Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Just a quick update before I hit the books.....again.

Things have been really coming together lately - I have a pathology research job for the summer, I have a manageable study schedule that allows me nights off (and I'm actually sticking to it), I'm swimming 1 click (kilometer) every other day, the weather's so fantastic that I can pretend I live in Hawaii, and I'm feeling pretty good.

I actually have a little time to knit at night, which means my sweater sleeves are close to being done!! Only a few inches more...I can almost taste it. I'm excited to knit up the hood next, partly because it's the last step and partly because I've never knit a hood before and I'm an absolute sucker for new projects.

Ok, the sooner I start studying, the sooner I can knit.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Exam #2

Night before exam 2!! I'm studying in the library with the feeling that I don't know the lab portions as well as I did last time, even though I've been really disciplined (i.e. crazy) about coming into lab to review every dissection. I know where structures are, but I don't feel like I have a good handle on the vocabulary to describe the structures....because it's not enough to say "left triangular ligament". Oh no, my friends. The correct answer is "left triangular ligament of the liver". Riiiiight. Boo.

In good news, I swam today as part of my Fix the Shin Splints campaign. This is the second day, and I find that when I swim alone I work harder and longer. I went with my rommate 2 days ago and did less than I wanted to because she was ready to leave....even then, I stayed a little longer than she did just so I could round out my laps. Today I went alone, and spent 25 minutes or so swimming a full kilometer - 1 click! That was exciting...I felt vaguely in-shape. I think running 3 days a week is starting to pay off. The best part of it is that I swam the last 350 m continuously....no breaks!!

Otherwise, school is hard but I'm getting through it. The boy was frusterating tonight....I heard all about how he was hanging out with his neighbors and kicking back, having a beer. ALL about it. Numerous times. I told him I'd rather not hear about his super-fun lifestyle the same night I'm planning on studying until 1 am, but apparently that's unreasonable. Bah. One simple request: on pre-exam nights, i.e. the hardest and most stressful and latest nights of the month, don't tell me how much fun you're having slacking off, and then try to blow it off by saying "I'm not in the city so I'm not really having a good time." Yes you are, so can it.

I want to hear about your day, just don't rub it in my face.

I missed my knitting club meeting this week....ditched it to study more. Then I felt guilty, so I knit a while at home and finished part of a bootie. I went up a needle size (to a 9 from an 8) and I think the bootie will turn out better this way....definately more normal-sized.

Back to studying......

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Why study when you can knit?

It's that time again....pre-exam weekend! Everyone's been holed up studying all day, doing their own thing.

Except for me. I have not been studying.

Don't get me wrong, I've been trying. I have a study schedule all planned out, I have my list of things to do and an order in which to do them, I have my books and notes and pens all ready to go.

But I just can't do it.

I don't know if it's the weather (overcast and blech, good for reading comic books but bad for studying), lack of sleep (up late last night again, not for a good reason), or if I'm getting sick (woke up feeling bad this morning, and all I've done is sleep and eat..prime indicators that my body's about to bite it). Whatever it is, I can't seem to get through my notes. I've gotten through 2 lectures so far, I still have one more to do (the hardest) and a bunch of radiographs and cross-sections of the thorax to look at. It's enough to make a person violently ill.

So I've made an executive decision.

If I'm not going to retain anything, and stress myself out while studying because I'm not retaining anything....why bother? I think I'd be better served by resting tonight and really hitting the books hard tomorrow - one lecture shouldn't be that tough to make up and it's a more efficient use of my time. I hope.

The only scary thing is that we have 2 new anatomy segments to learn this week, I still haven't reviewed Embryology and I can't make myself care enough to change any of that. I don't know when I'm going to study next week, only that I'll fit it in somehow because I'll have to. I probably am getting sick, I'm usually not this apathetic about exams.

I'd rather knit in bed and watch Sex and the City than study or even go to my friend's place for movie night. I feel like I don't have the energy to be around people right now. Maybe I have mono. Or maybe it's just med student syndrome kicking in, combined with feeling sorry for myself.

Speaking of Sex and the City, in a 5th season episode (Luck be an old lady) Charlotte knits English-style on a plane!! How exciting. I've started noticing even the smallest knitting references, and it's always a pleasant "Oh..well look at that" type of feeling. So yes, Sex and the City + knitting. Toldja knitting was cool.

On the upshot, I've finished my 2nd pretty purple flower washcloth, and I think I'm going to make one more. I really love working with cotton, it feels *good* to knit with. Course, I'm far too lazy to take a picture of the 2 washcloths together right now, just like I'm too lazy to take a picture of the completed shoulder seams on my sweater right now. I'll get it done eventually...

Just like studying for this upcoming exam.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Playing with needles

Yesterday I went to a Phlebotomy workshop where we learned how to do venipuncture (i.e. draw blood with big scary needles). It's almost shocking how basic the procedure is; I always figured the nurses knew some sort of magic that enables them to stick needles into my arms and get blood, but.....apparently, everyone'll bleed one way or another. The trick is to make them bleed with finesse, and as little "squirting" as possible (for serious....if you leave the tourniquet on their arm while you draw the needle out, blood shoots everywhere. I'm just sayin').

So we practiced on fake arms for a bit (took me 3 tries, sooo uncool). After 2 years on rescue squad and EMT training where we're always told "No matter what, you cannot play with needles!" it was surreal to suddenly be on the pain-free end of one. After we got the hang of using fake arms, it was time to move onto REAL ARMS.

I got paired up with a doctor with veins so large he didn't even need a tourniquet (speical-ed veins, if you will) and set up everything just like I practiced, alcohol swabbed half of his arm (just in case!) and......went for it. Deliberate motions are key. It was very different to try it on a real person...I felt the needle sliding through the skin, and the *pop* when it punctured the vessel wall was very distinct. If you're careful, you can tell when you're in. Very cool. Of course, I hadn't planned that well in advance and unfortunately there was a bit of needle jiggling as I pushed the blood tube on, undid the tourniquet, and grabbed the gauze. I know it had to have been painful, but the nice doctor never complained. He even lied to me (bold-faced) and told me it was the best stick he'd ever had. I told him I knew he was lying but I appreciated the sentiment anyway (c'mon...if I was the best, that's a sad commentary on the skill level of Ohio phlebotomists, who I know for a FACT are on the whole a very talented bunch).

On the whole, a very surreal experience. Here I am, a 22-year-old first year medical student, about to stick a needle into someone's arm, cause them pain and potentially expose both of us to biohazardous materials....and this person is letting me do this!!! Is it wrong to say that I kind of enjoyed it? (Not in a cause-pain way, more in a this-is-so-cool way).

Still. Creepy!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Almost done

Nearly done with studying.....at that awkward place where I feel like I should be done, but I know there's still so much I haven't learned and maybe I shouldn't get to bed until I've reviewed it ALL. Crazzzzy med student.

It's been a rough day. I've learned this about med school, which probably applies to life as a whole: there are good days, and there are bad. Encourage the ups, get through the downs, and full speed ahead. Try not to lose perspective - there's always a small thread of normalcy even in the most turned-around of times.

Don't change, don't second-guess yourself, and eat something green.


HOW I'm supposed to remember all of this, I do not know. I feel completely lost, which is terrifying and a bit foreign to me. I don't even know where to begin to organize what's going on, or what I need to know about each section of the thorax/abdominopelvic cavity. Things that were emphasized as important in the last block definately were not reflected on the exam, so I don't even feel like I can trust the things said in lecture or "key" materials presented.

I think I have a plan of attack: I'm going to go over the last anatomy lectures (4 of them this block, so far) and re-write my notes.....probably in a notebook, to minimize the papers flying all around my binder. I'll draw mostly on my written notes, but I'll pull from the text and dissector and maybe even the objectives so I have everything in one place that I can see it. Also, maybe it'll help with feeling like I know where things are in the body.

Part of the problem is that I learn best by seeing and doing, and we've been unlucky in our dissections so far. Our cadaver had extensive heart surgery done, so not only were our coronary vessels mutilated, but our entire mediastinal sac is "messy", as it were. Add that to the fact that today's dissection focused mainly on males and we have a female.....I can easily go into lab tomorrow to make up the work, but..... It's make up work. As in "for students that are behind". I've never been behind in my life. Very unsettling.

I think I'll have to focus more on being prepared for lectures and labs each day, and getting adequate sleep so I have the energy to care about learning while I'm in lab.

Freak-out temporarily over, back to the grindstone. Deep breaths.

One of many study breaks

Taking a study break, having trouble keeping my eyes open for many reasons:

1) up too late last night (more later on that)
2) we're on the abdominopelvic cavity, pretty dry stuff
3) shocking lack of explanatory pictures in all of my textbooks
4) our cadaver is female and the texts are written with male anatomy, which I haven't had a chance to look at yet

All of these are conspiring to put me to sleep as I try to study, with a growing sense of panic of not being able to absorb any of what I'm reading. Gah!!

I had a friend (med school friend here) turn slightly weird on me last night, nothing too terrible but we definately had an online conversation that was out of character for him. Like a sucker, I stayed up and talked to him, trying to end things on a semi-good note, when in reality I should've logged off and gotten sleep like I needed to. He apologized this afternoon (after pouting in lab all day...our tables are near each other) but I'm still disappointed in him. I'd prefer to think the best of people, but that's not always possible. I'm sure we'll be friendly again, once a bit of time has gone by, but I know I'll never look at him the same way again. Doesn't exactly help with the whole trust thing....even IF he was "in a weird mood" last night.

Bah. I might be better off taking a nap and working on anatomy later, when I'm better rested. Then again, I'll be disoriented when I wake up and won't want to study at all. I think I'll sit in the library for a few more hours, poke around lab, and then make sure to head to bed early tonight and maybe even give myself a full, un-interrupted hour of knitting/tea drinking/cartoon movie watching relaxation time.

Back to the books.

A final thought

Always trust your gut.

I learned this once before, and it's something I try to remind myself of every day. If something feels inherently wrong....there's probably something wrong about it. Even if you don't know what it is....do you really want to stick around to see what?? No no no.

Conversely, if something feels right.....hold onto it as long as you can (without getting overly creepy, after all).

Don't let someone else make you into someone you're not.

Do the right thing. Trust your gut. And never give up.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Study break

Watching Harry Potter while I "study" for tomorrow. Hermione is super cool. Every time we see the ligamentum arteriosum in lab (ligament connecting the aortic arch with the left pulmonary artery), I'm reminded of "It's Leviooohhsa, not Levioh-sa. You're doing it wrong!" Because arteriosum vaguely sounds like leviosa.

And Harry Potter is much much better than studying the thorax.

A semi-triumphant return!

Made it back to Columbus in one piece, despite being utterly convinced that the plane was going to crash (I get a tad bit nervous). I studied on the way out to Chicago...people kept giving me weird looks because I was muttering to myself and throwing about 4 different textbooks around, all of which had....pictures of people's insides. Arteries and nerves and organs, oh my!! My seatmate on the plane may or may not have moved over for that express reason. Fine by me...more space for my creepy books!

Went out dancing on Friday night with the guys and even ran into a few people from grade school (small world, right?). Saturday was the Cubs game, which was disappointing. Not because they lost, but because we got the distinct impression that...they didn't really care. Very disheartening. We left at the top of the 9th and the game was over by the time we were back in the car. I did get a free hat out of it though....first 10,000 female fans received a pink "C" logo hat! Pink's not normally my thing. especially with my violently red hair, but hey...it's free. And also a nice memento of my brother's birthday game.

Speaking of which, my little brother is now 18. I'm still in shock. I don't feel old enough to have an 18-year-old younger brother.

Flew back in to Ohio this morning...it was sad leaving home, especially knowing all of the wonderful things I had waiting for me (cold cadaver labs....mountains of material to learn...exams in 2 weeks...no food in the firdge) but I was also excited in a strange way. I really feel like Columbus is becoming my home, as opposed to Purdue which was always just the place I went to school.

Due to the studying I had to get done, I wasn't able to knit too much on the way home. My aunt and I brought out our knitting on Saturday night during our get-together (she's making the most BEAUTIFUL scarf/shawl, it's made me start eyeing my Meadow Flowers pattern again. I keep telling myself I have too many projects on the needles already (2 with actual deadlines) and a whole bin of yarn waiting to be made up into other things....but still the shawl calls. It would be gorgeous....or a fantastic gift for my best friend. Now I can see how knitters acquire stashes. It begins innocently enough, because spiraling hopelessly out of control. Thank goodness I'm broke...and I mean broke-broke, not college "i don't have any money to go out" broke. Otherwise, I'd be at the yarn shop right now. For serious.

So with the wonerful weekend, why only a semi-triumphant return? Knitting on the plane ride back to Ohio, I noticed that I had dropped a stitch about 6 rows down.....and didn't have my crochet hook!!!!! Devastation. Aftering trying to pick up the stitch with my needles (and thereby making the problem look ten times worse) I had to put my knitting away and content myself with listening to music for the 45-minute flight. Such a hard life.

Alright...I should study, but I think I'm going to watch a movie a nap a bit before our lab meeting at 6:30 tonight. I studied a bit this weekend, I feel fairly ready (or at least, that I won't horribly embrass myself in front of my frineds).

Thursday, September 15, 2005

No line dancing???

Went to Lodge Bar tonight, very excited to learn a new line dance. We were so excited today, in fact, that Steve and I started to make up our own line dance: the Med Student Stomp. Because we're cool like that.

So it's 10:30, we're sitting at a table waiting for the magic to happen, and.....a band comes on. A live country band. With cowboy hats. Needless to say, no line dances were learned this evening. Some of the songs were less than terrible, but nowhere near as cool as a new line dance.

Heading home to Chicago tomorrow night - excited for the Cubs game and to see my family, but I'm going to miss Columbus a bit. My house and my friends and my whole...y'know...life I've started to build here over the past month.

We're going through the thorax and mediastinum this week, it's hell on wheels. I have the heart pretty much figured out, but the lungs are a bit squirrley. Tomorrow we're going over the vessels and nerves in the thoracic cavity - muuuch more complicated than it sounds.

Alright, time to sign off and get ready for another big day of school tomorrow! We have a Community Fair where we get to pick which agency we want to do our community service requirement with - I'm excited to see what's out there. I'm thinking American Heart Association or Red Cross...but I'll see tomorrow.