ndab Ah Yes, Medical School: Gomers Galore And Some Racial Love

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Gomers Galore And Some Racial Love

As part of the continually strong effort to expose us to loads of different clinical situations as first years (one part of this new curriculum business I actually appreciate), today I was assigned to do a geriatric visit at the local VA Hospital. Now, I already know that old people depress the hell out of me. I also know that sick old people REALLY depress the hell out of me. Little kids I can see sick and not be sad (if anything, I see that as a challenge to make them feel better - hence my growing realization that I should be doing stuff with kids and not adults, besides the fact that they are on a more similar maturity level to me). But old people? Bleh. So needless to say, this was not the best attitude to go into this visit.

We arrived and were given instructions on what to do. I was assigned to interview/assess a patient with my now 19 year old counterpart. We look for our patient in his room, but it turns out he is at the main level playing bingo. The views upon entering the bingo room were pretty pathetic. Many sad, sick, and lonely gomers trying to keep up with the guy announcing the numbers. Our patient sat at a table by himself, looking like a pro. We introduced ourselves and I began to ask some of the basic medical history questions.

Well. He was having none of that. He went off on this bizarro philosophical journey, going all over the place while he complained about a) how we were incompetent because he couldn't figure out what the point of what we were doing was (I'll give him that one), b) the service at the hospital, and c) the other inmat-urr...patients (he pointed to one elderly man, who was wandering around confused and holding up his pants - "Now you see that guy? He always holds on to his pants. No one knows why, but he won't let go. What's the deal?"). Literally 1.5 hours later, we had gotten some parts of a basic history and done a halfassed general depression questionairre (depressed? check.) and mini-mental status exam (not all there? check.). We held up the rest of the group by 30min, not on our own accord but more because this guy would not stop talking. It was unreal.

It turns out that the medical fellows knew that he was a very difficult patient, but they must have known it was us two doing the interview and thought "Ah fuck it. Let these bastards deal with this guy.". Somehow, I feel like all the bad karma I built up talking shit about people, both retarded and otherwise, is starting to rear its ugly head.

However, this was only a precusor to perhaps the greatest unintentional comedy event in the history of mankind (at least I think so). Walking out of the VA, I was accompanied by two Indian classmates and one African-American classmate (I, alas, am of the pasty white Jewish persuasion). We were chatting about something unrelated to anything and this African-American guy in a wheelchair rolls up to us and starts talking. Seems like a really interesting guy. Complemented us on our career choice, because he said he couldn't imagine doing all that studying in those difficult topics. Nice.

Then, while analyzing the medical profession, he turned to me and started at me for about 10 seconds before saying,

"It's really nice to see more people of color entering the medical field."

I froze.

Now, I can think of a couple of possibilites for what was going on here:
1. He hates whitey, and wanted to make sure I knew it. Not much I can do about that, but he said it so matter of factly and devoid of emotion that I'd have a hard time believing he wanted to make me feel really bad.
2. He's one confused soul with messed up vision. I'm really that white, folks.

Anyways, maybe this wasn't as amusing as it seemed at the time, but hey this is better than studying.


Blogger Deb Sistrunk Nelson said...

I laughed out loud as you described your experience with the black man in the wheelchair. He probably really thinks you're a man of color. Maybe you're not so "pasty" after all. LOL

I can laugh along with you because I am black. I think I'll remember this story the rest of the day. :-)

11:41 AM  

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