I love theater. I participated in my high school’s drama club, and each year I go see a few plays and musicals in KC. There is something magical that happens on stage—human ingenuity creates dazzling sets, talented actors and actresses draw me into their worlds with wonderful performances, and beautiful music ferries me through the show. And when I was asked to come back to my high school to teach the tech crew how to operate the sound and light boards, of course I had to help.
Returning to theater gives me a chance to reflect on what lessons and parallels I can draw. Most salient to me is the process by which characters are made legible (made comprehensible) on stage, and how I make myself legible to others by playing a script that others can understand based on notions of familiarity and acceptability. For example, in the case of many members of my former high school’s drama club, they must make themselves and their lives legible in a limited range of forms to access scholarships and better education on their college essays. I play the part of a medical student; therefore, I must play it adequately by exuding confidence and competence. If I were to falter at playing this part, I would expect some derision from my peers based on previous experiences of failing at playing my roles appropriately.
The blizzard smothered the squeaky old subway as it slowly pressed toward the station. Nighttime had arrived, and the darkness was brightened only by a bit of shimmer from the ice and snow that stubbornly prevailed against any shovel. I rested against my cold, hardened seat, ready to enter this frosty wonderland with a new sense of excitement; I was going somewhere new. Comfortable in my alone-ness, I was quickly awakened from this slumber as I exited the station. I was lost in the city with every street sign covered in a white blanket that chilled me to my core.
Not long later, a shadow made itself out to be a friendly face, a fellow lost traveler. “Where’s the door?!” she shouted, her voice rising above the gusts. Traversing together, we found not only the door but also a piping hot pizza waiting for us inside; we had finally arrived. Thawed by the pepperoni and the conversations of those around me, I warmed up to folks who would become close friends—the kind that have you over for dinner and make their home your home—and experienced the deepest joy as I opened my life up to these new people.
It’s 6:45 a.m. I show up early to my shift to get reports and collect vitals on my patients before the interruption of breakfast trays and morning rounds.
The summarized information I carry with me as I approach room 209: “72-year-old woman, here for GI bleed. Colonoscopy expected tomorrow, night shift will start bowel prep. Rheumatoid arthritis. Encourage Q2 turns. 2x assist, gait belt/walker, requires assistive devices to eat. Dysphagia diet II. Q4 vitals. Uses bedside commode. Expected discharge in one day if scope is benign.”
And the undocumented background given by nightshift: “‘Mrs. RA’ is VERY particular during mealtimes. You MUST cut everything up and put her “squishy” handle on the silverware. Her straw must point to her, and the drink must be on the right side. She has failed getting through bowel prep twice—so be encouraging today. Also, she yelps a lot when you try to move her, she’ll want to refuse Q2 turns. Her daughters will come in a lot. She likes a lot of blankets. Let’s just say she’ll hit her call button a lot.”Continue reading “Choose Humanity”→
The growth I’ve experienced since starting medical school is staggering. One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed lately is my confidence. Entering into the medical profession is intimidating, to say the least. Like many others in my cohort, I struggled with imposter syndrome. Starting third year, I fell into the habit of introducing myself as “Just the medical student,” constantly apologizing for being in the way. Although there should always be a sense of humility in the way we show up to learn from others, I learned to show up for myself. I learned to ask the resident if I can throw that extra stitch when they are getting antsy and wanting to get on their way. I learned to bravely ask the attending the questions I’m ruminating on in my head. One of my recent lecturers said it perfectly, “Sometimes you gotta pull your education outta people.” Your learning experience is what you make of it; how important we are as medical students depends on us. Continue reading “Confessions of an M3”→
Wow, they really did it. Literally zero toilet paper.
Trudging into Publix Super Market on a beautiful, yet too-early morning in late March of 2020, I unrolled and tied my wrinkled black apron behind me as I looked over to the bathroom accessories aisle across Register Six. Barren. Edges and crannies of the aisle shelves I had never even seen before, now completely exposed. The coronavirus pandemic had just begun to settle upon a panicking Orlando, and it seemed that folks were convinced that this thing akin to a Walking Dead zombie apocalypse would confine them to their homes for weeks or months at a time (I guess?), so stocking up on toiletries was a scrambling priority. Brilliant. Continue reading “Shouldn’t Be”→
Genetic modification is the process of altering the DNA of an organism. A process, of selective cultivation for traits deemed to be beneficial, beautiful, robust. In the hands of harvesters, what was wild becomes commonplace; countercurrents of cuisine built upon sturdier eats and thicker meats and drought-resistant grains, passed down to become culture. Somewhere along the way, an errant hand plucked up a root —forsooth! his plan turned humble purple or white to yellow, then orange. Continue reading “A Brief Hx of Daucus Carota, As Read to the Admissions Committee”→
Now, halfway through the crux of medical school that is third year, I often sympathize with Sisyphus. I begin each week with new people, new patients, new criticisms, new stresses, new stories, new lessons, and once I’ve finally adapted…the next week beings—the stone rolls down the hill: I begin anew, and I love it (unlike Sisyphus). Continue reading “Seemingly Sisyphean”→
The profession of medicine is one bejeweled in accolades. Walk into any physician’s clinic, and brandished on the wall are diplomas, awards, and validation. This décor is both of pride in one’s accomplishments and as a subconscious drive to authenticate one’s medical capabilities.