Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Part 2 - How Many US Airways Agents Does It Take...
When last we spoke, our story's hero had finally made arrangements with US Airways to book a trip with rewards points in January. Since that phone call, he went online and purchased 4,000 miles for $80 in order to have a total of 37,500 miles in his account with which to book the flight that was on hold for him until December 3, 2009. That is where we pick-up the story.
Thursday, December 3, 2009:
Assuming this would be a quick deal - just call, give the confirmation code, pay with miles, and call it a confirmed trip - I called US Airways about one and a half hours before I had to be in class. I figured the first agent wouldn't quite understand English and would be confused, but I figured all s/he had to do was finalize the booking.
Agent #1 (Agent #3 overall since I started the booking on Monday): I gave her my confirmation code and, of course, was put on hold. About 5 minutes later she returned to inform me that she could not find the booking, that it had, in fact, "expired" yesterday, and she needed my point of departure. OH NO NO NO NO - this is not happening. After some back and forth, she made it quite clear that my old confirmation code was no longer functional and that we would have to rebuild the itinerary. I grumbled, but finally gave in. I told her all the flights were the same, just use the itinerary already on your computer from the "expired" confirmation code. She assured me she could not do this. OK, FINE! I'm leaving from Fresno going to Newark through Las Vegas on Flight xxx. Hold please.
Agent: "Hmm, I can't find that flight number from Fresno to Newark."
Me: "Because the flight goes through Vegas."
Agent: "But you said you wanted to go to Newark. Now you want Vegas?"
Me: "Is this a joke? Like really, am I being recorded somewhere?"
Agent: "Mmm, pardon sir? I don't understand."
Me: "Exactly, you don't understand and I can't deal with this anymore. Please kindly transfer me to a Supervisor who does understand. Please."
Hold Please (story of my US Airways flight booking life).
Agent #2 (Agent #4 overall): Hello, how may I help you. I explain everything and tell him he should be able to find the flights from the booking code that should NOT be expired, but is. Hold Please. Oh by the way, we are now about 35 minutes into this lovely encounter. He finally returns about 10 minutes later (hence, 45 minutes into this lovely encounter) to say he has rebuilt the flights and that the total will be 50,000 miles.
Me: "Excuse me??? Umm, ya no, that is a mistake. The agent on Monday informed me the total was 37,500 - I specifically asked her to confirm that, because I went and purchased 4,000 miles for $80."
Agent: "No, she was wrong. It has to be 50,000 miles because your outbound flight ticket is 25,000 miles and since you are flying on airlines other than US Airways, even though in the same alliance, we must book the whole ticket on the higher mile round-trip; hence, 50,000 miles."
Me: Umm, no. On the Continental Airlines website I can book this exact flight for 37,500. AND, your agent told me I could book this ticket for 37,500 on Monday. Why else would I go purchase 4,000 miles?? Does it make sense that I would spend $80 for 4,000 miles if I had been told it was actually 50,000 miles total instead of 37,500??
Agent: Sorry. It is 50,000 miles.
Me: That is unacceptable.
Agent: Would you like this ticket or not?
Me: Yes I want it, for the 37,500 that was promised me on Monday!!!
Agent: That is not possible.
Me: Kindly transfer me to another agent. NOW!
Agent #3 (overall, Agent #5 for those keeping a running tally): This agent actually was sans identifiable accent! Dare I say, an agent in the Americas? Could it be?? I again explained the whole situation to him. His response? A lecture on policies and how I should have learned the policy about purchasing miles before I purchased them. Umm, excuse me - please kindly stop lecturing me. I know what the policy is, but I also know what was promised to me. Why is the policy so firm, but the promises your agents make and the information they share is so wobbly and shaky and unreliable?
Agent: The policy is firm.
Me: The only policy you should follow is HONESTY - something your agents do NOT follow.
Agent: Would you like this ticket?
Me (incredulous at this point): NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT! I don't HAVE 50,000 miles. I have 37,500 miles in my account because that's what was promised to me! I'm beyond frustrated with you people at this point!!!
And here is where the story can be quickly brought to an end. Realizing I was getting no where with any of these agents, I decided to cut my losses. We were able to find another flight that was available at the 12,500 point level; the only reason I hadn't chosen this flight in the first place is that it is the last flight of the night and goes through San Francisco late at night, and I was very worried about the possibility of weather problems. But, when you have no other choice and you are trying to save money, you do what you gotta do and hope for the best.
US Airways - I know that at least ONE person who works for you has to have a conscience and will realize that I was wronged here and will AT LEAST return my $80 (you can take back the 4,000 miles - I don't need them!). Take this opportunity to do the right thing and I promise I will bring you positive publicity (believe me, all my friends - 100s of them - call me for airline advice because I'm such an airline dork!).
Well, I never like to end on a sour note, so in my next installment of "A Tale of Two Airlines" we will talk about my POSITIVE flying experience on Delta Airlines - the "New" Delta Airlines as they call themselves. I flew them from LAX to NYC in late October and returned last week from NYC to Fresno (flying Delta from JFK to LAX then American Eagle to FAT). Stay tuned!
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Part 1 - "The Hold"
Monday, November 30, 2009:
8 or 9pm, Eastern Standard Time
'Twas the week before my departure from NYC, whilst sitting in the living room, that I realized I had some free moments to purchase my ticket for my residency interviews in January in NYC. I needed a round trip ticket from FAT to NYC, returning from BUF. I have airline miles for a free ticket so I started exploring what options were available. Continental Airlines, an airline I like very much, just joined the Star Alliance, so I looked on their website for award tickets because the US Airways website, where my points actually are, doesn't support the type of search I was trying to do. I found the perfect flights, with one exception - the trip to NYC was a 25,000 point ticket whilst the return trip was 12,500 point ticket. No big deal - I had 34,500 miles total, so I figured I could just buy the 4,000 more miles and still be cheaper than buying the whole ticket.
I called US Airways for the first time ever (the only reason I have points with them at all is because I used to have points with America West - when they joined US Airways, my points transferred, then when I have flown United I transfer the points to my US Airways account (I will give a little hint to the end of the story here: I USED to transfer my other points to the US Airways account - probably not ever again after this experience!)
The phone was answered pretty quickly and the lady sounded like she knew what she was talking about, so I got excited that this would be a good experience! Ha! I was upfront and said that what I needed to do what going to be complicated:
- Build a round trip awards tickets - I already had the flight numbers I needed, since I searched and had it up on my computer screen; I would do it myself, but the US Airways website wouldn't let me.
- Put the itinerary on hold so that my account had time for the purchased miles to clear.
- Purchase 4000 miles to my account
SUCCESS - she found that flight. We are now at around 20 minutes in the conversation. I'm ready to dunk myself in cold water. Her next question - What is your return date? SERIOUSLY?! We haven't finished building the FIRST trip yet. Oh ya. Where are you going again?
NO YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS!!! This is when I finally say "Madam, you seem very nice, but it has taken almost 25 minutes just to do my FIRST flight and there are 4 more flights. So, please transfer me to a supervisor who can do this quicker." In my opinion, they must get asked this a lot because it was the ONE function she knew how to carry out pretty darn quickly.
Around 930pm: An agent who still has an accent, but understood everything I asked gets on the phone. With her, we build my whole itinerary with the flights I need within about 10 minutes. Great. I tell her I need to purchase 4,000 miles to have the total 37,500 miles needed to complete the reservation, so please put the reservation on hold until the miles that I purchase online clear. HOLD. She comes back and says her supervisor said that is OK, so she goes ahead and holds the reservation until December 3, she says, gives me a confirmation code, wishes me a happy holiday, and we call it a day.
This pre-Christmas tale of craziness could have ended here happily with me pointing out in one line that I called on December 3 to complete the reservation and all went well. But alas, that wouldn't really be a scary Christmas tale, now would it? So, stay tuned for Part 2 where we find out what exactly happens on December 3.
DISCLAIMER 1: Dear US Airways - Part 1 is scary, but what happened next (which I will detail in Part 2) is the truly embarrassing part (for you). And while I don't have a lot of readers on this blog, I do have a thing where I will keep writing letters to whoever needs to read it for things to be made right. So, if any of you read this, please know that I informed your agent in whatever countries I spoke with them (there were a total of 5 agents I had to go through to make this reservation - but the last one will know) that I intended to even write to US Senators until I received my money back that you stole - $80 total.
DISCLAIMER 2: Dear Continental Airlines - you came out looking like a beautiful rose in all this. Your ENGLISH speaking agent was extremely kind, understood my dilemma, and did the best she could to help. I will be contacting you about transferring the balance of my miles to a OnePass membership, if anything like that is allowed (which I really, really, REALLY hope it is!) And please know that I intend to do business only with airlines who keep their reservations agents in the USA - because in frustrating moments stuck in an airport or trying to book a complicated ticket, I want to know that the first person who answers the phone will be able to help me.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
It's that time again, boys and girls! Time to get back on a jetplane and leave my mark do some exploring elsewhere again. AA once wrote me a letter on pink stationary when I was leaving for med school where she pointed out how I always "sweep in" to places and fly around a lot. I still have that letter at home - it's not often AA compliments, so you gotta keep them as true honorary mementos in the same regard you would keep an Emmy!
Not flying somewhere new this time - coming home to Fresno. My next two rotations are in Fresno and are Pediatric Infectious Disease and Neonatal ICU (Intensive Care). I will in fact be in Fresno from December 5 until the end of January. I look forward to seeing those of you whom I haven't seen in a long time and hopefully meeting some new friends as well on this journey!
Hence, here is my itinerary for my flight. Oh boy, this is exciting!!!
December 5 - Saturday
Depart JFK @ 810am on Delta 33
Arrive LAX @ 1145am
Depart LAX @ 130pm on Delta 7446 (operated by American Eagle 3060)
Arrive FAT @ 230pm
Friday, November 27, 2009
I love this season from right after Halloween up through the New Year. It's just so awesome to see people decorating and warming up for the holidays. All the festive red and green and in NYC, the window displays for Christmas - it's just awesome! So I'm happy and wish you all a very happy Christmas season! (and no, I don't do PC - it's Christmas that I am celebrating. I respect if you don't celebrate it, but I will be wishing you a Merry Christmas anyway because that is what I am celebrating - you can wish me a Happy __________ (insert your holiday in blank) and I will be just as happy for you.)
2. Exciting Times
I will be flying back to Fresno on December 5 (this Saturday). Look for another post this week that details all my flight times and itinerary...of course. I know it is more information than anyone cares about when it comes to flying, but YOU all should know by now how much of an airline freak I am - so deal with it.
3. I Feel Blessed
I have to be honest - I almost titled this post as "I'm Cramped, Cranky, and Exhausted. Oh My!" I was going to write about staying in a living room the size of my bathroom back in California (with the caveat, though, that I absolutely adore my friends who I am staying with - but even they will agree that this is a typical NYC sardine can :) And I was going to write about being Cranky at the place I'm doing my rotation because of the lack of teaching, and I was going to throw in "exhausted" because I get about 4 hours of sleep and am constantly on the go. But there is power in positive thinking! I have always been a positive person and a positive thinker - medical school and this profession keep trying to break my spirit and in some ways they have changed me. But, I must fight back. Before med school, I never would have thought to do such a negative title. Therefore, since I recognize some of the ways that med school has indeed effected me, I must fight back.
Therefore, I will say (and absolutely mean) that I'm blessed. I always have been! Where others would have been defeated, I continue to persevere. And where others complain bitterly, I'm going to borrow a couple words from the famous author, William Saroyan, and smile to the infinite delight and mystery of this great world.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
And now we have an awesome video made by MY, our videographer/cinematographer/writer extraordinaire! And I even get to make a cameo appearance in the video.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I digress - if any of my readers are airline dorks like me, here is my itinerary:
Delta Flight 78: Depart LAX 730am - Arrive JFK 420pm
I will add Twitter updates during my trip, so check the sidebar on this blog, to the left, for updates about flight status or any delays.
I return to Fresno on December 5. Until then, I will be spending long days delivering babies, examining cervices, and studying for my board exam (Step 2 CK).
Friday, October 23, 2009
The weekend started with a blowout football game between Thousand Oaks High School and some other team not even worth mentioning because they lost HARD. We got to see our boy BH play one major crucial play, which made it all worth it! After the game, AKH drove us to Cambria where the group was already passed out, except for a couple troopers. We talked a bit, but then went to bed ourselves - big day coming up!
The big OPOLO Wine Tasting Party Day: Saturday was spent wine-tasting at a variety of wineries throughout the area. Can't remember all the names, but it was well worth the time spent. The view alone in the area was enough to help clear your mind and relax. Then, in the evening, we joined the Opolo Winery for their annual wine-tasting: all you can drink, all you can eat, all you can dance, and all you can watch AA juggle, throw paper airplanes, kiss old men, make new friends at other tables, get the owner's attention, and just generally lighten everyone's spirits and mood! And I got to do something I never have before and may never get to do again: stomp grapes. Definitely reminded me of the I love Lucy episode where she is stomping grapes and hilarity ensues. Super cool!
If you have a free weekend, definitely consider a visit to Cambria. If the scenery doesn't relax you, the wine most certainly will - just take a Designated Driver! :)
Oh, one more thing: I took three wine glasses with me back to La Habra to gift to my host family there. Of course, it is a priceless and amazing feeling when you get the wine glasses all the way to their final destination only to drop them at the last possible moment and hear them shatter in the paper bag you had carefully wrapped and placed them in. Absolutely priceless. Therefore, I award myself the biggest doof award for said accomplishment!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
And PS: Coming up in a couple days will be "36 hours in Cambria"! Stay tuned!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
"Study Finds High Rate of Imprisonment Among Dropouts"
Ya don't say. And all this time I figured dropouts were making our society all hunky-dory. It's a good thing lots of money was spent to research this topic.
“We’re trying to show what it means to be a dropout in the 21st century United States,” said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern, who headed a team of researchers that prepared the report. “It’s one of the country’s costliest problems. The unemployment, the incarceration rates — it’s scary.”
It is scary. It is even scarier that we continue to build a materialistic society that values the Kardashian's of the world to the tune of many TV shows and millions of dollars, but pays its educators an amount inadequate to live in the communities where they teach. It is even scarier that we shell out millions of dollars in salary to folks who can throw, pitch, toss, dunk, and hit a ball, but complain about $5 copay to see our Doctor.
But I digress - point is, dropouts are bad for the economy and end up in prison at a higher rate. Shocking.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Stop 1 - McCormick and Schmit's
CKH and I went here first to wait for MH to finish his day at work. We enjoyed the $1.99 appetizers! That's right - we got hummus, fried zucchini and cheese/bacon fries for only two bucks a plate! Only catch is you have to purchase a drink - $4.50 for a beer - but still a great deal! We spent an hour soaking in the late afternoon sun next to some staircase built in the design of some staircase in Rome. Yummy food, great times and a great way to start the evening.
Drink: Draft Shock Top
Stop 2 - Library Bar
At this point MH and our friend AS joined us as we went to this well-known and famous location! The inside has super comfy sofas next to bookshelves and deep/dark wood paneling. Great place to chill after work and catch up with friends as there isn't any blaring music you have to yell over. Sophisticated and fun. And the big fat steak fries covered in bacon grease and oil help you unwind, too!
Drink: Draft Stella Artois
Stop 3 - Rooftop Bar at The Standard Hotel
This is the epitome of super chic and hip and fun. Rooftop, 16 floors up, with cushy chairs to sit around and watch the sunset, the sky turn beautiful shades of red, orange, purple, and dark blue, and the LA skyscrapers rise up and create awesome shadows around you. Not to mention a great infinity pool if you are so inclined. This was my favorite stop of the evening. The air was crisp, perfect temperature, and the atmosphere was fun! Drinks here are a bit pricey, but well worth it for the ambiance. We didn't get food at this stop, but we were eyeing the "Mac n Cheese Balls" on the menu. If you try it, let me know!
Drink: Bottled Blue Moon
Stop 4 - Casey's Irish Pub
If you want some delicious food then this is a great place to stop-in. A cozy place, not pretentious, with great service and super yummy grub. Reasonably priced!
Drink: Draft Smithwick's
Stop 5 - Seven Grand
This place was incredible. Had MH not been guiding us, I would never have known that the unassuming entrance on the street led up a staircase to a dark-paneled, sophisticated bar and pool hall. It just gave you the sense of a place where multi-million dollar deals are negotiated over some whiskey and a game of pool. None of us really drank whiskey but they had an assortment of great beers as well. We drank while playing a game of pool (where I was surprisingly playing pretty well, which is rare).
Drink: Draft Chimay
Around 930 we headed back to Union Station to grab the last Amtrak of the evening home. All of us agreed that this is THE way to spend 8 hours in Downtown Los Angeles. But, from what we hear from MH, there is still lots of great places in Downtown...so another great evening is in the works.
Monday, October 5, 2009
So which is it?
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
For those of you wondering what I'm talking about - I took the USMLE Step 2 CK yesterday. That's a mouthful and stands for United States Medical Licensing Exam Step 2 Clinical Knowledge. In July I took the USMLE Step 2 CS, which is Clinical Skills - 12 standardized patients (actors) act out symptoms and you have to demonstrate your knowledge of communication, history taking and physical exam techniques. That was about an 8 hour day as well. But yesterday's exam was my big hurdle due to my severe testing anxiety, and now it is done! Alleluia and Amen!!!
But by the grace of God, I was calm all day, even for the first block! The way the blocks are set-up are 44 questions for each one hour block - there are 8 of those. And there is a 9th one-hour block that you can split up however you want as break time. Since each block is 44 questions, in my mind I have set-up each block not to be an hour, which is totally unmanageable, but rather, as 15 minute, 11 question blocks. I can handle 15 minutes - in fact, I can manhandle it and wrestle it to the ground and stomp on it until it taps out. And that's exactly what I did yesterday. I was PUMPED. I did 2 blocks, then took a 10 minute break. Then another 2 blocks and a 20 minute break. Then another 2 blocks and a 10 minute break. By this time my brain was really showing wear and tear because when I started my 7th block, words were blurring on the screen and I was reading, but not comprehending a thing. The 7th block was a struggle and I only had about 5 minutes of break time left, but I used it all before starting the 8th and final block of the day.
Now the waiting game begins - I will HOPEFULLY find out within the next 3-4 weeks that I passed both CK and CS. That's right, even though I took CS in July, results don't come out until October for that one. For CK, results can be sent anywhere from 3-6 weeks after the test. It is a waiting game but nothing you can do about it, so no reason to stress about it, either. At least I can relax for a few weeks! And to that I say Alleluia and Amen!!!
Many thanks to my host family in La Habra!!! Auntie J packed me a HUGE lunch with all sorts of power brain food to nibble on during breaks. Got me through the day - so if you see her, give her a big hug and say thanks! And my lovely sister-like CY had decorated the bathroom mirror with all sorts of inspirational post-it notes so when I woke up before my test, my mind was set right to succeed. Give her a huge hug too!!! And thanks to any of you who have sent me encouraging texts and emails and prayers - while I won't blame anyone if I didn't pass, I DO want you to know that my success is interwoven with and dependent upon your support and love and encouragement. My success is due to the amazing family and friends I have. So, a big THANK YOU to all of you and a huge Alleluia and Amen!!!!
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Remember that even though I won't necessarily have the time for a full blog post while I'm studying, I will do my best to keep my Twitter up to date - so just look on the left sideline to see the "Dispatches 'o the Journey" for quickie updates.
And for your entertainment, one of my good friends had made this video of our camp experience. Enjoy!
Friday, August 7, 2009
Now THIS is a story of a lifetime. Check it out by CLICKING HERE or copy and paste the link below. Two of my dearest friends and one of my favorite airlines (who I almost worked for, but for being accepted into medical school...you all know the story, where my mom said, in her cute accent: "Let me get this straight...you have a MASTER'S degree and you are going to serve PEANUTS?!?!?! Are you cuuurazzzyy?????")
Thank you Southwest for bringing my friends together...and for the free peanuts :)
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I took two exams over the weekend. On Thursday night, after finishing work around 630pm, I drove to Bakersfield and spent the night because on Friday morning, bright and early, I had my Surgical Shelf exam. 100 questions, multiple choice, 2 hours. Not too bad. We must pass this exam in order to pass the Surgery rotation. When that exam finished, around 1030am, I went back to my hotel, packed up, got in my car, and drove to Los Angeles. I spent the weekend at the Crown Plaza Hotel (a very nice hotel, indeed - I wouldn't want to pay the rack rate for a room, but I got the room through Priceline and was extremely pleased with the comfort, friendliness of the staff, and location - my room had a view of the LAX runways so I got to watch airplanes all weekend - HEAVEN!) Well, I didn't watch airplanes ALL weekend...the majority of my time was spent studying and preparing for my exam on Monday - the USMLE Step 2 CS exam. About 8 hours, this exam has 12 standardized patients (actors) who you must act as the Doctor for and conduct a thorough history and physical exam. Lots of fun. The exam finished right around 430pm - dreaded RUSH HOUR and my only freeway was the 405. Luckily, I was able to avoid traffic until I reached the 10 freeway, where the 405 became a parking lot. Therefore I did the only logical thing: took the 10 to Santa Monica beach and chilled on the beach for a few hours until traffic went away, then I zoomed to Fresno in about 3 hours.
2. In 'n Out:
Over the weekend in LA I spent quite some time at the In 'n Out by LAX on Sepulveda Blvd. That place is ALWAYS a zoo with a bunch of people and even more cars in the drive-thru outside. But the reason I love it, besides the food, is that the airplanes are LITERALLY just over you coming in for a landing at LAX. Took my breath away time after time after time.
3. Old Friends:
Despite being holed up on the 14th floor of the Crown Plaza studying vigorously, I still did find some time to hang out with some old friends. I saw friends from Fresno and LA and spent a little time in the evenings unwinding with them, which was super nice. I even met up with a friend who I had not seen since graduating from high school in 2000. That was pretty darn cool.
Overall, Santa Monica beach and boardwalk pretty much became my new favorite place because I spent so much time there over this past weekend. It has been just a busy month. My Pediatric rotation at UCSF-Fresno is amazing, but super busy. Between long hours there, trying to studying for my exams and actually going down to SoCal for the exams, I'm exhausted.
Time to sleep.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
This has been an amazing week! Unfortunately, part of what made it amazing also made it extremely exhausting and left no time for a blog update. Therefore, since I today off in honor of our great country's independence, here are a few quickie updates for y'all!
1. Childrens Hospital Central California (CHCC) is AWESOME!
I am one week into my Pediatric core rotation at UCSF-Fresno. The set-up is we do three weeks in-patient at Childrens Hospital and then three weeks at Community Medical Center downtown for NICU, Nursery, and outpatient clinic. I have run into absolutely AMAZING people at CHCC! The doctors are phenomenal...and ALWAYS go out of their way to teach. Truly and truly I say to you, I have found the mecca of medical education. The Attendings will SEEK YOU OUT in order to give you the opportunity to do a procedure. They will walk you through it step-by-step, staying patient and making sure you learn it.
2. Long Hours in my First "Call"
We do "Call Q4" during the Peds rotation. What does that mean? Call means we stay late - when we are residents, it will mean 24-30 hours at the hospital. As medical students, it means we stay until around 10pm (remember, we start at 630am everyday). "Q4" means the 'dosing' - if I were to prescribe you Tylenol q6hrs it would mean you take a tablet every 6 hours. Q4 for call means I am on call every fourth day. So yesterday was my first call. I have already mentioned how awesome the Attendings are, so now let me lavish some praise on the RESIDENTS at this hospital. They are top-notch. They are kind, don't even know HOW to "scut" their med students with stupid busy work, and also go out of their way to teach! Dare I say, because of the culture and example set by the Attendings, the Residents step up their game and help create an amazing learning environment for all of us. During my call, I attended to all my assigned patients, visited some of the other cute kids in the various play areas in the hospital, and took care of some patients in the ER who needed our attention - like a 2 day old infant with suspected bacteremia (bacteria in the blood, which in such a young baby is really scary because unlike an adult who has a "blood brain barrier", a newborn doesn't have a very well developed BBB and can get meningitis REAL quick).
3. Going to LA
There's a BIRTHDAY party coming up for two amazing, awesome, hilarious sisters in LA. I'll be there...but they don't know that yet. Should be fun. AA and JC and I head down there in 15 minutes. I'm just that good that I studied this morning, got ready, packed, and wrote a blog entry before I leave. Gimme some sugaaah!
Friday, June 26, 2009
There are only three exciting things to report:
1. There is a very special birthday coming up for HA (yes, I know those are my initials, but it is not my birthday party...the initials actually work for other people as well!) The birthday party is this Saturday and I can't wait!
2. I am finally back in town with the ONE person who absolutely loves my stories. It helps my ego tremendously.
3. On Monday I start my Pediatrics rotation at UCSF-Fresno. I am SUPER stoked about this. They have already sent confirmation emails with all the pertinent information like where to go, who to meet, when to be there, etc. Even where to park! AND, they even list the textbooks I will need for the rotation...that they PROVIDE, including one book that I am allowed to keep after the rotation! This is truly amazing - I'm getting a glimpse of what medical education for students at US schools looks like, and quite frankly, I'm a little jealous!
Monday, June 22, 2009
I'm coming home! And while I love coming home, I have also really come to love NYC and will miss it here. C'est la vie. I'll be back here in October anyway.
Here is my flight information. Hope to see you all in California!
And remember: I will post updates about my journey on Twitter so you can follow my journey in the air and be advised of any delays.
TUESDAY, JUNE 23
Flight 117: Depart JFK 2pm --> Arrive LAX 5:08pm
Flight 3017: Depart LAX 6:30pm --> Arrive FAT 7:25pm
You can track the progress of my flights by CLICKING HERE
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Perhaps somebody who reads this blog has ties to the Salvation Army or knows why they have some of these fairly asinine policies...because the agent on the phone with me couldn't be bothered to explain.
Here's what happened: I will no longer be living in NYC, therefore had to get rid of my bed. I tried selling on Craigslist (something that I was ultimately able to do), but at first no responses to my ad got me a bit nervous. So, I called Salvation Army. I told them I had a full size mattress and box spring that I had purchased new 9 months ago and I wanted to donate it. His response: "you don't have a frame?" No, I don't. "Then we won't accept it."
EXCUSE ME?!?! Funny, my ass was able to sleep on the bed just fine for the last nine months without a frame.
Dude, you can just go buy a $30 frame from Sears and give a family in need the opportunity to get a perfectly fine bed!!
WHAT?! Who comes up with this stuff? This is downright STUPID!
Therefore, for refusing to accept a great, comfortable, clean, and awesome bed that a family in need could have absolutely used, the Salvation Army has earned itself a big, FAT thumbs down and BOOOO to you!!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
"Want to be a surgeon?"
If you had asked me 12 weeks ago whether Surgery was something I would consider doing, the answer would have been an unequivocal NO! That answer is no longer the case. In fact, the answer is now an absolute YES!!! It is such an amazing challenge to take a patient from their point of entry into a hospital, through their work-up, and the solution. Surgeons get to practice medicine on the floor AND take patients to the OR for further treatments and procedures. It's amazing.
The bug has bit and I'm hooked.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
But I had lost my self in the process, and the stress made me irritable. I was no longer the nonconfrontational person I once was.
I had, for example, raised my voice a couple of days earlier at a receptionist in the radiology department when she couldn’t schedule my patient for a CT scan. I had scolded a nurse who had had the misfortune of being the fifth person to page me as I scrambled to finish a procedure. And only a week prior, I had squabbled with my family after my mother innocently asked, "Why do you have to work so hard?"
According to a study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, I am far from the only doctor who has behaved this way. The researchers interviewed residents, or doctors in training, from seven different specialties and found that they set themselves up for burnout by accepting, even embracing, what they believed would be a temporary imbalance between the personal and professional aspects of their lives. While the young doctors interviewed defined well-being as a balance between all those parts, many felt that their medical training was so central to their ultimate sense of fulfillment that they were willing to live with whatever personal sacrifice was required, even if it meant a temporary loss of a sense of self."
Many of you still write to me upset that I don't call or write or update you enough. AGAIN, I apologize. But, above is an excerpt from another great article from the NYTimes about some of the struggles and challenges of the process of becoming a Doctor. I hope it gives some more insight.
Click Here to read the full article.
Or copy and paste the address below:
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Lo's favorite experience from her first day in NYC was seeing the musical "In the Heights". Great choice, because AA and I also loved the show - every song was powerful and moving and the storyline was a lot of fun. Great show - we recommend it highly to everyone!
The Hotel: the crew is staying at the Westin Times Square. I love the Westin and this particular property is one of my favorites. I have stayed here three times before. Well, this time the room wasn't the best. There were several problems with it. No problem - we handled it. As a result, the crew was upgraded to a room on the top floor (45th floor) and we got some other minor things comped.
Singing in the Rain: the weather has been trying to cooperate with us, but the clouds are just overpowering the sun. Luckily, the rain has, for the most part, been kept at bay. But there was a small sprinkle as we walked back to the hotel after a trip down to NYU for CY. As a result, AA, LA and I decided to take a bunch of pictures whilst sitting on the new lawn chairs on Broadway and 42nd Street in the new Pedestrian walkway (which used to be an active road for cars as recent as a month ago!)
YANKEES Game! Great new stadium. Tons of fun eating, drinking (soda of course), and watching my favorite team (the Mets) play the Yankees. Icing on the cake was definitely getting my very first baseball cap that fits my head and makes me actually look cool! I'm so excited!
The View: No, not the loquacious show on ABC with "Babwa Waltwews" (Barbara Walters), but rather, the 48th floor of the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square for an all you can eat dessert and cheese bar and some yummy drinks. Definitely a great way to cap the night!
Stay tuned for more Quickies from the California crew trip to NYC!
And I'll get some pictures up here at some point as well...although they are all on AA's camera.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
I am so proud of you Brian!!!!!
Here is a great story to start the week - one of my favorite people is doing amazing things for the community. This is no surprise to any of us who know him. Keep up the great work!
A Winning Combination: Brian Allbritton needed a project for his communications class at Fresno State. As luck would have it, several weeks ago Brian bumped into a friend who worked for Chick-fil-A and they began talking about Brian’s class and the restaurant’s community service programs. Chick-fil-A sponsors fundraisers within the community, donating 15% of the proceeds to a designated local charity. Brian quickly realized he had both a class project and a fundraising opportunity for his favorite charity - Habitat Fresno! Brian has been volunteering at ReStore capitalizing on his background inconstruction. He thought that Habitat Fresno would be a worthy recipient of a fundraiser and the folks at Chick-fil-A Fresno were happy to oblige. The company's official statement of corporate purpose says that the business exists "to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A."(www.chick-fil-a.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
"You remember your first grade teacher's name. Who will remember yours?"
Every time I see this ad I think of Ms. Giampicolo (pronounced Jam-Pick-olo), who was my first grade teacher at PS 84 in Queens, NY. She was an amazing individual who did a superb job of challenging her students to greater learning. And I think of Ms. O'Connell, my second grade teacher, and Ms. Schubert (3rd grade), Mr. Hatch (4th grade), Ms. Wells (4th grade), and Mr. Cooley (5th and 6th grade). I think about the myriad of amazing teachers I had in middle school and high school, many of which I still keep in touch with to this day. They made and continue to make a profound difference.
And so it was, that when one of my favorite people in the world sent me the following link, I was moved so much. It is a story done on the First Lady's commencement address at UC Merced. You have all heard of this, I'm sure. The more exciting part is when they interview Ms. Claudia Zepeda, one of the graduates. Ms. Zepeda was the third grade student of a dear family friend. Ms. Zepeda still keeps in contact with her dear teacher from 3rd grade, a testament to just how great this teacher is and how much of an impact a caring, passionate, positive influence can make in the life of a child.
Check out the link below to see the story. And if you get the chance, surprise an old teacher who made an impact on your life. As a former public school teacher myself, believe me when I say there is no greater reward for a teacher than to get a little update from your children.
Monday, June 1, 2009
“Dear Lord, make me the kind of person my dog thinks I am.”
My dog, Lucky (pictured), thinks I'm a God. There is no person or thing that my dog likes more than me. My goal, therefore, as a Doctor to be, and a human who gives a hoot about others, is to live up to the amazing, out of this world, king that Lucky thinks I am.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
And while I'm of course excited to learn a lot in the Burn Unit, it really comes down to this: 2 MORE HOURS OF SLEEP YO!!!
Everyone be aware: I will be much happier for the rest of the Surgery rotation.
Oh and one more thing: For all those who received a very holly, jolly, laugh out loud happy call from me last night in celebration of the end of 6am wake up time for at least a few weeks, please know that you likededed it.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
520am: My alarm clock starts singing the latest permutation of "I want to have sex with you in 18 different positions" hip-hop song on the radio. I have taken my friend NK's idea of putting my alarm just out of arm reach, so it forces me to get up at this unGodly hour!
530am: Actually get up to pee then return to bed. Yes, I know this is probably TMI for some of you, but if not for having to use the potty, I wouldn't move. I'd stay in bed for another 10 minutes. As it is, I return to bed for those precious minutes!
540-555am: Realize if I don't get up really quick, the ticker will add another tardy to my stone. Get up, shower, put some scrubs on, brush the teeth, comb the hair, grab the cell phone and start walking toward the door...turn back and grab the wallet and start walking toward the door...turn back and grab the house key and start walking toward the door...turn back and grab the car key and start walking toward the door...glance back to make sure I haven't forgotten anything else...exit and walk to car.
6-607am: Arrive to hospital, floor 4B for our AM rounds. Grab the "Lab Book" as it is my duty to rattle off the previous day's labs for each patient when prompted for them by the resident. I sure hope there is a question on the USMLE Step 2 exam about what button to click to make the computer give you the labs...because I will ACE that part of the exam! (And no, there are no questions about how to retrieve labs...please pick-up on the sarcasm here.)
7-8am: Lecture #1
8-10am: Lecture #2
10-11am: Lecture #3
7-11am on Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Go to the OR and find a surgery to scrub in and absolutely be amazed at what a human being's insides look like! It is really quite incredible to put your hand on the intestines or see the heart beating or see the lung inflating, or even to just stitch someone back together!
11am-12pm: Copy labs from computer to lab book.
1-2pm: Study a bit in the library because I have a big exam coming up in about 3 months.
2-3pm: Afternoon lecture
3-?? pm: Go to another surgery, help on the floor
4-8pm: Usually somewhere in this window, head home.
Realize that this whole schedule gets turned on its head when a trauma arrives to the hospital. My location is a Level 1 Trauma, but we are in Staten Island so we're not seeing a steady influx of GSW (Gun Shot Wound) patients. Instead, we see a lot of falls or motor vehicle accidents, or once, the stab wound patient (see previous case files on the subject). As a med student, we usually are taking the History and conducting the physical exam on the patient as the surgeons/doctors are conducting the close inspection and giving the orders for what tests to do and when to do the next step in our assessment of the patient. It is always more interesting to see a surgery on a patient that you have followed from their initial arrival to the hospital, as opposed to seeing a random surgery where all you see is the small surgical window...sometimes, not even the face of the patient!
The goal after going home, of course, is to study. This is done with mixed results on most days. Sometimes I am able to accomplish my study goals for the afternoon. Most days, however, I'm just exhausted and get home in time to crash on my bed and go to sleep. The sounds of "Lets have sex in a restaurant" hip-hop song will ring in my ears before I know it.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Trauma Room Decisions: The patient refuses to allow the Doctors to insert their finger into the wound and explore how deep it is. Patient becomes combative any time we try. This leaves us with a difficult decision. Either we take patient to CT scan to see if there are any deep injuries to internal organs that could result in a sudden change in status, or we just rush patient up to the OR (Operating Room) and start the operation there under anesthesia. Decision was made to take patient up to the OR.
Diagnosis: Superficial wound. Yes, we rushed the patient to the OR, put patient under general anesthesia, and then were able to stick our finger in the wound...to find nothing. The wound barely even got through any fat layer.
Surgical Procedure: Stitch up the wound.
Results: Patient is fine. Was offered alcohol and drug counseling due to addictions, but otherwise, is fine.
Note: Picture is not from the actual patient's wound.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Heidi is the proprietor of a bar in Detroit . In order to increase sales, she
decides to allow her loyal customers - most of whom are unemployed
alcoholics - to drink now but pay later. She keeps track of the drinks
consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers loans).
Word gets around about Heidi's drink now pay later marketing strategy
and as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Heidi's bar
and soon she has the largest sale volume for any bar in Detroit .
By providing her customers freedom from immediate payment demands,
Heidi gets no resistence when she substantially increases her prices for
wine and beer, the most consumed beverages. Her sales volume increases
A young and dynamic vice-president at the local bank recognizes these
customer debts as valuable future assets and increases Heidi's
He sees no reason for undue concern since he has the debts of the
alcoholics as collateral. At the bank's corporate headquarters, expert
traders transform these customer loans into DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS
and PUKEBONDS. These securities are then traded on security markets
worldwide. Naive investors don't really understand that the securities being sold
to them as AAA secured bonds are really the debts of unemployed alcoholics.
Nevertheless, their prices continuously climb, and the securities become
the top-selling items for some of the nation's leading brokerage houses.
One day, although the bond prices are still climbing, a risk manager at the
bank (subsequently fired due to his negativity), decides that the time has come
to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Heidi's bar.
Heidi demands payment from her alcoholic patrons, but being unemployed
they cannot pay back their drinking debts. Therefore, Heidi cannot
fulfill her loan obligations and claims bankruptcy.
DRINKBOND and ALKIBOND drop in price by 90%. PUKEBOND performs
better, stabilizing in price after dropping by 80%. The decreased bond asset
value destroys the banks liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans.
The suppliers of Heidi's bar, having granted her generous payment extentions
and having invested in the securities are faced with writing off her debt and
losing over 80% on her bonds. Her wine supplier claims bankruptcy, her beer
supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant
and lays off 50 workers.
The bank and brokerage houses are saved by the Government following
dramatic round-the-clock negotiations by leaders from both political parties. The
funds required for this bailout are obtained by a tax levied on employed
Finally an explanation I understand ...
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
As you can see, the new design captures a beautiful site off the Brooklyn Bridge...something I get to see often! It is more hip and urban. It also allows me to display my Twitter updates more prominently while also allowing easier access to the Category links so you can more easily access past posts on the blog. Yes, "easy access" was key here (and "that's what she said!")
Please hit the comments and let me know what you think! If the majority don't like it, I'll go back to the old design...or find another new one!
Pediatrics: June 29 - August 7 in Fresno
USMLE Step 2 CS: One Day Mid July in LA
Exam Prep: August 7 - September 11 in Fresno
USMLE Step 2 CK: One Day Early September in LA
Psychiatry: September 14 - October 23 in LA
OB/GYN: October 26 - December 4 in NYC
NICU: December 7 - January 1 in Fresno
Peds Infectious Dz: January 4 - Jan 29 in Fresno
Elective: Feb 1 - Feb 26 Location TBD
Elective: Mar 1 - Mar 26 Location TBD
Elective: Mar 29 - April 23 Location TBD
Elective: April 26 - May 7 Location TBD
As you can see, after this summer, I will go straight from September all the way to May without time off...but it will payoff because come May 7, I will finally be known as Docta A!
But alas, this post is about coming home in five weeks! And of course, I will be using my favorite airline...because THEY KNOW WHY I FLY! (And PS: MAJOR kudos to anybody out there who can tell me the name of the American Airlines theme song in the video below and where I can get a copy of it. I love this song! Major kudos...like a Tiffany's ring!!!!)
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Diagnosis: Prepubic undescended testicle on the left side.
Surgical Procedure(s) Ordered: Orchidopexy; the surgeon first makes an incision near the site of the undescended testicle, similar to how he might make an incision to fix a hernia. We carefully dissect through the layers of the fascia and muscle until we reach the testicle. Next, through a series of maneuvers that see the gubernaculum (100 points to whoever defines what this is in the comments) released from the testicle and pushing back the perineum and other structures in order to free up more of the spermatic cord so we can pull the testicle down through the scrotal sac. Finally, we stitch the testicle into place and then stitch the outer skin of the scrotum over it to make it look like normal.
Results: This patient had no surgical complications and is fine post-operatively! However, it should be noted that patients with undescended testicles have an increased risk for testicular cancer - even after we fix the undescended testicle. Therefore, this patient will need to be followed closely for the rest of his life. If there are any signs of the cancer, removal of the testicle will become necessary immediately. Some signs of testicular cancer include:
- A lump or mass in either testicle
- Any enlargement or swelling of a testicle
- A collection of fluid in the scrotum
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen, back, or in the groin
- A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- Discomfort or pain in a testicle or in the scrotum
- Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts