Archive | November, 2010

back shortly

20 Nov

Dear readers:

I have not forgotten about this little project. My Internet has been down for the last couple days, though I can’t really complain since I’ve been swiping it from a neighbor. Topics for tomorrow:

–follow-up on playing dress-up in anatomy lab

–have I mentioned that I am taking a bioethics class?

–a visit from the lovely ladies Herrmann

–Lauren’s 30!!!

–why Planet Earth is the best study break ever…oh, if only I could use it’s music as the soundtrack for my life…

–study buddy Jon, and his nice and tall wife Jamie


18 Nov

On a 70-kg person, roughly 1 kg is bacteria.  I understand there’s a lot of good, necessary bacteria, yeah yeah yeah.

Still…one kilogram of bacteria…icky.

too much press?

15 Nov

A thought: anatomy gets an unfair amount of attention in the first year of medical school…by the students, by the faculty, by the innocent bystanders who have to put up with us talking about anatomy until the cows come home.  Just a thought and, though not one with which I ultimately agree, one I’d like to explore just a little.

First of all, I feel I should apologize to my family and friends for the outpouring of detail I give you about the anatomy experience.  In my own excitement, I think it often takes me a minute or two to remember that people might not want to talk about discovered inguinal hernias or inches of deep fat flaking off into the palm of my hand…over dinner, for example.  Perhaps being married to a man I can fart in front of, who sees so so much in his own line of work that there is quite possibly nothing I could do that would disgust him, I’ve become…well…a bit lazy when it comes to social tact.  This is all to say, I don’t want to filter too much of what I write in this space, but if I ever get too informative in “real life,” please let me know if it’s not appreciated.

So, what is the fixation on anatomy?  Okay, maybe a stupid question.  Yes, there are cadavers, we get to use scalpels, we get to see the human body up close and personal in a way not many do.  But you could argue that the other classes we’re taking now are just as exciting.  Immunology, for example: the study of how our immune system works, how our bodies stay healthy, fend off diseases, and heal themselves.  Or epidemiology: the study of patterns of health and illness in the population, the cornerstone for creating evidence-based medicine.

Still, it’s hard to get away from the difference a body makes, and I’m not only referring to the cadavers.  We are learning about the human body, and not at all in the abstract.  This last block was on the upper and lower limbs and the back.  We could actually pull on a tendon and observe it’s action.  Did you know that there are eight muscles acting on the thumb alone–eight! And there’s one long nerve that starts in the lower spine, runs down the thigh and leg, and innervates a small webbed patch between the big and second toe at the top of the foot.  I mean, who came up with that?

Another thing that’s truly great about anatomy is that it never changes.  Well, I think someone mentioned that we might have potentially discovered an extra thymus…anyone have anything to add on that topic?  And so we’re learning clinically relevant information that almost certainly will not be obsolete before we finish residency.  No wonder my peers are putting three times the man-hours into studying for anatomy.

Finally, and simply put: it’s just really cool shit.  I think this point is pretty much just an extension of the last, but I like to talk about stuff in sets of threes.  For anyone who’s ever been pre-med or took a college-level bio class, you understand the neat-factor in being able to understand why something works the way it does and why certain symptoms correlate with particular conditions.  Who could go through a few weeks of genetics, for instance, and not spot like a dozen tall people with long fingers in the crowd who you’ll swear must have Marfan’s Syndrome?  I walked out of the practical (and second) portion of my second anatomy test at 11:30 this morning and–I kid you not–if the next man I saw walking out of university hospital did not suffer a lesion to the superior gluteal nerve (that innervates the gluteus medius and minimus; a lesion would cause a pelvic sag while walking on the opposite side from the lesion), I would be shocked.

I would love to share with you a little more tomorrow about the second anatomy exam…but for now, here’s a teaser:

I hope you’re having a fabulous day.  Thanks so much for checking in!

anatomy round two

15 Nov

…and to think, two months ago I didn’t know the meaning of the word “cutaneous.”

Wonder if any of my former English professors are reading this post and cringing.

he’s here!

13 Nov

John just walked in my front door!  We’ll be spending tomorrow working side by side–he on his book, me on the brachial plexus (it’s a bitch)–then he has an interview Monday morning, and he flies back to our Boston home at around midday.  A whirlwind, to be sure.

Maybe on his next visit we’ll have a moment to breathe and he can meet some of my classmates to prove that he is not, in fact, a figment of my imagination.  Plus, John’s a pretty rad guy–I want my friends to know him and for him to know them.  Worlds colliding!

harry potter the scientist

13 Nov

harry potter fix in anticipation.


stereotype me

11 Nov

At UVA, I was part of this awesome organization called Sustained Dialogue.  It’s a little difficult to explain in a few sentences and do the cause justice.  Basically, racially diverse small groups (8-12 students) meet once every two weeks for a few hours to discuss race, within the context of the university predominantly, at least to begin with.  It’s a five-step process that begins with story-telling and moves toward action.  Might sound trite, but I found that simply opening up the conversation in this safe space was eye-opening in unexpected ways.

One year, a bunch of SD groups got together and created De-stereotype Day.  White shirts were passed out that said “Stereotype Me” on the front, and on the back the wearer wrote a personal characteristic that defied a stereotype that might be held against him/her.  For example, one of my friends whose family is from China wrote, “I don’t know how to use chopsticks.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about stereotypes recently because it seems like, as med students, we so easily fall into them.  And I don’t just mean as the “typical med student”–type A, overly anxious and competitive, sleep-deprived, socially inept–but also within the context of what type of physician each of us will become.  Here we are, not even a full semester into medical school, and we already seem to be segregating each other: the former Peace Corps volunteer who will likely win a National Health Service Corps scholarship and go into primary care in rural America; the smooth-talking econ major who will get the joint MD-MBA and likely not work in a clinic past residency; and–my favorite–the orthopedic surgeon.  This stereotype is pretty incredible.  I’d heard about it from John and other friends who had gone to medical school; you can literally pick out these kids a mile away.  They are young, male, incredibly athletic, fratty (in the best ways…incredibly comically so), and completely tunnel-visioned in anatomy lab.

So, I’m curious.  What’s my stereotype?  I don’t think I fit any of the categories above, and I’m sure my own preferences will change 8-12 times as soon as I start clerkships.  But seriously, I’m opening up the floor to your comments: What type of doctor do you think I’ll become?