Thursday, March 29, 2007

Adjust It

After two weeks of clerkship, I thought that I had made a pretty good transition to the early waking schedule. I was wrong.

On 'Monday morning', I woke up and noted that it was awfully bright outside. Oh no! I'd slept in! I hurriedly put on my glasses, rolled out of bed, and looked at the clock. 12:15.. A.M.. Just after midnight. Okay, so I guess that it wasn't that bright outside. I went back to sleep.

Wednesday morning, something similar. My phone alarm went off, and I got up out of bed, turned it off, and collapsed back on the bed, to wait for my clock radio to go off a minute or two later. As I lay there, I thought, this is good, I managed to sleep soundly since 11 p.m., without waking up at all, so I got a full six hours of sleep. That was an improvement over previous nights. But, I was still quite tired. Very tired. Oh well, gotta live with it. Get up and hit the shower. Why hasn't my clock radio gone off yet? I looked at the time. 11:15 p.m.. Tuesday. I had slept for 15 minutes. The phone alarm turned out to have been the low battery warning. I went back to sleep.

Tomorrow, I get to sleep in, since we will start rounds late, at 7:30.. Maybe I can pop by the pulm rounds at 7, just for fun. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tied Down

I went tie shopping over the weekend. I basically had four ties in total, and after one week of clerkship, it was pretty clear that I needed to expand that number to add some variability to my wardrobe.

First, I hit all the 'best' stores in town, and boy, was I disappointed. This town is full of ties meant to be loud and make you stand out in an oil-business crowd. To top it off, the salespeople all looked at me with suspicion; I suppose that I look more like a shoplifter than a med student. Anyways, I then backtracked to the cheaper places like The Bay, and found a couple of ties that did the trick.

That's a lot of effort for an outgoing fashion. Ties are losing popularity in healthcare these days, as they tend to help spread infections. However, they haven't been banned outright here yet, and the patients and preceptors still expect you to wear them, to meet society's standards of professional dress. Oh well, it just means more money for the dry cleaners.

In unrelated news, I have managed to acclimatize my body to getting to work by 6:15. Unfortunately, I've overdone it a bit, and now I'm waking up on my own before 4...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lack of Intellectual Growth

Skinny Talls goes on elective last summer. Picture an OR, with a surgeon performing a laproscopic cholecystectomy; he uses his instruments to indicate the gall bladder:

Surgeon: "What am I holding?"
Skinny Talls: "A CAMERA!!!"
Surgeon: "Uhh... okay...? (Thinks to self: OMG, how dumb is this guy?)"

Today, Skinny Talls, on elective, assists in a VATS procedure. A full year of medical education has passed:

Surgeon: "What are *you* holding?"
Skinny Talls: "A CAMERA!!!"
Surgeon: "Uhh... okay...?"

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Waking Life

I've made it three days into clerkship. It has required some adjustments to my schedule. For the past few weeks, I'd generally been going to bed somewhere between 2 and 5 in the morning. This week, I've been getting up at 4:45, to try make it onto the wards at 6:15.

That said, it hasn't been difficult, as the work is interesting, and pretty relaxing. Hmm, what can I say about things...

I have been known to be jealous of people who get to retract. "He/She's probably in the OR right now, holding a retractor!" was one of the phrases I used most often last summer, always accompanied with the voice and face of pure envy. Well, now *I'm* the one who's doing the retracting, people, and let me tell you, retractors come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, including 196 cm. Okay, retraction isn't the only fun I've had; I put in a VATS port on Monday, from incision to insertion, and used a stapler for the first time yesterday.

Anyways, how is it? There is a mix of apprehension and enjoyment inside me. On the one had, it's clear that I'm grossly under-prepared for this. On the other hand, it looks like it will be a wild ride.

The Trashcan Sinatras wrote this about clerkship (I suspect):

But i forget the conversation we had,
i don't remember what you said or did
that made you so attractive.

Yes, attractive. It's the mesmerization that induces amnesia.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Happily, I was right in thinking that organizing my recyclables was the key to organizing my life. The apartment is almost ship-shape, and I've recovered my joie de vivre just in time for clerkship.

I'm still clueless as to what will be happening tomorrow, though. Will I be put straight to work, or will I get to relax and find out how the heck everything works? It's a mystery. I should have watched a chest-tube-insertion video or two today, or memorized surgical instrument names.

Like I've mentioned in earlier posts, I've been listening to the Trashcan Sinatras a lot recently. This verse reminded me of moving on from classrooms to clerkship:

Soothe your fear, we're off where it's warmer
Here's to all of us, I know you are worried
We're leaving here, regret to inform you
Leaving everything, it's just that we've got to
believe in everything, we're leaving everything


Bring it on...

Saturday, March 10, 2007


My apartment is a disaster area, as is my clerkship preparation. Today, I went out and bought a bunch of containers to organize my recyclables, which is step one in cleaning things up around here. Studying all thoracic surgery and all anatomy tomorrow will fix up my lack of preparation on the clerkship front.

While I am staying here for my first six weeks of electives, like a baby hanging around in the 41st week, most of my comrades have left town. I'm used to being the one that moves on, and leaves everyone behind...

To quote Rivers:

The world has turned and left me here
Just where I was before you appeared
And in your place, an empty space
Has filled the void behind my face

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


On Saturday, I picked up Magic Pants and Rococo, and we headed downtown for a late breakfast (at 2 p.m.). We went to a place none of us had ever been to before, 1886 Buffalo Café in Eau Claire. We found some parking nearby, and spent about an hour and a half eating, followed by wandering. The café itself was fine, if rather more expensive then Nellie's. Anyways, afterwards, Rococo asked me how much time I'd gotten on the parking meter. "You have to pay on a Saturday?" was my answer; sometimes, I am surprised by how dumb I am.

When we got back to my car, I had no ticket. Whew. However, the car behind me did. Checking my meter, I saw that I had 15 minutes on it. Somebody had come by, seen police ticketing cars, and put at least a quarter into the meter for me.

That's so nice. Good, Calgary, good!

In other news, on Sunday, I finally made it to 'Peters' Drive-In'. I figured that if it was good enough for Hugh Jackman (Wolverine!), then it was good enough for me. I had the double cheeseburger, with small fries and a shake. The burger was okay; it reminded me of a Harvey's hamburger. The fries had a too much oil flavour; I didn't finish them. Finally, the shake. Ah, I chose marshmallow, believe it or not. That was supposedly the flavour that was the culprit in the drive-in's E. coli O157:H7 crisis of '05. Well, it tasted like unflavoured soft-serve, and certainly wasn't worth getting HUS over (haemolytic uremic syndrome).

Okay, Harvey's is probably my favourite burger chain, so the burger was fine. The fries, I'll give another chance to in the future. The shake, I was later informed that I should have gotten strawberry-vanilla or chocolate. I guess I went with expectations set too high...

The sad part of the weekend was that it represented the end of the Triumvirate of Nerds. The other two are headed off to electives out east this week, while I remain in town. Well, we'll see if we end up finding the time to get together again, once we're in clerkship.