01/15/2011

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What a difference a Year makes what a difference a year makes :o)<br/> This time last year I was totally normal... i was normal and happy. All of my many years of medical study were finally about to pay off. You see unlike most of my friends I chose my career in medicine based on the field I loved the most, neurology. I fell in love with it. then during residency, at the tail end last few weeks of residency a time when everybody is finishing up their fellowship applications I fell in like with stroke. I still remember it like it was yesterday. One o my favorite attendings, who was almost universally disliked by everyone else excep me. was attending for our team that month and he asked me the common question; the uestion that was on everybody&#39;s mind.&#39;what are you going to do next year?&#39; which is him asking what fellowship are you applying for or are you taking a job as a general neuro...? I said,&#39;I&#39;m not sure... maybe neuromuscular...?<br/> and I really said it as a question as if he were supposed to tell me... I dont know why I was so inactive and disinterested in fellowshipbut I was. My entire class had chosen their future fields and were well underway in the application process. I just wasn&#39;t in love with anything so I flubbed at mybe neuromuscular ut even as I said it I thought &#39; if I have to treat carpal tunnel for the rest of my life I might stick my EMG needles in my eyes. So he said,&#39;why don&#39;t you go to Brooklyn to be Danny&#39;s stroke fellow?&quot; I thought to myself,&quot; yeah stroke is cool. I kinda like stroke.&quot; So he said well come on lets go to his office. I followed him to Danny&#39;s office and we entered he said, with ll the pride of a proud papa; &#39;Hey Danny OHow would you like to have Oriana as your stroke fellow?&quot; Danny&#39;s eyes grew wide and instanty became pereptibly brighter an with a huge sile he said,&quot;are you serious?&quot; He looked at me like he thought he was being punked like I couldn&#39;t possibly really be available and interestedso I said.&quot;I&#39;m serious I&#39;ve always liked stroke and I thought again about needling myself if I had to teat carpal tunnel forecver... He said,&quot; If I had the contract with me I&#39;d make you ign it right now. Again he seemed to ot believe I was really available and really interested. I assured him I was and tht&#39;s how I ound up doing stroke. During my year of caring for stroke patints I met my first mentor, Sophia and I fell in love with something else. Sophia is a pretty and short stature unimposing Pakistani woman who grew up in Texas and as such is quite Americanized.She was the baddest chick in medicin I ever came across. When I met her I knew I wanted to be a lot like her in my new career choice, endovasclular neurosurgery. She took me under wing and taught me what she could with the little time we had. I knew then hat I was in love with the field and I wanted badly o get a fellowship so I could study it. I chose y medical path based on what I loved first neurology then stroke but endovascular was where I was always supposed to be. Once I got into it I was completely enamored with it. It had everything I ever wanted. In medical school I wanted to be a surgeon ut surgical residencies are super tough and I was a single mom so I ruled it out as an option. My second choice was to be an OBGYN because they aso operate but I was bummed at the thought of never having male patients. I loved neurology biu I t knew that the sickest patients are what really stimulated me. Not in a saddistic way, they just got my mind all revved up and it was a pleasure to research and read i hopes to find ways to help the sickest of them. Being hyped by really sick people sounds weird but they made me eager to read and to teach myself new things.Endovascular had it all I could scrub in like a surgeon my patients would be sick as dirt. In short, I was in heaven. When I got into the two year fellowship I was overjoyed and then last April I was about to graduate and I was offered a job with the guys that trained me I was going to make really good money too. That was a super gift because I never chose the field because of the money . I chose it because I loved the work. My girlfriends asked me if I wouldstill work if I won the lottery.I said, &quot;Of course I would I love what I do.&quot; they thought I was crazy :o) iThe money was a huge bonus. Kind of like the fairy tales where a good girl falls for a nice guy and in the end he turns out to be a prince :o) I was in heaven right before the ish hit the fan...So last year this time I was rejoicing in the path that life/God/the universe took me down. I was exactly where I wanted to be and then... Just before I was to graduate I was allowed to do some cases solo, mostly.My new mentor,Charlie, trained my first mentor so I was following in her shoes like I wanted to from the day I met her :o) Super happy.So my mentor Charlie gets a call that Oriana has a stroke he of course thought they meant I was taking a stroke patient to the suite to pull the clot out so he said,&quot;Im sure she can handle it.&quot; We fall into the habit of refering to our patients as their disease which i wont do anymore. It&#39;s not uncommon to hear things like Charlie&#39;sa taking an aneurysm to the O.R. Or Ory is taking a stroke to the angio suite. I glow at knowing he felt comfortable in my abilities to let me take an acute stroke patient to the angio suite witout him :o) I wish that was the cae. I had &#39;done a stroke case about 2 weeks before I became a stroke case... She was only 31 but it didn&#39;t end well for her. The case went fine Im proud to say that letting me take a person to our angio suite and pull a clot out of an artery in their brai n. He didn&#39;t say tell her to wait for me ormy other suprvisor he said Im sure h=she can handle it.:o)Wat he didn&#39;t immediately realize was that the person calling was saying that I was hving a stroke myself.He didn&#39;t get it because it made no sense and it still only kid of makes sense to me cosmically... but Im dealing with it the best I can. This time last year I was the happiest I&#39;d ever been in my life.This year, I&#39;m happy to be alive but Im still kind of pissed to still be recovering instead of recovered. Im ready to put this whole thing behind me although I know it wil always be there in front of me and it will colour the interactions I have with all of my patients here forward, i a good way.. I had a stroke. no matter how much time passes I&#39;ll always know this. It has changed me profoundy but Im not worse for it. Somehow becoming physically weak helped me see how strong I am in so many ways. I dont hide from the world. I&#39;m out there in the open, sometimes even crying and always limping but I don&#39;t hide and that&#39;s srength to me . I remember thinking I can&#39;t go through a whole year &#39;like this&#39; which is unable to use my left arm or hand and using a cane and leg brace to walk. I thouhgt there&#39;s no way I&#39;ll survive it .I knew that the thing that could have easily killed me. The patient I treated just before my stroke was only 31. When things turned south for her I cried like a baby in the middle of the ICU Her mom thanked me for talking wit them the first day and or giving them hope. She wasn&#39;t even mad that in the end we could&#39;t save her. She hugged me tight and we cried in the middle of the ICU. that was before my stroke so I can only imagine how things will be now but Iwant my arm and hand back so I can find out. The stroke failed to kill me and in the end that made me feel a little less destructable. As lomng as I didn&#39;t lose it and take myself out wasn&#39;t going anywhere and I wasn&#39;t that sad so I knew I&#39;d ultimately survive the year. I mean what choice did I have? I wan&#39;t ready to kill myself and the stroke didnt kill me soevn though I didn&#39;t know how I knew I&#39;d survive the year but I kept thinking I&#39;m sure i&#39;ll be worlds better in 3 6 or 9 months. ( always in 3 month intervals tough I don&#39;t know why...)then when 6 months came I thought I probably wont even need the cane by 12 months... Well,it&#39;s about 2 weeks away from twelve months and i still cannot use my left arm or hand and I still using the cane and the brace so.... I&#39;m thinking maybe by 15 months post stroke....? and the other day I thought probably by two years I&#39;ll be golden but I thougt can I really survive another year like this...? Of course I can. What choice do have? The people that came to see me in the hospital and those who love me would be devatated if I left the earth, especially by my own hand so I never considered that a real option. I thouhgt well I&#39;m still here might as well work to get myself back on my feet literally, and that&#39;s how I&#39;ve spent this year.What I need intemittintely are other things to look forward to. I need other milestones or life events so I can stop thnbking about how will I be at this time... or at that point... I just ned to think about other stuff than this year and what it means to my recovery In lot of ways the stroke has made me exactly the kind of doctor I always wanted to be I was the med student that didn&#39;t complain when our instructors made us check our fingersticks and inject our bellies with saline using an insulin needle.I had the feeling that if I&#39;m going to be asking my patients to do these things shouldn&#39;t I kinda know what it&#39;s like..? My girlfriend was pissed bout that and didn&#39;t inject her belly But I did without hesitation. In fact ,my first trip into the angio suite with Sophia was so that hen I referred my patients for angio I wanted to be able to tell them what to expect. I&#39;ve always been that kid of doctor... Now that I&#39;ve had the stroke I&#39;m primed to be the best stroke doctor ever but I need my frickin left hand to play ball or not only will Ii not be able to help patients, I wont have a job, patients, or much of anything and I don&#39;t want to be there... Wonder what difference this next year will make? I just don&#39;t know if I can maintain my sanity and my joy if I have to wait that much longer

Ocornett

a struggling stroke survivor but a survivor nonetheless

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