Friday, February 27, 2015

It's alive!

Surgeons aren't necessarily pleased when their victims survive surgery in all cases.

I survived the surgery, as you may have heard if you read my twin brother Matthew's update. As far as that rainbow and pot of gold nonsense is concerned, I think they're all making every bit of it up. I don't remember one single thing about seeing any rainbows on the walls, ceiling, or anywhere else.

Regarding the rest of Matthew's post, it was most sweet and touching, and in it he revealed feelings I didn't know he had. We had our times growing up together as has probably every set of siblings since the time of Cain and Abel, but I think we've emerged from the typical childhood sibling rivalries relatively unscathed. If we're lucky enough to end up with spouses who get along with each of us and with each other, we'll be home free.

My dad is going home in the morning. If I'm able, I will move back into my upstairs bedroom. It may be up a flight of stairs, and it may be technically not quite as nice as the downstairs master suite in which I'm presently staying, but it's my room even though it's still a bit sparse and sterile and not very homey. My aunt has agreed to come and decorate it the first chance she gets, which she believes will be at some point in mid-March.

I "skyped" class today, though I ended up sleeping through most of Human Health and Disease and Immunology.  I managed to remain awake for Neurobiology. Sleeping through the earlier two classes wasn't a problem because I recorded them and went over them, and the material wasn't new to me anyway, although the professors may have taken my inability to remain awake personally. I  sat in on a few lectures on some of this quarter's classes last quarter when I had unexpected breaks, so I got a bit of a jump start on the curriculum.

Tomorrow  I will actually attend classes in the flesh. It's a shorter day - ending at 3:00 or so,  and one of the classes is "Practice of Medicine." In the practicum portion I'll probably just be observing or possibly answering the odd question or two, as I don't think the Powers That Be want to have me on my feet prodding fake patients on fake examination tables. I might fall on one of the patients and injure him or her, and then Berkeley Rep would either sue us, charge us more for their "actors' " services, or cancel their contract with us.

I haven't been able to figure out how the actors are being compensated. Surely they're not showing up on an almost daily basis to feign injury or illness out of the goodness of their hearts. It's not as though they're getting any real drugs out of the deal. I don't know if each one is paid union scale wages per hour, or of the theatre company itself is paid, or if the actors get free medical care when needed (none of them look like people who actually have medical insurance from any other source) for showing up and pretending to be fake patients at our clinic. 

I'm actually going to buy a ticket and attend one of their productions when I find out that one of our frequent flyer fake patients has a prominent role in the production. I'm going to sit somewhere very close to the front of the theatre so that the actors on the stage can see me clearly, and I intend to do everything in my power to get them to break character and laugh just as I successfully do every time I "diagnose" one of them with their pretend illnesses or injuries in "Practice of Medicine" class. It's a gift I have, apparently. God knows I'm no actress, but I can make real actors and actresses, if that's what you would call these people showing up in our fake ER and clinic, lose the ability to themselves act, if they ever indeed possessed the anility in the first place. The skills of a few of them I find a bit dubious, and wonder just how they conduct themselves on stage.

I could, in theory, drive myself to class tomorrow, as it's my left foot that has the fractures and cast, but I'm going to ride with my brother to class tomorrow  since our schedules are identical.  Despite the collective amount of time I've spent on crutches, I still feel shaky on them. I'm just as happy to have someone accompanying me from the car to the buildings and back. 

I'll spend the weekend ensuring that I didn't miss anything or fall behind. The quiet guy whose parents are from India and are doctors  -- my new, or former, running buddy; I won't be doing a whole lot of running for awhile  -- is coming over Saturday morning to study with me. He's staying to watch college basketball with Matthew and some other guys in the afternoon. 

I like seeing that my new running buddy is capable of socializing even though he's quiet. He reminds me somewhat of a young version of Dr. Kutner -- the Indian-American doctor from House who offed himself. In the TV series, it ended up after the fact that even though they all worked side by side almost every day, none of the other characters really knew Kutner. They thought they knew him, but there was a great deal to his life and to himself about which they had absolutely no clue.  Just because my new friend physically resembles and shares an ethnicity with a TV character who committed suicide is no reason for me to suspect he's at risk of offing himself, but just the same, I feel better about things if I think he has friends in our cohort.
Kal Penn, talented actor and underrated human being who happens to resemble my running buddy

Incidentally, Kal Penn, who portrayed Dr. Kutner, also played the part of   Kumar in  Harold and Kumar  movie series. His undergraduate degrees were in both theatre and sociology, and he has worked in the Obama administration as, among other positions,  Associate Director of Public Engagement. He's been a visiting professor for the University of Pennsylvania. I don't know if he's completed his program or is still working on it or has put the project on hold, but he was studying for some sort of certification in International Security at a university very near the place where I study. Perhaps I'll run into him (not literally, I hope, as he's larger than I, and I'd surely wind up on the losing end of the collision and end up with more fractured bones) some day when I venture over to the main campus. Or, more interestingly, perhaps my classmate and friend will run into him. It would be interesting if they noticed the resemblance between one another.

On Sunday both of my study groups plus Matthew's are meeting together for a session, then watching a movie together.  A bit of frivolity, or even alleged frivolity, is a necessity at times whether or not one actually enjoys it. Fortunately for me, the cleaning service will come on Monday.

Jared is visiting next weekend.

One of my professors allegedly covered one of my pet peeves while I was out. This is a mistake that might [barely] understandably have been made by a lay person, particularly one with extremely limited knowledge --  of medical terminology, as in the sort of person who might think a scapula is something you use to flip pancakes. Not everyone without a medical background would know that a scapula is one of two bones that form the back portion of the shoulders, but most intelligent people, when confronted with the term, would, if it was important, look it up rather than assuming it was synonymous with spatula.

Anyway, one of my less astute classmates asked a professor of my "Practice of Medicine" if my foot or leg had been broken or merely fractured. "Exactly what do you think a fracture is?"  the professor queried the student, who was not, incidentally, Bimbo of of the recent kleptomania/hemophilia confusion fame.

"A fracture is a crack, " the student answered with [misplaced]  confidence.

"No," the professor corrected the errant student. "A fracture is a break of the bone. A cracked bone is frequently referred to as a hairline fracture. A fracture, however, is a break."  The professor went on to review last quarter's Human Anatomy I curriculum, differentiating the types of fractures, much to the pococurantism [translation: tedium; lack of interest] of the rest of the class. 

I hope the cohort blamed the slacker and not me for the less than pertinent lecture, as I know that a fractured bone is not necessarily synonymous with a cracked one.  When one starts to add up just how much we're paying for our medical school educations, then one does the arithmetic to calculate the financial output on our parts for a mere three-minute digression in instructional time, one starts to resent those digressions just a bit. We could be learning something during that time, dammit! 

The only exception to that is if the digression is truly funny, in which case it is forgiven and is considered a necessary part of medical education. Without humor, what is medical school, or what is life, even, when you really get right down to it?

one of those things, along with running, that I took for granted but am not going to be doing much of in the immediate future


  1. Glad you came through the surgery alright! And I'm glad you are willing to teach us about fractures! Your classmates are frighteningly dim.

  2. Welcome back! After thinking about it for a moment one could make a spatula out of a scapula by sharpening an edge and attaching a handle to to the opposing edge. I am sure any mountain man would know that.

    1. If i can ever get permission from a cadaver's family, perhaps i should make a spatula from a scapula , just in the interest of science, as in to prove it could be done. i don't know if i'd personally want to eat anything prepared with that particular scapular spatula. though. There are, however, several people I'd be happy to serve food prepared with it.

  3. Glad you're back to writing! I read this yesterday, however I was on a train and unable to respond using my phone (for whatever reason).

    How long are you going to be in a cast this time?

  4. Becca, it should be seven or eight weeks in a cast, but the cast will probably be replaced with a smaller one in maybe three to four weeks, and for the last week or so I may just have to wear a boot..

    I'm counting down the days until they replace my cast because for the brief time that it's off, i can scratch my leg. There is no feeling on earth greater than scratching a limb that has been casted. i have my ways of dealing with unbearable itches, but i reserve them for the worst of itches because I really don't want either a skin ulcer or sepsis.