Saturday, June 21, 2008

Post-Step 2 CS Catharsis ... Sort Of

This entry was initially intended as the last of my catharsis pieces on my USMLE experience. I had written about my first two tests here and here and this was supposed to be the third one. However, a close family friend and my mom’s high school classmate, Tito Excy (I found out he and his wife are among the readers of my blog, now with a readership of a whopping 5 people in the entire world), brought us to this restaurant in Glendale for dinner, right after my exam in El Segundo. That meal completely overshadowed whatever doubts about and misfortunes I had on the test so I decided to talk about that first before the Step 2 CS catharsis.

Let me start by saying that I have tasted one of the best pesto dishes I’ve ever had in my entire life. And no, I’m not trying to exaggerate. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to take a picture of my meal. The pesto dish was even better than my own pesto (ha!). The restaurant is called Louise’s Trattoria (I highly recommend that you click on that link!). The branch we visited is along Los Feliz Blvd. near Griffith Park in Glendale, CA. They have 10 restaurants scattered across the Los Angeles area.
Louise's Trattoria on Los Feliz Blvd.

Now about this entry’s main event: California Fettuccine (it's a new menu entry so you won't find it on the website). The noodle was a rich egg fettuccine that will fill your tummy after the first few bites. The sauce was garlic pesto cream with whole pine nuts and shaved parmesan and romano cheeses. It had slices of grilled white chicken meat that literally melts in your mouth, if that’s possible. Making the dish even more satisfying were the grilled green and yellow zucchinis and carrots.
Fettuccine Chicken Pasta. I couldn't find a picture of the dish I ordered but this one's pretty close. Just imagine pesto cream sauce on this, instead of just cream.

Despite the intensity of this pasta dish, I regret to say that I was not able to finish it, not only because it was a large serving (and I only got the half portion), but more so because we were served some of the finest freshly baked bread I’ve ever had before the pasta came. (It is noteworthy at this point to say that I've had very little to eat for lunch, what with all the adrenaline pumping in my veins in the middle of the exam day. Yes ... I, too, was surprised that I had no appetite.) Now, my family and I frequent Italianni’s back home and we’re big fans of their appetizer breads. But this one here, this one just blew me away. They served foccacia and ciabatta with a herbed garlicky coating reminiscent of the garlic bread of Sbarro, but 100x better. It was served hot, along with a herbed olive oil-balsamic vinegar dip, and we were assured that it was freshly baked by their own staff -- I believe them.
Check out that quote on the upper right corner. That's absolutely true, only we didn't have to wait long for it.

Now, for portion size. I got the half serving because I was told they served large portions. If you’ve ever been to Italianni’s at the time when a barrel of crude oil was less than $100 and restaurant servings were bigger, you’d know their serving size. Add about 10% to Italianni’s full portion and you get the half portion of Louise’s pasta. So don’t blame me for committing the mortal sin of doggie-bagging some of the finest pasta known to man. Price? I think the half portion went for $13.99 without tax (don’t convert if you don’t want a heart attack). The full portions were a few dollars more expensive.

Okay, I’m officially done raving about Louise’s Trattoria (here’s the link again, just in case you conveniently forgot to click on the first one. I guarantee you, it’s a must-click.). I’ve used up all my creative juices praising that pasta dish that I now have only a few words to say about the actual Step 2 CS experience.

If you’ve been reading the forums and blogs that give out tips and tricks for CS, then I wouldn’t have anything much more to add to that. The exam was as unpredictable as it was predictable. You come in there, having watched the intro videos and orientation material, knowing what will happen. And yet, once you slide that plastic covering, copy the patient info, and knock on that patient room, you never really know what to expect. Unless you have a computer for a brain, you’re bound to forget some history question or a physical exam maneuver that you should have done. Learn to deal with it. Because when you’re there, going through the motions, there really isn’t any time to think back on what you missed and what might have been. A glaring example: I forgot to do the abdominal examination on a teenager who complained of 5 months missed period and was quite possibly pregnant because I was too focused on a hormonal problem that I forgot my primary differential. I didn’t run out of time. I really forgot to do it, and with a lot of time to spare. That’s just one of the many boo-boos I’ve committed. But as I always say, O well ...

To type vs. to write. I typed my patient note. For me, it was not a matter of legibility but of my cursed forgetfulness. I wanted the functionality of the cursor and the fact that I can go back and insert data at a point where it should appear, and not where I’m writing when I do remember it (does that make sense?). The cut and paste function wasn't bad either.

To wash hands vs. to wear gloves. Coming into the exam, I planned to just wear gloves instead of washing my hands, thinking it would take less time. On my very first patient, without thinking about it at all, I found myself asking permission to wash my hands because that’s what felt comfortable at that moment. Turns out I washed my hands 11/12 times. The one time I wore gloves was when the patient possibly had HIV and I was running out of time. I guess the most important take-home lesson, kids, is that you should do whatever feels comfortable for you. You may decide one thing before the exam but once you’re there, nothing else matters but what feels comfortable at that specific time. I mostly went with my instinct on pretty much all the cases (a lot of good that did me).

I’ll know my score in a few weeks. People ask me how I did. My standard answer: I don’t feel too bad about it but I’m not jumping for joy either. We’ll see in a few weeks, won’t we?

1 comment:

The Fish said...