Monday, October 25, 2010

Batshit Crazy McGillicutty Escapes A Wintry Grave*

*By a "wintry grave," of course, I mean that temps are expected to dip overnight into the mid-30s.

Preface: I now live in an old apartment with a crazy-assed landlord and, other than the two other medical students I have as neighbors, a motley assortment of peculiar tenants. My upstairs neighbor, who's name I cannot remember -- and never will because the rules of decorum dictate that far too much time has passed to ask her (a misdelivered parcel is my best hope for insight) -- anyway, whenever I see this neighbor, she always asks if she's making too much noise. I politely tell her not to worry because I'm not home too much, that I'm often on campus studying. We share a little polite, if awkward, laughter because, truthfully, she's exceptionally loud and she knows it and because I feel too bad about forgetting her name to be honest and tell her that I think she should practice her godforsaken Irish dance at a time later than 5:30am. After the awkward laughter that trails into an even more awkward silence, she'll ask a little bit about medical school, about Winning Run, about my dog. Wash, rinse, and repeat the exchange almost verbatim the next time we bump into one another which is typically about every two weeks. The last few times we've spoken, I think she's been especially sauced as she's been a little more emphatic than normal (and slurring her words a little) about being sorry for the noise. I've been a little shorter with her because, well, it's a charade with which I've grown tired. For the love of all things holy, you make noise; it's a crappy old apartment, it goes with the territory, so, when you see me, please just smile and say "hello" or nothing at all. In summary: she's kinda* crazy (by "kinda" I mean "without a doubt, full-on, batshit crazy"), a semi-cougar, a lush with a boyfriend, a live-in daughter, and sometimes a granddaughter, who does laundry every day, and loves, loves, loves Irish dancing or clogging or jumping jacks at all hours of the day.

So, with the back-story complete, let's step back in time to an hour ago...

I was in my office with my headphones on and the door shut trying to settle into a study groove for the evening. As the temp has been getting pretty brisk overnight, I'd been closing the doors and using a space heater to warm the rooms instead of turning on all the baseboard heaters. So, I was in the office doing my thing and hanging out with Dylan who's with me while Winning Run wraps a major deadline on her project. All of a sudden, Dylan freaked, got really agitated, paced, and kept staring from me to the door and back. When I took off my headphones, I heard someone pounding on my door. It wasn't the forceful pounding knock of an authority figure but something, I don't know, a little crazier but just as urgent.

On taking a few steps into the hall, I heard a voice pleading for help, for me to open the door. Naturally, my adrenaline went through the roof. Then, I realized that it was from my back door and not the front like I'd expected. It was a woman's voice; my upstairs neighbor, I thought. As I pulled back the vertical blinds, I was a little freaked out by what I might see. To my surprise, I saw my neighbor in her sock feet, jeans, a fleece standing there beating on my sliding door, still pleading for me to open it.

I cautiously opened the door a little.

"Oh thank God," she said. "I've been locked out on my deck for two hours. I'm freezing, I can't feel my feet."

"What? You've been locked on your balcony?," I asked. "How'd that happen?"

"I went outside without my phone or my keys and I got locked out. I've been out there for two hours. I'm so cold. I was yelling for help and throwing stuff down to get your attention."

"I've been in my office on the other side of the apartment, with my headphones on studying. I thought you were just moving furniture or something."

"I was throwing all sorts of stuff down and yelling for help."

"How'd you get down?," I asked.

"I through about throwing some concrete through my sliding glass door but I ended up using my Christmas lights to do a MacGyver and climb down."

"What?" I leaned forward to look past her and, sure enough, a single strand of Christmas lights hung there limply, a remnant of a seemingly festive escape. "You climbed down on that?"

"Yes. Oh my God, I'm so cold. I can't feel my feet. I think I have frostbite."

"I'm pretty sure that you're gonna be okay," I offered. "I think that, for frostbite, it's got to be pretty cold, like below freezing."


"Yeah, you'll probably make it," I assured her. "Now, how the hell did you get locked out by the sliding glass door? It's got a thumb latch on the inside."

"I don't know, it just locked me out. Can I use your phone to call someone to bring me my keys?"


I got my phone and let her make a couple of calls. Her lifeline tonight (other than the Christmas lights) was her recently (like a few hours ago) ex-boyfriend. I offered to make her some tea to help her warm back up but she declined.

"You must think I'm crazy. I mean, really, who does this?"

I pondered my response for a minute.  "Ahhhhh...well, I'm just happy you didn't hurt yourself when you climbed down." (Why, yes; yes, I do think you are a big bowl of crazy.)

"I'm sorry to interrupt you. Just go back and study and I'll just stay here until he comes with my keys."

"Thanks but I'm just gonna stay here with you until he comes."  There was absolutely no chance in hell that I was going to go in the other room and leave her unattended.  Who knows what I would've found when I returned?  Hell, she probably would've managed to get herself inextricably wedged in the over-sized chair in my living room or to simultaneously shatter all of my picture frames.  So, I stayed in the room, maintained a safe distance, and opened the front blinds so that we could see when her spare key arrived.

"So, what do you do?," she asked. "I notice that sometimes, you're dressed in medical clothes."

Luckily, her near-fatal frostbite prevented her from seeing the look of disbelief on my face as this was a topic that we'd covered many, many times before. I had a sneaking suspicion what was on the horizon but I chose to play along.

"I'm a student at the medical school here," I told her.

"What are you studying to be?," she asked and she didn't mean what specialty.

"A doctor," I said.

"Oh, that's great."

"Yeah," I replied.

"I hope I don't make too much noise upstairs," she said.

"It's okay," I lied.

My goal was to get her the hell out of my apartment as fast as I could. Luckily, after ten or fifteen minutes of this, her newly "former" boyfriend arrived with her key. As I was going to open the front door for her, I turned to see her yell thanks and bolt right back out my sliding door, stumbling and nearly falling on her way out.

"What the hell just happened?," I asked the newly silent room.

And that, my friends, is why you should not do drugs or drink.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stress Stress Stress Burnout Burnout Burnout

A blink of an eye and November is nearly upon us. Among other things, med school has been great for really making time elastic: in some cases you can do a world of things in fifteen minutes; in others, months rush past unnoticed. So it is. I'm closer to the end of this semester than I am to the beginning of it.

Honestly, I have no idea where the time went. Quite literally, I feel like my face has been shoved in a book since the semester started, frantically trying to coax the words from the page and into my memory. Anyway, it's now October. Post-season baseball. College football. Crisp, cool mornings with amazing amber light that makes you miss your grandparents, miss being a kid.

Tomorrow, I'll take the last test in our renal system and, in doing so, try to illustrate that I know a little bit about renal tumors, treating hypertension, acid-base disorders, identifying stones, proteinuria, and maneuvering the choppy waters of anti-hypertensive medications. (These among other things.)

I feel like a stranger to myself, to my family, and my close friends. This weekend, I'll head to Seattle to see Winning Run and try to be a normal cat for a few days. Perhaps in jest, a classmate sent the warning signs of burnout to the class. Rather than run down the litany of signs, it should have a single requirement: second-year medical student. Seems about right.

Back to the grind...

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

You're Talking About a Song?

In a brief respite from studying for my upcoming Renal exam, some friends and I went to hear one of our classmates perform a local venue.  We grabbed some drinks and a spot and listened to her set with a ton of students from the 1st year class.  We were chatting with one of the 1st year students when, randomly, he asked if we liked masturbation.
"Sure, man, I'm all for it," I said. My friend SJ piped up that she was also a fan.
"Yeah, it's a pretty good song," he replied.
"Oh, you're talking about a song..."
"Yeah, 'Masturbation' is one of her songs," he offered.
"Don't know it," I admitted. "Never heard it."
He looked a little perplexed but said, "You'll know it's the song when you hear something really uptempo."
"And you'll know it's the other if my hand is in my pants," I said.
He looked like he was about to say something else before he thought better of it and just turned around.  Conversation over.  What can I say, I'm a winner.

Aside from that comedic gem, nothing else is happening or has happened other than a ton of studying.  Tomorrow is my first exam covering the renal system.  I have tons of stuff to get through in advance of the test.  As I didn't see Winning Run over the weekend, one of the little bits of joy has been getting Hipstamatic for my phone.  Here are a few shots:

 The view from my desk.

A car hit the house across the street in the middle of the night.

Hops field at sunset.

Sunset from my apartment.  Mt. Adams is in the distance.