Monday, September 26, 2005

Green Cars

There's a pretty interesting site, called the Green Car Congress that posts news and info on alternative fuel sources for cars. I've always thought not enough is being done to promote technologies, that already exist, to improve fuel efficiency...

Sunday, September 25, 2005

What's Cookin...

I've been too caught up in sports to mention that I'm at Cook County Hospital (now known as Stroger) doing a cardiology rotation. I have to say interventional cardiologists get to do some really cool cases. Nothing like taking a person with a heart attack to the cath lab and opening up the patient's vessels and, quite possibly, saving his/her life. There is a certain adrenaline rush that pervades the air when you hang out with interventional cardiologists.

In addition, the attendings at County are like walking encyclopedias of cardiology. One thing that impresses me about County is that no matter how busy everyone is, education is taken very seriously. Teaching conferences are like religion there, and everyone is excused from clinical duties to attend lectures.

The other thing that strikes you about County is that it could have easily been lifted from some city in India or Pakistan. A large percentage of the doctors are of South Asian ethnicity, and you can bust out in Urdu/Hindi or English to discuss your patients. Thing is, I'm convinced these docs have all memorized Harrison's. I was listening to a noon lecture one day on drug therapy for cardiac patients. The lecture was so good, I thought it was being given by a cardiologist, and later I found out that it was an internist who gave the talk. Just gives you a sense of the level of education of the attending physicians.

Rounds are also very educational. I am on the consult service, so for every case, the attendings ask us to interpret EKGs and come up with our impression and recommendations. And they are always teaching in the process.

Of course, the most memorable thing about County are the patients. From drug abusers with failing heart valves whose legs are handcuffed to their beds, to patients that speak no English, whose eyes dart around nervously, unsure of what ails them and uneasy about what it is we are doing to them.

There is also comedy amidst the drama - on Friday, there was a "code red" for a fire that was apparently started by a patient who was smoking in bed (smoking in the hospital is totally forbidden), who then ran out of the room, without bothering to tell anyone that the room was on fire. Luckily someone noticed and actually did something about it (not a given at County) and the fire was quickly contained...just another day...

This week will be my last at County and it's been a blast. My next rotation will be ID at St. James (Olympia Fields) which should be a nice break...the commute to County ranges from 1.5 to 2 hours thanks to rush hour. I can't wait til the day cars will drive themselves...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Don't Cry for Me...

This past week, I have suffered a series of reversals in the sporting world that has been quite the test of perseverance. First, Imran beats me big time in Madden 2006. One game by 60 points, another by over 40. After these stinging virtual defeats, I of course challenge him to real test of manhood, a best of three series on the basketball court. Of course, I dominate and win the first one. But then the little punk goes out and wins the second one (15-10) and then somehow sinks a two in the last game to win like 16-14. Painful beyond words when I saw that two go in... My ego took a major beating of the kind it is not normally subject to on its own volition...

But to add to the pain, Green Bay goes out and loses in a most unceremonious manner. What is the deal?!? Favre, wake up dude. In the same weekend, McNabb throws like 5 touchdowns, the Bears score more than 30 points and the Patriots lose...what's going on?

And then the White Sox, killing me softly with their cruise control playing. Hello people, the Indians went from being a footnote in the season to 2.5 games back. If the Sox blow this, they will effectively lose any chance of postseason play...the Cardinals manage to clinch the division at Wrigley, but the Sox just go ahead and lose at home against the Indians...

All is not lost...the Sox won tonight...I can always rechallenge Imran to virtual and actual tests of manhood...and Green Bay had a similarly slow start last year before going on to win the NFC North...

Hope springs eternal. No lloras por me...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Advice for Medical School

I was cleaning out my messages and came across an email I wrote giving advice to incoming first-year medical students on how to prepare for the rigors of medical school...I thought I should share this "wisdom"...

Best place to study: Depends who you are. Gunners can be found on the second floor of the library on the far end. Slackers at any number of Starbucks, Borders, Barnes & Noble. Those in between seem to study at home, second floor of the library just off the stairs, public libraries, other university libraries, in the dorms. Me? Well, I'm here and there...

Best instrument for dissection: If you want to impress your labmates, or eternally cast yourself out as a social pariah (depends what your lab group is like), your bare hands. This follows in the grand tradition of Dr. Allin himself, who has upheld the tradition (just watch the anatomy videos from the 60s) despite the advent of things like "scalpels" and "probes". But if you are not a traditionalist, I suggest #3 scalpels and forceps with the two little hooks on the end.

Most helpful books during first year: Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution. Because we all put on a few pounds now and then. Seriously? The blue sections in Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy are priceless and Berman's histology. I was a Netter fan back in the day but Grant's has grown on me. Maybe a physio book for the uninitiated. Some say reading books like First Aid along with the sections they're studying is useful too but what do I know, I never did it...

Least helpful books during first year: The Relationship Rescue Workbook by Dr. Phil. Doesn't do a thing for you. Oh, you mean medical books? AOA Foundations. I mean, really, who is going to read that? Unless you're the Hermoine of OMM wizardry.

How did you prevent the "stink" from lab from sticking to you?: Don't go to lab. If you go, you will stink. I have double gloved, petroleum jellied (not as much fun as it sounds, I assure you) all to no avail.

Best/worst bar in the suburbs: Don't do the bar scene, wouldn't know. Though I did hear some people spent more time researching this issue first quarter than reading anatomy notes. But that's all hearsay...

Best/worst place for lunch: Safari has the best (and most filling) lunch deal you can find; it's on Roosevelt Road and I also recommend the Date and Banana Smoothie...yummy...I've been known to do Chipotle but it's too busy during lunch. The school cafeteria is actually pretty decent. Worst is any place where you can say "Super Size" and they know what you mean...

What was the biggest surprise of 1st year: All nighters for anatomy don't work. Took a couple of surprises to figure that out.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Help is on the way...

I came across an interesting picture gallery from someone down in New Orleans about Hurricane Katrina. He took some pictures before, during and after the storm hit. Some amazing pictures.

Thought I would also mention that American Muslims are leading efforts to bring help to the survivors of Katrina. So far American Muslim charities and organizations have pledged $10 million in relief aid. In addition, a large number of groups have come together to form a Muslim Hurricane Relief Task Force, to coordinate American Muslim relief efforts. Besides money, many Muslim healthcare workers are already on the scene providing direct help to the Katrina survivors. These stories, of course, are not as widely reported as they should be...

Caffeine fiend...

I have to be honest and retract a statement I made in one of my earlier posts about how, as a Sox fan, I prefer a cup of coffee to any tall cappucino...well, that's not really true...

See it all started with this last rotation in Peoria. Part of the deal they give visiting students down there is free food in the always-open cafeteria. Anytime, all day, as many times as you want, as much as you want. And, every day, I would see, in nice tall glass coolers, all these bottles of Starbucks Frappucino. And, while I love coffee, I can never drink it hot and always need to wait for it to cool down. This is something of an inconvenience (I know, I'm weird) especially when you only have a minute or two to scarf down breakfast in order to start on time. So one day, I gave in and decided I would try these refrigerated coffees that looked so tempting in their slick packaging and their promise of sugar, coffee, mocha and milk...

And I became hooked. I mean, I absolutely love the stuff. I could drink it all day, any time, on any pretext.

I felt bad about it. I mean, here I was, this South Sider going soft, flirting with danger. I mean, if I started drinking Frappucinos, what was next? Wearing polo shirts? Saving up to buy a Jetta? Watching Gilmore Girls?...well, actually, I do watch Gilmore Girls...for the great plots...

As it was, I started drinking Frappucinos every day and, towards the end of my rotation, even experimented with the "Double Shot" a super-caffeinated espresso (very good) and Mountain Dew's Amp (not very good, too much sugar, not enough caffeine).

So there, I've confessed (perhaps more than I wanted to). I'm still a Sox fan, but I love Frappucinos, cappucinos and pretty much anything else Starbucks makes. Heck, I would drink them at a Sox home game. And I'll take all the disapproving stares, because they just don't know what they're missing...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Sweet taste of victory...

So Sunday night, after realizing I had Monday off, I decided to play Imran in a late night game of Madden 2006. Imran is under the illusion that he is the best Madden player in the greater Bolingbrook region, which probably stretches from Bangor to San Ysidro in his virtual little world. So to make the game a little more interesting, I picked one of the best teams in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers, which immediately forced him to pick the Chicago Bears. My support of Green Bay is particularly irksome to Imran and I could see him already contemplating exactly how smug his look of satisfaction would be upon defeating me, a virtual dressing down of my Benedict Arnold-level defection to the Frozen Tundra...

The game was intense. Imran's offensive production is somewhat legendary, as he is known for quick scoring drives lasting less than a minute, usually on account of his West Coast-style offense. Unfortunately the West Coast would face a Tupac-like demise as my secondary mercilessly picked away at the inexperienced Rex Grossman, tallying over seven interceptions by the game's end.

I had built up a 14-0 lead from two interceptions that were converted into two successful scoring drives. It was looking like a break out game for me, but Imran launched a major comeback, shutting me out offensively for most of the second quarter and the entire third quarter. Meanwhile, he started scoring, but made a series of inexplicable mistakes when he missed the kicks for the extra point on two separate touchdowns and a failed two-point conversion on another TD.

Unfazed by his errors, he went on to take the lead in the 4th quarter with about 2:30 left in the game. It looked grim for Green Bay, as the offense had choked, sputtered and run itself into the ground. On the next posession (or maybe it was off an interception), I drove the ball all the way to the red zone and on 4th down was about 3 or 4 yards out from the end zone.

It was a big decision: take the field goal and then onside kick and try to take the game or go for it all and risk everything?

Of course, I went for it all and on a running play Ahman Green ran it without hesitation and danced his way in for the score. This is what separates a legendary sports team from one that has only the receding memory of 1985...

I won 35-32. Rather than the smug look of satisfaction, Imran looked like he had swallowed a box of prunes. I believe I looked considerably more elated, especially as I reminded Imran that the game would have been a tie and gone into overtime if he had only made the extra points after 3 of his touchdowns...

But as they say, a win is a win. And I'm savoring this one...

Sunday, September 04, 2005

An extra day...

Thought I was scheduled to start a rotation in cardiology on Monday (Labor Day) and was kind of bummed out about having to work on a holiday. Then I thought I would double-check my paperwork and was more than pleasantly surprised to find out that we are to report on Tuesday...

The elation of having a day off that you thought you were working is hard to describe. It would be like having recess again in the middle of your work day ("Okay everyone, you can stop writing notes on patients because it's time for recess! First two to the blacktop get to be captains for 4 square"). Those were the days, when the best part of the day was playing kickball, running to the jungle gym or going so high on the swings the poles holding the swings down would shake. It's been a long while since I've swung on a swing...maybe I'll get to it tomorrow, with the day off I wasn't expecting...

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Back from P-town

I'm back from my rotation in radiology down in Peoria. It was a great experience and I'm really impressed with the residency program and would love to go there. The faculty are distinguished and a forward-thinking group (interventional radiologists with their own clinic?) and they have a dominant position in the hospital as far as turf goes, which means that the surgeons (thoracic or vascular) and cardiologists don't steal all the interesting cases. It is a busy hospital and the support staff and services are just great. It would be perfect if only the cafeteria's guiding philosophy wasn't "it's not good eatin' til it's dead and fried".

These past few days have been dwarfed by the magnitude of Hurricane Katrina. I didn't watch much news while at my rotation and just watched about an hour of coverage now and am just shocked by the living conditions of the refugees. The violent crimes being committed are almost as shocking - it is in this setting that one truly begins to understand the Quran's injunction that whosoever kills a person unjustly, it is as if he has killed all of humanity. At the same time, I've heard stories of hospital staff in New Orleans taking turns to ventilate patients by hand when they lost power - and this reminds me of the other half of that verse in the Qur'an, that whoever saves a life, it is like he has saved all of humanity. Examples of both evil and nobility are rampant in New Orleans...certainly my prayers are with the sick and displaced, may Allah replace their hardship with ease and grant the sick cure that leaves behind no illness.

I don't get much of a break in my schedule - start a cardiology rotation at Cook County on Monday. Will probably have to spend the weekend reviewing cardiac pathophysiology and finalizing my application for residency programs. Busy times for this fool...