Support. I don’t think it’s possible to get through medical school without it. Call me weak, but I don’t know how anybody can survive this experience without other people in their lives. It may sound silly, but in my opinion, the two quickest ways to fail out of medical school are to A) never study, or B) not have a support system. This blog post is meant to be one big “shout out” to all the people and family who have gotten me this far through medical school. I obviously can’t mention everyone by name, but you know who you are, and you should see yourself as greatly loved and appreciated!
A recent experience reminded me of how blessed I am to have certain people in my life. It can best be boiled down to this: food poisoning is NOT fun. I’ll try my hardest to keep this anecdote from grossing you readers out, as full detail might even cause some health care professionals to cringe (and will also explain a lack of pictures in these first few paragraphs haha. don’t worry; there will be some in the end). After taking my girlfriend out to a local restaurant specializing in Thai cuisine, she quickly starting feeling very ill. I took her back to my house where she quickly developed every GI symptom (GI stands for gastrointestinal, meaning abdominal problems) in the book. I felt fine, so I thought that maybe this was just an ill timed stomach bug that decided to show itself right after the partaking of a large meal. She was really sick for about half a day, so I took care of her until she was finally able to rest. I studied at her house the next night, eating junk food and feeling just fine. No worries right?
The next Sunday morning, I woke up refreshed, still feeling just fine. I rushed off to play water polo with our newly formed intramural team, excited to try out a new sport. I made it through the entire game without any problems, feeling energized and exuberant, albeit suffering from some self-induced dehydration (duh… drink LOTS of water, even if you aren’t playing sports!). But after showering and sitting down to study some pathophysiology, I suddenly realized, to my horror, that there was a growing discomfort festering in my belly. It wasn’t too long before I was suffering the same fate as my girlfriend… every GI symptom you can imagine.
Trying to think positively, I figured that because I didn’t eat all the same food as my girlfriend, I would suffer only a few bouts of nausea, then feel fine, just in time for that evening’s softball game. Boy was I wrong. Set up by my lack of properly hydration all day long, I quickly grew severely dehydrated. Thus far in my life, I have been blessed to never have broken a bone, never had surgery, or ever experience anything truly traumatic. With that in mind, this stomach pain was probably the worst pain I have felt so far in my young life. Like I said earlier, I could go into much more detail to vividly describe what was going on, but I’ll save you that and jump ahead to the part where I was taken to the hospital because I was quickly losing control.
The Loma Linda University Medical Center Emergency Department is amazing. I still think it has one of the most confusing layouts of any ED I’ve seen, but the quality of care is great. I was shown the utmost empathy during my stay. However, this next part is pretty funny in retrospect: While the triage nurse was taking a brief history, she asked me how my pain felt on a scale of 1-10. I managed a whiny, but obviously very pained “9.” Immediately after, a pregnant woman was rushed into the ED in active labor. When she was asked what her pain was, she responded with an almost screaming, “8!” Really Ryan? Your stomach pain is worse then someone in labor?!? Haha!
So anyways, after triage, I was taken back to a small room where the resident physician (surprisingly he was my girlfriend’s neighbor!) began to work me up for food poisoning. I was given some morphine for the pain, some Zofram for the nausea, and then administered not 1, not 2, but 3 liters of saline… after which my heart rate was still in the 100’s and my BP was still only 80/40.
After waiting a little bit longer, they finally decided to let me drink some water, and let me tell you, I had NEVER been so grateful. I quickly vowed to never drink soda again (which of course I have already broken), and after downing some delicious Loma Linda grade water, I was feeling much better and so they finally had me discharged. It was an exhausting afternoon/evening.
The point of this anecdote is not to gross you out, not to advise against eating Thai food (although I won’t be eating that for a long, LONG time), and not warn you of the dangers of dehydration, though that is a valid point as well. This is one of those times when I just don’t know what I would have done if I had been alone. I’m not trying to put in some cheesy/easy plug about my girlfriend (though she is pretty awesome), but rather give an example about how the people in my life have blessed me much more than I deserve. She was there to comfort me in my sickness, take me to the hospital, clean up my house while I was resting, and just be an amazing and thoughtful person during my time of need.
In the same way as food poisoning (get ready for the following awesome/lame medical school metaphor), medical school is brutal. It pushes you to your very limits, taxes your every emotional and mental faculty, makes you wonder if you really did make the right decision before you started. Without the precious relationships I have built in my time thus far, I honestly don’t know how I would have made it to this point in my career. My family, roommate, girlfriend, friends, classmates, teachers, and most importantly God, have all been here to support me and push me through the hard times and into moments of triumph. To anyone considering medical school or trekking through it alongside me, I would urge you to never sacrifice the relationships that you treasure in exchange for a few extra points on a test or something of that nature. Without a support system, you are prone to failure. So once again, to all the people who have blessed me thus far in my journey, you know who you are, and I love you all!
And now, just for kicks and giggles, here are a couple pictures of my favorite Halloween costumes that debuted to celebrate our second post-exam weekend, completed just in time for some fun!
Yea, yea, I know I had two costumes, but there was an inside joke involved, easily explained by searching “Sax Man” in YouTube, then choosing the first video. 🙂 It was a good weekend and just what us MS-2’s needed to relax after a tough week of test taking! Med school has its fun moments all over the place!
Alas, the post exam week bliss doesn’t last forever, and now we’re at it again! This is going to be our longest, toughest stretch yet, culminating in a week long set of exams and mock boards in Neurology and Behavioral Science. I’ll try to keep you updated better during this stretch. It should be fun and go by fast as the holidays are now upon us and break is quickly approaching. Buckle up, it’s going to be a fast ride!