Tag Archive | stony brook medicine

Just My Luck … With Graduations

If I am a black cloud in something, that something is graduation.  My gloomy graduation history dates back to 2006.  What are the chances that every landmark graduation ceremony in my education process elicits tears from the sky?  Count them, thrice – high school, undergraduate (Baccalaureate AND Commencement) and last week, medical school.

High School Days

Out of all my career graduations, this was the least I cared about; hence, I was the most okay with nearly missing it.  At that time, I was a girl of few needs:  1) go to an Ivy League college, or somewhere close enough to a prestigious brand, 2) be valedictorian, or settle for salutatorian and 3) get off Long Island.  I fulfilled about 1½ points on that list.  I was most bummed that I did not graduate in the top 2 of my class to attain the lofty title of valedictorian or salutatorian (I was ranked #3, with no Olympic bronze medal recognition for that achievement).  The gunner in me then forever held a grudge against the high school that cheated me of my accomplishments, especially since I clean-swept all the senior awards with the highest, nearly perfect grades in all my classes.  Connetquot was unfortunately still on a “quality points system” that year, as opposed to the more mainstream “weighted average system.”  I still remember Connetquot as the school that essentially dinged a student for trying to be well rounded by playing in the orchestra (a lowly level 4 course), while another student with less stellar grades who was able to take more advanced classes received more points and ranked higher.  It was also the school that held me back from taking more Advanced Placement (AP) classes early enough to count more before college applications went out.  Except for a few special teachers who nurtured my potential and vision for success, there was nothing memorable about the high school that tethered my wings to a wall.

Now you have a basic understanding of my residual bitterness and how I could careless about graduating high school?  Maybe I did not get into my top choice of colleges (Cornell) and yet, I was happy and looking forward to life and school in the city (NYU).  Let’s not forget, I was bouncing off Long Island after 18 years of suburban, if not rural, life.

Excellence My Ends

Excellence My Ends

The morning of graduation was cloudy, humid and rainy.  I looked out the window and heard the pitter-patter of rain … and rolled back to sleep.  I assumed the graduation ceremony was cancelled due to inclement weather.  Nope, it was on.  In haste, I rinsed my curls and threw on my white cap and gown and ran in 4-inch heels.  I was not the only idiot who thought there was no graduation, seeing girls and guys getting dropped off and running into the school.  And here were the beginnings of my tardy tendencies.

I rushed to find my spot on line, somewhere amongst the honor society gang.  Because I was late, I also lost the spot I had on stage, one I personally requested and squeezed from the principal to make something worthwhile out of being #3.

The graduation could not have been more of a drag. The only family spectator was my father; my mother and sister did not come, given how rushed the morning was.  My hair was frizzing from the humidity.  I was nervously looking up at the sky, believing it would shower at any moment’s strike.  What was I proud of?  Getting through with perfect grades and off the island?  My school failed me and perfect grades did not get me on stage where I belonged.  In a deviant way, I was glad that it was dark and gloomy, for I believed the heavens above saw it befitting to make the day miserable for Connetquot and it’s Class of 2006 Graduates.

Wow, I still sound bitter 8 years later …

NYU Memories

The little chunk of campus I experienced

The little chunk of campus I experienced

Every May in honor of NYU graduates, the Empire State Building lights up Violet!

Every May in honor of NYU graduates, the Empire State Building lights up Violet!

College epitomized my glory years.  It was a fresh environment with a much more intellectual and social crowd.  I was happier, the butterfly that emerged from a tight, suffocating cocoon and spread its wings to fly and discover the world.  Come on, I was going to school in the middle of Manhattan!!!  I had no campus, but that did not matter, because my fun-filled campus was uniquely all of NYC.  These were the years I spent finding myself, exploring the city, reconnecting with my Asian heritage and making awesome friends to last a lifetime.

Four years bounced by, and now I was part of NYU College of Arts & Science, Class of 2010.  My Baccalaureate Ceremony took place at the famous Radio City Music Hall.  Center stage and Magna Cum Laude.

While the ceremony was indoors, outside it was again, dreary and gray. There were a few sprinkles, but not significant enough to ruin my wonderful graduation day.

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Commencement was a different situation, that fateful Wednesday in May at Yankee Stadium.  It was cold and horribly wet and more like May showers.  Ponchos and caps were passed out for barely enough coverage.  I was freezing in my violet gown that did nothing for insulation.  There I sat, for the next few hours, under a bright yellow umbrella ready to break or fly away, listening to Alec Baldwin and other VIP people give speeches about inspiration and success.  Where was the sunshine I so anticipated for my huge and memorable college graduation?  Apparently, it was playing hide-and-seek in the ultimate hiding spot and refusing to budge.

Okay, it was pretty cool to graduate at Yankee Stadium

Okay, it was pretty cool to graduate at Yankee Stadium

All the special people get FULL coverage from Mother Nature's wrath

All the special people get FULL coverage from Mother Nature’s wrath

President Sexton, meet Dr. Alec Baldwin, crowned Doc of Fine Arts in 2010

President Sexton, meet Dr. Alec Baldwin, crowned Doc of Fine Arts in 2010

What you giggly about Alec?

What you giggly about Alec?

Here are my previous blog entries back in May 2010:

End of a very Violet Era, Part 1

End of a very Violet Era, Part 2

Those days were less okay for rain to ruin, but I had another 4 years to gain graduation redemption, with medical school.

Freshly Minted MD

Fat chance.

The forecast for my medical school graduation on Thursday May 22, 2014 was just as glum as my luck with the last two cycles of graduation.  The morning started off bleak, but relatively dry.  Just as my fellow soon-to-be doctors assembled for the Class of 2014 photograph outside by the campus fountain, the droplets of rain started to pitter-patter.  Perfect timing.

At least the ceremony took place in the Staller Center for the Performing Arts, with a stable enough roof for coverage.

Fat chance again.  We had just finished the hooding process on stage, the ceremonial initiation into Doctordom.  Then something epically unprecedented happened:  the fire alarm went off in the middle of the Hippocratic Oath.  It did not cease to stop, in case it was a false alarm, so we all had to evacuate.  Into pouring rain.  Perfect timing, again.

On top of my day of unfortunate occurrences, my dear sister missed my graduation.  She rushed to take all her finals in order to catch a flight out from California in time for my once-in-a-lifetime graduation from medical school.  Except en route, unprecedented and unseasonal weather in Denver derailed her flight (and many other travelers with important, but less so, itineraries) into New York and in time for my special day.  Inclement weather in the form of wild tornadoes and shooting hailstorms was rarely seen in Denver, except on that one fateful Wednesday.  I was bummed my sister could not make it to my graduation, the one person who has put up with my shenanigans all these years, like stressing out and taking a marathon of final exams back to back just come home in time for me.  After the chaos that comes with flight cancellations and angry mobs of travelers, it took her a grand total of 24 hours and hopping through 5 cities before she touched down safely.  Now I’m beginning to wonder, would I just be a bad luck charm for her graduation next year?

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Ray of Sunshine Despite being a black cloud given my dark history of graduations, finally a sliver of sunshine peeks through the gray clouds. My education has taken a grand total of 20 years (if you count kindergarten), but it has not stopped there.  Learning is a lifelong endeavor, an ever-changing process.  It has been an uphill trek, with each step building a foundation for the next higher step.

Elementary school was defined by the basics of the alphabet and arithmetic.  For me, it was also learning English as a second language.  If I put a brown paper bag over my head and spoke, I would sound like any young white girl off the streets.  You would not guess I was in ESL for 3 years.

The large chunk of time defined by middle and high school was all about mastering the SATs and AP exams to get into the best university personally possible.  Those were my hard-working, gunner days.

From college onwards, there was a gradual decline in my gunner ways.  I still worked my butt off for good grades, but I valued my youth and social life more.  There, I built a nice liberal arts foundation and fulfilled rigorous premedical requirements, and took too much time for retail therapy and bubble tea and culinary excursions.

And now, the last 4 years have been defined as my medical enlightenment saga, where the real beginnings develop for a young doctor-in-training.  From burying my brain in books and medical lingo to falling asleep in lectures almost on a daily basis to roaming the wards and chasing after residents who think you’re a pestilent ghost, medical school have nurtured fine memories.  I graduated at the tender age of 25; I have learned so much, and yet so little.  Just as there’s always wiggle room for dessert, there’s also room for personal and academic development.

Thank you to my family and friends for their love and support.  I have made some wonderful, intelligent, compassionate and talented friends who I am glad to call my dear physician colleagues.  Together, we will be friends to last a lifetime, forever connected by our beginnings at Stony Brook Medicine as we journey forward on a magic carpet ride into the world of medicine.

Haha, my Mama's donning a white coat!

Haha, my Mama’s donning a white coat!

Proud Mama and Papa at Graduation Din Din

Proud Mama and Papa at Graduation Din Din

(Gray) Graduation Day!!!

(Gray) Graduation Day!!!

Sister, Sister

Sister, Sister

Sister, Sister ... Take 2

Sister, Sister … Take 2

WORLD, prepare for some awesomely bad ass doctors coming your way! 

Congratulations to all 129 Graduates of Stony Brook School of Medicine, Class of 2014!!!

At the end of the alphabet, where the cool kids are

At the end of the alphabet, where the cool kids are

 

Still at the end of the alphabet

Still at the end of the alphabet

The obligatory, Connie Yu MD graduation selfie

The obligatory, Connie Yu MD graduation selfie

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Sharing the Joy of a Birthday

2012 – Year of the Dragon… Go Dragon Babies!!!

August 31, the big day of 2012 when I turned the almighty 24.  For the past 23 years, my birthday has not been that spectacular or worthy of shows like My Super Sweet Sixteen.  But his year’s birthday was like none other I’ve experienced yet.

I just started my Ob/Gyn rotation at Winthrop University Hospital this week. Lucky me, I kicked off my first week on Night Float, status post Surgery rotation and grueling shelf exam.  It was a rough transition. This entire week, I was floating on Labor and Delivery and seeing lots of babies come out of vaginas. I was fortunate to have a great intern, Cheryl, take me under her fledgling wings as we floated from triage to the ER to laboring rooms. For a change, I really felt like I was part of a team; she taught me well and I adapted to the field quickly. I took histories from women getting admitted for labor pains and put on my catcher’s mitt for the babies and placentas.  I was given the opportunity to help with the ER consults and observe vaginal exams. It was a productive and fun week because I enjoy performing procedures and just doing something, despite the long, tiring hours.

I showed up for sign-in at 5pm. At first, I had birds and stars spinning around my head from all the abbreviations rapidly tossed about.  I was in a complete whirlwind from how fast the residents were talking about patients and the squiggles on the computer commonly known as fetal heart tracings and how slow I was writing notes I could barely fathom. Thank God for Google for carrying me back from the sea of OB/Gyn lingo. From 6pm-6am, a full 12 hours, I would be attached to the intern’s hip as I traversed the floors and ER whenever she was beeped. Nights were slow and quiet, but when deliveries or emergencies happened, you had your hands full. And I liked it that way.

Early in the week, I was not adjusted to the night hours. I have a tendency require heavy doses of sleep, with bouts of narcoleptic moments by day; otherwise, I crank up the crank-o-meter. It was 5am and the floor was quiet. I was so sleepy and cold that I wrapped myself in a warm blanket like a burrito and plopped on the bed in the resident call room. Before I knew it, I curled up into fetal position and dozed off. Next moment, I shook awake and shuffled out of the room. Who knew that within 30 minutes, I would miss out on two births… TWO BIRTHS!!!  Two births I was waiting for ALL FREAKING NIGHT!! Gone in the minutes I drifted into the clouds… I learned a couple of lessons that morning:

1)    Do not venture into resident territory and sleep on their turf

2)    Do not sleep on your shift, especially as a medical student; I was not aboard a 24-hour shift and it just makes you look like a bum

3)    If you do feel sleepy, sit in a chair, turn your back to your audience, tilt your head down as if you’re concentrating on a paper, and then doze off. Just don’t fall off your chair, because that’ll make you look like a fool.

By 7am, I was a zombie by day.  It was odd, walking through the hospital as people drifted in to start their day and I was off to bed.  By day, I was sleeping in the tiny, boxy, and gray call room in the basement, designated just for the medical students.  You may ask, why the hell would you stay in this box when you could go across the street to your apartment and sleep under your own snuggly blankets? People did not get me, but here’s why.

1)    I’m Asian. I don’t sleep in my own bed unless I’m washed and clean.  I was so tired by 7am, I did not have the energy to shower. That was how sleepy I was. I would rather stay in the call room and sleep in a clean bed there than get my personal bed dirty. After all, I am working in a hospital

2)    Even if I showered back at my apartment across the street, I did not want to wait for my hair to dry.  I did not have the energy to dig out my hair dryer and use it and I did not have the patience to let my hair dry naturally.  It’s an Asian thing:  you simply do not go to bed with your hair wet or else you’ll ‘catch a cold’ and have some negative energy about you. Honestly, I’ve broken that rule many times in the past, and you know what I did? I would sleep on my tummy, face buried in the pillow.  Times I did roll onto my back with my hair wet, I would end up with bad headaches.

In that gray box I slept in for a week, I did not know day from night, rain from sunshine. I would roll out of bed and gather my stuff to head back to my apartment and be blinded by the sun. Around 2-3 pm, I’d head back to take a refreshing shower, watch some TV, grab some food, and start my shift all over again. This schedule was set on repeat six times this week. Good thing it was only a week, because the residents do it for a month at a time.  Poor gals.

Let’s get to the highlight of my week.  How awesome is it to catch babies (and placentas) on your birthday?! How cool is it to say to the parents, “Dude, congratulations… your baby and I share the same special birthday. We’ll be forever connected!”  A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the joy of a new baby and a birthday spent on night float in the hospital.  Unfortunately, I missed the early hours just after midnight on Friday because I had to catch some sleep for my lectures. And of course, I missed most of the daytime because of lectures. Needless to say, I missed some births I was anticipating to happen since my Thursday night shift. It only left me 7 hours on Friday evening to physically catch a baby.

There were two families I made that special connection with.  One family, the Demartinos, were just plain awesome.  I met them on Wednesday night when Carol, a very sweet Filipino lady, was admitted for observation for high blood pressures.  Her 24-hour urine turned up positive for protein, which suggested preeclampsia. The baby was close to term and she was induced for labor.  Too bad I missed her C-section, since I followed her labor from beginning to end and had long chat sessions to occupy my time and their stay.  But I did manage to visit them on the maternity ward and say hello to their baby boy, Stefano. They were a pleasant couple with an adorable bundle of joy!  They were very excited to hear their son shared the same birthday as the medical student who followed them for the past 3 days.

The other family, the Connollys, were just as funny and incredible.  I met them in the beginning of the week for a labor check.  They were scheduled to come in Saturday (today) for an induction of labor. I did think I would be that memorable, but I was surprised they remembered me still today.  I also must add, my positive experience with them was partly due to their awesomely charming obstetrician, Dr. Lazarou.  I must admit, I had a crush on the doc; he had the hunky looks (it’s the Greekiness), the personality (chill, chatty, and charming), and the brains (he attended NYU, my alma mater, for a few years).  Anyway, Mrs. Connolly apparently told him over the phone that she met a very pleasant medical student and her birthday’s coming up on Friday, so he better be nice to me. Come the end of the week, both doctor and patient were still crystal clear who I was =D

Unfortunately, baby and me did not end up sharing a birthday; it was darn close.  It was the night of September 1, just a few hours after midnight, the Connollys welcomed a baby boy to the world, and I experienced the mirth with them and Dr. Lazarou. Baby boy and me were not birthday twins, but close enough!

There you go, the celebratory culmination of my otherwise tiring, tough week on nights! I met some amazing families and their babies, who will happen to be my birthday twins.  They won’t remember, but I certainly will.  When their parents tell them the story of how they came into the world, I will be forever tied in and a part of their family.