Monday, October 31, 2005

Girliest Shopping Trip EVER!!!!!

So for the ladies who read this, and guys too if you want, I am going to be trying on wedding dresses this Sunday at 2 pm. We'll meet at or near my place and I'll drive, since we're heading south. I want as many people to come as possible so we can be totally frivolous!!! Woo! So get out of church, we can grab some lunch, and go be girly!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Freudian Slip

Murphy's Law would state that whenever there is an opportunity to make an ass of yourself, it will present itself, and you will take it. If the opportunity is there, you will take full advantage of it. As Murphy's Law is as big a player in my life as the Law of Gravity, which always makes me fall down, I am usually never in need of an opportunity to look foolish.

That being said, today someone else (not me, for once) made a fool of themselves. It was beautiful.

Today in PBL, yet another unnamed classmate (and extremely liberal friend) was asked to read a page from the case out loud. Yes, it's like kindergarten, only with longer words. So he's reading the results of our fictitious patient's echocardiogram, until he gets to "55-60% ejaculation fraction."

"Ejaculation fraction", not "ejection fraction".

Get it?

Since med students are all about 5 years old, we laughed for about 10 minutes, and proceeded to badger the poor boy for the remainder of the class. Yes, we're all going to hell.

On a related note, we found a copy of the classic children's book Everyone Poops in the school library today. Apparently some girl's family donated it in her memory after her death. The 5 year old med students just see the word "Poops" and have fits of hysteria again.

Wow, today is poop day. My friend Metro (see previous post) just arrived back in the library and, in between fits of laughter, related a bathroom adventure he just had that was similar to the scene from Austin Powers where he runs into Tom Arnold in the bathroom and gets attacked while Arnold thinks he'd just eaten bad Mexican food. This prompted yet another laughing attack, in the "quiet section" of the library. Wow. I guess the world really is all about dick and fart jokes.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Medical Studentitis

One of our professors recently told us of a new disease, called "Sophomore Medical Student Syndrome". This is a special disease of medical students who know just enough about the really bad shit that can happen to a person, that every time they get a headache or a tummy ache they picture all this really bad shit happening to them. It's a special form of hypochondriasis, really, with imaginary disorders floating all around and a smidgen of real science backing it up.

A good example is my friend, whom I'll call "Metro". Metro is the ultimate metrosexual man, wearing $40 designer Italian boxers under his Seven jeans. Metro has also experienced more fictitious disease than almost anyone in our class. Last year, he "suffered from" testicular cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, strokes, and a heart attack. Mind you, the man is 23 years old and in good health. Perhaps he should just have sought treatment for anxiety.

I can laugh at his experience because I've had my own experience with SMSS. Last year, I was convinced I had hypothyroidism. I even went to the doctor to get checked, and lo and behold, I had a diffuse anodular goiter (with normal thyroid function tests). Then, last summer, I SWORE I had gastritis all summer, in addition to my usual (self-diagnosed) GERD. Only my H. pylori test was negative, and eventually the Prilosec did its job.

So this morning when I woke up with a splitting, throbbing headache, my first thought was "hangover"--from the one beer I had last night with dinner. Ridiculous. After I took 600 mg ibuprofen and woke up 7 hours later, still slightly achy, I started thinking flu, cold, virus. My throat was definitely scratchy, but that could have been from dehydration due to sleeping all day. Then, I got all hot, then cold. Fever? I frantically palpated my neck looking for lymphadenopathy, and possibly found some. So am I going to die? Doubtful at this stage. I probably caught some virus going around. This fact doesn't change my searching for new symptoms, or wishing for a thermometer so I could document any fever, or asking my fiance to check my mouth for tonsillitis. *sigh* Med school makes you pathetic in many ways, including ways you would never have imagined when signing up for it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Vote No in November

In 1787, the United States Constitution was drafted; a Bill of Rights was added less than 2 years later. Citizens felt they needed certain rights to be enumerated and specifically protected. It wasn't enough to simply declare independence for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"; Americans wanted to protect themselves against potential governmental excesses, like those they had suffered under English rule. The Constitution set out the functions of the federal government, which can pass laws to govern its citizens, and the Bill of Rights gave citizens protection from that same government. In other words, constitutional amendments are the "laws" which the government must follow.

Obviously, the men who wrote the US Constitution could not anticipate all of the ways in which the world would change after their time. They could not foresee women's rights, for example, or the development of the technology to put a man on the moon. The Constitution was written to be a basic document upon which to build a country; laws are more flexible and can be added or stricken as situations change. Amendments to a constitution, national or state, should only be used in cases where the existing document fails to protect the rights of the citizens or properly define the role of the government. Even though the world today is very different than when any of these constitutions were written, these basic documents still apply.

In Texas, the Constitution is already burdened with hundreds of amendments, 174 of which have been defeated by voters. On November 8, 2005, you have the opportunity to defeat a constitutional amendment which would limit the rights of certain citizens unnecessarily. HJR 6, or Proposition 2, would define marriage as "the union of one man and one woman" and prohibit the state of Texas from "recognizing any legal status identical to or similar to marriage." If amendments to a Constitution are intended to protect and expand the rights of citizens, then this Proposition is antithetical to the very nature of a just amendment. As this amendment would also prohibit the recognition of civil unions legal in other states, it also violates Article IV of the United States Constitution, which specifies that individual states must honor the contracts issued by other states.

Voting against Proposition 2 will not legalize gay marriage in the state of Texas; homosexuals are not currently allowed to marry or enter civil unions here. If you believe this is a situation that deserves change, there are ways to fight for expanding rights for homosexual couples, and voting No in November is certainly a first step. However, voting against this amendment is not necessarily a vote for gay rights. Voting against Proposition 2 is a vote for keeping discrimination out of our state's constitution; it is also a vote for keeping religious beliefs, even those of a majority, out of our government. Conservatives should vote against this amendment to limit the excesses of a large government, and liberals should vote against this amendment to protect civil liberties of the citizens of the state of Texas. Without a constitutional amendment "defining" marriage, people in this state can continue to define marriage in whatever way they deem appropriate, legally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Keep unnecessary and discriminatory amendments out of the Texas state constitution. Vote No in November.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Positive Feedback Loop

Nature may abhor a vacuum, but she also abhors positive feedback loops. Most biological reactions are set to monitor themselves. A reaction's product may inhibit the very enzyme which makes it. Negative feedback loops control most of the metabolic processes which run our bodies. On the other hand, positive feedback loops are self-perpetuating, never-ending; they throw the system off-balance, spiralling out of control and away from that ever-present goal, homeostasis. Consequently, they are much less common.

That being said, I have discovered a new positive feedback loop in nature. I may have to publish a journal article.

What is this loop, you ask? I'll tell you. It all started with a conversation between two persons engaged to marry one another. These two persons decided "it's time to think about setting a date" (after almost 2 years of engagement). This sparked a chain of phone calls to parents, friends, potential guests, and potential members of the bridal party, to let them know "we're thinking about setting a date in June." Even at this early stage of the pathway, the reaction is amplifying itself. Note that no official date has yet been set, yet the process has taken over. Phone calls led to internet searches for wedding dresses, photographers, sites to hold the wedding, the reception, and the rehearsal dinner; internet searches led to emails, not only between the bride-to-be and her mother, but also between Inns with Beautiful Views, places with Wedding Experience and Sumptious Food, and sites with trees and chipmunks. Emails led to further phone calls and considerations of the price of invitations, save-the-date cards, bouquets, boutonnieres, hiring a salsa dance instructor, and serving brunch versus dinner at the reception. Barely a week after deciding "to think about setting a date", the betrothed couple is immersed in making appointments for dress fittings, and picking a color theme for the wedding, and considering asking a good friend to officiate so as not to offend religious family members when they offer their own pastors.

Watch as this system spirals out of control, totally unchecked. Watch as the extremely modest budget for a very small ceremony and reception is stretched out of all reality. As the chain of phone calls expands into a vast web, and the email accounts of involved parties are filled, and infinite numbers of pictures of cozy bed-and-breakfasts and dark mountain cabins and lake/mountain views crowd the bride's brain, she realizes there are over 8 months left before this event will occur in which to totally lose her mind. Is it too late to elope?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Head Like a Hole

The Nine Inch Nails concert rocked so much ass, I can't even describe it. He played "Terrible Lie", "Closer", "Hurt", "Eraser", "Head Like a Hole", "The Hand That Feeds", "Only", "Sin", "Reptile", "Burn", "Suck", "Wish", "March of the Pigs", "The Frail" + "The Wretched", "Love is Not Enough", "You Know What You Are", "The Line Begins to Blur", and a couple more songs that I can't seem to identify from my humongous playlist, although they seemed familiar. It was a jam-packed 2 hours of music, with no talking between songs. It was fucking intense. "Terrible Lie" was so fucking intense and sweet, I can't describe it. It was like having a 2 hour orgasm. Holy god, it was so fucking amazing.

And as we left, we found out the Astros won Game 6 and are headed to their first World Series. It has been a good night.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Smells Like First Years

I've been helping tutor first year students in Gross Anatomy for a couple of weeks. It's funny how quickly time moves here. Just a year ago, I was in their shoes, losing my mind over the upcoming Gross test and Biochemistry. Now, I barely remember those classes as more "doctor-y" stuff has taken over: better classes, preceptorships, the BOARDS. Gross? No biggie. But last year, these things scared the hell out of me, and so I'm trying to remember that feeling. It's like when I give tours to interviewing students who are desperately trying to get into medical school, and I am so out of touch with their stress. Getting in here? Easy! Getting out of here will be the hard part. I am not so upbeat about the BOARDS, you see. I registered for the test the other day, and I thought I would hyperventilate. The TEST to end all tests, determining my fate, etc. Dammit, I'm probably going into primary care; I'm not going into Derm in New York or at Johns Hopkins. My board score will not matter too much, especially if I keep my grades where they've been at. But because medical students are inherently Type A and neurosis-prone, I worry. This test is not for 7 months, but I'm already freaking out.

I've added a new stress to my life: planning for a wedding. I've been engaged for 1.5 years now, and we're just now getting to where we can set a date. We're looking at June 2006, right after I take the BOARDS. Some weekend soon, I'm going to go have a girly day at David's Bridal and try on wedding dress after wedding dress, hoping against hope to find one that doesn't make me look like a short, wide snowman. I may find one with an accent of color, just so I don't wash totally out (white is sooo not my color, I'm way too pale). I think we should have brunch first, then go be girly (girlie?).

That reminds me of a funny funny story my sister told me earlier. She and I are both wicked, wicked spelling and grammar fiends. Put a page of type in front of either of us, and our eyes immediately jump to the one misspelled word on the page. Their/they're/there errors make me wish to claw my eyes out, as do its/it's errors and improper apostrophe usage. So the story: she got an email from a fellow employee which gave some complicated directions, then said "Sorry for the incontinence." Oops. Someone who relied upon spellcheck accidentally told the entire City of Lubbock (who read their email, which means the small percent of city employees who are actually literate) that he was sorry for the accidental release of urine or feces. This, chilluns, is why they teach us spelling and vocabulary in elementary school.

Well, I thought it was funny, anyway.

So what is it with medical students who can't read? Seriously, there are some kiddoes in my PBL groups where we have to read out loud who sound like they're being tortured at the stake. Some people will skip words, or read the wrong word instead of the correct one, and not realize it until later in the sentence when it makes no sense. Some consistently leave off the ends of words or syllables in the middle of words, like "cellular" into "cellar". These are all minor offenses, I admit, but they are repeated so often that they just grate into my poor little OCD soul. Pronunciation is a huge issue, too. Medical terms are complicated. Try saying "dysdiadochokinesia" twenty times fast, or "metoproterenol". I love these words, however. For the most part, these words come from Latin or Greek and are pronounced phonetically. I can't believe I just admitted that aloud (or in writing, anyway), because now I am officially a SuperGeek. Yes, I like to say medical words because they sound cool. Is there a 12-step program for this?

One more observation for this post: Never underestimate the power of medical students to make you feel badly about yourself in some capacity. We all have such huge egos that we are never, ever satisfied with what we've done. Case in point: I make good grades, and I know a lot of fellow students who HATE me for that. They also hate that I leave tests early (I'm a fast reader), and like to point this out to me. In turn, I feel like a horrible person every time I hear some other student talk about this or that huge charity event they sponsored, or the medical mission trip they took over the summer. One of my friends was in the Peace Corps for a whole year. It makes me feel like an ungrateful middle-class Caucasian. Actually, I do quite a bit of volunteer work, but not nearly as much as I'd like to. Other medical students are well-traveled, taking random summer trips to China, Thailand, South America, Europe, etc. I feel so incredibly uncultured and poor. I went to Germany and Austria once on a band trip, doesn't that count? A 4th year said the other day "I try to leave the country once a year". Damn, isn't that expensive? And a hassle? (Yes, I realize that's a sentence fragment; let's get past that, shall we?) So, I'm a nerdy, untraveled, uncultured, ungrateful, uncharitable white girl. *sigh* I just regret too much. Every road I've never taken, I regret. Any opportunity I could have had and missed out on, I miss. Especially, now, the opportunity to do anything with my life other than medical school. (Actually, not, but I had to lighten the mood somehow.)

Now, I will go cook dinner, and go see Nine Inch Nails(!!!!!!!!!!) this evening in concert. Jealous? You should be!

Friday, October 14, 2005


So I thought I would christen my blog with some random tales from medical school. They'll be short and sweet, and may contain gratuitous gross anatomy references (not for the faint of heart).

  • Our class has a gentleman whom I shall refer to as "The Cropduster". He is a fairly obese young man with an apparently chronic gastrointestinal disorder (he farts all the time). The odor of his flatulence was such that his own gross anatomy tankmates told him "if you're going to do that, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE." So, about halfway through the semester, Cropduster would wander the 7 tanks of the D section, admiring bodies and dissections here and there, and allowing his pungence to overtake the unsuspecting. I swear, the stench of his farts was such that one day, all 5 of us at my tank fell silent in mid-conversation (we were usually extremely loud) and stayed that way for several minutes, as we were all afraid to open our mouths due to the smell. You know a fart is bad when it overpowers the subtle scent of cadaver.
  • One of my most vivid memories of gross lab was from the day we hemisected the pelvis. To the uninitiated, this means cutting inward from the hip to the navel, then down through the perineum, removing an entire leg from the hip down. Our sophisticated removal tool was a hacksaw. My tankmate FunnyGuy was hungover, and the only one of us with the balls to volunteer for the job. When the saw finally made it all the way through B's skin, we were left with a very dirty leg. Other tanks were washing their legs in the sink, so I carried a human leg to the sink, rinsed it off thoroughly, and carried it back. We did things to our cadavers in anatomy lab that the lay population would be arrested for.
  • Gross anatomy lab had an unexpected side effect: for some reason, nothing stimulated my appetite like working in the lab. Someone told me formaldehyde increases the appetite. I don't know, but I was always STARVING when I left the lab. Then, also, we found ourselves occasionally comparing our cadaver's flesh to cuts of meat: ribs, wings, etc. God help me, but I had never wanted BBQ ribs so badly in my life as when we dissected the thoracic cavity.
  • Eli at Ah Yes, Medical School has a fabulous post on hypertalkers. Our class is almost entirely the opposite in actual lectures. Usually, a lecturer will ask "Do you have any questions?" at the end of a lecture, only to be greeted with PGA golf course silence. However, we do have one exception. Let me call him "Kiss-Up". KU decided to be the "tech guy" for our class, racing to the front whenever something went wrong with the portable mikes, the laser pointer, or the computer hookup for the PowerPoint slides. At first, he fulfilled his duties with disgusting enthusiasm, licking a little ass on the lecturer while he replaced batteries, turned off lights, etc. After a while, though, he grew weary of his duties, preferring to play computer games on his laptop (he sits in the front row, so everyone can see that he's playing games during lecture). He'll get so absorbed in his games that the batteries will go out, the lecturer will go silent, and nearly 100 people (out of 205) start hollering "[Kiss-Up]!!!" He's the same guy who got up and blatantly moved away when the AIDS patient came to class to talk about life with HIV. He's the same guy who was practicing taking a blood pressure on my friend, and left the cuff inflated for 5 minutes, while my friend watched his arm turning blue. KU also asked out about half the girls in the class during the first few weeks. When one girl turned down his invitation to hear the Star Wars theme music played by the Symphony due to her status as an engaged woman, he became outraged and demanded to see her ring. I like to add, at this stage in this story, that 1) it was gross anatomy day, so she wasn't wearing her enormous ring, and 2) this was going on in the middle of a lecture. This same fine upstanding citizen gets through with tests early and CLICKS his mechanical pencil lead down, SLAMS his seat back, stretches and yawns, then BANGS the chair in, flutters his papers around, and finally proceeds to the front to turn in his test. This guy is going to be your future doctor, people. We're all praying he hears the call of the pathology lab when choosing a residency.
  • We had a class argument one day in a lecture about "Asking Religious Questions in the History and Physical Exam". If this wasn't doomed to failure at the get-go, the lecturer was a super-nice lady, far too nice to halt an argument in its tracks. What was the argument? Whether a doctor should witness to his/her patients. By witness, I do mean "sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Savior" to the patients. We had one gentleman who heatedly claimed his right as a spiritual healer, not only a physical healer, who said he would surely tell his patients about God. It got so out of hand that the course director added a question to the final exam: "True/False: It is appropriate to share unsolicited personal religious beliefs with a patient during a visit" (hint: the answer is false). Other members of the class couldn't figure out why a patient might get nervous if, while waiting to enter the operating room (OR, for those who watch "ER"), a doctor asks if he might pray with the patient prior to surgery. Mind you, this is a patient with whom religion has never been discussed. "But how could that possibly offend anyone of Jewish/Muslim/Buddhist/atheist beliefs?" Also your future doctors, people.
  • We were all disappointed to learn one day that the famed G spot does not exist, according to a histology instructor. Apparently, G spot stimulation produces friction in the urethra, which is actually painful but interpreted as pleasure (similar to chili, I suppose). I had to conclude, based on personal experience, that the lecturer had never experienced said stimulation and/or orgasm from the G spot, or she would never have been able to say this while keeping a straight face.
  • We were also saddened to learn that the Y chromosome is a "genetic wasteland" full of "junk DNA". The only thing the Y chromosome does is make an XY zygote a male. It also carries the genes to give a man hairy ears. That was an exam question.

So much of what happens in med school can be so funny, but the outside world is either unamused or appalled. I will vent later about my feelings about the first year of medical school and how utterly useless it is. A big milestone of the first year is gross anatomy, where they expect us to come to terms with death. Most of us do it with humor. Our cadaver's "name" was B, and we decided that she liked to play bridge with the other cadavers when no one was looking. How else do you forget that your cadaver died younger than all of your living grandparents? When we rolled her over onto her back after the first lab, and discovered that she'd had a double radical mastectomy (her card said "60 year old female, breast cancer, brain metastasis, multiple organ failure"), we had to joke about having no boobs, how lucky she was to have no breasts in her way, and make fun of other tanks with random breasts floating around in their water. Otherwise, it was too sad. I think we learn to detach too far. At what point in the middle is safe, safe from depression at the death and tragedy but also safe from the coldness?

To save the philosophy for another entry, one more quickie humorous moment: a classmate found an article for PBL about using different sexual positions to resume an active sex life following an MI (heart attack). You can find the abstract here. Of course, I should add that I find it amusing that such an article was funded and written, NOT the fact that the patient in the case was concerned about her sex life. Another of my classmates was decidedly amused that a 50-year-old woman, post-MI, would be concerned about her sexual abilities. Wow, man, I hope you are never 50 years old and wanting to get laid. Of course, in his mind, I suppose it's different, since guys have Viagra, and nobody wants to sleep with 50-year-old women. No, I'm not bitter. Not at all.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Obligatory First Entry

Here's where I say hello, world, nice ta meetcha, welcome to my corner of the blogosphere. Ugh. Brief intro: 23 yo med student, engaged, living in sin, have small dog, will travel. I hope to use this to vent stress about med school, although I cannot hope to be as funny as those who have gone before me (the underwear drawer, I pay homage to you). I also hope to write things that matter to me, better than my old livejournal.