Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring (Sort of) Break Yipeeeeeeee!

Ok. There was a call for Med Ball photos...


That is Tobie and I (in the background).

I am the one being a jacka*s and Tobie is the one looking slightly embarrassed to be my date.

Today is officially the first day of Spring Break! And I am desperately needing it. Literally felt like I was crawling through my school work for about the past 2 weeks.  I lost all of my school oompf and was just going through the motions. The content is really interesting but I feel. So. Damn. Tired.

I have to drag myself out of bed everyday and then yawn my way through the next 4 hours until I wake up.  Maybe training for a 1/2 marathon and doing a 30-day yoga challenge at the same time was a bad idea.


The worst part was we started a new module recently, which, so far has been sports medicine related cases.

Oh dear.

ABB falls in love with yet another specialty.

It has been really interesting to learn about hydration, energy stores, energy breakdown, and things like "bonking" or hitting the wall from a biochemical point of view. Plus it's given me a little lift in the running department, I am now visualizing my slow twitch muscle fibers stocking up on mitochondria which makes me giggle on the trails.

Tobes and I are renting a car for the week and are planning a little stay-cation here in Ireland. Since we're both starving students our budget is pretty small so we're mostly going to do day trips with the car and picnic lunches...but we are splurging on 2 nights in a 4-star hotel in Killarney and one night in Galway. I booked the Galway one on points so it doesn't count. :-)

Cannot wait to get outside and breathe some non-campus air, see some non-campus sights, and be around non-campus people. We are due for some quality down time. Granted we both have to do a bit of work over the break (Tobie practicing, me writing #3 of 5 essays due in April),  but we are going try maximize our time off.

This means only 2.5 months left for the year!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What Am I Going to Be When I Grow Up?

We had our midterm evaluations today with our problem-based learning (PBL) tutors today.

For those of you who are new to the blog--my medical school uses PBL based learning which means that every Tuesday me and my group of 8 other students get a new case (patient) presentation, we hash out our hypotheses/differentials, and acquire physical/lab/diagnostic information--for three hours. We generate 'learning objectives' (LO's) based on our unknowns in the cases--i.e one of our cases was multiple myeloma so naturally our LO's were mainly based around immunology, cancer, pharmacology, etc. Then we scurry away and learn as much as we can from Tuesday-Friday. On Friday morning we meet again for 2 hours and find out more info about the case and present our findings to each other.

Over the weekend we take whatever new info has been gleaned and learn learn learn, then the following Tuesday we wrap up the case and start the next one.

This is all interspersed with anatomy, physiology, histology, sociology, law & ethics, statistics, and psychology lectures as well as presentations from specialists who use the case of the week to be the theme of their talk.

So we spend 5 hours a week with our PBL tutor and we all get to know each other very well (for better or for worse). The PBL tutors are doctors from various backgrounds and they are with a group for 1/2 a semester before the school switches them up. They are not supposed to teach us anything, just help to keep us on track if our discussions are way off base or someone says something completely bollocks.

That was a longer explanation than I thought it'd be!

Anyway to make my short story long...

My wonderful lovely hilarious PBL tutor's last day with the group is Friday and I am really sad because I *love* her and have a secret professional girl-crush on her because of how ahhhh-maaaa-zing she is. Today we had our evaluations (which aren't really evaluations because we don't get any marks from PBL but more of a check-in to see how we are doing) and I couldn't help myself but ask her what type of medicine she saw in my future. She had said that she is usually very good at predicting early on what students will go into.

She said that she could tell I was very practical and loved procedural-based medicine so her prediction was anesthetist or surgeon.

Hmmmpf! Interrrrresting.

Maybe OMDG's prediction is right?! (She attains that I will become a trauma surgeon but I just can't wrap my head around that one).  :)

I've just always been an emergency girl (though I do love sports med) and could really only see myself doing emergency's only been in the last few months that anesthetics came into my realm of consideration. There is just sooooooo much out there and we get exposed to so little in our clinical rotations. We don't even get a clinical rotation in anesthetics, or emergency med! We have 25% in family med, and the rest is peds, surgery, psyche, obs/gyn, medicine.

I know, I know...electives are where it is at.


Everyone keeps harping on me that I need to pic *now* because I need to start arranging contacts in Canada *now* and doing electives in my residency of choice *now* because as a lowly IMG we need all the help we can get to get a residency we want back in Canada.

How the deuce to people who have never done any clinical work do this? I feel bad for the 95% of my medical student IMG colleagues that are in the same boat and have only done a few weeks here and there in clinical-type settings.

I really think the Irish system is much better in this regard. After graduating you do 1 year internship where you float everywhere and then you can apply into different streams after that. Seems much more humane.

In the meantime...

Hmmm...anesthetics? Surgery? Really?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Med Ball

Last night was the medical societies annual charity ball.

I bought tickets weeks ago and as the date approached I wondered what the heck I had gotten myself into. I am not a glam girl by any means. 9/10 days I wear some lycra-inspired athletic outfit to school, and have my hair in a bun, no makeup. Ever. The thought of having to wear a dress and heels for a night suddenly seemed like a really bad idea.

Turns out, it was a rather entertaining night.

Since I am a poor student I didn't get my nails/hair/make-up professionally done, nor did I go out and spend a months worth of grocery money on a frock (unlike *many* of my classmates). Got a good friend of mine to do my make-up, pulled a dress I bought in Canada and haven't worn yet out of the depths of my closet, and shined up my purchased-in-2006 heels. Tobie already has a tux since he has to wear one for chamber music gigs.

Highlights included:

-me body checking my physiology professor and almost knocking the man down on a sprint to the dance floor to win a free spa package (I did apologise later but warned him for the future: never get between a woman and a free spa package)

-me doing a baby-Guinness shot with my anatomy professor

-watching a good friend have to bridge the awkward transitional dance to "I've Had the Time of My Life" with the Dean of Medicine after pulling him on the dancefloor with 8 bars left of "Footloose"

-getting to use a washroom that had sinks which contained only ONE tap (here in Ireland they are still obsessed with the "cold" tap and "hot" tap, thus making handwashing with warm water impossible)

-being complimented on my air bass solo during "You Can Call Me Al"

-attempting to teach my Irish friend the texas line dance and how you can incorporate it to "Thunderstruck"

-being the nicest dressed person in the hotel lobby as opposed to the worst dressed person in a hotel lobby (sweat pants are my preferred travel outfit)

-getting to see the Dean pull people on the dancefloor when the band first started to "Dancin' on the Ceiling", the man actually has some *sweet* dance moves

All in all, I was glad I went. It took some courage to leave the house in the racy dress (racy for me) but I was happy that I got over my insecurities and just went for it.  Photos maybe to follow...

Oh and the entertainment actually carried on this morning as I got to witness many 'walks of shame' leaving our building which is prob 80% medical student tenants.

Dark sunglasses+oversided scrub pants+mens hoodie+heels in your hand=walk of shame.

Heh. Finally a perk to having a ground floor bedroom window that looks out onto the entrance of our building.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Post St. Patrick's Day

Yes I did go and have a couple of pints in a couple of pubs last night.

Tobie and I were given Irish names for the duration of the evening (mine is pretty Irish already but we made them a little more legit):

Oísin McDonnagh (pronounced "oh-sha" "mick-done-ah")


Eiréann Ní Suileabháin (pronounced "air-in" "nee-soo-li-han").

And so, belated Irish blessing:

That your patch of trouble may not cover the hole in a leprechaun's breeches. 


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Talkin' Bout A Resolution

Below is a post I made on my private blog in January. It seems that March is more of a time of reflection and resolutions for me because of the reminders to my own mortality. I think I will deviate from the trend of New Years resolutions from now on and operate on Spring Resolutions. 

My apologies to those of you that have read this post already. 


I looked back on last January's posts in the hopes of finding some resolution list but alas I bucked the trend last year as well. I always pretend that I have transcended resolutions but that is not really the case, it's more that I am either too lazy or too non-committal to actually follow through on any of them. So I don't bother.

Losing weight or getting in shape is often on people's lists, and like many women I always feel like I would be happy to see some changes with my body. Last year I got into probably the best shape of my life (it's all relative remember--when I look at some of my homegirls I feel like I should be on an intervention television show for fatties) as I trained for my Himalayan trip. I really didn't want to be sucking wind in the mountains trying to keep up with what I imagined would be a bunch of type-A-rugged-outdoorsy-altruistic-medical people. I ran, biked, and hiked all summer and damnnnnn! I was feeling good.

Then I ate myself into a stupor everyday for a month in India (the only comfort when you are living in a tent for a month--is food). I came back 10 lbs heavier and definitely not in the shape I left in.
I came back really discouraged and doughy. I basically felt sorry for myself and my transient lifestyle that was "keeping me from getting back into shape" (what I was telling myself as an excuse).

Then in February I went to visit my good friend Jody who was dying of cancer. This beautiful woman who was the picture of health not 6 months earlier was now conducting business as a bald, eyebrow-less fireball from her bed in hospice. After that first visit I drove home feeling greatly inspired by her grit, tenacity, and bravery (I still am inspired by her on a daily basis by the way).

I finally saw how I wasn't doing everything in my power to improve how I felt about myself, I wasn't doing everything in my power to make the most out of my healthy, capable body. Jody was a young woman dying of cancer and every single day she did what she could to be as strong as possible, and as happy as possible. I decided I would use her to remind me of all the things I needed to be grateful for and that every time I got the chance to skip, dance, jump, run I would do so in honor of her--knowing that if she could have, she would have been there beside me. And also that I would remember her short life every time I got really down over something as superficial and stupid as gaining a few pounds or seeing a dimple of cellulite. As she lay dying she never said that she wished she'd been able to run farther or lift heavier weights. She would have been thrilled to live another day even though she couldn't even walk anymore.

So I am reminding myself, this New Years about what I really want to have as my resolutions. And also asking myself, what is the motivation behind these resolutions??

  • I will take all the opportunities I can to be active, even if it just means going for a walk with Tobie after dinner.  Why? Because I can. Because I am healthy and able and there is no excuse for not being as physically healthy as possible. I am never going to be a world-class climber, ace skier, or competitive runner but I want to be able to do the things I enjoy for as long as possible and that means continually laying down the groundwork. I will also have this commitment because my sleeping and thinking improve when I am physically active. 
  • I will practice mandolin at least 4 times a week for a minimum of 20 mins.  Why? Because there is more to life than memorizing clotting cascades and someday I am going to be in the real world again and in that real world I will want to be playing music with my friends. I also feel the need to use other areas of my brain besides the 'rote memory' section.
  • I will force Tobie to speak French with me at for at least 30 mins every night. Why? Because if I am going to get a residency in Quebec I have to dazzle them with my fluency. 
  • I will continue to do yoga at least 5 times a week--even if it is only a 20 min session. Why? See reason one.  And because it feels good. And because I want to be one of those 80 year old ladies at the drop in classes that can bend herself into a pretzel and blow the 20 somethings minds. 
  • I will waste less time on FB.  Why? Because there is more to life than sitting, slack-jawed in front of my computer staring at bar photos of people I went to high school with.
  • I will be happier with the way I look. Why? Because it takes a lot of emotional energy to constantly berate myself for not being thinner, stronger, faster.  Today my pilates instructor actually said to me when I was talking to her about this other class she teaches "oh don't go to the intro class, you're obviously in good shape and in training, just come to the class". I was shocked and flattered.  When I look in the mirror all I see is the sins, none of the discipline. If someone like her makes a remark like that to me I should take it to heart and believe it! You're obviously in shape?? Ok! Yeah! I am! Woot! 
  • I will spend more time writing, whether it is rambles on this blog, or posts on Asystole. Why? Because the only way to get better at something is to practice practice practice. If I am ever going to be serious about writing it is not going to suddenly happen over night. I need to be disciplined about it.
  • I will stop comparing myself to others at all times. Why? Because it makes me feel bad. In school it is pointless to compare myself because I know about the real-world truths about good doctors...they weren't necessarily the top of their class. I will be a good doctor just like I was a good nurse. Not acing the anatomy spotter does not equal being doomed to becoming a bad doctor. 
  • I will endeavor to remind myself of the fact that I spent the last few years of my life with the sole goal of getting into medical school. Now I am here, I better make the best of it. Why? Because I already feel myself counting down the minutes until I am done medical school/residency/paying off my student loans. I don't want to always have my head space be in the place I am moving toward. I am studying what I love, I am in love, and life is good. So stop whining. 
Phew! I didn't think that list was going to be so damn long. Maybe I should post it on my wall as a constant reminder. 

So here's to another year of surprises, growth, and change. May this year be as enriching as the past 29.


Yes, how am I adhering to my resolutions??

One Year

Today is the 1 year anniversary of my dear friend Jody's death.

Having a close friend die at a young age certainly has caused me to reflect on the delayed-gratification path I find myself on. I try and think of the moments that are making me happy now instead of the constant stare fixed on the horizon.

Nursing degree. Pre requisites. MCAT. Admissions. Medical school. Residency. Fellowship.

I can't help but feel that constantly having long term goals seems to trivialize the present, because the present is always a stepping stone. I know that it is important to keep moving forward but how does one do that while also cherishing the moment?

I do wonder sometimes what 'life' I am carving out here in Ireland. No car, no money, no job. I am tethered to campus and my books all the time. Slightly out of sync with most of my classmates who are much younger with very little 'real world' experience and no idea of what medicine is actually about.

I used to travel, and write, and play music, and work, and ride, and ski and now what? What void in my life did I think that becoming a doctor was going to fill? What unsettled part of my spirit thought medicine was the answer?

What happens if I die of cancer-of-the-everything like Jody at age 40? Will I look back on this decade of sacrifice, work, poverty, and all-encompassing career development and be happy with my choices?

I damn well better be.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Medical Mnemonic Monday

My current favorite mnemonic:


to remember the layers (out to in) of adrenal cortex and what they produce:

zona Glomerulosa
zona Fasciculata
zona Reticularis produces
Sex hormone precursor.

If you make a post about layers of the adrenal cortex does that technically count as 'studying' or is it still 'blatant procrastination'?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Find Something Less Clinically Relevant? Impossible

I had forgotten about the truly banal undertaking which is: the bibliography. Yes, the-completely-irrelevant-for-clinical-practice icing on the giant-waste-of-time paper I just finished.

I know, I know. I'll get flamed because the most important thing in the world is research (when it comes to medicine). If it wasn't for research we'd still be letting the Barber do the bloodletting and cupping. We'd still believe in the miasma model of disease. Hence, the importance of paper writing and bibliography mastering.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

This doesn't change the fact that having to spend 3 hours of my precious Sunday going through my paper and dotting all the "p.p"'s and crossing all the "t"'s smacks of medieval torture in my books.

"Is it italics or underline for a title of a book? Journal? What about when you say the entire title in the essay? Or should you not double space quotes of >40 words in the body and indent the author name before returning to double space?" These are the questions I love having to answer.

AHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Have mercy on me oh Academic demons! 

P.S My apologies to Old MD Girl who I know is writing a grant right now (i.e is about 7 circles of hell lower than a simple bibliography boredom). 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Idea oF Excitement

Sorry for the recent dearth of posts.

I suppose it is a combo of having a pretty routine boring life writers block and having no time thanks to the fact that I am trying to write 5 essays on top of the usual truckload of school work.

As a bonus, there are some creative, non medical things afoot which are quite exciting. A small troupe of us are organizing a skit/comedy/music night which should be a blast--ok granted it will have a medical theme it will be a far cry from memorizing flash cards.

Last night we Canadians got a sweet view of a 'real Irish' pub just out of town. The place had about 10 tables (all of different size and shape with an equally random assortment of chairs) there were large glass cases with fishing reels and animal traps on display. The walls were covered in everything from old sporting equipment to taxidermied birds. (If any of you have seen the movie "Withnail and I" think of the Crow & Crown Pub--if you haven't seen the movie, rent it.) It was a lovely change of pace.

The thing I love about traditional music sessions is there is this large table somewhere in a corner, sitting around it are the musicians. There is something more natural and less show-boaty all about it. Several of our friends had also brought instruments and by the time we left it was half pensioners and half medical students playing fiddle, banjo, guitar, concertina, accordion, and mandolin. Delightful.

And the cherry of non medical excitement was today I was given a key (obtained through various secret handshakes and oaths) to the dance studio in the old sportsplex!! Yippeeeee! This means I can actually do yoga somewhere other than in my room.  My room which only has 1 meter between the desk and bed, complete with ground floor window that opens to the high traffic entrance of my building! Oh the room is so divine. Today I went and drooled through the window at the beautiful floors and mirrored walls, high ceilings--divine.  Tomorrow, yoga.

And now I will return to my regularly scheduled program of head in physiology textbook.

"Right, here's the plan. First, we go in there and get wrecked, then we eat a pork pie, then we drop some Surmontil-50's each. That way we'll miss out on Monday and come up smiling Tuesday morning."

15% off plus sized scrubs with code "plusasys"

Saturday, March 6, 2010

March is Tough

This March marks is the 1st anniversary of Jody's death, and the 8th anniversary of my Dad's death.

I find that, for the most part, grief over these events does not fall on predicted days or during likely hours. It sneaks up on me and catches me when I least expect it. Finding a photograph or remembering a moment that flashes in front of my eyes, triggered by a seemingly unrelated event.

It's easy to get buried in all of the urgent unimportant things in life and forget to notice the non-urgent important things.

Here's to taking a moment to pause and be grateful for being alive. 

Hey AMG! Remember that trip?!? :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Umm...yes please!

I made the mistake of drinking wine around our class rep/journal club president a few weeks back wherein I agreed to do a presentation on my arctic nursing adventures...he asked me to make said presentation for today's Journal Club and it seemed like a good idea at the time. This morning I actually woke up with sweaty palms. That is how nervous I was.

Initially I was afraid that no one would turn up. I told my two close friends here and Manfriend that thay HAD to come so that there would at least be 4 people in the audience. Then I became very afraid that people *would* show up. Sweat. Palms. Underarms.

Much to my surprise a decent crowd of 1st and 2nd year students showed up--I mean besides my friends that I basically strong armed to attend. Even a handful of faculty, including the Associate Dean/Director of Education for the medical school. Yikes!

I think part of the turnout had to do with the poster my friend Mike made to advertise the event:
Ok so people came on some false advertising, and the promise of brownies....but hey...sometimes you gotta play dirty to draw a crowd.

Overall the presentation went well--I missed a few really big points that I wanted to make but managed to touch on most of them. My stats prof came up to me at the end and said that she loved it and wanted to generate some ideas for research up there--very cool. But the cherry on top was--as I was leaving the building the Associate Dean shakes my hand and tells me that he really enjoyed the presentation and then asks me if I'd like to skip into 4th year next year.

Umm...yes please!! Especially with the $65 000/year tuition I would save!

(That *was* my final answer but alas I think he was joking.)

I was feeling so behind after spending a big chunk of my weekend preparing this and not doing school work, but it was actually a lot of fun and already it looks like the Nursing and Midwifery school is going to have me speak to them!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Dear Davenport...

Dear Davenport Diagram,

I wish I'd never met you.

Please never show your face to me again.

I don't understand you and I am not into mindgames.