May 30, 2007

So, you wanna be a Caribbean med student?

If you want to read about my adventures in New England, scroll down. With limited access to high speed (my precioussss), I'm doing chain blog posts.

I'm supplying tidbits of what I think would be useful information to incoming medical students because being shipped off to the middle of nowhere is scary when you have no idea what to expect.

Your first stop should be ValueMD, which is one of the most useful places for SGU information that you can find. Remember to do a search and remember that "What are my chances and here are my stats posts" don't tend to be appreciated by the membership, even if they are so VERY tempting. I probably did one myself.

Here is my info for those who don't feel like scrolling back through med school finals panicking, pleading for episodes of House before iTunes FINALLY decided to pick it up, and my drive across the USA in winter to try to find out relevant SGU info...

I began at St George's University School of Medicine (SGUSOM) in January of 2007. I've finished all courses except biochemistry, the final for which I have to take in August because I'm an idiot (you can scroll back for that story). I graduated with a B.S. from UC Davis in March of 2004 with high honors and a 3.54 GPA. I took the MCAT twice, which in retrospect was incredibly stupid, and scored a 29O the first time and a 27T the second time (D'oh!).

Common convention, *especially* if you are applying to American medical schools, dictates that you should NOT retake the MCAT unless there is some stellar reason things went wrong on the first one and you think you can do much better. Retaking and getting a lower score is a big old red flag to admissions committees.

I was a resident of California, which along with New York and Canada, are exquisitely difficult places to get into med school, even if you are sporting far better stats than mine (for US schools, my GPA/MCAT would be considered on the low end of competitive, and moreso because of the lower second MCAT score).

SGU's averages, which I'm too lazy to look up, are posted on the web sites. It also gives the international breakdown of its membership.

I initially applied for the August 2006 class, finalizing all my application materials, I believe if I recall correctly, in April. SGU is becoming increasingly competitive and its stats are raising, so apply as early as possible since, like most American schools (can't speak for Canada), the school is on rolling admissions.

I heard that I was approved for an interview relatively quickly after everything was finalized, but after the interview, it took me 8-9 weeks to hear back. UNLIKE US schools, if you are put on the waitlist for SGU and do not make it, you will (if things are the same), be offered a spot in the next class.

On the interview... formats differ. Some people are told not to dress up (do so anyway) and meet their interviewers for a 20 minute interview at Starbuck's, 10 minutes of which is taken up by the mandatory writing sample you do while there.

My interview took place at a conference room at the Kaiser hospital where my interviewer worked. They tend to use SGU grads and will try to find the ones closest to your area, which in my cases, was about a 3 hour drive away. My interview was fairly formal, but concluded with my interviewer essentially telling me all the things that were horrible about Grenada. Hmm...

I also attended two open houses, which are not necessary, but are fun if you're in the area, tend to allow you to meet a member of the faculty, talk to current 3rd/4th years or residents, and see nice pictures. Hey, and free notepads.

I heard back on my interview largely by harassing my admissions counselor via the phone. After your interview, I'd recommend giving it about four weeks, and then call once a week to check up. I heard via mail long after I heard via phone, and in some cases, your "acceptance" will be in the form of receiving a financial aid packet out of nowhere, but in my case, the financial aid packet took forever to come, and when it did, was via email. Shrug.

On financial aid, I can only tell you what applies to US residents, since I am one and all... You can take out two types of Stafford loans, subsidized and unsubsidized, for a grand total of 18500 a year, which is nowhere near the amount you need, but is not credit-based unless you've defaulted on student loans. SGU is divided into 5 "years", which is still 4 years, so stop asking; it's a loan thing.

You have several options for the rest of your loans. Ever since the GradPlus loans became available, it would seem that most US students go through those. There are credit requirements with the GradPlus loans, but tend to require no open derogatory accounts, and nothing bad in the last two years, and I don't *believe* go on the 650 credit score required by other lenders, but I could be wrong. For credit problems, start EARLY and go to CreditBoards. Read the newbie forums first. Depending on your credit issue, do-it-yourself credit repair seems to take an average of about a year and requires quite a bit of work, but it's worth it in the end. I dragged my score up by 100 points, personally.

That isn't an advertisement by the way. It's a free website that helped me a LOT and doesn't offer credit suicide suggestions like consolidation. The FCRA is your friend. Most collection services really like violating it with impunity, which is good news for you if you know what to do with it, and death for you if you think they're entitled to break federal laws because you're a bad horrible person who incurred debt and deserve whatever fate spins for you.

They give a credit seminar at SGU once you're a student, btw, which I found to be full of false information and a few somewhat insulting assumptions. I wouldn't *advise* anyone to skip what is supposed to be a mandatory event... never. I'd just strongly imply it.

Once you get your acceptance, you'll also be sent medical and housing forms. I don't know what the housing options are now, since I don't think Grand Anse is being offered to first termers anymore, and I'm not sure if they're going to re-close it for good, since they were offering singles to upper termers at truly unreasonable high cost for next term. Chances are, you'll wind up sharing a double in one of the superdorms at True Blue. I'll link the pictures inn the next blog.

On the medical forms, it's a good idea to fill them out as much as possible and get whatever you can done, but in *my* experience, and don't hold me to this, things like completion of the Hep B series etc are not *necessary* for first term registration, but are a good idea to get out of the way. Also, be prepared for the school to lose your medical paperwork (and transcripts, and in my case, MCAT scores) so have backup copies of everything.

To be continued with travel to Grenada (which I'm looking forward to being MUCH more difficult in August), life in Grenada/at SGU, and first term classes. Ciao!

Ahhhh... wireless

But not at temp home. Tsk.

I'm sitting at a Borders in the not-so-small town of Nashua, stocking up on reading material, downloaded episodes of Scrubs (but not the season finale of House yet, alas, not posted), and fast-loading webpages. Yes, that's right; high speed internet is more addictive than heroin, and removal from it causes seizures, headaches, crying jags, and a shuddering return to the written word.

I'm thoroughly enjoying New England though, largely because I've never spent a significant amount of time here, and it's pretty and about as far removed as you can get from the Caribbean without being in Siberia. Not that I don't like Grenada; don't get me wrong, but after the traumas of finals week and a long time on the island, you long for a pine tree. You'll see what I mean.

So far, my impression is that a great deal of the local New England (mainly, southern New Hampshire, northern Mass, and eastern Vermont) looks like a giant historical preservation site like Old Salem, Old Sacramento and other historical places with the initials "O.S.", but that doesn't end really until you get into outer Nashua, though sure enough, when you get into inner Nashua, we go right back to brick buildings, Bank of Americas in what appears to be an old farmhouse, and so forth.

I've been doing mini car trips to explore, and am hoping to get up to Maine to drive along the coastline and eat real Atlantic lobster to see how it holds up against the bugs bagged in SoCal of the spiny variety. It's hard to imagine anything tasting better than that.

Here's some New England:

These are buildings I specifically liked, but for the most part, this whole area either looks like the above, or looks like heavy red riding hood type woods. Quite nice if not for the lack of high speed internet and cell phone reception, both of which, as mentioned, I can get in a developing nation in the middle of nowhere.

And here's one of the neighbors. He and his girlfriend visit the back porch around 7 every night (whoops, we're late!), occasionally tapping on the glass insistently to remind me that they'd like to be fed. I've gotten them both eating out of my hand, and in the female's case, eating my toe upon apparently thinking it was edible:

May 28, 2007

Happy Memorial Day!!

And I have a good excuse for not updating this time! First of all, I've been place hopping, now in New Hampshire and lazing a good old time, plus LOVING New England and all its groovy buildings, but more crucially, I only currently have access to a dial up and no wireless because I'm with my mother; she lives out in the boondocks, and she's trying to force Comcast to set up here.

By the way, yes, I have pointed out the humor in the fact that I live on a developing nation, aka, rock in the Caribbean cut off from the world save a 90 mile hop to Venezuela, and I get better hookups than she does in good ol' Amerika.

For those keeping track, my mom's been traveling a bit herself and landed here because upon taking her up on her offer to put me up over the summer, I threw a temper tantrum when she suggested Florida, aka Grenada North, But With Crime (and McDonald's!)

So I'll do a more substantial update, with pictures even! (promises promises) on Wednesday when I'm going to explore a cute little town which has a cute little Borders Books with a cute little wifi connection which I shall exploit with impunity while downloading the next episode of House because no high speed internet *also* carries with it no cable television. The horror.

But for the time being... what you need to know... I'll probably do a recap of my earliest post for the panicked applicants desperately trying to find out info on the island before August and then I'll wax about touring the countryside since I'm no longer on the Rock. What's funny is that if you read the beginning of this blog, you could pretty much see it as half America travel guide and half whining about medical school, specifically biochemisty.

Ah, but at least while watching Scrubs on my laptop (somethings never change), I got the Acute Intermittant Porphyria reference. I guess biochem still rings a few bells.

May 21, 2007


Si, toco la guitarra.

I left my Takamine Jasmine guitar in the Caribbean for two reasons; one because of American Eagle's horrific luggage restrictions (70 lbs is IT), which caused numerous students to wind up leaving the overweight limits of their belongings on the counter at American Airlines only to have it later thrown away; and two, because with what various baggage apes have already done to my hard case, I figured it was only a matter of time before they smashed it, and my guitar, into splinters.

So the Jasmine sits in storage, destrung, and hopefully to survive so that I can play it in August.

But this left me the promise of a summer sans guitar, which was unacceptable, and since I got the Jasmine over 10 years ago, and while it has impressive sound quality for a very beginning guitar, it's still a very beginning guitar.

Dad and I buzzed over to Greensboro to the nearest Guitar Center and grabbed an upgraded Takamine, and who the hell would have thought I could get a guitar with a solid cedar top for under 300 bucks? And I managed to ambivalent my way (yeah, it's all right; not bad sound quality as my heart is racing with love for this instrument) down to 350 for guitar, hard case, silk/steel strings, and 9V batteries (for my tuner) and that includes the tax. Booyah.

Ah, how I love my guitar... and then it was dinner at Outback. REAL BEEF!!!! The return of the "I got beef that DOESN'T poison me" dance. For some reason, a good deal of the Caribbean beef is the relative consistency of pate, which can't be right, despite the fact that I know for a fact they have cows because I have seen them by the side of the road, and in Lance aux Epines, Dave and I nearly got run over by them.

I've still been having some trouble sleeping. I swear, it's like medical school has traumatized me in some way. I have trouble getting to sleep, trouble sleeping through the night, and in that state of susceptibility between sleep and waking, manage to convince myself of things like "Shit, I have to study the perineum and learn it well in the next week." Upon waking? "No I don't... I'm done with anatomy. I don't have to study the perineum until I'm prepping for the USMLEs, brain."

And last night it was something about learning or teaching biochem while living on a big grounded ship in Grenada. Why? Who knows...

So this isn't too restful, as you might imagine, which is why I'm writing this approximately 50 minutes after awakening at 2 PM. Sigh.

But I'll tackle it. I apparently still just need some wind down, and what better way to get than then playing guitar.

American Airlines sent me an email promising me 10K frequent flier miles for the inconvenience they put me through, though they were only referring to the delay in Grenada and not the delay in San Juan, the two breakfast vouchers (the second of which I couldn't even use) and having to potentially PAY for a pillow and blanket, not to mention having to argue over whether I'd have to be charged for their incompetence, so I'm probably going to still write them a little love note expressing my satisfaction.

What's funny is that on Thursday, I'm flying up to New Hampshire to hang out with my mom, a fact that I *did not even consider* when buying my guitar. Damn that 70 lb weight requirement! So, I looked up the Southwest airlines website to see what kind of finagling I was going to have to do...

None. I can check THREE pieces of luggage without paying anything, for a grand total of 150 lbs. Southwest... commonly known as America's most ghetto airline... allows you over TWICE the luggage allowance that American Eagle's commuters give you. Make a note of it. Now, while I can't fly Southwest to Grenada, I sure as HELL can fly it on the commuter flights around the US, which I certainly will from now on, frequent flier miles or no.

May 18, 2007

Dear American Airlines...

Please let me see my family again.

I swear, these people aren't going to let me to see my father unless I leave two million under the phone booth at the corner of Lincoln and Maine.

Except there aren't any phone booths anymore, so I suppose I have to leave it under the hobo with a cell phone at the corner of Lincoln and Maine. Where are Lincoln and Maine? Besides "dead" and "New England".

I'm a little loopy from sleep deprivation (who me?). I didn't sleep the night before the flight figuring I'd grab a nappy nap from Grenada to San Juan, go out an enjoy the old town for the 6 hour layover I had (past tense), and then sleep the rest of the way to Miami, then Raleigh. No problem, right?

First, the flight was overbooked. This is particularly funny since the flight consisted either entirely or nearly entirely of students and faculty, so when they were like "Hey, we'll pay for your accommodations in paradise!", you could TASTE the bitterness of the "screw you" vibe that arose from all of us.

But that turned out to be moot, because though I got to the airport at five in the morning with my flight out at 7:20, around the latter time they announced "whoops, broken plane".

Fine. I have a six and a half hour layover and you can get planes from Trinidad, Barbados, or San Juan. Whatevs.

"Whoops. Flight canceled." Apparently, they didn't have a battery and either Liat wouldn't jump them or they couldn't find jumper cables big enough.

Now... as you can probably tell from the above, I don't know much about airplane mechanics, but shouldn't spare airplane batteries be the sort of thing you keep around airports? And if not, isn't San Juan only 2 hours away and you can send a replacement?

No... so we hung out at the airport... in the cafeteria, using our GENEROUS 18 EC voucher to buy rehydrated eggs, and inexplicably, chicken wings for breakfast, as I watched Fight Club, Jesse tried to sleep on the floor and a number of students played cards or chain smoked outside.

Translation? We're all tired and wanna go home. Fix the plane or get us a boat.

Also, to "gold card members". Fortunately this didn't happen to me or I'd be in a Grenadian prison right now, but when you have a huge line of students who've been bumped, instead of going to your own agent, jumping in front of all of them and responding to a protest by wagging your gold card DIRECTLY in their faces runs you the serious risk of spitting up pieces of said gold card after it is shoved forcibly into your nether regions by an angry mob. You may be a gold card member, but we're brass knuckles members. BACK OF THE LINE! When they have a separate ticket agent for the illuminati, I have no issue with you, but don't butt in front of everyone because you assume some uber status and if you do, do so by pulling aside someone who works there *quietly*.

And the idiot turned out to be in line for the wrong airline since she was trying to rebook to Barbados. That's Liat, stupid. And they don't have gold cards, so I'm going to wait anxiously as you try to butt in front of a bunch of angry Trinis because you're an entitlement bitch. Enjoy that.

They called us all down around 11, at which point, having already been called down with high hopes only to receive a breakfast vouchers, there were whispering threats of violence among the disenfranchised students (myself included) about what was going to happen if we all got called back for a lunch voucher.

Fortunately, this was not to be... but everyone missed their flights... even I did... 6.5 hour layover... couldn't make it.

They said I might have a chance of getting to Charlotte if I could do a fast turn around in Miami, but would book me for the night in Hartford, Connecticut, which is like Raleigh, North Carolina except for the part where it's a thousand miles north and in another state.

This flight to Charlotte *might* have worked if the now fixed plane... (chewing gum and duct tape?) left at 2, like the said it would. It left at three. This caused a whole lot of students to miss their NEWLY ARRANGED flights which meant they got to start over in San Juan after having to uncheck all our bags and drag them through customs.

I would have missed my flight even to Connecticut except THAT flight was ALSO late... by two hours, meaning I didn't get in until midnight, didn't get to the hotel until midnight-thirty and was due back at the airport at 5:30 am.

Oh that was a restful night's sleep guys; thank you. And sleep on the plane to Connecticut? Oh no... completely parched only to have the call light go unattended for so long that I finally just walked back and got a class of water myself... asked for a pillow only to be informed there are no pillows on their flights (terror risk? the airline pillows and Spiceland Mall?) and she said she'd find me a blanket and disappeared forever, which is a difficult task when you're in a micro metal aluminum dildo of death at 40 thousand feet, but what do I know?

So I suppose I could have eaten, which American Airlines would have been MORE than happy to provide me for a fee. No meals or snacks on the four hour flight, but they were generous enough to offer sandwiches for five bucks or M&Ms for 3 (!!!!!).

TEMPTING as that offer was (not), I refrained because at that stage, I'd have rather given money to "Mothers Against Feeding Orphans" than them.

This morning, upon blearily checking into the airport, the woman informed me that I would have to pay a 25$ overlimit requirement on my 69 lb luggage, and I laughed in her face. Since my bags had been checked through to Raleigh YESTERDAY with no extra fees and no requirements other than the customs transfer to Puerto Rico, I'm not particularly inclined to give you bastards MORE money for being incompetent.

Moral of the story? Ishie did NOT pay that $25 dollars. Damn right. Oh, and it's pronounced "Gre-nay-da", lady. I was not in Spain.

For clarity, I usually fly airlines like Southwest that are so ghetto they keep their planes up on blocks, and I have NEVER had this degree of difficulty with anything. They WILL get you there. They may get you there with the wing on fire, but you'll frigging get there.

American? Well, you'll get to spend four hours in a lovely hotel.

Now, let's see if I can FINALLY make it to Raleigh without involving stops in Europe.

May 17, 2007

I am woman...

Hear me rub my sore muscles because I'm too cheap to rent a taxi.

On the plus side, I'm having those adult moments again (no, not *those*; *those* are none of your business) like I did when I navigated my own taxes FROM THE CARIBBEAN without getting audited... nevermind the fact that considering what I made last year, I don't think there is an audit pile for that group... maybe a laughing pile...

I'm often the type of person that tends to arrive for anything still pulling clothes on with wet hair, an hour late, often carrying something.

Thus, the necessity of getting all my stuff into storage "between the hours of 5 and 7" in the past, would ensure that at 6:50, I'd be dashing up the stairs begging them to hold it open long enough for me to get everything.

Chalk it up to leaving the island late... despite spending part of Tuesday getting my dive gear back from Dive Grenada, and then part of Wednesday getting the wetsuit I left at Dive Grenada back from Dive Grenada (to Phil's amusement), I had everything packed up, my luggage for the plane pretty much in order (with time to repack after I purchased a few items to take home), and ready to go.

I started hauling my (copious, good lord, where did I get all this stuff!!) belongings over to the top floor of SD3 at 5:03 and was finished before 6 PM. Booyah.

The downside to all this is that I can't feel my arms because that is a LOT of stuff and it is a lot of heavy, and since I was the last leaving the island, I had no amigos o amigas to hit up since the have all departed to various destinations.

The upside is I know my anatomy pretty well because I put a duffel bag with unpadded straps on my back like a backpack picked up a box of books and as I raised it over my head suddenly yelled "AHHHHHH MY RADIAL NERVES!!!!" Whew. Don't ever cinch your shoulders and raise something heavy over your head. It freaking hurts. Instant wrist drop.

And speaking of carrying items on your head, until you've carried a box of books on your head, you never realize quite how misshapen and pointy your head really is (or my head really is, at any rate)because it's hard to balance stuff on it. I think a phrenologist would quit if he got ahold of me... for a number of reasons, really.

I did have some help from a guy that saw me carrying an 85 lb dive bag on my back, a guitar in one hand, and a duffel in the other though... when he offered to help, I at first turned him down because he hit me at the halfway point and I said "Hoo boy; you have NO idea what you're volunteering for", but he went ahead anyway and said it'd be a good workout to hike the guitar and duffel up the stairs. Thanks, dude!

I also fared better with the dive bag than in times past... in the Philippines, the weight of that heavy bastard flipped me over backwards into the barricades at the airport and nearly took out a *surprisingly* spry elderly Filipina woman. Talk about making a scene, particularly since the bag is longer than I am so if I fall over backwards, my torso just kind of dangles from it with my butt about 3 inches from the ground and my arms hanging at 45 degree angles because I can't lower them all the way. Not dignified. This time, no turtle impressions. And padded straps, so no permanent nerve damage. Permanent back damage, perhaps, but diving and horseback riding already assure me of that for a fun future. Fortunately, I'm becoming a doc so when the inevitable happens, I'll get free surgery.

In the meantime, it allows me to pump my arms in victory and feel all powerful and such because I'm a 5'3" chickie that can do that... in the Caribbean heat no less. Needless to say, a shower was soon to follow. You know when you're so completely gnarly that you disgust yourself? It was one of those moments. Where you tell people explicitly not to hug you because you can't handle the guilt of their deaths.

Moving on to another topic entirely...

I needed an extra storage container today because my 6th term roommate left her beautiful beautiful down comforter on the island for good, which I promptly swiped because it is a thousand degrees of awesome and I want it here waiting for me (I've been sleeping under a patterned afghan, which is cool, but not wildly comfortable).

Due to this, the day seemed to start off as surly butthead day. Since a huge part of campus has left, I wasn't sure whether the buses were running on regular schedules or holiday schedules, so when the Grand Anse bus parked up at the upper bus stop, I asked the driver when he was leaving and he snapped "the same time as the other days." Rawr! I asked if it was at 1:30, since that was on the weekend/holiday schedule and he proceeded to act like I was a COMPLETE idiot, including pointing out that today was not a weekend thus no weekend schedule, at which point I began to bitchily ask him if HE read the schedule often enough to realize that the holiday and weekend schedules were one and the same, but decided it wasn't worth it and sat down.

Holy crap, dude, even if I don't know the bus schedules, answering a simple polite question should not fundamentally offend you. Damn.

So I first went back to the dive shop to get my wetsuit and fortunately they were wonderful as always... Went to Spiceland Mall to get the container and also wanted to take some pictures. Dude in electronics shop next to the entrance to IGA was highly cool and had me take his picture at the counter, so props to you for being cool, man.

But taking some pictures around the corner, the woman in the Wine Shoppe (you know it's posh when they put on the extra "pe", which I've begun pronouncing as "Shoppy" as a grammatical protest against pretentious fops) angrily informed me that I shouldn't be doing it, I needed to ask people, yadda yadda yadda.

And she wasn't anything near polite about it. I said sorry; I just wanted some pictures for my family and so people knew what kind of stuff was here, she just rabbited on about it, so I finally got snippy back and said I was desperately sorry to make students aware of the amenities already on the island and I'd make damn sure to tell them to bring their own wine. Yeesh.

So she carried on with it being a security thing. Which first of all, would have been acceptable either stated nicely or delivered by a SECURITY guard, not a snooty wine seller. I don't know if it's posted outside, and if it is, sorry, but for a first offense, I'm thinking a "Oh, actually" would be nicer than a frigging bringdown lecture.

Second of all, unless there's civic unrest in Grenada I'm unaware of, since she gave the impression of this as a terrorist thing, wtf??? Let's break this down... terrorists decide their next target is... Grenada... the smallest country in the Western Hemisphere, off the coast of a country that is ostensibly hostile to us (not that they gave any signs of it when we went there, but still) and to the best of my knowledge is not a part of the Coalition of the Willing...

So the target is Grenada. Are the terrorists going to bomb the university, with strong ties to America and perceived as full of rich American brats (despite the diversity?)? No. Are they going to bomb St. George's proper that has a lot of stuff? No. The cricket stadium? With lots of people? Oft photographed? No. The cruise ships so often docked outside? Nuh uh. Nope, it's Spiceland Mall, folks. Oh yes... cower before us. Your food courts will run red with the blood of the infidel. Frigging bite me, lady.

AND the island is out of Ting, which puzzles me. Hook me and then cut me off? Not cool, Grenada. Not cool at all. Time to go home.

On the other hand, cheese fries today took 10 minutes (!!!!!!!!!!) which has gotta be a world record, previously held at 30, getting the stuff into storage was an absolute breeze (well, short of carrying the stuff) run by a really nice woman, and everyone else was cool today, so I'm gonna bypass Evil Bus Driver and Evil Wine Seller and Ting Shortage and call it a productive day.

So, my taxi to the airport is due in 90 minutes, and then I'm off and away!!! To Puerto Rico for a lot of hours, then to Miami just long enough to sprint across their ridiculously long airport between gates, then to Raleigh, then to renting a car, then to Winston Salem, then to daddy! At some point, by way of a McDonald's or Taco Bell, not because I hate the food here or anything, but because it is intensely weird that I haven't had fast food in 4 months. I haven't even eaten at the KFC.

Meesa goin' home!

May 15, 2007

First term OVER!!!!


Gods, what an awful week! Not this one; the finals one...

So you know the story with biochem and histo. Still couldn't sleep after that, but at least didn't wind up in the clinic with the psychosomatic crazy shudders again. Words can't describe how pissed I am at myself for that! And now the biochem exam in August!!!

The night before the anatomy exam was similarly horrible, and I had the whole rocking back and forth "can't sleep; clowns will eat me" sensation through the whole night. Why can I never sleep????? My mom plied me with pictures of New England while I tried to keep some semblance of sanity. I did manage to NOT harass David for a change that night, trying to give him some respite from my needy ass. Yeesh; poor guy, and then he couldn't sleep anyway!

We can say farewell to Ishie's "A" in anatomy though. I didn't really think I was going to keep it, but alas. A "B" for first term med ain't bad though. Going into the exam, as David and I amusedly surveyed the unshaven, sweat pants clad zombie bodies of our classmates (not excusing us of course), I thought, well.... head and neck are my bitches. I know them cold. That made up the vast majority of the last part of the term, plus I know leg pretty well, so that will cover my complete ignorance of embryology (which David sums up accurately as 'we come from babies' with subsequent 'foldy' impression) and perineum (I'm so embarrassed!!!)

Open up the text booklet... prolly half embryo/perineum. What in hell is the ductus venosus again? I'm pretty sure the bulk of that was pre-midterm. Sigh.

While I did not walk out of the exam crying panicked or anything like that, I walked out with the sort of begrudged war veteran "Well now... that certainly didn't go well" and hoped to preserve my "B".

Then came the long wait for the practical, and we were in the last group to take it. This sounds like a blessing, but when you haven't slept since... infancy, you just want it over, and David had apparently caught insomnia from me (though not manic high maintenance insomnia) so we decided to go study for the practical together to net some extra points.

Riiiiiiight. So a few rousing Monty Python songs later after a wide-eyed in fear/close-eyed in sleepiness attempt at watching dissection videos, we had abandoned the thought of netting any extras and just concentrated on staying awake and guessing probable tags (between Monty Python and old SNL skits). Turns out either they're nice, or we're bad guessers. No tertius? Really?? Anatomists LOVE that muscle, mainly because it's weird. But all right. No nasociliary either, which is fortunate, because while I can nail the tertius, I have trouble differentiating the nasociliary from the frontal nerve when you're looking onto the top of the orbit, depending on how grody the cadaver is.

But the practical turned out to be really fair, I thought. I was more afraid of the practical consisting of looking at the slides than the ones of the prosections because those tend to be multi-part tertiary questions where you have to have an intrinsic knowledge of fourteen different structures to answer the question.

Apparently they knew it was the end of the week/end of the semester and we were all burned out, because instead they had things like X-rays with "What's this?" "Uhhh... ankle?" Yes! "Whew".

So I did better on the slides than on the wet lab portion, which still wasn't as well as I thought I'd done (on the practical; I knew I'd screwed the written), but was sufficient to maintain a decent grade.

In retrospect, it's good to get a solid B. Being borderline for anything sucks, so if I'd been all well slept and well rested, I STILL think I would have gotten the same grade but would have been that dreaded "close to an 'A'" that feels bad versus the "Oh thank the heavens above I frigging passed that" revelry.

I didn't go to the memorial ceremony because I'm a bad person and I was completely wiped. I did get a second wind from somewhere because I was NOT staying in on the night of the official END OF FIRST TERM! We're gonna be doctors!!!! I was initially planning on going to Guyave for Fish Friday because it's the one thing so far on the island that is really uniquely Grenadian and not yet another student function run by people used to students for students. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but a break from Banana's to experience the real island is always a break, plus I've been trying to get there since I got to the island. I love that stuff. I also wanna try oildown. I can't believe I haven't yet, and it's the national dish, but I'm a culture whore. Know it, love it. Though from experience here, I was beginning to think chicken rotis were the national dish.

Unfortunately, the function is pretty far away (hence the separation from the university subculture) and closes pretty early so we didn't get to go, which made me actually really sad, but we had a decent dinner at Coyaba (spelling?) and then Dave and I headed to Dr. Groom's where we were planning on heading for the after party anyway, which is an AWESOME place. A guy in line mentioned that heading down to it looked like when you're at a theme park winding through the "jungle" to go on the water rides, which is the most accurate description I can net.

I think the entire population of the school still capable of walking was at that party. It was kicking! The traffic jam lined up before the place was so intense that the 50 people CRAMMED onto the bus just got off and walked up around the lines and lines of cars. Crazy. It was on the beach with a great architecture that I tried to take a picture of but probably screwed up. Eventually, Dave and I succumbed to exhaustion and pennilessness (EClessness?) and headed back to watch South Park, but still pretty damn cool.

The party continued the next day, but that's a story for another entry.

But the moral of the story: I frigging passed! But I still have to take the biochem exam in August! Wahhhhhh!!!!

May 10, 2007


I know; I know; no updates in forever... I promise I'll bring full up to speed soon, and someday finish the Adventures of the Ishie et al (sorry guys, but it is my blog, afterall) trip to Venezuela over Easter, but for the time being, I've been busy having a bloody awful week punctuated by goodness but not greatness.

So I've been neglecting histology and anatomy to get all ready for my biochem exam, which was Monday. Let me rephrase that. I was getting all ready for everyone ELSE'S biochem exam, which was Monday. I'll be taking the exam in August. Sigh.

See, at midterms, if you read back through my ramblings that far, you'd notice that I had a freakout insomnia attack and kind of blew through biochem, which apparently set me up for a rip-roaring insomnia-phobia to add to my phobia of cockroaches which was oh so crystallized the last time I went diving and found THREE of the evil little bastards in my dive bootie by unsuspectingly sticking my foot onto them (cockroaches, not insomnia).

So FULLY prepared for the biochem exam, I realized that while I would LIKE to study everything again that weekend, I didn't NEED to, thus could focus that entire weekend on simply getting some sleep so I'd be well rested for the exam.

Hey, whoda thought anyone could stay up for 72 hours??? That's gotta be some kind of record! With about 40 of those staggered between various dorm rooms lying still in the dark, going "you've gotta be freaking kidding me; I'm exhausted. How can I not be asleep yet?"

This was punctuated by finally making an emergency call to the clinic for sleep aids, which they dispensed, which did... nothing. Well, that's not true. It spaced me nicely so I wandered around in a mindless haze jabbering nonsense at people, but could I sleep? No. Which is good to know. If ever I am jumped in a dark alley by spies looking to drug me with ether or whatever to get me to betray my country, apparently I'm impossible to put out if my mind's against it.

On the final night of Hell, Emma lent me her single room, made me some rice and warm milk because I hadn't eaten anything in some time (I lost five pounds in 8 days folks; you think Atkins is bad for you; try the med school stress diet-- look thin, die young).

So I spent part of the night throwing up, which was a variation on a theme for the last few nights when I tried to eat things (Hey, involuntary bulemia, wahoo!) before trying to go to sleep. When Emma checked on me, I had psychosomaticized sleep crazed myself into sleeping for five minute segments, stopping breathing, convulsing, rinsing and repeating.

Which for some strange reason upset her. Largely because I couldn't stop spasming and kept forgetting to breathe.

So she called the ambulance to take me to the clinic, and the funny thing is, as they were checking my blood sugar, I was prepared enough for the biochem exam that I was muttering "I can't be hypoglycemic because my liver is replenishing my blood glucose with gluconeogenesis by breaking down my proteins". I can even name which amino acids it's doing and that it's using fatty acids grabbed from triacylglycerol from adipose tissue for fuel. If I starved myself for long enough, I'd start converting to ketone bodies (which can be used by the brain), and I can even tell you which hormones were at skewed levels and when they would stabilize to account for starvation.

Which turned out to be moot, because I was hypoglycemic AND dehydrated. And twitching a lot. This was the morning of the day I was supposed to take the exam.

The clinic and EMTs stuffed me full of glucose and valium, the latter of which is not surprisingly, less than conducive to taking exams. What it did NOT do, in me at least, was put me to sleep. Still feeling like I might, in some reality, be able to sit the exam, I wandered over to Dr. Martin who strongly advised me that if I wasn't in top shape (who me?), I REALLY needed to go back to the clinic, get my medical leave, and take the exam in August. Sigh. So that's what I'll be doing this summer. Studying for biochem. Again.

So at least with that behind me, I could sleep, right?

Wrong. That was a job for ambien, which I had to go back up to the clinic to get a prescription for and down to the pharmacy, accompanied by Laila, who for some strange reason thought I shouldn't make that trip alone. FINALLY, with enough prescription sedatives in me to euthanize a rhino and David sitting in my room to make sure I was still breathing (after he supplied me with Gatorade, which I apparently needed because electrolyte imbalance is the only time the stuff doesn't taste like crayola-colored sweat), I SLEPT.

DAMN. So what I'll be doing this summer besides studying for biochem again (dammit dammit dammit dammit) is figuring out what exactly the hell happened, and fixing it.

One interesting thing about Ambien (at least with me) is that it makes you feel like absolute HELL the next day, and I needed it both Monday night AND Tuesday night (before the histo exam). Tuesday night, I was treated to DREAMS about histology, which is not fun when you're trying to get a brief respite from school. Particularly when the dream is that you're trying to cross the street and blood cells keep nearly running you over.

Which makes me proud because earlier 'today' (Wednesday), I walked into that histology exam nauseated, still short-slept (but slept), still low on calories, and dulled from the Ambien, and STILL managed to keep my overall grade borderline A/B. I figured out that if St. Paparo throws out just FOUR questions, I get to keep my A, and if he doesn't, I still frigging passed.

This was followed the by celebratory gobbling of the Glover's cheese fries with Grr and David as my stomach remembered that I'm actually capable of consuming food that isn't consistant of crackers and digestive biscuits.

So this probably seems like completely personal information that I probably shouldn't be sharing with the internet at large and will probably one day cost me a good residency and provide amusement to those who hate me, but it's nice to know for potential or current students that things can suck a LOT and you can still get through it, even if it means taking an exam late.

It also is a good testament to friends who, despite their own issues including facing the same exams that I was, took care of me in my dumbass panic attacks and overall were exceptionally awesome through this entire thing. Thank you to all of you. As Morbo says, may death come swiftly to your enemies.

So not a funny entry, and a pretty personal one, but there ya have it, and there ya have why I haven't updated.

To anatomy and beyond!

May 3, 2007

Well, that's one "A", at least...

So I passed Clinical Skills of the online final exam.

Now if only all my other exams were online exams that asked questions like:

"A patient comes in complaining of chest pain. Should you:

a. Kick him in the stomach and say "Ha ha!! Bet your chest doesn't hurt so much now, Nancyboy!!"
b. Tell him he deserves to have chest pain because he's such a hairy lardo.
c. Confide in him the gnarly details of your last patient's drippy STD, complete with powerpoint presentation.
d. Tell him about how your harpy of an ex-wife is trying to get into your wallet, and then make a few racist jokes.
e. Encourage him to tell you more about his pain."

Hmm... it's "a", right? It's always "a"! Or maybe it's always "c". Aiiieeee! I'm so conflicted!

Some of the questions were difficult, but difficult in a stupid way, like whether something inherently obvious falls under "being nice" or "the quality of niceness" or some other frigging thing. Basically, what I got from Medical Ethics is the same thing I got from watching Bill and Ted: "Be excellent to each other." Thank you, Dr. Keanu Reeves. You have officially trumped Aristotle.

Am I going to hell for this post? Oh yes... oh yes.. and I'm probably violating somebody's ethical principles. Which is why I like my ethical principles which state that as long as you're being humorous, no one is allowed to get mad at you. Thus I present the following scenario:

A patient comes to you with chest pain. The proper response is "c":

"Knock knock"
"Who's there?"
"Little old lady"
"Little old lady, who?"
"I didn't know you could yodel!!!"

hyuk hyuk hyuk. Yes, a joke so bad, it could kill six kittens.

Well, back to biochem, which is actually graded, not pass/fail, and DOES have a greater opportunity to get up into my grill. Later!