Sunday, April 30, 2006

Could our brows get any lower?

Time Magazine released its "100 People Who Shape Our World" issue this week. Of particular interest to me was the "Artists and Entertainers" section.

Among the honorees is George Clooney, for his good looks and the fact that he doesn't spread them around indiscriminately like some other Hollywood bachelors.

We also see Reese Witherspoon. Why? Because "in [her] eyes there is the gleam of a competitor." Hmm...that really could shape the whole world, couldn't it?

They also threw in a guy named Renzo Piano, an architect about whom the author says, "I don't think there's anybody like him." Uniqueness in stark contrast to, say, that sentence?

Time presents Will Smith, as he "is something more than clothes and quips."

Also making the list is Tyra Banks, for of course "she is dynamic, positive, and real, and we are only at the beginning of her special brand of global domination." Here's to global domination by a supermodel! Yeah, baby, shape my world!

Alas, only one writer makes the "Artists and Entertainers" section. It's Zadie Smith. I haven't read anything by Zadie Smith, so she could very well be the most influential author in the world. Beats me.

It just surprises me that a periodical -- a typed, printed, written periodical -- can conjure only one writer worthy of mention as a shaper of our world. I think that says something -- either the people who created this Time Magazine edition don't read, or, scarily, the world itself, by and large, no longer reads.

I don't know what their excuse is. I work 15 hours a day and I still read. Come on, people, get off your intellectual asses.

Friday, April 28, 2006

For the record

It's a well-established fact that calories consumed on a post-call day don't count. As a corollary to this theorem, I would like to introduce the Free Alcohol Rule as well. Alcohol consumed at the end of a night-float week (night float meaning working 14 hour night shifts, for the enlightenent of the uninitiated) has no effect on one's liver, cerebellum, or psyche. It's just free alcohol. In my case it's almost all of the single malt scotch remaining in my paltry collection in the cabinet, with an effete little apple martini thrown in for completion of the inebriation at hand.

For the purists out there, yes, I admit, the adulterative effect of the apple martini could in fact negate the free alcohol corollary. However, I hold that consumption of two drams of aqua vitae in advance of the apple martini does, in fact, prevent the vitiation of the soul that would otherwise be attendant with consuming such a shameful beverage. Even if it is Isle of Jura Superstition, which is probably the one of the worst single malts I've ever had.

I have a small stash of Laphroaig still in the cabinet, but I'm saving it for a rainy day.

P.S. I feel it incumbent upon me as a neurosurgeon in training to cultivate certain refined tastes, such as an appreciation for scotch. Certainly a significant portion of my mental energy during the remainder of my training shall be devoted to recalling the color, nose, body, taste, and finish of various single malts. And as for whether or not one would want his brain surgeon drinking whisky, I remind you that alcohol steadies the hand.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Throat afire

Listen carefully, and you might just hear billions of virus particles propogating their semi-living existence on my tonsils and pharyngeal mucosa.


Being sick forces one to realize the unusual nature of medical work. If you work at a bank, in contrast, you can just call in and say, "I'm really in sad shape today, I can't make it." And so your boss shrugs and tells you to get well and come in tomorrow, and perhaps the bank doesn't open as many accounts that day. But if you're a surgical resident, acquiring an illness means nothing but more misery for yourself. Staying home is simply not an option. With work hours restrictions cramming an increasingly large amount of work into smaller periods of time, the limited staffing of residents at academic medical centers find themselves already burdened by a tremendous rush to stay afloat amidst the daily responsibilities of patient care. Add to that the absence of a colleague, and suddenly all that work that the sick resident would have performed must merely be absorbed by the remaining few. To me, it would be unconscionable to burden my co-residents with the additional workload. With a virus like the one that causes my present (additional) suffering, I must proceed with work as usual, the only exception being that I have to wash my already-chafed hands even more frequently and wear a mask and gloves for patient care. But it has to be done. In any case, here is a sample list of acceptable reasons to miss work in residency:

1) Being under anesthesia, having surgery actively performed upon oneself
2) Being in the midst of the five or six requisite hours of recovery following the above-mentioned anesthesia
3) Carrying a disease that is so communicable as to jeopardize patient safety, i.e. tuberculosis or ebola
4) Coma
5) Abduction, by aliens or otherwise
6) Having been drawn and quartered
7) Being a quad apotemnophiliac who has fulfilled his/her lifelong dream (look it up)
8) Being homogenized by a giant blender as an unfortunate consequence of a visit to a smoothie factory

...Well, I guess I can't really think of any more. So that's probably about it. Some well established excuses that are NOT legitimate reasons to miss work:

1) Having an IV catheter in your arm (you can always cart the IV pole along with you during rounds)
2) Protrusion of some/all bowel contents, so long as they can be reduced manually and have their proper location maintained by the use of duct tape
3) A nail in the head (see image below)
4) Being the victim of a criminal penectomy -- i.e. Johh Bobbitt, were he a resident, would have been required to appear at work that day with adequate gauze bandages in place to prevent drippage of blood onto charts and mayo stands
5) Foreign objects in the rectum, no matter how large (you should know better)
6) Being a hemi apotemnophiliac who has recently fulfilled his/her lifelong dream

Phew! That was enough work for me today. Fortunately I'm not due back at the hospital until tomorrow at 6:00 am. Meanwhile the immunologic battle will rage on.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Nailed. A piercing headache, perhaps.

Originally uploaded by Ian__.

Have you had a bad day? Is the hollow, effeminate voice of Daniel Powter reverberating endlessly in your mind? If so, then take heart, dear friend. Just remember it could always be worse -- you could have a four inch steel nail in your head like this guy.

Oh, and if that's not enough to warm your soul, just add this word to your lexicon: