Friday, October 30, 2009

Week 12 : Done

The weeks continue to roll on by and the end of the semester looms ominously. Week 19 will be here before too long.

Anatomy: Still the Winner
Just wrapped up the thorax. Again, the dissection was incredible. I held a human heart in my hands. (!?!) The prof wasn't so thrilled when I reenacted "Temple of Doom."

Wearing the costume to class might
have been a little over the top.

I Am Amusing, Insensitive
So, the H1N1 flu has made the rounds at school. It seems to have abated now but a couple of weeks ago, tons of people were out. I didn't see one of my classmates for several days and just assumed that he had the swine flu (la gripa porcina). When he finally made it back to class, I we had the following brief conversation:
"So, man, are you back from the dead?," I asked innocently enough.
His face twisted in a funny sort of way that immediately made me feel a pit in my stomach. His was an expression that foretold that this conversation wouldn't end well for me.
"I'm not dead ... my wife's grandmother is the one who's dead. I was at the funeral," he tells me.
"I. Am. So. Sorry," I offer. "My condolences. I thought you were out with the flu."
"No, we were at the funeral."
"But I thought you had the flu...that's why I said...," I spoke, trailing off into awkward silence.
We nodded at each other and went our separate ways.

Next Week: 5 Tests!
So, my Halloween plans have been replaced. Instead of rocking the Charlie from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" costume, I'll be attending a party at my desk and dressing as an overstressed 1st year medical student with five tests next week. In true dedication to the costume, I'll keep my stinking face in a stinking book.

Next Friday at about 12:05pm PST, however, I'll be dressed as a guy with a thirst for beer who's ready to ride the wings of the dragon through the cosmos.

Happy Birthday to Winning Run
Wish my sweetness was here. Or that I was there.
Love is a dress that you made
Long to hide your knees
Love to say this to your face
I love you only
For your days and excitement
What will you keep for to wear?
Someday drawing you different
May I be weaved in your hair

Love and some verses you hear
Say what you can say
Love to say this in your ear
I'll love you that way
From your changing contentment
What will you choose for to share?
Someday drawing you different
May I be weaved in your hair

"Love and Some Verses" - Iron & Wine

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tough One

So, last week in our Community and Behavioral Medicine class, we had a few lecturers come and speak to us about Child Abuse and how we, as physicians, can recognize signs of it and take actions to safeguard the children. I gotta say that after sitting through three hours of photos and case studies of physical and sexual abuse, I was ready to form a posse and dispense some frontier justice.

Seems like everyone was in a pretty good mood going into the class and just crushed and defeated at the end of it. Guess this being a doctor thing has its share of grim reality, huh? It isn't always a sunny outlook before the end credits roll and the commercials air.

Kudos to the folks out there who are fighting this stuff and working to protect kids on a daily basis.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rodeo Daze

Today's shit was so far over my head that I took the rodeo approach: try to hang on for 8 seconds before you're thrown off. Then, quickly dust yourself off, run like hell for the fences, and let the clowns take over.

People were wondering why I was dressed like a bull-rider. They were even more confused when I sprinted from the room after 10 seconds of lecture.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Probably Not Going to Be Eating Crab Legs for a While...

Today's anatomy lab was another first for me. We removed the arms from the cadaver and put them with the other parts in the bin. It was pretty strange to use a hacksaw to cut off a limb and stranger still to put them in a RubberMaid bin with everything else from the body.

Afterward, we removed the front of the thoracic cage so that we could get to the lungs and remove them. Part of this entailed cutting the ribs with a pair of pliers or snips. Let's just say that based on the auditory and tactile experience of cutting human ribs with a handheld tool, it's going to be a long, long time before I sit down to a plate of you-crack-'em crab legs. It sounded and felt EXACTLY the same.

The lungs, however, are super cool. Even without drawn butter.

So, I Might Be a Little Tired...

After a late night to studying, I got up, showered, and lumbered into the kitchen to make coffee. I pulled out the filter and began to fill it. When it was halfway full, I noticed that instead of ground coffee, I was loading it with Splenda which has no coffee aroma and is the exact opposite color.

Nothing like a hot cup of freshly-brewed Splenda water!

Three on the...Right?
Yesterday in anatomy, our prof lectured about fetal lung development and, generally, about the structure of the lungs in the thoracic cavity. At one point, he mentioned utters the phrase "three on the right" and throws three fingers on his right chest. Supposedly, he meant to give us a quick way to recall that the right lung has three lobes versus the left's two.

Based, however, on the fact that I co-invented "three on the left" signal to indicate that one had "Turned the Fun Corner." Obviously, "three on the right" is a clear indication that someone needs an ass-beating. I let him slide this time. Next time, however, the gloves come off.

Disbanding the Army
Today in Anatomy Lab, we're supposed to detach the arms from our cadaver and put them in the body bin. I'm really honing my skills here. Hobos beware.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Almost Halfway Through the First Semester

Monday marks the beginning of the 9th week of this semester, approximately the halfway point. Honestly, things are all running together. Weeks seemingly fly by but, strangely, an hour can seem like an eternity to get something done. For example, a good fifteen minutes can be prime study time to review something in advance of a test or to get in a great, refreshing nap. That time seems to be moving on a couple of different scales is a little odd. It is what it is, I suppose.

Every Week Is Finals Week
Part of the struggle is that each week has a few exams. Seems like feedback from last year's class led to some changes which led to some unexpected consequences for my class: major tests almost every stinking week. A few days ago, someone remarked that they were trying to explain the stress to some friends. They approached it like this:
"Remember how we'd get all stressed out and study like crazy for finals? That's every week for us."
Personally, I think it's an accurate statement.

So Long, Frank the Farmer
For the "upper limb" section in anatomy, I'd worked with a new group on "Frank, the Farmer." A muscular older gentleman with a well-preserved body. Simply put, the shoulder, arm, forearm, wrist, and hand are amazingly complex but perfectly assembled. Seriously, the brachial plexus that sends nerves to everything in the region is amazing. The musculature is kick-ass. Obviously, you can feel how the tendons from your forearm make their way into your hand to control how your hand and fingers move. To see and tug on these things during dissection is another matter: ultimately cool. It really was like looking at a marionette or something.

That's me holding the paper and looking over might right shoulder at you.

My only problem during dissection was cutting into the hand. Specifically, removing the fingernails made me gag a little. My eyes started to water and, while talking, my voice did the funny "I'm about to throw up" sort of gurgle. Luckily, my team did a little distraction (obvious but effective) while they removed the nails so we could get down to the bones of the finger without the added insult of me vomiting on the cadaver.

The lab exam for this section was intense but so stinking cool. At one point, I walk up to a body and the only thing exposed from under the sheet was a dissected forearm and hand (positioned as if gripping an invisible tennis ball). Easily, it could've been a scene from a horror movie but, now, it's quite normal. As I walked up to it for my 60-second attempt to ID the tagged body part, I thought about how effing cool it is to be doing what I'm doing. Pretty awesome. Then, for my answer, I wrote "femur." I'm sure I passed.

Apples In Stereo
On Saturday, several of us went to a local apple orchard with our Medical Spanish group to visit with the migrant workers and get a better understanding of their daily jobs. We took hot coffee and pan dulce from one of the local shops. Holy smokes, these people work so hard. Offer a little thanks the next time you eat any fruit or vegetable, migrant labor got it onto your table.

Tree full of apples.

We weren't supposed to eat the ones off this tree.
I did and became embarrassed of my own nakedness.
(My classmates, however, were already weirded out by my nudity.)

In the orchards, everything is harvested by hand so as not to bruise the apples. These guys and women (some several months pregnant) wear bags that they fill with between 30 and 50 pounds of apples before carefully unloading them into a huge crate. It takes about 30 sacks full to fill a crate. In a day, a fast picker can fill 10 crates. Not only do they work quickly, they're expected to pick the apples without bruising them or breaking off the stems. If they do either one, they get a "demerit," three demerits gets you a "slip." If you receive a couple of slips, you're looking for another job. If I had no quality control levels to hit, I could probably fill three or four crates before falling onto my ass from exhaustion. Afterward, I'd likely be unable to move for days due to intense back and shoulder pain. It was amazing to witness. Be thankful for what you've got, you know.

Up This Week
Exams in Microbiology, BioChemistry, Epidemiology, and Physiology! Friday will be here before I know it.