Sunday, February 27, 2011

enter the multimedia

I know a lot of people these days are making "trailers" for their books (kind of like a movie trailer but...for a book) but my experience in watching these trailers is that unless you have some professional help and some reasonably high production value, these trailers look...not so good. I have no innate skill at video editing, and all my friends are the wrong kind of nerd, so no help there.

I did want to have some kind of video content leading up to the book release though, so what I came up with is this. We're going to do a web video series. It's going to be interviews (or soliloquies, depending on how adept the subject is at yammering on and on about this that and the other thing) about the medical training process. My goal is to keep these videos light and in the somewhat more humorous vein. I know everyone has their story of that first time a patient that they were taking care of died in some horrible way, but look, the last thing I want to do is post a bunch of depressing videos of heart-rending medical stories that will make everyone suicidal. I want this to be more of a feel-good collection of stories from medical school and residency, more in the funny-slash-humiliating vein. (And we all know that most humiliating stories become funny stories with enough time and distance. MOST.) I'm trying to find people to interview for this video series, but I think to start we'll just go with the easy "gets," meaning me and Joe. Here is my submission:

(Ah, yes, the freeze-frame that You Tube randomly chose is truly unfortunate. "Pull my finger!")

I was trying to find a really good story of humiliation to tell, but all that came to mind was this one, which is somewhat more in the uplifting, we're gonna make it after all vein. But let me keep thinking. I may dredge up a really good embarrassing story yet. Like the time I fell asleep in the front row of Grand Rounds and woke myself up by farting. Yes, that happened.

I'm going to post the videos here and also on the book website so that people can find them easily. My goal, though admittedly a stretch--the video itself was easy enough to film (I just did it with my iPhone) but the editing took a lot of time--is to interview a handful of people so we can get a few different perspectives. I'm just the guinea pig for this project, see--I don't just want a bunch of videos of myself. Maybe down the line we will even set up some way to take submissions, though they will have to be very carefully selected stories for patient privacy issues and of course to keep your clinical reputation relatively pristine. You know, like tell me a story about how you peed in a jar because you didn't have time to go to the bathroom on rounds. Don't tell me how you transected some guy's aorta while you were trying to take out his gallbladder.

Oh, and while you're at it, pre-order the book, will you? It would make my parents super happy.


  1. Anonymous7:50 AM

    well, I fell asleep on a stool during a lap chole, fell off, hit my head, knocked myself out and ended up with a concussion......

  2. Anonymous8:47 AM

    Love this! I'm in my surgery rotation right now, busy cutting sutures too long or too short.

  3. One of my residents on neurosurgery said that when you're cutting sutures, you should just ask ahead of time, "would you like these too long or too short?" :-)

  4. Anonymous9:04 AM

    I once dared to speak up when getting berated by the surgeon for not cutting the sutures to his exact specified length-- he kept saying to cut them to 3/8 of an inch, which, when trying to cut from the less-than-desirable location where I was standing at the table, I kept messing up. When he finally asked why I couldn't get it right, I retorted that I thought I was in fact, cutting to 3/8", but his perception of the length was off. (note to self-- never insinuate to an arrogant surgeon that he might 'overestimate length'.) Anyway, he busted out a sterile ruler to measure all the suture tails, and sure enough, 1/3 were shorter than 3/8", 1/3 exactly 3/8", and the last third a hair longer. He then asked if the medical school had any monkeys they could send over instead, because surely a lesser primate could do a better job estimating length.

  5. Knot Tellin9:16 AM

    Anonymous number 1 - you made my day!

    All I ever did was faint on my way out of the room after "observing" my first code as a student. (Basically spent my time trying to stay out of everyone's way. I think I passed out from the sheer excitement of the thing.)

  6. While I'm not a doctor or in the medical profession, I have been a patient a time or two in the hospital. In fact, after I had major surgery for a chest wall tumor (benign thankfully) over two years ago, I took notice of a lot things related to the medical profession. During my stay for a week after my surgery, my best stories have to do with the nurses that attended to me including a male nurse who came in the first day after my surgery and tried to get me to eat breakfast when I was in no way interested in eating. I remember him making comments about how delicious the food looked (bleh), and he even opened my milk and made indications of how tasty it was. Oh, then a couple of hours later, he came in to give me a shot in my stomach, so I wouldn't get any blood clots. I do want to say I had an awesome surgeon who initially told me he was confident he could do laproscope surgery but found out when he actually went in that he couldn't. He APOLOGIZED profusely to me after. I knew there was a chance it might be the hard way, and unfortunately it was but I was in no way mad at him. He had the best bedside manner of a surgeon!

  7. HAHA!!! I loved this video.

    As a side note, I did my surgery rotation at the end of the year, and by then I knew the whole "too long too short" problem. So I asked the surgeon, "Is this the right length, or would you prefer it longer or shorter?" And he said, "PREFER?? Are you implying that this is a PREFERENCE and that there is not a right and a wrong way to do it?" At that point, I suppose there isn't much else to say.

  8. Anonymous12:30 PM

    Good work.

    I recommend to you, and future storytellers, the book, "Directing the Documentary," by Michael Rabiger

    I think med students should get money—awards— finding holes like that!

    When I was an academic and computer tech tutor, I knew it would help support me when I want to teach an entire class, but I really loathed the experience of one on one tutoring, or even in groups. Now that I am a teaching assistant, I really enjoy it, and love teaching. It's the best part of my week going into tutorials, so I wonder if there's a parallel happening for your experience, where now you have more authority, respect, responsibility and power as an anesthesiologist, versus when you were a student?

  9. I had a surgical attending that used to pimp us on Bible trivia. I would have rather been yelled at for my suture cutting than not knowing who begat who!

  10. I agree. I would have failed Bible trivia.

  11. haha love this like this video and i complete agree ;)

  12. Anonymous5:50 PM

    I had an OB who pimped on metric conversions. Outside the room, the resident rehearsed me on the number of grams in a pound, centimeters in an inch, and pounds in a kilo. Sure enough, that's what I was asked.

  13. Back in the day when i took my boards, they were on paper, and in a big auditorium. and you took them with EVERYONE you had EVER met in your ENTIRE LIFE sitting next to you. When they called my name to come down to the front and pick up my test packet, I was trying to hurry, cause I was a "B" and there were a lot of people behind me, and I tripped. Spectacularly. I ended up sort of landing end over end and coming to a skidding halt underneath the auditorium chairs. I was bleeding. The entire auditorium went completely silent. Finally I yelled "I'm OK!" and everyone started laughing hysterically at me (not with me, I might add). I curtsied, got my test, assured the proctor I did not need to go to the ER, and tried not to get blood on my answer sheet. One of my friends swears that I probably did better on the test, because I was so mortified I didn't have room to be worried about my answers. I passed, so happy ending and all that. Oh, and then everyone started calling me "Grace".

  14. Anonymous6:49 PM

    love, love your voice!!

  15. Heidi1:47 AM

    I too have farted myself awake, in the library at college, in a little group of reading chairs, right across from a boy that I had a huuuuuuuuuuge crush on at the time. I pretended to be asleep until he left, which took almost 2 hours.

  16. i have a story about being called to attend to an urgent case of priapism on the ward as an intern... very out of my depth i sought urology advice then popped a needle in to decompress - the penile implant. once a patient loses the ability to verbalize that he has one in, it's time that it comes out.!

  17. It was great to hear your voice! And I loved the way you informed us you were recording in your bathroom, so deadpan, ha! Please take this as coming from a devoted fan...but I think this video is just a tad rambly. I really like the videos idea, but I think shorter and more focused is the way to go.

  18. michelle,

    love you as always, but kind of agree. i think the humor is there, but maybe if you script it a little first? (or at least jot down bullet points beforehand?) you sort of did what I do, which is ramble when I'm telling a joke and getting nervous about the punch line.

  19. Yes, next time will be shorter! Didn't realize it until I re-watched it a few times how it drags a bit.

  20. And by "a bit" I mean a lot. It will be better next time! SORRY, I'M NEW AT THIS!

  21. Anonymous4:32 PM

    I have a story too.

    When I was doing my 3rd year of MedSchool, my very first insertion of a Foley catheter was with a very very big lady. Two of my fellow classmates even had to aid me positioning the lady for the procedure.
    I set up my stuff, put on my sterile gloves and began cleaning the area. Partly because of the complexion of my patient and also of my ignorance I couldn't really identify the urethral opening at first. I looked and looked and nothing. I started getting nervous and sweaty, and then finally I saw it. I reached over for the catheter and just as I was turning again to make my first attempt at it ... my glasses slipped from my nose and landed ... exactly at the recently washed area.

    I panicked! Not only where my glasses in someone's vulva, but I could barely see anything. My two friends tried so hard to put on their poker faces and not laugh their asses off and finally one of them took pity on me and finished the insertion.

    Needless to say my glasses spent the next couple of hours soaking in Alkazyme solution.

  22. Betty8:55 PM

    Hi Michelle,

    Thanks for posting the video! I started following your blog about 6 years ago when I was a medical student and now I am in the dregs of residency. It's really nice to see how you have come full circle - being able to look back fondly on your medical education. I can't wait until one day I can stop saying to myself how crappy residency is and tell myself it was all worth it!
    Take care,

  23. Great post, I look forward to reading more.

  24. Anonymous11:56 AM

    I work with a lot of physicians and professors and one of the common non-verbals that I catch (and I noticed on your video) is a particular pattern of slowly closing your eyes as you think carefully about how to word something. To some people this is a quirk, some will find it distracting and some people interpret it as condescension. You should ask people close to you if you do this all of the time or if you only do it on camera. I tend to notice it because I have 2 members of my family with Asbergers Syndrome and they do this frequently (to an extreme) as a sort of coping mechanism.

  25. Love the video, can't wait for the next one!

  26. Anonymous5:27 AM

    you'd be so pretty if you got your teeth fixed.

  27. it was excellent and very informative.
    as a first time visitor to your blog I am very impressed.
    thank you :)