Sunday, September 30, 2007


Syndromes, disorders. . .

Another late night alone.

Deciding: Books? Bed?

Friday, September 28, 2007


Studying late night --

On a Friday night, no less --

Because of “Honors.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Over the past several years, security has increasingly become a top concern at many of our nations institutions of higher learning. The administration at my medical school is "struggling to implement" measures that will create a safer environment for its faculty and students. Although we've been assured that changes have been made to make us safer, not much has been done as far as I can see, with the notable exception of the keypad locks on the study room doors. They say their biggest challenge is limiting access to the buildings, which are pretty much wide open to anyone in the community, while maintaining ease of movement between the the buildings by students and faculty. Personally, I feel they don't want to spend the money to hire more security staff.

Recent updates from the campus police have warned of an middle-aged man in dark clothing trying to steal unattended laptops and other electronics from lecture halls and study rooms. I've been studying A LOT at school this week (y'all know why), so I've been on the look out for this creep. I'm not going to lie: it's scary being here late at night with no one else around. Most of the time, the only sound is the air conditioning system and the crickets, which seem to have taken up residence here over the summer. Does the security guard (yes, I've only ever seen one at the front desk at night) ever come around to check on the lecture hall? No.

Not one hour ago, I saw a suspicious looking middle-aged man walk into the lecture hall. He didn't look familiar, but he may have been a student from another program looking for a place to study. Then again, from the look of his drawstring backpack, I doubt there were any heavy textbooks in there. He looked around the hall, took some leftover food from an early student meeting, and left.

Could this have been the creep described in the campus police alerts? Should I report the guy? Would security do anything about it?

If I see the guy again, I'll move over to the library, which is probably one of the more secure buildings on campus (you must sign in with university ID). On my way out, I'll interrupt the lone guard's TV watching by telling him that the creep may be in the building. For now, I'll just keep an eye out and hope that another classmate shows up to keep me company -- I've got to get these neoplastic and proliferative disorders of the hematopoietic and lymphoid systems down!

Sunday, September 23, 2007


The interview season has begun at my school. A dozen or so sharply dressed aspiring physicians (not so fast) medical students can be seen touring the school a couple times a week. And I know they probably don't like to hear this but: They look so young! Of course, part of that has to do with the fact that I'm about a decade older than they are. OK, maybe not quite a decade -- but it feels like it!

I remember my medical school interviews well. I'm not sure if I was lucky or what, but all of them went smoothly. No horror stories here. Most of the questions were along the lines of: Tell me about yourself?;Why do you want to pursue a career in medicine? Why this school? Tell me about your current work (non-trad here)? What are your weaknesses? Do you have any questions for me? I had prepared for all of these questions, as should you if you'll be interviewing this season.

Preparation is the name of the game. For all of you interviewing at medical schools this season, here are my top 5 tips for successful interviewing:
  1. Mock Interview. Mock interviews were available at my undergrad institution. You should ask your pre-med adviser or career services office if they offered mock interviews. If you've graduated and are working, ask a supervisor or co-worker to conduct one for you. Make it as realistic as possible. The point here is that you want to practice sitting in the hot seat. This is where you want to make mistakes and learn from them, not during the real thing.
  2. Travel. Try to get into town the day before your scheduled interview. Take the time to make sure you know how to get to the school. It may be worth it to stay at the recommended hotel, especially if there's shuttle service to the school. You can also spend the extra time exploring the social activities in the area.
  3. Be punctual. It's actually best to arrive about 10-15 minutes early. There's usually some form or forms you have to fill out. It'll also give you time to preview the packet of material that the admissions office gives you.
  4. Dress Conservatively. You want to look the part of a physician when you go in for your interviews. These aren't folks who appreciate the latest fashions. So, stick to navy, gray, or black solid or pinstripe suits with a white shirt/blouse. Simple ties, gents. You don't want anyone asking or thinking, "What are you wearing?" [Watch first 25 seconds] On one of my interview days, there was a guy in a black leather jacket just like the one worn by Joe Pesci's character in My Cousin Vinny. Being French was no excuse. The jacket made him stand out, and not in a good way. You don't want to be remembered for what you're wearing, but rather by who you are -- your talents and personality. Oh -- and make sure buttons are buttoned and/or zippers are zipped. (Yes, speaking from experience on that one.)
  5. Be nice to EVERYONE. From the secretaries in the admissions office, to the students leading the tour, to students that may come talk to you, to the person conducting the interview. You want to be professional and nice to everyone. Even if during the interview you're asked a question that seems too personal or is on a taboo subject. It's best to play it off with humor or maturity than getting angry or upset. Remember, many people vote on your admission. Students (those that lead the tour) and admissions office staff may eliminate you from the pool: "No, that guy was crazy! Did you see the leather jacket he was wearing?" Faculty (those that interview you) can get you in.

Good luck! And remember, luck is just "preparation meeting opportunity."

Friday, September 21, 2007


The New York Times Health section (just added to "Favorite Medical Timesucks" in the lower sidebar to the right) always has some great articles, and usually there's at least one article that relates to something I've learned in class. Other times, there's an article that catches my attention because it deals with how physicians are practicing medicine today.

Almost two years ago I came across the article "For a Retainer, Lavish Care by 'Boutique Doctors.'" The article takes a look at the trend of "concierge" medicine, which, according to the Times, debuted in 1996. In this type of practice, patients pay an upfront cash fee of roughly $2,000 each year to have 24/7 access to their primary care physician via telephone, email, or same day appointments. The physicians carry a smaller patient load, allowing them to make thorough physicals, take extensive histories, and basically spend more time with the patient. When problems arise, the low patient load allows the physician to focus on the problem and coordinate patient care with specialists. It's an interesting concept. Kinda how medicine use to be. However, I can see how it only adds to the inequities in American health care.

Today, I came across this article via the Times' Health Around the Web section about a young doc named Jay Parkinson, M.D., in Brooklyn that wants to be your eDoctor (if you live in lower Manhattan, that is). That's right, he has no office! Most of your interaction will be over email, text, video conference or telephone. He'll only take you on as a patient after you complete an application on his website. Oh yeah, you must be 18 to 40 years of age and healthy -- "no old-people diseases." His focus is preventative medicine, which I think is a good thing. He's looking to take on about 1,000 patients and has a yearly cash fee of $500. It's a unique concept for a practice to say the least.

I don't begin my clinical years until next year, so I don't have any first-hand experience from the "physician" end. I have, however, had plenty of interaction with the health care system from the patient's perspective: waiting for hours in the waiting room, assistants taking vitals and drawing blood, and then spending 5 minutes with my primary care physician. I asked him, my PCP, on more than one occasion if he enjoyed his job (he was a relatively young doc and we had a good relationship) and he said he did.

I don't think I would enjoy practicing medicine in an environment where I only had 10-15 minutes with a patient. I just don't see how that's good for either patient or physician. As a patient, I could sense when my PCP was rushed -- he always seemed behind schedule, so I didn't always tell him everything that was going on or didn't ask questions when I wanted to. As a physician, I think the constant pressure of seeing as many patients as possible to keep a practice afloat would wear on me. I could see myself in a practice along the lines of "concierge" medicine, but I think I would feel wrong doing it. And I don't know what to think about young Dr. Parkinson. Hmmm....

[Update 9/23: NYT article on "Doctor Delivery." Like pizza or chinese food, a doctor's just a phone call away.]

Thursday, September 20, 2007


It's one thing to study hard for and subsequently fail an exam. Perhaps the material was exceptionally challenging for you. Fine. You get help, change your study methods, move on to the next exam. It's quite another -- stupid really -- when you just didn't prepare well enough.

I didn't prepare well for my exam this week. It's as simple as that. As I was expecting, I did not do well. In fact, I failed by 4 points (66 -- yes, why not just put it out there) -- a "High Fail" as a classmate would say. It doesn't feel good, but there's no one to blame but myself.

Last week's procrastination was a textbook example of self-sabotage. I'm not exactly sure why I had such a hard time getting to my work, but, at the time, I knew it was a problem. One of my impulse buys on Wednesday or Thursday was a self-help book: Self-Discipline in 10 Days: How to go from thinking to doing, by Theodore Bryant, MSW. It coincidently arrived today, shortly after I received my score. I've only read Part One, but already I have a good idea of what my mental blocks are. Don't worry, hon. I'll write all the juicy details in a future post.

For now, perhaps a little tease: (1) At times I tend to have a very negative internal dialog, (2) I think I have a Fear of Success.

So, I will be working on that to avoid repeatedly shooting myself in the foot. There's one more major exam in this unit and I'm confident I can pull my grade up. I've done it in the past, and I'll do it again. However, some things are going to have to change, principally, no more staying home nor going home to "study" after class. It's the library and lecture hall for me. I'm putting myself on lockdown.

Now, some of you may be asking, What happens if you fail the unit?

At my school, you're allowed to sit for a retake examination for that unit at the beginning of the following semester or at the end of the school year. I believe you're only allowed to sit for two retake examinations, so if you fail three units (integrated blocks) within a semester, you can only make up two. If you fail the retake examinations, you have to do summer school, an extremely condensed version of the unit (up to 2 -- so if you need to make up 3 units, you're out) and then sit for a cumulative exam. If you fail that, you are asked to leave.

Once you're asked to leave, you may petition to repeat the year, but I believe it's difficult because you have to wait for a spot to open. Recently, the class sizes have increased a tad, so there are very few spots available for students who need to repeat. Once you begin again as a repeating student, however, summer school is no longer an option. If you fail the retake examinations, you're out for good. But, you see that you get to make about 5 attempts before they kick you out.

Medical schools want you to succeed, so there should be an "Academic Support" department available to you. Use it! Early and often! Even if you're doing OK, but want to be in the top 10. They can give you strategies that may help improve your academic performance. Their favorite tip (and my least favorite): make a schedule.

[P.S. I just took a look back at the Failed post. Looks like "near future" = a little more than a month. Gotta love med school.]

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dr. D

Drones. And, not only that, his drone's in double-time (yes, it's possible). Think bored micro machines man. This is why I could not attend his lectures the past couple of weeks, where he was scheduled for an unprecedented 14 hours. I believe that was a first for any professor thus far in my medical school career. I could take him for an hour here or there, but 14 hours over 4 days was just too much. I can't type or process information that quickly.

To make matters worse, was the material: skin AND musculoskeletal pathologies. Can you imagine the assault? Seborrheic keratoses, acanthosis nigricans, keratoacanthoma, actinic keratosis, dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, dermatitis herpetiformis, osteogenesis imperfecta, mucopolysaccharidoses, osteoporosis (OK, something I recognize), osteopetrosis (didn't you just mention that? Oh, osteoPETrosis), osteoma, osteoid osteoma, osteoblastoma, osteosarcoma, osteochondroma, chondroblastoma, chondromyxoid fibroma, Ewing sarcoma, giant cell tumor, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rhematoid arthritis, seronegative sphondyloarthropathies. . . the list was endless.

How I managed to retain any information about a fraction of the pathologies presented is a mystery (miracle?).

In all fairness, though, Dr. D cared that we had all the information we needed not only for this latest exam, but for the boards. His PowerPoint presentations were very organized and during lecture, he gave examples of the types of questions he would ask for some of the main pathologies. The problem is that you had to slow down the audio to catch that.

Dr. D wrote a good portion of the questions on my exam this week. As I was reading the questions, I could hear him saying the key phrases, but I couldn't remember which of the hundred or so pathologies he was talking about. If only I hadn't procrastinated so much the week before the exam. . . It's just so hard to be "on" all the time. I'm not looking forward to receiving the score on this one.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Crock-Pot II

During medical school, you don't have a lot of time for a lot of things, including meal preparation. As, hopefully, you've read, I recently got over my fear of using the slow cooker. Besides it not having a light that tells me it's working, I have only positive things to say about it. It's quite the time-saving aide in the kitchen; it makes a lot of food; it's easy to clean; the food turns out yummy! (Thus far.)

Last week, I made my favorite dish in the world. Chicken cacciatore is the ultimate comfort food for me. I can remember watching my mother in the kitchen making this dish and asking me, her sous chef, to taste along the way for quality control.

My version last week was not my mother's cacciatore, but it was good nonetheless. Below is my super-simplified slow cooker recipe for chicken cacciatore.

You'll need:
  • One jar Italian tomato sauce, such as "Tomato Basil" or simple marinara sauce
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-3 cloves of garlic, to taste, minced (2 was just right for me)
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 packs (10 pieces total) chicken drumsticks (you can used thighs or breasts), skin removed
  • One 6-8 ounce pack of fresh mushrooms (white button or baby portabella), quartered or leave whole
  • 1 bay leaf, snapped in two
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Layer half the tomato sauce and all of the onion, garlic, bay leaf, bell pepper, and chicken in the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper as you go. Toss the mushrooms on top and cover with the second half of the tomato sauce. Cover and cook until the chicken is tender and cooked through, 3 hours on "High," or 6-7 hours on "Low." When ready, serve over rice and enjoy!

(If you want to get fancy: once cooked, transfer the chicken to a plate or two. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons each of flour, water and/or wine from that opened bottle on your counter (you know it's there) until smooth. Stir into the sauce in the cooker and turn to "High," cover, and cook until thickened, 10-15 minutes. Pour sauce and veggies over the chicken on some rice -- Yum!)

* Modified from Beth Hensperger's Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, 2005.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Ugh. . . It's kinda bright out for 6:30. . . 9:00?!?. . . How did I sleep through both alarms?. . . Maybe this is a sign I should stay home today. . . Yes, I'll stay home and catch up on reading and listen to the audio later.

I should start with a good breakfast. . . What should I have?. . . Cereal?. . . Oatmeal?. . . I could make an omelet. . . Didn't I buy blueberries the other day?. . . Oh yes, there they are. . . Cereal and blueberries it is.

I wonder what the headlines are this morning. . . Poor Britney. . . Sen. Craig, give it up already!. . . O.J., what's your problem?. . . Every woman flying Southwest should wear a tank, cami, or halter top. . . Ooo, nice tie Sanjay. . . Kathy G won an Emmy??. . . You go girl!

Hmmm. . . I wonder what her tour schedule looks like. . . She's in DC next week??. . . Kennedy Center!. . . Sold out??. . . NOOO!!. . . Show added at Constitution Hall?. . . Yes!. . . Doh!. . . Only single tickets left. . . Oh well, guess I'm going solo. . . Confirm purchase. . . EEEEE!!!. . . Kathy G next week!!!

Any new Kathy G clips on YouTube? [WARNING: clips may not be appropriate for work or children]. . . "Kathy on Ellen". . . Kathy was on the Ellen DeGeneres Show?. . . I thought she was banned from Ellen. . . "Kathy Griffin on Oprah and Weight". . . "Kathy Giffin on Ryan Seacrest". . . Hilarious!!. . . Yikes!. . . It's noon already?. . . I should start studying!

Well, first let me check on my blog stats. . . Nice!. . . Traffic is growing, slowly but surely. . . Who knew "dating a medical student" was such a hot topic?. . . Hmmm. . . Maybe I should write another dating post. . . I do know I need to edit some of these sidebar elements. . . Those aren't even my interests anymore. . . I should change that now, while I'm thinking about it. . . And they should all link to their respective AAMC Careers in Medicine specialty pages. . . Ah, that's better. . . Now let's add some more resources. . . and more med school blogs. . . There. . . Much better.

Let me see if there are any new posts on these blogs. . .


I go on like this for hours. News. Impulse shopping. Blog reading. "Planning a study schedule." My procrastination level this past week has been ridiculous. You have no idea. And with exams coming up, this is bad news. Seriously.

Friday, September 14, 2007


If I could learn the drugs, I would be a rock star. Instead, I'm more like Britney at the MTV Music Awards -- my chances of honors {poof!} disappearing into thin air.

Yesterday I reviewed my last written examination. I missed the vast majority of the pharmacology questions. I was able to answer general pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic questions, but when it came to having to choose a specific drug, I bombed.

The names all look the same to me. Ampicillin, Azithromycin, Cephalexin, Ciprofloxacin, Oxacillin, Doxycycline, Piperacillin, Ticarcillin, Capreomycin, Streptomycin, Isoniazid, Vancomycin, Rifampin, Albuterol, Metaproterenol, Propranolol, Terbutaline, Scopolamine, Doxazosin, Prazosin, et cetera. I just can't seem to remember which does what and how, and its toxic effects. There are just too many of these drugs for me to remember.

Drugs are Pharmacology is my weakness and I'm going to have to work on that for boards and, well, just about every exam I have to take this school year. Perhaps making my own flashcards instead of using Brenner's will help?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


The second year of medical school is proving to be more difficult than the first for me, so I'm trying anything and everything to boost my grades. Last week, I decided to try something new. I'd been hesitant to do it in the past because it just seemed so wrong. However, the wannabe gunner in me blasted through the hesitation, and, on Tuesday, I started downloading the audio from lectures onto my iPod. Blasphemous, you say? I know! But it had to be done.

Now, I listen to part of a lecture whenever I walk to school, the grocery store, church, wherever. Whenever I'm home, cleaning or cooking, I'm listening to lectures. It's sad. Kinda breaks my heart. But the strategy is working!

On Monday, we had a quiz. I was rather worried because I had taken three days "off" last week, staying at home instead of going to class (I'll tell you why next "Dr. post"). I didn't really look at the PowerPoint presentations much and I'd done very little of the reading. However, I had been listening to the audios. Quiz result: 93. That's a huge improvement over the 67s I was getting on these irritating "pop quizzes." Every point counts, so I'm happy to have started off this new unit on the right foot.

Listen, I know the iPod is suppose to be all about fun, but, with results like that, the listening-to-lectures-on-the-iPod study technique is here to stay.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


For much of 2001 I was away from college on a medical leave for complicated grief. I was staying out west, trying to put my life back together. On the morning of September 11, 2001, I received a call from a good friend on the East Coast. "Turn on the TV -- the news," was all he said. I gradually made my way out of bed and turned on the television. I could not believe the images I was seeing. I stood there, in front of the television. Frozen. Crying.

Whenever my friends and I tired of the wilderness during college, we would drive to one of three major cities: Montreal, Boston, or New York City. NYC was my favorite. In 2000, on one of these weekend getaways in the City, I purchased a photograph from an artist near Times Square. The black and white print has the Brooklyn Bridge in the foreground, the Twin Towers in the background. Today, that photo hangs in the hallway of my apartment as a reminder of all the gifts I have been given, especially life.

I share the sentiment expressed by Oprah in the "September 11, 2001" segment on Disk 4 of her 20th Anniversary DVD Collection. The following is an excerpt.
Every single day that is offered to us, is offered to us in grace, and you have to take it and seize the moment. . . . There's not a morning when I put on my shoes-- There's not a morning when I get dressed, when I brush my teeth -- There's not a morning I don't think about it. Every one of them did the same thing that I'm doing right now. Every one of them. And they never came home. So, I feel I owe them. I feel I owe them and everybody else who's come before me the best that my life can offer. That's what I got from September 11.

I will never forget.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


Today was Homecoming Sunday, the beginning of a new year at my church, and it offered the perfect opportunity to get back on my spirit-growing journey. It had been months since I last attended a service, and I was beginning to feel a bit guilty (that residual Catholic guilt just won't go away).

As always, I was greeted warmly, today by both the senior and associate ministers; the music gave me goosebumps it was so beautiful; the sermon got me thinking; I left with a greater sense of peace. It felt good to be a part of the community again -- to feel like something other than a medical student. And it was also great to be a part of such a diverse group: young, old, white, black, Asian, Hispanic, gay, straight, male, female and everything in between, in all sorts of combinations. Truly a rare gift in this city.

Today's reading and sermon made me think about a lot of things that I won't go into here. I'll spare you. But, I thought I would share the reading, a poem, with you.
"Late Fragment"

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

- Raymond Carver

Saturday, September 8, 2007

All New

It's September, and to me that means only one thing: All New! That's right, all new seasons of my favorite television programs.

Now, as you may know, television and I went our separate ways years ago. Actually, I had to let her go since I'm a TV addict and there was no way I was going to get into medical school with TV as a distraction. Yes, it was that bad.

For a while, the No-TV Plan was working. I got through the hell that is the medical school application process; I was reading more; I was exercising more; I was participating more in life. Then I entered medical school and the workload took over my life. But then around halfway through the school year, I discovered's Full Episode Player. And it was over.

I was instantly hooked on Grey's Anatomy and Ugly Betty. LOVE THEM! (OK, I'm getting a little too excited over here.) I caught up on all the episodes that I missed, and then every week I would wait for the new episodes, which, unfortunately post around 2 a.m. the night/morning after they air. And of course this year, we have Private Practice to look forward to. Oh, I can't wait for all the drama! September 27th. Mark your calendars!

And then my Oprah -- yes, my Oprah -- kicks off season 22 of The Oprah Winfrey Show this Monday, September 10, at NYC's Madison Square Garden, the only place suitable for the grand event. If I could just get a ticket to one of her shows. . . It's an obsession people.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Dr. C

Curses. Did Dr. C really just say what I think she just said?

Her lecture was dry and was running a bit long. We all had started shifting in our seats and many were surfing the Internet and/or chatting over AIM. How were we going to survive another hour of Dr. C?

Our schedule allows for a ten minute break every fifty minutes. Of course, professors often run over their allotted time and trim the break down to five minutes. As students, we don't mind when a great professor eats into our break time. As long as we're learning, we're happy. However, when a dull professor tries to do the same, we attack.

"Excuse me Dr. C," shouts a student from the rear of the lecture hall, "it's time for our ten minute break."

"No, I'm going to continue; I'm almost finished."

"But Dr. C, you have another hour -- Could we please take a 5 minute break?"

I don't think Dr. C heard this last request. All she heard was the grumbling throughout the lecture hall, and she wasn't pleased. This was her response, "Look, if you went to the grocery store and bought a loaf of bread and the cashier only gave you half a loaf, you would say, 'B-I-T-C-H, where's the rest of my bread?'"

We all just looked at each other and started laughing. Was she serious? From the look on her face, she was. We let her continue, and she finished the presentation 10 minutes later.

"Now you can have your damned break! All this break nonsense is a bunch of bovine defecation."

Bovine defecation? LOL! Well, at least she didn't use the S-word.

It turned out that Dr. C didn't know she had two hours and did not have another presentation for us. So, after a few tense moments and some laughs, we enjoyed a damned good one-hour break.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


I pushed myself hard, both physically and mentally, this weekend, and I've concluded that I really need to work on my endurance.

The bike ride through Rock Creek Park Monday morning was wonderful. It was meant to be a short, one hour ride, but it turned out to be more like four! I was just having too much fun with my friend, whom I hadn't seen since early June. I had a strong suspicion this might happen, so I brought some study materials with me (I had to, what with exams yesterday!) so that I could quiz myself during our half-way-point break.

What caught me by surprise, however, was how fit my friend had become since we last got together. Or was it how unfit I'd become after a year of medical school and a summer in front of the television? I couldn't keep up with my friend. My quads were burning; I was sweating buckets; I was huffing and puffing like The Little Engine that Could.

When I got home later that afternoon, I was thoroughly exhausted. There was no way I could study for my exams the next day, so after cooling down and showering, I took a nap.

An hour later, I was back at my desk (a dining table, once upon a time) ready for a final review of all the material to be covered on my exams. After about an hour, I could take no more. I kept taking breaks and trying to come back to material I was having trouble with, but I just couldn't study anymore. I went to school, hoping that I would get a second wind from the study-all-night-before-the-exam crowd. No such luck. At 9 o'clock, this little engine went back to the depot.

Besides being tired and dehydrated from the bike ride, I think part of the problem was that I kept thinking of all the fun I'd had over the long weekend. I was missing out on a lot of fun because of all the studying I have to do just to stay in the middle of the pack at school. Is medicine worth it? I've been asked, and ask myself the same question from time to time. Honestly, I don't know. I hope so! Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I need to keep working on the whole "balance" thing. I've mentioned before that medical school is like a marathon. I have to pace myself; I need to build endurance. Otherwise, I'm going to end up burned-out and miserable.

Monday, September 3, 2007


Laboring on Labor Day. As Chris Rock would say, That ain't right! I should be poolside, at a cookout, drinking iced tea and lemonade. Instead, I'm up at an ungodly hour (though, it is nice and peaceful) trying to learn cramming as many details as my tired brain can hold for exams tomorrow.

It isn't all work and no play, however. In a few hours, I'll be meeting up with a friend for a quick bike ride through Rock Creek Park. Riding through the park is one of my favorite things to do. You can spot deer, all sorts of birds, and fish (especially when they return to spawn); it's so green and lush; the sound of the creek is soothing. The ride will be a nice break.

I hope you've enjoyed the long weekend. Happy Labor Day.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


Tonight I had dinner with three friends from college. Although I have two exams on Tuesday, I took the break because it is so rare for all four of us to get together. You see, two of us are in medical school here in Washington, one just moved to the District from Philadelphia for law school, and the other was in Baltimore working on an MBA/MPH and is now working in New Jersey. As you can imagine, coordinating our schedules is quite the challenge.

We met up near the National Zoo on a little strip packed with restaurants. We walked up and down the block, carefully reviewing each restaurant's menu, before selecting a Japanese restaurant. Perfect. I love sushi, and I had my eye on the Chilean sea bass with miso and shitake mushrooms.

We caught up, enjoyed our food, shared some laughs. The waiter arrived to clear our plates, looked at our licked-clean plates and said, "Good job!" We burst out laughing. It was so unexpected and there was something about the way he said it -- he seemed so surprised. One of my friends was laughing so hard, she was having trouble swallowing the water she had been drinking before the waiter's comment. Of course, I tried to make her laugh even more. I could just see the water spraying all over the table. I know, aren't I nice. It didn't work. She somehow managed to calm down enough to swallow the water.

From that point on, we were laughing at everything. We laughed so hard I think we burned off most of the meal's calories. I'm sure everyone around us thought we were insane. For some reason, this always happens whenever we get together. (Yes, both the laughter and being perceived as insane.) I'm glad it does.

Medical school is intense and stressful -- especially during the days leading up to examinations. You have to be able to manage that stress. Social support, good food, and exercise are all key to keeping a level head. Tonight, I had a healthy dose of all three.