February 16, 2018
The last day of scheduled activities before our backpacking trip, the residents group organized a medwars challenge for us in the morning, and that evening we already had buses booked to bring us on a bar crawl in Roanoke for the evening.
We were in teams of three, and mine was Jose and guy Jordan, and we were all on the same page of wanted to get a good hike in and learn whatever we could, rather than running through to finish everything as fast as possible. They gave us a map of the area gridded out, and coordinates to mark the different stations we needed to get to, and then extra directions to get from those stations to some bonus stations. Their map didn’t have trails on it, and only rudimentary elevation lines, so we used to also rudimentary trail systems map to figure out which trails we could take to get close to the stations, some of which were right on the trails, but not all of them. There were 9 required stations, and 4 bonus ones, and we had from 8am to noon to complete it without penalties being incurred.
We’d lucked out and the rain had stopped for the most part by the time we headed out in the 60 degree weather, a lot of us happily in shorts. We got tested on throwing rescue ropes to someone canoeing, how to do a pig tracheostomy, how to start a fire quickly and burn a rope a foot from the ground, how to treat a poorly responsive, uninjured hiker, how to deal with bear spray and bear attacks gone wrong, how to treat hypothermia, how to navigate our way down the side of the bluff without hurting ourselves too bad, and how to navigate off-trail. The three of us worked really well as a team, respecting each other’s opinions, and keeping in mind that the goal was just to figure out how to help the people we needed to in the most efficient way possible. It was really nice to have already seen or been taught how to deal with everything we came across, and I loved how this course presented the same material in a bunch of different, repetitive ways that were also super fun. It seemed like most of the teams worked well, and even though we didn’t get to all the stations before noon (just missed one), it felt like a great day in the classroom.
The residents were all super nice about everything, and were great sports in facilitating our learning while they were also assumedly here to learn stuff. It was a bit of a bummer that it felt like they were coming into the whole group after a lot of us had already had a lot of time to bond, though…
“Does anyone know how to cut hair?,” Mark asked, coming into the family room with his huge beard completely shaved off, which drew gasps and screams from people enough so that people popped out of their rooms and came to the balcony to find out what was going on.
My mom is a hairdresser, and girl Jordan knew her way around an electric razor, so we volunteered, making it clear that we couldn’t promise it working out well.
“I’ll just shave it all off if it doesn’t come out right,” Mark replied, which sounded great—we could have fun playing hairdresser with absolutely no pressure to perform! So we went out on the porch and did our best to fade the back, and I imitated what I’d seen my mom do, using a comb to draw out the long hairs and cut along the line of the comb, twisting it in different angles to get some layering going, eyeballing it with the barest pressure, treating it more like a coloring book with no repurcussions than anything else.
“Do you think you could shave my head after,” Judy asked, as she sat and watched, and the already exciting day got that much more exciting. Judy wears a hijab, so what her hair looks like doesn’t matter too much for the most part, although she has been showing us girls a bunch of pictures of her with her hair done up for the part of the parties/ weddings she goes to that are just for women, so she can be uncovered. She’d shaved her head before, but not for years, and her thick curly hair was at least to her shoulders, which I had just braided Hunger-games style that morning.
So in the girls bathroom Jordan and I shaved her head, leaving her hair about a half a centimeter long, and she looked gorgeously artsy with her amazingly smooth dark cream skin and flawless makeup that she wears every day.
By this time, of course, it was time to hurry up and get ready to go out in Roanoke and get drunk. So all the girls straitened or did up their hair, Judy put makeup on a couple of us (it took her 5 minutes and my skin looked better than I’d ever seen it), and we wore our best going out outfits (which for me was a very far, woodsy version of club-wear), and off we piled into two 14-seater short-buses, drinking beers on the way and continuing the bonding time. I ended up sitting next to Zach, who regaled me with stories of having patients with a mason jar stuck up his rectum, or glow sticks up urethras, or “cock-rings” tourniqueting penises. We decided the scientific definition of hangry is “pre-prandial emotional lability,” and that one of us would need to try and use that in a case study or something at some point—more likely me as I’m going into psychiatry, and we all know hangriness can lead to potential psychotic breaks. Josh educated us on dark matter a little, and we dipped into the ramifications of a ton of the matter around us being invisible to us, and unknow-able.
Then we went to 3 or 4 different breweries, drank a lot, paraded down the empty sidewalks only moderately obnoxious, and ended at Corned Beef dance bar, where Andy wonderfully got the cover knocked down by half for us, and I requested Footloose to break the dance floor in. From there it turned into maybe half a step above your average college night at a club, which was a pretty welcome reprieve from all the learning going on, and all of us stressing over rank lists and the looming match day.
I slept on the way home, the bus vaguely buoyant and spinning behind my eyelids, and was one of the last to wake up around noon the next morning.