Archive | March, 2011


28 Mar

The twelve of us in attendance (including Glen and Lauren) took a vote on where they should be married, eventually selecting a rock in the middle of the creek near their unfinished cabin.  Despite the fact that it had snowed five inches the night before in the middle of the Blue Ridge, the “bride” wore a white sundress with hiking books as she lightheartedly hopped (literally) to the center of the creek.  They’ve been partners for fifteen years, and we felt so honored to be present during this “public” celebration of a love and commitment that we not only recognized, but cherished and admired for years prior.

Sadly, one camera fell victim to the rapids…but Chad’s spirits did not appear dampened:

Congratulations, Glen & Lauren.  We could not be more happy!


hug machine

25 Mar

Temple Grandin

She created the hug (or squeeze) machine in order to provide sensory relief for people with autism or autism-spectrum disorders, for whom actual human contact might be uncomfortable or impractical.

According to an interview in Time, she no longer uses it: “It broke two years ago, and I never got around to fixing it.  I’m into hugging people now.”

wire monkey mothers & hidden talents

23 Mar

Brain & Behavior has taken a turn toward the behavioral sciences.  One of our lectures today was on social attachment and its necessity for basically becoming a functional human being in society.  The lecture included a brief discussion on Harlow’s monkey experiments that, cruel as they were, effectively demonstrated the importance of care-giving on cognitive and social development.  And I, in true medical profession fashion, chose to deal with my disturbance by finding humor.  I inappropriately laughed a little internally as I thought about a physician at UVA that John and I know and love, who calls himself the “wire monkey” for students and residents.  He’s not touchy-feely, he won’t comfort you, but he will give you the information and experience you need to succeed on his service.  I think that if I work with an attending on the wards next year who calls himself  the “wire monkey,” I might just run home to snuggle with my cloth monkey, very maturely choosing comfort over sustenance.

Here are some snapshots of said monkey taken by a couple upperclassmen friends at UVA who, having nothing better to do during finals of their last semester in college, swiped my monkey and forced him into slave labor:

Kinda reminds me of the garden gnome ordeal from Amelie…now if only I had some creme brulee to crack with the tip of a spoon.

Since we didn’t have small group today, I spent the morning catching up on doctor’s appointments.  They took TEN VIALS of blood from my veins.  Apparently, I am an excellent bleeder.  Who knew?  With Spoof coming up this weekend, we’re all looking forward to seeing the hidden talents (which, unlike mine, hopefully don’t require a needle and tourniquet) of many of our classmates.  Break a leg, uber talented friends!

this american life

21 Mar

In Boston, I used to listen to podcasts on my commute to work.  Of course, any story almost monotonically narrated by Ira Glass (I think every NPR girl/boy has just a little crush on that voice) was a hands-down favorite.  In June, I was entranced by the story of Matt Frerking, who Mr. Glass described as being a literal prisoner of love.  He has what is called narcolepsy with cataplexy, a rare disease that, in Mr. Frerking’s case, presents as “sleep attacks” any time he feels strong emotions.  He takes drugs that minimize the number of attacks (which still occur many times daily), but they mostly succeed in simply dampening his emotions.  Matt has lost friends who can’t help but feel offended that their presence sends him into a state of paralysis; his wife tries to explain that these attacks only demonstrate how much Matt cares for them.  His wife continues to stick by him although, for now, they are not holding hands.

Right now we’re learning about sleep disorders and anesthesia.  SO glad I had surgery before this block, otherwise I might not have had the guts to go ahead with anesthesia…I would have had to learn hypnosis pretty damn quickly!

for japan with love

18 Mar

Bloggers Day of Silence

without pain

17 Mar

“A world without pain is hell.”

Check out this documentary to see why.  Never been more thankful for that dull ache in my shoulder instructing me to not move it past a certain angle.

…and HAPPY MATCH DAY to all our fourth years!!!

guest post: gleevec

14 Mar

I am overjoyed to have Emily as the first guest blogger!  Emily is a premedical student from Portland, majoring in biology with a minor in psychology at the University of Oregon.  She works in a neuropathology lab and loves learning about the brain.  Wish her well as she applies for medical school this summer, and follow her at  Without further adieu…


My mother was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in 1995, when I was about five years old.  The diagnosis was totally unexpected. The oncologist estimated she had about three years to live.

At the time, there were few treatment options.  Our hope was a bone marrow transplant, but even after running several “become-a-donor” events and checking all family members, no one was a match. She went on interferon therapy, which has many serious side effects, including severe flu-like symptoms.  Most days, she hardly had the energy to get out of bed.  After a few years the therapy stopped working.   Her white blood cell count began to rise, a sign the illness was progressing.

Things looked very grim (years later, I learned that they thought she had maybe a few more months to survive).  Then, one night while searching through the internet, my father learned about a Phase I clinical trial for her specific type of leukemia.  An almost-eerie coincidence, it was being run in the city in which we were currently living, Portland.  She was quickly accepted into the trial.  Within weeks of taking a few little pills daily, her blood counts began returning to normal, and real hope returned to our household.

On Thanksgiving Day of the same year she began the trial, Dr. Druker (who ran the study) called with amazing news: my mother was the first person in the world to show up with no evidence of disease on a cyto test.   By the end of her first year on this new drug, she began to feel as she had before leukemia entered her life.

And a few years afterward, the only reminder she had of cancer, besides taking a pill with meals, was when the drug company came by to get her picture for their Gleevec brochures and promotions.  Pictures of her and our whole family (dog included) were in the Oregonian, magazines, and info packets for Gleevec.

Every day that I enjoy now with my mom is thanks to the team at OHSU.  Dr. Druker, NP Blasdel, and everyone there are wonderful.  I’ll probably never be responsible for saving as many lives as Dr. Druker is but, hopefully when I become a doctor, I’ll be able to pay it forward to a small extent, to possibly do for others what he did for my family.

Above are pictures of a young Emily with her mother and brother shortly after Gleevec began to take effect (top) and a more shot (bottom).  Thank you so much, Emily, for letting me share your story!

return home

13 Mar

I took the overnight bus back to Philly.  I was sad to leave Boston, but I’m now grateful for a day to just get back into school mode.  John started work at 7pm last night, so I had a few hours before my 12:15am bus to do a last load of laundry and work on a few projects.

I have a habit of, when I leave a place, taking a moment to look around the room to a) scan for anything I might be forgetting (which happens seriously all the time), and 2) just kind of say goodbye to the place itself, letting my gaze rest for a few seconds on anything particularly significant.  Maybe because yesterday we received two invitations for the weddings of good friends, I let myself read over our old wedding invite, which, lovingly framed by the Shuylers, currently hangs above John’s desk.  I like to think it’s fairly nontraditional.  We came very close to doing everything in evite form, but we were informed that was tacky (I don’t know, I have no manners), so John made a simple postcard-like print, and then we did online RSVPs.

Both lovers of literature, we really wanted to include a short snappy, hopefully not overly cheesy quote (a right amount of cheese is appropriate for weddings, I think).  This I remember clearly: John suggested perhaps a modification of this quote from “Three Women,” “What did my arms do before they held you?”  (I can hear my sister gagging.)

Me: Oh God, we can’t use that.

John: Why not?  It’s sweet.

Me: Well, first of all, it’s about a newborn.  Babies are great, but I so do not want to go there.  Secondly, it’s Sylvia Plath.

John: I like Sylvia Plath.

Me: So do I.  But her marriage is not one I personally would like to emulate.  And then she put her head in an oven.  Not to be insensitive, but I’m pretty sure that disqualifies her from a wedding invite.

And so we opted for a quote from another somewhat depressed writer, James Joyce.  Not sure his marriage with Nora Barnacle was entirely ideal, but I kind of love how his obsession with her lazy eye works its way into all his fiction following their meeting.  From Ulysses, quite possibly the best book ever: “Love loves to love love.”

I couldn’t upload the pdf of our actual invite, but here’s the picture we used as the background, courtesy of the incredibly talented and wonderfully spirited Julie Napear Wichern:

Okay, be honest: who is getting sick and tired of hearing about and seeing pictures of John and me?  I have a feeling I’ll tone it down when we’re back in the same city.

get excited

12 Mar

First guest post this Monday!  It’s an incredibly moving story, and I’m so honored for the opportunity to share it.  Trust me, you don’t want to miss it!

some things to love about saturday

12 Mar

1.  I’m normally pretty good about not thinking about the things we can’t afford.  But every now and then, John and I get fixated on something totally extravagant and non-essential.  Today, it is Frye boots, and I can’t help but think back fondly on Abby and Colin’s lovely April wedding, which took place on her family’s farm in the middle of Texas.  I was the only girl there not in boots.  Getting married in boots…I love it!

They’re both chefs.  The food was out of this world!  And they sent us home with individual skillets and recipes and a leftover bottle of champagne.

2.  I’m sitting propped up bed in Boston, taking care of some house-keeping items while John works at the desk a few feet away.  We’re listening to some Iron & Wine, and I’m currently loving The Trapeze Swinger as a study song.

3.  I wish I had taken a picture of breakfast–I used so many colors!  John just made me “mystery tea.”  I’m guessing Afternoon Earl Grey, which I brought back from London a few years ago, and I have no idea how it’s still good.

4.  It’s 50 degrees and sunny in JP, perfect weather for a run around the arboretum…because, as of this week, I can go running!

5.  I want to channel this Hermione quote from the most recent HP movie, in response to Harry telling her that she’s brilliant: “Actually I’m highly logical, which allows me to look past extraneous detail and perceive clearly that which others overlook.”