Trading places?

Ingrid, Second Year Medical Student“Cause this is thriller…Thriller night!” pulses through the electric crowd mesmerized by dancing zombies moving to the beat at the center of the dazzling stage. Lights flash, acrobats contort effortlessly and sequined white gloves wave in the air. Its Cirque du Soleil performing to Michael Jackson’s hits at the Staples Center. And I was there. Unreal.

My good friend from my class, Priya, had texted me with the unexpected news that her uncle had given her free VIP tickets to the show and asked if I wanted to come.  Did I want to come?  YES!!!  So instead of studying in my PJs on a Saturday night, we found ourselves looking for the VIP entrance amongst the beautiful people of LA.  Milling about were girls towering in 5 inch stilettos from Barneys, Balenciaga handbags with grommets to die for, and jeans so tight they probably had to starve for two days to fit into them. I thought to myself, “I’m a long way away from Loma Linda.” For several glorious hours, we were entranced. Thoughts of microbiology and pathology were miles away….

8 am, Sunday morning:  8 hours later, I am sitting at Augie’s (my favorite coffee shop) staring at the words “explosive watery diarrhea.”  I turn a few pages.  “…the adult female migrates to the perinanal area at night and lays her eggs.  The host (the human) experiences perianal pruritis (itching) at night and the eggs are deposited under the fingernails and spread from person to person…”   Ummm, I’m a long way from L.A.

Its two weeks later and the roughest set of exam of the year has passed. I never studied so hard for in-house exams in my life, and I don’t know if it will pay off. Grades have not been posted, and there is a bit of anxiety on the outcome.  A day after the aftermath, I can take the time to pause and reflect on the event of my life for the past few weeks.  Let’s see…there was the MJ concert, the superbowl, my husband’s white coat ceremony and lots and lots of studying.  It seems I have frequented every coffee shop in the local vicinity as I attempted to shove as much information about parasites, gastro-intestinal path and renal pathophysiology into my poor brain.  My sulci are saturated.  Would I rather be one of those skinny, tanned women tottering on the brink of life itself in those death-defying heels?

I weigh the options in my mind. Tempting.  But if one of their boyfriends suddenly develops cerebral edema, what diuretic should they administer?  Or maybe they get a stress ulcer from constantly worrying about which outfit to wear, do they know what to take?  Or perhaps while picking at their green salad, they accidentally ingest an egg from a pork tapeworm and develop cystercercosis, what to do?

I know.  If my husband goes down with cerebral edema, I would use mannitol. And if dental school and constant crowns take its toll and he develops a stress ulcer, I would prescribe sucralfate. Oh yeah, and in case a pesky tapeworm invades his brain, some albendazole should do it, thank you very much.

As for the shoes, I still want that.  One day, I will be able to make a trip to Barneys and pay for some Louboutins with my own hard-earned money. And as for the skinny-thing, I love food too much.  I surrender.  I’ll be content to be just plain ‘ol med-school me.  On that note, where is that Snickers bar?