Oct 30, 2007

A fun neuro group?

For a time in small group, we've been doing neuroanatomy, which essentially means we get to go over structures in the brain and thumb through a badly arranged atlas to identify things. Snore.

Now, we get to move onto testing each other for stuff and playing with the "My First Doctor" kits. Incidentally, this week, I get an "A+" in eyes. My pupillary reflex rules! Stay tuned for next week when I fail auditory though. Curse my ipod and it's unreasonable loudness!

Getting to test each other for stuff is all kinds of fun. I'm also in the smartass group (awesome), which prompts things like:

Student doctor to tutor: "Do you want me to turn the lights off for this?"
Student patient: "Why? What are you going to do to me?"

Oct 29, 2007


At last!!

And because I am yet again behind in updating fully on my blog, I find myself with too much to blog! Should I do the Venezuela thing and just say "screw it" and start from scratch? Nah.

Thursday was Grenadian Thanksgiving, which is apparently a celebration of the anniversary of the American invasion. Um, awesome?

I suppose because a bunch of us are homesick, have classes on American Thanksgiving, are in post-midterm slump, and like eating, we decided to have a party, and throw it at my place because I have the crash-pad and (gasp) a television. More for the space though. This also marked my first official party at my place, and a dinner party no less. Ooh, ambitious!

Naturally, I was afraid it would either be a complete disaster, or no one would come, but despite short notice, TEN people came, fit nicely into my apartment, Rich actually managed to find a football game on television, there was no fighting (unlike the Thanksgivings I see on tv; my family was never big on fighting on Thanksgiving, because my family's never been big on Thanksgiving), everyone brought goodies, and Nina went on a cook-a-thon and made foccacia, pies, cheesecake, etc.

And what modern party would be complete without youtube? BWA HA HA HA.

In addition, the post-party "trashed" state of my apartment amounted to a few dishes in the sink, about half of which were already rinsed due to guests actually *washing their own dishes*. I was suddenly overwhelmed by the knowledge that everyone I know is more polite than I am.

The spread!

And that was before about half the guests arrived.

So Thanksgiving was great fun.

To completely break with that thought, back to the waterfalls I've been waxing on about.

Saturday, as noted, Lori, Lisa, Nina, Jay, and I ventured out on school buses to reggae buses to go up to Grand Etang rainforest to hike to the Seven Sisters waterfalls.

About a mile before the Grand Etang Lake turnoff, there's a little hill up to a staging area for the waterfall hike. On Jay's advice (he went there last weekend), we hired our wonderful guide Ivaldo, and paid the fee to the waterfall area. This whole thing, bus fare included and not including celebratory beer/ting, tallies up to about 40 EC (~$15 US) a person for a full day of hiking, funning, and jumping off waterfalls, including transportation. NOT bad. The trip there is really pretty too:

She who crosseth the falls of death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side she sees.

The staging area looks like this:

Unfortunately, when you're in a location as beautiful as this, you must defend that beauty at all cost:

We also got pre-hike use of the local kitten:

Kittens not only make good hat protectors:

But are excellent when added to salad:

(No kittens were harmed in the making of this blog)

The person swinging the mean machete (and wondering why on earth I'd want him to pose for such a terrible picture) is Ivaldo, our guide. He points out all the cool stuff (windbreak trees, cinnamon trees, nutmeg, cocoa, leads anyone needing assistance very carefully along the trail, and oh yeah, may have saved my life, but that's later.

The way the waterfall trip works is that there's a pleasant, not too bad trail out to the lower two waterfalls, though it was muddy from some recent rainstorms. What's nice is that a most of the steep places have carved in stairs, otherwise it would have been like trying to climb up a waterslide:

Still slippy, but a definite plus.

Grr was breaking in her hiking shoes, thus thought we were trying to kill her by sticking her on the double black diamond trail, to which I present this image:

And before she kills *me* for this, I kid! I kid! Grrr did quite well and left us in the dust on the way back. Plus the tiny tiny little girl in diapers was carried for most of the trip by her father, lest this picture gives the *impression* that this trail can be traversed by tiny tiny little girls in diapers. I think after this blog post, by the way, I'm going to end up having to buy Grrr ice cream before she speaks to me again.

I found the scarier parts of the trail were things like this:

But we had Ivaldo to make sure we didn't trespass, thus end up with "No head" just in time to be the Headless Horsestudents for Halloween. Yipes.

Minus threats of death, the trail was stunning:

When you get to the base of the two waterfalls, there is an additional trail up (necessitating a guide, versus just having one recommended like the regular trail) to the top of all the waterfalls. The only way to see all 7 is to jump off either 5 or 6 of them, since I don't think there's another way down that doesn't involve cutting a path through steep, rocky, virgin jungle, so once you've jumped the first, you're committed!

Now, I didn't think the trail to the base was too bad, but I like hiking and was in the girl scounts since I was a tiny tiny little girl in diapers and they make you go on forced hikes to prepare you for the inevitable extortion death march that is cookie season. The trip to the top was rough! There was a family from the UK accompanying us, and two of their kids (probably around 12 and 14 were the only ones besides me and Jay stup...er brave enough to head up it. FUN, but difficult, particularly we were all going barefoot in bathing suits. There was not an inch of me below the neck that wasn't coated in mud after scrabbling up. Fortunately, you get to rinse off in that cool cool water. Ahhhhh...

The trip along the stream that makes up the waterfalls is also a bit rough. There's a place where you have to kind of shimmy along a rock wall where Jay unfortunately fell and did a real number on his ankle. Then proceeded to strap a smile to his face and do the hike and jump through all the waterfalls. Good gods. One missed step at Aquarium last term and I was down for the count. I certainly wasn't going to trek anything, and if I'd had to, I probably would have been whining the whole way. In fact, I think I did just for the walk to the taxi. Ow!

I forget if there were two standard straight-in jumps or one, which is why I can't remember if I jumped off a total of 6 or 7 waterfalls. One of the waterfalls required a shallow dive head first, which was a little spooky, but didn't hit any rocks, and one was a required cannonball due to some shallower rocks, which I touched, but didn't get hurt on.

There is one area where there's a pretty rough flume and you have to half crab walk over it by putting one foot on each side of it along the rocks. Being the token clumsy girl in a group with a dude and two overly-athletic kids, I got all the guide-attention for "please don't fall in and die", so he was telling me where to put me feet.

Did okay on that part. Then, we got to the BIG waterfall. For reference, jumping off it looks like this, though this video is sideways. To my credit, the second guy jumping in the video *also* nearly fell off, though in a different spot, so I feel vindicated. Thanks, random youtube guy.

We were crossing the stream at the top to get into the right position, when I slipped on the rocks. This doesn't seem like a big deal, except the current was stronger than expected, and I started getting swept toward the, ya know, giant bone breaking drop. I squawked (no really, I think that was the sound I made), Ivaldo grabbed me, righted me, I slipped again (though not as closely), and so he essentially pulled me up where he was standing, muttered something (though smiling) and crossed himself. Heh heh. Whoopsie.

Jay jumped first. Then the circa 14 year old girl jumped and made me feel like a chump, because she looked down said "That's quite scary" and leaped off without a second thought. Her 12 year old brother took a little longer, but tipped a little too far backwards and the water gave him a pretty good backslap and he came up crying. Poor kid. At 12 I would probably have been crying at the thought of the first waterfall and would have had to be carried back. I was a wimp.

I was looking off the edge for a little bit to see if he was okay, got the big okay sign and... for a split second, had no problem but hesitated just a WEE bit too long and then had time to think about it.

Wow, that's a high waterfall! So I stood there, then my thighs started shaking a little, which was spooky because you have to jump out to make sure you don't hit anything, so then I yelled "ONE TWO THREE" and SPLASH! Actually "ONE TWO THREE" (seemingly eternal drop to water) and SPLASH!

WAHOO!!!!!!! Then it was off the one at the bottom and success.

So all waterfalls jumped. Headed back to the staging area a steady victor (if a hesitant and clumsy one).

Oct 28, 2007


Bonsai kitten? (no, to those who apparently haven't been to an myth debunking site in the last decade, the site isn't real)

No, I'm not an albino; I've just been inside studying for midterms.

"Bonsai" is also what you yell when you jump off a thirty foot waterfall. At least, it's what you think, because the only thing you yell is "three!" because it takes counting to three to get your terrified ass to actually jump.

I spent most of today, as promised, jumping off waterfalls or hiking to waterfalls for the purpose of jumping off of them. Since I'm also diving tomorrow as part of my post-midterm, finally got enough sleep to go on a bender- bender, no details until then! Ha!

But I can tell you that I dived off BOTH these waterfalls (and nearly fell off the top, aka, tallest, because I'm an idiot), and four or five of their "sisters" (there are seven sister waterfalls, but I can't remember whether you can dive off six of the seven or all seven:

More Sunday evening!

Oct 27, 2007

Jumping off a cliff?

Yup, that's on the schedule for tomorrow!

"But Ishie!" some of you may say. "Shouldn't that have been DURING midterms?"

Alas, no. But tomorrow (today, technically, I suppose), I'll be hiking up the Seven Sisters waterfalls, and jumping off a number of them. And no worries, allegedly people do this all the time without death or injury, so I'm feeling lucky.

So I'll be able to update with waterfall stories, jungle pictures (hopefully) and stories of the Thanksgiving-That-Isn't-Thanksgiving-but-kinda-is party later.

Wish me luck!

Oct 23, 2007

If one examines all the symptoms...

Checking for upper and lower motor neuron function, checking muscle tone, checking anal sphincter reflex, checking cremaster reflex (don't ask), determining if there's a Babinsky sign, determining whether paralysis is flaccid or spastic...

We conclude that the patient is a big ol Faker Fakerson.

Good thing we had all that training, eh?

In other news, there is the storm of the century (except for Felix) going on outside, with one "earth shattering kaboom" so significant that I wandered outside, only to see neighbors of mine doing the same. Sheesh.

Med school before the internet?

There's no way! At first, I was jealous of the long-ago docs because they got to become doctors before half the biochem and immuno stuff was discovered, which is so wonderful.

Nothing makes you hate scientific discovery quite like medical school, and nothing is sweeter to the ears than "And A becomes B, but no one is sure of the mechanism". Versus "A becomes B, and thanks to research done two years ago, we now know the seventeen page esoteric, difficult to conceptualize process by which it happens. This WILL be on the test." Damn! Is it wrong to beat someone with their own Nobel Prize?

Which is all the more impetus to get into school as soon as you can... before they discover anything else!

But to continue my first thought, I am no longer envious of the ago-docs because WE HAVE INTERNET. I have come to the realization that it is impossible to pass medical school without the internet, particularly if you're as lazy as I am and have no intention of bussing it down the the library to page through reference books to find something that's confusing you.

Nope, instead, while watching a neuro lecture on Sonic Foundry, in the air conditioned comfort of my apartment, I realized I didn't quite get what the instructor was saying about testing clonus... so it was onto Wikipedia. Hmm.. kind of hard to visualize that test. Oh wait, Wiki has a link to a video SHOWING it being done. Huzzah.

So I suppose I can trade all the obnoxious discoveries (like in immuno, any fragment of anything containing the letter "w", meaning "workshop", meaning "discovered in the last five minutes and will change names by the end of the week) for my sweet sweet internet.

Oct 22, 2007

Not quite the "bender"...

Problem being that during first term, you finish midterms and then have a week before Sandblast. In second term, it's the day after your last midterm.

I was planning the sort of self-indulgent bender that killed Hendrix, when I discovered something: Midterms are Tiring.

Friday after the exam? How about some lunch at the mall, a trombone concert outside, home for some vegetation, and then a quiet dinner at the local pasta joint after getting kicked out of Coyaba because they suddenly decided to enforce a dress code (in the Caribbean??) and were going to grant us the distinct honor of sitting off from everyone else in an area that wouldn't get waited on, but we'd get to pay the same price. Er, no. Then? Hang at my apartment with friends.

So Saturday; THAT'S the day everyone parties, right? I can sleep off the no sleep before neuro, wake up at noon and party hard? Except, it's kind of rainy, I WANT to feel like partying but really don't, and my cupboard has been stripped to nothingness by midterms. So I'll just go shopping. But that takes awhile, and then Sandblast is over, and oh, gosh darn I missed it and it was pretty expensive, and there's an after party at Aquarium, but there's parties like that all the time, so no need for this one, so quiet night hanging with Nina and watching Fight Club. Ahhh...

This, at first, made me feel like a loser (the skipping partying; not the hanging with friends), until I realized that nearly all the second termers I ran into were doing the same thing. That week sucked.

So how'd it go? I passed everything. Which means Ishie Happy. It also means Ishie's standards have lowered significantly from "I'm going to try for straight As" to the post midterm/pre grade posted "Gee, I hope I get an 'F' high enough I can bring up during finals".

Neuro... sucked for me, though the test was fair. Was going to pull a deliberate (Ishie, Ishie, you never learn) all nighter to learn everything I could, particularly in neurodevelopment, which I'd been neglecting. Because cramming the entire night before an exam during a week where you've used up all your mental reserves and are living off dry honey nut cheerios because you ran out of everything else is a good idea.

This meant in the exam, I got the distinct pleasure of nearly passing out. Fantastic. Stress + sleeplessness = Health problems. I was sitting there, heard humming, thought "no way", started sweating profusely, and nearly dropped. Asked for a restroom run, which of course is highly moderated (thanks, cheating microbio students that screwed up the privilage of going to the bathroom by yourself, for that, by the way), and they apparently had my number and I put my head down and drank water, which recharged my batteries, so I burned through the rest of the exam.

Someone, fairly close to the exam, said "Don't expect neuro to be any easier than physio", which considering physio was harder than giving birth to an rabid adult Saint Bernard is less than encouraging.

Er... your results may vary, but neuro was easier than physio. It was not easy; don't get me wrong, and was made far more difficult by virtue of it being the last exam. But while the physio exam almost seemed deadset on punishing you for knowing ALMOST enough but not quite enough, the neuro exam seemed to, for the most part, hit on key points that were made. The questions were fairly straightforward with a few curve balls, and many of them answered other questions within the test. Oh, though guys? Venom properties? An aside paragraph in one handout? One question, but c'mon now. Ask me about tetanus. I know about tetanus.

But so my "party weekend" was really more of a "Ahhhh.... I can relax and lounge without feeling GUILTY" weekend. Which I really like. This was punctuated today by diving with Lori. Hooray for diving! I went out on the water for the first time in 6 months and just the sensation of being back in the water was wonderful. No pictures I'm afraid, since I was reorienting and didn't want to mess with my camera.

And tonight? I learned to properly make lentils, which should carve a substantial slice off my food budget.

Oct 18, 2007

Caribbean example

When it comes to sound, we have a twofer Caribbean example!

If you recall, for illustrating sensitization of the area around a burn, we have "burning yourself when you light your stove".

Now, we have sound waves traveling through water when you're snorkeling at Grand Anse Beach, hear a high-pitched whine, and want to avoid getting hit by the boat that's inevitably heading towards you, as well as the delay in sound when you're overlooking a valley and a man is cutting down a tree with a cutlass/machete.

All in all, this professor is pretty cool, and is the same one who let a student jab him in the eye to demonstrate corneal reflexes. But will this offer be made again *AFTER* the midterm?

Note to self:

When trying to demonstrate the vestibulo-ocular, and optokinetic reflexes to yourself, do not stand up and spin around really fast in a circle, especially when you're full of tea.

On the plus side, now I *really* can visualize my endolymph sloshing around. Glurgh.

Oh, and I passed immuno, which means if I don't tank the final, I never have to see the alternative pathway of complement again, which fills me with a joy I cannot adequately express.

Oct 17, 2007

Two Down!

Today's Final Jeopardy answer is: "The class you've avoided all term to study physio that is about to bite you on the medulla oblongata."

Hmm... What is Neuroscience, Alex? No... really. Because I need to know by Friday.

Verdict on Physio: OMG, I FREAKING PASSED!!!!!!!!! To repeat myself. Hardest. Exam. Ever.

Today was Immunology, a 100 question test consisting of first order questions I probably should have known more of the answers to. As to why I DIDN'T know a lot of them, it's probably because by the time I got to studying the TWELVE interleukins (creatively named "IL-1" and up, that we needed to know, my head was so full of letters and numbers that they all just spilled out into a jumble on my floor and I was too lazy to pick em up.

So Jay showed me a great video that represents not only the kind of logic you need to understand immuno, but represents pretty much what the inside of my head looks like after two midterms.

My brain kind of rebelled last night, and I think it was after I wrote down the following:

"Classical: C4a & C4b; C2a & C2b; C3a & C3b; (C5a & C5b) to C3conv:C2aC4b and C5conv: C2aC4bC3b"
Alternative: C3a & C3b (tickover); Ba&Bb; (C5a & C5b) to C3conv:C3bBb and C5conv:C3bBbC3b"

Yeah. Wrote that down. From memory. On the front of my summary notes. I still have it. And then I looked at it, and told *myself* to go to hell. Because I've seen more coherence on an eye chart. I could make more sense out of the letters on the scantron sheet. So I tried to concentrate after that, and decided to go over the interleukins "quickly" because I knew they were important and would definitely be on the test, and that pack/cram regurg stuff is usually something that works pretty well for me, but I think I overestimated my ability to do it this time around.

I can't really complain (well... that's not true, but you know), but the exam was pretty fair, I think (just know the disproportionate crap for T cell differentiation and interleukin secretion, but though I wasn't good with it, it didn't come as any major surprise that it was there), and you get flat told the sort of thing that's going to be on it. The questions are all first order and don't require much logic, some are the same ones given as samples in either the summary notes, the text, or in lecture, but do require you to separate letters and numbers that don't really mean anything to you, and I'm not that great at it.

But I do actually think I passed, and it didn't give me the brain aneurysm feeling I had after physio, so it's onto neuro!! And then a 48 hour bender!

Oct 15, 2007


First exam: Physio.

Having heard this was a notoriously difficult exam, I devoted a pretty disproportionate amount of my study time to this so that I would feel REALLY confident when I took the test, understand the concepts, be able to extrapolate, and all that.

Yeah... that exam was so bloody difficult, it made the MCAT seem like an "Is he that into you?" Teen Beat magazine quizlet. And the weird thing is that except for the like 20 minutes of yesterday I spent reviewing heart sounds and EKGs (you know you're in trouble when calculating the mean electrical axis of the heart is the EASY part of the exam), I have no idea how I could have studied differently or better for it. The seven HOURS of yesterday I spent dedicated to understanding all the relationships didn't seem to help, but it's also not like the quiz was full of minutia. I don't even know how to categorize it. 17th order type questions that required a form of logic I'm not sure I have... can you just let me be a doctor yet? I promise I won't be a heart doctor!

What also didn't help was that the test was exhausting. Halfway into it I wanted to be done, and not like "Gee, I wish I weren't taking a test" kind of done, but a "My brain is overloaded and I'm getting to the point where I don't even CARE what the answers are anymore." For every question, I ended up feeling like I knew about 85% of what the question was talking about, and understood what it was, and what it related to, but when it came to that final "So then, what color are the bus driver's eyes?" endgame, that bridging connection just wasn't there. So I dunno. I would have preferred the Histo approach with "Hmmm... had time to cover that lecture. Know the answers. Hmm... did not even LOOK at that lecture once, thus am completely justified and comfortable with getting every one of those questions wrong... because I didn't earn it."

This one, it was more like going to work for a couple weeks, doing your best, and then they just decide not to give you a paycheck this time around. You earned it, but too bad. Unfortunately, neither medical school, nor likely the USMLEs, let you by on what you EARNED. Instead, it's on what you KNOW. Whether that takes 20 minutes or 20 years.

What's weird is that tests with 150 questions, while grueling, were much less so. Know it or don't. Next question. Not "I know most of this, so let me spend 10 minutes working out three perfectly logical conclusions to this problem, and have all three of them be answer choices." I also kept having those moments Dr. Curry joked about with us last term where you read the question with the answers covered, feel confident in an answer, and then realize that the "right" answer isn't there. Awesome.

And two more exams to go! On the plus side, if I don't fail physio completely (as in the final), I don't have to LOOK at cardiovascular again until the USMLE. Hallelujah.

Oct 14, 2007

Ave, Caesar, morituri te salutant

Yes kids, midterms start tomorrow with a walloping bowl of physiology.

For those who aren't in medical school, this short clip is the most realistic depiction I've found to date...

Oct 12, 2007

Hi Feds...

So in my review of my neuro stuff, since I realized I was neglecting it to inhale physio (no word yet on immunology; I'm ignoring it in the hopes it will go away), I went over some old cellular neuroscience lecture notes so that now I know how sarin and tabun work (nastily). For the uninitiated or non-CNN watchers, these are nerve gases. For those who need a cheap exam pickup, they irreversibly bind acetylcholinesterase. My, that's a big word, but it's got "ase" in it, which makes it biochem relevant. If you're not being tested on it Friday, don't worry about what that implicates.

In lecture, it was mentioned that these agents cause flaccid paralysis because there's certain channels can only be open for so long before they inactivate, and then no more nerve signals get through, aka death...

Leaving me to wonder that since the neurons initially FIRE, which should produce things like seizures/convulsions, would that lead to those actions prior to the flaccid paralysis? Just trying to see how complete my understanding of this neuromuscular junction stuff is, not because I like to trade in human misery.

Leading to the title of this post, because to solve this mystery, it meant looking up "Sarin" on Wikipedia, which conveniently also provides a section on prolonging the shelf life of the stuff (gee, that's some useful information), leading me further ponder: "How many watch lists can I get myself on by wiki'ing nerve gas?"

Just please don't put me on the no-fly list. I wanna go home for Christmas.

Oct 11, 2007

The lunch special

is knowing every detail of this diagram upways, downways, frontways, and sideways.

On the plus side, once I do, with the exception of calculating the mean electrical axis of the heart, I am ONE with the heart, because this diagram pretty much involves nearly everything there is to know about it, with the caveat that you have to be able to conceptually understand every dip and valley.

Yesterday, after missing my immuno lecture because I couldn't get my dumb ass to bed on time, I buckled in with the 6th lecture of gastrointestinal goodness, a dabbling in the retina in neuro, and then decided it would be good for my brain to inhale the first half of our first set of Cardiovascular notes. 52 pages later, it was time for bed. I did break to go for my evening walk, allowing me to discover that two of my previous walking trails are conveniently connected without having to stroll by the house of the evil, untethered dog. I hate this frigging mutt. If you don't look him in the eye and scream "I am your alpha bitch!!! NO NO NO BAD DOG GO HOME!", he runs out and tries to nip you in the ankles, and he is not a small dog... and since I love dogs and miss mine, I prefer to avoid him, because if I pound his rabid teeth out with my water bottle, I know it'll inevitably make me feel bad.

So today? Minus the skipping immuno (I went! I swear!), the plan is to rinse and repeat. Is midterms over yet?

Oct 10, 2007

It was a dark and stormy night

And boy howdy, is it freaking ever. I'm no safety nut, and I've got my computer unplugged and on wireless and everything because the thunder was cracking so loudly it was literally shaking the apartment.

Of course, being the person that I am, I can only think it's freaking cool (so long as my power, aka, air conditioning, stays on), but it's coming down like it did during Felix, sans the heavy winds.

First off, let me give a big THANK YOU to Slappy for tracking down this picture, illustrative of what humans would look like if we did the same thing to them as we do to fruit flies:

Gentlemen, BEHOLD:

And when Adult Swim tracks me down to break my thumbs, I will also share in that prize.

Today, prior to the inevitable viewing of House (and thus necessary weekly social interaction, which keeps me sane enough that I don't have to start making up invisible friends), I was again enraptured in front of Sonic Foundry, inhaling three physio lectures and a neuro lecture, with another one planned before bed. So I suppose, while being "productive", I think that means that except for going to my immuno lecture, I watched tv all day. Ah, med school.

Midterms midterms... but we're going to ignore them to talk about House.

House points (not House rules, which should be far more important to my current situation, since I'm required to know them for the neuro midterm):

1. Not a big fan of this episode, much as I love NearDeathExperience!House. He's dying more than Mulder lately.

2. The ending violated cardinal television rule number 1, and I am NOT a fan. I'm becoming a people-doctor so I *don't* have to watch furry little critters die. Don't screw my record.

3. Cuddy's been one of my favorite characters since I started watching the show, but she is now so totally ineffective that it starts to stretch reality even for this show, and oh-my-god can we stop with the stripper clothes? It's beyond even tv-revealing embarrassing and right into trailer park hussy.

4. Seriously? Cameron needs to die. There are crazed gunmen, stalker teenagers, girls plummeting off balconies, and thrillchasers with switchblades running all over this hospital; she works in the ER, and not ONE tragedy can befall her short of falling into a vat of peroxide (Yes, I know it's Jennifer Morrison's natural color, I don't care, and it's giving her this weird twincest vibe with Chase)? I'd say kill Foreman too, but since they already assassinated his character at the end of season 2 (interesting intelligent character replaced with Stabby McPaperStealer), he's already dead. Which means he'll probably be seen in the next Very Special Supernatural Episode of House.

5. I am convinced that there is an unseen, uncredited writer working for the show that goes to this school. Not only do the diagnoses tend to follow what we're studying with an inordinate number of shoutouts to parasitology (the only class any of us seem to remember), BUT there's a hiatus in the show smack dab in the middle of midterms to be resumed the week after? C'mon hidden SGU student. Step up and take credit. And kill Cameron. I know you have the power.

Oct 8, 2007

Scientists are evil...

I know; I know, and you thought it was only Duane Gish who thought that...

We have a new neuro professor, who seems really cool and is doing the unenviable task of making developmental neuroanatomy seem interesting the week before midterms.

One of the interesting aspects involves the Drosophila (much-abused species of fruit fly) homeotic genes, similar to our hox genes, with the short version of the story being that by screwing with them, we can make these unsuspecting arthropods grow eyes all over their bodies.

To someone studying this, awesome. To a fruitfly... AHHHHHH!!!! Which was going to be linked to a picture of Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force with his body made up of eyes (if you haven't seen it, don't ask), but alas, I couldn't find one.

Fun facts about your gut...

Apparently one of the minor features of the gastrointestinal system is "homestatis".

I wonder if that has anything to do with homeostasis?

Needless to say, the questions on this part of the physio test better damn well match the information presented in the class and not what we're likely *supposed* to know. And I'm not cracking that massive doorstop of a textbook the week before midterms to figure it out, either.

Oct 7, 2007

You know you're in the Caribbean when...

Your neuroscience professor uses "You burn yourself while lighting your stove" as the example for increased pain sensitivity following an injury.

You also know you're getting closer to midterms when all your blog posts involve direct correlations to what you're studying.

Now that I've discovered a wireless signal, I can curl up on my SOFA watching Sonic Foundry rather than being tethered by my ethernet cable. Ahhh, bliss. So I'm inhaling neuro lectures like popcorn (mmm, popcorn) while periodically using Wiki to track down structures in the brain I should have learned a month ago. And it's *television* (sort of) so it's having that history channel effect where I'm actually retaining stuff from watching it, rather than reading it, highlighting it, painstakingly writing it in my own words, and then forgetting it five seconds later.


In our immunology lecture notes, there's reference to "an alternative hypothesis explaining persistence of memory cells."

Personally, I'm guessing it has something to do with melting clocks.

Oct 5, 2007

Thank you, biochem

Never thought I'd say *those* words.

And yes, someone's procrastinating. Lotta blog posts, eh?

Though initially exceptionally disappointed to spend a good part of my summer memorizing the second half of biochem because I'm such a spaz, DAMN, am I glad of it now. I'm also glad for the work I did in histo (with Manlocks' help, of course) because there is some mystifying stuff that is only making sense in light of stuff I learned last term, and I don't mean "general stuff you should have conceptualized last term", I mean "piddling minutia that isn't adequately explained, so thank freaking heavens you actually remember it".

Thus, due in large part to biochemistry's unhealthy obsession with enzymes and the fun little things they do, I'm finding error after error in my gastrointestinal system notes, leading me to wonder if, on the exam, I put what I know to be *right* (and what was taught in biochem and histo) answer, or do I put the answers in the new physio lecture notes? Decisions decisions. And I'm pretty sure Intrinsic Factor isn't an exocrine secretion, but I've been wrong before.

For a little background, in physiology, we finished the cardiovascular lectures (which I thought were really good) and started with a new set of notes, a new lecturer, and a new set of potential midterm questions with GI tract.

So far, I'm not finding gastrointestinal that *hard* per se (cardiovascular was harder because this summer made me good at biochem but did nothing for my fifth grade understanding of physics and the CV system is just one big fluid dynamics nightmare taunting me in the voice of my high school physics teacher), but the lecture quality has dropped off, so I'm having to cross reference stuff that "seems wrong", because turns out, it is. Sigh.

But, turns out, all that biochem that seemed irrelevant actually is really important, and may save my butt, which is more important. It's also the only way I can remotely begin to understand immunology, and the parts I understand best are the ones that have an overlap in biochem or oddly enough, parasitology.

So though I haven't taken any exams and certainly have not been a paradigm of "success" this term, if I have any advice as of late (other than parroting my dad's "don't spin your wheels"), it's that so far the best help I've had in second term is understanding first term. Seems obvious, but there ya go.

Physics is helpful, apparently, but for the cardiovascular lectures, that awesome prof started with "I'm going to assume you all think the heart is something on the front of a valentine and go from there." Thank the gods.

Oct 4, 2007

Grenadian Day

With a bad morning to start it though.

Went to my immunology lecture this morning (which is not, regrettably, on Sonic Foundry) and despite having felt *fairly* caught up in that class, thought the instructor was reading an eye chart off the back wall. So had a bit of a "I hate med school" fit but snapped out of it. I studied the summary notes (which are different from the lecture slides) and it's starting to make sense, and it only takes the amount of time of my other two classes combined, so no big deal.

But had lunch at Sugar Shack, dining on a lambie (conch) roti and a ting. This is a wonderful combination when you're feeling sorry for yourself because it's not only magically delicious (conch isn't as good as abalone, but it's pretty damn good, and ting is just... Caribbean crack, grapefruit flavored crack, and I don't even like grapefruit), but very island-y.

Went home to do the aforementioned studying and when I took a break for my evening walk (which has been doing wonders for me, and yes, it's 'parentheses' day), I decided to go off the normal, well-traveled, rush-hour, honked-at, killed-by-reggae bus routes and go back toward campus and up into the hills.

This also emphasized the really positive islandy aspects because it's stunning up there, while keeping me very much mentally ON the island because I forgot to drench myself in toxic chemicals before venturing off into the jungle at dusk and predictably got the living crap bitten out of me by mozzies. Hello, dengue! Don't worry, this island doesn't tend to produce the hemorrhagic form.

But that actually didn't bother me much. I'm used to mosquitoes. The views were pretty, the nasty dogs stayed in their yards, and I managed to somehow time being at a high vantage point overlooking one of the many inlet-seas right at sunset, so that was flat awesome. No camera though, unfortunately. Another time. It also seems to be a safer route since there's FAR less traffic. Only problem is that a lot of it isn't paved, and though I'm using a brand new ankle brace bought from the drug store (Grenada apparently, has better braces than Walmart, whose brace I responsibly bought prior to coming has done such hideous blistery things to my left foot that it looks like I have hookworm), I'm still trying to be careful with it.

Frigging thing. To catch people up, in January, approximately three days after I arrived on Grenada, I sprained my ankle for the first time in my life by the insanely bold athletic act of walking along a path at a party. Wasn't even drunk yet! Was on crutches for about a week, wore a wrap on it, seemed a fairly normal-course injury, and yet, ten months later, it still likes to periodically swell, creak, ache, and occasionally tries to turn again (unsuccessfully to date).

While exercise exacerbates this somewhat, it does this anyway, quite normally, even when I have it elevated, iced, and am watching television on the sofa, so I finally figured I'd just brace it, and since it's acting like it's going to want surgery in the distant future, I might as well have fun destroying it. I want the MRI in ten years to be definitive and *impressive*. None of this borderline stuff. I want to have an ankle like the shoulder I saw when I was doing my orthopod shadowing, where the doctor looked at the MRI, whistled and said "looks like someone set a bomb off in there." Hells yeah. On an anatomical note, the humerus isn't supposed to be attached to the clavicle, is it?

Anyway, to complete my Grenada day, I finally polished off the soursop ice cream I had in the freezer. A word of advice on that... my roommate introduced me to soursop last term as a base for smoothies, which is really nice *when you mix it with other things*. By itself in ice cream... the first bite seems like it's going to be horrible, and has an initial "ooh, do NOT like" sensation, but then kind of grows on you, but not to the extent ice cream normally should. It has a taste quality that is vaguely reminiscent of the fibrous parts of melons, despite the fact that it has the consistency of normal, creamy ice cream. Definitely not as bad as the artichoke ice cream in Castroville though, where your response is "Wow... that's far less atrocious than I thought it was going to be, yet remains bad."

Since I'm a cheapskate and don't hate the stuff, I was resolved to finish it before buying a new container of something better (Sugar & Spice's nutmeg, rum/raisin, orange pine, and strawberry swirl are all awesome), and so now that mission is accomplished. Back to T-cells.

Oct 3, 2007

Recycling is fun...

You Know Midterms are Coming When

Hey, give me a break, it was House night!! Which incidentally, did not mean studying Dr. House's neuro lectures (which it probably SHOULD have), but meaning there was yet ANOTHER shoutout to parasit on this show (alveolar hydatid disease, though not the correct diagnosis) and of course, the standard "neoplastic syndrome" (not parasit) that is the show's third favorite not-right disease after lupus and MS.

Speaking of House (the show), can we have a "Very Special Episode" in which they spend the entire episode with Cameron getting a fatal disease and dropping dead? Gods I hate her.

In Reality-Land, it's sleepover night. L'il Grr STILL has an propane leak in her apartment (allegedly fixed a few days ago, yet clearly not), and is sleeping on my futon (so I'm trying to type quietly) due to some inexplicable aversion to dying in a fiery explosive blaze.

And yes, parents, my propane tank and stove are functioning perfectly well, her apartment is in a separate building, and when the stuff leaks, good god, you can smell it, so there is no 'hidden propane leak' in here. I can read your minds!

Oct 1, 2007

Hmm... feeling better...

Nothing like the pity party that accompanies the approach of exams. With a little less than two weeks to go!

Turns out, surfing the internet, blogging, and watching internet tv is far more gratifying when you use it to reward yourself for studying rather than using it as an excuse not to... at least for me.

Also, when apparently the fifth or sixth person links anxiety/depression to a potential inability to leave my computer chair, couch, or apartment, one starts to think "Hey, maybe I should do that exercise thing everyone talks so much about."

Problem being, gymming it isn't all that fun and tends to require a fight for the cardio machines plus the innate sensation that I should be, in some way, trying to study on ellipticals, stationary bikes, or most laughably, treadmills. I think I saw that video..., which, by the way, is awesome.

Results? You tend to do a half-assed workout and a half-assed study session. Two self esteem lowerers for the price of one.

So instead? I'll do what every other person to ever move off campus does: powerwalk/jog/run at dusk, when it's not so horrendously hot. Granted, this does increase your chances of death-by-reggae-bus by 600%, but I'll stick where there are kinda sidewalks. There's also the trick of remembering which direction "faces traffic" in this country.

Helps too. Sunset is a pretty time to be out, it's not as hot, I get my endorphins moving, and I don't feel like an anti-social lazy slug that is gradually losing weight just by moving so infrequently that I've decreased my calorie requirement to a cup of tea in the morning. Cheaper on the food budget though.

Funny thing is that you get so accustomed to either studying or pretending to study (aka surfing the internet), that just the promise of taking a walk in two hours was sufficient to motivate me to DO stuff, and then post walk/shower/dinner, motivated me to feel refreshed, and as such actually managed to ACCOMPLISH things today, which increases that anti-anxiety, which increases the tendency of it to happen more often.

Whoda thought? Everyone, really. Pre-docs and docs take the worst care of themselves, and the worst thing, they KNOW THEY'RE DOING IT!

I'm learning to love physio in that at least for the heart, the instructor just keeps repeating herself in different ways until all those little letters are rammed into my head, and I have the beginning (gasp) of perception. Add some memorization to that with what receptors do what (again, repeated five thousand times), and I *think* I'm okay.

Neuro is a bit different. Physio really seems to require that understanding while neuro, independently, doesn't *tend* to be conceptually difficult, with some rather stunning exceptions, but just has lots and lots of stuff rammed into a small area. And I dislike tracts. I'm wondering if there's a correlation between getting lost easily and being unable to read maps, whether they're of places or organs.

But it's all good. And I got my neuro small group assignment done, and actually around 2 PM, so not even as a last minute effort, though it did emphasize my woefully inadequate knowledge of the brainstem and cerebellum.

So thanks be to the well-wishers and self-pity-snappers-outters... little clumsy that... time will tell, but the tide is turning up.

The bullshit knife...

So yes, two blogs right in a row, because after that last long self-indulgent drivel (two actually, but the first one was simply bizarre), I did what any girl does logically packed away on a Caribbean island... called my dad.

Who listened to the same sort of "where am I; did I study this much last term; disconnect", etc, and said something to the effect of: "Why are you wasting this much time and stress on questions you can't possibly know the answer to?" That's a complete paraphrase, but it was succinct and to that effect...

You know that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where 2-D God yells "Get On With It!" and everything kind of stops, and then proceeds normally. It was one of those moments. One of those needle sliding across a record player moments.

This term, I've been so busy focused on attempting to determine WHERE I am and if I'm studying the right stuff, that it takes time away from studying AND recreating and does nothing but stress me out for the sake of stressing me out. Hence the title... a big bullshit knife cutting right through.

Now, if only someone could play a recording of that repeatedly. And when I think about it, everything I continually stress over tends toward that end. DO I know enough for midterms. No one knows. Do I use my study time effectively enough? Do I get out enough? Dumb questions with no answers, and I have entirely too much else to do to waste my time with "trolley problems", as they're called. That refers to impossible situations with no right answer designed to make people think in a philosophical manner (a trolley is speeding out of control, you have to decide which track it'll go on and on one track is a busload of orphaned children and on the other track is the guy that'll cure cancer). And I have little time for philosophy.


Sorry about the crackheadedness of that last entry, folks... worse than blogging drunk, which of course, I've also never done... and if I had an emoticon feature on this thing, that would be the eyes looking innocently up and the mouth whistling. You can tell I've been using too much Skype.

So what's up/wrong with me lately? I suppose I'll figure it out after midterms (two weeks and counting).

I can't figure this term out so far. Not in a "I don't understand the material way", but in a straight up, I'm not sure whether I can't figure this term out or myself out kind of way. I feel burned out, social craving while being antisocial, caught up, and completely, painfully, never-seen-this-material-before behind. Was I this behind last term? Was I this ahead last term? What percentage of my time was spent studying? Is it better to be on campus and feel like you're constantly surrounded by people or is it better to be off campus and shell up in my apartment while continuing to waste time by surfing the internet, lying on the couch, or ineffectually wandering around?

I'm *still* trying to find a study groove. This, of course, was supposed to be established during first term, and is part of what makes first term so difficult. But now, I'm having trouble finding a method that works that I can stick with. Rewriting all the notes or making flash cards, with the volume of information, seems illogical, and often, not a great use of time for many concepts that are, well, conceptual. But when I read and watch Sonic Foundry and highlight, sometimes I look back at lectures and it's like they're completely new to me. So there's a happy medium somewhere, but I don't think I've found it.

The problem, I'm finding, and that seems to be expressed by others, and that I know I've whined about to everyone at least a hundred times, is that I can't tell where I am this term, and that unnerves me. I can't determine whether I'm screwing around and wasting more time this term than I did last term, whether I know as much or as little as I did last term, whether I'm going to ace my midterms and wonder why I didn't go to the beach more often, or if I'm going to flat fail them all. I feel like I have a passing knowledge of everything without knowing even a hint of the minutia that tends to be testable. Will I have time to go back? Did I before and how did it work out for me?

This, of course, produces stress, sleeplessness, and perhaps more frustratingly, teenage-type mood swings. Hey! I'm caught up to all the lectures up today! Happy day! Hey! I don't recall details from any of them. Awww. Sad day.

Immunology, as lamented by probably everyone, is also a bit frustrating. Studying for this class is difficult because the information comes from a ton of different sources, which requires time to synthesize and understand, and the lecture notes don't really give me any idea what's going on, so I put together the spiral book, the summaries, the vocabulary, and THEN try to figure out what's highlighted in the lecture notes.

This is more than doable, problem being, additionally intensely time consuming, requiring the same study-pop for neuro and/or physiology, with each of those classes being five units per, and immuno being two. But the class average on the first immuno midterm tends to be an A, so can I afford to sacrifice something that will be a sure thing if I study for it for things I have no idea how I'm doing in?

There's also a burnout feeling. I know previous terms have had genetics and parasitology at the same time as their other classes. And I had the same problems with genetics and CPH, though those worked out intensely well for me, but going into genetics, I had no idea how I would do, and coming OUT of CPH, I wasn't sure if I had an "A" or failed it. Again, this should console me, but complacency is just as dangerous as anything else...

Scheduling-wise, considering my current stress in determining what on earth I should study for, I think that would have only made things worse, AND people had clinical skills to deal with, which we got out of the way for the term by that horrid CPH class.

But the organization also means, two weeks of class... two final exams... three or four weeks of class, final exam, granted in a kind of a bird class, but no break between direct continuation into other classes, including start of a third, and then 4 weeks (or is it 3; can't keep track) and midterms. I suppose that's rough on the mind. Of course, so was first term with the unifieds and then bam, midterms three weeks later.

So I don't know... this isn't really a complaint with the school or anything, because hey, this is the courseload, decel if you don't like it, but more of a problem with me, and this odd disconnect I've felt lately, socially, scholastically. Not quite sure how to deal with it.

Onto the positive, since I'm feeling more introspective right now, and the above sounds like I'm on a jet spiral to the ground, which I'm actually not... I poached David's study habits and went to sit next to him at the quiet spots of the library which sort of 'peer pressures' me into not screwing around on the internet while not allowing me to talk much and distract us both, since as you can probably tell, I'm generally incapable of shutting up for more than five seconds.

Despite a late start due to my tenacious night-owl wannabe circadian rhythm meant HOURS at the library today and yesterday, allowing me to get through a grand total of three neuro lectures, three physio lectures, and two immuno lectures, and I think, with a pretty decent knowledge of all of them, so I do feel good about that. I still have a small gap in physio and immuno (which correlates to the CPH exam, I figured out, so there's probably a number of people that have a gap there), but am otherwise either caught up or *nearly* caught up and determined to stay that way.