Sunday, July 3, 2011

Interesting week

Last week was pretty much the most stressful week I've had in a VERY long time. It started with a pretty serious health issue (flares causing MAJOR problems) and ended up with me saving a woman's life at the closing ceremony of my daughter's engineering camp.

So lemme see where do I begin......I guess I'll start with the interview from holy hell.

There's a part of me that regularly asks myself why, KNOWING that I HATE the political atmosphere of working in big pharma, in the hell do I continue to subject myself to such foolishness by interviewing for gigs in Big Pharma? Between the fact that 2 out of 8 interviewers were horrific (and female, surprise, surprise) and there was a question on the job app about having been dismissed/fired from a previous employer, I'm NOT sitting by my phone waiting on them to get back to me with any positive news. They harped on my dismissal a LOT, not to mention one of the interviews (horrific female) had had a terrible working relationship with a guy I knew from the place I'd been fired from. And he and I got a long great, so great that he recommended me for the job where I eventually became lab director. So I'm thinking it's crystal clear she hated this guy I liked very much, so we probably won't be able to work together. Of course, I'd already determined that since she was so mean and hateful when she interviewed me. At any rate, I'm certain God has something better out there for me than this.

Which brings me to the really great news, I'm being considered for a fellowship with the Feds in Bioinformatics and while it's not cancer related, it's a solid job with a great organization. And they'll pay for me to get my Bioinform degree or certificate too. Unfortunately, it's a clearance type position so if I'm offered the opportunity I won't be able to speak much about it. The downside is that we'd have to consider moving since the commute would be 1.5 hours, but for a great opportunity, I think I could make it work commute or not.

Finally, I had the shock of a lifetime when at the closing ceremony of my daughter's camp, a woman needed emergency medical care. Not only was I the only person in a room of about 70 people who knew what to do, no one stepped up to help me at first. Ironically, I'd been sitting between this woman and a PhD during the program and it's funny what insignificant things you remember in an emergency. I suspected the woman was having a seizure since she was foaming at the mouth and at 200+ pounds, I had a VERY difficult time getting her to the floor BY MYSELF, so I could place her on her side and clear her airways as much as possible. I'm screaming for people to come help me, most of the people appear frozen in fear, and finally a man comes to help me keep her on her side.

Then the PhD I'd been sitting next to, runs up from across the room and says "I'm a Doctor", to which I respond "what took you so long to get over here"!!! She then says "we need to give her sugar and elevate her feet". WHAT?!?!? My non interested in medicine 14 year old knows you NEVER place ANYTHING in the mouth of a person who appears to be having a seizure/choking!! And I'd remembered seeing the woman eat fruit earlier, so I was pretty sure low glucose was NOT the issue. I shouted back to her "no, she could choke", and proceeded to do my best to keep her on her side with her mouth slightly open so the mucous could drain out.

So as the man and I are doing our best to keep her on her side, I hear someone talking to 911 saying that they think the woman just passed out and that she sounds like she's snoring. Snoring?? SNORING?!?! These types of incorrect assessments probably cost MANY people their lives!!! If the 911 operator thinks they're dealing with a drunk who passed out, they're NOT going to be in a rush to send help!!! Of course, I can't be by her side and talk to 911 at the same time, so I ask someone else to call 911 and tell them that the woman is starting to become cyanotic/turn blue and to get over here ASAP!!!! Still, I think it must have taken the ambulance 30+ minutes to get there.

When I arrived at the ER with the woman's daughter, she was in stable condition and because no other family members had arrived, I lied about being the woman's sister. I took the daughter back to the area where her mother was, then called the woman's mother to let her know what tests had been done, what her condition was, and that she was okay. The final diagnosis was seizure just as I suspected.

Right now, I don't know what I'm most in shock about. The fact that a PhD "doctor" could have killed this woman by putting something in her mouth, the fact that people really do get brain freeze in an emergency, the fact that despite all the public service announcements people don't know basic CPR/life saving techniques, or the fact that it took too damn long for the ambulance to arrive.

However, this is a strong reminder of why we need more Black folks in medicine. The "doctor"/PhD and I disagreed on whether or not the patient was cyanotic because cyanosis looks DIFFERENT in people of color than in white folks. This is also how I caught the fact that my daughter was jaundice at birth, a fact missed by both my Ob/Gyn and the Peditrician. It also isn't lost on me that perhaps a reason no one came to help the woman was because it was assumed she was a drunk black woman, hanging out at an engineering camp for girls. (yeah, I'm being sarcastic here).

Due in large part to this situation, whatever hesitation I had about my path to med school is probably permanently squashed. And while I have NO illusions about going into ER medicine ( I peed catecholamines for 5 hours straight afterwards), I do feel more compelled than ever to be a Clinician of one sort or another overing becoming a Pathologist.


  1. did the woman have a hx of seizures?

  2. Alexa,

    According to her daughter, she'd never had a seizure. She also confirmed that in the hospital.