Wednesday, November 26, 2008



PICU is like all the hard rotations I've had so far, but put together all at once, at 10x the speed, in a foreign language. And with more sad stories.

Remember waaaaaaaaaaay back when I posted this about not understanding medical abbreviations and jargon? Well, I look back on that post and laugh, it's so second-nature to me now. But PICU is like starting right back there. Most of the time I just either stare vapidly or, when that gets old, I nod. But I have no idea what people are talking about at least 30%, and probably more like 50% of the time.

I picked up a highly recommended book about the rotation which I will be reading in between bites of turkey. At least I get Thanksgiving off, which is good, because I need to sleep for at least 24 hours straight. I will let you know if said reading helps me understand what the #$(*& is going on in that place.

Until then, happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2008

'Round and 'Round

A random brief post about rounds... some new 3rd years have asked, so here is what to expect:

Start time: 6am
End time: 6:15am
What to know about your patients: If they have eaten, pooed, or started bleeding from any orifice
What to present about your patients: If they are still alive
How many seconds attendings usually listen to your presentation: 0 (To be fair, they are not usually present.)

Start time: 8 or 9am
End time: 11am
What to know about your patients: Medical stuff plus their birth history, growth and development history, grade in school, favorite subject, teacher's name, pets, names of pets, stuffed animal's name, symptoms expressed by stuffed animal (if present)
What to present about your patients: Significant overnight events, abnormal vitals, lab results
How many seconds attendings usually listen to your presentation: Usually to the whole thing (!), unless the attending is a cardiologist, in which case, 5

Start time: Between 10am and whenever everyone feels emotionally ready to round
End time: Depends directly on the quantity of both the patients themselves and the amount of crazy present in each individual patient
What to know about your patients
: If they still think that you are an alien and they are communicating with the reincarnation of Elvis through a transmitter in their teeth
What to present about your patients: If they fought off the 8pm dose of Haldol
How many seconds attendings usually listen to your presentation
: Often the whole thing, while nodding thoughtfully

Start time: 8am
End time: 5pm (on a short day)
What to know about your patients: Every health issue or experience that has happened to the patient and the patient's relatives or close acquaintances from when they were in the womb until now.
What to present about your patients: Any overnight event, including what time patient turned over, all vitals including trends in vitals since admission or possibly before, lab results for patient and patient's first degree relatives, or as much of this as you can get in before someone on the team interrupts you
How many seconds attendings usually listen to your presentation: They may pretend to listen for up to 60, but often not well enough to avoid asking you a series of questions which were answered in the first 60 seconds of your already given presentation

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Like a 12 step program

One day at a time. And so time has moved along, and for the most part, been good to us.

My husband had his PET scan, and it was good news. He still has enlarged nodes, though they are smaller, and none of them took up the label, so they consider the therapy a success. 6 months of chemo instead of 8, and most likely no radiation needed (thank God). I finally feel like I can breathe again.

On the bad side, chemo sucks so much. I guess I have realized how caviler we are with prescribing things for our patients, how quickly we are to dismiss them as "not too bad", when really they are pretty horrible and life-changing. To be fair, we were basically warned pretty accurately about the chemo, but there are parts of it that were downplayed to a ridiculous degree. For example, Mr. Dr. Dr. VonB had to get a central port, which they really blew off as not a big deal. In fact, the VIR (vascular interventional radiology) guys who did it didn't even prescribe pain medicines, they told him that Tylanol would be more than sufficient. What a joke! He was absolutely miserable for at least three days after that procedure, unable to sleep, unable to be comfortable, and in lots of pain. It was so much worse than his lymph node biopsy that he was using the pain medicine they'd given him for that (which he used once right after his surgery, and then had gotten by fine with Tylanol).

It's still a struggle to try to find something that doesn't make chemo so horrible. He just feels awful for 4-5 days after each treatment (and each one is getting a little worse). We keep switching around his medicines to help treat the nausea but most of them make him feel bad too. It is indecribably sucky to watch your partner suffer like this and be completely powerless to do anything.

In other news... OldMDGirl was actually right, though not about what my worst nightmare is. I found out the day after my husband's official diagnosis that I'm pregnant. It isn't that I'm not happy, it's just... nice timing, right? The first trimester was just... well, it was pretty miserable. I was worried about the baby, worried about my husband, worried about how much I was worrying (anyone else catch the study published right around that time linking maternal stress in the first trimester with schizophrenia in the child?), and oh yeah, yacking every single day while trying to continue rotations. Good. Times.

But things are better now. We got the Happy PET Scan News, the scary 1st trimester is behind me, along with the yacking, and I'm 5 short weeks from being essentially done with medical school. I took and passed Step 2, and surprisingly managed to to better than OK, which really blew my mind. I am done with my AI in three days (well, almost four, since one of those days is a call day) and it was pretty good even though I reaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllly didn't want to be working. Then I have four weeks of PICU and I'm outta there. Well, there's this crazy two week long course we all have to take in March. Oh, and I have to drive to FREAKING ATLANTA to take the Biggest Rip-Off in Existence (aka Step 2 CS) in February. But other than that... done.

And did I mention the baby is due the day after graduation? I don't care if I have to wheel myself, in labor, across the stage... I WILL ATTEND GRADUATION AND BE HANDED MY FREAKING DEGREE AND BE HOODED AND ALL THAT. This little munchkin is either going to have to be a little early, or a little late. Hear that, munchkin?

Anyway, that is a quick update of stuff here. I had actually meant to write more about the AI and what that's like, but I will have to do that another time. Here's a preview: overall, it's pretty awesome.

Until then... thanks so much for all of your thoughts, prayers and well-wishes. For those of you in graduate or medical school, keep the faith, because I am proof that even with random hideous life curve-balls, you do eventually get through it and move on.