Saturday night was not a good night at work. It wasn’t a particularly busy night full of consults and pages with questions (yes, doctors still use pagers). But in the ICU, there was a young man struggling to survive. And in the middle of the night, his struggle ended after 45 minutes of CPR and ACLS resuscitation.
I’ve been to many a code blue in my career thus far, short though it may be. This code didn’t feel any different to me than any other. The patient had adequate IV access, so my surgical capabilities weren’t needed, but I stayed around to help with chest compressions and offer support for the other doctor as well as the nurses and techs who were in the room. Nothing struck me as unusual about this code… until the patient’s parents showed up, at which point, the code became traumatic for me as well. There’s something about having family present that make the situation that much more real and human. I was the one, in the end, doing chest compressions when the patient’s mother asked that we stop. In that moment, I started to softly cry, and then I did what we always do… I grabbed a stethoscope.
There’s a ritual we perform as physicians when a patient dies. In our increasingly high-tech, low touch profession, we pull out our very low-tech stethoscope, place it on the patient’s chest, and listen for a heart beat. Sixty seconds… one full minute. It simultaneously feels like an eternity and also almost as if time stops.
The strange thing is that in today’s modern medical world, we still perform this ritual to confirm death’s arrival, when we know all to well that the heartbeat will be absent when we listen. Clearly in less sophisticated times this ritual was necessary, but our high-tech medicine and the long period of time spent resuscitating the patient to no avail already tells us what to expect… or rather what to not expect.
One of our chaplains during residency meets with us once a month to talk about ethics and the tough times we have during our training. One of the questions he asks is how we deal with the pain, sadness, and tragedy that were all too common in hospitals. Perhaps that’s the purpose of this ritual. Maybe we listen in order to give us pause, allow ourselves to regroup and compose ourselves, and give us a moment to “deal”. That one minute in time may be our chance as physicians to take one big huge collective breath. Just maybe…
For those who know me, to say that I’m a Democrat and an Obama supporter is pretty much a given. I never took kindly to former governor Romney while he was in charge in Massachusetts; to say I agree with his policies or the current Republican party platform would merely be lies, fairytales, and fallacies. And I could sit here and say that a man who pays less in taxes than his secretary and shuttles money to off-shore bank accounts to avoid paying more in taxes has no right to speak.
But I’ll attempt to be bipartisan on this one (I’ve been trying that lately, although admittedly it’s not going so well) and give Romney the benefit of the doubt. Well, sort of. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if President Obama had said the same thing, I would be equally offended. And here’s why.
Saying that the 47% of Americans who don’t pay income taxes are essentially freeloaders is, in fact, insulting and inaccurate no matter who says it. How can I make that claim you ask? Simple – I used to be a member of the 47% until last year. And while I was a member of the 47%, I was doing anything but mooching off the federal government. Those years were filled with studying in college and medical school and working part-time jobs in retail to pay for books, clothes, and a social life. Those years also included my first three years of surgical residency – with 80 hour work weeks and the at least weekly 24+ hr shift – while paying back student loans obtained to fund my medical school education.
It becomes more offensive when I think about those words in relation to my parents – two people who worked tirelessly to put food on the table and put three kids through college. Two people who came to this country with their parents in order to make a better life for themselves and their children. They were the typical mom and dad team – trying to make ends meet. My parents never made enough money to pay income taxes after all of the credits and deductions – they also never needed food stamps or unemployment benefits or welfare. My parents were small-scale economic contributors – through the staff that worked for them, providing health insurance benefits, purchasing goods from local companies in the Pittsburgh area. They also paid business taxes, property taxes, payroll taxes, state and local taxes, etc. My parents were solidly in the 47%, constantly working harder to make more money to provide their children with opportunities they didn’t have.
In fact, the great majority of Americans out there will belong to the 47% at least once in their lives. Most Americans have worked a minimum wage job as a teenager (or as an adult for that matter) that doesn’t make enough money to qualify for income tax payments. Or when they become elderly and no longer work, and therefore they don’t pay income taxes. Many Americans out there will at some point lose their job and file for unemployment, and not pay income taxes because their employer or the economy has decided they are no longer necessary.
But the former governor forgets one extremely important detail about why 47% of the nation does not pay income taxes (yes, I’m going to break my non-partisan rule for a second), because many of the tax breaks and credits that Americans qualify for were enacted by a string of Republican presidents… Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush (both of them). The idea behind those tax breaks and credits? Better to give people money back that they’ve already earned rather than a free hand out – and then insult them for getting that money back. And where do the majority of the people in the 47% live? In states the consistently vote for Republican (the “red” states) and happen to be some of the poorest in the country.
Not surprisingly, I’m not the only one who was offended. The traditional and social media certainly hasnt the let issue drop, and people on both sides of the political aisle have condemned the remarks. But to some people of the general public, the words were downright insulting. CNN conducted an unscientific poll on Facebook asking people to respond to the former governor’s comments. Interestingly they heard from both Romney supporters and Obama supporters; from those in the 47% and others in the 53%.
I wont detail everything they said, but one member of the 53% said “I find his remarks to be un-American, shocking and insulting. Elitism, silver-spoon arrogance and outright divisive statements, with undertones of racism, cannot be attributes of an American president.” I think that about sums it up.
It’s a friday night, and I’m slightly buzzed from having gone out with a friend but too old and too out of the social loop to ACTUALLY go out. And I’m listening to my “thoughtful” list on my iPod. Which is basically a bunch of ballads and generally…thoughtful…songs.
And I wonder why it’s all so complicated sometimes. And how it got to be this way. And if it’s all worth it in the end. I wonder if I’m really happy or if I’m fooling myself into thinking I am, in order to perpetuate something I know I want but am not sure I actually have.
no, I’ve not gone crazy…I’m just rambling so dont read anything into this post.
I’m not always like this. I’m not always so put together. I’m not always seemless. I’m not always strong and independent. I’m not always flawless. I’m not always meticulous. Things dont always bounce off of me. I’m not always this confident and calm. I’m not always this rational. I’m not always this compassionate and caring. I’m not always this unrelenting. I’m not always above it all.
Sometimes I fall apart. Sometimes I’m torn. Sometimes I’m weak and dependent. I am flawed. Sometimes I’m messy. Somethings things stick to me and leave a mark. Sometimes I’m unsure, irrational. Sometimes I dont care. Sometimes I want to give up. Sometimes I wanna sink to that level.
Sometimes I’m me.
I had a little freak out on Wednesday. It was the 12th. I was freaking out because for the two days prior I had accomplished nothing. I hadnt slept. I hadnt got any work done. I had the worst tension headache ever…for two days. I thought about my dad. I thought about dropping out of school. I thought about the fact that my apartment was a complete mess. I thought that my apartment mirrored my life at that moment. A mess. One giant mess. I thought about the patient I had seen earlier that day in the hospital and what a terrible history and physical that was going to turn out to be. I thought about the fact that I was going to go to bed that night alone yet again. And that I probably wouldnt be able to fall asleep. I thought about going to the gym. And then I thought about not going. I was tired, bedraggled, wanting to throw in the towel and just sleep for 2 days straight. I literally just didnt care and didnt want to do anything about it.
I’m better now.
I’m better now. On Thursday, I got some work done, I cleaned my apartment (although it’s devolved back into shit but this time it’s driving me crazy at least).
I’m better now. I had a good weekend. It wasnt terribly productive. It wasnt terribly outlandish either. It was just good.
I’m better now.
Every so often life hits us with these moments of just complete and utter nothing.
I’ve come to a great realization in the year that I’ve spent in Chicago. For all the great friends that I’ve made, I dont have anyone here that I can just open up to and cry my eyes out to. I think the whole culture of medicine has made us all so deep into our own problems that we feel we cant deal with anyone else’s or possibly unleash our problems on others.
I just miss the days when I know for sure that there are people I could call or have them come over and just sit there and spill. And as close as I’ve become to people here, I dont have that yet. And it’s frustrating, frustrating that I cant be completely vulnerable with someone and not have them throw it in my face or use it against me.
ok, so I’m in the library, two or so weeks away from our next exam. I know, I should be studying. But I just cant.
There’s been a lot going on in my life. Some of it has to do with boys which is where part of the confusion stems from. But aside from that, it’s been just a really awkward few months.
So I went home for Winter Break. Which was great. But it brought with it a lot of feelings that I dont know if I want to deal with. And they’re staying with me. I woke up this morning feeling less at terms with the loss of my dad than I’ve ever felt before. And it’s been almost 7 months. And I dont really understand it because I feel like I’ve been dealing with it fairly well. And then it’s like…I go through these periods of my life where I dont know what to do or things become overwhelming or just awkwardly confusing. And I want help with them. And the funny thing is, these arent really issues that I would even go to my dad with and yet I feel like it’s just not….fair.
My friend Steve invited me to go to church with him the other day. And I declined because I didnt really feel it was right for me to go to church harboring anger for a perceived injustice. My views of God have been shattered, and I cant just blindly accept that He has a purpose in life for everything. What, I’d like to know, was His purpose for this one? I fail to understand, and I know that it’s not necessarily for me to understand…but it would be nice to have some idea as to why bad things happen to good people. Maybe it helps other people at night to know that there’s a reason and a purpose and that good things do happen in the end… I guess I’m just questioning whether or not they do.
It’s a period of pessimism I suppose. I’m usually not like this.
And I sit here in the library with my book open in order to learn about carbon dioxide transport in the blood. And right now it seems terribly unimportant to me.
As far as boys go…that’s a whole other realm that I just dont understand. I dont even know if I could get into it, cause I dont know where to begin. Yeah, I’m going to leave it at that.
There are moments when you feel completely helpless. Like when a friend really needs help but there is nothing in your power that you can do. It sucks. And it’s then that you realize just how important and insignificant that a person can really be.
There are moments when you feel like something needs to be done, but every solution just seems to cause more problems. Like resolving broken endings or making sure there are no regrets. Only that making sure there are no regrets may cause more regrets.
There are moments when life seems to be speeding out of control, and you need to take a moment to breathe but dont for fear that things will pass you by and it will be too late.
There are moments when you sit and wonder what went wrong, what is going right, and if the latter ever encompass more than the former.
There are moments when you sit and think of all the sh*t that is happening to people all over the world, and for once, you are ashamed about the things you complain about because they seem so tiny and insignificant in comparison. And you realize how fortunate you are.
Oh, the trouble with love…Kelly Clarkson, I adore your soul.
It’s difficult to tell someone how you feel about them. Not that I’m at all in love, cause I’m just not. And as much as I’m generally an open and blunt person, when it comes to exposing vulnerabilities by telling someone how I feel about them…I have trouble doing it. I guess that’s normal, but I’m often completely able to tell someone, “I think you’re awesome” or “I hate your guts”. What makes this different? Perhaps the fear of not knowing what the other person will say? But what have I to lose….absolutely nothing except for a little pride. Yeah, I guess that’s the problem.
I think it’s that time of the month again for me to have MMS, also known as Male Mood Syndrome, the male version of PMS. I can just feel that my emotions are just not balanced right now. Yeah, I’m sure you wanted to know.
The demons in my life have a way of rearing their ugly heads at the least opportune times. By demons, I mean people who we run into that we really dont want to speak to, until we are actually speaking to them and we remember why we liked them so much in the first place. I’m not going to elaborate, most of you know who I’m talking about anyway. I’m just pissed that it happened, and I think it’s contributing to the MMS. More important, I’m content knowing that I may very well never talk to this demon again, meaning that on some level, I’ve come to terms with ending any connection. Perhaps that wont be necessary, but only time will tell.
I dont really know if that made sense. Brilliant…
Songs of the moment: Strong Enough by Sheryl Crow and Foolish Games by Jewel. Apparently I’ve grown a huge vagina and have lost my dick…
I’m a fuck up when it comes to boys. Truly, that just about says it all and I could elaborate more, but I dont feel like it. I take a perfectly good opportunity to really connect with someone and f*ck it up by “talking”. Yeah, cause that clearly works well for me. Why havent I learned that yet? Dont think, dont talk…just act. That should be the plan for 2004. Less talk, more action.
In other news, I’m giving up meat for Lent…which is becoming more difficult than it actually sounds. Or maybe it sounds impossible to you already. Meh.
I have nothing else to add to this. This was a stupid entry. Ha.
So let me start by saying…it’s WICKED cold outside. I walked from my building to lab today and almost lost the skin on my face. Arctic is a good word to describe it, frigid even. Yeah cold.
Ok, enough about that. Some updates perhaps?
I’m back in Boston after Winter Break. I had a good time at home. It was somewhat like a rollercoaster, but I still had fun. I got to see my friends, some of them I havent seen in two years, so it was nice catching up with them. It was sad knowing that this might be the last New Years that we ever spend together. Each of us will be off doing something new and interesting this time next year. It’s hard cause I’ve been friends with them for so long and I’m not ready to let them go.
I saw the movie Love Actually before break and I absolutely loved it. Here is a quote from the movie and I adore it. “But for now, let me say without hope or agenda, just because it’s Christmas (and at Christmas, you tell the truth) to me, you are perfect and my wasted heart will love you…”
So speaking of love and relationships…Mike and I arent seeing each other anymore. Can’t say I’m entirely shocked. It’s been a month since I last called him and he never returned my call. His loss. As everyone has probably already told me, I wouldnt want to be in a relationship with someone who doesnt have the courtesy to call me back. And they’re right. Do I wish that Mike and I were still talking, still together? Of course. I think it’s only natural to feel that way when you meet someone that you really like. But, things are as they are. Moving on…
When the stars have all gone out, you’ll still be burning so bright
I bought Sarah McLachlan’s new CD (among other CD’s that I got over Christmas break) and I must say that although it only has 10 songs on it, I rather enjoy it.
It’s so funny how you can enjoy the company of people you barely know. I’m struck by this everyday as I find myself in situations where I’m laughing at people, not aloud of course, who are just doing stupid things. But beyond that, it’s funny how you can meet people once or twice and have so much in common with them and genuinely like them. It’s even better when these people can understand and enjoy your random form of sarcasm and humor, and so good when they can dish it back out and you totally understand what they are saying. Love it!
So this is my last semester of undergrad. What are my feelings about this? I dont know yet. I’m sad that it’s almost over not because I’m going to miss school, but because I’m going to miss so many of the great and wonderful people that I’ve met here. I’ll be sad in the event that I leave Boston because it’s been a wonderful home for 4 years and one that I plan on returning to should I end up leaving. However, I’m ready to move on and finally learn that which matters to my future career as a physician. Mixed feelings indeed.
Alright, I think that’s good for now
I’m just going to ramble for a little while. Bear with me. Thanks.
I was cleaning out my wine glasses today when I noticed that the water was turning blue when it hit the inside of the glass. I thought this was just a little weird. Clearly something in the water was reacting to the remaining wine in the bottom of the glass. Freaked me out just a bit. Crazy Boston water.
I have some of the greatest friends in the world. I know I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably say it again. These people somehow manage to put up with my multiple mood states and dont hate me afterward. They listen to me whine and complain about some of the most mundane things. They often sit there and listen to me just talk at them when both they and I clearly know that I’m just needing to think things over out loud and dont really want their input. I’m especially grateful for the friends I have that I havent been spending very much time with yet they still want to be friends with me.
Life is scary. Seriously. I was reading TIME magazine tonight, and I’m extremely thankful that I’m still a student and will be for a quite some time longer. There’s so much out in the world that I’m just not ready for and so much I still dont know. I like to think that when my parents are ranting and raving at me that I’m better than they think and that I’m more knowledgeable about things than they could ever imagine. In some cases this is true. In other cases, it’s really not. And it scares me that I’ve lived 21 years and there are still so many things that I dont yet know. I wonder if I ever will.
If the beginnings of relationships are confusing, do things get less confusing when you are actually fully in a relationship? I feel like they wont. Maybe that’s a sign that it’s not meant to be in the first place. It’s funny that I dont give fate much credit when it comes to most aspects of life, but when it comes to meeting someone and falling in love, I feel like fate controls everything. Free will seems so important to me in everything else I do, why do I give it up so easily and just seem content to think that love is destined? It’s a comforting theory I suppose. Need to think about that one more.
I’m sick right now. This would normally just be an annoyance, but I have a concert on Saturday with my WONDERFUL Allegrettos, so I want my voice to be in great shape…and it’s not. Grr.
So I guess I need to comment more on the relationship thing (lord knows a million people will ask me about it). Mike and I are still seeing each other, in fact I just saw him on Saturday. We rented the movie High Crimes….not so much good. Mike and I are in the beginnings of…well I’m not really sure. Right now we’re just keeping it as friends. Now isnt the best time for him (since he just bought a house) and it’s a sketchy time for me too. Who knows what will come of it? Wait and see I suppose. It’s a little hard having to leave things as just friends for the time being when I would like more, but I guess I have to respect his position.
If it’s one thing I’ve learned, life isnt always fair. It sounds cliche and something I should have learned a long time ago. I did in fact learn this quite some time ago, but I think it’s something you continually relearn in life. I suppose I cant complain. I have my health (except for this damn cold), I have great friends, a loving family, a direction in life. It’s funny how we are almost never happy with what we have, always wanting more. I’ve never thought of myself as always wanting more, but it’s very clear that I want more. Hmm.
I’ve been really tired lately. I find myself sleeping less, eating less, and waking up earlier. This really isnt a great combination. I’m not sure what it’s all about. Well, part of it was nervousness/excitement about the whole Mike situation. Some of it has to do with getting sick (in fact, it’s probably a contributing factor to my illness). But that cant explain all of it. Mike asked me how I was going to survive medical school and residency without sleeping. I pretty much assumed thats how everyone else does it. I manage to function. Coffee helps…sometimes a lot. Speaking of sleep, I should prolly do that. Night night all….
I’ll be the first person to admit it…I’m a lonely and desperate man. I’m also completely willing to admit that I dont exactly put myself out on the market, and I dont go out nearly enough to find a boyfriend. So, why am I complaining?
Well for one thing, who says that I need to go out every night in order to find a boy? I think that is slightly ridiculous, although I can see how staying in hinders your chances. It’s just frustrating to think that the only way I’m going to meet a man is if I go to a club and get all up in someone’s crotch or if I go to a bar and drink myself sloppy and go home with someone. Ok, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But, is it completely impossible to meet a nice guy without having to be a whore?
All I’m looking for in life is a man who doesnt smoke, isnt completely unfortunately looking, is tall, is at least 21, and not as gay as Carson Kressley. Is that really so much to ask for? I’m really not being that picky. He doesn’t have to be a Greek god or a bodybuilder. He doesnt have to be rich or overly sophisticated. Granted, I could probably find something wrong with every person I meet, but everyone has faults including myself, and I’m willing to look past that as long as these faults arent things like…murder and robbery. I suppose I should add that I dont want to date a guy who expects me to put out on the first night.
What is with that anyway? I’m sorry, but before I let another guy do ANYTHING, I’d like to get to know him first. Is that so inconceivable? I dont understand when it became alright to have sex with people you just met. What’s to keep them around? If you’ve given them all you can offer and they dont exactly like the gift…why would they stay? Ugh, I better not continue with that line of thinking…
So yes, this is where I am. I’m whining, I know. I’ll get over it.
A forewarning…this is going to be a sentimental and emotion filled entry.
I found out that an online friend of mine died of pneumonia due to complications with AIDS this morning. How does one react to such news? I assumed that because I only knew him online that I probably wouldn’t be extremely affected by his passing. However, the more I think about him, the more I realize how much of an impact his death is having on me. For someone to die so young of such a horrible disease is surely a tragedy. I also learned later today that he told his partner to give his love to everyone he knew online. That pretty much floored me knowing that someone had thought about people he had never met while on his death bed. A remarkable person indeed…
This has made me think about the interactions I have with people everyday as well as the events of September 11th which we remembered just four days ago. Tragedy strikes all the time, we hear about it on the news, radio, television, and read about it in the newspapers. Yet, how often do we take for granted that we will see someone the next day. If you have lost someone close to you, you know that tragic events can happen without prior knowledge. It is for our own personal emotional and psychological well-being that we do not dwell on this fact and we go on living as if nothing bad ever happens. But remember next time you talk to your parents or your best friend…it doesnt take much to tell them how much they mean to you. Dont go freaking them out, but it cant hurt to reveal how you feel.
Live everyday as if it were your last. What a great phrase. How much more living should you be doing right now?
The MBTA and I are no longer friends. I used to love the T. It was my favorite mode of transportation. Then, the MBTA abandoned me in my hour of need. Let me explain.
Thursday, I waited at the Sutherland T stop as it’s close to my apartment and I waited for 30 minutes for a T. Yes, that’s a long time to wait. Of course, since everyone else waited forever and a year, there were a lot of people at each stop, which meant that the T was going to take longer than normal to get to work. Then, the T became express to Kenmore, which is past the stop I get off. But, I stayed on the T and got off at Kenmore and walked from there to work (it’s really not that far, but it was warm out…anyway).
Friday night, the MBTA tried to redeem itself when I didnt have to wait long for a T. There were a lot of people going to see the fireworks, but it was all good.
Saturday….the MBTA turns on me. I wanted to go home before going out to the movies so I could drop off my backpack and perhaps put on more deodorant because it was 9 million degrees that day and I didnt want to smell bad. So, I hop on the T at BU Central because I was again at work. The T doesnt move for about 20 minutes. Apparently, there was something wrong with the car in front. So we wait 10 minutes for the two cars to unhook. And we travel on our merry way until we get to Packard’s Corner when the driver announces that the T will be express to Boston College. So, I get off since BC is too far away for me to walk to my apartment. I wait for another car, it arrives shortly (thankfully) but is not air conditioned. I couldnt deal. I got off at Harvard Ave and noticed that I was going to be late to the movie if I continued on home. So I turned around and went back to Kenmore to AMC Fenway.
So you would think that would be end of the story. On the way home from the movie, I hop on the T and take it to Packard’s Corner where the driver again announces that the T will be express to BC. The next car arrives in about 15 minutes and I get on. Only to get off again at Washington Street and walk home because this T is also going to be express to BC. Now I ask, how many cars do they need at BC?
So just when I thought I would be fine, I hop on the T today at BU Central after being at work…again. And what happens? At Packard’s Corner, the driver announces that the T will be express to Chestnut Hill Ave. Frustration abounds.
I think my crankiness with the T wouldnt be so bad if it werent so hot outside and I hadnt been at lab for pretty much the whole weekend. I did two mitochondrial isolations this weekend and I split more cells than I care to know. It was craziness. Let’s hope it works, or I’m going to be wicked pissed that I spent so much of my weekend at work.
I’ll stop my rant there.