Monthly Archive for July, 2008

update: of puppies, chanel, and iphones

Yes, I’ve been MIA again. It’s really hard to write when I’m too busy being a blob.

I deferred my second rotation because the ghost of my dissertation just would not stop haunting me. Translation: my asshole major professor kept demanding a draft from me despite the fact that no one really expects us to pump out a dissertation during our third year of med school. It was a tough decision, but it was just something I had to do in order to make sure that I could focus completely on my rotations so that I don’t fail. One can skate by with only half a mind on Psych, but not while on Peds or Medicine. And I’ve been making good progress so far.

This whole deferment has allowed me to enjoy life a bit more, which is good because I’ve learned to appreciate the little things, like watching my adorable corgi puppy sleep in my lap all day long. It’s also bad because I will have to learn to live a shadow of a life once I return in August. I’m not yet sure how I’ll deal with that yet, but my preliminary plan involves large amounts of Prozac.* Speaking of my puppy, he is absolutely awesome! He’s the cutest thing ever! I always thought that I would miss him having a tail (my other dog has a really fluffy tail that has a tendency to knock things over quite often), but I now find my puppy’s little nubbin to be quite adequate at expressing his emotions and quite cute to boot. From behind, he looks like a bunny hopping when he runs. He’s a handful, but nothing compared to the horror stories I’ve heard about other breeds. I definitely cannot imagine my life without him and can see why Queen Elizabeth II has a bunch of corgis.

What else is new? Well, say hello to my new acquisition:

Isn’t it pretty? It better be because it costed $1000 more than our 52″ LCD TV. I could also have bought the Macbook Air with the amount of money I spent on this purse. Or that Canon 40D DSLR that I’ve been coveting for a year now. But, no, because I am a woman after all, I instead blow my money on a Chanel purse. And all because it’s purple and shiny and super-limited-edition. It was supposed to be my reward for finishing my first draft of my dissertation. I was just at the boutique to try it on so that my husband could then later buy it for me when I fulfilled my end of the bargain, but we ended up buying it because Chanel newbie that I am didn’t realize what incredible good fortune I had to even be able to find it at this late juncture, but at least had the good sense to know that I would forever kick myself if I passed it up. So I possess this purse that I wasn’t planning to buy for another 10 years now and I am quite broke. It is also still all boxed up (my husband was kind enough to let me take it out for a few hours to take pictures of it) waiting for me to finish that draft before it can come out and play. And now you know why I’ve been so productive as of late.

And lastly, somehow beyond all reason, my husband was able to convince me to wake up at 4:30 am the morning of July 11th to head out to our local Apple store to wait in line for the iPhone 3G. Because, of course, I just had to have it. So that’s what we did. And it was quite the interesting experience. We were, of course, not the only crazies as there were already 50ish people there by the time we got there and the line grew to well over 100 people by the time the Apple store opened. I thought I would feel really lame about waiting in line for a phone, but I have to say that I was glad to have experienced it. Of course, my shiny new iPhone 3G was defective and I had to go back a week later to get it replaced, but at least I have one now. By the way, it’s also all sorts of awesome.

*I kid. Sort of.

speaking of psych hospitals…

So I’ve been done with my psych clerkship for awhile now. I’ve just been too lazy to write. But this article about a woman collapsing then dying in the waiting room of a psych hospital and then going unnoticed despite the activity there for an hour or so is appalling enough to make me break my silence.

You see, I was at a psych hospital myself for the last four weeks of the rotation. It was made out to be quite a scary place, what with all the warnings of, “always watch your back” and “take staff with you to interview your patients.” Not to mention the crazy long self-defense class they forced us to sit through on orientation where all I retained was to always yell, “STAFF!” if I got in trouble. Thankfully, I survived my four-week stint there unscathed and quite intrigued by these patients.  Sure, some of them are pretty manic and psychotic (at the same time, an awesome combination) and others have quite scary histories of assaulting family and staff, but I grew to be fond of most of them. Except for my super antisocial patient for whom I always made sure to have staff present. And except for the manic guy (who wasn’t even my patient) who had an Asian fetish and managed to trap me in a room (thankfully, I was able to shut the door on him before he got in, but then I had no way out). This same guy then made friends with another psychotic patient who also had a thing for women (not just Asian, but all women) and they teamed up to harass me. But I wasn’t groped or assaulted, so I was happy.

But back to the article that brought me out of hiding. From the rest of the story, it seems that this particular psych hospital has a history of not treating patients so well. This latest incident seems to be a sad and extreme example of the type of behavior that can occur at psych hospitals. I was always amazed that fewer incidents are reported of things happening between patients because they’re all allowed to mingle with each other. You would think that putting a bunch of psychotic/manic/depressed/personality disordered people together would not be a good idea. But it seems to work. For the most part. Things do happen. Patients do get into it with each other. But it works remarkably well. And in the case of the hospital mentioned in this article, what happened to this patient was not a result of other patients, but of lack of concern from the staff.

Even though nothing even remotely close to what happened in the hospital mentioned in the article happened at the facility I was at, I can see how things can deteriorate to such a point. There are not enough staff members to provide the kind of attention these patients often need. Staff is spread quite thin and many of these patients are not exactly easy to work with. They take a lot out of a person. I was always happy to retreat back into the residents’ room after spending just 15 minutes or so out in the patient area. Staff members cannot retreat. They must be out there all of the time, dealing with these patients. They also have their share of difficult patients. And, unfortunately, their dealings with these few difficult patients color how they deal with everyone else. They have to stick to strict regimens, such as not giving patients snacks if they miss snack time so that patients will adhere to their snack schedules. I understand that. But at the same time, there are patients that come into the facility on legal holds who are not psychotic and who are pretty reasonable who just happen to miss snack time or need an extra snack. It breaks my heart when these patients go ask for a snack and get sternly turned down when they could have been denied more gently. That kind of treatment of these relatively reasonable patients causes them to feel that they are not being treated as fellow human beings, which then leads them to become irritated and possibly get into altercations with other patients, even though they are not normally violent people.

I do not blame these staff members for how they approach their patients. Of course, I’m not out there everyday dealing with all of these patients, so who am I to tell them how to do their jobs? But what I can say is that the system is not perfect. Our resources are spread thin and patient care suffers. Perhaps, if there were more staff members, they would not need to be so limiting to everyone just because of a few bad apples and would be able to get to know their patients well enough to decide which ones are reasonable and which are not in order to better customize how their care. Oh, if only we lived in a perfect world…