The Reluctant Ophthalmologist
November 27, 2000
I have a really busy day today, so this is going to have to be short. We had two insanely packed lectures this morning, followed by an ophthalmology demonstration at the Eye Institute for our Physical Diagnosis class. After lunch (which I'm supposedly enjoying right now--although I'm not sure that I'm of an age where I can really "enjoy" canned Spaghetti-O's anymore)
we have another Physical Diagnosis demonstration. Apparently, they're going to show us a video of how to perform a pelvic exam. This video session was actually rescheduled from two weeks ago, since the last time they attempted to show it, the "department secretary" (aka the scapegoat for any foul-up) supposedly checked out the wrong tape from the Health Sciences Library. And you thought these things only happened in high school. "We were supposed to get a tape of that PBS miniseries 'Pride and Prejudice' for class, but for some reason, the tape in the box is that of 'Basic Instinct.' Should we just watch it anyway? I don't have a lesson prepared for today anyway."
But we didn't watch the wrong video. Instead, we rescheduled. So in half an hour, I get to sit in the lecture hall with 150 men and women, looking completely horrified and uncomfortable (though perhaps for different reasons) while the images from a live pelvic exam are being projected on the giant screen at the front of the room. I'm going to keep a tally of how many women have their legs crossed while watching this demo.
Our class is getting old. I'd imagine that the average age is only around 25 or 26, but people are starting to look old. I see grey hair starting to sprout from people's heads. I'm starting to see the beginnings of what look like they will be very prodigious bald spots spiraling through thinning patches of hair in more than a few men in our class. I'm starting to see old guy beards and lady wrinkles. When did this happen? Is this happening to all twenty-somethings, or is this a product of med school stress? I don't think I'm getting too enfeebled or anything like that, but I do notice that my skin gets kind of terrible around exam time. Not even just break-outs, but just general poor condition, like dryness, flakiness, oily spots, loss of elasticity. Why don't they tell us about these effects of stress in our lectures? They just talk about catecholamine release and changes in heart rate. Man,
what about my skin?
For our ophthalmology demonstration today, I think we must have gotten stuck with a last minute fill-in instead of our scheduled teacher, beacuse the doctor we were with clearly did not want to be there. He was chomping at the bit to get out of that tiny hot examining room and away from the earnest prying eyes of the eleven female medical students surrounding him.
Yeah, so you...you just look into the eyes with this machine.
It's called the slit lamp. Light travels in straight lines, you know.
They...uh...use that effect in movies a lot. You know, where they show the light...coming in straight...with dust in the light. Like in that movie Footloose, where that guy is...standing in the light...
and dancing in the barn or whatever.
It's hot in here. What time is it? When are we done?
(Checks watch) I'm thirsty. What time are we done?
(Checks watch again.) I need a drink of water.
Yeah so...you want to look in the eye, until you see the red flash.
Then, when you see the red flash, you can focus in and see the optic disk and the vessels and everything. But when you start from far away, all you can see is the red flash.
I have a question. What is the red flash?
The red flash is...the red flash! That's it!
I can't explain it. It just is.
MICHELLE'S INNER MONOLOGUE
"The red flash is the reflection of light off the retina."
What do you mean you can't explain it?
Here, just look. (Allows Anna to look into his eyes)
Do you see it yet?
No, not really.
Right! The yellow flash! But it's red! It shoud be red!
(Looks at watch) What time do we get out of here?
This is the same guy that told us to never look into a patient's eye with your opposite eye (for example, looking into the patient's right eye with your left) because, "then your nose is touching theirs, and they're breathing all over you...and your lips are brushing, and it can be very awkward. Besides, most of your patients will not be that good-looking." Hmm. Right. I'll keep that in mind.
OK, gotta go watch the pelvis video now.