Monday, December 19, 2016

Its beginning to look a lot like christmas

Fa la la la la, la la la la. I have landed in the big apple - amidst snow, visible breaths, and below freezing temps - after enjoying the 80 degree December's of New Orleans. Talk about a rude awakening. My apartment has been flooding on and off, my roommate moved out, and oil prices went up. Guess that basically surmises December. Markets are at an all time high, America preps for a new president, and the electoral college is being counted today. All in all it is a pretty busy time in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Last Sunday Dr. Busija threw a pretty killer holiday party at the column's hotel. Most of the class showed up and it was nice to be able to socialize with professors and classmates in a setting outside of the classroom. After one-too-many muffaletta's, and a photo-shoot session with the ladies of pharmacology (Mrs. Sanders, if you're reading this, we would love those pictures), a bunch of us headed out to spend some more time together.

Now that I have a little time off from schoolwork I will be educating myself in the art of baking, as well as perfecting the skill of present wrapping. My cat refuses to join us in the festivities and doesn't find her Santa costume to be pleasing. There's always one odd-ball in the family. What can you do? I look forward to coming back to NOLA, but it is nice to be with family (in short, intermittent doses), however I'm not too sure if I can ever live in the cold again after getting used to that Louisiana heat.

Till next year my dear readers, all 2 or 3 of you...

Hours for December: 0
Hours for the semester: 35

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


I say 'burrr' because things are getting chilly, or at least NOLA's version of chilly. I have to say, this weather is amazing, yesterday it 80's and we've had mid 70's most days this month. Going back to New York for Thanksgiving break was a little bit of a wake-up call. It snowed twice in the week that I was there, the cold was brutal to my healing pelvis, but seeing family and friends was all worth it.

This month I decided to do my volunteer hours during Veteran's Day. In the transplant unit that I normally volunteer at, we have numerous veterans, but I never realized how many. It was a pleasure to be able to give what small help I could back to these brave men who put their lives on the line for my freedom. I had the pleasure of listening to a few war stories (mostly from 'nam), and having lunch with some of the veterans and their families. One of the directors of the cafeteria organized visits to the veterans during lunch with little gifts they had made for them. I was able to help hand out these gifts, and however small they seemed, I could tell they meant a lot to the patients who received them.

In addition to all of this, I was able to join in on rounds with the residents and attendings, and was able to ask questions about drug regimens that some of the patients were on which helped me to understand pharmacology we have gone over this semester. November may have been one of my favorite volunteering months because I was able to see the impact I was making on the patients more-so than before, and attending rounds allowed me to learn more as well.

Hours for November: 3

Sunday, October 30, 2016


October has come and gone way too quickly and I do not know where the time went. This month I haven't been able to volunteer as much as the previous months because I have had a lot going on but the time I did get to volunteer, I enjoyed. I was able to see numerous diagnosis and different treatments for different patients. The more I learning in class about physiology and pharmacology, the more interesting it is to see what different regimens people are on. I'm very lucky that the staff I volunteer with are all very helpful and I feel free to ask clinical questions whenever I want. The hours I completed this month were earlier on so they have yet to actually see me walking so it is going to be fun to see their reactions. I am hoping that when I do return this week that I do not see any of the patients I have become familiar with because I hope they have all gotten well enough to be discharged from the abdominal transplant unit.
Since the hospital is undergoing renovations we actually have patients in the transplant unit that are from different areas like ICU, SICU, etc. so I have been able to see more clinical cases than before, and help more patients than I had been. Now that I am on my own two feet, I am excited to return because I feel as though I am going to be able to do more to help the staff and patients out, and expand the work that I am doing in the unit. I have noticed that the patients in the New Orleans area have many clinical issues in common and that hypertension, diabetes, and hepatic disorders are fairly common. Something tells me that the fact that there is a food festival almost every weekend doesn't help.
Aside from volunteering, I have been able to explore a lot more of NOLA now that I'm mobile again and I have to say, I'm falling in love with the city. There is so much culture, music, character, that it's hard to not love it here. The weather has been perfect these past few weeks, the humidity is low, it's high 70's and mid 60's in the evenings, there is no/little rain, so I have been attempting to do some studying outdoors and soak up the sun while I can. Meanwhile in NYC my friends and family are turning the heat on and wearing jackets and scarves already... can't say I envy them. I have the urge to go trick-or-treating tomorrow, but something tells me the med students/residents/grad students in Deming won't be humored by me knocking door to door in search of free candy. Alas, that is all I have to say for October. Till we meet again dear reader.

Hours completed: 4

Friday, September 30, 2016

At Last

Having volunteered for a few times now, Ive started to get to know some of the patients, their families, and their stories. Its interesting to see how different everyone is yet how they all share this experience in the hospital. Ive really been lucky to be working in the unit that I am in. The nurses teach me abbreviations, I get to see a lot of drugs in action, and I have the opportunity to relate what I'm learning in class to clinical practice. One of the coolest things i got to do was sit in on a ECG while the technician showed me the different valves and ventricles. 
While volunteering the other day I was able to help the nurses in a few of their tasks, one of which involved feeding a patient. The patient who had had a stroke, was only able to move one hand, but still had a sense of humor about the situation, which I found refreshing. I'm excited to go back next week and surprise my nurses who only have seen me in a wheelchair, since I've been approved by my doctor to walk! 

PS here is the video of my first steps after the wheelchair!

October Volunteer Hours: 12

Monday, August 29, 2016


August has somehow managed to come and go at a remarkably quick pace. I cannot believe I have already been in New Orleans for almost 2 months, where has the time gone? Last week I started my volunteer work, which I love. I am currently helping out on Tulane's Abdominal Transplant Unit (TATU). Although I have volunteered and shadowed in medicine before, I was in a clinical setting, not a hospital, so there is definitely a different feel to the place.
The transplant unit is an interesting one. The staff I work with are awesome, they not only help to keep me busy, they teach me medicine along the way. The patients are such a diverse group of people that I am learning so much about different cultures and views of life. Our floor has about 20 occupied bed, give or take a few depending on the day, and so far I have met almost all the patients.
Generally, I go into the patient rooms, check if they need anything/how they are doing, and do what I can to help them out. A lot of the people on our floor just want to talk, some don't have support systems, while others do, but there is a number of patients who just want me to stay with them for a bit, and talk. One of the people on the floor has a good list of jokes so I look forward to those visits, but I also look forward to visiting the other patients as well.
I am learning that aside from medicine, a lot of what people need to heal is something science can't provide. A lot of these people tell me that they feel significantly better when they have a visitor. Of course you have others who don't want to be bothered, and to each his own, but they all appreciate that the option is available.
In addition to visiting patients, grabbing them basic essentials, I sometimes help them eat if they are unable to do so themselves, help the nurses with tasks, and help the secretary as well. Everyone really works as a team to make sure that the patients get what they need. My first day I was able to help the secretary organize and laminate patient help sheets that are designed so the nurses can understand the patient's needs if they are unable to speak or if there is a language barrier (I've attached pictures). We sent copies to different departments so I was able to roll around the hospital and see the other areas (Neuro/Stroke, CCU, etc.) which was interesting. So far I am loving my assignment and cannot wait to go in this week!

Hours for August: 16

Friday, August 12, 2016

Welcome to New Orleans! Even though I broke my pelvis my second week here, I have been able to still check out a bunch of cool new things. A group of us went to white linen over the weekend and got to see some really cool art galleries and different exhibitions. The wheelchair is definitely limiting things I have access to in the city though, NOLA seems to be pretty inaccessible in terms of wheelchairs.

Yesterday was my orientation for volunteering here at the hospital. Because of my obvious physical limitations at the moment, we aren't exactly sure what kind of volunteering I will be doing. I would love to do tutoring services at lakeside in pediatrics, once I'm healed I will be looking into that. For now though I'm going to try and make the best of my limits, visit patients in the downtown facilities, maybe work with patient's families in the E.R.

We have another orientation tomorrow to check our PPDs and finish going through expectations/rules so I should be figuring out where I will be working shortly. I'm looking forward to it! My doctor's appointment today said that I will probably be in the wheelchair for another month, crutches for a month after that, so studying and getting work in has been difficult but I am learning a lot about mental toughness and will have a new scope to relate to my patients with in the future!

Also, dominos and frozen meals have become my new best friend. My roommate and I have given up on dishes and fallen to the appeal of paper plates (microwavable and no mess, yay!) Shout-out to Yama for the idea. As Charlie Sheen would say, #Winning