Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thanks, Doc.

“You will fail if you can’t do things differently.”

The other day in school, we had to combine all parts of the patient exam that we learned throughout the year, minus the musculoskeletal portion, into a complete patient physical examination. This included examining the head and neck, cranial nerve function, chest/back (heart, lungs, kidneys, etc), and abdomen (liver, spleen, etc).

I was asked to stay by the physician after everyone had left.

"Your style of interviewing patients is very good. And I know you know your stuff. But the way you examine the patient seems awkward and you can't do certain things. It's not your fault, of course. But you will fail if you can't do things different."

My heart sunk. I swallowed hard and forced a smile. “I understand,” I responded. This was not what I wanted to hear. I started crossing off more specialties that I would not be able to do.

“Not all patients will be as compliant and will be able to move to make things easier for you. And this will not cut it during the graded exam, and they will fail you.”

I was then extended an offer to come in for additional practice. I told her I was busy during the week with studying but that I could come in on Saturdays. She agreed to come on the Saturdays she is free to help me. I am very grateful for her kind offer. Also, if any of my classmates are reading this and are able to study at the building on Saturdays or Sundays, I would greatly appreciate it you could let me know and then spare 15-20 minutes letting me practice on you so I can get used to people of varying heights. Well, that goes for any of my friends in Athens, not just my classmates.

I’ve thought about this many times before but have only mentioned it to a few people (because I think people will think I'm weak): I envy those who are able to perform the actions they want with ease. I envy those who are able to reach over or forward with both hands without fear of falling forward. You see, my injury level is such that I also lack any trunk stability. My best friends remember how initially I was so incredibly scared to move even slightly while in therapy. With every movement on the mat, I thought I would fall off and crack my head open on the tiles. Can’t tell, can you? Like riding a bicycle, I forced my mind and body to retrain and learn how to balance myself without falling over. I was initially told that I needed to wear a chest strap at all times, but I disregarded that advice from therapists, like lots of other cautions they gave me. I’d still be at home with my parents if I listened to everything everyone ever told me.

When I see people being able to examine someone using both hands without stabilizing themselves with one hand and not worrying about falling over, I secretly wish they knew how lucky they were.

If you can reach both hands forward, perhaps to hug your mother or your best friend, consider yourself truly blessed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Top gear

Disclaimer: this may seem like a pretty stupid post to some, but this put a big smile on my face two days ago, so I don't care!

I was going to write about this before but just never got to it. One of the few times I get down now is when I see a BMW 3-series (E46 or newer).

The only other time I had a car of my own was in high school for a little while, and even then it was a car that I had to share. I didn’t have a car all through college. My dad promised me that if I got into MCG, a public med school that would end up saving me a ton of money, that he would help me get a [reasonable] car of my choice. So I worked hard all through undergrad and finally got into medical school. Then, I got an E46 BMW 3-series—silver exterior, black interior, stick shift. I made sure it was a manual so that I would be the only one in my family (and among most of my friends) who knew how to drive it. Man, I loved it.

I really babied that car. I told myself that I wanted to understand how to take care of cars on my own, so I got books and joined BMW forums and really learned the ins and outs of it. Since it was about time for me to do some maintenance on the German car when I got it, I did that and some repairs on my own, much to the amazement of a mechanic whom my dad showed it to. I added halo eyes to the front to make the car look beautiful at night and I also installed an iPod kit on my own that allowed me to control my iPod with the steering wheel. I put my sweat, blood (not really), and tears (not really) into it. I did put my heart into it.

Then about four months later, I got into my accident. I had to sell the car because nobody else in my family knew how to drive manual. At the time, when I was thinking about selling it, my mom told me, “Two things you should never be attached to in this world: cars and houses.” Then I decided to let it go.

So, whenever I see an E46 BMW 3-series, I pine after it. It's crazy how we miss the little things. I remember the feeling of the clutch under my left foot and the black leather shifter in my right hand. Life was so much easier with the windows down and the iPod blaring as I shifted into 5th gear.

I was thinking yesterday about how I could maybe get a car with a Tiptronic* transmission, allowing me to go from automatic to manual and not have to use a clutch. I would miss using the clutch pedal and comparing the ease/smoothness/sensitivity to different cars, but being able to shift through gears would still bring back some of the excitement.

Two days ago, I noticed that the car I have now does have that.

I felt really, really stupid for not noticing it earlier.

And then really happy as I started using the clutchless “manual” transmission.

This may not seem important to other people, but my BMW meant the world to me. And night-driving with the music on and the windows down is one of my favorite things ever—especially doing it while shifting gears.

*I know “Tiptronic” is the term for the manumatic transmission originally developed my Porsche, but I used it here because it seems like a more commonly used term than “manumatic”.

Speaking of Porches and Tiptronic transmissions, I saw my dream car in a handicapped parking spot yesterday. This also put a smile on my face.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Everyone is with you in times of happiness.

“Everyone is with you in times of happiness. You have to see who sticks with you in times of darkness.”

That’s a rough translation of something my mom said to me in Urdu once.

I was talking to a friend about this topic. I have mentioned it several times on here, but never devoted a whole post to it, I don’t think.

My friend was telling me how when she was going through a testing period, she lost contact with some of her old friends.

I mentioned how the same thing happened to me. People who I thought I would always be friends with stopped keeping in touch me and supporting me. Other people came out of nowhere and showed incredibly touching, spirit-lifting, and helpful gestures.

Everyone is with you when things are all good and all fun & games. When things get tough, a lot of people can’t deal with things.

Some people are willing to be there with you and share your pain. They are willing to suppress their own desires for a little while so they may take away your pain.

These are the people you should surround yourself with—not the people who are just “super fun” and know a lot of people or something.


Sometime early in high school, I developed a mental screening test for my closest friends. It’s quite ironic now, considering what happened to me. The test is this: I think about if I was in a car accident (or another situation of equal weight) and my mind was distraught and not able to gather my thoughts clearly, would I call this person?

This question I use tests if I really and truly trust this person and if my heart is truly invested in them and they make me feel safe/comfortable, whether I was consciously aware of it or not.

A few people I have thought I was close to failed this mental test for some reason. I guess my mind/heart just said, “No.” There are some friends who I don’t talk to as much anymore because we are just busy with things, but who I know would be there for me if I needed absolutely anything. And when I think I have found “the one”, I’m of course going to use this again.


It is only in times of darkness and when things are falling apart that we see the true character of people.