There are a lot of peculiar aspects to being in medical school. Here’s just a sampling of a few interesting ones I’ve dealt with during this past year.
As you would imagine, being in medicine exposes you to quite the realm of diseases. And although I wouldn’t totally say that I am a hypochondriac, I will for the point of this blog post. So yes, sometimes I am a hypochondriac. Since starting medical school, I have 100% believed that at one point or another I have one, two, or seven of the following:
Mitral valve prolapse
Generalized anxiety disorder
Restless leg syndrome
Psychogenic polydipsia (compulsive water drinking)
Vascularsurgeonophobia (fear of vascular surgeons)
Ungodlyhourophobia (fear of getting up at 3:15am for vascular surgery)
Highcholesterolophobia (fear of ever needing vascular surgery)
Mad cow disease (just kidding)
Thank you medical school, thank you for exposing me to all of these different ways in which our bodies can stall and begin to shut down. I’ve cried wolf so many times to my family that at this point they just give a gracious nod and tell me to go see a doctor, which of course I never do. But now, thankfully, all of these aforementioned fears last only a week or so, until the symptoms (real or imaginary) subside. Except the vascular surgeon fear; I think that will stick with me until the day I die.
Pharmaceutical representatives (aka drug reps) are known for being attractive, sociable, extroverted, smooth-talking people. For example, while on surgery, a male-dominated field, I’ve noticed that the drug reps are gorgeous, flawless women that look and act like they model swimsuits on the side. Just saying, that’s what I’ve noticed. Overall, the general picture of drug reps isn’t a particular positive one; like everything though, I’m sure there are some exceptions, and someone needs to do the job.
Back to third year. Here I am, an innocent, clueless little third year tagging along with my doctor while on allergy/immunology. Apparently it’s Wednesday, and we have drug reps coming to sell us their product, and, naturally, bring us food to convince us to buy their product. A sampling of an interaction between myself and one of the [male] drug reps:
Drug rep: [peering at my name badge] Wow, what a last name – It’s BEAUTIFUL! What is your ethnicity?
Me: [warily] I’m Armenian.
Drug rep: [enthusiastically] AWESOME! That is so cool? Are you from there? Do you speak the language still? That’s like the Kardashians, right? How FUN!
Me: [exasperated by the comparison to the Kardashians] Um, no, I only speak English and a little Spanish.
Drug rep: SPANISH! GREAT! How smart of you! Now, tell me, because your name ends in I-A-N instead of Y-A-N, that means you’re from the West Coast, and not the East Coast, right?
Me: No, it sorta has to do with the area from which my ancestors immigrated.
Drug rep: Oh my bad! Well hey there, what year resident are you? Which attending do you work with?
Me: I’m a med student.
Drug rep: Just GREAT! Good for you! Well, you enjoy our lunch here; I am so glad to have met you and talked with YOU! You’re going to be an EXCELLENT doctor and I hope to see you when you come back to work here! You have a WONDERFUL DAY NOW!
At this point I realized that it must be horrendously exhausting and socially draining to be a drug rep. I’m still not sure if he was inordinately invested in me was because my attending was standing right next to me or because he was interested in me. Regardless, the Mexican food they brought was tasty. And free.
Hey, by the way, as of finishing this blog post, I am a FOURTH YEAR MEDICAL STUDENT! Yay for me. Fourth year is renowned to be one of the most laid-back and fun years, and since you are scheduling your own rotations that often have great relevance to your expected specialty, it’s just a fun year academically speaking too. Hopefully I will have the time and energy to blog more as well. And I get to get married, which is a colossal bonus.
To celebrate the end of third year and the beginning of the fourth and final year, my fiancée, Nick, took me out to Mongolian BBQ, one of my favorite cuisines. As we were looking over the menu, the server brought out a soup with a very peculiar, jelly-like consistency, and although I had indeed seen and sampled this soup before, Nick and I had a conversation somewhat along these lines (after the server had left, of course):
Me [dramatically, with despair]: Oh no. Look at this. I can’t eat this soup.
Nick: What, why?
Me [high-pitched whisper]: It looks like MUCUS. It looks like the sputum from a chronic smoker. And sputum means spit!
Nick: Leeeeeeaaaaaannnnnnna. Don’t say that. It’s just soup. And you’re the one who doesn’t mind being up to your elbows in someone’s guts while you’re operating. And the fact that watching a childbirth doesn’t bother you either – how can you not deal with this soup?
Me: I’m fine with dealing with sickness and bodily fluids as long as my food doesn’t resemble it.
Nick: Well, okay, at least you’re human then.
[five minutes later, as I am finally enjoying the slightly gelatinous soup)
Nick: How’s the mucus?
At that point I had to push the bowl away from me and call it quits. Somehow I have a stomach of steel as I watch blood spurt in vascular surgery or am called on to assist with an exploratory laporatomy for a perforated bowel. I can assist with trauma calls and perform invasive exams on patients without flinching. I can drive a suture needle through skin, give shots, and cut umbilical cords. But this soup, this soup was way too much to deal with right now. Thankfully, the rest of my meal was an A+ for both taste and consistency.
Hopefully this will provide you with a little glimpse of the mind and life of a third-now-fourth year medical student. As I look back over the different rotations of last year I realize that each has quite a large share of its own bizarre little idiosyncrancies – hopefully this upcoming year will give me more time to write about these things. Something tells me I am never going to be bored while practicing medicine!