Friday, October 26, 2012

Eyes Wide Open!

They say that eyes are the windows to the soul and that if you look deep enough, you can see what someone is made of.  Well I can tell you that I have looked as "deep" into some one's eyes as is humanly possible and you'll never guess what I found....  The back of their eye (retina)!  I guess if the soul looks like a bunch of blood vessels fitted against a back drop of orange-ish red which all converge onto this yellow disc-like bunch of nervous tissue... then "they" are right!  I kind of imagined something a little more amazing than that, though. 

But then again, if you really stop and think about it...

Eyes are amazing!  These little gelatin filled spheres capture the visual world around us in full High Definition color, then turn it into a bunch of electrical impulses that etch-a-sketch it out in our minds.  Couple that with an ability to feel and emotionally respond rather than just "react" to what we are "seeing", and you've got something truly spectacular. We get to experience the world and all of its amazingly beautiful features through these two (well, one, if you're a pirate) perfectly engineered orbs.  The eye is not all gum drops and water falls, however.  Oh no.  It is hard to imagine that such an attractive and awe-inspiring facial organ could have a dark and disgustifying side as well.  I suppose that's true for all biological entities, but man can the eye have some nasty stuff go wrong with it.  I'm not talking casual nasty, like the stuff that accumulates on the bottom of your feet if you walk for a day in flip flops... but "I just threw up in my mouth a little" make you turn away-type nasty.  Just google pseudomonas keratitis or necrotizing scleritis and you will know what I am referring to.

We were practicing eye exams this week, if you couldn't tell by the above picture.  Well, maybe you couldn't, I guess it's really not that obvious.  I volunteered to have my right eye dilated, so as to allow for a larger viewing area for those who wished to venture a peak into my soul.  All they saw was my retina too...hmph.  I've never experienced blurry vision up until now, and I don't think I shall like to experience it again.  If you've ever had your pupil dilated, it's pretty wild.  I count myself as truly blessed to have 20/20 or better vision in both of my eyes and fully functioning light reflexes, but I digress.  I've had many experiences lately where I just kind of wake up and realize what it is I am actually doing and how amazing it is to be doing it.  Medical school is awesome!! (today. it may not be tomorrow...we have block exams coming up)

Update on my green jalapeno (truck).  It passed emissions finally!  It took me three attempts and 2 trips to the mechanic to get it to pass.  I felt like I had won an award or something because the people at the emissions testing facility applauded and congratulated me with such fanfare that I thought for sure I was going to get handed an Oscar... but alas, all I got was a bill and a crummy certificate that stated my truck was legal to operate in the state of California...wooopy.  I didn't even get to keep the certificate though. I had to send it off to AZ because that's where my car is registered.  Oh well.  Easy come easy go.  Ok, back to studying.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Knee deep in it.... or what I wouldn't do again

Here it is, week 9 of year 2 of my 4 year journey to be able to call myself Doctor... and what do I have to say for myself?  Well, I have a lot to say for myself...I'm pretty dang proud. 

I was at Safeway, buying some groceries, which is what one usually does at Safeway... or maybe I was getting some quarters so I could do laundry.  I can't recall specifically.  However, I was in post anatomy lab garb (my scrubs) and I reeked of formaldehyde.  Well, at least I thought I did.  After I was finished perusing the isles and securing whatever vittles I required, I proceeded to the check out line.  In front of me, the cashier dude, aka Mr. Smooth, was mad flirting with three young ladies.  They were laughing and smiling back at him, totally inflating his ego.  In that moment, he was a ladies man of ladies men... Mr. Big Pimpin... The tallest of these three young ladies just happens to glance behind her and she catches a glimpse of my scrubs.  She looks me up and down...  "You a nurse?" she asks.  The cashier's face changes from elation to desperation all in one instant.  "A nurse? No, I'm a doctor."  I couldn't help myself. "Ooooo, a docta'?!!"  Her face lights up and her two friends turn to get a look at me too.  "This guy's a docta'!"  she says to her friends.  I fessed up and told them I was a 2nd year medical student, but the damage was done.  The attention was no longer on the cashier.  When the girls had finished paying and left, the cashier looks at me, half grinning. "Man, you ruined my game!"  I just laughed and said, "It's all in the uniform".  "I guess I gotta get a better uniform", he says, pointing to his smock.  Not to worry, those of you who think I'm being a bit too prideful...I was immediately put back in my place when I left the store, however, and saw my faithful green jalapeno of a not so attractive little truck.... day I'll get a new car.

I'm not going to lie,  I like the looks people give when they find out that I'm a medical student.  It feels pretty good.  I think it's ok to take a little gratification from this...especially seeing as how I have pretty much sworn off a social life, good nutrition, and regular sleep for the next few years.  Would I do it again up to this point?  Heck yes I would!  Despite it's difficulty, it has been a wholly rewarding experience.  Over the summer my best friend Josh was in AZ visiting.  He had this weird swelling in his neck and I was able to use my newly acquired physical exam skills to determine that he had a couple of lymph nodes that were quite enlarged. I urged him to get it checked out when he got home.  He later found out that he has stage 3 squamous cell carcinoma of the nasopharynx.  I like to think that it was partly my influence, as well as his wife's, that convinced him to get it checked out.  He is going to be fine, by the way... its going to be a long journey, but one in which he will succeed.  It's experiences like this that validate the tiny nightmare that I signed myself up for. 

Is there anything I wouldn't do again?  Sure, I wouldn't have started out last year with the same study habits I employed during my undergrad years.  They don't work in medical school...You actually have to study!  I'm sure there are some other things that I would have done differently, but they're all just details.  So, that being said, I'll keep plowing through these weeks and months whose sum total end up with me being able to call myself "Doctor Root"... I still really like the sound of that! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Oh yeah, that's why I want to be a doctor...

What is it about summer vacations?  Here one day, gone the next, these momentary breaks from the onslaught of what we call life come with such anticipation and fanfare, only to leave us stealthily dismembered as a ninja would his victim.  Well, summer is over, and like so many summers before, I am left wondering where the H did it go? 

I'm a week into my second year of medical school, but with the Olympics in full swing, and the gelatin that is my brain after 2 months without a constant study schedule, I find myself once again struggling to get motivated.    Well, that was until today... You see, I am the owner of a jalapeno-colored Chevy S10 truckito that has so far been very reliable and trust-worthy.  That reliability has come into question over the last few weeks, however.  One thing after another!  I mean come on!  It's true when they say "when it rains, it pours"!  Brakes, radiator, rear end, vacuum leaks, check engine lights... all within 2 weeks!  Granted, most of this stuff (on the surface) is quite doable by a week end warrior mechanic such as myself, but if medical school (and my truck) have taught me anything, it's that things are never what they appear to be on the surface.  Take tonight, for example.  I set out to change the up-stream O2 sensor at the advice of a mechanic friend just to see if it would take care of the "check engine" light that came on this past weekend.  Unfortunately, it was like trying to pull Excalibur from the rock.  I mean that thing was and still is on there tighter than an extra small t shirt on a sumo wrestler.  I tried everything that I knew to get it off.  It was at that moment, covered in grease and dirt, that I realized one very key reason why I chose to go into health care.  I used to think that I enjoyed working on cars, but invariable something happens that turns a one-hour job into 3 days... I would much rather diagnose a sick person than a sick car.  PLUS, I'm in medical school.  I should not have to be dealing with mechanical failure of my little jalapeno truck!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

My Firsts

Vallejo, Vallejo, Vallejo, can't live with you...and my contract isn't up until can't live without you and your ghetto walls.  Nightly gunshots, a next door sibling rivalry to end all rivalries, and much much more.  However, Vallejo has afforded me a plethora of experiences that I tenderly call "My firsts", so I guess it's not all bad... Ok, first #1.  Because my medical school happens to reside in Vallejo, I have had plenty of significant and spectacular firsts within its city walls.  I've had the wonderful privilege of "de-clotting" a human heart.  It was from a cadaver, of course, but still a substantial experience.  Such a vital and beautiful structure, the heart. 

Second 1st.  So I've had the unique pleasure of being able to report that I had never been in an accident...until this last week.  Ok, so picture this.  It's 4pm after a long day of class.  The sun is out, the sky is clear, the birds are chirping, the music is blaring (I like to be able to feel my music, as well as hear it), it looks to have been a wonderful day.  I remember when I was able to enjoy beautiful days. I try and picture how I might have enjoyed it.  I might have gone to the park, or for a jog, or had a barbecue, had I not been in school all day. These and many more thoughts of free time forfeited....when SMASH!  Well, you could insert any variation of onomatopoeia that would describe an assault on my peaceful day dream... I had been rear-ended.  "Well that's a first", I thought....The puzzling thing was that i saw the guy behind me come to a complete stop just a few seconds before...He had stopped!  So, you imagine my confusion when "SMASH" happened.  "What the freak, bro!" was my inquisition.  All he could say was, "sorry man, took my foot off the break, and couldn't put it back in time".  "Uuuuh, that's dumb", I replied.  Luckily, my truck already had a broken butt, so this onslaught did nothing but scratch his front bumper..."GOOD!" I thought, "serves you right for being stupid".  My next thought..."call the police".  Then a feeling of "awe maaaan!" came over me.  I didn't feel like dealing with the Vallejo police department who would have taken maybe a year to respond,  So I sent the guy on his way with a stern piece of my mind...Anyway, now my neck is I should have made the guy pay for my doctor bill...oh wait, I am in medical school and am surrounded by doctors..basically free health care...yea!!  At any rate, I'm fine now, truck is no worse for the wear, and life goes on. 

Third 1st.  So, little did I know that I was living right in between two major California fault lines.  My third first involves moving and shaking, and I'm not talking no dance party.  I experienced my first 4.0 earth quake.  Let's just say it was significant enough to wake me from a deep sleep.  Scary thing is that there have been a series of smaller earthquakes in the last few weeks.  During the first one, I was at home and I mistook it for the continuation of an epic sibling rivalry that my next door neighbors seem to be hopelessly locked in.  Doors slam, voices strain, tears is epic.  I don't know why I pay for cable.  Anyway, I digress.  It wasn't a mini WWIII next door, but a short shake of the earth...then a few days later it happened again...Now I'm not one to easily scare...and I'm not scared...but, well you know. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


The shoulder, the forearm, the rear, and the belly.  What do all of these body parts have in common, you might ask?  Well I shall tell you.  These are the angry body parts of a man, a proud man who laughs at pain and makes suffering his chambermaid.  The parts of that Man's man that, for some unknown reason, were viciously perforated with none other than a malicious mechanism of murderous mal-intent.  Oh yes, such an instrument is nothing to be trifled with in the hands of the one.  As he/she looks at you, you think "I didn't sign up for this"...but then you realize that you actually did sign up for this.  In fact, you paid a fortune for it.  That unmistakeably devilish look in a first year medical student's eyes when they finally get the chance to inflict pain.  The look that says "this is going to hurt you way more than in hurts me".  Yes, I was the victim of such cruelty and masochism today.  As the needle ripped through flesh to deliver that fluid spawned from the fiery pits of hell itself (saline solution, actually very harmless and really no stinging.  I'm just being dramatic) a single tear fell from my eye as if to scream "WHY,  OH WHY ME?"  "WHAT have i DONE to deserve SUCH CRUELTY?". 

But wait, what light through yonder window breaks?  It is the East, and revenge...sweet revenge is the sun.  For, in the moment of suffering behind the recently closed door of the padded room of Injections 101, a window opens, and the shimmering light of triumph beams in ever so brightly!  For behold, my perforated parts would soon be avenged!  "My how the tables have turned", for it was my turn, and oh how sweet was that turning".  I could feel the excitement swell up inside me.  That nervous excitement, the kind you feel while going 100 mph on the freeway without getting pulled over, cuz you know it's bad but it's oh so fun (not that I've ever done that... I'm just saying).  Anyway, it was exciting.  I could feel the skin tighten as if to say "No way man!" only to give way to the exquisite sharpness that was the needle.  I removed the needle thinking that my purpose had been served and revenge was mine....only to hear, "Good job, that didn't even hurt at all."  Such painful words.  Betrayed once again, I was.

Ok, some of that may have been exaggerated a little bit,  but the concept is true.  We finally got to play with needles today!  You would be amazed at how many students had issues with needles.  Well, maybe you wouldn't if you have a problem with needles.  I guess I should say I was amazed at how many students had issues with needles.  We got through it successfully though.  13 weeks in, and I think I'm realizing just how much I've learned...and how much I still have to learn before I get to call myself a doctor.  Anyway, back to studying!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

This just in, I have a test tomorrow!!

This study break is brought to you by "Diet Dr. Pepper.  It really does taste more like regular Dr. Pepper", and Necrosis.  Are you tired of having all of that "Healthy Tissue" on your insides?  Does the fact that your organs are functioning optimally ever get you down?  Well have we got the solution for you!  Introducing the new and improved Necrosis!  This recently reformulated formulation comes in several varieties and flavors to fit your necrotic needs.  But that's not all, if you call within the next 5 minutes, we'll throw in a viral infection and suppressed immune system for only 59.99 plus shipping and handling.  Necrosis, it's what healthy tissues get when they are just plain sick and tired of being healthy!  We now return you to your regularly scheduled study time!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

It's official

It's official!! I've incorporated medical school into my dreams!  The other night I dreamt about lipids traveling in my blood stream... I dreamt I could feel them coursing through my veins after I had eaten a blueberry muffin from Costco.  It was very dramatic.  But I guess that means that I am officially in medical school.  Well that, and the fact that I have a student ID AND a white coat that say I belong here!! I am finally growing accustomed to life here I suppose. 
On another note, I officially passed my first "mid block".  Let me tell you that studying for exams...oh, and taking exams is stressful!  This is nothing like a regular college course where you have a whole semester to learn a few topics...oh no.  This is now undergrad on steroids mixed with PCP and crack!  It seems like whole semesters are crammed into a few hours of lecture.  I am surviving, however, and in addition to surviving, I'm actually learning stuff about medical things!  Professionalism blablabla.  In addition to all the medical mumbo jumbo that I've learned so far...I've also realized some things that I probably shouldn't do.  As I was taking my mid block exam and deciding whether a direct inguinal hernia would be seen at the superficial inguinal ring or the deep inguinal ring, I found myself chuckling.  "Eric, what is so funny?"  I said to myself (yes, I talk to myself sometimes). Then out of nowhere from the voice in my head explodes  "Encarnaaaaaacioooon, En- car- na -ha - ha - ha - ho - ho - cion!"  I let out one of those nasal laughs, but I made sure to cut it extremely short (so as to not disturb my fellow test taking amigos).  I was actually singing that song in my head while I was taking a test!!  I couldn't believe it.  You see, I had grown tired of studying the night before, and Nacho Libre happened to be on TV.  I promise I only watched for a little while, but at that moment I learned that I should not be watching Nacho Libre the night before a test, and I quickly diverted my thoughts to more pertinent matters, such as gluconeogenesis pathways....some people's kids...I tell ya.