Aug 29, 2008

Eating too much; studying too little

Argh, getting into the swing of the new term is a difficult task, and progressively getting more difficult by my steadfast refusal to catch up.

Instead, I'm finding myself lamenting over all the stuff I need to do before I leave the island for good... oh, not study stuff, I've been doing that for a year and a half... no, stuff like "see the monkeys", "go to Carriacou", "Do six dives", and that sort of thing. I'm also realizing how much I like my colleagues, and how I'd much rather do stuff like eat dinner with them and hang out, or go to parties, or swim at the beach, rather than doing that whole studying thing, which can wait, and then it can wait until tomorrow, and then it can wait until after Obama's speech.

It doesn't help that I have absolutely no idea how to study for pathophysiology because I'm not sure what the exact goal is other than "Remember everything from the last two years, because it's all testable". And I'm still recovering from an awesome summer, so that leaves me lazy and worried about my sloth. Also worried about not being able to spot memorize thirty drugs at a time.

So today, after a LONNNNNG pathophys session, I headed to the new Italian place to sample that stuff with a friend... then to Rituals to try some of their cake and check out the ambiance and realize that they turn it into a wine and cheese bar every night at 6. I'm sure THAT won't have a deleterious effect on my study habits. Then, a necessary shopping trip. Then, catch up with a girl I haven't seen in months, hang at her place for dinner, eating a homecooked meal (not my cooking of course, but I did provide the salad dressing) and watching Animal Planet...

All of which is awesome. So awesome, in fact, that I lament having to leave that early, not do the 90s Party, which I'd love to do, and instead sulkily attempt to glean something from my pathophys lectures so that I can do the quiz this weekend. The horror.

Now my only feat is to determine whether my complete sloth is limited only to me, or if I can be reassured by similar echoings from my classmates.

Aug 25, 2008


For those who don't know, originally, SGU had our last term of school on the island of St. Vincent, where we began to get clinical exposure. Due to crime problems on the island that seemed to be specifically targeting students, SGU pulled this program and moved this portion back to Grenada so now all our basic sciences are completed in the same place. This shut down occurred about a year ago.

Given my general problems with administration (my loan check for this term will probably come about midway through my residency, I'm thinking), I'm often faint with praise, but though I'm only on my second week of hospital visits, I'm pretty impressed with how quickly they've arranged to channel 300-400 students per week into a fairly small hospital, and have found pretty willing and able facilitators for us.

Last week, we were essentially playing tourist in the maxillofacial OR, while our doctor had us interview the first patient and then discussed cases in between the (lightning fast) operations.

This week, we were in pathology, which I wouldn't have expected to facilitate a lot of patient contact, but we were quickly whisked up to the ward to interview one patient with supervision, along with watching a procedure, and then left to our own devices to interview, examine, and present another patient. Eek! After we discussed the cases, and presented and defended our differential diagnoses (wrong!), we looked over some x-rays and discussed those as well. Why can't all of medical school be like this? I wish I could say more on what I got to see and do today, but I'm not sure what constitutes violating the Grenadian equivalent to HIPAA, so I'm taking the rare approach of erring on the side of caution.

I can say the patients have been really amazing about letting a gaggle of baby not-docs ask them repeated, frequently pointless, and personal questions before timidly and inexpertly prodding them, so I'm very appreciative of the chance they're giving me to learn while in the midst of their own issues. It's also great that the doctors to take time to train us, particularly with Grenada being so small, that it's pretty common for the specialists to be the only one on the island in their field, so the fact that they're working us into their schedule and actually using that time to ask us questions and discuss cases is pretty awesome.

That's been our scheduled positivity break. Stay tuned for more bitching about money, paperwork, and scheduling.

Aug 24, 2008

The struggle continues

to get something done and catch up my week's truancy.

Yesterday, I actually managed to be pretty productive, confirming that I indeed do not understand the first few hours of pharm and all it's pretty graphs, but it got better after that and I burned through that week's lectures.

Today... ooh... well, I watched the ending of Surf's Up, which despite being about surfing penguins, ended up being less soulless than the part of Happy Feet that I watched last term when I was also procrastinating. So then I settled in to really get into Autonomic Pharmacology, when I get a message from Lori asking if I want to go to the beach.

Well, yeah! I mean, I haven't been back to Grand Anse since I've been back, so totally justified, right? Right?

Good decision too; it was an absolutely perfect day. The water was a great temperature, and I saw a school of baby squid (squidlets?), a snake eel, two flying gernards, a bunch of arrow crabs, and so forth. Plus, it allowed me a few minutes to keep working on the non-tan I got in Europe. That's the tan you get when you look really really white, but when you pull up the arm of your t-shirt, you can see the vaguest line that shows where you are even whiter, and by contrast, it constitutes a tan. Or so I'm told.

So I choked in a little pharm after that, while shuffling in a much needed shower, laundry run, and dishwashing, so all together, I think that counts as being marginally productive this weekend.

Aug 23, 2008


Mmm... free food. Thanks Grace! And thanks incredibly nice little red Lance Aux Epines bus driver. That guy takes you where you need to be, announces where you are, and will stop someplace and wait for people to assemble, so I got to go to the nice BBQ.

Uhhh, what to say. Tomorrow marks the day that I need to try to figure out what on earth is going on with pharmacology. I was ensured a class full of pointless memorization of drugs with hideous names, their conditions, and their side effects, in other words, a flashcard class, and instead I'm getting a horrible array of graphs and math and all manner of mean nasty stuff, and my numbers-poor brain is addled.

And the instructor didn't help by saying "if you don't understand pharmacokinetics, you are not going to get over a C in this class" or something to that effect, and guess what? Ah well.

In other news, pathophys, the class proper, has a delightfully eccentric professor doing infection studies, so it's not proving too difficult since the way he says it sets it well in my brain. We did have our first "other class" that is the bastard child of pathophys and it was a combination of being really frightening, in that it requires us to remember everything we knew in the past 1.5 years, while being a complete waste of time in being exquisitely badly organized, a fact even the tutors and instructors were aware of. Also, not a good idea to set a mandatory session that involves EVERYONE in the class getting together in the same space at the same time that involves discussion, particularly when those groups are supposed to sit in rows, necessitating yelling to the other end of the row to be heard. Can you say chaos, boys and girls?

It's also not wildly nice since there's about 350 people, give or take a few, in there, and a member of each group has to present the questions and be drilled, while standing at a podium, in front of said individuals. Since public speaking is listed as one of the top fears, I believe above spiders and death, this seems unkind to put people on the spot.

But we shall see. In the meantime, the main class that's going to eat my attention is pharm. In other news, once again, it's bedtime, or now that I'm trying to be diurnal, 2 hours past. On the plus side, I've been able to sleep despite doing it largely on my couch without linens, the latter of which were destroyed when I had a minor apartment flood and were mildewed beyond repair. So now, my linens consist of my couch cushions and my novelty Pirates of the Caribbean Jack Sparrow blanket (don't judge me). And I'm STILL able to sleep! Progress!

Aug 20, 2008


Sorry for the sparse updates, folks, but wow. Recovery from the trip I just took hitting straight back into not only hard work, but hard work that's a week behind, is tricky business, if fulfilling.

I did manage to register RIGHT before it shut down, which was also tricky business, since my registration voucher didn't get issued due to all sorts of loan problems which I'd been trying unsuccessfully to solve earlier, so while it's straightened out to the tune of letting me register, I have no idea when I'm going to see money, leaving me living off credit cards for groceries, so that's a complete pain. Turns out that again thanks to that little hyphen in my name, my loan check hasn't even been sent from the company yet. Not good.

But, believe it or not, being on the Rock is still pretty sweet. I'm running into a ton of people I really like, everything's been running efficiently island-side (all my problems with loans and registration stemmed from the US), and I actually attended classes! I did my hospital visit on Monday, which was really cool and involved going into several minor maxillofacial surgeries, so not bad. Hard to get back into the swing of things though.

Aug 18, 2008

Back on the Rock

But having to report for rounds first thing tomorrow morning! Argh!

Nighty night!

In the meantime, no registration voucher, and still seems to be intense problems with my loans that were not remedied by reapplying for them at the beginning of the summer AND having to fax paperwork from Canterbury. Hooray!

Aug 13, 2008

Dear SeaFrance

6 hours for a 1.5 hour crossing without apology. Well done!

Speaking of irritation, not only do we suddenly have mystery clickers with the school, but there's yet another mishap with my loans, which I found out today, so no money for Ishie until I fax something from a youth hostel! Woo hoo!!!

ONNN the other hand, Canterbury, and my current hostel, rocks. More later!

Aug 9, 2008

I heart air conditioning

I'm in Dijon, France, at present, trying to deal with yet another keyboard change, which this time involves far more letters than just the "y" and "w", which are flipped in Hungary, Prague, and Germany.

I'm in a hotel tonight, since it was comparably priced to a hostel, and I HAVE A/C!!! The last few nights were so hot, surprisingly, especially in Basel, despite how far north it is. It's a beautiful thing, especially considering the necessity of preserving the Swiss chocolate I got in Zurich. MMMM good, and you pay for the privilage.

What I found of Switzerland is that despite their reputation for being one of the most expensive places you could ever go, they were far cheaper, as a rule, than Italy. Now, if you WANT to spend money, which, as a starving medical student, I don't, you can definitely find places to spend it, and lodging is expensive, but all in all, way fewer unexpected fees, ripoffs, and such, and a rail pass will let you go anywhere, rather than having certain cities fully unavailable unless you're willing to pay a fee.

Yesterday, we were in Bern and quickly saw the sites, including the bear pits, featuring an adorable ursine named Pedro, before heading to France. So far, almost everyone has been really nice, which was very pleasant, because the way France gets built up, I pretty well expected people to start yelling at me the minute I stepped off the train. Fortunately, not the case.

Also saw the kickoff to the Olympics, sans commercials, so that was kind of cool. I'd write more, but the hunt and peck method required for this keyboard is seriously affecting my stream of thought. So is, no doubt, the half bottle of local wine.

Aug 7, 2008

Titlis ho!

Yeah, I wasn't going to make the requisite Mt. Titlis joke, but I'm only human, and an immature human at that, so deal with it.

I went to the Alps today! It's weird to type that. Got on the wrong train at first but transferred quickly so no real delay and headed to Engelberg, largely on the advice of a travel magazine we picked up for free in Basel, a town we'd only discovered because there were no hostels in Bern, so we booked the first night in Basel and the second night in Zurich.

Of course, once we got to Zurich, instead of seeing this famed and fabulous city, we immediately booked it into the mountains, though before heading to Zurich to drop off our stuff at the hostel, we did manage to see the Rathaus in Basel and cross the river on a ferry. The ride from Luzerne up to Engelberg and back was amazing: a three car red train through the Alps, punctuated by alpine streams, cows with big traditional bells around their necks, and all the other Heidi stuff. I kept feeling like none of it was real due to the sheer magnitude of the scenes, all with mountains jutting up sheer around it. We walked around, saw the base of Titlis, though no time to take the cable car to the top, and then on the way back, got a thunder and lightning show at dark as the train regularly whistled through the towns. Surreal.

Dijon tomorrow, and we've booked our hostel in London on the 14th, so the only question is what to do between Dijon and London. These are the difficult sorts of decisions that consume us in life... that and "how am I going to pass my 5/6th term classes while being a week late getting back?"

Aug 6, 2008

Completion Bonus

Woo hoo! Got through all five villages and just as the sun was setting with some village eating, sightseeing, and of course, a mandatory dip in the Mediterranean.

Cinque Terre is amazing, as mentioned previously, and I'd never heard of it before Lori told me just how amazing it is, and it still is difficult to be believed until you're here. It's the sort of Italy I've always thought about, the people are wonderful, and the scenery is endlessly breathtaking. I'm really sorry to leave.

We're catching a train to Basel today, which is on a three country border. Our initial goal was Bern, but we couldn't book a hostel, nor could we find one in Zurich until tomorrow night, so fortunately, Switzerland is small enough to train around it, because I needs me some COLD. Italy is great, but predictably hot, and I am by nature, a cold weather creature.

In other news, my apartment is flooded but at least they let me know, so I'm just crossing my fingers that everything's okay, but in the interim, wooooo Switzerland!

Aug 5, 2008


Sorry for no updates, but having to pay for every minute of sporadic internet access is taxing to the blog!

So I've now been to Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Venice, Verona, Bologna, and Cinque Terre. Whew! And by way of too many cities to name!

Italy... Italy... Italy... Cinque Terre is probably the most beautiful place I've ever seen and has people that are amazing, food that's fantastic, and views to die for. I am full of gratitude to Lori and Grace for cluing me into this place, because I'd never heard of it prior.

Venice... uh... very pretty canals. The square is amazing... the fact that my friend got screamed at for sitting in front of some guy's plants in a public square, smacked by a woman for being in her way, and so forth shouldn't influence my views of Venice, nor should the billion tourists stands separated only by ridiculously overpriced food, but it totally does.

So despite staying in Venice (Mestre, where the people are marginally nicer) for three days, we only spent one of those days in actual Venice, and spent the other two booking it to friendlier locals. Though our hostel/campground was absolutely amazing, which is why we used it as a homebase.

We found a guy to show us around Verona because he noticed we were wandering around lost. Nice guy from Ghana, showed us all the main sites and then got us safely back to the train station, while the entire time refusing any form of compensation for his efforts. Thank you, Derek, we love you!

So off to the 5 hour hike!