Wednesday, September 5, 2007


How Not to Frost a Cake...

Imagine this: I am out to dinner with a few friends. We eat, we laugh, we order dessert. We decide upon chocolate cake and eagerly await its arrival.

Much to my surprise, the bearer of the dessert is not our previous waiter, but the plastic surgery fellow with whom I work. He looks frantic.

“You have to save this cake.”

“It looks fine to me,” I shrug, extending my fork in the direction of what looks like a perfectly healthy slice of cake.

“It is melting fast and you need to sew it up. Stat.”

He whips a suture kit out of his back pocket and tells me to sew the melting frosting back onto the cake.

“But be careful,” he adds, “You must not get any of the frosting into the cake, only on the cake.” This seems terribly counter-intuitive to me. Frosting in the cake sounds yummy!

He does not buy into my reasoning. “Look, Sowa,” he says sternly, “This is the closest thing to a real human being you can get.” And as if he were speaking in boldface characters, he adds:

“If you want to be a plastic surgeon, you sew this frosting back onto this cake.”
I decide upon a running stitch, but try as I might, I can’t get the gooey icing to properly adhere to its spongy interior, and there is chocolate gushing everywhere.

“It isn’t fair,” I plead. “I’m a terrible cook!”

(While I do make a mean chocolate chip cookie, I am not the most accomplished chef. In fact, I have been known to burn instant pudding. How one burns instant pudding, I do not know. Yet, I did.)

“Sorry, Sowa,” my plastic surgery fellow says, as he attempts to pry the plate out my trembling hands. “We can’t save them all.”

I hate to break it to you, but the aforementioned scenario was a dream. Well, everything except for the burned instant pudding. Unfortunately, that really did happen.

I share this story with you for two reasons: one, it is entertaining and two, it is disturbing.

If respite from my somewhat strange career path can’t be found in sleep, where can it be found? Truth be told, however, I am actually less concerned about medical school trying to ruin my peaceful slumber and far more worried of its attempt to sabotage my love of chocolate cake.

ShortCoat is a column that discusses the humor, heartache,and humanity of becoming a doctor. Alexandra Sowa is a second year medical student at NYU School of Medicine.


Ms-Ellisa said...

I have dreams as such too. As I was reading this,all I can think of is how much I would love some chocolate cake right now...

SeaSpray said...

That's really funny! Interesting how are daily events influence our dreams. Heard someone say something like our dreams keep us sane. :)

J said...

I LOVED this! You really captured the level of immediacy that so many situations hold in medicine and also the performance anxiety that can be attached to the duties in our medical future. LOL!!!