Tag Archives: House Stuff

Tales from Anatomy Part 3

As I near the final week of anatomy, several questions come to mind? First, where did October go? Where was I for that month? Oh right, the anatomy lab. Second, will I pass anatomy? As long as I am alive on the day of the final, I should do just fine. Third, what could I have done better in the beginning of the class to improve my study habits? This was me at the beginning of anatomy:

I was thinking about this a few nights ago as I sat in my backyard recycling (burning) all of the leaves and grass that are piled everywhere. The previous owners of our house left us many of these silly bushes:

As you may or may not know, these need to be trimmed down before winter each year. This left me with a pile of grass roughly the size of my SUV, which I set on the curb in the misguided hope that the trash guys would have mercy on me and take it all (along with our weekly ONE BAG of house trash). Of course they didn’t. They probably just laughed at me and drove off. So now I have a metric ton of freaking bush grass, plus my yard’s monopoly on all of the fallen leaves in my zip code. That’s why I was “recycling” the other night. I have lived in the country long enough that I’m perfectly fine with pushing it all in a big pile, dumping some gas on it, and burning it all at once. Since I now live in a metropolitan area, I have to “use a fire pit” and “have a hose ready” and “extinguish the neighbors tree”. Gosh. City people.

So I’m sitting outside recycling, and I am thinking about anatomy. Here is a typical day for me during the first few weeks of anatomy. I go in to campus and up to the anatomy lab around 8. I then attempt to learn something from Group B regarding the previous day’s dissection (if they didn’t destroy everything) or teach Group B what we learned (so that they can destroy it later that day). We all walk down for a few hours of lecture by professors that I don’t understand, and I spend most of the lectures surfing the internet on my phone or reading Game of Thrones under my desk (don’t judge me). I then troop back up to the lab, where I fumble around attempting to “dissect” the structures I “learned about” in lecture, and I have no idea what’s going on. Finally, late in the afternoon or early evening, I wearily return home, only to realize that I didn’t learn anything, so I have to start all over on that unit.

Here’s my NEW, IMPROVED plan! I wake up and don’t go to class. During the morning, I look at the unit we are going to cover for the day. I google stuff, look in my atlas, and familiarize myself with what the goal for the day is. Then I drive in to lab later in the morning, and I actually know where things are! I see a nerve and think “that must be the _______, since it’s immediately lateral to the ______”. That’s actually learning something. Previously, I would announce that I had most definitely found a “thing” and wait for a TA to come and ID it for me. After leaving dissection, I hop on the interweb and watch the lecture from that morning on double speed, but since I am familiar with the structures from dissection, it just helps me tie everything together, learn the innervations and blood supply, etc. It’s far more effective that the previous method

I’ll continue this for another week, after which I will have an incredibly glorious full week of Thanksgiving with no class at all. I expect to put together a few more anatomy posts over the next week or so, as well as some posts regarding some fun stuff that came up in the past few weeks. I’ll leave you with this cute picture of my dog eating a stick.

As always, thanks for reading!

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Decision Time (Eventually)

I have thoroughly enjoyed this last weekend. My wife is here full time now, sort of, and after taking the exam on Friday there wasn’t much to study over the weekend. We did tackle a disgusting project, however. My office/study area had blue wallpaper that was poorly applied, and so it was peeling all over the place. We peeled it off, only to find more wallpaper underneath. And so we kept scraping and peeling wallpaper, and kept finding more disgusting layers underneath. The last layer was an especially ugly floral print that was probably put up when the house was built 60 years ago. Here’s a picture to demonstrate some of the ridiculous patterns we discovered.

Photo: Five layers and six decades of style later, we have finally reached the last layer of wallpaper.

Over the weekend and during the aforementioned wallpaper scraping, I was giving some thought to the future. Who will win in the first week of the NFL? When, as my sister asked me, will my wife and I go back home to visit? Have I forgotten to do anything before class next week? When can I eat at Chick-fil-a again? (Monday, actually. They are giving away free breakfast all week next week. True story)

One of the more serious things I have been thinking about is choosing a specialty. Asking someone’s potential specialty in medical school is like asking about someone’s major in college. It’s an easy question to ask because it’s a task we share in common. Also, while everyone thinks they know what they want to do as a freshman, most people inevitably change their minds, sometimes several times. Also, we don’t exactly get to pick and choose due to Step 1 and the match. Regardless, it’s something that’s been on my mind. I have jokingly seen this graphic several places now:

And so I am writing this initial post as a baseline. I want to look back in four years, as I start residency (that should frighten you, knowing that I will treat actual patients and prescribe things in just four years). I want to be able to look back at my past self, read what I thought my plans were, and then laugh at my past self. For tagging purposes and organization, I have invented a scoring system for each specialty, which I shall call the HLAITDTFTROMLH score (How Likely Am I To Do This For The Rest Of My Life?) The scale is either 1-10, with 1 being never ever, and 10 being pretty sure. Ready? Here we go.

Radiology: 1ish. Despite being afraid of the dark (see chart above), I can be reasonably certain that I would go insane as a radiologist. My reasons for getting into medicine had a lot to do with patients and not so much to do with imaging. While the hours, pay, and lifestyle seem fairly nice, I would probably slowly trade in my sanity until someone invents a robot to read images and I get fired.

Pathology: 1ish. I draw on four years of bouncing my legs and tapping my toes, impatiently waiting to get out of ______ lab during undergrad for this rating. I do not enjoy bench work, and probably never will. This specialty is so unappealing to me I almost forgot to include it on the list.

Pediatrics: 2ish. While I can’t rule this out completely, it’s not high on the list right now. It’s not that I don’t dislike kids (SO many negatives in that sentence), it’s the parents I couldn’t handle. Just kidding!! Anyways, I have a very hard time seeing myself in any pediatrics field, even when I try really hard to imagine myself wearing a bow tie (just kidding again…sort of)

Internal Medicine/ General Surgery: 3ish. This is more of a practical decision. I would go do IM if I decided to go into primary care. I would not do general surgery, simply because it seems terrible in every way. Realistically, I think I have a good enough chance at getting into a sub-specialty, which is more appealing in many ways that IM/Surg. We’ll see.

Emergency Medicine: 5-6 or so. I trained as an EMT during undergrad, spending significant time on the ambulance and in the ER, and it was definitely a rush. I see definite benefits in shift work, pay, and salary (lifestyle stuff, I suppose), but there are serious downsides in the high burnout rate, night shift work, and no real patient follow up.

Sports Medicine 6.5. I have attended two sports medicine meetings so far, and have found them very helpful. I would enjoy working with high school/college athletes, professionals, and weekend warriors. There are lots of opportunities for operative/non-operative practices, as well as academic/private practices. Very interesting.

Ortho/Surgical Subspecialty: 8. This is a broad field, but there are tons of options here. The idea of surgical care is appealing to me because it gives me the chance to fix a tangible problem. I’m a problem solver by nature, and the idea of direct intervention is VERY appealing to me. I like the idea of “fixing” something. One downside I see to IM is treating patients with chronic conditions, adjusting medications, etc.

Orthopedics is high on the list due to a doctor I shadowed during undergrad. He worked hard, but had fun and had a better lifestyle than other surgeons I shadowed. This would also give me the ability to treat some of that athlete/adolescent population from sports med (as well as geriatrics). This is a specialty that seems worth a 5-6 year residency.

There are some other fields I will be learning more about in the coming weeks. For example, I became interested in plastic surgery after reading a book about Harold Gillies, one of the pioneers of plastic surgery. Oncology is a double edged sword. On one hand, if I went in to oncology I would likely be part of a revolution in cancer treatment and care. On the other hand, it would be a difficult field, and one where my patients would frequently lose their battles against cancer.

That’s where I am at right now. The decision will partially make itself. At the end of my second year, I will take Step 1. If my score isn’t high enough, I can go ahead and rule out the really competitive specialties. Should I match into ortho, for example, I will probably find some niche that I particularly enjoy and pursue that. I can’t know that now. For the next two years my best course of action is to get good grades on my tests and go to free lunches to learn as much as I can, so that when the time comes to make a decision I’m not limited by poor scores or by a lack of knowledge about my options. Plus….free lunch 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Recommended Doses

My wife and I have had a lot on our plates for the last few months. 

On May 22nd, I got my acceptance letter for medical school. So really everything started right around then. I had graduated less than two weeks before I got that fateful email, so I had around two weeks of blissful work, no school or anything.

Since that day, however, it has been totally and completely nuts. We have both quit our jobs, my wife has found another (and I haven’t because…well…suga’ mama, remember?). We have made 7 trips to our new destination city, often driving 3 hours there, spending a LONG time looking at houses/job interviews/doing school stuff, then driving 3 hours home. These days usually see us leaving the house around 5 am and not returning until the wee hours of the morning. I like road trips and driving more than most people, but these are some long days. (I have the same love of driving as a 4 year old boy – I just like moving the wheel, pushing the pedals, and making the car go).

Also, just to make things more exciting, I traveled to Idaho and did my first Ironman triathlon in June. You know, a week away from home, big competition, physical exhaustion, lots of stress, etc. 

We also bought a car and went on vacation with my wife’s family for a few days. Want to know what all of these activities have in common? Here, I’ll give you a hint.

I tried to think of something witty to write here, but got sad looking at all that money.

Having gone through all of undergrad without any student debt, as well as avoiding car payments by paying cash for cheaper cars. we have so far avoided any debt at all. That whole financial plan was shattered pretty quickly this week, as we racked up more money in debt last week than all of the money I have ever spent in my entire life on anything put together. Yikes.

So they say (I’m not sure who “they” are, in this instance. Most of the time I like to reference exactly who is saying something here, as they could be anybody. This was told to me several times in the last few weeks by several people). They say that couples, especially newlyweds, should not attempt too many life changes in a short time span. I’m sure that whoever says stuff like that is inserting a picture of us, since we have crammed all of these “life events” into a few weeks. Geographic changes, career changes, financial stress, and some bonus stress like Ironman. 

We have done really well with this so far. We seem to grow closer together when faced with stressful situations, and have somehow managed to sail smoothly through some really challenging waters. Yesterday, however, everything sort of caught up with us. We had yet another three hour drive, towing a trailer in the rain, moving all of our crap from one place to another, and we were both just tired of it. I’m ready to be settled someplace and get to work on medical school, which starts next week. Yikes.

Tomorrow we begin the actual move, so my next post should be about my white coat ceremony.

Thanks for reading