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Laundry On Sundaes

Every beginning is only a sequel, after all, and the book of events is always open halfway through.

Monthly Archives: July 2011

So, this was pretty much my final presentation for my internship. Yeah, I drew comic panels as slides :)

1. Being a doctor can mean many different things

Throughout the summer, I shadowed many different doctors in different specialties and settings. And I realized that even though they all have the title of MD, what they do every day can be vastly different.

2. Surgery is really awesome

During my internship I observed 2 kidney transplant surgeries, a laparoscopic nephrectomy, and a coronary artery bypass surgery, and all of them were so cool to watch! I still find it amazing that we have the ability to do all these things to fix our bodies.

3. And so is tissue recovery

I had the opportunity to go on a tissue recovery case and I was so glad that I got to see it. I was completely eye opening! They recovered the heart, the aortic bifuracation vessels, the bones in the arms, the bones and tendons in the legs, and the costal cartilages. Awesome anatomy lesson!

4. Kids make everything more fun

I also shadowed 2 pediatricians at a private practice and a pediatric nephrologist at the Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, and let me tell you, it’s a totally different environment. Much more relaxed and fun!

5. The human mind is fascinating

As a Neuroscience and Behavior major, 2 of the medical specialties I was interested in were Neurology and Psychiatry. And as I expected, I saw a lot of interesting cases. For example, I saw a lady who had conversion disorder, which means that she has neurological symptoms (slurred speech, paralysis) without any neurological cause – super interesting.

6. Dentistry is actually really cool

So as I’ve mentioned before, I spent quite a lot of time shadowing a dentist during my internship. Before now, I’d never really considered dentistry as a career option for me, but as I was browsing through the VUMC directory looking for things I was interested in, I came across dentistry and thought, hey, why not? Dr. Rezk, the dentist I shadowed, and the rest of her team, turned out to be so wonderful and informative that now I’m actually starting to look into possibly becoming a dentist!

7. I’m really lucky to be healthy

After seeing so many patients who have to take 12 different medicines day, come into the hospital because of a rejection, etc, I’m starting to appreciate what a gift it really is just to be healthy. This experience has really shown me how health really is the most fundamentally important thing in your quality of life and this has inspired me to really take care of my body.

8. There is a real sense of community in medicine

I was so happy to see that everyone I met was so nice and helpful, even though I’m just an undergrad. All of the doctors, residents, fellows, and medical students I met really welcomed me with open arms and genuinely wanted to make this a good experience for me.

9. I have a lot of options than I had thought

So before this summer, I’ve been feeling kind of bleh and constricted about a career in anything science-y. Since I’ve decided that I didn’t want to do research, I felt like my only other option was to be a doctor. But this internship exposed me to many other options that I never even considered – or knew existed. I think it was the most valuable thing I got out of the internship – the feeling that I do have choices and the renewed confidence in a career in healthcare!

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Guess who will soon be the proud owner of 2 pieces of Robin Scherbastky inspired clothing? Oh yeah, this girl right here. And if my site stats are correct, then I’m far from the only person who has been searching for these items. So, being the kind soul that I am, I’m going to share these incredible finds with you!

The first one if the coat. THE coat. The beige tiered Burberry trench coat that Robin wore on the episode Last Cigarette Ever of season 5 of HIMYM. The coat that I’ve been obsessed with for the past year and a half. Need a reminder of what it looks like? Here it is:

To die for, right? So obviously we can’t all afford Burberry, but Anthropologie happened to make a knock-off version of their own:

BUT! It was still very expensive (around $200) and by now it’s long sold out. But then! Guess what I found last week? An eBay knock-off of the Anthro version! Ha! Who would’ve thought! And it looks pretty much exactly like it:

And so I knew I had to buy it! And you can too here, for less than $80. I know I already bought this tiered winter coat, but I didn’t even dream of ever finding an affordable trench version back then, and now here we are! Very happy right now.

Alright, onto item number 2: the royal blue one shouldered Nanette Lepore dress Robin wore in the season 6 episode Natural History:

I’ve already researched and found some options for this dress, and even bought one of them, but now I’ve found my favourite in my search on sale! The Ciara Dress by Coast is beyond gorgeous:

But it was sold out at the time I found it, but now it’s back and on sale here. And I’m sharing this with you even though I bought it at a higher price than it is now (an incredible $70) and am a little upset about it. Because I’m just so nice.

I’m not there to receive my packages right now so it’ll be September before I actually get to try on either of these things, but I am very excited. Fingers crossed that they fit me!

Please leave a comment if you found this post useful and if you end up buying either of these items and let me know how you like them!

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1. Taking care of kids is really, really hard.
2. The microwave oven is one of the most useful inventions ever.
3. Standing on your feet all day is tiring, no matter how comfortable the shoes.
4. 40 degrees Celsius (104 F) feels very hot.
5. Cardiac surgery can get bloody.
6. Living in an apartment by yourself can get a little scary at night.
7. Almost nobody flosses every day.
8. I cannot go more than 2 weeks without going shopping.

We did stuff other than eat! I swear! Stuff like…

… Seeing the 42 feet tall statue of Athena inside the Parthenon in Centennial Park

… Admiring the Tennessee State Capitol

… Pondering the questions of the universe in front of these tomes by the Nashville Public Library

… Visiting the Frist Center for the Visual Arts

… Drinking a lot of free Dr. Pepper (wait… does that count as eating?)

… Making friends with Shrek

… Watching an awesome fireworks show

… And wishing that the lovely Belmont Mansion was our own!

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“Wow, we come from vastly different academic backgrounds,” said Ian, my fellow summer intern, at lunch.

“Yeah, but it doesn’t matter anymore now that we’re here, does it,” I replied. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the statement was mostly aimed at myself.

If I dare say so myself, I was a high school superstar. I consistently got the highest grades in almost all of my classes, many of them AP, throughout high school, taking home the top student award every year from grade 9 to 12. I was on the debate team, was a member and later a coach of the math team, served on student council, and was involved in numerous other extracurricular organizations. I painted and designed murals and other things for my school. I volunteered. All the teachers and principles knew me and loved me. I took and won math and science competitions. I only lost 10 points total on my SAT’s, including 3 SAT subject tests. And to finish off such a high school career, I was my class valedictorian, the winner of the Governor General’s Award, and got accepted to Columbia University. And all of a sudden, none of that mattered anymore.

And I was okay with it. After all, I was expecting to be just average at a school like Columbia. I still got good grades, perhaps even better grades than I had anticipated. But I can’t help but feel like an underachiever at times. Like when I barely get above average grades on an organic chemistry midterm. Or when I lose a prestigious summer internship to someone who wasn’t even chosen as a finalist. Or when I’m home, looking at the bookshelf in the study that’s filled with my plaques, certificates, medals, and trophies from high school. Sure, next year my Columbia diploma will join their ranks, and maybe that alone is a bigger accomplishment than all the rest of them. But still, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I’ve been somehow under-performing since I graduated from high school.

Maybe it’s simply the fact that, at this point in the game, you don’t get gold stars anymore for a job well done. A nice looking GPA and the words “Dean’s List” on your online student account just doesn’t feel as great as a big ceremony with presentations and plaques. And nobody really cares about your nice internships or leadership roles when everyone else has the same or even better ones. I understand all that, and I accept all of it, but why do I still feel like such a loser sometimes?

I’ve been thinking about it for a while now, and I think I’ve come to a good conclusion. It has to do with losing sight of my goals. In high school, my goals were clear: get top student in physics class, get at least a 2300 on my SAT, get into a great college. I knew what I wanted and I knew what I had to do to get it. But now that I’m at Columbia, things have been different. I thought I knew what I wanted (to become a doctor), but along the way I encountered things that made me unsure. And so I’ve decided to become undecided, to just stay in the moment and focus on right now. But you know what? That doesn’t work for me. That’s not how I operate. I can’t focus on studying organic chemistry when I don’t see how it will contribute to a concrete goal. I just can’t. Recently I realized that what I need is something to work towards, something I really want, something that is going to motivate me and re-energize me. I miss the feeling of having a goal to work towards, and the rush of happiness when I know that my hard work has paid off. The reason why I feel like I’ve been underachieving is simply because I didn’t know what I was supposed to be achieving in the first place.

I’m not good at being undecided. It agitates me, worries me, and ultimately renders me apathetic and void of motivation. So this is what I need: a goal, a goal I truly believe and want to invest my time an energy in. By the end of the summer, I hope to have gained enough experience to make that choice with confidence. It’s high time I set my mind to something and just work for it. Because it’s only then that I truly feel like a superstar, even if no one else recognizes me as one.

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My first ever 4th of July spent in the US was amazing! Yufei came to visit for a few days and we had such a great weekend here in Nashville, which, of course, included lots of awesome food.

On Saturday night Yufei treated me to a delicious dinner at Sunset Grill, a neighbourhood restaurant not far from where I live. I think it was the best meal I’ve had – and probably will have – in Nashville yet! We started off by sharing the Sweet and Sour Smoked Duck, which came in a scallion pancake and was served with creme fraiche:

For our main courses, Yufei had the Angus New York Strip:

And I ordered the Shrimp and Grits because I was seriously craving seafood:

The dish was so so good! The shrimps were perfectly seasoned and the grits were so delicious and buttery. Even then I still couldn’t finish it since the serving was huge, and because I needed to save room for dessert! We opted for the Small Trio, which included 3 half portions of desserts. We chose a Rhubarb Crisp with vanilla ice cream, the Butterscotch-Habanero Bread Pudding, and the Death by Chocolate Cake:

They were all very yummy and we definitely stuffed ourselves that night. I really liked the restaurant a lot: the atmosphere was great, at least where we sat in the airy open area with glass windows and ceiling, our server was great as well, and the food was heavenly. I’m going to try and go back before I leave Nashville!

Then on Sunday, for lunch we picked up food from Panera and had a nice picnic lunch in Centennial Park. The frozen strawberry lemonade was so good and I’m obsessed with their potato chips. We also got ice cream and sweet tea – Yufei’s first ever! – at McDonald’s after. Then for dinner we went to P. F. Chang’s. We don’t often to go big chain restaurants but I wanted nice Asian food and that was a scarcity in the area around Vanderbilt. We had the prix-fixe four course dinner for 2. We each had a hot and sour soup and shared the lettuce wrap appetizer, which was really good, but I found the soup a bit salty.

Then for entrees we had pretty standard fare, sweet and sour pork for Yufei and sesame chicken for me. My chicken was actually very good, it had a nice ginger kick to it and I really liked it.

Then for dessert we had 2 of the mini desserts – the Great Wall of chocolate and the red velvet cake – which came in little glasses and were the perfect size after a pretty big meal.

Then came Monday, the 4th of July, and we headed downtown for the festivities. We had lunch at Jack’s Bar-B-Que which was yummy as always, and then bought ice cream before getting more free ice cream samples, free Cherry Dr. Pepper (Yufei was very very happy about that) and free McDonald mango smoothies. Dinner was the unhealthiest combination ever: sweet potato ribbon fries, nachos, and fried chicken on a stick, with a huge lemonade made from real lemons (pathetically the healthiest part of the meal). But to be fair, healthy options were pretty much nonexistent among the food stands in the park. Ah – gotta love America.

Tuesday was Yufei’s last day here in Nashville, and we had to go to The Pancake Pantry before he left.

It’s a so-called “Nashville Tradition” and I’d heard enough about the place that I was pretty curious about it myself. We went at around 11:45 am, and there was a line out the door. I was warned about this so it wasn’t so unexpected. We waited about half an hour before we got seated – in one of the booth seats by the window – score! After looking at the menu, Yufei decided to get the sweet potato pancakes and I got the Swiss chocolate chips pancakes, and we also got the Cook’s Medley to share.

The pancakes were fluffy and warm and scrumptious as expected, but I also seriously loved the Cook’s Medley – crispy hash browns with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and ham, with melted cheese on top and 2 fried eggs, served with spicy salsa – so so good. I was a lot of food for the 2 of us, and we wished that we’d only gotten 1 pancake serving to share, but oh well, everything was delicious!

And that about wraps up our food adventures this weekend in Nashville! Ahh… it was divine.

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Finished the third week of my internship at Vanderbilt Medical Center and it’s been awesome so far! This has been such a huge change from doing research for the past 2 summers, mostly because there has been very little real work, since I’ve been just doing shadowing. But it’s been very valuable experience and I’ve gotten to see a lot of cool stuff!

So I continued shadowing in Nephrology at the Vanderbilt Hospital, and also at the Veteran Affairs Hospital next door. I watched a kidney biopsy, shadowed some more in Neurology consult, and sat in on a bunch of meetings. I also started shadowing in psychiatry consults, where you see a lot of angry people, depressed people, crazy people, etc. So that’s been fun.

then this past Wednesday, I shadowed Dr. Susan Langone, the wife of the Dr. Langone at Vanderbilt. She works as a pediatrician in private practice, it was a very different experience. I was there for the clinic visits of a 2-month-old, a 6-month-old, a 2-year-old, a 5-year-old, and a 10-year old – a good range! Overall the environment is just a lot happier and relaxed and fun, and there aren’t any really serious illnesses since it’s an outpatient clinic. And Dr. Langone was hopping around and being pretty active in trying to assess the kids’ physical development and such. And the kids were all so cute!

In more exciting news, I observed a couple of kidney transplants in the OR! The first one was such a strange and surreal experience. First of all, I was shocked at myself for being so totally okay and non-reactive during the surgery (especially considering my fellow intern Ian chickened out on it that morning). Maybe I’ve got what it takes to be a surgeon, ha. Secondly, it’s still so incredible to me that modern medicine has advanced to the point where we can take an organ from one human being (dead or alive) and put it into another. As I stared at the kidney sitting in a bucket of ice, it was odd to imagine it being inside someone’s body just minutes ago, someone who was probably still on an operating table just next door. And it was even stranger to see the surgeon staple the wound close on the recipient’s abdomen, and seeing her lying there, with her blood already flowing through a new kidney. And what made it even more surreal was that I saw the patient in person in her pre-op clinic visit, as well as after her transplant in the hospital. And on top of everything else, it was actually the much publicized kidney-found-via-celebrity-Tweet transplant… Anyway… yes, I’m still in awe at the whole thing.

The second one I observed was this week, and I got to see some of the nephrectomy surgery (it was all laparoscopic) for removing the kidney from the donor as well. And I actually got to scrub in for the transplant, so I was right up there at the operating table with the surgeon and his assistants! It was so cool seeing everything up close, and I even got to touch the kidney and feel the pulse in the iliac artery and hold stuff for the surgeon. Hoping to see more different surgeries soon!

I also began shadowing a dentist, Dr. Rezk, at the dental clinic at Vanderbilt last week. It has been going super over there as well; Dr. Rezk and her team are some of the friendliest people ever. She told me that she was reluctant at first to take me on, since she’s had some not so great experiences with students shadowing her before (how do you even be bad at shadowing someone? You don’t even do anything!). But then she said that since I was a girl and I was Asian (she’s Asian too, it’s just that her husband’s Egyptian) she thought she’d give me a chance, and she tole me after the first day that I was a great shadower (again, how can you possibly be bad?). Anyway, so I’ve been really enjoying shadowing her, she’s great at what she does, and she’s so, so friendly to her patients, and she genuinely seems to enjoy her job. And she’s been great about telling me what it’s like to work as a dentist and actually really recommended it for me. I’m really glad that I found her and that she let me shadow her, and it’s been making me consider dentistry more and more seriously. We’ll see how that goes for the rest of the summer!

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