Saturday, May 26, 2012

My Cat Hates Me

   You would think that if you take good care of your pet - love it, pet it, feed it, etc - that your pet would love you back.  Not in this house.  My cat and I have a love-hate relationship: I love her, she hates me.  I don't know what her deal is, she's just a major diva.  Anyway, she loves to piss me off by chewing on my cords.  But she doesn't chew all of them, she selectively chews the most expensive one (the charger for my Mac).  She knows exactly what she's doing too!  She'll start chewing it right in front of me, look back to make sure I'm watching, and then keep going at it.  So I'll get out the infamous squirt bottle and spray her as an attempt to discipline her, but all she does is run away, come back 5 minutes later and go at it again... After a while, my cord got pretty frayed, and last week, it stopped working for good.  I was super bummed, because a new cord is like $70.  But then BF came over and fixed it with a rubber band and scotch tape! :) He is the best!

BF's handy work

The diva, Baby Z

BF's cat, who is also a prince/diva, but much friendlier 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Food Adventures In My Free Time

   One of the great things about being on psych is that you get evenings and weekends off.  I was lucky to be able to get Mother's Day off, so BF and I went hiking with my mom and sister.  As one of my presents for my mom, I made rosemary pineapple sorbet from scratch.  (And yes, I do in fact love putting rosemary in everything).  

My beautiful mom!

Me, mom, sister

BF, me
   This last weekend, A (my "partner in crime") and I made a delicious fondue feast for BF and Y.  It was super gluttonous, but sooooooo worth it.  I don't know if you can see in the picture, but I made some delicious rosemary watermelon lemonade from scratch with my juicer.  Like I said... rosemary all up in errrryyything!  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"A Million Dollar Message Given A Nickel At A Time"

   The title of this post is one of many wonderful things I took from the AA meeting I attended tonight.  For our psych rotation, one of our assignments is to sit in on an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.  I chose one near my house (I live in the hood) because I figured it would have some really down-to-earth people.  I was a little apprehensive at first, because I didn't want to "intrude".  I didn't want to get there and feel super awkward as an outsider.  My experience was nothing like that.

   Wow. Just wow.  I have never experienced anything like that in my life.  In the beginning of the meeting when they asked if there were any visitors, I mustered up the courage to say my name, and that I was a medical student there to "learn a little bit about the process of recovery," to which they seemed supportive and applauded.  I figured they would just go one with their usual business, telling their stories one-by-one.  I was surprised that several of the members acknowledged me in their stories.  Their reactions were all positive.  One poked fun of my facial reaction to one of the previous stories, others looked at me and convinced me how lucky they were to be where they were today, one thought it was "neat" that I was there to learn about the process of recovery, given that the theme of the night was "what does recovery mean to you."  Overall, they were such a wonderful, warm, welcoming group of people.  The support they had for each other was unbelievable.  I'm sure its not always this way, but tonight in particular, every single story told was just so positive and uplifting!  One man told me, "When you leave here, I want you to remember the smiles and laughter you've heard tonight.  If it wasn't for AA, we wouldn't be laughing."  These people are an absolute inspiration.

   Some of the stories especially hit close to home.  A couple of members brought their kids with them to the meeting, and so some of the members touched on that topic when they spoke.  One man talked about how proud his kids are to come to meetings with him, because when he is working the program, he is also being a good dad.  I almost lost it.  My dad is an alcoholic, and has been sober for over 30 years.  He quit way before I was born, so I never saw him in his drinking days, but I am so proud of him for his sobriety. He has always been the best dad I can ever ask for, and I can thank AA for that.  How wonderful is it that these people are also doing what they can to be the best parents they can be, and breaking the cycle.

   What a wonderful experience.  I don't think I'll ever forget it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Looney Bin Chronicles Part 3

   So I'm not quite in as much as a funk as I was the other week, but I think I can pretty safely say that I can't do inpatient psych as a career. As much as I love interacting with the fascinating patients and am extremely entertained by them, most of their stories just make me feel so sad and helpless. I have a lot of respect for the people who do end up going into inpatient psych, because the victories with the patients' treatment are far and few between, and personally, I think I need validation on a more constant basis. If I went into psych, I could see asking myself in ten years, after a really tough day, "why am I even doing this?!"
   Also, I've found that being around people with so many emotional issues makes me think about my own personal issues a lot.  I tend to use the "suppression" defense mechanism often in dealing with things, so the constant prompting to think about things is annoying. 

   The other day I almost messed up big time, but got lucky.  Extremely lucky...  Since I work in a locked facility, you need a key to get through almost every door.  I had mine attached to my ID badge.  I used it to get out of the medical offices, and somehow, it fell off my badge in the 15 feet I walked to the nurses' station.  I noticed it was missing in the next minute when I tried to get out of the nursing station door to go back to the office, and my stomach dropped.  Last week, one of the patients escaped when they found an ID badge that someone had dropped.  (Funny enough, that patient returned to the psych ward on their own accord later that day, and when they weren't recognized as a patient, begged to the security guard, "Let me in!") Would another patient escape because of me?!  Did I just let someone dangerous loose into the outside world?! 

   I frantically told one of the attendings that I lost my key in the last minute, and just as we began to retrace my steps, one of the other med students comes walking into the nurses' station holding my key up to see whose it is.  Apparently, the patient that assaulted a staff lady a few weeks ago found the key and brought it to the other medical student.  My classmate's first instinctual reaction was to stay away from that patient, so he said, "Oh no, that's not mine."  But then he realized that patients, especially that patient, shouldn't have keys, so he took it.

  Let's just say I got extremely lucky.  And what does it say about that patient's state of mind that he didn't even try to escape?  Maybe he likes it here?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Very First Psych Patient

*Disclaimer - Identifying patient information has been changed to comply with HIPAA*

    The other day, I had to say a very bittersweet goodbye to my very first psych patient.  Let's call her "H" for the purposes of this post.  One of the first days I started on the inpatient psych ward, I took H on as my first patient.  H was a great patient to start on, because she was euphoric, expansive, and delusional... which translates to fun, not scary, and entertaining, in my opinion.  H was a textbook example of mania, complete with grandiose delusions that she was a doctor, oceanographer, pilot in the army, etc.  H would pace the halls, and every time I would encounter her, she would get all excited, smile and start rapidly indulging in one of her many delusions.  On several occasions, H told me she was born blind at birth, all the while making super intense eye-contact with me.  Each day she would decide she was a different race; that's something you can just pick and choose, right?!  
   H took a special liking to me, if I do say so myself, and would tell me she loved me every day.  She also told me that she was getting married (not true), and excitedly invited me to the wedding, however told another staff member who made her mad that they were uninvited.  One day, H told me that she was Lady Diana, and that I could have her inheritance (how generous!).  The last couple of days of working with her, she kept insisting that I should get more diamond earrings, and even said she was "going to the diamond store when she got out, to check if I got them."  
   When the resident and I spoke with H on her last day, she told us, "You two are my favorite doctors, and you take real good care of me.  Can I take you with me?"  She said she would never forget me, and left me with a very special parting gift (see picture below).  Her very last words to me were, "Wait, can I tell you something? Merry Christmas, and a happy new year!" and then she burst into laughter.
"Fire away that is you best shot"
When I asked what it meant, she said, "it means I love you."
   Even if most of her shenanigans were the mania talking, I still grew very fond of her.  As much as I was glad to see her doing better and moving on with her life, I was sad to see her go.  I am going to miss her contagious smile and laughter, listening to her wild imaginative delusions, and watching her dance and sing like nobody was watching out in the courtyard.  I don't think I'll ever forget H either.  My first patient of third year.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Looney Bin Chronicles Part 2

I don't think I'm cut out for this. I'm just too sensitive. I think for the first two weeks of inpatient psych, I managed to disconnect myself enough, and not deal with all the things I'd been seeing. But I think it's finally caught up with me. I think I've been subconsciously internalizing everything, because even though on the very surface I feel fine, I can now feel that deep down, I'm in a funk. The last couple of nights I haven't been sleeping as well as I usually do. I keep having dreams about my patients, and about the residents and other members of the team. And I keep waking up, feeling like I can't breathe, or feeling restless/ uncomfortable and having to change positions. Even though the hours aren't that bad, I find myself feeling utterly exhausted every single day.
Today was the first day my stress really has started to bubble up so that I can't really ignore it. The patient that assaulted a staff member the other day is back on the floors of the ward, free to roam around. And he just walks around and smiles creepily, and tends to linger by a door that I have to go through often. I am absolutely terrified of him now. At one point, I had to walk by him, so I frantically jiggled my key in the lock to escape out into the hall, and when I got back to the med student office, I couldn't stop shaking. I also just feel like I want to throw up all the time, which is how I get when I get really stressed.
I still find the patients incredibly fascinating, but psych is just putting me in such a funk. I'm terrified of half of the patients, and even the ones who aren't scary have sad lives that can't be fixed. It just makes me want to cry because I don't know what else to do.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Looney Bin Chronicles Part 1

   Done with my second week of my psych inpatient rotation, and I'm loving it. I still have two weeks more to go after this, but I'm really enjoying it.   The people at this facility are SO CRAZY, and I find myself so fascinated and entertained by them! I get such a kick out of some of the things they say, and it's so interesting to observe them pacing around, talking to walls, staring at you wherever you go, etc.  I also love that they are here all day, so you can pop in and talk to them anytime you want for as long as you want.

   I've found that I have to really watch my countertransference with some patients. Obviously, I love talking with manic patients. Their euphoric, I-love-everything attitude is contagious, and puts me in a great mood. And it doesn't hurt that they often compliment you over and over - hello, who doesn't want to listen to that all day?!  I also like talking with the depressed patients too, but I always feel kinda bummed out after.  And I've found that it can be frustrating talking to them, because they can be so pessimistic about everything, and I know it's because they are sick, but it gets frustrating after a while.

   The first couple of days out on the floor were scary, especially because one of the residents got punched in the neck by an old lady on the first day.  But I was starting to get used to walking around, and getting a little more comfortable with random patients coming up to me, but today changed that.  Today, during rounds, a "code green" was called.  A "code green" is for "behavioral emergencies", like when a patient gets aggressive/assaultive with staff or other patients.  So all the staff/physicians hurried out of our meeting room, and we walked out to the floor where about 6 staff members were holding down a patient on the floor.   The physicians/med students are just supposed to stand around, and the presence of a lot of people is supposed to intimidate the patient, encouraging them to back down.  Apparently, what had happened was a patient unexpectedly reached over the counter of the nurses' station, and punched a lady on staff in the face!  I felt so bad for the poor lady.  I wanted to cry!  The patient was put into seclusion for the rest of the day, and now I am back to being scared of most of the patients, haha.

   One thing that is pretty nice, is that we have our own little med student office.  I mean, it's nothing fancy.  There are four of us crammed into this little closet, but it's our own safe space, and it's nice to have.  One of my fellow med students brought in a bunch of posters, and we all bring snacks in and put them on the "community snack chair".  Although, I'll admit I bring snacks mainly to get them out of my house so I won't eat them all, but hey, I'm still sharing!  And then all the residents come over to our room to steal snacks :P, which I think is funny.
Community snack chair

Yep, I brought my lol-cats calendar for my desk

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Trader Joe's Parking Lot Might Send People To Anger Management

   The other day I almost lost my shit in the Trader Joe's parking lot.

   Let's back track a little bit.  First, let me tell you what the Trader Joe's parking lot is like.  It's WAY too small, and poorly designed, so there are never enough spaces and everyone is in eachother's way.  And I don't know what it is about the people that shop there, but even when they see 6 cars waiting in line for a parking spot, they take their sweet time putting their groceries in their trunk.

   Now I'll tell you a little about myself (in case you don't already know me).  I am a very easy-going person.  I rarely get mad, and I usually don't even get that mad when I do.  When things upset me, I am much more likely to get sad than mad.

   So the other day, I'm waiting for a parking spot in a long line of cars, and finally it's my turn to get my spot.  And just as I'm waiting WITH MY BLINKER ON for another car to pass by before I can pull in, some idiot comes into the parking lot through the exit.  I see exactly what he is planning on doing, so I honk to say "hey buddy, I've actually been waiting for that spot!"  But he just ignores me and pulls right into it.  Are you kidding me?! Look dude, I don't like waiting for a spot either, but THERE IS A LINE OF CARS HERE!

  Since my spot was taken, I had to start all over again and go to the front of the parking lot, so I couldn't say anything to him right then.  But I looked to see what he was wearing, so I could say something to him in the store.  I was just so angry!  Normally, when something like that happens, I'm just like, "Meh, that person is a douche! Moving on!" But this time, I was literally shaking because I was so angry.  I knew in my head that it wasn't that big of a deal; I don't know what came over me!

  So when I found him in the store, I walked over to where he was, and I tried to think of something good to say that would put him in his place, but I realized there was really nothing I could say besides, "Hey, that was rude", which wouldn't really get me anywhere.  So I decided, since I didn't have anything good to say, I wouldn't say anything at all.  And at first, I was disappointed in myself, because I felt like I was being passive-aggressive, and not standing up for myself.  But after talking about it and thinking about it more, I realized that it was probably best that I didn't say anything, because it probably wouldn't have solved anything.

  I really surprised myself though.  I can't even remember the last time I got that angry: so angry that I shook.  Who knows, maybe I was really upset about something on some unconscious level, and so my conscious took it out on something trivial.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Peru: Land of llamas and ruins

    I really wanted to do something fun after taking boards, a sort of "last hurrah" before starting third year.  So last year, I told my sorority friend J (who I have traveled with in the past to CaboVegas, etc) that I wanted to go on a big trip.  She has traveled a lot, so she has been to tons of places all over the world.  I told her I didn't really care where we went, I just wanted to get away - FAR FAR AWAY - after boards were over.  We decided on Peru, which wasn't exactly a lay-on-the-beach-with-a-cocktail kind of trip, but it was a blast!

Carpooled to the airport with A and Y (who went to Taiwan)

Had to pee REALLY bad on a 2 hour taxi to Ollantaytambo, so pulled over on the side of the road.  Thanks, J, for capturing the moment...

Incan healer at work

Mirror where we could see eachother laying in bed. We thought it was funny.

This is from a cooking class we took.  After she cut up this raw beef, she just put the knife right back into the knife block without even rinsing it... I thought, "I'm gonna pretend I didn't see that."

Llamas errywhere

My favorite pic from the entire trip

Look how tiny I am!

Part of an odd painting I saw in a museum

Llama three-way