•October 27, 2011 • 1 Comment

Of all the services, the cancer ward is the most difficult one to stay sane on, especially if there are young patients on service. On other services, a hospital stay is a blip in the road, a temporizing measure, a small bit to include in future Past Medical History reviews, but not a defining condition. Not part of your identity. A single episode of gallstone pancreatitis doesn’t end up in your ID. In three days one can go from “64 y/o generally healthy male presents for easy bruising” to “64 y/o male with recent dx AML,” and “previously healthy” is gone, and AML has won a spot in the first sentence in every medical note to come.

Yes, I know other conditions end up with similar prominence. “Brittle diabetes” “COPD w/ mult intubation” “Ulcerative colitis” “ASCVD s/p 3v CABG” “chronic pancreatitis” “seizure d/o” “SLE” “HIV+” “schizophrenia” etc etc etc.  But these are background canvases. They (often) aren’t a picture themselves. They don’t clue you into how a person is going to plan the next year of his or her life, trying to squeeze it into the cracks between neoadjuvant options and radiation fractions and breast-conserving operations, 7+3s and lymph node biopsies and diverting colostomies, surveillance CTs and bone marrow biopsies.

There was this one young girl with who I’d flirt a little. Not too much; I was still her doctor. But she was so sick, and she was so scared, and her chances of recovery were so slim that often I felt like all I had to offer was a humanizing interaction. Anything to bring a little life into her sterile, neutropenic hospital room.

I’m sitting here and feeling a little bad about it. Outside of that hospital (no, outside of that gown), I would never have paid her any attention. Even before treatment made her puffy and bald and lethargic she was chubby and plain and boring. Or maybe she was blonde and curvy and loved animals. Either way, I’d be similarly disinterested. Part of me thinks the lesson of this is to be friendlier, say to that LNA who’s kinda frumpy/dumpy but is awfully sweet to patients. But the ego-centrist in me warns that if I do this, I’ll probably give her osteosarcoma. Nah she’s too old for that. Hodgkin’s lymphoma then.


how I thought

•October 27, 2011 • 1 Comment

We were each hoping to learn everything about one another.

We were both terribly serious people, so we felt that getting to know each other in this way was the way that love happened.

Knowing nothing, we would never be able to hold hands. Not knowing your parents’ names I would have doubts about taking your arm in mine. Only once we knew everything about each other—shoe size, clothing size, how many months old we were when we first learned to walk, how many seconds we could hold our breath underwater—only then could love rise to the next step.

In wanting to learn more about each other, we were showing that we wanted the other to know us as we were. It may seem like a peculiar way of thinking, but this was the path we chose, to approach each other slowly.

Therefore, conversation was important. We talked for five hours without so much as touching each other’s pinkie fingers. How many words would we have to exchange before we got married? I was eighteen years old, and you were the first girl I ever really dated, but already I was thinking of marriage. I thought that was what dating meant.

I was dimly aware it would take a long time before we built up to a kiss. I was not particularly anxious—I thought that since we were looking for a partner to share a whole life together, we would have plenty of time. At the very least, we had already taken three years from the time we first exchanged words until we had our first date. I was sure that within three more years we would exchange a first kiss.

That was how I thought.

charmed life

•October 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

early morning wake up, reading a good book (not at all medically related), drive then walk through warm fall day (leaves all ablaze), afternoon with the grand master, delicious home made dinner, draconids to fall asleep

goodnight, goodnight (sarcastically)

•October 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

some of you may know (fewer may care) that I lost my voice to laryngitis late last week. it wasn’t so bad, and  i sounded much worse than i felt, for the most part (the worst i felt was at a friend’s party where i didn’t know anyone, and then couldn’t get to know anyone because i couldn’t very well communicate. later on some of my friends did show, and as it turns out i couldn’t really talk to them either).

however, last night was a disaster. i started coughing, and then coughed more, and more. i coughed until my throat was sore and raw. i coughed until my chest burned and my sputum was blood-tinged. it got so bad that even a slight inhalation caused enough irritation to trigger a cough reflex, and thus i was coughing with every breath. this kept me up until about 3 a.m. when, after many rinses and lozenges and cool washcloths, i finally drifted off to sleep. for about an hour. i woke around 4, coughing again, so i went and made myself a cup of tea. i brought it back to my room, sipped it for a few moments, then somehow missed as i went to set it down on my nightstand, and instead dropped it on my bed.

so i stripped my sheets and mattress cover, put on not-soggy PJs (to add insult to laundry, my most recent fortune cookie read “you are better suited in other clothes {in bed}”), and pulled out a sleeping bag.

if this happens again tonight, i will be calling out tomorrow.


•October 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

dear glee,

you are completely misrepresenting aspergers. stop it. if it was homosexuality you were making light of, the LGBT group would be so far up your ass that you’d think they were a colonoscope. or a heroin balloon. but aspies dont have that kind of activism. that doesn’t make it ok to pick on them.



•October 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

i almost don’t want to write about this here, because i feel like then i can’t use it.


i haven’t thought it all the way out, but as i was driving back home just now i got the idea that it’d be fun to tell a story (i don’t know if it’s a romance or tragedy or what, im not that far along) where the characters get to ask each other exactly one question about the other each day. i mean, the rule wouldn’t be written anywhere, but that’s just how it would play out. then i was thinking what those questions might be, and in which order. i’m not gonna polish this out right now, but it has my attention enough that i’m at least stuck thinking about it. so i might as well write something down


There would be the standard sorts of questions,

what’s your name?

what are you doing here?

will you meet me again here tomorrow?


Then I guess you have to decide what kind of story it will be, before you can go further. but the idea isn’t about the type of story, it’s about the way to present it. I guess it’s easiest to see it as a romcom, but it could be one of those intergenerational friendship stories, or maybe even a spy story. or estranged family.


i’ve been stuck in my own head more than usual these past few days, as i’ve developed laryngitis (totally stray thought: i wonder if there’s a Larry Ng. i figure there must be, somewhere). this has made it completely impossible to communicate with the geriatric population i’ve been assigned in clinic. not only are they deaf, but they also can’t lip read.


i have a sudden urge to watch west side story. thanks danielle.

ftw (check your mirrors)

•September 25, 2011 • 1 Comment

For some reason, if there are other cars around when I’m driving on the freeway and I’m not frequently passing them, I feel like I’m not winning enough.