On moments that stand out from med school

I’m studying for Step 3 and going over the clinical cases, which remind me of some of my real life encounters. Things I recall:

Carrying the 16 lb ovary and then getting to help biopsy it. It was like a giant water balloon. Some people don’t notice their ovaries are getting large. They just don’t.

Almost losing my lunch for the first time ever in med school due to blunt trauma lecture. I’d been through heart surgery, intestinal surgery, I cut open a epidermoid cyst which is described in text books as having a cheesy foul smelling drainage…none of these ever made me lose my appetite. You’d think blunt trauma might be interesting, because you’re studying corpses and trying to figure out what instrument was used…so CSI…but I wasn’t cut out for that. I’ll be cautious and not describe it here.

The patient that had been comatose but then one day was able to look at me and nod to my questions. The doctors were insistent that he was vegetative and that the family and I were delusional, just seeing what we wanted to see. “Circling the drain” someone said about him. His daughter, to her credit, was smart and got in their faces. They just blew her off though. Mind you, this was an army hospital, so the patient had spent part of his life serving the country- this is the respect he got.  A week or so later he was talking and a few more weeks he went home. That pissed me off and made me tired of the whole field for awhile.

Another sad moment. An elderly Hispanic lady came to our Frontera de Salud ( I think it was that one) clinic. Her breasts had all these hard, irregular shaped lumps. You’ll have to go to get a mammogram, the clinic director said, here’s a coupon for it. The lady told us she had had this problem for a long time, and had saved up money just to see our clinic . But we were didn’t have a machine. There was no way she could afford it any time soon, and honestly if it was cancer there was a good chance it was widespread. So she just went home, still mystified and worried about her condition. We worked the rest of the day much more subdued, feeling a bit worried, a bit useless.  I hope we gave the money she paid back. I really wish I had money then to give her, but I didn’t.

More thoughts come up as I type, but I’ll stop here. They seem to be pretty negative, maybe I’ll focus on the happier, touching moments next time.



Published in: on May 22, 2008 at 11:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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