Tuesday, January 04, 2005

like the corners of my mind

I noticed that a lot of people have been working their way through my archives recently, so out of curiosity, I started looking back on some of my really old med school entries. And this little trip through Memory Lane has reminded me of one important thing:

The first two years of medical school sucked.

The consolation for those of you currently suffering through the first half of your medical education is that it does get better. Seriously. Trust me. I know everyone keeps telling you that, and you're not really sure whether or not to believe them, but I think it should be clear to anyone that nothing is as painful as sitting at a desk cramming information into your swollen brain for 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Well, maybe getting your kneecaps sawed off would be more painful. But the constant studying scenario runs a close second. The first two years of med school are insular and dysfunctional and robs you of all social skills or conversation topics. Third year is better if, for no other reason, that you have reason to interact with others again. That, and you have better stories to tell. I think if anyone tried to make a comic about the first two years of med school, the comic strip would spontaneously combust due to the mind-numbing boringness of the subject matter. Because nature abhors a vacuum, and therefore would set that comic strip on FIRE.

I wish I could brag about how exciting my life is now, but I can't, really. All I know is that it's better than this.

* * *

I have to go to the our affilate community hospital tomorrow morning to give "The Baby Talk." No, not the stories of where babies come from (everyone knows that when a mommy and daddy love each other very much, the stork flies in with the baby in its beak...duh), rather a newborn care education class for new moms before they're discharged from the hospital. In this talk, I am to deal with such scintillating topics as:

  • What To Feed Baby. Otherwise entitled: No, Baby Does Not Need Strawberry Qwik Mixed Into His Bottle, Even If "He Likes It."

  • How To Carry Baby. Otherwise entitled: Do Not Put Baby Into A Baby Carrier Where The Leg Holes Are Bigger Than The Baby Itself, Because You Will Be Very Sad When Baby Slithers Out And Falls On The Floor In The Subway.

  • How To Deal With Baby Crying. Otherwise entitled: Yes, Shaking Baby Will Stop Baby From Crying. But Maybe FOREVER.

  • When To Bring Baby To The Doctor. Otherwise entitled: If You Page Me At 3am Because The Baby Is "Constipated" (read: last pooped a nice soft mound ten minutes ago), I Will Kill You.

(And before anyone accuses me of exaggerating, I have seen every single one of these scenarios played out either at my clinic or in the ER. So no joke.)

On some level, the fact that I'm giving this lecture at all is rather ironic, because while I know a good deal about Pediatrics, I know nothing of what it's like to actually have a baby living in my house. Well, I kind of remember from when my youngest sister was born, but that was a million years ago, during the tail end of the Reagan administration. And now all these new moms are supposed to go home with nothing more than their little bags of formula company propaganda and my "expert" advice. So I can talk all day about AAP guidelines and vaccination schedules and blah blah blah, but when it comes down to the real questions that these moms might have: What's it going to be like when I get home? What's it feel like to get up every two hours all night to feed the baby? How loud does a crying newborn sound in a small apartment? Will I never be able to leave the house again? All I can do is shrug, stall, and hope that they ask their mothers, because I sure as hell don't know those answers.

* * *

And on a completely unrelated topic, I think that people look at Vicks Vapo Rub like it's some magical panacea, I really do. Some days I walk out into the clinic waiting room, and the entire area reeks of Vicks. Seriously, people use it for everything. Cough, congestion, sprains, stomachache. One of my patient's moms was slathering it all over their kid's eczema. Hell, you read "The Bluest Eye," Frieda's mom made her eat Vicks Vapo Rub. I only wish it worked as well as people think. It sure would save me from seeing a lot of walk-ins.

Currently reading: "Bannock, Beans and Black Tea." At first, I wasn't sure what all the hoo-ha was about, but the more I read, the more I like Seth's work. His writing and illustration has a simple elegance that reminds me of those New Yorker comics in the 40s. Also, still working through "The Kiss" (it's not a very long book, I probably only have 20 pages more to go), but I find that instead of really reading it in depth, I'm just sort of skimming through it to see what's going to happen what happens in the end.

Also, just updated the book club page to include the books I read in November. Look for December's booklist, coming soon!

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