Archive | October, 2010


29 Oct

What childhood experience could have possibly instilled in me such a love of grocery shopping?  Seriously, I cannot comprehend it.  I mean, it’s border-line Stepford-wife behavior to use a trip to Trader Joe’s as a special treat to myself for studying on a Friday evening…

And before you go thinking I’m a gunner or some such nonsense, I should explain that I was studying today because I fully intend on taking as much of this weekend off as possible.  A special guest in coming to town…more details on Sunday!


the great pumpkin

28 Oct

Hands down the best jack-o-lantern I’ve ever carved.  And it only took me six hours.

I was a fourth year in college, and John was in his second year of med school.  We had bought our pumpkins together at Carter Mountain, and we wanted to carve them together.  Of course, we didn’t get started until 10:00pm.  John insisted that we do some of those insane stencil-and-carve designs, and he picked out the headless horseman for me.  I don’t remember his design, but it must have been inevitably more simple, because he completed his task in an hour and a half and, intensely protective of his sleep schedule, left me to finish mine by myself on his porch until 4 o’clock in the morning!  I woke up a few hours later on his couch, pumpkin guts in my hair and my nails shaved down to the bed from futilely scraping at the interior of said pumpkin.  Well worth it.  The kiddies loved it.

And boy were there ever some number of kiddies.  If there was ever a time to bring out the big pumpkin-carving guns, 2005 was the year.  I lived on the Lawn that year, and all the kids of Charlottesville and Albemarle would flock there, trick-or-treating to all of the 54 rooms and 10 pavilions that surrounded Jefferson’s original Academical Village (I swear TJ invented the word “academical”…is it a real word yet?).  In fact, so many kids come year after year that each room needs to get clubs and organizations to “sponsor” the room in order to supply the requisite amount of candy to feed the masses (roughly $400 worth of candy per room).  Once again, so so worth it.  Trick-or-treating on the Lawn is my favorite of the Lawn traditions.

And my favorite 2005 trick-or-treater…1st Lobster (because “there was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus” —Love Actually):

And the view from my front door at 30 East…


27 Oct

longitudinal experience to appreciate the patient’s perspective

For the first 18 months of medical school, each student is paired up with another student and a chronically ill patient.  With the patient’s permission, the students meet him/her for various physician/therapeutic appointments and conduct fairly relaxed interviews in order to gain a better understanding of of the day-to-day while managing a lifelong and, at times, terminal condition.

Jared and I met with our LEAPP patient for the first time today.  In order to maintain patient confidentiality, I must be vague.  She is a few years younger than I am.  She was diagnosed when she was 18 months old and her illness has been progressing since then, although there have been ups and downs.  Her treatments are daily and time-consuming, yet she has managed to maintain an incredibly “normal” life, going to college, playing a varsity college sport, starting a family.  She considers herself fortunate, and she was incredibly generous with her time and energy today, encouraging us to ask her any and all questions, allowing us to sit-in throughout her visit, which included some very personal questions.  We will see her again in a month.

I don’t think of myself as someone who typically takes things for granted…at least, I feel a great deal of appreciation for what I have and what I can do.  But I still whine about my health, lack of sleep, workload, and temporary separation from loved ones.  Today was certainly not my first wake-up call, but I think it’s an indication that I need them frequently.  But, more importantly, my meeting with this woman was simply a privilege, a first-hand observation of courage and humility, and I look forward to many more, with this patient and others.

team jesus

26 Oct

While I was interviewing a standardized patient–a large black Baptist woman who used prayer as the main form of treatment of diabetes–she explained that she was a “football widow,” meaning that she lost her husband to the football games every Sunday and Monday nights.  I asked her what sports teams, if any, she supported.  “Oh honey, the only team for me is TEAM JESUS!!!”  It took all my self-control to not respond with something like, “That’s John and me!”

Needless to say, she thought it was a pretty awesome sign that the first two medical students she saw were Jesus and Christian, respectively.  Go team.

the practical

25 Oct

I’ve been wanting to share the anatomy practical experience…it’s something else.  I kind of like it.  It’s the closest thing to the Triwizard Tournament in which I’ve ever participated…hmm…maybe I need to get on a broom and play quidditch more frequently.

In groups of 40, our professors and TAs bring us into one of the anatomy labs.  Pen and paper in hand, we’re still in the usual scrubs and gloves because we’re allowed to touch the various identifications but, as Dr. Rubinstein says, “You break it, you eat it.”  We situate ourselves such that we’re each next to a numbered label, a tag attached to a portion of the body (two per body), or radiograph, or bone.  And then Dr. White’s voice pierces though, “Go forth!”  After 60 seconds, one of the TAs announces “switch!” or “rotate!” and we move on to the next station.

Some tags are just that…numbers pinned into organs, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, bones, etc…and we just have to identify them…of course, easier said than done.  I think my favorite station was that of a colon, completely separate from any cadaver, piled (the biggest colon known throughout the MS1s) and folded in any which way on a table, with a small #29 tag (soggy and barely legible) attached to a thin piece of yarn that gently encircled an artery.  If only there was a fly on the wall to watch the panic streak across everyone’s face as s/he got to that table and began to frantically fumble around an over-sized colon, attempting to discern exactly which part of the colon the artery was supplying.

Other stations were numbers and questions:

“What three bones articulate with this bone?”

On the radiograph: “At which vertebrae is this cross section?”

“What nerve innervates this muscle?”

60 seconds for each, and there’s no turning back.  It’s pretty invigorating, really…and mildly terrifying, but no more than any mind game against yourself.

The next practical is a group exam.  I am…cautiously optimistic.

the warm fuzzies

24 Oct

I got a visit from the Panarelli women this weekend.  They left about an hour ago and, though I was definitely sad to see them go, I can say without a doubt that I’ve never felt better on a Sunday morning–completely energized, well-rested, well-fed, and well-loved.

They brought with them a grocery bag filled with gluten-free goodies: brownie mix; flour; pretzels; Annie’s bunnies (anyone who has babysat small children knows how terrifyingly addictive these sweet or savory little creatures can be); pasta; teriyaki sauce; and gingersnaps.  We walked about campus, snuggled on my futon while sipping on tea and snacking on bunnies, indulged in “luxurious” whites, “funky” reds, and “approachable” or “adventurous” cheeses at Tria with Doria, and then satisfied out sweet teeth with yogurt at Tutti Fruiti.  And there’s nothing better than falling asleep listening to Mary Ann’s stories with my head in Liz’s lap.

So so grateful.  Love these women.

”Vivi had no idea at all where she was headed, but she knew that whatever direction she went, her friends would go with her.”  Always a Ya-Ya, washed-out or otherwise.

singing in your sleep

22 Oct

Upstairs neighbor and friend-crush Gwyneth is going to see Guster at the Electric Factory tonight.  While we were “studying” (watching Survivor and drinking wine) together–she’s working on her credentials to be a trainer and nutritionist–she showed me the video of her favorite song from Guster’s new album.  You know it’s a good one when, two days later, your listening to it in a library on a study break and sending the link to your husband, telling him you’re thinking about him.

I wanna wake you from your dream,
I wanna know just who you’re talking to when you’re singin’ in your sleep…

Oh, my heart feels warm, and a little silly.  Kinda wanna go put on a onesie and toss paint around instead of learn about the brachial plexus.


boston favorite

19 Oct

John and I live(d) in a small carriage house apartment (former maids’ quarters) behind a huge old Victorian house in Jamaica Plain.  We love it there.  Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from two of the top five Boston running locations (Jamaica Pond and the Arnold Arboretum), the Sam Adams Brewery (offering free tours and free beer!), and a dozen of the best restaurants in Boston.  Ten Tables, in particular, always wins Best of Boston, year after year…and it’s walking distance from our home.

But it is not our place.  Our place is actually just two doors down from Ten Tables and, due to it’s proximity, it’s frequently overlooked, often receiving mediocre reviews and attention.  Which is why when we stumbled into it one blustery Saturday night in February it actually had space for us at the bar (truly good fortune since it only has six tables for two or three and four bar stools).

Our place is Bon Savor and it is–get this–a French and South American Bistro.  Can you think of a more potent culinary duo?  A quote from its website: “The colors of the foods on each plate are as meticulously thought out as the decor.”  And John and I do need to have color in our food.  Wow, I’m making us out to sound like total snobs.  The ambiance is warm and cozy, but also lively…its huge French doors that open and fireplace make it inviting on both a sticky summer night and a bitter grey afternoon.  I think we’ll keep coming back forever.

John and I went there on Saturday, followed by ice cream at The Garage with two of our favorite Cambridge residents.

The picture above was taken with my new iPhone 4, the one with the bigger “gee-bee’s.”  I think John might love me too much.  We need to get this thing insured…I have a habit of breaking, well, everything.  My last phone (thank God it was a hand-me-down) I accidentally set in a pint of beer.  I only realized it was in the pint when I started to wonder why I hadn’t heard from John.  And he wonders why I’m afraid of technology.

still here

18 Oct

Hello friends!  It feels like it’s been a while.  After our anatomy exam on Friday, the last in this series of exams, I celebrated over a cup of coffee with a few friends before biking home, packing for Boston (frantically, as evident by the fact that I forgot to bring a coat, shoes that aren’t running shoes, and a purse–I sure looked adorable on our date in a dress, sneakers, and fleece jacket with ID and lip gloss shoved in the pocket due to lack of purse), and hurriedly consuming a head of cauliflower (the absolute only thing left to eat in my fridge).  There were many moments in Boston when I wanted to pick up the computer to jot down a note or two, but I always gave in to my more lazy demons and continued to do, well, nothing but enjoy the company of that husband of mine.  No regrets.

Anyway, there is a lot I would love to discuss via blog–at the top of the list is probably the method of the first anatomy practical…what a trip!–but I’m going to run off to a PennMed yoga class in the student lounge.  I haven’t been to one yet, but it’s only a $5 recommended donation and, since I recently restricted myself from purchasing any more yoga classes from the studio around the corner because I am a poor student again, I figure this could be a nice compromise.

Hope y’all had a fabulous weekend!

when in doubt, use a dirty mnemonic

14 Oct

I Imagine Gorgeous Lesbians Fucking All Over Lab.

I’m not sure who is responsible for that one, but I know that, in my lifetime, I will never forget the nerves of the lumbar plexus:




Lateral cutaneous branch of the femoral

Accessory obturator


Lumbosacral trunk

14 hours, 13 minutes until I’m a free lady!