Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seatbelts. We're experiencing some unusual turbulence.

The results of each of my first exams are in and disappointed me greatly.

Molecular Biology: 62 (with the curve); Class average: 80
Genetics: 73; Class average: 84
Physics: 56; Class average: 60

I found out my molec score in the morning, genetics in the early afternoon, and the K.O. punch delivered by my physics score came in late afternoon. Absolutely devastated, I was. Worse still, I had a meeting with my pre-med adviser the next morning. I was still busy ripping myself to shreds over my poor performance, and his reaction to my plans to apply to med school this spring came across as if I'd slapped his mother. He suggests I pick up a second major and stay an extra year.

My first reaction was to resist.

My second reaction was to get a second opinion.

My third reaction was to just give the whole thing up entirely...but that only lasted a few minutes.

My fourth, and final, reaction was to just go with it. He's been doing his job for over 20 years and is highly respected by the university, as well as many physicians and representatives from medical schools in the state.

So, I have no idea what I'll pick. He gave me a list of related majors that I could easily knock out in a year, but none of them sound too terribly appealing. Maybe I'll take another minor or two instead.

Also, I decided that if I am going to be stuck in university for another year, I need to be making money. I've applied to a limited access training program for respiratory therapy, which I'll begin in the spring if I'm accepted. I'm going to take a bunch of medically relevant, easy-A classes at my university in the spring (at my adviser's suggestion), and will have loads of free time. I should be able to complete the program by December '11 and then hopefully get right to work...perhaps at Big City Hospital! I know a guy who does it part time while he's finishing his degree; also a pre-med. Good guy, probably get an in that way, along with my prior employment experience there and my current status as a volunteer.

Things are still not looking good academically, though. I can't ignore this fact. I've been seeing an expert on learning disabilities and had my first round of testing with him yesterday. Two more sessions should be sufficient to have a better understanding of what sort of problem I'm facing, and then the work will begin on working around it. That's what I'm most looking forward to...I can't wait to start making those As again.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


What would you like to know about it? You happen to be talking to an expert.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Everlasting light

I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of a patient yesterday who has done more than I could ever possibly imagine to make the world a better place. When I walked into the patient's room, there were people packed in like sardines...all smiling, laughing.

Went through  my usual routine, got roped into conversation, and stayed for over an hour. It was impossible to tear myself away. The amount of joy and honest-to-goodness kindness and sincerity was absolutely overwhelming.

My face hurt something fierce from smiling so much.

The whole time, I kept thinking, "YES, YES! This is precisely why I want to go into medicine!" In all of my life, and in all of the different roles I've played, I've never been so lucky as to be a part of the lives of so many wonderful people.

I also had occasion to sit with a little old lady who'd been admitted only hours earlier. She was incredibly sweet, but definitely lonely and a bit worried. I sat and talked with her for a while and had her smiling within a few minutes. To enter a room and see someone a bit shifty-eyed and panicky, and leave with them happy and laughing...yeah, it's an indescribable feeling.

Lately I've been listening to "Brothers" by The Black Keys basically non-stop. When I got into my car, the first song to play on the disc is actually the first on the record (and my favourite)... "Everlasting Light." It's really more of a love song, but it feels appropriate when applied to my new-ish role as a volunteer. I especially like the second verse.

For quite some time, I've had a lot of pent-up feelings of wanting to just pour myself into doing things for people in need, and I'm really glad I've finally hit on something that allows me to do it...and gives me the freedom to pour it on as thick as I please!

Let me be your everlasting light
Sun when there is none
I'm a shepherd for you
and I'll guide you through
Let me be your everlasting light

Let me be your everlasting light
I'll hold and never scold
In me you can confide
when no one's by your side
Let me be your everlasting light

Oh baby, can't you see
it shining just for you?
Loneliness is over
Dark days are through
They're through

Let me be your everlasting light
A train going away from pain
Love is the coal that makes this train roll
Let me be your everlasting light

Thursday, September 23, 2010


  • Thinking of becoming an EMT for a little adventure
  • Having some weirdness with a woman. I know she's interested...or was. Not sure if I am. Hm. I have no idea what is going on with my life in the romance department, to be honest.
  • Practice MCAT exam in the morning...and I'm about to have a beer and watch a movie. I've been up since 5 a.m. Probably making a bad decision.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


My dearest Nora, wherever thou mayst roam,

My heart is heavy once more, my dear, all from the plight of several patients with whom I crossed paths this weekend.

On Friday, I went with a group to an abandoned children's home to assist the nursing staff. All of the children have moderate to severe medical issues, and almost all of them showed up on the doorstep in the wee hours of the morning. What could possess a parent to do such a thing is completely beyond me.

The children were all so very sweet and excited to see all of us. There was an awful lot of laughter and smiling...the duality of the situation was a right mind-bender. Inside, I was torn to bits with sadness for these little guys who never have the chance to play ball in the park with their dad, go to the zoo with grandparents, and all of the other little things that I remember so fondly of my own childhood. Christmas, Thanksgiving... mercy. It was as if a tidal wave had struck me. Several times I caught my eyes going a little misty.

One kid in particular latched onto me. "You're my friend?" he kept asking. Each time I answered, I was a little more enthusiastic. In turn, he giggled a little more.

Despite being in a van full of cute, intelligent women on the way back home, I couldn't bring myself to say much. No one really did. The trip there was a wildly different story...I even traded numbers with one of them. Heh.

The next day at Big City Hospital, everything was really upbeat and pleasant for the first hour. I volunteered to go on many side quests for the nurses and met some lovely people along the way. The Nurse and I kidded each other a bit, and some of the techs who always tease me were in playful moods, as well. I'd not forgotten the children I'd met the day before, but I wasn't weighted down by those sad was their smiles and laughter that I was thinking about.

One of my favourite male nurses was working, which is always a recipe for a good time. Great sense of humour. We passed in the hallway and after a brief chat, he asked that I go visit one of his patients who was having a rather rough time of it.

I marched into all sorts of misery.

As the man was crossing a relatively tame two-lane street to his apartment complex, some soccer mom going at least 10 mph over the speed limit in her stupid SUV ran the red light and struck the poor guy. He was a pretty simple man in all meanings of the word. Hard-working, humble, man of few words... and quite lonely. Apparently, his family lives nearby, but no one had been in to visit. I can't imagine.

We talked for a little while and he asked if I'd mind sitting down and watching television with him. It was all I could do not to burst out crying. His story really got to me. He was so could his family practically abandon him in this way? I tried to reason that perhaps they were in a bad way financially and were unable to come because they were at their second or third jobs trying to stay afloat. I tried to think of anything.

Without making a conscious effort to do so, I went into overdrive trying to find ways to help him feel more at ease and that someone cares about him. It was another moment in the hospital in which I felt so damned helpless. I knew he appreciated what I was trying to do, but I don't feel like I broke through to him like I wanted. Ugh.

As my shift came to a close, he thanked me for spending time with him and asked if he'd see me the next day. I hated to tell him that I'm only there once a week. He seemed a little disappointed.

On the drive home, I began wondering if I should show up again for a while the next day. Maybe I'd send him a card, or some flowers, or something. Maybe anonymously. Maybe not. Undecided. I felt, and still feel, torn in two over the issue. I have a monster exam for which I'm currently insufficiently prepared and feel the need to work on rectifying that. The other side says that the exam is not nearly as important.

I think I'll think it over over a cup of tea.

May the grace of He keep you always,

J.O. Morris

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Today at Big City Hospital

I walked out of Big City Hospital today with dozens of sincere "Thank you"s reverberating around in my head and feeling as though I really brought some good into the world. Furthermore, I impressed the pants off of a teaching doc by performing a simple act of courtesy.

All of this was proof that it's the simple things that oftentimes matter most.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Josiah terrorises the patients and staff at Big City Hospital

My dearest Nora, wherever thou mayst roam,

Another day as a volunteer at Big City Hospital has come to a close, and I cannot honestly tell you that I miss being an employee. The patients and nurses, for whatever reason, seem to appreciate my assistance more now that I'm doing just about the same thing but without pay...well, at least not in terms of cold, hard currency.

It was a great day....a busy day. I really enjoyed visiting with all of the patients and their families, and it felt especially wonderful to try and go above and beyond their requests to really make them comfortable. They all seemed so incredibly appreciative, and there just isn't any beating that!

There were, however, a couple of "moments" that made me squirm in one way or another. I shall detail them below:

1) While making my way around the ward visiting patients, I entered a room on the "quiet" side, where the patients who don't require as much aid are stashed. Before me, halfway between the bed and the closet was a patient...sprawled out face-first on the floor...

Oh, no. Oh, no. OH, NO!
I instantly saw the rise and fall of his back as his lungs filled and expressed air and felt a bit of relief. At least he's not dead!

Also instantaneously, I checked for consciousness..."Are you okay!?"

", NO," came the response. I felt a bit silly having asked, but hey, at least I know that he's alive and alert.

I pressed the emergency button on the bedside and let the patient know help was on its way. Within 30 seconds, his nurse arrived and I practically yelled at her to get others. A few techs and nurses came running and helped him back into the bed...he seemed to be okay!

The story of precisely what happened was never relayed to me. I (unnecessarily) apologised to the nurse I'd yelled at to get help. She laughed and wondered aloud when the world of medicine was going to knock loose some of my manners.

Ever since discovering him lying helpless on the floor, I couldn't help but be gutted at the thought over how long he may have been there. The fact that he'd fallen is enough to tug at my heartstrings, but the possibility of him having been down there for 20-30 minutes is very real and very upsetting. Wow.

2) I was given an item to return to the nurse's station on  another floor, a task I've successfully carried out many a time in the past. When I got off of the elevator, I thought the scenery seemed a bit different... I hadn't been on that floor in a while and I knew that there'd been some remodeling going on throughout the hospital, so I chalked it up to that.

Yeah, as I approached the nurse's station, I had a greater fear that I'd come to the wrong place... but I was stuck. No possible way to get out of this without any embarrassment. I told the nurse that asked what she could do for me that I must've gotten off on the wrong floor...another nurse called my ward and asked where I was supposed to go before I even knew what she was doing.

Oh, God, NO!

The ward clerk that was working is one of the ones who doesn't seem to have too high an opinion of me. Fantastic. It seems like anytime she's around, I just can't make an impression of any sort of intellectual ability. UGH.

When I got back, I just didn't say anything...and went and hung out one of the friendlier patients and their family for a bit. heh. I needed something uplifting.

3) On one of my many elevator trips, the doors flung open to reveal a man and his son inside. I told him to which floor I was headed, and he remarked, "Ah, the top of the line, huh?" as it is the highest floor in the joint. "Yessir," I said with a comical tone, "if you're going to jump, that's the floor to do it from!"

He did not see the humour in it.

Shock, horror, embarrassement. I felt my face turn bright, bright red.

The man said, "Oh, no. I'm not jumping!"

I didn't say anything for a second, kind of marveling at the stupidity of what had just come from my mouth..."Oh, no, sir...I didn't mean..."

He kind of laughed a little, but it was a polite laugh, and stepped off of the elevator.

I am the king of creating awkward situations. I immediately cracked up laughing when the doors closed. Only me. This could only happen to me.

It's fine to joke with the patients and visitors, but steer clear of the morbid kind of humour! I really shouldn't have needed reminding.

Can't wait to see what foolish things I wind up doing next week!

May the grace of He keep you always,

J.O. Morris