Sunday, November 20, 2011

See the new tab?

I've decided to completely copy other medical school bloggers and begin my own medical book opinion page on my website.

I'm not quite using the same books as I have seen reviewed before, so I figured I would throw my 2 cents into the interwebz. 

I have a lot more books to add (like all the things purchased recently for Pharm, Physio, Physical Exam, Anatomy and Pathology), but I'm going to give it a few months to marinate. I'll periodically post little reminders when I've updated that page. 

Also, I have two exams this week. So I should probably stop procrastinating on my blog and get back to studying. 

By the way, since I don't want to start a new post for this, here it is: 


Got my grades back on Friday. Victory is mine. It was touch and go for a while, but I pulled through.

I bet my loan lenders are having a party right about now. They are counting down the days until repayment. 2021 is right around the corner; only 9 1/2 years away!

Keep telling yourself that, K8.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Vicious circle of happiness

So as you may or may not know, I read a lot of books. Not like "Medical Physiology and You", but more like FUN books. Pleasure reading. You remember that?

Anyways, for the past four years, I have been using Russ Allbery's reviews for Science Fiction and Fantasy (my genre of choice):

So I sent him an email in July.

I have been reading your reviews for several years now; I love them! I rarely disagree with your ratings, and it is so fantastic how you've set up your website so that I can see the ratings without any of the spoilers. I just read Kushiel's Dart, something I never would have picked up had it not been for your reviews. It was amazing!

I know you probably get a lot of mail, but I just wanted to let you know how appreciative I am for your reviews. I recommend you to all the other science fiction readers I know.

Have a nice day,

For those of you wondering, Kushiel's Dart is amazing, and I highly recommend it. Don't let the cover fool you; it is not some cheap Harlequin romance novel. Also, you cannot quit until you've read at least 100 pages. If you don't like it by then, we probably can't be friends.

Anyways! In November, a mere six months later, he emailed me back!

Hi! I'm sure you weren't expecting a reply to this after all these months. :)

Thank you for this note! I was going to reply to it immediately when it came in, but then got distracted by something, and it then got lost in my mail backlog and I never did. But I ran across it today and figured better late than never.

I'm really glad you've enjoyed them! And I'm particularly delighted that you found a book that you'd never otherwise read because of them; I think that's particularly rewarding.

Thanks for taking a moment to send your email; it made my day brighter (a couple of times!).


Well, Russ, I'm here to tell you that YOUR email made MY day brighter (a couple of times!). It's a never-ending cycle, because now I'm going to pass on the happiness:

There is nothing better than a gleeful, clapping otter. Except Russ Allbery's reviews.
So all my science fiction/fantasy readers, check that site out! It's bananas!

Anatomy has begun.

Woah Nellie!

And they're off! The first person who can identify 10,000 new structures and vocabulary words that sound like gibberish is the winner!

(I mean, seriously, who came up with iliopsoas? Trochanter?)

We met our temporary cadaver on Tuesday. Temporary because she is really the dental school's cadaver; they've already dissecting everything above the waist. We are simply dissecting her legs. In January, when we finish the legs, we will get a fresh cadaver. That's the one I plan on getting attached to.

Our anatomy course will extend from now until March sometime. We dissect two days a week, while the other three days are filled with the appropriate physical diagnosis, physiology, pathology and pharmacology for that body part.

So many "P"s
We get a quick 50 minute lecture on the femoral triangle (anterior/medial portion of the thigh) and we are kicked into the anatomy hall for 2.5 hours of dissection. I'm working with a group of 6; all of them are awesome. None of us know what the heck is going on.

"Ummm, so what do we do now?"

"I don't know. Should we start?"

"All the groups around us have started."

"Uh, okay, let's start."

"Huh. We probably need a scalpel. Does anyone know how to put a scalpel blade on?"


"Alright, I'll try."

"Where do we cut? Maybe we should wait for an instructor?"

The group next to us yells, "Nah, don't bother waiting. Just starting cutting stuff up."

"Ooookay. I mean, we do have two legs. If we screw one up, we'll dissect the other one."

"How deep do I cut here?"

"Is that still even skin?"

"Who the heck knows."

"What is that white stuff? What's the yellow stuff? Where are we?"

"Is that the femoral vein? No, wait, maybe it's an artery. You know, it could be nerve. Maybe a lymph node?"

45 minutes in, with only two cuts made, and our group still floundering about above the fascia lata, our instructor shows up.

"What are you guys doing here? Where is your reference point? What are you even looking for?"

"Dear God, we have no idea. We thought that's what you were for."

"Where is her iliac crest?"


"Oh no! You cut the Saphenous vein. Your patient is bleeding out! Oh, too late. She's dead."

He pauses.

"So, now that you've killed your patient, let me show you what is going on here."

Turns out that our Saphenous vein didn't get filled with embalming fluid, so even the instructors had to do a big of digging to make sure it was actually the Saphenous vein. He explained what the fascia lata was, and that we should look for fat. When we stopped seeing fat, we were through the fascia lata and into muscle.

Fortunately for us, our patient had fat in her muscles. SO DIFFICULT TO TELL WHAT IS GOING ON.

Also, females are fatty. It wasn't fair. All these people around us had nice, lean, male cadavers. Their muscles and tissue were smooth, clean, crisp lines. Ours looked like a squidgy mess of custard and spaghetti. And no matter what we did, we couldn't really clean it up well.

The smell didn't really bother me, which was a welcome surprise. Maybe it will in another few weeks. We'll see.

I will say this: holding/using a scalpel was very natural for me. I had a really good grasp of the spatial-ness of the body, and it was SUPER FUN to cut. Surgery is back in, folks!

And now I have an appreciation for why general surgery residency is 5 years. It would be a long time before I would be comfortable doing something like a saphenous cutdown.

PS. Wow, are the models used in anatomy books attractive. Not the cadavers, stop it, gross. I'm talking about the nude models they use to show you an overlay of muscles or something.  That guy has buns of steel.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Not my week

Alright, so let me break this down for you.

1. My family is planning a trip and it's been super stressful. We've had some problems this week.

2. I have two exams this week (one for interviewing; the other a nice 4 hour chunk of histology, molecular biology, biochem and immuno).

3. I was supposed to get a free weekend after these massive exams, but my other classes like ethics and stats gave us homework. No free weekend for me.

4. I'm on my dag nab period.

5. I applied for a position with a volunteering organization that I REALLY wanted. I actually had to rank my preferences from 1 to 20 on what I'd prefer to have as a job on my application.

Here is how I applied:

_1__ Administrator
_2__ Staff coordinator
_3__Volunteer coordinator
_20_ Dog catcher
_Not interested___ Fundraising

I put a note in my application that said, "I'd really not like to do fundraising. Anything else works fine."

Well, I found out this week that the position I was offered was created especially for me. Guess what it was?

Fundraising Advancement

Yes, they created a special position for me specifically in the ONE area (out of 20) I asked not to get put into.

It is a perfect storm.

So I don't know if I told you all, but I got into that singing thing I applied to. Yay! And I'm super psyched to be a part of it; we have a lot of fun.

Our first gig was this week. And it was pretty prestigous gig. At an art museum. We sang in front of 500 doctors and medical staff.

We arrived at about 4:30pm, and began warming up (in a freakin' art gallery!). I'm pretty sure we sounded the best we're ever going to sound with those high ceilings. Sound check was at 5:30pm. Awesome.

We go back to the room to wait. We were told that we'd get some food before the show. We ask for food.

"No, no, see, you get food AFTER you sing. The whole idea is that you will sing to us, and then you will join the party for drinks and food. Everyone will want to meet you and shake your hands. You'll see."

"No, but see, we're pretty hungry and none of us have eaten, and our performance isn't until 7:20pm, and that's if everything goes on time..."

I ate lunch at 11 AM. Now, normally, not a big deal to not eat until 7 PM, but, uh, I went weight lifting that afternoon. For two hours. Serious lifting. Then I came to the gig. Where we were supposed to get food.

Someone shares a Fiber One bar with me, and someone sneaks into the event to grab a plate full of food that is shared between 20 people.

7:20pm rolls around and we are brought backstage, waiting and ready. Where we wait until 8:45pm. Mostly in silence because we didn't want to ruin the LONGEST SPEECHES EVER. Also, did I mention we are standing? And I'm wearing Cole Haan shoes? Sure, they have Nike air in them, but come on! Also, I haven't eaten in 10 hours now. Let me reiterate. Standing. 1.5 hours. Silence.

Now, start referring back to #1-5. The pressure is building.

So we sing, yay, everyone claps. I don't really give a crap though, because I'm pretty hungry and I can smell the buffet from the stage. We leave the stage, shake some hands and finally make it to the buffet table.

I get a (tiny appetizer) plate of food (which was more like appetizers, but whatever) and scarf it down. It's been about 7 minutes since we left the stage now.

I go back up to get a second helping. I grab a plate and turn to find the catering staff there. A woman rips the plate out of my hand and says, "You can't have anymore." Then, they proceed to pack up the entire buffet line of food in front of me.

So by invited "to share in the party", you meant "haha, just kidding, you should see your face!"

I'm pretty livid now. All I want to do is go home.

When we came to our performance, we were told to park in the staff parking lot. I asked the parking lot attendants, "Which parking lot is the staff parking lot?"

"Oh, this one is, come on in."

Gate opens, I go in.

So now, it's dark, I'm hungry, weak and semi-delirious. I stumble out to my car (along with other people who are leaving the party) and drive my car to the gate.

"Where's your ticket?"

"What ticket?"

"Your parking ticket."

"Uh, I don't have one."

"That'll be $14."

"Wait, what? I just sang in there, I'm a performer, not a guest."

"I can't let you out without a ticket."


She actually makes the line of 10 cars behind me BACK UP, one by one, so that I can pull back into my same exact parking spot I just left, and look for my non-existent ticket.

I'm back where I started and KABOOM.

I completely lose it.

I begin ranting across the parking lot, yelling, "I need to get out of this parking lot. For God sakes this is ridiculous. I just performed at this event and now you want $14 D*MN DOLLARS? FINE, YOU WANT THE STUPID MONEY? TAKE IT. TAKE IT!


I'm now screaming. And then I start sobbing. I'm standing outside of my car, in my white coat, papers strewn all over my car as I tried to find a ticket.

I'm fairly certain I scared the crap out of the attendants.

"Okay, miss, let us get you a ticket. Hold on a sec."

I'm shaking and completely defeated. I don't even care anymore. If I hadn't gotten a ticket, it's a toss up whether I would have slept on the grass near my car, or drove through the botanical gardens to get out of that parking lot. I'm not sure which one my deranged mind would have latched onto.

Anyway, I drove home, cried a bit, and went to bed.

And that ladies and gentlemen, has been my week.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oh medical school exams, you think you're soooo funny, don't you?

So our most recent test was...insane.

So picture this. Our exam is integrated, meaning that all of our classes have a section in the exam. So we have BioChem, Histology, Molecular Biology and Immunology together. So picture this. I'm 1.5 hours into a 3.5 hour exam, and I begin the Molecular Biology part of the exam.

First, this part of the exam is short answer, NOT multiple choice. I'm not quite sure why. The board exam is multiple choice. Step 2 is multiple choice. In fact, no where in our medical testing will we face short answer type questions. But okay, whatever.

I open the booklet. 

There are two questions, each worth 50% of our grade in Molecular Biology. 

1st question: straightforward, fair question. I answer, thinking I probably did alright.

The 2nd question stem is about a page long. I read the story about bacteria and the different experiments performed. This is way more complicated than anything we've ever seen.

Alright, I think to myself, I got this. I studied every single lecture, I read the syllabus, I did all the practice problems. 

And then I read Part A of the 2nd question:

a) What is an arginine auxotroph? 

Well, crapbox. I have no clue. We never discussed that in class, syllabus or practice problems. Should I have randomly Googled arginine auxotroph in my spare time? Okay, forget this, maybe part B will be better. 

b) What is a prototroph?

....okay...apparently I was supposed to use my super psychic powers and read up on prototrophs earlier. Well whatever, part C should be better.

c) Why are the bacteria in Experiment 1 arginine auxotrophs? 

Oh God. The questions are going to stack on top of each other. My lack of outside knowledge has destroyed me for this exam.

d) Explain why the bacteria in Experiment 2 are prototrophs.

You know what would help? IF I KNEW WHAT PROTOTROPHS WERE. 

e) Draw the bacterial genes for Experiment 3 bacteria being sure to include the arginine auxotroph genes. 

We've never been asked to draw a genome before. I drew a circle. I was so proud of myself. Got that part down.

BOOMSHOCKALOCKA! I got +2 for this!

f) How are the enteroaggregative genes and the arginine biosynthesis genes related?

Dear God, what is going on? What does enteroaggregative mean? Have I entered some alternate reality ?

I stare at the questions, hoping that some BS will surface in my head that sounds even remotely plausible. I spend the next hour and a half making up answers. 

I left that exam convinced I was going to need to take Molecular Biology over the summer. But I wasn't even upset. I had studied my butt off for that exam.

Two weeks later, word on the street is that the exams have been graded. Our average was BELOW A 50%. 


I got my grade back:

Out of a 200 point exam, 60 points were dropped. So I wound up getting an 85.71%, woot!

But even better, before the curve, I had a 133/200.

Which puts me at 66.5%. And what is passing? A 65%! I would have passed by 1.5% without the curve! Victory is mine.

You know what they say: P(ass) = MD!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why did the settlers stay in the north?

Sorry for dropping off the grid there.

I sort of mean that literally since we lost power back on Saturday. But fortunately, we got it back late Monday evening!

Let's list the worst things about losing power:
  1. It's 30 degrees outside. Our house was 53 degrees. It was motherflippin' cold. It's not so bad when you are under four giant comforters fully clothed. But it is bad when you have to get up to use the toilet. Holy mother of that is cold. I am jealous of men.
  2. Our hedgehog could have died. They start to hibernate in cold weather, and we read in our "Hedgehog Manual" that hibernating domestic hedgehogs could die from it.
  3. No internetz.
  4. No phone (land line was down too).
  5. Our Halloween was cancelled. You heard me. Cancelled! Too bad kiddos, the big bad snowstorm has taken your fun and joy away, replacing it with shivers and hunger pains.
  6. Our refrigerator and freezer are decimated. I don't even want to look inside them. But I have to clean them out today.
  7. No video games. And seriously, I was in the middle of an awesome video game when we lost power. And of course it didn't save. So now I have to play the entire sequence AGAIN.
  8. Your nutrition goes to crap. Mmm, I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for 3 meals a day. You don't really need anything else in your diet, right med school?
But the absolute worst part:
THE DVR STOPPED WORKING. Oh the horror! No Simpsons Halloween special, no Kitchen Nightmares, NO DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES. #firstworldproblems
I called the gym to ask if their hot tub was working.

"Yes, it's working, we didn't lose power."

Sweet! So I head to the gym, and there is a sign at the front desk: "Attention members: we are sorry for the inconvenience but the hot tub is colder than usual."

I look deadpan at the front desk woman and said, "So when I just called asking you about the hot tub? You told me it was working."

Without blinking the woman says, "It is working. It's just cold."

....thank you. Thank you for making my 3 days of miserable cold so much better.

It's all okay though. Happy badger thing is happy.