Log in

No account? Create an account
Truth, part II - Nobody wears a white coat any more... — LiveJournal
...a tribute to becoming a doctor.
Truth, part II
In honour of the rotation:

-- Personality Disorder Test - Take It! --

And as I answered the questions, I found in each the diagnosis they were searching for. And I reiterate what I have been told, so many times, is true: We all, each of us, display traits of many different personality disorders. What changes them from personality traits to disorders is whether or not those traits are fixed and maladaptive. For example, I have worked hard to emphasize my obsessive-compulsive traits; they are the method of compensating for my attention-deficit traits and the absolute hallmark of a good medical student. These are adaptive traits. My histrionic qualities...those, on the other hand, have occasionally caused me trouble. They border on maladaptive at times. But they are not fixed. You see.

Obsessive-compulsive traits are what earned me the biggest surprise yet of my third year. After lunch, after my entry was posted, Megan looked up at me. "You, uh, don't need to check your mailbox, do you?" This was said in a tone so blatantly suggestive that I half-expected a "wink-wink, nudge-nudge, know-what-I-mean?" to follow it. The proper answer to that question is, of course, "Of course." And so we checked mailboxes.
I High-Passed Surgery!

Riding high on that event, we returned to the CIU, where I made the mistake of answering the phone. (It's an unwritten rule: if you didn't page someone, don't answer the phone.) A was on the other end. "Nykki! Can you come over here and do a physical exam on an admit?" They have us do physical exams on admits.

But this, O Best Beloved, was a very special admit.
Her name is B. B was in holding on a misdemeanor charge, having been picked up by the police after getting drunk and trying to drown herself in a retaining pond. She was a pleasant enough woman, all things considered, and getting drunk and trying to commit suicide are hardly rare occurences in this particular line of work. There was, however, a very special thing that demarcated B from our usual drunken pond-diver.
B is a practising anaesthesiologist. A doctor.
Today, O Best Beloved, I looked into the face of a woman who had survived medical school, passed through residency. She asked us to page her little sister, a fourth-year that Megan knew vaguely, and tell her where she was. We had her sign a release form for the information; we have to follow the rules to the letter with a doctor. She told us, tearfully, that she'd been depressed for years.
"Look at me," she said, eyes a wide-pupilled shade of desperation, and sat up, leaning forward. "This doesn't happen to us. Doctors don't get sick."
O yes, Best Beloved, they do.
I looked into her eyes, and we patted her shoulders, told her we'd see how soon she could get to the wing and use the phone. I have an operating room schedule that's full tomorrow. I have to cancel. What, I wonder, did she plan on the OR to do if she had died? Doctors, after all, are only human. "It's hard," she said, plaintive, her voice a you-understand-me whirl of syllables, "it's hard to ask for help...in our position."
And it is, I will not deny that. It is hard to admit that we are human, after all.
Permission gained, we paged her sister. We told her the basics - that B was admitted, her room location (any medical student knows those numbers are the locked psychiatry inpatient wing). Disbelief became understanding without any coaxing. She knew what had happened.
I called her Doctor, the whole time I spoke with her. I use my patients' last names and their titles; I am young and I look younger. A police officer in Holding the other day asked me if I had turned 18 yet. I called her Dr. B, and there was gratitude in her eyes for it.
On the way back, Megan and I talked about her, and about the strange and wrenching reality that had gripped us as we heard her speak. And we talked about her future, wondered whether she would lose hospital privileges for her conviction. Wondered how the repercussions of her actions would affect her career. She was, after all, not really all that old. And she believed, as so very many do, in the invulnerability of the physician's coat.

Chemical dependency lecture, hour one: He stands in front of us, young, eager, the best of the best, the brightest minds and the most diligently applied young doctors-to-be that we can imagine ourselves being. We joke with each other about being "slackers" if we don't study of an evening. Parties are carefully scheduled for after exams. He looks around at the room. "There are about twenty of you in here," he says, words measured. "That means two of you, sometime in the course of your lives, will be alcoholics."
Twenty pairs of bright and attentive eyes pivoted at his words, my own included, scanning the faces of the other nineteen students in the room, weighing what we each knew about the others, judging the likelihood of each person being one of those two.
Because, after all, it could never be me.

now feeling:: shocked shocked

11 whispers echo . o O ( ... ) O o . whisper a word
numair From: numair Date: May 6th, 2004 07:06 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
This is completely off subject and a random tangent, but I just noticed your icon and I love it muchly ^_^
From: sepuki Date: May 6th, 2004 08:14 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
*hugs!* Many, many congratulations on your passing, dear. ^_^
tablecolor From: tablecolor Date: May 7th, 2004 02:54 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
wow, congrats!!

just to let you know that your entries have always been inspiring to me - they give me a better insight on what to expect in the road ahead of me...!

God bless!
turnberryknkn From: turnberryknkn Date: May 7th, 2004 06:47 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
(nods nods) Thank you very much again for sharing, especially things like this: the side of medicine the outsiders don't get to see.

My pastors, growing up, always used to emphasize, among many lessons, that one of the central truths of the universe was that we, as humans, try to succeed merely on our own strength, we will be no match for the challenges we face. But what is not possible by our own strength alone we can accomplish if we humble ourselves and ask God for help. The truth of how terribly weak we are against the challenges we face I've never found more true than on the wards.

We're only human, but it often seems like we're in a profession where we're not allowed to be merely human. We're almost expected to be super-human on a daily basis. If there was ever a place where we Christians had no choice but to depend on God, the wards would be one of them.
turnberryknkn From: turnberryknkn Date: May 7th, 2004 06:50 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
And that's something else, too -- talking about God with my other non-Christian friends --which would be most of them-- often makes people very uncomfortable, and so I don't; even though He is a major, major part of my universe on a very daily basis, like here. It's good to be able to talk openly about God with other believers, like you.

God bless, and congrats on the grade. :-)
lorriejharris From: lorriejharris Date: May 7th, 2004 07:02 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
Warmest congrats! You worked hard for that, and earned it!

BTW...I hope you consider getting all these entries published one day.
From: silmaril Date: May 7th, 2004 08:06 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
You get a high-five for high-passing.

And a quiet hug for the rest.
coanteen From: coanteen Date: May 7th, 2004 11:18 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
it's your last rotation, right? or last before a break?

also: kodama!
ayradyss From: ayradyss Date: May 7th, 2004 02:09 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)

And that's right. 21st is the last day of my 3rd year.
xarkos From: xarkos Date: May 8th, 2004 01:59 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
To add in my own, not terribly surprised diagnosis:

Disorder | Rating
Paranoid: Low
Schizoid: Low
Schizotypal: Moderate
Antisocial: Moderate
Borderline: Low
Histrionic: High
Narcissistic: High
Avoidant: Moderate
Dependent: High
Obsessive-Compulsive: Moderate

Of course, psychology seems to require a significant amount of your own psychoses, look at the crack addicted Freud after all. But Histrionic and Narcissistic for me?!? And Obsessive-Compulsive? have these people met me? I know some of which questions set off the answers, but those three don't fit at those levels, and I'd consider upping my Borderline to Moderate. Oh well, must be feeling a little less borderline and a bit more self-centered today than usual. The biggest things I know I can place on myself with even looking at the DSM are ADD, which has been checked against the DSM with checks the whole way down the list, and Depression, add in today's randomized feelings of low self esteem that come and go and there you have it.

Congratulations on high-passing surgery, I'm impressed, but not surprised knowing you, and good luck with the rest.
xarkos From: xarkos Date: May 8th, 2004 02:05 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
hmm... let's try changing that a little:
"The biggest things I know I can place on myself without even looking at the DSM..."
11 whispers echo . o O ( ... ) O o . whisper a word