The Katrina Journals

During hurricane Katrina I kept a journal. I posted this journal on another website and soon enough time forgot about it. By chance I stumbled upon it yesterday and had forgot that I even wrote it. It’s like a little time capsule from four years ago. This entry is the entire journal from learning about the storm to returning to the city.

——————————————————————————————————————————————Saturday, August 27, 2005
12:40 AM The Beginning

I remember the first time I saw her. I was sitting in gross anatomy lecture and about three rows in front of me someone was surfing the internet on a laptop and looking up weather maps. Read more

Derm – From Every Angle

My first two weeks of my month on Dermatology I worked in a clinic, which was actually pretty cool, although I am kind of an odd ball with regards to the fact that I seem to enjoy being a clinic monkey. I worked in this private clinic that was not affiliated with Tulane. So they got a lot of private patients that wanted cosmetic/aesthetic work done. Needless to say the supply of eccentric overly vain middle aged women was no where in shortage. Naturally the compliment to overly vain rich middle aged woman is the overly flamboyant gay man. Read more

The Pizza Chronicles: The Double Agent

We typically reserve the term Dissociative fugue for extreme example of someone who travels to some far off distant place and forgets all about their previous life. However, I believe there are many variations on this, some involve true amnesia, while others are more simply about denial, or even the search for existentialism. When I’m out tearing up the streets delivering pizzas on my scooter (or more appropriately put, lawnmower engine with wheels), I have no thoughts or concerns about med school, or any of the complications about matching. Read more

The Pizza Chronicles: Training Days

I got a job! Fourth year of med school is just that amazing. When I was in college the most money I made was when I did pizza delivery for a month to burn up some extra miles on leased car. Back then I was averaging about 20/hour. Now I find myself with this plethora of extra time on my hands, I thought hey I’ll deliver pizzas again, and dammit I’ll do it on the scooter. My dad brought up a solid point the other day when discussing this with him. He tends to think I’m doing this more for the intellectual challenge of trying to figure out how to deliver 10 pizzas on a scooter rather than the money, which may have some truth. Read more

Internal Medicine – The Compression Manifesto

“We have a pulse”!

These are words that are unfortunately rarely heard more than a few minutes into CPR. When the hospital operator announces a code blue overhead it is more often than not a one way ticket to blue skys. I don’t claim to be any kind of expert witness in resuscitation management, but I’ve seen and been a participant in a few now and would like to make some insights. Read more

Surgery – Bullets are Bad…. but incredibly effective

By the end of the third week I had still not seen a good trauma come in. There was one girl who got shot in the leg, but it was nothing too exciting. I had one last chance to see something good. My last call was a Friday night before exam week, and I was working with Dr. D for the first time. I had heard a lot about this guy, he was the young rising star of trauma surgery and was doing things that was making heads turn in the business of resuscitation. I also heard he is just overall a cool dude and easy to get along with so I was pretty excited.Plus unlike the other surgeons that always hoped for an easy slow call night this guy was blood thirsty. He lived for the thrill of a fresh gun shot wound. Read more

Surgery – Traumatically Blah

About the second week of trauma surgery I realized that like every other rotation I have been on its pretty hit or miss depending on when your there. Unfortunately, it had mostly been a miss so far. Basically the way it works is there are 3 trauma teams that rotate nights on call. What call means is that if a trauma comes into the ER the on call team is notified and rushes down to the trauma bay, or as they call it “Room 4”, for the old trauma room in charity. A call shift lasts from 7am-7am. When there are no traumas the daily duty of the call team is to see patients in the ER or on the floor that need to be assessed to determine if they need surgery. This can range from an emergent appendicitis to a butt abscess, most of the time we go ahead and do these surgeries as well. So if there are no traumas the entire call shift can be pretty boring full of mundane general surgeries (I suppose if you love surgery, this would be a great time). But as I had previously mentioned I find no joy in standing in an OR for 6 or 7 hours without sitting, peeing, pooping, eating or drinking. Just not my version of a good time, but to each there own. So anyway, my first night was pretty uneventful there were no activations, just a bunch of consult surgeries. I wound up heading home at about 11am, so if you do the math I worked 30 hours, I was able to grab about 2 hours of sleep in the call room so it wasn’t that bad…riiiight

The basic day when the team is not on call can vary. We have a bunch of patients on the floor that are awaiting surgery, or are post-op. Either way they are all pretty boring and not much to do with trauma. The way a team accumulates patients is by being on call and doing a bunch of consults. So that first week I worked we were on call a few times and had collected about 24 patients. Between the other two med students I was working with we had to see all those patients every morning and write progress notes on them by 6 am. Now a surgery progress note is pretty simple, usually only two or three lines. But it always seemed our resident wanted us to know every detail about what happened to the patient the previous day, or what plastic surgery thought, or what the social worker was planning on doing. So I was completely inept in my ability to see a patient in 10 minutes and move on. I still can’t decide if this was because of me, or the trials and tribulations that one has to go through every morning in University hospital, probably a bit of both. Regardless I found myself getting to the hospital before 4 am on multiple occasions. My second week was by far the busiest and I logged just over 98 hours for the week. I have a friend who is a surgical intern at Yale and she says she often puts in the 100 hour weeks, but on average she works 80 hours which to her is no sweat and very manageable. Another reason why I could never be a surgeon, doing anything for 100 hours a week is my idea of misery, besides maybe sleeping or playing Nintendo.