For those of you poor unfortunate yet unadulterated lucky souls who have read my ‘About’ tab, let me enlighten you on my choice of format. The glorious resumé: something that every college student knows all too well. That sheet of paper that supposedly defines who we are and what we have accomplished. This exhibition, if you will, illustrates our accumulated experience that makes us attractive, thus competitive, when applying to jobs, graduate programs, and the illustrious medical school. In an attempt to expand my resumé, I was on the lookout for any opportunity to intern or shadow a doctor. Luckily, through a friend that I made during my arduous 5-hour, biweekly mammalian lab (dreadful up the wazoo, I know), I was able to acquire a position as a shadow for one of the best pediatricians in the city. A year later, I can say that shadowing this incredible physician has been one of the best opportunities I have ever been given by the universe (not that the universe is too forthcoming with opportunities, but I am still grateful). You will get to know and learn to love this man, just as I did during my present time.
When I received the doctor’s contact information from my former labmate, I, of course, rushed about trying to contact him like any anxious individual. I began my morning with the goal of contacting the doctor. I spent about 30 minutes organizing and proofreading my resumé. Then, I spent another 20 minutes just brainstorming how I would introduce myself in the email and what other information I would include without sounding redundant. Getting it right the first time – a tendency with which I am blessedly cursed. It took me so long to formulate that damn email. Can you even imagine how long this post took me?! Yeah, I don’t want to think about it either. Anyways. I produced such a beautifully written email. It flowed. It was concise. It was sheer genius! I was confident I was going to effectively capture this doctor’s attention so well that he’d say, “Gahdamn, that’s one beautifully written email. How can I not invite this eloquent individual to join me?” (I’m almost positive those were the exact thoughts that crossed his mind). Once I had sent the email, I nervously awaited a reply. I refreshed my inbox every 30 seconds. Ha, just kidding. More like every few minutes. I’m not that crazy (I might be; who knows).
Looking back at my original email, I found two errors, which hurt my soul a little. I automatically knew it was over (There came that self-doubt. She is about as present in my life as oxygen in my blood. Wunderbar!). I figured that my chances of getting the shadow position were foiled due to those two errors. So, I went for a long run to try to cope, or punish myself (whichever you prefer), for the fracaso. Later that afternoon, to my utter surprise, I saw an unread message in my inbox. His response almost made laugh with hysteria. He replied,
You may come in and shadow me at any time that you desire. I work all day on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and only in the morning on Wednesday. Let me know when you want to start and we will work out a schedule.
I had spent hours worrying about my inquiry, and he replied in such a nonchalant way (I guess fate threw me a bone! Although, if she could throw another one, that’d be great! *wink, wink*). He simply handed me the position, no questions asked. I was utterly ecstatic. This scenario showed me that I just had to take a chance and dive in, or, in my case, sometimes stumble in. Anyways, I shrieked a bit, called my mom and brothers to tell them the news, then began panicking. I had to prepare my clothing, brush up on my medical jargon, remember that the mitochondrion is the powerhouse of the cell, and all those wonderful biological/medical processes that make life, well, life. The Intellectual Devotional: Health became my bible. I read an entry every day in order to “revive [my] mind,” as the cover declares (which sounds like some complete psychological/philosophical rubbish, but surprisingly it helped me a lot). After weeks of “digesting” so much information, the day finally arrived. I would get to meet the man who I would later consider a mentor and a grandfather-like figure. To you, he will be known as the eminent Dr. Oddie.
My first day went as any first day goes. In my knowledge binge-learning furor, I forgot to research Dr. Oddie. I met the med students that worked with him and inquired about them. In a matter-of-fact tone, he informed me that he was a professor at my university’s School of Medicine. Strike one for me, 10 minutes into my first day. I could only go up from here, right?
Throughout the day, I made sure to laugh at all his jokes. ALL ONE HUNDRED AND SOMETHING OF THEM. Despite all my studying, I did not know 99.9% of the terminology. I held my head high as if I belonged and pushed through. He would say, “The child shows signs of acute otitis media. Do you know what that is, Natura? You must’ve studied it at least once.” All I would do is shake my head and look at my hands. When he saw my expression, he added cheerfully, “Well, see now you know what it is!” Then, he gave me a ‘knock’ (fist bump). It was very encouraging to know that he wanted me to learn and succeed.
This is how most days went. I would go in ready to hear unknown words that I would repeat under my breath in order to memorize for later when I could look them up. Months passed, and he became more comfortable around me. He learned that I love to joke around and work hard at everything I do (remember the high expectations of a pre-med student from my prologue? Yeah, well, here you go). Every little bit of information that I accidentally divulged he would store for later. He would nonchalantly throw in those extra unnessary bits when introducing me. Even to patients.
Dr. Oddie: “This is Natura. She is an undergrad student that shadows me. ” He looks down at the patient’s chart. “Did you know she has a wild side? Ha!” *accentuates the ‘i’ in wild*
Me: Head shoots up in surprise. Eyes widen in disbelief. Cheeks redden. Looks down at hands with a shy smile spreading across lips.
He does it to this day. I just learned to laugh and take it as a compliment, despite how embarrassing the comments were. Luckily, I have collected several stories about him, some that he’s told us many times and others that I have had the (mis)fortune of experiencing firsthand.
Here is the first of many snippets that I will provide throughout this blog. I hope you get a chuckle out of the playful torment brought to you exclusively by Dr. Oddie.
TODAY’S SNIPPET *while examining a child’s mouth*
Dr. Oddie: “Oh, she has a geographical tongue. Do you know what that is, Natura?”
Me: “Yes, I believe that I had one before.”
Patient’s Mom: “What causes that?” *said worryingly*
Dr. Oddie: “Being naughty. Ha! No, that’s just for Natura.”
Me: Smirks and shakes head.