Friday, February 27, 2009

My Final Admissions Interview

After returning from the slopes and spending two nights in my own bed, I headed out to the San Francisco area for my final med school admissions interview. This school is in the Vallejo area on a decommissioned naval shipyard. I chose it because the Bay area might be a little easier for Winning Run and me to maintain some sense of normalcy during school. (This is, of course, in contrast to being separated by at least a two-hour drive.)

After a lengthy delay, I finally arrived at SFO, grabbed my rental car, drove up to Vallejo, checked into the hotel, and passed out for the evening.

On the Bay Bridge heading toward Oakland.

The interview day was pretty routine, except for the fact that the interview was conducted by a panel of people in front of other applicants. Supposedly, this is to put you under stress to see if you can maintain your poise in front of your peers like you'd need to do on rounds at the hospital. Sounds like bullshit to me but, if that's the way they do it, so be it. It wasn't really all that bad. I mean, hell, I've had much tougher interactions in any job I've had or on any consulting gig on which I've worked.

When I heard the question "What do you think is harder: doing stand-up comedy or being a physician?" I nearly fell out of my chair. Are you freaking kidding me? The best thing you can come up with from my file is the stand-up comedy that I did in college nearly fifteen years ago? Nothing about fundraising thousands of dollars for cancer and brain tumor research? Nothing about caring for my dying grandfather in the hospital while my dad, who'd just been diagnosed with cancer, was recovering from surgery two floors below? Nothing about completing six marathons? Nothing about the inspiration drawn from my mother, the former emergency room nurse? Nothing about any of the other, more pertinent info in my file? I answered the questions but just couldn't believe that they'd focus almost exclusively on the stand-up thing.

To make matters worse, the person interviewing me vaguely reminded me of Professor Trelawney, Emma Thompson's character in the Harry Potter movies. The resemblance was uncanny enough that I had to really focus on concentrating on what she was saying.

"...neither can live while the other survives..."

Oh yeah, during the campus tour, we stopped into the cadaver lab and the student giving the tour actually showed us her cadaver. So, I got a free lunch and saw someone reach into the chest cavity of a human body and pull out the lungs and the heart. Sweet.

After the interview, I drove down to Santa Clara to visit with my buddy, Deep, and to catch up with C-Dub and his family in nearby Menlo Park. We ended up having dinner and a few beers at the Dutch Goose. A word to wise: avoid the spicy deviled eggs at the Goose; nothing good will come of them.

That night, I crashed at Deep's place. The next morning, I walked with him over to his office at Santa Clara University's Law School and hung out until he had to teach. After I strolled through campus, back to his place, grabbed the car and headed to the airport. One reason that I like California: fruit trees. At Deep's front door, there is this awesome lemon tree. In his back yard, an enormous avocado tree drops fruit all over. Just awesome.

Free lemons at the front door.

Tons of lemons on this tree.

Yep, another lemon.

So, I should know something next week about the school's decision. Personally, I still think that I'll be headed to WA because that school seems a better fit for me but having to choose between the two would certainly make things interesting. More news as I know it.

Ski Trip Revisited

After a few days of rest and rehab, I was able to get back out onto the mountain. The doctor told me that if I fell with the cast, it would "hurt like hell but I wouldn't do further damage." Armed with that knowledge, I approached the mountain like a frightened child. During the first few hours of being back on the slopes, I wiped out hard on a crunchy patch of snow. The doctor was right, it hurt really, really bad. In retrospect, this was just what I needed. After taking the spill and feeling the pain, I got back up on and tried it again. Within a couple of days, I was on black diamond runs and boarding with confidence. I managed to make it back to Blue Ox, the double diamond, one of my favorite runs at Vail. I tried to use a helmet cam to get footage of my final run down Blue Ox but, alas, due to user error and/or poor batteries, the camera didn't get it. Bummer.

Although Hot Rod and I were the only ones with lasting damage, it seems like most everyone on the trip took a spill or two. Here's a photo of Jazzy in the middle of a blink-and-you-miss-it tumble on Blue Ox. He was back up and cruising within a second. Even though it betrays his prowess on the slopes, this photo of him makes me laugh.

It looks much worse than it was.

Detailed view of the impact zone.

Can't wait to get back out there.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Mountain Claims Another

Yesterday, expert skier "Hot Rod" tasted the mountain's wrath and lived to tell about it. On his way back to the condo, he fell victim to a heavily worn trail. While cruising quickly, he hit a gully carved out by people returning to the slope-side hotel. Seeing that he was being thrown toward a fixed obstacle, "Hot Rod" wisely sat down to minimize the impact. Unfortunately, he didn't get his first choice of trees but, instead, slammed into a stone wall. People came out to check on him but he waved them off, got back up despite the awful pain in his knee, and, without looking at his wound, continued back to the condo...another five minutes of skiing to a gondola and, then, a shuttle bus. On inspection at the condo, he noted a rip in the knee of his ski pants and a deep puncture wound on his knee.

Wisely, "Hot Rod" opted to visit Avon's urgent care facility where he learned that he'd sustained a very deep puncture wound that had ruptured his bursa sac. The docs sutured it up with three stitches, gave the kid some heavy duty antibiotics, and advised that he take at least a day off. So, maybe he'll be back on the mountain.

Hot Rod's wounded, swollen grapefruit of a knee.

Damn you, Beaver Creek and Vail, damn you and your wicked, snowy beauty.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Always Bet On Black

Got the cast put on today. Because I'll need to wear it for a few weeks, I opted for black: it goes with everything.

Getting ready for the cast.

The application of the Gore-Tex sleeve.

Putting on the fiberglass.

Adding the finishing touches.
Becoming indestructible.

Adding Insult to Injury

Yesterday, during another day of not being on the mountain, I built a fire. Once it got going well, I went to the restroom and returned to a smoky living room. In an attempt to clear the smoke, I opened the doors and went to check that the fireplace flue was open. Evidently, I was just in a hurry to sear the flesh on my fingertip...on the only functional hand that I have. Nice job, guy. Today, I might try to accidentally stab myself in the thigh or otherwise damage one of my remaining pristine extremities.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Things You Cannot Easily Do Without Your Dominant Hand

  • Type
  • Read a book
  • Open a bottle of beer
  • Put on / take off clothes
  • Wipe after pooping
  • Pull up pants and boxers after pooping
  • Take a leak
  • Tie shoes
  • High five
  • Throw anything
  • Shower
  • Scoop ice cream
  • Eat
  • Drive a car ... in the snow
  • Get out your wallet
  • Fight a snowbo (snowbo = hobo who camps near ski area)

Vail Exacts a Price in Blood

So, I'm here in Avon, CO for my annual snowboarding trip with the gang. We've returned to the scene of Winning Run's knee injury. Evidently, the mountains here have some blood feud with us because it has taken its vengeance out on me this time.

Yesterday, we went to Vail after spending some of Wednesday at Beaver Creek. The conditions were great: sunny, packed powder, not too crowded. We returned to one of our favorite runs, a double black diamond called Blue Ox. It's pretty steep in a few spots and thrilling to ski.

A view up Blue Ox.

Anywho, near the end of the day, we decided to head to Vail's enormous back bowls for a few runs before the lifts closed. In what would prove to be a regrettable choice, we hit Marmot Valley, a black diamond mogul run. During the run, I caught my board's heel edge on a mogul and fell ass-over-tea kettle backwards. I heard a crunch like someone snapping a celery stalk and immediately felt searing pain in my right wrist.

I should avoid these in the future.

A moment later, Rodney skied up and asked if I was okay.

"Nope," I said. "I just broke my f*ing wrist."

After trying (and failing) to board out, I took off my board and climbed down the hill to the lift. I uncinched my gloves and wrist guards to have a look. Sure enough, the wrist was swelling in a pretty little lump above my thumb.

"Damn it. Maybe it's just sprained," I remarked to Rodney and Jeff.

"Maybe," they said.

Because we were on the back side of the mountain, we had to take a lift out. Then, I tracked down the ski patrol for a snowmobile ride to the gondola which took me to the base. From there, I hopped a shuttle back to our car to meet up with the gang and make the 20 minute drive back to Avon and the urgent care facility.

I was quickly seen and x-rayed. The doctor showed me the ray and pointed out the minuscule fracture. He told me that if I weren't doing snow sports, he'd send me home with a removable splint that I'd wear until I could do push-ups without pain. Because I was on a snowboard trip, however, they'd splint my arm for a few days until the swelling went down. Then, if I wanted, I could come back in to get a cast put on so that I could get back on the mountain and snowboard. Prior to leaving, I could come back in to get it cut off and replaced with a removable splint.

"Is that something you'd like to do?," the doctor asked.

"Absolutely," I told him with a huge smile. "I didn't come out here to sit around."

"Very good," he said. "We'll get you fixed up and see you on Sunday for the cast."

"Sweet. Thanks very much," I beamed.

Out-of commission for 72 hours until I get my cast.

So, now I need to figure out what color cast to get put on. I'm thinking hot pink.

For the record, I think that this was a freak sort of accident in which I fell in exactly the right way to do damage. Without the wrist guards that I always wear, I might be looking at a pretty serious break with no chance to get back out there.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Another Awesome Day at the YMCA

Once more, a simple workout at the local Y has made me question the mental capacity of my fellow members. Like many other gyms, the cardio equipement (ellipticals, bikes, treadmills) have televisions for you to watch either cable television or a DVD of your choice. Today, I'm on the treadmill and notice that the woman next to me is futzing with the DVD player. People bringing their own media to watch is certainly an exception. Typically, most folks listen to their iPod or watch TV. So, I think little of it until I finish my run and am cooling down. At that point, I notice that she's watching something with a doctor giving a woman a pelvic exam. Yep, right there on the treadmill, you see a woman in profile on the bed, naked from the waist down. If pubic hair is visible for a few minutes of your movie, should you really be watching it on a treadmill in a crowded gym, specifically the YMCA? Methinks not.

Shit, tomorrow, I'm definitely wearing my thong and watching some 70s porn during my workout. Evidently, anything goes.