Monday, August 30, 2010

Germaphobic Tooth Fairy

I've been an official second year medical student since last Thursday at 11:00 am.
The other day, somebody said that if they had to repeat the first year over again, they'd quit med school. I have to say, I totally agree. It was torture the first time around. I'd rather spend the rest of my life working at the DMV than repeat the first year.

I'm currently enjoying my last vacation that is completely devoid of studying. From here on out, my vacations will consist of board preparation in the form of relearning everything I've managed to forget in the last year. Yay. I've bought a board prep book, of whose cover I haven't even bothered to crack. My current board study plan is this: When I'm studying for about the effects of saw palmetto on Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy and I think, "Hmm, I used to know in what section of the prostate BPH is most commonly found," I stop and look it up right then, instead of doing what I would normally do, which would be to promise myself that I'll remember to look it up 9 months from now when I'm really studying for the boards. We'll see how well this actually works out.

In other news, I'm currently playing single mother to the four kids of a fellow medical student while he and his wife are on vacation.
I'm learning such things as:

1. The Fives should come once a day, unless its test day. I do not like waking up in the fives every day. It makes the day really, really long.

2. The person who invented the child lock on the car windows is a genius and I love him.

3. I now respect my mother on a whole new level. Especially after having to repeat everything I say approximately 5 times before anything gets done. I actually said, "Did you hear me? I'm not just speaking for my health." Oy.

4. Did you know that you can deep fry tater tots?! They're already awesome little bullets of cholesterol that go straight to my coronary arteries, but you can drop them in a vat of hot oil and make them that much better! Where have deep fried tater tots been all my life? Granted, I did not actually feed the children this because I don't want to give them heart attacks and their mother is trusting me to at least feed them a carrot or two while she's gone, but I seriously considered making some for myself after they went to bed. Alas, I was too tired from all that 5 am-ness that is going around this house and fell asleep.

5. I'm an awesome tooth fairy. The youngest's tooth fell out at lunch yesterday, and I didn't even throw up. I hate teeth. I don't want to see them wiggle, much less fall out of your head. Granted, I never even touched the tooth. I made her put it in a strainer to wash it off, and then transferred it to a plastic baggie.

6. In the event that I fail out of med school, I'm going to get a job as a stay at home mom. Although I have this sneaking suspicion that in real life, it might be harder than becoming a doctor.

Currently Reading: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
The book is supposed to be about all the different ways society has used cadavers throughout history, from anatomy labs to proving the Crucifixion of Jesus. I think what I've really learned is that there are some really loony people out there that should probably not be allowed to run scientific studies. Or let out in public. What made these people think that it was a good use of time and money to take cheek swabs from people and test to see if the cells can still feel their owner's emotions from 50 yards away?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Growing Pains

Here's the thing I hate about having to be an adult: learning how to handle conflict. I feel like that's been the theme of my life in the last year. Back in the day (or two years ago) when I was only a semi-adult, I liked to pretend that my problems didn't exist and I would just let everything go.

But now that I'm old, I think I'm no longer allowed to do that. Speaking of being old, I was babysitting my four favorite kids last weekend and one of them asked me how old I was. It took me a while to remember. Am I 24 or have I already turned 25 and just can't remember. So after much deliberation I told her that I was 24. And she says "How come you don't know how old you are?" Well, I hate to break it to you kid, but after 21, there's not a whole lot to look forward to. Well, discounting the fact that at 25 I can finally rent a car without the extra premiums. Woohoo. But I love that in little kids minds there is a huge difference between being 5 and 5 1/2.

Anyway, now that I'm practically a senior citizen, it's officially time to put on my big girl pants and learn to stand up for myself. Which I hate doing because I want to live in La-la-Land where the fairies take care of all my problems and I never have to be confrontational about anything and there are puppies and kitties romping around on grassy knolls and garden gnomes give me lollipops. La-la-Land sounds an awful lot like an acid trip (not that I would know what that's like).

I'm in medical school, which is awash with Type A personalities that operate on the theory that in any human-to-human interaction if you haven't steamrolled the other person, you should get your money back. Now I do attend a school that likes to be known for its lack of cutthroat competitiveness and where everyone wants to hug and be friends and share notes and study strategies. All the warm fuzzies are well and good, but we're in medical school and there are still a good number of people that are out for blood. They just have to pretend they're not.

So what happened? We have this bi-monthly torture session called Pathology lab where you're supposed to diagnose fake patients using your considerable knowledge of pathology (meaning we scan the pages of the Robbins book until we find the picture she used in the case and write down the disease, all the while pretending we know exactly what we're doing). One person has to type up all our answers. I volunteered to type because then I don't have to stay after for the review session. I've typed before several times without issue. Except this time, there's this kid who must be angling to be God because he's sure he's omnipotent and therefore feels entitled to run the show (I'm not bitter or anything).  I can tell he's upset that he doesn't get to type and be all in charge, so he spends the next two hours correcting my every move, which is ANNOYING. He especially likes to correct my spelling while the professor is in the room and she's talking and I'm trying to frantically write down everything she says so we all get a good grade. That is the least appropriate time to be correcting my spelling.

I finally get frustrated with him and make that known and he backs off a little. And he "apologizes" at the end of the lab, which wasn't really an apology but more of a "I'm sorry if I kept telling you what to do, I just wanted to get everything right." Which in medical student speak is: "I'd like to take this opportunity in front of everyone to make it known that I'm so much smarter than you and your pathetic because you can't spell atelectasis off the top of your head."

No big deal. He's a controlling know-it-all, I already knew that. But then I find out that he's going around complaining about me! Now I'm mad. What do I do? Do I send him an email or talk to him and call him out on being an ass? Because I'm over not standing up for myself. But where do you draw the line? Where does not being a doormat end and being a pain in the ass begin? Am I making a big deal out of nothing and should just let it go? Or is it a big deal because I think it's a big deal? Ahh, the joys of growing up. Maybe I should go visit the Magic 8 Ball in the library and ask it what to do.

Okay, I think I'm officially done whining. And anyone reading this is probably muttering about crazy medical students and their inane problems. Just writing about this has been so cathartic that I am no longer mad, and I don't feel the need to go yell at this guy resolve this dispute in a mature fashion. This was like a virtual therapy session, only cheaper. The power of the internet.

Plus I think postal service in this town has decided to stop delivering mail to me. They keep dropping off mail addressed to people who no longer live here and I dutifully put it back in the mail slot with a note. After about the tenth time with the same person's mail, I might have gotten a little bit shirty with my note, and I haven't had any mail since. How do I figure out if I'm just not getting any mail or if I've been blacklisted by the postal service short of sending myself a letter, which is pathetic?

Update: My books finally came in the mail! There's no conspiracy, just the possibility that the post office employs sloths to sort the mail.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I Object!

Today we started our jurisprudence class. Jurisprudence being basically a fancy word for "Let's teach the doctors how not to get sued." We received such helpful advise as "Patients don't sue the nice doctors, so smile when you inform a patient that you have to perform second surgery  because you were an idiot and left a surgical sponge in their belly. And if you're really good they'll be so grateful that you're not even charging them for it."

I don't think I've ever been more sure that medical school is the right place for me. No offense to my law schooled friends, but I don't think I've ever been more bored in class. Granted, they probably learn about the cool parts of law; we learned the difference between the plaintive and the defendant. Seriously? Anyone who's ever watched Judge Judy knows about that.

Also, I thought medical words had a lot of hard-to-remember Latin terms, but compared to some of the terms this guy was throwing around, medicalese is a breeze (heh, I rhymed). This law stuff, however, is basically indecipherable. And all these phrases sound faintly dirty. Don't believe me? Try saying Ad Testificandum out loud.

The only thing that kept me from poking my brainstem out with a pencil was that the professor does magic tricks. It's like attending the Criss Angel School of Law. Well, that and the fact that he tells you what all the test questions will be during the lecture.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's all in your head

There's this generalization in medicine that says when you're in medical school, you think you have every disease you learn about, and when you're finally a doctor, you think nothing can touch you. Basically when you're in med school, you're a hypochondriac, and when you're a doctor, you're invincible.

Let me be the first to tell you that the first part is totally true. Granted, I've been the first category going on 24 years now and I'm ready to move into the super hero, nothing-can-touch-me phase. Although, I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to be a permanent resident of the Hypochondriacs Anonymous group.

And it's true, what they say. In school, we spend an eternity learning about all the symptoms of these horrible, fatal diseases, that you can't help wondering if that muscle cramp in your calf is the first sign of Muscular Dystrophy. During a lecture last week on throat cancer, there was so much psychosomatic coughing going on that it sounded like we all had emphysema.

I have a Neurology test tomorrow and it covers all manner of neurologic diseases like Parkinson's and Huntington's and Lou Gherig's disease. The really bad stuff, full of weird muscle twitches and hemiballismus, and numbness, and tingling, and no cures.

Do you think it's a coincidence that I've just started having bilateral distal leg numbness and some occasional hand tremors? Or how about the fact that I'm having a harder time clicking on the stupid trackpad on my laptop? Obviously that means I'm having some distal upper limb weakness! I must have early onset Parkinson's, right? Oh no! I'm obviously wasting my last few healthy years slaving away in med school. I should be sitting on a beach someplace drinking pina coladas.

Nevermind the fact that my legs are numb because I've been sitting in the same chair for the past 8 hours, and my hands are shaking because I drank my first soda in two weeks and my nervous system is in shock from all the caffeine, and I think the trackpad must have some dirt underneath it or something, because it really has gotten harder to click and the sound it makes is no longer loud, but dull and sad.

Earlier this year, I managed to convince myself that I had a brain tumor. This was totally a second year's fault, though, because she made the mistake of telling me that because my migraines are always in my left temple area that I might want to worry about the possibility of brain tumors. She obviously didn't realize that she was telling this to the person who likes worrying so much that it's the only exercise she gets (I'm convinced that anxiety burns calories and I read somewhere once that people who fidget burn an extra 350 calories a day. When I'm anxious I can't make my leg stop bouncing up and down. I'm sure the USDA totally counts that as exercise, right?).

It's going to be just my luck, too. After convincing myself that every little ache or pain is evidence of a tumor or infection, I'm going to end up playing The Boy Who Cried Wolf with myself when the one symptom I finally choose to ignore is actually a problem.

I guess this is the price I pay to learn about all these things. I'll just have to hold out until I graduate, then I'll never be sick again! (eye roll)

God complex here I come!

Speaking of crazy neurological disorders, check out this YouTube video. The human brain can do some really messed up stuff. Just don't be afraid to get a flu shot.

Currently Reading: Mind Hunter: Inside The FBI's Elite Crime Unit Because I need to worry about serial killers like I need a hole in my head.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

You know you're in med school when... (round two)

You start contemplating the viability of mainlining caffeine through an IV.

Which is unfortunate seeing as I gave up drinking caffeine this summer.

Granted my version of "no caffeine" is kind of like the kind of vegetarianism where people only refrain from eating anything with a cute face. I've given up daily soda drinking because the amount required to keep me functioning was getting slightly ridiculous. Now I just drink it when I feel like if I don't have a soda in my hands right this very instant I'm going to have a meltdown. And since I stopped drinking so much caffeine, one soda makes me feel like I've just downed a bottle of caffeine pills, which, I would imagine, is not dissimilar to having a caffeine drip.