Wednesday, April 1, 2009


As predicted! It was a long, boring day in the hospital, made much nicer by legions of friends cutting class, on lunch break, or taking time away from their real jobs to stop by and keep me company. The IV Benadryl helped, too. My mother and father spent the day in the hospital with me, and mom stayed for the rest of the week, filling my fridge with food and making everything easy.

The next day was Match Day, which is when all of the current 4th year medical students at medical schools across the country open envelopes all at the same time to find out what kind of doctor they are going to be, and where they are spending the next three to seven years of their lives. It is a sadistic institution, one among many involved in the making of an American doctor. It was an extremely emotional day for all of my fourth-year friends, and while alien diaphragmatic contractions kept me at home and away from the Agony and the Ecstasy, it was emotional for me, too. I began medical school with all of these people who will officially be "doctors" in a month and a half. Together we took our first deep breaths of formaldehyde-laden air before cutting into our cadavers. I watched all of these people flail with stethoscopes and tuning forks. For four years we've bitched and moaned together about everything that was wrong with the curriculum, our fellow students, the hospital, and the American health care system in general. And in the meantime, somehow, all these people became shockingly competent. (Well, most of them.) And I know that I've learned a lot too, yadda yadda yadda. But it's sad to be losing friends as they scatter across the country, and frustrating to feel left behind.

By the weekend, I really was feeling pretty decent, and by the beginning of the next week, it was clear that I was feeling altogether too good to not get back to work. I have had to miss two exams while flying around the country consulting with various doctors and deciding what to do, and they have to be made up at some point. Even without however many more rounds of chemotherapy and an enormous surgery, I still have the most academically intense few months of my life ahead of me as I prepare to take the national board exams in time to begin third year rotations. I am just going to have to make hay while the sun shines, and hope that the storm clouds pass quickly.

With a refrigerator stocked full of mom-cooked meals, a perfect breeze coming through my plant-filled atrium, and new tomato seedlings to check on during study breaks, in one week I slid five weeks of GI/Liver in peristalitic waves down my esophagus, across the glistening rugal folds of my gastric mucosa, past the squirting sphincter of Oddi, along my non-atretic small intestine, past the place my appendix used to be, through the shuttling haustra of my colon, and out onto a Scantron. It was a mess, but it got flushed.