Sunday, October 12, 2014

I'm a fungus; you're a protozoa: 1st-quarter med school and studying

Beware the nannycam, which may be found in the moost innocuous of places.

I have a major exam this week. It's my GI block exam. I wouldn't say that I'm confident going into the exam, but I'm freaking out less than many of those around me. I've been overstudying -- certainly not in all courses, but in the tough ones at least -- since high school, so it's not a new concept to me. I've long since  mastered what some of my peers are just now starting to learn.

Because I don't actually have anything resembling a social life, I've taken up babysitting two nights a week. It doesn't go too late, as it's always either for a neighbor, professor, resident, or fellow med student. None of these people retain party animal status if they ever had it. I  only babysit Monday through Thursday, and I accept the first two jobs that are offered. I don't take money. The professors have a hard time with this, as they desire my services because I'm good, not because i'm free, but every time one of them insists on giving me money, I drop a receipt in the mail to show them they've donated it. They need the tax write-off for charitable contributions more than I do. I tell them just to make sure there is good food for me to eat, or, in one case, good juice for me to drink.

Last week when I was babysitting, my brother and his study group wanted to come over to the professor's house where I was sitting so that I could study with them. It was nice  that they wanted me even if only for my brain and not for my sparkling personality. They've figured out that I have a knack for predicting what will be on exams.  Regardless, I could not let them into anyone's house without permission from the owners even if the children were already asleep, and I would not bother the couple on their night out to seek permission. I compromised and skyped with them for forty-five minutes since the children didn't need anything except someone to listen in and ensure that they were OK. One reason I'm a highly-sought-after sitter  (my main attraction for med students and residents is that I don't charge, but that's not an issue for professors) is that I do everything by the book and don't break any rules.  Children are probably safer with me than they are with their own parents.

I've found that doctors have bizarre quirks when it comes to their children. One doctor won't let his children eat anything while thep parents are not home. They can drink, but he's paranoid about choking. He has his wife feed the kids dinner before they leave, and then tells everyone that no one is to eat. He doesn't even want me eating. The wife leaves all sorts of things for the children and me to drink, but no one eats anything. One time the older child got really hungry. I gave her milk because that was the best I could do for her. When her parents got home, she immediately got out of bed and begged for food, which they let her have because they were home. The child is in half-day kindergarten this year, but  she'll go to all-day school next year unless they decide to homeschool. I wonder how they will cope with the idea of their child eating solid food out of their presence. Perhaps they'll send her to school with an all-liquid lunch.

A resident doctor for whom I babysat would't allow me to use any heat source in her absence. She had dinner prepared for me and for the two-year-old when I got there, but told me not to heat up anything for the child or even for myself while she was gone. She wouldn't even allow me to use the microwave in her absence. She popped my popcorn for me before se left. She had plenty of snacks that didn't need heating, but absolutely nothing could be heated. I'm not sure if she thought the child or I might get burned, or if she was worried that I would, in my incompetence, torch the place.

This one's slightly less weird, but the wife of another doctor put butcher paper over windows where the blinds don't quite meet the edges of the windows in the living room and kitchen  so that no prospective intruder would peek through any cracks and see that the child was alone with a teenaged babysitter. They live in a gated community in an otherwise nice neighborhood, and their house is alarmed. They say they've never had an intruder before. I suppose they're just paranoid. The professor offered to pay my brother if he would come with me. If I sit for them again, I'll ask Matthew if he wants to come along and make a few bucks by being a bodyguard while he studies. They have really good food for sitters, so Matthew will probably accept. I think it's a bit of overkill, but to each his own.

I operate under the assumption that every house in which I sit has a nanny cam and conduct myself accordingly. So far I've been asked back at pretty much every place I've sat (again, it's a slightly low threshold since I charge nothing), so they must not be unhappy with what they've seen in their nanny cams. One mother wanted to fire her child's piano teacher and hire me to teach the child. I have a degree in piano performance, but I had to draw the line no matter who the lady's husband is. I can part with a few hours a week for babysitting but I cannot cammit to a regular weekly  piano-teaching gig. If I needed the money, I might feel different, but I don't need the money.

One of my professors offered me a 4-week paying gig for next summer. It doesn't pay all that well, but it's job experience that i could probably use.  He works for one month as a summer camp physician, and he's allowed to bring his own assistant. the camp is on the east coast. The camp will pay for my flights. I'll  ave a private room when I'm not on call overnight with sick campers. The main benfit is the "job experience" and the future reference that I'll be able to use. Face it: the job itself sucks, but one must suck certain things up in order to ensure a secure future. It's in June.. I'll have three weeks off before and seven weeks afterward, so I'll have sufficient time to be a vegetable. My primary reservation to accepting the position is that, because it's in a summer camp setting, the kids will probably be forced to sing that godawful song about "I love the mountains, I love the rolling hills, boom de ada," etc.  I hate that song with a vengeance,. Just thinking about it practically causes me to break out in hives.

the world's worst camp song


  1. Wow! And I thought I was strict, or weird as a parent.

    Its very thoughtful of you to do the sitting for free, or to donate the $. Now if you came to my house to sit, I'd let you eat all you wanted with our windows open and cookies in the oven;)

  2. i would show up in a heartbeat, Heather!

  3. Curse you Alexis! That song was one I had managed to erase from my adolescent memory bank. Now I have what our family calls " song pollution" of Dum de day, dum de dah etc. Grrrr!

  4. Wow... what weird parents your clients are! Nice of you to babysit for free, though, and I imagine if you're working for med students and doctors, they will end up being valuable connections in the future.

    Regarding the camp job, don't be so quick to knock it. I worked at a Presbyterian church camp for two summers and it ended up being one of the best experiences of my life. I was nervous about taking the job because I'm not a "churchy" person, but I ended up with some lifelong friends. And if the camp has a doctor around, it's probably a very nice place. I had to live in a platform tent for the two summers I worked at a camp!