Thursday, August 28, 2003

74M, Pancreatic Cancer

74M, pancreatic cancer. That's all they told us about him.

But as we unfolded the gauze covering his torso, his limbs, and finally his face, we began to unpeel layers of his story, his life. Small pinprick scars dot his chest--perhaps the result of too much scratching of the uncomfrotable itching caused by his jaundice? A crease running up the left side of his neck--scar from an operation to remove plaque in that area?

He has blue eyes. He has salt and pepper eyebrows. He has about 2 days of stubbly growth on his chin. So real, so...

They suggested we give him a name to make the experience feel more personal, to turn him back into a person instead of just a body, a generous donor instead of a cold cadaver. When we first saw his face (pulling back the gauze so slowly, tentatively, unsure of what we would find, both in him in our own responses to him), Allison said he reminded her of Pablo Neruda. So we named him Pablo.

Welcome to gross anatomy. My name is Pablo, and I will be your guide for the next five months.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Rachel and the Amazing Unicolor Dreamcoat

Exhaustion. Exhiliaration. That pretty much sums up my day today. It was, no kidding, one of the highest points of my thus far life. The culmination of a great journey, the realization of a lifelong dream, and the commencement of a new breakthrough into a life for which I am passionate, driven, and responsible.

I woke up early and headed to registration. Stood in line for a long while; but it was productive, because there was plenty of opportunity to mingle with even more members of my class. Two virus titers and a PPD later, it was downstairs for photos and parking. Met Roger, Argo, Melinda (one of the two mothers in our class!), and our married couple Stefan (Harvard '97?) and Liza.

Lunch kicked off the real inspiration as we heard from our Deans for the first time. This was followed by the white coat ceremony, full of pomp and symbolism. I have to admit, it was pretty thrilling to feel the white starchy color scratch my neck (imagining it joined by a stethoscope, casually lounging over my shoulders), look down and see the bright blue name label proclaiming "Rachel Friedman Yale Medical Student" to everyone with sharp enough vision to read it, put my hands in the pocket and imagine them stuffed with important gadgets and bandaids...I couldn't help but grin and grin. I guess symbolism does count for something.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Beginning the Beginning

After four days in the netherworld between premed and med, hiking through the hills ("mountains") of Connecticutt and Mass. with fellow MOOTies (or as we called ourselves, Oogenesis), bonding with my future classmates through Kool-aid, sweat, and rain, tomorrow is the Day. Tomorrow, I officially become a medical student at the Yale School of Medicine class of 2007--and begin to live my lifelong dream (or as near to lifelong as is reasonably possible given the constraints imposed by the brain's limited capacity for temporal thinking and goal setting before about the age of five) of going to medical school and become a physician!

These last few weeks have sped by in a daze...from the unbelievable Harbin experience to vivid dreams ranging from Garfield and Odie (I was Odie) to dinner with Hillary and Chelsea Clinton (we had lamb)...

It's strange to think thay my new classmates, these 100 people who I've just started to meet and form impressions about, are about to become my closest family over the next few years. These names (Ryan, Liz, Brendan, Louvonia) and faces will become more and more familiar until I will be hard pressed to even remember what it was that I thought of them this week when we first met.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

I Am the Horse

When asked how to sculpt a horse, one artist explained, "I see the horse in the stone; then I take away everything that is not the horse."

Thus begins my medical education. After nearly 20 years of anticipation (you can ask my mom--I started planning to be a doctor only shortly after I realized in kindergarten that being an ice cream man wasn't a realistic option), I am now finally starting my career in medicine at Yale Medical School. Coming in, I have my own acquired skills, interests, knowledge; but like the artist's raw hunk of marble, I will soon be chipped away at, hacked into, and ultimately (one can only hope) polished, to emerge in four years a doctor in shining white coat.

Let's see how it goes. Welcome to my blog.