Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Labor Strike

On Christmas at about 5:00, S thought that her water might have broken. So after calling the hospital and explaining her symptoms, we gathered up hospital bags and drove across the street to the hospital. We brought C just in case it was a false alarm.  Two and a half hours later the nice nurses sent us home.  Bless their hearts for being there and happy on Christmas, but somehow I expected a false alarm to be corrected in maybe 7 minutes tops.  C took it all in stride - playing at home or at the hospital is all the same to her.

At the last doctor's visit, we were told that if the baby wasn't here by the 26th they would go ahead and induce.  Perhaps an emergency vacation was in order, but somehow that got bumped to the 29th. The nurses on Christmas told us to ask the doctor if they would induce on the 26th anyway, but the office was completely closed down and Tuesday is an on-call only day for the doctors.  Just so you all know, the following labor inducing myths have been busted:

Castor Oil
Not vacuuming
Long walks
Peppermint oil
Spicy foods
Speed bumps
Not bouncing
Raspberry tea
Positive thinking
Negative thinking

We thought it would be so nice to have a few days together as a new family before I go back to school, but it looks like she might be born on our anniversary instead.  We are resigned to the fact that we will take what comes.  In the meantime, C has said some gems this week.

C - This is to keep you so safe. (Placing a pillow under me while I do push-ups.)
C - Be careful out there.  It's so dark. It's kinda slippery. (As I take out the garbage.)
C - Noelle, come out now!
C - It's okay I have hot chocolate.  Say yes, Mama!  Your answer is yes!
C - I not tired, I happy.
C - I don't her name is. What her name is?
C - Big trucks could bonk me my head, huh, Mama?

E - Bless me my tummy won't hurt.
C - Bless me my tummy won't hurt.
E - Thank thee for my friends.
C - Thank Daddy has friends.

E - Is it time for a bash?
C - Time for bash!
E - Time for bash?
C - Bash!
E - Bath?
C - Okay.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Week Before Christmas

The first semester of medical school is officially over.  We took the MCBM final on Wednesday and I scored in my usual range - about five percent higher or a half standard deviation higher than the class average.   I missed honors by 1 percent, but I take comfort in knowing that 90% is an arbitrary number anyway and class standing counts for more.  This last test covered information about protein, fat, and sugar metabolism, and medical genetics.  Pathways were the main component as well as memorizing which disease is correlated to which enzyme deficiency.

It was surprisingly difficult to pull myself together to study for this test.  Being a doctor had better be awesome because there is not much glamour in studying to be one.  I tried to divert myself with some physical exercise so at S's suggestion, I started P90X.  Now, my entire body hurts.  In my life, I have almost burnt my foot off, almost cracked my head open, and had an unfriendly cleat tear my bottom lip down to my chin, but my body has never been in more pain than the morning after doing Ab Ripper and Shoulders and Back.  With those titles, there is no reason why my calves should be hurting so bad, but they do.

With school done, S and I are taking long walks which to date has been a failed attempt to self-induce.  The doctor said he would induce on the 26th if she hasn't gone into labor before then, so this week has a new baby in store.  S is very done with being pregnant, but her mom and little sister are in town and are keeping her happy.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Homopolar Motors

The required service project that I chose to be a part of is getting local sixth graders excited about science so that eventually they will come to this school.  We are given a theme and put together a presentation that shows how cool science is.  This time the theme was chemistry.  Since they were sixth graders I allowed myself some scientific license to make that theme fit with the concept of electromagnetism.  I've always wanted an excuse to buy some neodymium magnets and this was the perfect opportunity.  The result was 12 fifteen minute presentations of wide-eyed kids.  This guy explains the assembly.

The magnets are pretty cheap, but you can only get them online.  The entire magnetic field of the earth is only about 10^-4 Teslas and these little guys are about 0.75 Teslas.  If you try this at home, let me warn you: take all precautions that your fingers don't get caught.  For each unit that the magnets get closer to each other, the force between them increases by a square.  You will be tempted to wrestle them away from the trapped flesh, but that only decreases the amount of flesh between them leading to a stronger pinch.  Also, the material is very soft and the attraction is very strong.  If you let them smash together, the magnets will shatter and you will be left with magnetized shards.  One last thing, don't swallow them because nothing can be worse than a kink in your intestines.  All of that aside, enjoy responsibly!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Violence, Slinkies, and Paper Shredders

I've been collecting the fun experiences we've had up here waiting for a place to insert them.  This is as good a place as any so I thought I'd share.

We have a class called Service Learning - I'm not making this up.  We did cover some epidemiology (how diseases spread, etc), but most of it was how to organize service projects.  The prevailing attitude in medical school is, "If we don't teach these future professionals to do something, how will they possibly know how to do anything?"  That's all very well for the board-relevant science courses, but not so much for topics such as human decency, learning service, and professional communication.  After the three hour lectures about service projects, we divided up into groups of about 8 people and completed assignments roughly based on the lecture.  One of these concerned domestic violence.  The assignment went something like this:

Why is violence bad?  How does violence impact the community?  What does violence cost the community?  How is violence bad?  Why does violence impact the community? Working with your patients, if you suspect domestic abuse what should you do?  (A legitimate legal question)
The entire class was summed up in one quote from the teacher:  "The goal of epidemiology is to allow people to live longer so they can die of something else."

"This is a jokey."  -  I don't remember what the 'jokey' was, and I laughed harder at his explanation than I did at his 'jokey'.  This came from our biochemistry teacher and bless his heart, he speaks 5 languages including Italian which is easier to understand than his English.

Where's my sad smile? - C came home from nursery with a picture of a face you can turn a frown around into a smile and was distressed that she couldn't find her frown - aka 'sad smile.'

A distinguished lecturer broadcasting from the mother campus was talking to us about healthcare reform, but began his remarks with a few words about great people.  "Steve Jobs was a brilliant businessman, gave us gadgets we now rely on and is a wonderful example of innovation.  Bob Hope - a comedian - entertained crowds and was an example of hope and optimism who helped my generation not take themselves too seriously. Johnny Cash was a fantastic musician giving life and energy to his audiences.  Unfortunately, all these men died leaving us with no jobs, no cash, and no hope.

One of the students in another ward and I were swapping stories and his trumped mine.  He is an assistant ward clerk and he was in the office doing his thing until he notices the growling of the paper shredder and the ward clerk leaning over it saying, "Oh dear."   Apparently, when he leaned over, the corner of his suit coat got caught in the paper shredder which began chewing his brand new coat.  Working together, they unplugged the paper shredder and extricated the partially shredded coat.  Unfortunately, the paper shredder was ruined.

What do you call a woman who can't have kids?  Unbearable, Impregnable, Inconceivable - I don't remember where I heard this, but it sounds like something my endocrinology teacher might have said back at college.  I tried to keep adding to the list, but couldn't.

About once a month we have a group of interviewees show up at the school seeking admissions.  It's kind of exciting to see the potential classmates, but honestly only one was particularly remarkable.  A good portion of the study rooms are reserved for faculty to conduct interviews in on those days so I was doing my best to study out in the hallway where I am privy to all sorts of conversation.  At the end of the day, one of the interviewees was talking to a faculty member about fifteen feet from me and about twenty feet from the stairs.  Concluding the conversation, this student asks me, pointing to the stairs, "This goes downstairs, right?"  It's moments like these that I wish my brain were sharp enough to thing of a fantastic "Here's Your Sign" response with a 2 second notice.  I couldn't do it so I just said,"Yes."  When I told Shelli about it later she suggested, "Nope, that's our slinky racetrack."

S and I got a good laugh the other night.  In her pregnant, fatigued stupor she reached over and began scratching my 'back.'  It was fine until she about ripped my nipples off.

"OUCH! That's my nipple!"

"Wait, this is your front? I thought it was your back!"

"They feel the SAME to you?!  Did you mistake my abs for my vertebrae?"

"Hmm...(after feeling my pecs) I guess it is different."

We've been laughing about that ever since.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Portrait of a Scientist as an Old Man

This was one of the most interesting weeks I've had of med school yet.  I know all about med school syndrome - where med students think they have any disease they are currently studying (seriously, I am reasonably sure I have recurrent furunculosis).  It was interesting because I realized I had the symptoms of burnout.  I sat down to study after a Monday morning of lectures and tried to review and memorize the material, but it didn't work.  Somehow synthesizing lectures into notes, drawing step by step pathways, and reviewing areas I felt weak in wasn't enough to allow the material to sink in.  If it had been a meal I had sat down to, I would say that I couldn't fit any more food in my system.

I've noticed other changes too.  I'm usually rather fantastic at remembering conversations I've had with people.  Most times when I talk to someone I've talked to before, I remember what we formerly talked about.  Maybe that's an attribute built into the human experience, but it's one I'm finding myself in short supply right now.  Last Sunday, when Shelli's parents were here for Thanksgiving week, I suddenly remembered a funny story I'd heard and thought I'd share it with them since we like to laugh together.  An officer who pulls a guy over for speeding.  As the officer is asking for a driver's license and insurance card, he sees a concealed weapons permit and asks if the driver has any weapons in the car.

"Yes," the driver responds, "I have a SW 45 in a sling under my right arm."

"Do you have anything else?" asks the officer.

"Yeah, I have a smaller 22 pistol strapped to my left ankle."

"Anything else?"

"Only a 12 gauge shotgun behind my seat," the driver replies.

"What are you afraid of?"

"Absolutely nothing."

Curiously, I couldn't remember who I had heard the story from.  Memories like that are rarely fragmented.  Oddly enough, S's dad had told me that story just the night before.  And that's not the only time it has happened.

 I've never actually felt like I could commiserate with a cartoon character, and I've never even seen an episode of the Simpsons, but I felt close to Homer when someone shared one of his gems with me:  “How is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home wine-making course, and I forgot how to drive?”

I have been heard to ask the security guard (who knows all of the med students by their first name), "Are you going to have a nice weekend?"  In its written form, that seems like a rather innocuous question, but when you think about it, when was the last time someone asked you if you were going to have a nice weekend?  Usually people say on a Friday, "Have a nice weekend," and then on a Monday, "Did you have a nice weekend?"  I know that, everyone knows that, but these social shovels I dig holes for myself with are becoming more and more funny.

Possible reasons may include:

-Seasonal Affective Disorder - the sun peaks through the clouds for about 5 minutes a week

-poor lectures - it takes a certain amount of energy to sit 5 days a week through 6 hours or more of monotonous, sub par lectures.  Once upon a naive time I thought med school professors would be light years ahead of those in undergrad. Not so.  If you want to love chemistry, you take it from Dr.  JM, if you want to love physics you take it from Mr. Canaday, if you want to love anatomy you take it from Dr. BB, if you want to love neuroscience you take it from Dr. M B.

-inaction - I need to work out more often than the 1 or 2 a week sessions I do at the gym in our complex

Possible reasons may not include:

-stellar breakfasts, lunches, and dinners - we eat well

-good company - I didn't think med students would be as fun as they are.  S and C are fun too.