the he's always been very nice to me."
But you literally hold someone's life in your hands.
And the one thing that nobody told me before I plunged hands-first into my first surgical rotation, the thing I had to discover for myself, was that, compared to anything else in medicine:
Every blood-spattered second of surgery
True tales from the emergency room, with a twist.
Just like Grey’s Anatomy, medicine with a little bit of sex.
And, like Fifty Shades of Grey, a tiny bit of torture.
Note: as an emergency doctor, I’m talking medicine spiced with G-rated sex. If patients wander into to the ER after sexual congress, something’s gone awry. I, personally, don’t mix sex and work. Other people may run around with whips and chains and red rooms of pain, but I’m a (cough) professional. As in, a medical professional. So please don’t think this book will get you off. Mostly, I’m writing about life in the emergency lane. I just like the title mash-up.
As for the torture, after you graduate, the infamous long hours and abusive staff mutate into different forms, especially for a female doctor. You trade up for problems. As you shall see.
Anything’s possible in the emergency room.
Come on in.
Oh, wait, that sounds bad, if there’s even a whiff of sex. How about…
Enter if you dare.
Shoot, that could be a come-on too. Never mind.
Want a snapshot of a world in free-fall? Turn the page.
That's right. You can't keep the Most Unfeeling Doctor in the World away.
Was I always such a hard-hearted lass? Of course not. I offer you some counter-examples from medical school, a time when I was so earnest and hard-working, I scraped my finger on the mannequin while practicing my digital rectal exam technique (true story).
Then I bring it into real time, swapping more short essays about the emergency room in the digital age, where Twitter co-exists with trauma and tendonitis.
If you enjoyed The Most Unfeeling Doctor in the World and Other True Tales from the Emergency Room, or even if you didn't, come on in.More info →
I have always yearned to visit Africa.
I want to watch lions prowl in their natural habitat. I want to gaze into an elephant’s eyes and witness a wise matriarch who has traversed the continent. I want to sit quietly with the silverback gorillas.
Instead, I finished medical school and residency, got married, and had kids. I dreamed of Africa, but figured it would stay a dream for another decade, until my teacher friend, Becky, said, “My school is going to South Africa. You could come.”
This is a short book of poems, mixed with occasional prose, about my travels in South Africa and Swaziland. From visiting a Mom and Baby clinic and surfing in Jeffrey’s Bay, to dissecting an impala in Moholoholo, to shopping in Swaziland, and culminating in a safari in Kruger National Park. Almost 100 percent as a tourist, instead of as a doctor. And that’s okay. As the African proverb goes, “Travel teaches how to see.”More info →