Stories From Med School: Impetigo

Caution: yucky picture below.

I went to Honduras during my Last Summer Vacation EVER, between my first and second year of med school. We worked for a month in an emergency room in a small coastal town called Trujillo. It was a fantastic experience.

As I was heading home on the plane, I got a sore throat. Probably picked it up in the ER right before I left.

A day or so later, I developed a rash across the bottom half of my face. It looked like I had grown a beard made of strawberry ice cream.

It itched like crazy.

Of course, it turned out to be impetigo, a manifestation of either a staphylococcus or a streptococcus infection. (In this form, I read at that time, they are clinically indistinguishable.)

It looked a little like this. Over the entire bottom half of my face.

Quiz time!

After I was diagnosed, was my first reaction:

A. Crap! If I didn’t get the chance to treat this in time, it could have progressed into necrotizing fasciitis and disfigured me for life if it didn’t kill me!

B. Wait till my med school buddies see this! They’ll love it! I gotta do a call-around!

I’ll give you a hint. I made sure I had some exam gloves, in case people wanted to poke at it.

You are welcome to draw any conclusions you like about my mental health.

Published in: on June 15, 2010 at 1:18 am  Comments (15)  
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Dr. Grassmartyr

Poor me!

Today I walked a total of five miles in the cold, pouring rain without an umbrella, running around the campus of my new residency posting in cold, waterlogged sneakers. I took care of (most of) my credentialing process, getting a (bedraggled) picture ID, and making sure all papers were in proper file-ification….before I catch an airplane back home.

Yes, I had to fly out here specifically to get all this done. (I was patted down at the airport; apparently I’m a suspicious-looking character.) The day was assigned, with no consideration for convenience or preference. I feel sorry for the international students.

Also today, I had a physical exam by a doctor with cold hands (serves me right; karma dictates that every doctor I see MUST have cold hands, since my own hands are existentially un-warmable), and was stuck with a total of three needles. (One tetanus update, one PPD test (to check for tuberculosis exposure), and one blood draw for basic labs.) I also gave a sample for urinalysis; peeing on command sucks, doesn’t it?

But that’s not all! Before I start working, I have to get a drug test (they don’t do them at the employee health clinic, so I have to do it at home) and another PPD! More needles! YAY!!!

And then, to add insult to injury, the last step of my harrowing process (the step I thought I’d knock out and then find some desperately-needed lunch….at 4:00……) turned out to be a surprise 50-question exam over safety procedures in the hospital.

Lunch didn’t happen. I should probably be used to that by now.

The life of a medical professional is defined by this credo: “Eat when you can. Sleep when you can. Pee when you can. Poop when you can. Because you ain’t getting another chance.”

However, my brother made a wonderful dinner when I got back to his apartment (fried tilapia, homemade mashed potatoes, and asparagus, with ice cream for dessert). And I’m drinking hot tea while his cat, Spoon Avocado, purrs in my lap. (And I’ve taken enough allergy medication so Spav isn’t making me sneeze.) So it’s all okay now.

Good things that happened today:

-I met a couple of my fellow classmates who were going through this process along with me. They were incredibly nice people.

-There was a young couple with a baby sitting next to me while I waited to get my blood drawn at the outpatient clinic. The baby was adorable, and laughed whenever I made a face at her. We all ended up laughing. The wait was not that bad.

-I now have keys to my new apartment; I’ll probably go there and start cleaning tomorrow. Maybe find a pull-out sleeper couch so my friends will be enticed to visit me.

-I navigated the system at one of the hospitals where I will be working, as if I were a patient; I’ll be better prepared to advise my own patients as a result.

-One of the upsides of being cold, wet, and bedraggled, with soaked shoes and water dripping off your nose for most of the day is that you renew your appreciation for being warm and dry whenever you manage to warm up and dry off. Some people experience this type of luxury only rarely.

-I get to spend some quality time with Spoon Avocado. She’z mai favorit kitteh.

And, for your viewing pleasure (and since supposedly every blogger is supposed to post pictures of cats), here’s a picture of Spoon Avocado.

She’s a little fuzzier and more actively affectionate than Phil.

Spav in a sack

Published in: on May 19, 2010 at 1:26 am  Comments (4)  
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