Wrapping up a successful winter break

Whew, that was a long one. A long and eventful one. As I’ll be leaving tomorrow, I feel I should spend a little time reflecting on some of the things I did…. and then on some things that made me laugh.

1. Just days after my last final, I flew off to LA with the grandparents, where we stayed at a hotel just outside Universal City. Unfortunately, Hugh Laurie was nowhere to be found. I think he was hiding from me because he knew I’d previously stalked his sons. I hope that’s not the reason I didn’t see him. I’d like to believe I still have a chance with any of the Laurie boys. But anyway, on December 21, the first night of Chanukah, Grammy and I made our debut on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he briefly interviewed us about the prank I’d pulled on Grammy the year before– when I gave her two rats for Chanukah and made her jump. Our stay in LA was short-lived though, and we were back home the next night.

2. The holidays soon passed, and I started work with the neurosurgeon at New York Presbyterian immediately. I’ve gotta tell you, I’ve never loved a job more. For a little more than a month, I felt like a medical student, shadowing the doctor when he performed brain and spinal surgeries and attending residents meetings, all while writing a review paper for publication in a neurosurgery journal. I may have learned more after a month working at the hospital than I learned in a full semester of class. In my time there, I learned about different types of brain tumors (meningiomas, glioblastomas, and pituitary adenomas) and watched as the doctor removed them from the brain, witnessed several spinal cord surgeries, wrote an IRB proposal for a clinical trial, wrote a review article for a neurosurgery journal, and followed the doctor as he made patient rounds.

I saw a 17-year-old with a fatal glioblastoma– he only had two years; and a 19-year-old with a brain stem tumor– he had less than a year. It was so strange, knowing these two boys, who are just a few years younger than I, couldn’t even go to the bathroom by themselves anymore, let alone hang out with their friends like they used to. It’s due to totally random chance that they got stuck with these tumors; there’s nothing they could have done differently, nothing they could have done to prevent them. It’s sad, but it really makes you value your own life.

I also learned two pretty kickass words: morcellate and concatenate (for those logophiles out there, morcellate means to cut into little sections and remove, and concatenate means to link things together in a chain or series). And for the record, I was definitely wrong: there totally is such a thing as a cool neuro person, even one who spews “that’s what he said” jokes in the operating room. 🙂

3. One day, I was running through Penn Station in my scrubs. I noticed two guys staring at something behind me as I entered the atrium, and I stopped to turn and look at whatever it was they were eyeing. To my surprise, one of them said, “We ain’t staring at her Doc, we’re lookin’ at you.” Yes, he called me Doc. A proud moment in my day.

4. I saw the Colbert Report taping again! That man is too cool. I wish he would run for president for realz.

5. In two months, I have turned down two opportunities I should not have dismissed. The first one came at the gym. I was walking through the door when this guy caught my attention and said, “This is going to sound really weird, but can I buy your socks? I’ll give you $50 for them.” My socks? The ones I had been wearing all day and was about to work out in? Gross. “I made an $80 bet with a friend that I could get someone to give me a pair of used socks,” he explained. “Uh, sorry, I need those,” I said. But maybe I should have given him the socks, if for no other reason than on the principle that I would have made a bigger profit than he would have in his bet.

The second bet was a bit more personal. I was wearing my scrubs as I waited at the Millburn train station at 7:15 in the morning. An old man, maybe 70 or 80, sat next to me and told me I looked professional, asked what I did. I told him I was an undergrad on an extra long break and working at the hospital. In the ten minutes he spent talking to me, he managed to tell me that a) I had no idea what I was doing with my life and was far off track for medical school; b) I still had a year left if I wanted to take the classes I’d need to get into medical school all at once; c) I should not be going abroad for fun, I should be doing something more productive; and d) time was ticking on my biological clock. He proceeded to say to me, “You are very nice, and I hope you get married and have children soon, but I will bet you the $10,000 I have in my pocket that you will not get into medical school.” I wanted to smack the man. I told him I could handle my life, thank you. But I wish I’d shaken his hand and taken down his number.

6. I almost died. Two weeks before I left, I took a trip up to Colgate to visit mis amigos. On the way home, my radiator overheated. I spent the night driving around, looking for a place to stop and wait for my parent to pick me up, while I honestly believed my car would burst into flame at any moment. Finally I took refuge in a 24-hour gas station/Dunkin Donuts/Subway hybrid godsend, where a nice employee offered me a chair and the chance to give him relationship advice. He asked about my major in school, and I told him neuroscience, to which he responded, “You mean, like airplanes?” to which I responded, “Uh no, like the head,” to which he responded, “Oh, like cutting hair?” to which I responded, “No… the brain.” I got home at 2:30 in the morning and went to work the next day. Starbucks was a welcomed treat.

Well… I guess that’s all for now. If you made it this far in my stories, you are a trooper, that was a lot of reading. Well done. I’ll be leaving for New Zealand tomorrow. I have a 1:45 flight to LA (6 hours), a 5 hour layover, and then a 13 hour flight to Auckland, where I’ll be staying for a couple of nights for my group orientation, before I fly down to Dunedin for good. I’m really excited, cannot wait to get started. For all the adventures I had in these seven weeks, I’m sure I’ll have so so so many more over the next 5 months. Can’t wait to share them all with you!

Au Revoir!

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