Saturday, August 13, 2016

Breakfast of Champions

It was a slow week for me in outpatient surgery, and I'm off for the weekend, which will be the case for the next few weeks. For the next two weeks I'll be in pediatric outpatient surgery -- a sub-rotation I've been eagerly anticipating. I do not wish to pursue rank-and-file pediatrics as a specialty (though I'll probably enjoy the pediatric clerkship/rotation), but I may ultimately choose a pediatric sub specialty. The plan is still at this point to stick with pathology or diagnostic radiology, but plans often change. My dad said I can follow any specialty I want and still work for him as long as I complete either any MD program or a chemistry-, pharmacology-, radiology-,  or pathology-related PhD program. My dad doesn't even care if I complete an internship, which is required in order for an MD to become a licensed physician. Because the internship will be the most intense and demanding year of my education or career (this year is the second-most demanding and intense), I'm tempted to take my dad up on the offer of opting out of the internship, but if I get that far, what's one more year of hard labor? When the time comes, I will question my sanity in regard to doing something I didn't absolutely have to do, but I don't want to skip out on it, then decide later that it's something I really should have done. Chances are that it will be logistically more difficult if I wait until later. If I'm going to do it at all, I need to do it two years from now and get it out of the way.

Because of drops from and a single transfer to the program, the people in this institution who have nothing better to do than to play around with numerical data have recalibrated the average age in our cohort. The mean age of third-year medical school students at this institution, as of July 1, was 26.0 years rounded to the nearest month. With Matthew's and my age having been 21 years, 6 months, and 29 days on the date the statistical average was calculated, we're considerably beneath the mean, median, and mode. This is not always considered a good thing, particularly in terms of gaining matches for internships and residencies.  It is, nevertheless, what it is, and there's not a whole lot we can do about it now.

It's a bit weird being in a life-or-death profession, or even being heavily into the training for such a profession, at a young age. Some people my age aren't even close to having made it through the chug-until-you're-no-longer-conscious phase of their lives. Others are already on the payroll in life-or-death jobs and may have been for quite some time by the time they reach my age. Law enforcement personnel, fire fighters, military personnel, and registered nurses quickly come to mind as such, but there are others. Third-year med school students -- even young ones such as myself --are far from unique in regard to carrying a heavy level of responsibility at often early ages. Still, I wonder if I'm trading part of my youth in return for I'm not sure exactly what gain. The decision has been made, however, so the only logical direction to go is onward.

I'm not saying much about a situation that came up a couple of weeks ago except to say that it has been resolved in such a way that neither I nor anyone else who works here will be subjected to similar treatment -- for that matter, any treatment at all -- from the person who created a bit of havoc in a surgical suite. I'm happy. Other issues incidental to the particular situation at hand arose, but we've reached consensus in dealing with the issues.

I'm not exactly sure why I'm telling anyone what I'm about to share. It was probably brought to the forefront of my mind by the prospect of dealing with obsessive and occasionally hysterical parents for the next two weeks. In any event, I shall relate to you a story my dad loves to tell. I have no memory of the incident; I was only 10 1/2 months old when it happened. I don't think I've told it before, but if I'm turning into one of those middle-aged people who repeats the same stories ad nauseum, please let me know and I'll delete it.

On a warm day in October,  Matt, who would have been close to 10 1/2 months old, was running around the house in just his diaper for a part of the day. My mom went to change his diaper. When she peeled back the tape and pulled Matt's diaper forward, she screamed as though she had seen the Zodiac Killer. It was a Saturday, so my dad was home. He went running into Matthew's room to see what the problem might have been. My dad said my mom was practically hyperventilating as Matt lay on his changing table.

She pointed at Matthew's scrotum. "He has a ringworm on his testicle!" she shrieked. "How could this have happened? And what are we going to do?"

My dad stepped closer to have a better look. He reached out and peeled the "ringworm" off Matthew's scrotum. He held it up for closer inspection, then showed it to my mom. "This 'ringworm,' " he told her, "is a Cheerio." 
(Cheerios were Matthew's finger food of choice at the time.) My dad  flicked the Cheerio into the diaper bin. "I'd glue it into his baby book," my dad added, "but a pee-covered Cheerio might be pretty gross after a few years."

If my mom hadn't been married to a doctor and had not had multiple brothers-in-law and even a few sisters-in-law who were doctors and/or nurse practitioners, the co-pays alone for the needless doctor and hospital visits Matthew and I surely would have endured probably would have forced my parents into bankruptcy court.



  1. What the hell? How did that happen? Bwahahahaha!

    1. People usually put babies' diapers on fairly snugly, but the diapers loosen in the hour or two before a new one is put on. My guess is that Matthew was sitting in his high chair fisting Cheerios into his mouth, and one of the ones that he dropped made its way through a loose spot at the waist of his diaper. But only God really knows.

  2. Great story! Your dear mother is probably embarrassed all over again.

    1. Thanks! She probably is embarrassed, but I've found that one of the things both parents and children do best is to embarrass one another. My brother hates having the story retold as well, which is another reason I love to tell it.

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