Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Happy Halloween!  Here's me this past weekend as a witch doctor (easiest, most comfortable costume everrrrr).  Scrubs are clean, I promise.

Friday, October 26, 2012

How Do You Feel Today?

Do you remember this?  I definitely had a magnetic one of these in middle school that I hung on my bedroom door (with fun-tak obviously - my door was, unfortunately, not magnetic) so that I could warn my family ahead of time if their preteen daughter was feeling disgusted or exhausted or angry before they decided to knock on my door (or to not knock on my door).

Now, every single day my feeling is "awkward" - and that's not even an option on the magnetic feeling board!  I have realized that being a med student means always always feeling uncomfortable and out of place:

Awkwardly waiting outside of OR doors wondering if now is the right time to introduce yourself to the attending or the patient (note: no matter what time it is, it's definitely the wrong time).

Awkwardly running behind residents as they try and lose you (note: that is potentially only in my head that they are trying to lose me, but seriously why do they walk so fast and not ever tell you where they're going?!) - or, when a resident gets up and walks out of the room without saying a word to you, awkwardly wondering if you should follow or not (note: whichever you chose was the wrong decision).

med student?
Awkwardly walking in white pockets so full of crap that you look like a waddling penguin everywhere you go. 

Awkwardly asking patients for their permission to ask a question/wake them up/do any portion of the physical exam (even more awkward, getting turned down - "but wait, I actually really do need to know if you've pooped yet today... pretty please, I can't go back to my resident with no answer").

Or, silently and awkwardly standing behind the attending and resident and PA and nurse as they ask the patient questions and do the physical exam.

Awkwardly living life outside of the hospital and realizing you have nothing to talk about except for all the gross things you do/see in the hospital, or to complain about feeling awkward all the time.

....What else you got?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Only in Medicine

would someone say, "Oh right, you guys only work 12 hour shifts here" dripping with condescension (I almost typed condensation there, but that would be a whole different story).

Friday, October 19, 2012

Commercial Break

I interrupt my naming-origin obsession with a not-so-brief public service grammatical announcement.  Fear not, this is no treatise on your vs. you're or its vs. it's or there vs. their vs. they're.  If you don't already know when and when not to use an apostrophe, then get out of here.  Seriously.  I can't help you, you're (you are) too far gone.

This is about my true passion in life, the oxford comma (what? medicine? who's that?).  No, seriously.  There are very few things in life that I am willing to physically fight for.  The first is getting eight hours of sleep, and the second is the oxford comma.  There are many reasons for and against using it (which I've recently read on Wikipedia - check them out here if you care), but to me the only one that matters is that it removes ambiguity (ok, as Wikipedia points out, it's also possible to create ambiguity with the oxford comma, but it seems like way more often, it removes ambiguity).  In this case, I think a picture is worth 1,000 words:


End of discussion.

On another grammatical note, I feel pretty strongly about putting two spaces after each sentence.  I've recently learned that this is wrong (see this article: Space Invaders), and it comes from when we used to use typewriters and all of the letters took up the same exact amount of space, and it was harder to see where a sentence ended.  But now that that's not a problem anymore (unless there's someone out there typing in Courier, God help us all), it's outdated and silly (suppooooosedly).  But here's the thing, I STILL thing it makes a paragraph easier to read and more aesthetically pleasing.

More importantly, THIS IS THE WAY I'VE ALWAYS DONE IT.  In medicine, that is the absolutely wrong reason to do something, and you should question anyone who does something for that reason.  But with grammar, no one's health, and very little money, is at stake (seriously, no one is charging extra for more spaces, unless maybe you're sending a telegram, in which case, please rejoin us in the 21st century before we resume this conversation).

But for realsies, this is how I've alllllways done it, so it hassssss to be right.

the only difference is I'm a rebel WITH a cause. grammar.
For the record, I break grammatical rules ALL. THE. TIME.  (For examples, please see previous sentence where I typed in all caps and put a period between each word, or the previous three paragraphs which I spent talking about how I put two spaces after a sentence even though I know in my heart of hearts that it's wrong.)

But whatevah, whatevah, I do what I want.  No Slate article (aka THE MAN) is gonna hold me down.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Adventures in Nomenclature, Ob/Gyn Edition

The Apgar score.  Assessing babies.  You all have it memorized, right?  0-2 points each for newborn's color, heart rate, reflexes, tone, and respiration?  Yeah?  Ok good.

Virginia Apgar

Let me tell you how awesome (the naming of) this test is.  First of all it is named for arguably one of the coolest women ever, Virginia Apgar (more about her later).  But on top of that, the test is ALSO an acronym!  Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, Respiration.  Come on, that is cool.  It's like she was boooorn to invent this test.  So even though you all know I hate eponyms (except that now that there's a whole movement to get rid of them, I suppose I'm starting to become a little nostalgic), this one is pretty bad-ass as far as eponyms go.

tee hee, she has an upside-down baby
 So let me tell you all the things I like about Virginia.  First of all, born and raised in NJ (whatup).  Second of all, she trained under Allen Whipple (this means nothing, but I have another post about him - #makingconnections).  Third of all, she was the first woman to become a full professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.  Fourth of all, she basically made anesthesiology into a respectable field.  Fifth of all, she developed the Apgar score and pretty much invented the field of perinatology.  Sixth of all, she was a total public health advocate (a March of Dimes director and a huge promoter of the rubella vaccination and Rh testing for mothers).  Seventh of all, her glasses!!  Eighth of all, she supposedly said (although I'm having some trouble finding a legitimate source for this and I really need to start studying) that, "women are liberated from the time they leave the womb."  Duh now, but not so duh back then.

but seriously, you know you made it when you're on a stamp

non-MLA, non-peer-reviewed sources: National Library of Medicine, PBS They Made America

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Real Baby

As much as I still love being in the OR (seriously, there is nothing more awesome in the world than watching someone cut a belly, cut through some more tissue (uch, please don't ask me to name all the layers because I can't), and suddenly there's a (very large) gush of disgusting fluid and then THEY PULL A BABY OUT OF YOU), I realize these surgery-esque rotations make me revert to an infant whenever I'm not in the hospital.  [note to self, that sentence was wayyyyyy too long for anyone to follow]

I blame it on the hours that just mess up my internal clock so badly that I never know when I'm supposed to be awake or asleep or eating breakfast or dinner or studying or what.  But whatever it is, I can only fake being awake and adult and not-grumpy for so many hours.  As soon as I get home and the scrubs come off, my id immediately takes over:

The only things I truly care about once I'm home are sleeping, eating, and pooping.  Sometimes I cry for no reason at all.  I'm mean to my mom no matter how nice she's being to me ("what are you having for dinner tonight?" "WHY WOULD YOU EVEN ASK ME THAT STUPID QUESTION?").  I don't talk to anyone, I don't call my friends back (babies can't use phones!), I can't pay attention to a TV show for more than 5 minutes, I take everything personally, and I expect everyone to cater to my every need (most don't, except for the good people at

"Hi, I'm student-doctor Elena. Is it ok if I watch that baby come out of your vagina later?"

The good news is that I'm done with night float (where your hours are 7pm to 7am), and no other rotation from now on has any full overnight calls!!  Soooo... yay!