Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Don't You Love It?

Don't you love it when you spend all afternoon doing a randomly created practice test and your computer crashes thus making you lose the information, ability to find out the answers, and your mark???


[Kicks something, hurts toe, regrets kick.]

Sunday, June 26, 2011

12 Things My First Triathlon Taught Me Today

1. Being flat chested is a blessing when you're running in a bathing suit.

2. You care a little less about the rain when you're running/biking in a swimsuit...because a wet t-shirt makes you feel like you're in a bad beer commercial from the 80's but a wet bathing suit makes you feel're in a wet bathing suit.

3. When in a swimming pool, the three sweetest words on the planet are not, "I love you" but in fact, "one lap left". 

4. Grey hair and pot-belly do not a slow swimmer make.

5. The only thing more crippling than the foot arch cramp of doom in the pool is the calf-muscle cramp of death on a bike.

6. Energy drinks do not provide energy.

7. Even though they say it to every single person going past them, when a stranger yells, "you're doing great! Keep up the good work!" the world seems a little brighter, for about 5 seconds.

8. It is hard to put socks on damp feet, fast.

9. Sports gels taste pretty much the same going down as coming back up (though they are slightly less viscous, which is pleasing).

10. "Swimming pool" = "water torture".

11. My older siblings are still kicking my ass at everything in life. (Except blogging. I have mad blogging skillz. And I tweet, so BOOM. IN YOUR FACE SUCKAS!!!)

12. You never notice the helping hand of a tailwind but you sure do feel the bitch-slap of a headwind. 


Expect a complete, boring, sports-interview style breakdown of the triathlon tomorrow when I have recovered from the full body tetany which I am currently suffering from.

In the meantime I'll just say that I had a great time out there, I gave 110%, and the best offence is a good defence. Or something.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pre-Race Terror

So...tomorrow is my first triathlon and I must admit, I am going through waves of nausea, excitement, and pure fear right now. This morning four of my nieces and nephews were in the kids race which proved to be highly entertaining. The first group were the 5 and 6 year hilariously awesome I almost had a maternal urge! Half the time they'd come out of the pool and forget that they were supposed to be running to the bike zone. Like this little gang pictured below, they were sort of sauntering and having a chat until some of the parents starting hollering, "RUN!!" which is when they picked it up a notch.
Oh right! We're in a race!
My niece, Rachie, actually won the girls, my nephew Aidan came second for the boys, with Luc and Taylor also in the top ten. Pretty amazing.

Rachie coming out of the swim--it was cold at 0900h this morning!!

Aidan, just one giant fast twitch muscle.

Rachie nearing the finish line. Probably thinking about Justin Bieber.

Aidan looking prepared for combat and finishing the ride.

Luc (my Godson whose birth I attended--making me feel very old) is the football player of the family.

Taylor finishing the run.

Taylor looking frighteningly like a mini-me of my brother!

Random child who wandered onto the course when his older sister started approaching the end of the race. She just started laughing, picked him up and ran across the finish line with him. TOO CUTE!!

Aww...what can I say? I am a proud Auntie!!
The scary part was seeing all the totally ripped parents along the sidelines--where did all these uber-fits come from?? I felt like the fat kid at summer camp who developed a sinking suspicion that I will get my ass handed to me tomorrow. I know, I is supposed to be fun--which, er, I hope it is fun and not humiliating!!!

I must say though, the kids were totally inspiring. When I was that age I was a total butter-ball whose main activities included watching satellite t.v and hiding my fathers cigarettes so I could sell them to the junior high kids at school. Seeing how athleticism is already such a central part of their lives is so wonderful (though it makes me a little sad that I didn't get into sports until later).

Also, did I mention that I was tricked into this race? My brother in law called me up and said that all my siblings/their spouses were doing the race, so I should do it as well. I reluctantly agreed and then when I came home last week I found out they are all in teams!! I am the only one doing the whole thing...ok, ok, I will stop whining now and get back to my studying.

Well at least tomorrow I will be able to make a line on my bucket list! Wish me luck!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New Irish Digs

So, life as I know it back in Ireland is about to change quite a bit. If you've been reading for a while you will know that I am (not officially) done with pre-clinical medicine. Provided I passed the recent exam gauntlet, I'll be starting my hospital rotations on Aug 2nd in a new city (and not a moment too soon, honestly I think I am about to get 'office chair' sores from sitting and staring at textbooks all day long for the past two years.)

Pretty sure that for every month of pre-clinical medicine in the world an angel loses it's wings.

Anyway, I know very little about my new city except that there is a decent coffee shop, a giant Tesco, and no yoga studio. Well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad I suppose. My casa novo is about 7kms out of town on some crazy Irish road (and by 'road' I mean 'ruts wide enough for a carriage') and I love it.

It's so CUTE! Don't you just want to pinch it's cheek?

Front 'mud' room. Plenty of room for all my raincoats.

Front hall. Riveting isn't it?

Yes, yes I will be drinking cosmos* in my scrubs after a long day of holding retractors!

This is the view from the chair where I will be drinking said cosmos.

Oh hello, furniture that isn't made of flame retardant pleather! It's about time!!

Two words: gas stove. BAZIIIIIINNGG!!

Laundry room off the kitchen, complete with toaster. There is also a small bathroom attached. I think the drying rack really ties it all together. 

Guest room with ensuite. Never thought I'd have a giant felt flower in my home.

Guest room bathroom. Can't you just hear the Zamfir pan flute music that I will be pipping into the room when there are visitors?

My room. I like to sleep in bedside tables.

View from my room.

Kristina's room. She prefers a bed to sleep on, that is why we are so well matched as roommates.

Upstairs bathroom.

Kristina realizing she is tiny enough to live on the landing.
Across the street. Awwwww yeah!!! No annoying kids shooting hoops while I am trying to sleep off a nightshift!

View from the 'road'.
Needless to say, now that I am out of student accommodation people are actually considering coming for a visit! Kristina is only staying for a semester so not sure what will happen after Christmas. Maybe I'll turn it into a B & BYO Breakfast or something and charge 200 Euro a night. We'll see.

The part that I am trying not to think about is that young Tobington will not be living there with me. Because I mean really, what could be more romantic than living in a beautiful new house in the Irish countryside together?

Apparently living in separate countries. Le sigh.


*I don't actually drink cosmopolitans usually, I am more a dirty martini kind of girl, but I think the pink livingroom is going to drastically increase my consumption of beverages topped with tiny umbrellas or large pieces of fruit.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Two Clues...

Looking around my study room today I couldn't help but notice two clues that I am back in Alberta.

Oh how I've missed the Old Country. Heheh.

Can't complain, brother-in-law has kindly let me take over the Man Room for the next four weeks--sweet view, fireplace, and couple of bear skins included. Woot!


Update! As per OMDG's comment... :)

Can't believe I didn't think of that! hahah

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I'm doing the right thing, right?

[Warning: there are some dissection pics in this post which may be unpleasant / revolting for some of you to look at. Or they may pique your interest at what lies beneath our largest organ...]

Exam week was probably the most mentally exhausting 4 days I've lived through, to date.

I'll just break it down. 

Day one, morning--2h long answer section. Questions ranging from anterograde and retrograde amnesia and why they occur following head injuries, to different types and causes of pleural effusions, to describing the association between tissue transglutaminase and celiac disease. Good times, oh, good times.

That afternoon--100 extended matching questions. I've already ranted about that so I'll just say, wow it felt like an anatomy spotter without the pictures. Weird. 

Day two: off. Which meant 'studying ass off for remaining two exams'. 

Day three: take 2 years of clinical sessions ranging from skills like 'taking an alcohol history' to 'abdominal examinations' to 'suturing' to 'IV cannulation' to 'breaking bad news' and create an OSCE of HELL involving 19 six minute stations complete with actor patients and physician examiners. You have one minute to prepare before each station where you are given a one-liner like, "Mrs. McDowell is here with her 20 month old to discuss developmental milestones" or "you are at the GP surgery and suddenly a man in the waiting room collapses".  

Overall I'd say the OSCE went well, aside from some major forgetting to take the respiratory rate in the respiratory exam, saying the phrase, 'do you have any more questions for me?' about 25 times during the double (12 minute) motivational interview for smoking cessation station!!!

Day four: Take 900 histology slides and approx 4000 anatomy slides and choose 50 spotter questions. 

Some examples:

If "A" was damaged during a surgical procedure which of the following  might occur?

a) Horner's Syndrome
b) paralysis of cricothyroid
c) paralysis of cricoaretynoid
d) paralysis of pharyngeal constrictor muscles
e) inability to adduct glottis
f) inability to abduct glottis
g) chylothorax

 [Buzz!!!! Next STATION!!!]

And so get the picture! 

By the time the spotter was over all I wanted to do was crawl into a sensory deprivation chamber and stay there for about a week. 

Instead, Tobie and I went and had Ayurvedic head and foot massages in this beautiful clinic outside of town. It was lovely, though I wish I could have afforded a head-to-toe treatment. While I was sitting there sipping dandelion tea in the dimly lit and beautifully scented room, listening to classical Indian music, I couldn't help but wonder why I chose to throw myself into a career where I will most likely be under the glare of bright lights, with the clamor of overhead pages and monitor alarms as my soundtrack.

My prayer for the day: please God, let all of this be worth it.


Answers (to anatomy related questions, not existential life ones) can be found in comments. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Study Chuckle of the Day

Just going over a few practice questions today while waiting for din din to be ready.

Came across this explanation in my gunner training which made me chuckle, and love gunner just a little bit more...

After reading answer explanations for over an hour I almost missed it. Seriously, it makes me want to write a textbook just so I can surreptitiously add commentary to the content.

The Mug

As a 'congrats on finishing pre-clinical medicine' pressie, I had a personalized mug made for my study-buddy-brotha-from-another-motha, Ryan.

It turned out even better than I had anticipated. He got me a silver ring with BEARS on it (albinoblackbears, naturally) as a little good-luck charm for the USMLE. I am predicting that I will have a borderline allowable amount of jewelery/good-luck charms on during the exam.

I wish I had my lucky t-shirt (somehow sold/lost/stolen in one of my many moves) for the big day. It was Lucy from Peanuts running with a giant syringe in her hand and it said, "Mount Royal Nursing" on it. I didn't go to MRC but the cartoon was killer.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Still Alive, With Questions

I am still alive, have not thrown myself into the Majestic River Shannon or anything. Just been packing, sorting, moving, driving, packing, driving, flying, unpacking, sleeping.

And I have some burning questions that need to be answered:

1) Why is there always ONE guy in every airport departure lounge with a bluetooth talking 'business' in the loudest voice possible? Why is someone named 'Roger' always 'cc'd on the email' and 'crunching numbers'?

2) Why is it that whenever I wear a white shirt I suddenly lose motor control of my lower lip when eating?

3) Why is it impossible to fall asleep after being awake 24h?

4) Why is it, despite my best intentions to be more organized, every time I move there is always a few boxes at the end which contain a smattering of cleaning products, textbooks, underwear, spatulas, highlighters, hair products, face cloths, and organic quinoa?

5) Why are yoga instructors always ridiculously gorgeous and in perfect shape?

6) How am I going to survive two years living in Ireland without Tobie?

7) Why do airplane movies always make me cry?

8) Why did I think doing a triathlon this summer was a good idea?

I am actually working on a for realz post right now about the HELL week that was exams. But for now, I leave you with the questions I have been pondering for the last couple of days.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A (Not So) Beautiful Mind

Tobie came in my office recently and commented that one of the other residents in our complex might call campus security as my office window was looking a little too much like an unfolding psychotic break.

I figured, until I started drawing lines between the scraps of paper or taping up magazine clippings I was safe.

Ok, I'll concede. It is slightly creepy looking...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

She Be Chillin'

She's goin' in the fridge, folks. The end is in sight! 

1/2 Way to being 1/2 Way

Ahhhhhhmmmmnnnnnn. [Loud exhale].
So the extended matching exam and long answer are behind me. I feel, meh about them. I felt like it didn't test our breadth of knowledge, but instead had very bizarrely chosen depth of knowledge questions. Like how much you knew about otosclerosis treatments or the theories behind why anti-depressants work (no, not mechanism of action, theories).

And other random things like, for example, on a 100 question exam there were 5 questions on different terms for heavy / irregular menstrual bleeding. Seriously? Seriously. It was that important for the school to assess if I knew the difference between menorrhagia, menometrorrhagia, and metrorrhagia??

During the year we had several cases involving lady-bits including pregnancy, infertility, PCOS, premature delivery, pregnancy induced hypertension, gestational diabetes, dysfunctional uterine bleeding...and then, 5 whole questions on bloody nomenclature? Nothing else? That was how they tested our knowledge of the ever-so-complex-involving-too-many-hormones-and-bits-diseases-childbirth-richly-innervated-many-muscled aspects obstetrics and gyne? Le sigh.

And while I am venting...

What was with the 10 questions on which muscles were eccentrically, concentrically, or isometrically contracted during each phase of the gait cycle? I thought the anatomy spotter was on Friday? Grrr...

Nothing on diabetes, heart disease, endocrinology...nothing. Ah well. It is over now! I just hate it when it feels like the test wasn't that applicable to the things the course really focused on. Like an entire long answer question on otosclerosis!? And another on the anti-gliadin antibodies in Coeliac!? Annoying.

Ok enough prattling on--all that is left is OSCE and spotter. Then...FIN!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Must Be Finals...

Yesterday on the way to practice OSCE* crap, I started driving in the opposite direction of my study buddy's house (a drive that I could literally do with my eyes closed, I've done it so many times).

I picked up my deodorant and toothbrush and was 1 inch away from putting the former on the latter to brush my teeth before I realized what I was doing.

And in new grandiose feats of procrastination: I did a tray of home made pita chips, vacuumed the ceiling**, and read up on the Moken Sea Gypsies of Thailand.

Must be finals
Must be finals
Must be fiiii--iiii--nnn--aalllssssss
[Sung to the tune of "Must be Santa".]

*OSCE's are "Objective Structured Clinical Exams" pffft. Too bad they are the farthest thing from it.
**I wish that was an exaggeration. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Medical Gods Give Me Strength (and a photographic memory, please)

When I get really whiny about how hard it is to try and remember 2 years worth of curriculum I try to remind myself of the fact that it is a priveledge to study medicine. Really, it is. I know that there are hundreds (thousands?) of people that would gladly trade places with me this instant if it were possible.

This normally gets me re-motivated to try and remember things like the stages of herpes infections.

Not today. Partly because my exams for school start in 3 days and partially because I still have forty three more groundhog days of picking my clothes up off the floor and padding into an office at 0630h, only to emerge for feedings and the odd burst of exercise, then collapsing back into bed at midnight. Wicked pisser summer, hey??! Yep.

I chose this. I chose this! I chose this?!?


Just as I was writing the last sentence, Tobie returned from the Farmer's Market with gifts for me!! Ok, before you all start going "awwwww" I will point out that as he was leaving I asked him to please get me some presents because I was losing the will and that I would reimburse him for any expenses said presents would incur. And so, I am now the proud owner of the Joseph Joseph Chop2Pot Plus cutting board!! Yippeeeeee!

The way to this girl's heart is through kitchen gadgets.
He also got me my favorite (though normally banned from consumption due to the fact that it is pretty much PURE BUTTER AND ALMOND) croissant from the bakery, and some organic kale from our favorite local Herb Man*. So that got me through the evening. He's pretty sweet alright and wouldn't let me pay him for the gifts after all. I think I must be getting hard to live with these days because last night I was tormenting him about something to which he said, "don't you have to go and memorize a bacteria or something??"

Yes, yes I do.

Back to it!!

*No the end of that sentence is not a euphemism for other green leafy substances...I need every brain cell I've got at this stage of the game.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

Today's Mnemonic

I am beginning to become cross-eyed with mnemonic's right now. Especially some of the dumb ones that are provided in the study guides, like

"Queen Barb Steals Phen-Phen and Refuses Greasy Carbs Chronically" for all the P-450 inducers (Quinidine Barbiturates Phenytoin Rifampin Griseofulvin Carbamazepine, Chronic ETOH, St. John’s wort).

Ok, on second thought, that one isn't the best example because it is (somewhat) reasonable. But I can see myself on the exam, when my brain is flat-lining with stress going, "something to do with queens and grease...?"

Today was cardiac day. I came up with this for remembering EKG* patterns:

TRANSmural infarcts are ST elevation because TRANSvestites like to wear heels.

Subendocardial infarcts are ST depression because SUBs go down.

[Insert slow clap, please.]

*Apologies to those of you that get all scrunched up when people use the "EKG" instead of "ECG" acronym. Yes, yes I know we aren't in Germany anymore but it is my way of making permanent tribute to Einthoven...I mean really, the guy shot melted quartz on the tip of an ARROW to make the first EKG wires ARROW.  When I learned that I decreed, "and from this day forward I shall call it, EKG."

No that is not a chef getting a manicure on his lunch break.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Becoming A Gunner

Apologies in advance for the brief post!

My office is starting to look like a scene from Shaun of the Dead, (actually come to think of it, I am starting to look like a scene from Shaun of the Dead) but I wanted to quickly put the word out to those of you who are deep in the trenches of USMLE hell, like me.

Last week I got an email from a reader about this USMLE prep site that I hadn't heard of,

Anyway, I signed up for the free 1 week trial and LOVE it. It has all the same things that USMLE World and Kaplan but some interesting features that are unique--like these amazing flash cards that distill everything down to the bones and then test you. It's a nice compliment to the multiple choice format as it forces you to recall (because you type the answer in for the quiz parts) rather than just guess or use the answers to prompt.

I'll write a proper post about it when this week is over, but in the meantime go check it out. You can get a free one week trial to nose around the site. I figured many of you are getting close to the finish so I wanted to put the resource out there as fast as I could.

Now that I actually have an account I can give out free 1 month trials so:

Knock yourself out, kids.

Back to it!!!