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On the Wards – (Child) Psychiatry

I stood at the end of the hallway looking out through the large windows. Outside the sky was gray, the blacktop was damp, and the trees were dripping. It was a stark contrast to the interior. Here, where I stood, the walls were brightly colored, cartoonish faces squinted, frowned, and smiled, and random quotes encouraged readers to share and play nice.

Less than ten feet away from me a doctor was interviewing a patient. I’m not sure how the interview went. I wasn’t paying too much attention. I knew of this patient, though. The young pre-teen had been admitted because she had reported thoughts of killing herself. One might think that this bit of information might be betraying the patient’s identity. But sadly, many of the patients I have been seeing in the child psychiatry unit have/had suicidal ideations.

In a place like this, the patient population seems to have more in common with the dreary weather outside than the bright, cheerful surroundings inside. I’ve spent three days on the unit, and it has been — well, shocking. I have found it all quite interesting. I will definitely not cross Psychiatry off my “list.” But if I had to describe what I’ve seen in one word, that word would be “sad.”

When people hear that I am spending time in the Child Psychiatry unit, I often get asked if the patients look different. Maybe they think these patients have “crazy eyes” or some other telltale sign of craziness. If there are, then I certainly don’t know what the signs are. But to me, these patients look like any other child you might find playing in a schoolyard playground. Except that a number of them are very depressed. And they look sad. But if they were happy, I could picture them laughing and hanging from a jungle gym set or fast and high on a swing set. My point is that visually, these kids wouldn’t stand out if you put them in a lineup with other children.

Abuse is common, though. So are hallucinations — if I can call them that. I’m not sure what the doctors are calling them, but a number of the kids report seeing or hearing things others don’t see or hear. I guess the staff will need to determine if they are truly hallucinations. One patient sees demons at night. Another sees ghosts without any limbs. Others hear voices that tell them to hurt themselves or other people.

When I found out I had been assigned to psychiatry, I thought it would be really fun. I imagined having adult patients telling me outlandish stories that would make me laugh. Then I found out I was assigned to Child Psych. Most of the patients I’ve seen here have made me cringe. Their stories are heart wrenching. It was shocking for me to see some of the things I saw. And as far as the cases of abuse, I wondered, what kind of society do we live in that produces children so mentally damaged by physical, sexual, and emotional abuse?

I have about a week and a half left in Child Psych. I’m sure it’ll be memorable.

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It Is Finished

I’m really happy. The joy is just crazy. It might even be bordering on giddiness. Today I came out of the two and a half weeks of exams. Previously I posted our final exam schedule. All in all, there were thirteen exams spread out over that time period. Three of those were National Boards Subject Exams, two were practical exams (Anatomy and Neuroscience), and the rest were in-house finals.

So tonight I’m just excited to be done with all my exams. Although I’m wondering if tomorrow that excitement will be replaced with dread. Now I will just have to sit and wait for the scores to come back in.

Tomorrow, we have orientation for the final month of Freshman Ward’s Experience. I found out that I got assigned to Psychiatry for my first two weeks and then Surgery for the final two. I think I rated both of these in the top 5 on my list of preferences. I heard that for the end of the freshman year I would want a relatively easy rotation. So, psychiatry was my pick. Surgery was listed in the top 5 just for me to see what its like in the event I may one day choose to pursue it. But now, I’m a little regretful. People (namely, third years) have been telling me that its tiring and the schedule is hectic. And, as a first year, I probably won’t get much out of it anyways.

Anyways, now that finals are over, and I’m back on the wards, I hope I’ll be able to have some time to write a few more posts about how the year went and things like that. Maybe I’ll even post some of the experiences from these next four weeks seeing actual patients.

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What a waste of sleep!

Okay, so I’m sitting here about to go to sleep when I get this urge to go check out Twitter.com. So its not a short visit. I already have an account there from way back when I was trying to stay updated on something. Anyhow, I decide to set it up so I can use it with my iPhone (yeah, got one 2 weeks ago).

Well now it works with my phone. So I can text a message and it shows up as an update right here on JeffreyMD.com. So next week as I walk into exams, I’ll twitter a little message like “We who are about to die, salute you” or something like that and it will show up on the right sidebar. Ms. Gross, if you’re reading this, you can be happy I did not forget all of my dates and quotes 😉 .

Oh, and it shows up on my facebook status too.

We’ll see if I keep this thing goin or not.

But, what I am saying is that this was a big waste of 20 minutes! I should be sleeping now so that I can wake up early and hit the books before I have to drive home (1.25 hours). As usual, the Friday before exams have no scheduled classes. I’m in a wedding this weekend, so I have to pick up my tuxedo.

Busy weekend.

As you can tell by my writing I’m a bit scatter-brained at the moment… Either that or my brain is not functioning properly because I need sleep!