Archive | September, 2011


18 Sep

Running twice in the last three weeks then sleeping four hours last night was a great strategy, because I PR-ed at 2:03:35 in this morning’s half marathon.  It also probably helped that, after my most recent round of IV Venofer (iron infusions), my hemoglobin has not been this high in over a year: 12.7 baby, yeah!

Compared to my classmates, running warriors that they are, my time was nothing to write home about, but I do feel a little proud that I finished in the top third of all the women running today and of my age division.  One day, I’ll break two hours.

So, the funniest thing happened.  As you know, I’m pretty much anti-pain, so I don’t like to push myself all that much…I kind of trot along, and if I think a cramp might be coming on, I slow down.  Running is pleasant this way…listening to a freakish amount of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry makes it even better.  So I felt pretty okay for the first 13 miles.  Then, I don’t really know what happened/got into me, but I felt so great at 13 miles that I thought to myself, Hell, let’s sprint the last tenth of a mile.

What an idiot.  No sooner did my legs seem to make this decision for me that this wave of some sort of foul-smelling material came over me.  Totally nauseating.  But of course, I was so close to the finish, I couldn’t get myself to slow down, and I just let myself run as I felt the retroperistalsis in my abdomen.  I crossed the finish line, and then I vomited, twice.  Classy.

I met up with a bunch of MS2s on the steps of Art Museum.

Me: None of you saw me finish, did you?

Ben L: No, did you throw up?

Me (shocked): How’d you guess?

Ben: There’s vomit still stuck on your cheek.

Cyndi was sweet enough to wipe it off with water that had melted from her bag of ice.

We’re now a frightful eight days from our cardio exam–like with these races, I frequently ask myself regarding med school, How the hell did I get myself into this mess??  Today’s been pretty much blown, because the amount of energy/inspiration I have to do work post-race is next to nil.  I’m comforted only by the fact that at least I thought about Bernoulli’s principle several times throughout the run as the mean velocity of the runners had to vary inversely (somewhat) with the changing width of the course.  I might have even related it to Peripheral Artery Disease.  That totally counts.


16 Sep

anna in med school has been a bit light on the whole “med school” component.  I promise, I’m still going.  Things have pretty great, actually, though I think I need to make more of a conscious effort to be a good decent student.  I really like cardio.  Even though Dr. H refers to the heart as “just a dumb pump,” it’s a pretty gnarly organ, so clearly fundamental to…well…everything.  And, double bonus, it’s amazing to me that after only 3.5 weeks of this organ block, I already understand so much more about what John sees at work on a day-to-day basis.  He picked me up at the train station last night and was jabbering about some dude he saw with ST elevation (a portion of the EKG above where it should be when compared with other structures, indicating damage to the heart, particularly infarction)…and it occurred to me, Holy Shit, I actually understand all the words he’s saying right now.  (I think I had kind of gotten used to understanding only about 80%, if I’m lucky, of what John describes regarding work.)  So, in summary, this is important stuff, and I should learn it.

The past weekend was filled with two house-warmings (my friends are buying houses….dude!), a 30th birthday celebration, lots of cheap yoga, an attempt through the supposedly original recipe for Skyline Chili (it’s good, but not Skyline), and not enough study or sleep (though valiant efforts were made).  This weekend I’m apparently running a little race with Sara on next to no training save that 5K at 8,000 feet in honor of Caitlin and Chris.  Full patient history exam today, then cardio exam a week from Monday.  Then we’ll be a quarter done with our last preclinical semester.  !!!

A couple randoms:

My gorgeous city:

photo by e.r.

One of the many reasons to dig Art Caplan and to be proud to be a part of the Penn Bioethics community (click on link to read more about how hard he rocks).  And we have Zeke Emanuel as head of the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy…gotta love him and his brothers, or at least one of them?

the best card

15 Sep

I should rephrase, because this summer has blessed me with some pretty terrific hand-written correspondence (love to my pen pals in England, Boston, and Virginia!)…but this card from Erica was just the kind of pick-me-up I needed at the end of a long day.

Appropriately, today we practiced how to deal with difficult patients, including those who hit on their student-doctors.  I can only hope that, should I ever receive flirtations as an expression of appreciation by patients, they’ll be similar to some that John experienced during residency.  An elderly woman with an arrhythmia once told him, “Honey, my heart skips a beat every time you walk in the room.”  A gay gentleman inquired, gesturing toward John, “Who is that?  Who is Dr. Delish??!”  I was less amused when a forty-something told him repeatedly, a few months post-wedding, “I’m telling you, you can get that shit annulled!”

then and now

13 Sep

It’s hard to believe that almost exactly a year ago we were donning our HUP scrubs and nitrile gloves for the first time, preparing to meet the body we would soon refer to as Samson:

photo by Candace diCarlo

Reminiscing about anatomy at our monthly table six potluck:

Happy birthday, Christina!

two years ago…

12 Sep

…John and I chose to spend the rest of our lives together.  Then we celebrated with feast and revelry and our favorite people in the world.

This time last year was very different.  I celebrated our one year over embryology, cell and tissue bio, and genetics study materials in preparation for the next day’s examinations.  Jon and Jamie were kind enough to have me over to a fantastic dinner at their home while John and Alon went white water rafting.  It was a great day, but now I’m looking forward to spending anniversary number two with my main squeeze in the same city, under the same roof.  (And it’s the first day of restaurant week!!)

Nothing could be better.  Two years…we’ve lasted longer than Helen Hunt and Hank Azaria; we’re on our way.  But in all seriousness, thank you, John.  I love our life together.



in september 2001

11 Sep

I remember being told that it would be for our generation analogous to the Kennedy assassination: “Where were you on 9/11?”

I was a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, eight miles from the Pentagon.  Some students who happened to be outside, attending PE class or perhaps arriving late and still parking their car, claimed to have seen a plane flying unusually low.  I was signed into the library during first period because I enrolled in online statistics with a former teacher who had taken a position at Cal Tech.  The first thing I remember was one of the librarians turning on the television a few minutes before 9am; slowly, more and more people gathered around the image of the smoking North Tower.  We watched in silent disbelief as the second plane plunged into the South Tower.

Things get fuzzy after that.  I remember going to my other classes (geosystems, whatever I had during fifth period, government), but it was like attending class on the last day of school: nothing is taught; no one is focused.  I don’t remember when we heard about the Pentagon, whether it was a circulating rumor or a formal announcement over the intercom.  Secretary phone lines were being used to call family and loved ones.   I felt shaken seeing some of my usually stoic peers in tears, frantically trying to get a hold of their parents who worked at the Pentagon, before cell phones were widely used.  I had a bulky car phone that, thank God, was actually working that day, and I was able to get in contact with my dad who had received word that my brother in NYC was evacuated and safe.

Field hockey practice (like all after-school extracurriculars) was canceled, and Ashley and I drove straight home after last period.  I remember feeling taken aback by how clear the sky was, how empty the roads were, and how some radio channels still bothered playing music at all.

I believe only one TJ student, a freshman at the time, had a parent who was killed on September 11th, 2011; he was on the flight that crashed into the Pentagon.  A lovely service was held for him at Arlington Cemetery in February 2002.

Today my heart is with the loved ones of those who perished due to the attacks of September 11th, with the cities of New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville.  I can’t believe it’s been ten years.

carnegie hall in may?

10 Sep

So, I was just offered a contracted position to sing with the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, May 2012.  It’s Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe.  Right smack in the middle of clerkships.  I have until September 30th to decide.

Thoughts?  Do we think med school will release me for a couple Friday and Saturday night performances?

I feel like I keep grasping at performances, thinking they’ll be my last.  While I might be able to swing it in med school, I do think residency will make participating in a choir somewhat impossible.  Am I a total idiot if I agree to this?

I should pause to recognize that I am very much tickled pink by this unexpected opportunity.  In the words of the great Albus Dumbledore: “Ah, music…A magic far beyond all we do here!”

carnegie hall, during my tfc days...