Tuesday, September 15, 2009


It occurred to be today, as I surreptitiously took a pill and washed it down with soda from Noon Conference, that I'm actually pretty normal. Yeah, I've had my issues- and I've started the process of telling my story via my blog, but right now, I take medication, I see my doctor every so often, and I'm actually living a relatively normal life.

Of course, I have the aggravation that goes along with having a chronic illness- I have to make sure I've always got health insurance. Sometimes my health insurance doesn't cover the full cost of my medications (as in right now) and I have to beg the drug companies to supply me with free meds. Also, I have to make sure when I travel that I bring my medications with me, enough not only for the duration of my trip, but also a little bit extra should something unexpected occur. I was on vacation earlier this year and had the opportunity to stay longer than initially planned. Sadly, I didn't have enough medication. I could have had my doctor call in a few days of medication, but I would have had to pay out of pocket. So, I went home as initially planned. Had I actually had extra medication, I am sure my sunburn would have been much worse than it was. So maybe I was lucky. But, anyway, it's just one of those issues anyone with a chronic illness can probably relate to.

In a way this helps me with patient care. I'll ask patients if they can afford their meds. When they cannot, I actually can point them in the direction of helpful resources.

Another advantage is that I am very knowledgable abut the meds that I take, and this can sometimes give me the appearance of having read a lot. On rounds, when I pipe up, "Well, perhaps Wellbutrin isn't the best because it lowers the seizure threshold..." it might appear that I spent the previous day poring over UpToDate.

Monday, September 7, 2009

"Mentally Ill" Hopkins Resident

I'm still planning on recounting my story through this blog, but that project's on hiatus right now 'cause I'm busy with other things (clerkships, studying...)

Anyway, I happened to come across some news articles online regarding this Hopkins surgery resident who was fired from his program for being "mentally ill." Mentally ill? What do they even mean by that? You can't fire someone simply for being mentally ill. They have to be mentally ill and posing a danger to patients, or some other such thing. It's really odd that this guy's whole career is on the line because someone has decided to label him "mentally ill." Now, technically, depression is a "mental illness" So, all you depressed people out there? Everyone on an SSRI? You're all mentally ill. And you can't work at Hopkins. Schizophrenia is also a mental illness. So, I'm sad to say that if you're schizophrenic, you also will not be able to successfully complete a surgical residency at Hopkins should your secret get out. As for myself, any hope I had of becoming a Hopkins surgery resident was dashed to pieces when I found that those who are "mentally ill" are not welcome.

It's interesting to me that this guy was placed in a broad category that includes severely ill schizophrenics, histrionics with borderline personality disorder, and the depressed. I'm trying to figure out which disorder this guy probably had.

Maybe he had paranoid schizophrenia and was having delusions that those at Johns Hopkins were coaching residents on what to report on an ACGME survey. I think that's it, the most likely diagnosis. The resident, at age 30, presented with paranoid delusions. And anyone who thinks that Hopkins would try to hide anything from the ACGME is crazy, totally nuts. There was that guy a few years ago who seemed to think that "hours" should be "regulated" at Hopkins. That's not really a paranoid delusions, I would call that a bizarre delusion, perhaps. I'm not even sure if that's correct. Well, then he started having paranoid delusions. He held the belief that everyone at Hopkins KNEW that he was the one who complained about these alleged "hours regulations." What a nut case.