Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"B" Word

On the second day of the second year of medical school, they finally dropped the "B" word.

During lunch, the School of Medicine and class representatives hosted the Med II Welcome Back Program. We were promised lunch, so most of the class remained after our Lymphocyte Development and Immunodeficiencies lecture. The falafel did not arrive right away. So, we all sat and waited while being regaled with announcements and updates.

We learned about what others did over the summer, including research (my group), traveling and non-medical activities. In addition to a plethora of announcements from the class reps and fellow classmates, we were introduced to the Student & Curricular Affairs staff (new and old faces) and a road map for the second year

During the second year overview, our faculty discussed our clerkship preparation and finally dropped the "B" word. You guessed it- the "Boards." Our second year will culminate with this monstrosity of an exam, or as one faculty member puts it "a big quiz," a rite of passage to third year, if you will.

To date, our faculty have done a great job safeguarding us from any needless board anxiety (mum has been the word). But now the floodgates have opened and we have been made aware.

In all honesty, most of us are fully aware of this exam on the horizon. I've pushed into the back of my mind. But now it's slowly making its way forward, akin to a cold, harsh reality that we will soon face.

Oh well. The "B" word is out and there is no taking that one word back.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Return

The sun finally shined. As I walking up to my friend's house to watch a movie, the warmth made me happy and a bit anxious; I was just thinking how our schedules would become so much busier.

It's hard to believe that we return to the start of our second year of medical school in less than 12 hours. Where did the summer go? It evaporated in the absence of SF heat.

8 weeks have elapsed. Looking back, my vacation was a pseudo-vacation; I spent most of the weeks in lab, pipetting and conducting basic science research. Long hours in lab. The days were regimented, a mix of experiments, reading dense articles and completing work for my curricular project. The evenings were more exciting and included any combination of the following: trips to the gym, running in the the park, swimming indoors, watching TV, eating dinner with friends, hanging out my brothers, reading and writing.

All in all, it was relaxing coming home and not having to study, or prepare for small group.

The carefree days are over. I have started the unthinkable (the reading for tomorrow's lecture) about the immune system. A focused examination of innate immune response is a bit futile, because my mind is elsewhere, pondering how we can be returning back to school so quickly (a blink of an eye).

It will be nice to be reunited with classmates and learn about what others did this summer. Other than that, I'm dreading the 8 AM lectures and studying. Oh well, the day was coming the moment we walked out of our BMB finals. It's time to move on.

Cheers to a great summer and here's to hoping for another promising year of medical school. Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


There is something mysterious about the number of 23. In fact, the term "23 Enigma" has been coined to explain that 23 (and any permutation of 23 or any number related to 23) is somehow linked to all incidents and events. Very Interesting.

For some believers, 23 somehow may be the key to explaining how and why things happen. If good things happen, 23 is lucky. However, if bad things happen, 23 is unlucky. Ultimately, it comes down to the interpreter.

I'm struggling to decide what I should make of 23, two numbers- the previous one less than the latter. I suppose I would have more insight if I knew what to expect from my 23rd year of life. For now, I'm going to keep an open mind and hope 23 brings as much joy as 22.

My mother called me yesterday around 10 PM.
"Happy Birthday, Eisha. I'm calling you the day before your birthday because your were born after midnight." She said.

August 21st- my birthday. Growing up, I always had a bitter-sweet birthday; I was celebrating my birth along with the end of summer vacation. Somethings really do not change. I'm celebrating my 23rd birthday four days before the arrival of the storm that is the second year of medical school. I bought myself a gift: the immunology syllabus.

I celebrated a birthday earlier with some of my friends. The birthday cake was one of the best gifts ever. One of my best friends actually took the time to make the choclate ganash cake from scratch.

Looking back, I have to say I was blessed. 22 was a great year. I am thankful to God, my amazing parents, four brothers and sister, friends, classmates, teachers, blog readers and patients for truly enriching the texture of my life by providing me with everything from love to support to knowledge to patience to reassurance. I am here because you all have placed so much faith in me, giving me that energy that puts a smile on my face in the morning and allows me to move forward each step of the way.

22 was a year of so much change; the year I began my first year of medical school. A year of new relationships and friendships. A year filled with learning the art and science of medicine and becoming a part of something so great. A year of new discoveries and realizations.

22 was a year of many of firsts. It was the year, I met some of my best friends. It was the year I completed my first 12K. The year I learned to perform a physical exam and take a full patient history. It was the year I organized my first full dinner party. It was first time I took a sexual history in the company of 5 of my peers. It was the year I moved to SF and explored the new city that has become my second home. It was the year I made my first incision, drew my first vial of blood and injected my first immunization. It was the year I started my first blog and published some of my essays. It was year I took my camera in the OR to photograph a surgery. It was the year I went to prom (it was medical school prom). It was the year I learned to suture and tie surgical knots. It was the year I was given my short white coat and the year I recited an oath that will dictate my actions for years to come and the year I became 25% of a doctor.

It was the year I realized my life was going to change, as I move closer and closer to my goal of becoming a physician and as I began to learn the fine art of balance.

Overall, 22 was year of new beginnings.
As I start 23, I hope these beginnings in my professional and personal life burgeon and take on a life of their own. Although I dread returning to the regimented schedule of lecture and school (oh how I dread the 8 AM lectures), I know I need to simply pick up my feet and move forward, drawing on my experiences. I am looking forward to moving ahead through the second year medical school in anticipation for the start of clerkships that will get me closer to working directly with patients.

I guess there are a few other things I am hoping to accomplish during 23. In no particular order:

1. Complete the SF 1/2 Marathon
2. Make it to all the weddings I'm invited to (2008 seems to be year of weddings)
3. Do more than one pull-up
4. Fully integrate swimming into my workout regimen (I just rediscovered swimming this week and love it)
5. Continue reporting to this blog with insightful (and some not so insightful) entries
6. Survive Boards Hell (and maintain a semblance of a personal life that involves time with friends and working out)
7. Figure out "which kind of doctor I want to be"
8. Get better at balancing my life, which may involved learning to say "no"
9. Continue to writing essays, including non-medical essays
10. Continue to spend time with friends and family, cultivating the new relationships that have become so central to my life and my sanity
11. Take my camera to new places
12. TRAVEL!!! (somewhere exotic)
13. Regain the swimmers tan I lost to the SF fog
14. Mentor the first year medical students
15. Continue mastering the fine art of Indian cooking
16. Speak solely Punjabi with my parents to better my ability to speak the language of my childhood
17. Continue to maintain a regular workout regimen during MS3 rotations
18. Continue to explore SF (all the museums and neighborhoods)
19. Surf and one day swim in the Pacific Ocean (if it ever warms up)
20. Meet Prince Charming
21. Stay up to date with current events and become an informed voter (go Obama)
22. Improve my Spanish
23. Smile everyday and realize how lucky I am

With the day so young (and me one year older), I am looking forward to the proximal celebrations, including a trip to the Moma to visit the Frida Kahlo exhibit with friends followed by dinner and cake with my brothers. And tomorrow will be another dinner event (Thai food) with some of my newest and closest friends and whatever other festivities we can fit into the evening.

I suppose I have created an ambitious list. Above all, I hope 23 is another year of discovery and learning and less of the enigma it has been cut out to be.

Time will tell. For now, it is time to cease the day and live it to the fullest.

Happy Birthday!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Six Rules for Doctors (and Aspiring Doctors in Short White Coats)

With two weeks remaining in my last summer vacation, I am beginning to dread the return of school. It's that same feeling I used to get right before dragging my feet to go back to school shopping. As my mom helped me fill the cart with pencils, notebooks, crayons and school supplies, I would realize I'd be leaving the carefree days of summer cartoons and frolicking for a regimented day in grammar school, full of worksheets and scheduled play time and discipline.

As I count my last days in lab (5 days), I realize I will be giving up my evenings to studying and all the other medical school commitments. Sigh. All good things to come to an end. We return August 26th.

I do still have some time remaining to muster some research results in the next five days (highly unlikely, but miracles do exist). I have reserved the last few days of summer for recharging (or spending my time with family and friends outside of SF and tying all those odds and ends).

While I was catching up on the current events on the NY Times, I came by this interesting piece outlining "Six Rules Doctors Need to Know," written by Dr. Robert Lamberts, a physician and blogger. He chronicles his thoughts about medicine and a variety of other interesting (and somewhat unrelated topics, such as "dogs driving cars") on his blog Musings of a Distractible Mind

Here are Dr. Rob's Six Rules ("they" refers to the patient):
Rule 1: They don’t want to be at your office.
Rule 2: They have a reason to be at your office.
Rule 3: They feel what they feel.
Rule 4: They don’t want to look stupid.
Rule 5: They pay for a plan.
Rule 6: The visit is about them.

Some basic Rules that are often not followed...

Just some points to ponder.

For more information: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/07/six-rules-doctors-need-to-know/

Sunday, August 3, 2008

SF Marathon- 8.3.08

The San Francisco Marathon is the only race that allows runners to run on the Golden Gate Bridge roadway. With over 15,000 participants in the full marathon, half marathon and 5K, the city streets were flooded with runners, making their way around the course. It was cloudy and cold, but not windy nor hot (the perfect running weather and not so pleasant spectator weather)

For the full marathoners, the course starts at the Embarcadero and continues through the piers, passing the Ferry Building, Transamerica Building, Coit Tower and Fisherman's Wharf. From here, runners pass Fort Mason and the Marina. Along the way, runners are rewarded with some breathtaking views of the city and bay. Runners continue through the Presidio, onward to the Golden Gate Bridge. They cross the bridge into Marin, at which point they turn around back onto the bridge and renter the Presidio, running alongside the Pacific Ocean. They continue running into the Golden Gate Park, passing by Stow Lake, Rose Garden and Conservatory of Flowers.

From the park, runners enter into Haight and continue towards the Mission until they enter Mission Bay, passing along the Baseball park. They begin the homestretch of the race that takes runners back to the Embarcadero to the finish line and cheering fans.

I had been toying with the idea of entering the half marathon, but when the fog rolled in during the summer months, I realized training for the 13 mile race would be compromised.

I was on hand today to provide medical support to the runners as a First Aid volunteer, as part of a group of health professionals from the UCSF.

We were situated at Camp Bravo, the second post-finish tent right next to the live music and awards ceremony stage. As we helped runners by providing basic first aid, we got to hear the "Sweet Home Alabama" and various other 1980's hits that I could not recognize.

In our red hats and shirts, we made our way through the post-finish line.

I was also there to support my older brother, who was running the Full 26.2 mile marathon. It's unimaginable how anyone can run that distance. He finished in under 4 hours and I am so amazed (and proud). He has been training diligently for this race, running (sunshine or no shine)- a rule I can not abide by.

It's inspiring to see him and other runners, making it the finish and then limping to loved ones.

Maybe, with some bending of my current training policy (a requirement of sun), I may train for the 1/2 Marathon next year and be one of those limping runners at the end, who are just joyed to be done.