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Loca

Sexism is always a great topic to bring up at bars when you’re trying to seduce guys. They may act like they’re turned off by your brash opinions on feminism, who’s the latest chauvinist in Hollywood, or how it’s obviously OK for the woman to make the first move, but deep down guys love being put in their place and made to feel emasculated.

Speaking deep from the bowels of a sarcasm cavern, I am of course not serious. But in lots of ways, we as women get a double standard. It’s apparently acceptable for men to talk about “slaying bitches” and “tapping that” at a bar in front of other women, but the minute a woman tries some of the same moves, she’s titled crazy. Yes, I’m on my soapbox. Or box of tampons, as some of the aforementioned gentlemen may like to call it.

In my younger years, I of course subscribed to the latest feminist magazines, wore inflammatory shirts to public places, even participated in several protests. I won’t say any of my enthusiasm for women’s rights has died down, I am just a little more reigned in, so to speak. Being so out in the open and aggressive on issues tends to turn people off, I’ve found. A professor of mine once told me “People can scream and scream until the end of the day, but the only thing you’ll get is a hoarse voice and no one listening anymore”. Kind of made me realize it was time to approach things a little differently.

I think the best way for a female to prove she’s independent is head to a car repair shop and know what she’s talking about. Let’s face it, those places are all running on testosterone only. Certainly not neurons. So when a female walks in and asks for exactly what she wants, and knows comparable prices, she takes back the global assumption that anything running on gasoline is out of her realm of comprehension. I’ve been over a barrel a few times in some of those places, and not in a good way. Some dufus would tell me that in order for my car to continue running, I have to give him six grand and leave my car there for 10 days. What the hell?!? I have a feeling that is and has never been true, not ever. So I always used to posit the question “Will my car burst into flames if I don’t get this done?”. I’ve had some mechanics say yes. Ergo I am a great deal poorer at the hands of many of these crooks.

In short, I encourage any female to head into a mechanic’s shop with knowledge, and make sure it’s put to use.  Not because I’m a raging feminist, but because we women are smarter than men and it’s time we used our stealth tactics to avenge any wrong-doing at the hands of a man ever. To anyone. Call me loca, but I think that is just reality, not insanity.

Kiddyland

Walking around a theme park is prime time for people watching. This is almost more enjoyable than the actual theme park itself. I was astounded at how much money I spent to walk around in the abject heat of Florida’s summertime. The reprieve of occasional indoor activities was tantamount only to the glee I derived from watching other people interact.

One man shouts into his cell phone in a corner of the park, which as it turns out isn’t quite a corner but a cluster of trees within direct earshot of many children. Explitives were flying out of his mouth faster than a sunburn on a Yankee.

(A brief side-bar. I never understood why my parents adored certain theme parks more than others. I can now narrow it down to attractions in which alcohol was served.)

Parents tend to have a decreased amount of tolerance as the day wears on. In the morning, waiting in lines, people are cheerful. Laughing, talking, witty banter back and forth between family members. As the day drags on, the temperatures climb nearing the oven-like temperatures of 100 degrees or so, witty banter is thus replaced by angry comments. “Well we would have gotten in line sooner if you had remembered that Suzy was scared of snakes and would have a melt-down after that ride.” “Daddy will be right back after he goes into this special store and has a special drink that helps him tolerate mommy’s nagging.” And so on.

Ah family togetherness. It’s stressful enough to keep everyone’s lids on in the comfort of your own home, but mixing physical activity, loud noises, and the potential for tantrums, and you’ve got a full-scale tinderbox on your hands. Only the strongest survive.

As I sat back on a bench yesterday, looking up at the sun and feeling the Florida rays brown my shoulders I thought how lucky I was to take a walk through family world. Thinking about starting a family isn’t neccesarily out of the question for me. But I think I know more than ever lately that it will be far, far down the road, if not into the next county or state. There’s no rush. Especially since once you make it to Kiddyland, there’s no going back, turning around, or reverse. It’s a theme park with no exit or closing time.

I hope they serve beer.

Moving Day

Moving: something that is supposed to allow people a new lease on life (pun intended) and pave the way for some major clean-out/donations. Unless  you have a condition called PPTSD (packing post traumatic stress disorder), of which I have recently added to the long list of other mental health diagnoses I’ve accumulated over the years.

Changing spaces for me is stressful. I enjoy absolutely zero about the process, the people involved, and the heat. Always the heat. No one moves in the dead of winter. For whatever reason, moving only happens in the blazing fires of summertime, when you have the least patience and the most anger. I’m supposed to be packing today, for instance, and instead I am dubiously procrastinating, bitching on paper about how much I hate it. That is how averse I am to the idea. I’d rather complain to myself about moving than actually get started working. I blame it on my long battle with PPTSD.

Honestly, it wouldn’t be as bad if I didn’t have so much worthless crap. It’s not like I’ve accumulated nice pieces of furniture over the years. Everything in my apartment is either donated or bought at a discount. Or donated at a discount.  (On a side note, apparently I’m a cause for donation, kind of like those infomercials you see on TV about the starving kids in some god-forsaken country no one knows the name of. I am worthy of pity. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been so broke for so long. Or maybe it’s because my mom didn’t like the idea of me using a sleeping bag and cardboard box as the central elements of my living room feng shui ).

Take the stools in my kitchen for instance. My first college apartment “came with them” (aka left by a previous tenant) and they may or may not have stuck by my side through medical school. And you can be rest assured they are making the trek to residency with me too. They may be the most expensive pieces of furniture I have. Hell, I don’t think I could part with those stolen stools for anything. I came by them honestly.

Artwork? That’s a joke. I think I should have stock in Big Lots due to the amount of crappy prints I’ve garnered of theirs over the past eight years. Stuff you see in hallways in mediocre hotels. Nothing too flashy, nothing too good- always a bargain. What can I say? I’d rather have stupid prints on my walls than nothing at all. Which is probably what the décor manager at these mediocre hotel chains says when she (or he) slaps another “peaceful lake and trees” print up on the wall in front of the elevators. Give people something to take their mind off their ridiculously mediocre surroundings. Bingo! Ladies and gentlemen, my apartment.

I’ve also lived in some crazy places. Some might call them “jail cell” relics. My single apartment in Tallahassee for instance. After all my college friends flew the coop to get jobs or get more degreed, I stuck around and was on my own for the first time ever. Never having lived by myself, I figured the more frugal the better and I could save a ton of money by just taking a vow of poverty for the remainder of my time in Tally. What I happened upon was Collegewood, and anyone who has lived in Tallahassee knows that name. Directly across from the law school, these 12X12 barracks were literally walled with cinder block. I have no clue what possessed me to think living in a dungeon would be conducive to non-depressive thoughts throughout the beginning of medical school. Ironically, living surrounded by stressed-out, amped-up law students was good for my morale. First, it allowed me to seem smart when talking to them because even though I knew nothing of the subject matter I was supposed to be studying, they knew even less and second, it gave me a heads up as to the generation of litigators I would be no doubt facing in the future.  Not necessarily in that order.

I learned a lot about myself during those two years in prison. For instance, there was no central AC in the apartments, and the only form of reprieve from the 100 degree Tallahassee summer heat was a wall unit that was completely energy inefficient. My first utility bill was $200. What was the point of living a life of monk-like poverty if it cost my weight in gold to cool down the place? That was when I decided to cut off the AC during the evening hours, when it dipped to a chilly 85 degrees outside. I think I lost a lot of weight that summer, because my mom may have made some “visible ribcage for the first time since high school” references when she saw me after my boards.

The PPTSD has only gotten worse. I wish I could give some of this stuff accumulated away. It is clearly weighing me down. I am starting to actually pity the movers when, year after year, my amount of “things” increases and, year after year, I refuse to lift a finger as they struggle to load my box full of video cassettes and tapes into the truck. Then there was the year that I had to hire a one-armed mover and his sidekick. Needless to say, my PPTSD has deep roots.

In short, moving should be cathartic. Instead, it’s Satan’s time of glee. I dread sloppily throwing my stuff into garbage bags, loosely packing my plates and cups, taking all the $20 prints off the walls, and blaming the movers for anything that breaks, when it’s clearly my fault. It should be a time for self-reflection, decision making, and selfless giving to those less fortunate. Instead, I have to haggle with myself over giving away the romper I haven’t worn since junior year of high school. Back when rompers weren’t even cute. I have a disease!

I think musical genius and lyrical master Eminem said it best: “Tonight, I’m cleaning out my closet” (of course his was a metaphor for living a life of abuse at the hands of his crazy mom, but I mean it literally). It’s finally time to get down to business and throw away those old scuffed hooker stilettos that got one use at a Halloween party in 2007. Now that I think about it- even those have sentimental value. Nevermind.

Like I said, PPTSD is a real, legitimate disease, and might even make it into the DSM-22. I implore you to help anyone you know who suffers from PPTSD with their issues. The best way to treat: head to their residence, bring them something to eat, and pack up all their stuff for them. I’m telling you, as a doctor, it’s the only way. And be careful with those stools!

Yoo-Hoo

Dilapidated brown bag in hand, the Publix bagger flatly told me that they can’t all be winners. I literally laughed out loud; at him, the bag, the time (9 p.m.), the array of pathetic purchases I had made that evening (coffee, cotton balls, bread), and all of it.

You can tell a great deal about a person by what they are buying at a grocery store. For instance, the man right after me in line was buying some sort of nasal spray, a single can of Foster’s, and Triscuits (low sodium). The bro who had just finished an extremely intense work out prior to arriving at the grocery store (so intense that he had no time to either shower or put on a shirt with sleeves) was purchasing milk (2%), a frozen pizza, a Yoo-Hoo (which I thought disappeared off the face of the planet in like, 2000-they’re still around in case you were wondering), some scotch tape, and multivitamins. And a bunch of bananas.

I’d like to amend the “being able to tell a great deal about a person” bit by saying that this only applies to people in the “10 items or less” line. Mom of 16 buying groceries for what appears to be a trek across the Oregon Trail, which is actually just a week’s worth of sustenance for her clan, does not reveal anything about her personality by purchasing countless cartons of chicken nuggets. Unless, of course, she throws in the occasional Bella Sera Chardonnay (because it was on sale).

Making my way out of the store, I thought about what I left behind me and the motley crew of late night grocery enthusiasts. My own purchases were by no means anything to speak of, but if you think about it, it was just what I needed at that moment. And maybe a Yoo-Hoo was just what The Hulk needed, at that very moment.

As the paper bag containing all my items ripped in half and splayed its intriguing contents across the parking lot, I thought about what the bag boy had said. Even though he had thought he was thwarting a potentially inconvenient circumstance for me by giving me a non-dilapidated bag, mine had still ripped. Who knows-maybe if the two crappy bags had combined, together they may have made one solid, non-crappy bag. Or maybe they would have just been crappy together. At that moment, gathering my purchases up off the asphalt, I was definitely not a winner. We can’t all be.

Sir William of Ockham

Occams’s razor is an ideal that dates back to the 14th century logician William of Ockham. It is the idea that, when solving a problem, one should make as few assumptions as possible. This rule of simplicity, if you will, is applicable even to the medical realm. It is the idea that when approaching a patient with an illness, it is more likely that he or she is ailing from a myriad of common symptoms rather than one extremely rare disease. The clinical applications of such an ideal are valid, yet if you disposed of the concept of sick or well, dying or living, virus or bacteria, Occam’s razor still applies. Without a person with the pathological reason they are unwell, a patient to some is nothing more than the bacteria plaguing them. But Occam would say that the less assumed the better. Why not, then, treat the patient as you see him or her first: a human being?

Although this concept of keeping things simple may seem commonplace to some, it may be the most challenging of tasks to others. There is no glory, after all, in solving a problem that is not difficult or complex. Sometimes in all of the learning we do, we miss the most important and simple of all lessons, which is the notion that we are no different than our patients on the inside. Therefore there is no reason they (our patients) should be treated differently on the outside.

When one thinks about this idea, it might seem a little contradictory to the entire concept of medicine. Is it not more important to heal the person’s illness than to worry about the person? Would it be better in the long run to know that a physician who is unperturbed about your fears was methodical when approaching your care? Perhaps it may seem this way to an outsider. However, we are all patients at one time or another. Even the most stoic must be faced with the concept of immortality at some point. It is a frightening moment when one’s life is in another’s hands; and that is what some doctors fail to remember when making rounds on the day to day hospital or outpatient circuit. For the man or woman lying in the bed in front of you is a person, and he or she is composed of the same parts as you.  

We have come to a place in medicine in which the most human of all vocations has been found to require an inhuman amount of composition. It is an irony that somehow we have arrived here. Subsequently, it must seem especially ludicrous to be at the receiving end of this irony. To a patient receiving a life-changing diagnosis from a tersely composed physician, the very moment must seem altogether nightmarish. It is one of the most puzzling of all scenarios in medicine, one which requires the least assumptions to remedy.

Occam’s theory can be loosely translated from the Latin, “entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem” to mean “things must not be multiplied more than necessary”. In other words, do not complicate the uncomplicated. Do not allow what once may have come as second nature to be lost in years of training and expertise. Even with the honing of skills we undergo, it is quite possible to retain the human touch we as people must incur to become better doctors. Seeing a patient as more than a disease, more than a bed, and more than a “teaching opportunity” is something that is so critical to the field right now, yet is something that is hard to apply. Quite simply, it can be stated as this: see the patient as you would want yourself seen. This is the most inherent and obvious approach, with the fewest assumptions. If doctors follow this path, all of the care and medical knowledge that follows will surely not be lost. They will give the patient what he or she needs most, which quite simply consists of a human being speaking to another human being. This is the heart of medicine; this in itself is the answer to the incongruities which plague the physician-patient relationship today.

We are given a task as a future doctor that is far from easy. While learning the science and practice of the field, we must not forget the true meaning and value of what we are doing. It is an incredible gift to be chosen to heal the sick; a gift that is even frightening at times. Yet we were chosen for a reason. Regardless of where this journey takes us, we will be faced with difficult trials along the way. It is imperative that even in the face of the most difficult of moments, we remember the Razor. For it is in the face of adversity that we find our strength and even the answers to the most challenging of life’s questions. Sometimes, the answers are lying right in front of us. Yet it may be a test of strength alone to choose the simplest one.

Hex

Facebook is a blessing, and it sure as anything is a curse. I think it’s actually mostly a curse.  It has become a staple of my age group (and even the generation before mine, as I was oh-so-thrilled to see my mom’s name come across wanting to add me as a friend ). As a medical student, it is really the only way to keep tabs on what the “outsiders” are doing with their lives, as yours is in a stand still. I say facebook is a curse because until you become acutely aware of how much your peers live’s are progressing, you are really not too upset about how mundane yours is. It is until you come across “Album Three of the World’s Most Perfect Wedding” (or its equivalent) that you are totally and completely in the blissful bubble of life as a medical student. Which I think equates to no life at all.

I started thinking about the time warp of medical school last year when I went home for Thanksgiving. My best friend from childhood whom I have known for roughly 20 years, announced to me that her and her boyfriend of a year were getting engaged soon and are even looking at rings. She asked my advice on what rings I liked. I sat there with her for an hour, flipping through catalogs and websites, saying “Oh this one is nice,” and so on. The truth was that I was totally clueless as to what advice to give on picking out an engagement ring. I realized at that moment that even IF (and that is a big if, so it seems) I had that special someone in my life right now I would not be ready for picking out rings. Or flowers. Or places to live. Or compromising on last names (I have always wanted to hyphenate). Or deciding where to spend the holidays. Or any of that “rest of your life” stuff that so many of my peers have already dove head first into. It’s not that I don’t think I could ever be ready for that; I just think that my life as a 20-something has been time-warped away from me and I am so focused on only what is going on in my immediate schooling that my brain just rejects thoughts of engagement rings. Or anything ring-ish.

I’m definitely not criticizing getting married right now. If you are lucky enough to have found the person you want to spend the rest of your days with, by all means, lock that down! I’m just stating that at this point, I can’t imagine myself saying “I do”.

And so the warp continues. By the time I get out of medical school, I will have hit 26, and as women we all know, 30 is right around the corner at that point. By that time all the people that said their vows during my second year will have a soccer team of kids. I hope I at least have a dog.

inches

We are taught to start,
out-crawling.
To use our bodies to somehow
move, not gracefully as our
Elders may
but moving.
We aren’t told to RUN
before we can walk
but start small
crawl

what if we never walk we just crawl
what if we can’t fly?
but Creep by on the ground
one inch
at a time

For I am still
Crawling-
-and I may never
fly
like my Elders do
(or so it seems).
The best part about Crawling,
Though
is that it gets you
where you need
to Go.