Jun 27, 2007

Holy Hell!

Some explanation, perhaps.

As noted, in between shadowing, studying, and bumming, I've been burning off on side trips to explore the surroundings. Since I'm currently in Southern New Hampshire, this made a trip to Boston somewhat inevitable, since it seemed like something to see.

Unfortunately, since I went to school in California, while we were learning about the Gold Rush, everyone else in the country went to a class that said "Don't ever drive in Boston. Try to avoid driving in Massachusetts altogether. The people there are nearly as insane as the non-layout of the city which seems to have been hacked together by a deranged chimpanzee. If Boston were laid out anywhere near the way it is now during the Revolutionary War, we'd be speaking proper English, drinking good tea, eating bad food, and Paul Revere would, to this day, still be riding around in circles near Commonwealth going "Where the hell is the frigging freeway??? The map shows 14 of them here! I'm NEVER going to get these lights in the windows, and then all the poets will have to write about is a stupid red wheelbarrow beside the white chickens."

I've driven in San Francisco. This city features psychotic MUNI drivers and stop signs at the crest of 45 degree angled hills, double parking, one way streets, and nearly no parking.

I've driven in Tiajuana, where you have to dodge not only the statues arbitrarily placed in the middle of roads, but children selling various things that run at your cars, and the stigma of the California plate on the front and back end of your car that makes you a rolling target.

I've driven in Los Angeles, and love my impatient, SWAT team manuevering gun-toting amigos, and south of Pasadena, I am so in love with their much hated freeway system that I think I would get down on one knee and MARRY it if they'd allow such unions outside of Massachusetts.

I've driven through D.C., Salt Lake City, Atlanta, across the country via different routes twice, through blowing snow, over Donner Summit during a blizzard (a condition which has, in the past, led to cannibalism; I'm just saying), and yet all of this is a Sunday drive back from grandma's in comparison to Boston. Holy shit.

As I mentioned in the Montreal post, a city also notorious for bad driving habits, but which I found perfectly hospitable for lost tourists (save for the horse-drawn carriages in oldtown), when in a large city, I go with the general tradition of driving around sightseeing until I see freeway signs.

Don't. Ever. Do. That. In. Boston. There aren't any freeway signs. The freeways that are supposed to be there, as in, marked on maps, show no ways of accessing them, and roads that are straight on maps dead end into buildings forcing a quick left or right.

You'd think with a maze of schitzophrenic design and a town heavily inundated with tourists, the local drivers, like San Francisco, would have a built in element of patience with people. Not so. So I'm going to make a few suggestions:

First off, I hate it when people drift off at green lights too, but I own a stick shift. If I'm on a hill and you are three inches from my bumper, it's going to take me a leetle more time to get going as I am now ensuring that I don't roll back slightly and hit your tailgating ass. You also do not need to honk at me simply because the light has turned green and my foot is actively pressing down the clutch to take off. The only way you could conceivably honk that fast is if your hand was already on the horn, so kindly bite me.

Since we're on the topic of horns, while horns are certainly a fun novelty item in that they make a funny noise, and in Grenada, are used to say "hi", "screw you", "I'm here", "I know you", "It's clear", "It's not clear", and "you've run over my wife's foot", blaring the horn for no reason (such as the person in front of you being stopped at a red light) tends to inspire those of us with Los Angeles driving habits to reach for our nines. I'm just saying...

When driving, my rear bumper is not a security blanket for your front fender. I'm not sure why my driving 15 over the speed limit in a right hand lane is an invitation for you to ride me so hard I feel like I should be charging a fee, and then without real reason, for you to jerk into the empty other lane like you've had a seizure, but it's unsettling, and tends to elicit a similar reaction to the one above.

While it is exceedingly obnoxious that the roads are open expanses of asphalt without the limitations of lane markings, as I'm traveling, pulling up next to me and then gradually drifting into my passenger door as you contemplate either the Red Sox or man's place in the universe, is not appreciated.

While I appreciate that turn signals are too distracting to use in what must be the exhausting effort of remaining that precise two inches from the next person's bumper, your lack of using them means I am not going to know or act accordingly if you're coming over into my lane, thus ire on your part will not find a sympathetic recipient on mine. Similarly, if I put MY signal on, it is a statement of intent, thus gunning your engine to block me is only going to provide you a test of your brakes (and your horns). I drive a car that comes with a 5 cent redemption and I don't live in this country. Do you feel lucky?

Please examine the rotaries and strongly consider placing suggestions for right of way. The strategy of "Everyone" doesn't seem to be working and appears to cause you folks to even prey on each other from the number of horns blaring, lest you think tourists are the only ones that can't seem to navigate these. For the uninitiated, a rotary is like a roundabout, if a roundabout could speedball.

For your own safety and comfort, since you do like driving in the breakdown lanes, consider consulting (or hiring) city planners to remove the obstacles from the areas in which this behavior is actually legal. It is disturbing to drive in what the city has designated "a temporary" lane only to have a guardrail suddenly appear in the middle of it, which I gather annoys you too from the way you swing abruptly back into traffic (sans signal), nearly taking out whoever might be to the left of you.

So that was my beginning Boston impression. Since I knew parking there was even more elusive than San Francisco's and equally expensive, it was decided to simply head to Cape Cod, which, due to circling Boston for three hours and a trip to Sears to repair a tire (nice potholes, guys), we never made. We did get as far as Plymouth once most things were closed, and I got a picture of the famous rock to prove I survived the trip through Boston and made it someplace famous.

Plymouth Rock is worth seeing because it's funny and even more spectacularly underwhelming than the Hope Diamond. I'd like to see the rest of the actual historical town which did look really cool, but the rock itself is surrounded by lights and faux Greco-Roman columns, which in turn are surrounded by historical markers, and it's... a rock. With "1620" carved on it. It's not really a big or impressive rock, in fact, save date, identical to other ocean rocks. I suppose the Pilgrims came across it and said "Wow! this rock already HAS 1620 carved on it! Well that's a time saver! Quick! Build some columns and get the camera."

Plymouth is also a surprisingly happening town for what I would have thought would be kind of a sleepy tourist town after dark, but instead it seems to suffer a local infestation of teenagers most of whom were white, packed into the local malt shop, and often clad in leather jackets, making me really feel like I'd wandered into a 1950s teen flick. I kept expecting Bobby to invite Mary Sue to the sock hop. Of course, the over 21s, myself included, took to hanging at the local blues joint, which was pretty cool and far less like an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Today? After dragging in at 2 in the morning having survived Massachusetts, it was back to the office to have everyone go "Ohhh. You drove in Boston? Silly girl... tsk tsk", but I got to watch a few procedures and meet some interesting patients since one of the docs seemed to be seeing his full collection of crazies. You know it's bad when you hear him mutter "page me in five minutes" to one of the medical assistants, for reasons that became obvious upon sitting in the session. Whew!

Jun 23, 2007


No pictures in *this* one, guys!

So, on Monday I was allowed into surgery, not scrubbed of course, but in. I got there at 6:30 am (Aiiieeeeee!!!!) so I could oversee the entire process including the preop. I was given a temporary locker in the nurse's locker room, where I could change into the surgical scrubs, a surgical cap (which I already had), and a pair of booties over my shoes.

The patient was already in the pre-op room, gowned and capped, but wide awake.

I talked to the patient for a good long time, who had avascular necrosis (this is where the blood supply is interrupted or terminated, causing death of the tissue, in this case, bone) causing a need for a knee replacement. The location of the necrosis was pretty rare, and the doctor had shown me an article on it at the office when he initially saw the patient.

After a while, the anesthesiologist showed up and immediately began drilling me on anatomy as he was doing a nerve block. Whoops!!! I did all right on the order of vessels through the femoral triangle, but I need to do the innervations below the knee better, because I completely screwed up what the femoral nerve does below the need (just provides sensation to the strip of skin down the front of the shin), so sorry SGU!!! I was studying for biochem at the time I was supposed to be refocusing on lower limb!

Though I initially got flustered at having questions shot at me and struggled to find the answers to questions I actually, for the most part knew, I was grateful for it as well. The guy was really nice and it gives me some preparation for my rotations and residency when people, that will probably be far less nice, will be shooting questions at me left and right, so I like being quizzed. It's harder than I would have thought. I also found myself overcompensating for what I don't know by overexplaining the stuff I do know (like where a femoral hernia goes), so I'll watch that.

Over the scrub sink, I grabbed my mask (no gloves), and wandered into the OR suite, watchng them set up. It's fun to see the sterile versus nonsterile, and I watched the scrub tech (sterile) scrub up while the circulating nurse (who runs the show and isn't sterile), opened up packages, being very careful not to touch the sterile stuff with in. It's like an antibacterial little dance.

They brought the patient in, swapped him/her (HIPAA rules, no identifying information) to the operating table and chose ME to try to wheel the large gurney out the door by myself. I've operated these things a dozen times, but for some reason, when you're trying to force one out a door that's not supposed to stay open for any length of time, you do stupid things like get the doorknob stuck through the rail. D'oh!

But no nasty comments from anyone there, fortunately, though I did get told to close the door where upon coming back (having been let back through the doors to the surgical wing by the surgeon, who was arriving in time to watch me lock myself out), I went through the wrong door (the one I'd gone out). D'oh again!!! Heh heh. Hey, first time in surgery; cut me some slack.

The anesthesiologist gestured for me to stand next to him, and answered a lot of my questions as I leaned over to see. There's a drape that separates the nonsterile head of the patient (and anesthesiologist) from the sterile body where the surgeon and scrub tech are working. I was constantly worried whether I was in the anesthesiologist's way, but he just chuckled and said "Just don't lean on the drape or touch anything blue and you'll be fine".

The surgery was pretty cool. There are so many individual important orthopedic tools, sizing, and such, plus the surgery itself, as far as motion is concerned, is pretty violent, with hammering and drilling and all, but with the tourniquet and suction, it was virtually bloodless, which I hadn't been expecting. What was really strange was when I was watching the patient's knee, which was completely open, and I could see both the end of the femur and the head of the tibia, with the kneecap pushed out of the way, the patient, due to the type of anesthesia, wasn't on a breathing tube and was snoring away in happy slumber! Bizarre! But cool.

Everything was closed up, with the surgeon having a much greater aptitude than I have for stitching (I really need to work on my stitches further; I'm not great, though I've only worked on cadavers). I went with the patient, who, upon waking, was feeling no pain, and talked to him/her for quite a while before wandering off to see if there was any place I was needed. I ended up hanging out in the surgical lounge with a couple of the anesthesiologists, the surgeon, and the sales rep from the company that makes the knee replacements.

During replacements, a rep from the company often comes, since that representative is an expert in the materials used, oversees the operation (though not sterile), and helps with things like sizing the implant. This makes talking to the reps fascinating since they've seen it all and really know the product as well as the operation, and since they aren't having to scrub in and do the pre-op medical stuff, if they're interested in talking (and this guy was), they have the time to tell you all sorts of cool stuff.

I didn't do the preop on the second patient, and got into the OR when they were doing the first incision. I stood next to the rep, which gave me a really good view of the whole procedure, which they were doing with a "uni", an implant they do for the medial (inside) of the knee if the outside is fine and all the ligaments are intact, so that the entire knee joint isn't loss, and the scar is smaller.

The rep answered a bunch more of my questions, including what all those scary tools were, and again, awesome experience.

After that, it was lunch time! Yummy! Drumsticks anyone?

Jun 21, 2007

Are we in Canada yet?

As I was saying before, headed through Maine, and I believe at last stop we were in Portland.

The Maine coastline was nice, but I wanted to see inland Maine, since my perceptions of "Water Edge" are forever spoiled by driving up the Pacific Coast Highway a multibillion times and nothing can replace it (awwww). Nice people though, see?

Meaning it was onto Canada!

This required a jaunt through inland Maine, which likes to place arbitrary figures on the toll portions of the turnpike, thus ensuring you can never have exact change.

Inland Maine is gorgeous, but tends to feature sweeping landscapes that make it hard to find a focal point for a picture, particularly near the Vermont border, but for effort:

But then... what's this??


Okay, it looked like this:

But hey, my special effects were better than Alien Autopsy's. Take that, Fox! Can you tell yet that I like pictures of buildings? If that's not proof enough for you, we came across this awesome little town that's either in Vermont or New Hampshire, and I don't remember which. Predictably:

Man, New England sure knows how to do churches, eh? Though one of those is a museum.

So at some point, it was time to finally head to Canada. I would have taken a picture of the border but didn't want to get shot by customs, so resigned myself to the subterfuge of grabbing kitch from the souvenier shop on the way back. The road between the border and Montreal was pretty, but fairly empty, though I did love all the stop signs with Arrete written on them because I'm a doofus and stuff like that amuses me.

So, Montreal!!

Hey! WTF? Canada looks like New England!! I could have stayed home... how is anyone even supposed to know I'm *in* Canada?

All right, all right, that's pretty convincing. But how is anyone supposed to know it was *French* Canada?

Hoooookay... and naturally, I'm referring to the fact that some of the fliers are in French and not at all to the fact that the scene looks like an odd addition to a French Canadian circus whose name I can't spell and can't be bothered to look up. The rouge is a nice touch though. Aren't pipers supposed to wear traditional outfits? Moving on.

Fortunately, Montreal (too lazy for the accent) gave me an opportunity to practice a language I'm always trying to increase my aptitude in: Spanish. Yeah, I was surprised too, but I used it to negotiate for a cd of some excellent music being played on the street featuring a piper (different kind than the one above) and a cute little song called "Amigo".

Actually, I loved Montreal, we got there during a huge street fair, which was massively cool, and it's a complete melting pot of a thousand different cultures and styles, and seems to be tri or quadlingual. I was scared when I went there because my knowledge of French is nowhere near passable at anything except asking where the bathroom is, but it turned out to be relatively unnecessary, so I didn't have to play ugly American by making my point the only way people in other countries can understand: by speaking loudly, slowly and if the recipient is an idiot. Mwa ha!

The street fair:

This was the main stage and along that street (which was closed to street traffic), and the entire street was lined with tented merchants, outdoor cafes, music, good smells, good sights. I'd have had more pictures of it, but trying to take pictures, sans tripod, of tons of people partying at night really sucks.

After a nice meal of elk steaks, and the dog getting to walk on that sweet sweet French Canadian pavement, it was time to go... or so I thought.

As I discovered, the same strategy I employ to get out of San Francisco works for Montreal as well. If you are patient and have nowhere you need to be, drive around aimlessly until you see a sign for a freeway. Any freeway. That's right, folks, I navigated around Montreal, finding a street fair and numerous groovy stuff AND got out again all with only a map of the United States that included a few freeway continuations into Canada and a lot of luck.

Of course, that luck turned into a scenic view through Old Montreal which I'd meant to see, but didn't think I'd be able to find. Nothing says awesome like creeping along the narrowest streets I've ever seen, surrounded by things that are pretty, while stuck behind, you guessed it, a horse and buggy while driving, at some points, on cobblestones! It's just like how the Romans used to drive their cheap Korean cars!

I wanted to take a different route back than the one I came in on, and that got a little scary, because if I thought the route in was deserted, it PALED in comparison to the one going back. I cannot understand why a map of the United States, which has limited numbers of roads it can put on there, would mark what is, at times, a two lane highway going through nowhere featuring gas stations that close at 8, tule fog, and no light! And since my gas gauge was a bit low and I had no idea how far it was until I could rectify the situation, that had my knuckles a little white. Darn Canadians...

I crossed back across the border (Oh, and going in, they wouldn't stamp my passport; what up? I thought one of the only benefits of tyrannical and incompetent homeland security was that I got to get stamps for countries I previously could wander in and out of unchecked??) around midnight, which I thought would get me strip searched, but the guy just waved me on. Woo hoo!!! Now I can go back in safely with the 10 million in sweet Canadian diamonds! Er... or a tshirt, some maple sugar candy (I know it's not really uniquely "Canadian"; I just love the stuff), postcards and other things to bore my friends and family with.

Was planning on spending Sunday in the White Mountains, but discovered I'd planned this little shindig when the entirety of Vermont and New Hampshire had graduation... and I had a dog in the car... this translated to no motels. Or hotels. Anywhere. Even ones that didn't take pets. I had a lead at one place where after I said that the dog could sleep in the car since she had ONE room left and allowed no pets; I just needed a place, first insisted that I park where she could SEE the car since I was clearly going to sneak him into her room at first opportunity even though I didn't have to tell her I had a dog in the first place, and then, as someone else came in behind me, gave the room to him and said she "couldn't have a dog on the property", otherwise known as an uber-bitch. I'm hoping, that as a favor by the universe, an entire pack of dogs muscles their way into her home and soaks her mattress in urine, but I'm not vindictive or anything about having to drive until 6 in the morning because there were no other places for any price. Not at all. So I went home. No white mountains for me!!! But I recovered Sunday and did surgery Monday, which was awesome! So you'll hear about that later.

Jun 19, 2007


And a happy belated Father's Day to all you dads out there!!!!!

So, as noted I went to Maine this weekend... until deciding what the hell and going to Montreal, which I'd spell with the accent, but I'm lazy. Road trip!

Maine's seacoast was largely lovely but stinky. I am always partial to California's Highway 1... REALLY partial, but Maine's Highway 1 was plenty nice, though I don't think I went up far enough to get the major scenic stuff for which it is so famous. The beaches were lovely but tended to carry with them various smells ranging from industrial sulfur run off to red tide.

Like New Hampshire though, Maine had plenty going on in the pretty old buildings department:

What I don't understand is why it appears to have a slit to accommodate a longbow. Particularly since the church was built in the early 1900s... my guess is that they foresaw the flapper era and gathered to spit all the short skirted, short-haired tasseled, future Laurence Welk show watching crowd on the ends of arrows. But that's just a guess.

Eventually though, I found Portland, which for some reason, reminded me a bit of a cross between San Francisco and Monterey, though not nearly as big. More importantly, it had the goal: LOBSTER!

A pier stretched out to the left, providing a nice view. The back deck, where I
picked up my freshly boiled Maine lobster and lobster bisque, provided this one:

And "yum" by the way, making up for the cruel lobster (and Ting) absence in the final days of my first term.

But, lest I actually *tell* you about the rest and Montreal, it's bedtime so you'll have to come back tomorrow!

Jun 15, 2007

Lobster and surgery...

Those are two nouns that shouldn't be together, eh?

Tomorrow I'm heading up to Maine with the arbitrary goal of getting a lobster dinner, but with the general goal of sightseeing and possibly skirting up to Canada if the urge strikes me. I'm an on-the-road kind of gal and like to set meaningless destinations in the countryside because it gives me a chance to get out and drive, which is particularly fun in my tiny little manual shift Hyundai Accent. Of course, if I hit anything, you'll never hear from me again, because the safety rating is even lower than the grade I got in third quarter organic chemistry.

To give you some idea of the arbitrary destination thing, I once drove from North Carolina to Northern Georgia for a cup of coffee, North Carolina to South Carolina to look at the giant roadside butt (some know it as a peach, but those who've seen it know what I'm talking about), etc ad infinitim. Try it sometime. I also love little side trips and roadside attractions, which is how I once ended up in Solvang, CA, a town I had not ever known was there.

So Maine should be fun for a couple of days. Probably for longer than that, but I don't *have* longer than that because I'm reporting at 6:30 am for surgery on Monday.

In other words, the shadowing is going fantastically! Initially, I was going to watch two knee replacements and an ankle arthroscopy, but the latter got moved so now it's the two knee replacements, but AWESOME.

I don't think they'll let me scrub in, at least not for this one, and I'm not sure this hospital's policy on it, but I know that at least for the first surgery, the doc will put me in the corner in case I pass out, which considering hospital experiences and more critically, forensic experiences, I find unlikely, but hey, to a surgeon, when the alternative is having someone you've known for two weeks collapse un-sterile headfirst into your patient, is an understandable precaution.

In general, the shadowing is fun just in and of itself, with the surgery as gravy. I'm learning a *lot*, and I'm getting to work in a private practice, which I've never done before. Some pretty awesome x-rays too, though not as spectacular as the new trauma patients, of course.

So in case you hadn't noticed, this is somewhat filler material, but I should have pictures and stories of Maine, more on SGU, and non-HIPAA violating surgery details upon my return, preferably not blogged at 2 in the morning.

Jun 10, 2007

More for you Inquisitive Incomings...

And why not? Things are going well in jolly old New England... which is actually accurate to me, since coming from California, everything in New England is old. Heh.

I'm shadowing an orthopedic surgeon, which is highly awesome, and I'm learning early what I already knew: love nurses. Generally, I trail after the orthopod like an obedient puppy except for when a nurse "pst's!" at me and jerks a head, at which point I go trotting off to observe something cool.

I've also discovered that you shouldn't wander around in the morning looking like you have nothing to do or you'll end up with your left arm in a cast. I chose the red color! What's particularly nice about a cast is that if you don't actually have anything wrong with your arm when casted, they're *great* to beat people with. Mwa ha. I had to cast my left arm, because my right arm was my "drinking coffee" arm, and there's no WAY anyone's putting a cast on it.

So basically, now I know the theory behind putting on a cast. Whether I could actually do such a thing on someone with a broken arm without getting punched remains another matter.

Critically though... I GOT HIGH SPEED BACK!!!!! Comcast FINALLY kept a promise as of two days ago, making that the sixth appointment they'd made since mid April when my mom first tried to get them. Oh, it's so beautiful. Not only that, the TELEVISION. So many channels!!!! Even all the music ones... the actual ones, not MTV or any of that. Combined with Netflix, I may not leave the couch save for the shadowing.

But you probably want to know more about SGU... I know I certainly did. All right, I mentioned my dorm room in Superdorm 1. I'm too lazy to repost pictures, so here's the link to the entry with them; just scroll to the end of my ramblings.

For computers, bring an ethernet cable with you. The campus has been fitted for wireless and you can get it at spots around campus like the library and study rooms but the dorms are made of concrete and not conducive to getting the signal into most of the rooms, so definitely have that cable with you if, like me, you really prefer studying in your own place. Not all the dorms have internet, but the school's working on it. I believe all the SUPERdorms do though, which is where they put the majority of first termers, and yes, you have to live on campus unless you have a significant other, a pet, or a really good excuse to a person having a good day.

Books and Classes:

You get your first term books on the island, they're included in your tuition, and there's nothing you can do it, speaking as someone who already had about 400 bucks worth of the term one books due to taking undergraduate anatomy. Doesn't matter. You get the booklist that you have. Good idea to bring a heavy duty bag to cart them too. When I got mine, they were distributing them nowhere NEAR my dorm, so I had to haul them.

Some of these are optional, but a brief idea:

And my workspace... this picture was taken AFTER finals, thus having Eddie Izzard paused on your laptop probably isn't the best use of study time...

I *highly* recommend the Netter flashcards. They go fast from the bookstore so it's worth bringing your own.

For your first term, you take Developmental Anatomy, which is 8 units consisting of 6 units of clinical/gross anatomy and 2 units of embryology, combining into a single grade. Many people cope with this by utterly ignoring embryo, and while I may have employed this tactic somewhat for the final, I wouldn't recommend it.

Tips... uhhh... study lymphatics... not because it's hard but because everyone tends to ignore them and it's a dumb way to lose points.

You take biochem for 6 units. This class is pretty damn hard and most students just tell you to "know everything". Particularly know what can go wrong and little tweaks of such information. I'm scared of anything involving the word "chemistry" and if you've been following this blog you know the results of it, but minus the sleep deprivation, I ended up liking a lot of the information in the class and felt really prepared for it. For those of you who, like me, got completely violated by organic chemistry, I didn't find biochem to be anything like it, but instead has some cool stuff about how the body deals with stuff. Oh, as far as tips, besides "knowing everything", know insulin/glucagon like the back of your hand. It will come up again and again and again, and just when you think you couldn't possibly need it anymore because it's on the midterm, it will come and bitchslap you in the second half of the class.

What really helped/helps me with biochem is understanding the logic for why things happen. There's a lot of pathway memorization too, but for some stuff (like insulin/glucagon), understanding it well enough means you can apply common sense.

Histology. 4 units. Don't make the mistake of neglecting it completely. The main problem with histo is that it goes SLOWLY. There are massive numbers of lecture slides and it takes forever to go through them, in my opinion, disproportionate to the units of the class, but thems the breaks. If you are lucky enough to get Saint Paparo as your head, he rules more than can be expressed. The big thing with histo too is that Dr. Paparo is probably the fairest instructor I've run across. There don't tend to be trick questions, and he's good about tossing questions he doesn't like.

Clinical Skills. This class carries over for two terms, and at least for me, you don't get a grade for this one, and I believe it's P/F. Patient interviews are worthwhile and you get some good informations. I consider the rest of the class to be a complete waste of time. Sorry. You will have arbitrarily scheduled labs just when you think you have a morning off. They will be at strange times and not weekly. Any time you feel like you have a couple days to chill or an afternoon or morning, you will have something with clinical skills come up and have to fire off a CV in the knick of time or "write" a personal statement (ie, copy the one you used for medical school).

What's also fun about clinical skills is how obtrusive they will be is determined by your last name. For instance, some of you may have something due when you're between everything and have nothing else going on. Others will have that same project due the Friday before midterms. Fun, eh? Just stay on top of it.

DES sessions. Some people SWEAR by them. I'm not a big group studying and tend to study by recopying the lecture slides and my notes. It's incredibly inefficient, but it works for me. Due to this method, I found DES sessions to be useless, but at least try some out and see how you like them.

Also, NEVER miss an exam review session. Just don't do it. Especially in histology. They're gold.

For each term, there are Macdaddies which tend to consist of tidbits from past terms which vary in usefulness. You shouldn't be paying for these, but should get them from upper termers, with footsteps buddies being a good primary resource.

Jun 2, 2007

So what now? Part deux?

Good question... I've been generally being something of a lazy bum, but I'm entitled, right? I am so *not* looking forward to spending the summer doing biochem again.

Still taking little side trips, and reading a lot, at present it's Invitation to a Beheading, because I dearly love Nabokov, being an uber-dork. No cable here yet, but with any luck, Comcast will actually keep its promise this time and install everything tomorrow. One can only hope. Apparently, they promised my mom that two months ago. But... there's that whole out in the sticks problem.

But more about SGU.

You get acceptance and secure your loans. Getting there. I haven't tried to get there in August yet, but I understand it's more of a headache due to Carnival, which is on some weird "never on the same date in the same place" schedule that I don't fully understand. I used to think it was analagous to Mardi Gras, but apparently, I'm a moron. So Carnival in Grenada, for better or for worse, is in August.

So far I've flown American Airlines and I've sent my parents via Air Jamaica, so I'll tell you the experiences...

American Airlines... flying *to* Grenada, some people can sneak through over luggage allowance, but I wouldn't count on it. American Airlines officials will likely tell you that you can take two bags of up to 100 lbs or 140 lbs or whatnot, the problem being, they do not consider that they switch to American EAGLE, generally in San Juan, where you get on a commuter plane, and the luggage allowance is 70 lbs. I wasn't even close to it on the way here (thank you, mom and dad!) but on the way back from Grenada, they were so strict about there being a 70 lb cut off (and weren't letting students even PAY to bring extra stuff) that the counters were lined with the things students had to leave behind. To be thrown away. I'm not kidding. So pack accordingly.

Air Jamaica is accurately notorious for losing luggage, though you tend to get it within 3 days. It might be best to bring essentials in your carryon luggage to get you through that time, as they have that tendency to leave luggage behind due to overfull flights.

The good news is that though your luggage may show up 3 days later having seen more action than you have, you get 140 lovely pounds of it. Now, my parents flew AJ as mentioned, and *none* of the bags got lost. It could be coincidence, but I wrapped the bags in flourescent orange duct tape I got at Walmart, so it couldn't hurt; might help. Label EVERYTHING WELL.

I don't know much about Liat other than that on the way back from Grenada, they were better than American Airlines since THEIR planes left on time, but I'm told that's a rarity. I don't know their luggage requirements and I've never flown them, but I've heard some horror stories. Also, if Liat causes you to miss connecting flights, don't expect them to pony up for meal vouchers or hotels. They don't consider it to be their problem.

What do you need to bring? Hmm... There's a good list at ValueMD, but let me give you my impressions.

First off, your dorm room comes with toilet paper and a shower curtain. That's *it*. You want pillows? Bring em or buy em. Blankets? Same story. Cookware? Makes me laugh. If you can take friends or family to help cart your stuff with you in exchange for those lovely free SGU sponsored tours, that works *splendidly*, particularly if you are like me and are a diver/guitar player that needs your own stuff.

I don't know the quality of pillows and blankets on the island since I brought my own and then snapped the ones my roommate left (hopefully, for me), but I saw someone with a pillow she'd gotten at Spiceland Mall and it looked decent.

BRING COOKWARE if you can. Dishes and such aren't that big of a problem, but unless you hunt around downtown St. George's, the cooking pan selection at Spiceland Mall *sucks*. You can get a thin saucepot that isn't big enough for ramen noodles (honestly, it isn't. I bought it, and they wouldn't fit), or a giant, REALLY expensive pot that's actually the bottom of a pressure cooker. Frying pans tend to be overpriced and thin. Oh, and bring (in your checked luggage), good knives and good scissors. Again, hard to find, and expensive when you do.

Your room... I was in SD1, and there are pictures of it somewhere on the blog in January, which I'd link up if I weren't fighting a dialup connection. There are two twin beds, on wheels, two giant wooden lockers to keep your stuff in, a bathroom with a shower (no baths!!!! For months!!!), a two burner stove (no ovens), fridge/freezer, and a microwave. I believe that's the standard for all of the superdorms except in the triples where you have three people to a suite, each of whom has their own bedroom, which is pretty damn cool, and the kitchen is larger.

There are washer/dryers on each floor, and if you're lucky, a couple of them will work. I found the late night to be the best time to do laundry, but your results may vary. I also found it really difficult to find dryer sheets on the island, so you might want to bring some, but regular laundry soap is abundant.

You'll need a laptop; bring the receipt (or type one up yourself), as you will likely be charged an import tax on it that's 50-100 dollars. If you don't screw with customs, that will pretty much be the only thing they charge you for, so don't try cute things like putting it with other people, because as a student, they'll be looking for a laptop. Keep the receipt, as you only have to pay it once so long as you have that to show.

Once I paid the laptop tax, I didn't get charged on any of my other electronics or scuba gear. If have stuff shipped to you though, the charges on those items (I've heard up to 50% value!) can be astronomical, particularly on electronics, DVDs, and that sort of thing.

Uhhh... and that's all for now folks.