Sunday, December 25, 2011

Day 1314: Merry Christmas!

Happy holidays my fair reader...s? Here are some pictures of our Christmas tree. Like the presents? They're fake! I love them. I wrapped them five years ago because without them, our tree is very very very bare and un-American, haha. Thus, was birthed my desire to wrap some gorgeously fake presents. Anyway. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season with family, friends, and loved ones! You are all wonderful, fantastic people and I thank you for your friendship (first) and readership (second).


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 1310: Five pictures or less, with some text.

A very intense Christmas tree at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, CA.

Current loves. The Sartorialist (a gift!), Florence + the Machine (who I'm always in love with), and this funky organic hipster chapstuff which I apply religiously under my nose since I've been blowing it every five seconds.

Driving back to the bay area, I forgot about all the topographic texture that California has. Milwaukee is very very flat.

A boat featured in the Newport Beach boat parade.
I need to start wearing socks at night people.

One of the many messages in the SEED parking lot in Irvine, CA. I found this to be apt for my life. PS, check out the license plate! Also a theme in my life. HA.

The text: I wasted about 20 minutes on my sister's Facebook this morning. I only logged on to see a good friend's engagement ring and the next thing I knew, I perused pictures of people I neither care about nor am friends with. It's these flubby moments in my life that remind me how happy I am to be off Facebook. You'll never convert me (back) Mark Zuckerberg!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 1306, Part 2: 5 Pictures or Less

My sister found a big bow while craft-shopping at Michael's.

Being lazy and watching Sex and the City at my sister's house.

New polish!

New polish fun. Pretty things for Christmas cards. New ring!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Day 1306: Almost home!

Oh hi. How are you?

My exams Thursday went surprisingly well. After my lab practical on Wednesday, I rocked that practical out. I did so well on the practical, and have had such a steady grade in that class, that I could have actually gotten a ZERO on that exam and my grade would not have moved at all. So. I stopped studying for that baby shortly after I posted my "Day 1303" post.

Human development/embryology went very well actually. I have discovered that the best way for me to actually learn this material is to teach it to someone else. So. That is the plan for next semester. Learning it. Teaching it. And then winning at it.

I left for southern California that night. I got to see my gorgeosa amiga Nickita Banana and hang out with her very redwood-like boyfriend. It's always good to see gal-pals and (re)connect. She's so smart gettin' her masters/PhD. Now I'm at my sister's place in SoCal, waiting for everyone to wake up, haha. I am very excited to come home and pay for expensive yoga (blech, no fun), see my friends (!!), hang out with my family and just be very grateful for all of the good in my life.

AND HELLO. I JUST COMPLETED MY FIRST SEMESTER OF MEDICAL SCHOOL. Thank baby Jesus, baby Buddha, and my favorite, baby Ganesh.

Images from here, here and here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 1303: Home, tomorrow!

Monday, 12/12/2011. Biochemistry exam. Fine. Could have gone better. I'm not too stressed about the results of this exam or my performance in the course.

Tuesday 12/13/2011. Lots of studying. Much less stress. I'm at the point where I have to royally screw up my exams to move my grade in a negative direction.

Wednesday 12/14/2011. Anatomy lab practical. They tagged a few structures more than once (which they never do), but I knew the body so I wasn't fooled. Studying for my written anatomy/human development test tomorrow and then I fly home! To California! Whee!

(Be on the lookout for back-dated posts of my sister's visit!)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day 1298: My sister is here!

My favorite sister in the entire world is here to visit me!

Here is the best picture I have taken of her so far.

I love family!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled studying.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 1295: My life in five pictures or less

My mother told me I shouldn't blog so often for fear that it is a distraction.

In response, I have decided to post five pictures (or less) that sum up my life at the moment.

Here we go.

My current view at my school library (edited for visual fun)

Currently trying to learn vasculature of the lower limb
before going into lab to find them.

A picture made for me by a big sweetheart
(and current background on most of my technology).

A page of my biochem notes that I am reviewing.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 1290: Drugs

Okay. I figured something out. I am going to summarize the general things I am learning in biochem here, for you all, in plain English in hopes that a) you learn something and b) I learn something while typing it. Sound good? Great. (Feel free and leave now, haha)

Today's post is on drugs. Things I have learned from my biochem lecture(s):
  1. A patient at a hospital is given, on average, 9 drugs during their stay. (NINE!)
  2. These drugs stimulate or repress (science word: upregulate or downregulate) specific proteins in your body (science: cytochrome P450). The stimulation/repression of these proteins affects how your body reacts to drugs.
  3. The fun food-and-drug pairings I mentioned in my previous post? Well, here's an image to give you some 411.
Image from the Wall Street Journal
So what does this image mean? Basically, these foods will either increase or decrease the amount of time a drug stays in your body. Today's post will focus on pomegranate, cranberry and grapefruit. As we can see in the image, these three fruits increase Lipitor's stay in the body. Well, wait. Isn't that good? To have Lipitor stay in the body longer in order to increase it's effects on cholesterol levels? No. No, it is not good.

The reason that you don't want Lipitor to stay an extra weekend in your bloodstream is because Lipitor (as previously discussed) is a statin. This particular statin blocks an enzyme in your body from creating more cholesterol. Cholesterol, despite all the hullabaloo, is actually good for you. Granted, not the seven cheeseburgers and four orders of fries, but the "good fats" like avocados (yum!) or omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish, for example). We need cholesterol to keep all of our cell membranes nice and fluid and cushy and moving around. If Lipitor stays too long in the bloodstream, it begins to affect not only the amount of bad-cholesterol in the body, but also the good. What does this all mean for you, Dad? DON'T EAT LARGE AMOUNTS OF CRANBERRIES, POMEGRANATES OR GRAPEFRUIT (juice included)!

Okay Team. That's all for today's science lesson. Upcoming lessons include alcohol detoxification and oxidative stress.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 1289: What is wrong with this weather?

Please tell me why my windshield looks like this.

Doesn't it look pretty?

Too bad it was colder than frozen tilapia.

I didn't even know my car could read temperatures this low.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 1288: Semi-rested, semi-rejuvenated

I am back in Wisconsin after a glorious five days in (generally) sunny California. It was absolutely marvelous to be home and see my family and friends.

I didn't sleep as well or as much as I wanted, but it worked out okay. I napped. A lot. Usually while studying biochem, but that's to be expected.

Highlights of my trip:
  • One morning, I decided to do the dishes. I made quite a bit of noise -- running the garbage disposal, dropping bowls, etc -- and my mom comes running down the stairs telling me to stop. She felt bad that I was doing dishes on vacation. She said I was on vacation and that I should be resting and not doing dishes. (collective awwwww) I mean how cute is that?
  • Hanging out with my sister, whom I often forget, is very critical (in the best way possible...maybe) but very refreshing in her upfrontness.
  • Seeing my pals! Shopping. Eating. Hanging out. Falling asleep while studying. All in the grand company of my closest pals.
Now I am back at school, semi-hitting the ground running. My sleep schedule has been off since I arrived yesterday morning but I plan on sleeping early tonight and getting my life semi-back on track. Next post? A fun biochem information about mixing food with drugs!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 1280: Hello, I am a medical student.

I want to tell you about my sleeping tactics. Before most of my block exams (I can't remember, have I described what block exams are? In case I haven't, here it is. Unlike normal undergraduate semesters/quarters, with midterms and quizzes and final exams, we have blocks. Blocks usually range about 3-4 weeks in length. We learn so much information that unless you are in medical school it's hard for me to describe and have you understand fully. The depth and detail with which we are required to regurgitate information is flabbergasting. Anyway, at the end of each block, we have an exam. So, depending on when the professor chooses to end that block, we have exams roughly every three weeks. No, this is not a quiz. This is an exam. That usually runs for three hours. This is no joke.) ... anyway, where was I? Oh yes, sleep.

Before most of my block exams, I am doing one of two things. 1) I am studying in bed and eventually fall asleep with the light on, or 2) I actually choose to sleep the days leading up to the exam instead of learning things late into the night.

I am praying for sleep tonight (before my human development and anatomy exams tomorrow). I studied from, no joke, 11am yesterday (Sunday) to about 2:30? 2:50am(?) this morning. I took one nap from noon to 12:40pm. I went to the anatomy lab to look over some last structures today (/last night) from 12:15am to 1:40am. I came back and got ready for the night (brushed my teeth, washed my face, put on pajamas) and got back into studying. I kept falling asleep on my couch until who-knows-when and decided to actually lie down, take a quick nap and then wake up again to finish drilling this information into my head. I opened my eyes to see it was light outside, which means I fell asleep with the living room light on. I woke up, turned off the light, checked the time (7:49am) and have been awake studying ever since. My desired late-night/all-semi-nighter became Jessica's 5-hour sleep and now I am back into it until I take my lab practical at 1pm today. After that? More learning until my 9am exam tomorrow (AND THEN HOME).

It's official. I am finally a professional student. I have begun to have late nights. Not because I have a deadline (like my parents who have real jobs), but because I have exams (which is sort of like a deadline). I used to sleep on a normal schedule. Now, I just get sleep when I can.

My living room/bedroom/current place of studying-residence

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 1277: So many obstacles to home

I leave for beautiful California on Tuesday. I am SO close! And yet, I have to take an anatomy lab practical on Monday and then I have my half-human-development-half-anatomy written exam Tuesday morning. WHY MUST MY BRAIN BE ON CONSTANT OVERDRIVE?

For future reference: I want to make this blog a) more fun (it might be time to post pictures about my life since my lack of Facebook bothers some people), b) more science-for-normal-people (to break down what I'm learning for you all since it's fun to learn things).

Day 1276: United Community Center

Courtesy of UCC

Today, I went to the United Community Center for a semi-required school...thing. Basically, I am trying to find something I can do within the community that relates to my topic of choice (global health) and can help out the local community.

What really impressed me about UCC was how impressive they are. They absorbed a parochial school a few decades ago and are now teaching children from K-3 (kindergarteners at 3 years of age) through eighth grade. These kids are learning skills to succeed not only in high school (in the broader Milwaukee area) but later in life. They offer a senior "day care" center which has Latin American architectural influences (instead of the sterile white walls of a hospice center or a hospital) to make the environment more hospitable and social. (See the image below!)

Courtesy of UCC

They offer the children (I believe it begins in fifth grade) a financial learning "class". They have a "kids bank" where the kids are the managers, bankers, tellers, etc. And the children who participate save real money and that money is handled by US Bank. But the money management et cetera is all done by the children. I could go on and on, but it was very inspiring to be some place where the surrounding community was actually benefiting from their work.

I would really like to work this place into my global health pathway so that I can a) work on my Spanish and b) feel like I'm doing something (for once).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 1273: Best friends are the best.

Probably to my mother's chagrin, I went to Indianapolis this weekend to visit my best friend in the entire universe. It was perfect. A quick five hour drive through Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana and there we were. In her beautiful house with her adorable pups and her significantly-thinner husband. It was a low-key weekend of her working and me studying, with movies and meals-out in between. I forget how much I a) love this woman, b) miss this woman and c) need her in my life more regularly.

I think what was great about being with her was how much I love someone who knows me and knows to be honest and real with me. She gave me her honest opinions about my approach to medical school and my stress about school and it was wonderful. It's a short post, but the important thing to know is, I LOVE (BEST) FRIENDS. And I feel very lucky to have her in my life and I am so incredibly excited that we are only five hours apart.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 1269: The first snow

Oh boy. In North Carolina, they had no idea how to deal with snow. Here, this is a slIce of easy pie. Let's hope I don't die driving tO school today. I have a tendency to accelerate too quickly from a stop and brake too quickly toward a stop. I'll be careful. Promise.

Edit: It's snowing harder! (Look. I know it's not big snow. And I've been in snow before. It's just been a while, okay?)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 1267: Why is school so hard?

Look. I knew everything there was to know about complex lipids, cholesterol synthesis, cholesterol transport, steroid metabolism, amino acid synthesis and degradation, metabolic syndrome, amino acid genetic defects, urea cycle, and heme metabolism and catabolism. EVERYTHING. And yet, that (biochemistry) exam was still harder than I expected. It was significantly better than the first exam but there were a lot of questions where I narrowed it down to two answers and had to choose. In the end, I need to get things right. Who cares if you have the right answer and the wrong answer as options? If you choose the wrong answer, you still got it wrong.

The exam answers are posted later today. Fingers crossed for right answers!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 1264: Studying and cholesterol

Hello. My name is Jessica. I have a biochemistry exam on Tuesday. I am taking a short break from studying to tell you how much school sucks. For those of you wondering how I am faring lately, I hope every post since August 15th has expressed how dastardly medical school is. It is mind-boggling, soul-crushing and generally not fun. There is way too much detail requested of me. I am, of course, learning it, because I, of course, need to pass so that I may, of course, actually become a doctor. Don't go to medical school. Do something else that will make you the same amount of money (let's be real, doctors make some decent cash) without lives at stake! Lives that are not your own!

Okay, enough boring school talk. Onto more fun science talk.

I want to talk to you about Lipitor.

My dad (hi Dad!) takes Lipitor. Lipitor is a statin. A statin is a thing (very scientific term, I know) that blocks an enzyme (called HMG-CoA reductase). When HMG-CoA reductase is blocked, the rest of the reaction (cholesterol synthesis) no longer occurs. Therefore, to make this painfully simple, Lipitor prevents your body from producing more cholesterol, which is why Lipitor/statins are prescribed to those getting on in years to lower their cholesterol.

While studying with a friend yesterday, we were talking about how doctors today probably know this much about Lipitor. What we know is infinitely more detail than that. I can tell you what steps afterwards are no longer occurring and I can tell you why statins are useful but may not be necessary for every human being on the face of the planet over the age of 50. So, what I'm trying to say is, I know more about cholesterol right now than a practicing MD does! Ha! I am smart! (...for about a day. That will pass. Wait for it.)

So as to make you feel as smart as me (which won't be very hard since my intelligence level is on the same level as that of a peanut), I want to tell you about cholesterol.

Cholesterol is necessary in all of your cell membranes. All this means is, in order for them to not be rocks tumbling all over each other, we have cholesterol in our membranes to make it more fluid...more like a bunch of water balloons together in a bucket. The cholesterol levels that doctors freak out about are LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins).

The main reason this is bad is if this stuff circulates in your blood too long (aka too much LDL floating around), it starts to deposit things into your blood vessels (aka arteries) and they start to form plaques (mainly a pretty science word for "road blockage" or "things that shouldn't be piling up"). Plaques are bad. Just like a pot hole (except invert that (so that it's popping up like a hill and less like a hole, so "pot hill" is better) and that's what you have in your blood vessels), things go awry when blood can't flow properly. Too much LDL floating around in your system is a primary cause of high blood pressure and other bad news bears, as well as essentially putting money into the pockets of Pfizer (the drug company that makes Lipitor).

Look. Let's make this clear. I am not a doctor. I am nowhere near being a physician. What I am is a medical student who has to study this stuff like mad to make sure she aces her exam on Tuesday. So, you should believe most of what I say because I have to know this stuff for the next 72 hours. With that disclaimer, statins are great but not necessarily worth the hype. They prevent your body from making cholesterol, which is the precursor for all these lipoproteins (a fancy science word for cholesterol that flows around in your blood, it includes LDL (bad!) and HDL (good!)). Your body needs cholesterol. And research shows (just check Wikipedia. You know that stuff is real then ;P) that statins may not actually be needed. They just help certain populations. I'm not telling you, Dad, to get off Lipitor. I am just trying to show a) I know things and b) if you maintain a better diet (put down that fifth bowl of 豆浆  and that third serving of 榴莲) you wouldn't need things like Lipitor to lower your blood pressure.

Again. I don't know anything. I just know what my boring Biochem professor(s) has taught me. Granted, they didn't give me (and therefore you) this opinion of statins. This is just what I have managed to figure out on my own.

So. The moral of this awfully long post is: I know things about cholesterol (see the above paragraphs). I dislike medical school (see the first paragraph). Medical school is hard (see the first paragraph). I have a test on Tuesday. I should go.

Before I do. MOM. DAD. I am sick. (subliminal message Send me a care package subliminal message)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 1255: Neighborhood House - ILC

After one full week of exams, my brain decided to fry itself on a frying pan and say goodbye to its existence. Don't worry, I found another one lying on the side of the road. This one must be better than my last one. I've had that one for ages. (This is my excuse for not blogging for 2 weeks.)

Today, I went to Neighborhood House, specifically the International Learning Center (ILC). It is a learning center for refugees. I have to say, I was incredibly moved by the experience. In all honesty, the location was a bit unassuming. The director gave us a little spiel about what the organization does, its history, and what roles that wanted from us (medical students). It wasn't until we were visiting classrooms and just walking around that I saw what a truly wonderful place Neighborhood House ILC is. I was reading short personal essays written by Hmong, Laotian, Burmese, and African refugees and I was truly moved. It was really basic English, probably at elementary school level, but thinking about what these people had gone through, to be placed in an entirely different/foreign/new place, starting over, learning a new language and new monetary system and government system and everything, was all worthwhile of taking a breath and focusing wholeheartedly on what their lives must be like. Neighborhood House ILC offers citizenship classes, English classes, math classes and computer classes. The entire experience was very eye-opening and very, very humbling. It made me realize how absurd I am in my desire for the newest, shiniest article of clothing. I'm sure the humility will wear off (aka I will still want to shop), but I wanted to document what an experience it was for me.

Seeing people who had to leave their families behind for their own safety is an extremely moving thing. I wish I had a better word than "moving," but it's the best word to describe how, for the first time in my life, I feel like I actually want to help people. And I'm sure you would think that wanting to be a doctor would imply my desire to help but then I would say you must not know me very well. In all sincerity, I really hope to start volunteering with them, particularly in the citizenship class.

Taken from the ILC Wordpress website

My adorable Ama (mom's mother) became a citizen in the past decade and I remember helping her with her exam. It's crazy how much these wannabe-citizens have to learn. And if I could pay it forward at all, I would be ever so glad.

I want someone, anyone of you, to check in with me before Christmas to see if I've actually made steps to become a volunteer. I would hate to be so moved by an experience to just have that movement fall to the wayside because I couldn't follow through. Especially since I believe it would be such a rewarding and fulfilling experience. And I have to say, even if with all the cheeseburgers I eat, this would be an all new kind of full.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day 1240: Holy balls.

Wow. I thought I did infinitely better on these exams than I thought. I didn't even think they were all that terrible. Sure, it was hard but doable hard. Apparently, I am excellent at deluding myself.

It's fine. I passed both the anatomy written exam and the human development exam but I really thought I did better. Alas. I need to focus on biochem to make sure I do actually pass. Oy. I hate school.

I am having THE BIGGEST CHEESEBURGER after all this. And I'm going shopping. And I'll probably get trashed (not likely, but alcohol will probably be involved somehow).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 1239: Anatomy lab practical. Done.

Ugh. I went to the cadaver lab agabajillion times more than the first block and I got the EXACT SAME SCORE. I mean, I did 10-percent better than the average but who cares. I wanted to do better.

In all honesty, I'm fairly pleased with the score because I felt like there were a lot of two-answer-possibilities (where I couldn't decide if it was one structure or another (e.g., the subcostal nerve or the iliohypogastric nerve -- blah blah blah, fancy science words.)) and I honestly could have bombed this practical or done well. Luckily I did well.

Now, onto my Human Development exam & written Anatomy exam. Together. At once. In three hours. (What is wrong with these people?!) Also, a friend just informed me that tomorrow's Human Development exam comprises 50% of our Human Development grade. HA. I would have liked not knowing that but who cares? It's just a test. ...that I plan to annihilate.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 1238: Take that psych!

I just completed my psych exam. It wasn't bad at all. Now I need to study for my anatomy lab practical and the written-anatomy-portion-plus-human-development exam. Whee!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day 1237: Exams, Round 2 (aka Block 2)

The reason I have suddenly fallen off the planet (a 12-day absence is a big deal considering I was pretty on-point with posting) is that exams are this week.

Monday: Psychiatry/Psychology (one would never know I had this class since I never go. I have better things to do with my time than be touchy-feely. Like study science that I suck at. Also, I took psychology in high school and I have retained enough to pass...hopefully...probably not, haha.)

Tuesday: Anatomy lab practical. 376 structures! Round ligament of the uterus, check. Ascending aorta, check. Superior mesenteric artery, check. I just about know the other 373 too.

Wednesday: Anatomy (written exam) and Human Development. Together! Three Yikes!

Thursday: Nothing! AKA Studying like MAD for Biochem on Friday.

Friday: Biochem from 8:15am to noon. Three hours and forty-five minutes. I can assure you, this exam is going to suck like a Hoover vacuum. And you can expect me to eat a lot afterwards. And I think I'm drinking because a pal is in town and a beer that night will probably help wash down the half-relief (of completing Block 2 exams/my Biochemistry exam) and half-stress (of failing all my Block 2 exams/my Biochemistry exam), ha.

Back to the books. I'll be better about updating as the week wears on.

(Hello to my Dad in Taiwan!)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 1225: Making babies is tough work!

I am currently taking a course called Human Development. As the title states, we follow le bebe from fertilization (when it is a singular cell with genetic information from mom and dad (science word for this: zygote) all the way through birth. Let me tell you something. Human development is some crazy ass sh!t. (Pardon my French.) Seriously. I am currently watching a lecture on how the GI tract (esophagus, the tube that brings food down to your stomach; stomach; small intestine, where a majority of digestion occurs; large intestine, where most of your water reabsorption occurs; and your rectum, where you poop) forms and it is tricky business! There is a lot of rotation of the embryo and lots of folding that has to happen to make sure your intestines are twisty and that they stay in your abdominal cavity. Versus not (see image below).

Gastroschisis - Image from the CDC

Doesn't this baby look crazy? Luckily, this birth defect can be fixed surgically and this is why prenatal care is so important. But that's besides the point. I'm not an obstetrician.

What I am is a med student who is freaking out about a) learning all this absurd crap. It is INSANE what happens in nine months. A heart! Lungs! A skeleton! Toes! Fingers! Eyes! It never ends! b) I am freaked out about baby-making. I mean I won't be making babies any time soon. They grow into real people. Who are mean. And rude. And toddlers are messy. And selfish. And did I mention babies turn into real people? What I mean is, my cousin is having a baby. Soon. And an ex-colleague of mine from the Stanford lab is due to pop (or has popped!) any day now. And my best friend's sister just had baby number two. ...


All I heard about at the end of genetics and through every phase of human development is all the things that go wrong in baby-making. There are the "obvious" ones like Down Syndrome and things like gastroschisis (which is pretty hard to miss when your baby is born with it's intestines outside), but there are things like heart defects (some which can be heard while baby is still in mom (science word for this: in utero) but some you have to discover after the baby is born) and closures where there should be openings (science word for this: atresia) and other possible birth defects.

Don't you worry Mom and Dad. There is no need to worry about your precious medical student daughter getting pregnant any time soon. Genetics and human development have officially scared me away from any baby-making for a long, long time. The endless possibilities of things going wrong is just too much to bear.

You know how people say knowledge is power? They obviously knew very little about human development because now that I know roughly three-ish weeks worth of information, I often wish I had stayed blissfully ignorant.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 1221: I worry about getting SAD

The vague stirrings around the medical college suggest that seasonal affective disorder (also known as SAD) may be real. I always thought I had enough gumption and wherewithal and general good-body-vibes to withstand the oncoming of SADness. Well, I might be wrong.

The weather here in Milwaukee has been gloom central. For the past two weeks, it has been roughly 10 degrees colder than normal this year. It has been cloudy most of the week. Even the pockets of sunshine have not been enough to ward off the effects of becoming SAD. My biggest issue is that I sleep. All the time. I slept from about 2am to 9:30am last night/this morning. I came back from school around 1pm and promptly fell asleep while studying biochemistry. I didn't wake up until 4:40ish pm when my roommate came home for a brief moment. Then, while studying biochemistry again, I fell asleep in my desk/computer chair, feet propped on my desk, mouth agape, a slight puddle of drool forming on the cusp of my mouth, about to pour out.

I wonder if being SAD is contributing to my lack of focus this week. Hmm. Things to consider and eventually fall asleep to, I'm sure.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day 1218: Right and left, reversed.

It is official. Anatomy has completely screwed me over. FOR LIFE.

Courtesy of: The internet/Google search

On opening day of the 2011-2012 football season, my classmates and I were watching Sportscenter. They were talking about some player or other who had a dislocated shoulder. Well! We just so happened to be learning about the back/shoulder/arm/forearm at that point in time so the first thought that popped into my head was, "I wonder what kind of dislocation it was and which ligaments and bones were involved." The first words out of my mouth were, "I hate you anatomy." My classmates completely understood. We were all wondering the same thing. This is just the beginning.

As the body wears on (meaning, as I learn more about it), I have discovered that everything is backwards. When they refer to things on the right side of your body (such as your liver), the image they show you has it on the left side.

Courtesy of Netter Images; the liver in this case is
the big brown thing on the LEFT (with the
green thing (the gallbladder) in the middle)

And while watching my most recent anatomy lecture, my professor was talking about bile ducts and pointing at left and right branches and in my head, all of this jumbled right-left stuff is actually becoming second nature to me. It's when I actually think, "wait, is that regular-people-everyday-life-left or anatomy/doctor-left?" am I actually confused. It's official. After only five weeks of medical school, they are changing me. Help! Before I no longer think like a normal person anymore and actually start treating people! Helppppp!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 1214: Spellling isseus

Let me tell you what I have discovered about medical school. No one, and I mean, no one knows how to spell. From my genetics lectures, to classmates, to my biochemistry lectures, spelling seems to be a whim for these people.

My genetics final had the word "sight" (as in vision) in place of "site" (as in location). Hello. That is a huge difference. There is a little overachiever of a classmate who makes flashcards online and shared them with us and she literally could not spell for her life. She misspells words like "the" to "teh." How the hell am I supposed to respect you as a doctor, much less a person, if you can't spell "the"? It has three frickin' letters. Lastly, my biochem professor misspelled emphysema as "emphasema." I sincerely don't understand. There is a spellcheck on all of these machines! Even Firefox has spellcheck! Okay, rant over.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 1209: In commemoration

I had the great pleasure of seeing Lupe Fiasco on Friday night and he paid tribute to those who lost their lives on 9/11. Having gone to college in New York City and having missed the opportunity to view the World Trade Center when my family visited before the towers were hit, it really makes me grateful for life and reminds me to take advantage of all that life has to offer.

I went to the Lupe Fiasco concert with a classmate (from New York) and we were both talking about how much we wanted to be back in New York for the ten-year commemoration. It's just crazy to think that it was TEN years ago. An entire decade. An entire life away really.

(via The New York Times)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 1205: I am so out of it.

Courtesy of the International Journal of Morphology

Welcome to my life. This is the brachial plexus. (My gosh, I already sound like such a douchey science/doctor-like person. I apologize.) The brachial plexus is a compilation of nerves, arteries and veins right beside your armpit (running down your arm). I can actually name every number and initial in the picture, as well as tell you their functions. Insanity, I know.

The genetics final was fine. The anatomy lab practical (we go into the cadaver lab where the professors have tagged structures (nerves, arteries, veins, muscles, etc; like above) and then the students have one minute per station to identify said structures) wasn't too bad. There were a couple of curveballs but I felt pretty okay-to-good about it.

Today's anatomy written exam (where they throw us clinical questions) was, pardon my French, a bit of a b!tch. I forgot to look over some muscle functions this morning on my way to class (I fell asleep studying last night) and there were definitely a few "what-the-hell" questions on there. I did fine, but I know I could have done better, which is really frustrating me at the moment.

I'm in such a weird place about medical school right now. I feel like I can't quite get a hold on it, so I'm stressing out because I haven't figured it out yet, and then I stress about the amount of information I need to be learning and it's a bit of a vicious cycle. The stress isn't palpable, but it's starting to build and I feel like either crying, sleeping or curling into a ball and trying to roll into the street to die (melodramatic much?).

I just need to find my footing and I'll be fine. I just wonder how long it will take to find some stable ground instead of this quicksand I seem to find myself in.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Day 1201: School is hard.

Genetics final on Tuesday. First anatomy block exams (lab portion on Tuesday, written portion on Wednesday) next week. Lots of eating delicious food post-exams (I have never been a big drinker.)

In other news, my best friend Jess is coming out to Chicago the week after my second round of exams and we're trying to convince our other best friend to meet us there. I might die of joy if that happens.

I wish I had more fun things going on this holiday weekend. I mean not really. I need to study. A lot.

Ok, we'll talk later.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day 1197: Paging Dr. Jess

The other day in Anatomy lab, we had several hand surgeons in lab helping us with our dissections. They were all extremely capable, knowledgeable and didactic. As the lab period began to wind down, our professor spoke to us using the overhead microphone. "Doctors, it is past 4:30. You should all probably get going. You are all welcome to stay but it's good if you take some time out for yourself."

I said, aloud, "No. Don't go! We need your help." And then I realized, he was talking to us. The students. Then I started to chuckle. They keep calling us student doctors and if/when we shadow physicians and begin our rotations two years from now, patients will be calling us "doctors." The idea is so crazy to me that my first thought when our Anatomy professor spoke to us was that he wasn't even speaking to us. I wonder when being called "Dr. Jess" won't be such a crazy idea and it will seem more fitting.

I imagine that will happen when I find the remnants of my imploded brain and can begin piecing together both my brain and the information I'm supposed to retain in order to be a future-physician.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day 1194: Information. Overload.

This is my brain.

This is my brain after week two of medical school.

I wish I could express how much information there is. All the time. It never ends. And the question becomes, when you are in school from 8:30 am until 9 pm, when exactly are you supposed to study? I am quickly believing what one of my professors (an M.D.) is saying, P = MD. Pass = Medical Doctorate/Degree.

I'm not saying I want to pass. Heck no. I want to ace things. But if the best I can do sometimes (given the amount of information) is a pass, then I'll just have to take that and move on. There is no time to dwell on the 'pass' when there are things like nerves and their innervations (what muscles they stimulate) and genetic disorders and other things like that are more pressing.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Day 1188: Learning galore

As previously stated, it has been go-go-go since day one of medical school. I have been reviewing my genetics like crazy (see pictures below) because of a quiz we have tomorrow. I have heard that genetics is fairly easy course, but that doesn't stop me from being prepared. Who goes into a test feeling cocky? Confidence, fine. Cockiness, you're asking to fail.

In other news, I forgot how distracting the internet can be. I do love having it though. It's especially nice to be able to look up school stuff at my whimsy instead of waiting until I get to school to do it.

Also, I have chit-chatted with some pals. Case in point, my friend M (whom I visited in Ohio earlier this year). She is just so light and wonderful and level-headed and we're so similar! She understands how much I don't want to socialize with my classmates and how much I would rather stay in and be lazy than go out and drink-and-party on a Friday night. I love being understood. Sigh. Anyway, she's got some tough stuff going on, and she's dealing with it like the amazing woman she is. It's just nice to reconnect with people who get you and, hopefully, you get them.

Anyway, back to the studying. On the agenda for tomorrow:
  • Run before class
  • Shower, prepare my snacks for school, caffeniate
  • Arrive at school early, ace my quiz, have two more genetics lectures after the quiz
  • Free lunch during student organization presentations
  • Lots of anatomy (and lots of feeling overwhelmed)
  • Home. Studying. Lots of it.
  • (Probably lollygagging on the internet at some point)