Tag Archives: Wife

Let’s Talk About Getting Pregnant

I was so tempted to title this post something more search engine friendly. “Contraception, Birth Control, Natural Living, Sexual Health, and Gender Inequality” has enough buzzwords for several posts. Instead, I have this idea for a series called “Let’s Talk About _______”, which is convenient for me because I get to fill in the blank with whatever issue has been on my mind lately. And by that, of course, I mean whatever I have been forced to memorize by my medical school overlords. First things first. If you are my mom, my wife and I are not pregnant.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into this. We live in a sad world where unwed teenagers drop out of high school to have kids after the father bails on them, while older, wealthy, loving couples are unable to have kids and so spend TONS of money on fertility treatments. Some of the most pertinent subjects of women’s rights involve access to birth control, abortion, and equality in the workplace. I want to talk about at least two of those before I have to study again.

First up is birth control. The Catholic Church is well known for drawing criticism on this subject. Since I attend a Catholic school, I have heard the reasoning behind their stance at least once (sex is about babies and bonding, and you shouldn’t have one without the other). As much as I like to support the church, I think they have missed the mark here. First of all, the Bible doesn’t speak directly against birth control. Yes, there are verses about the blessings of having children, but no direct instructions about how many kids to have or the manner in which they should be conceived. The guiding principles from the Bible all stem from its constant theme of the sanctity of each life. Some birth control medications have an effect that could potentially destroy a fertilized egg. There are those who consider that destruction of a life, and so they can’t support taking birth control medications. This is an argument I can understand, but don’t entirely agree with.

A few days ago I sat through a lecture on FAM: Fertility Awareness Methods. The idea of FAM is for women to track their cycles, knowing when they are infertile or potentially fertile, and taking appropriate reproductive measures. This is a system used by couples who won’t or can’t use hormonal birth control for religious or health reasons (people unwilling to use synthetic hormones in their bodies, adverse reactions to the medication). There are a number of ways this system can be implemented, of which I will spare you the details (I have found that when I describe things to others who aren’t immersed in bodily fluids each day, I should usually stop right before I say the word “mucous”).

Fundamentally, hormonal birth control and FAM are the same thing: attempts to not be pregnant. I don’t have problems with either of them. Frankly, they are both good ideas. There are a lot of advantages for me, my wife, and our future children if they aren’t born for a few more years. It’s not that we are afraid to have kids (ok maybe a little), it’s our goal to love them and give them our best, so we want to wait. For that reason alone, and for couples like us, I like birth control.

Like most things in medicine, we discover that we CAN do things way before we talk about whether or not we SHOULD do them. There are scenarios that made me question the concept of birth control. Examples: government enforced birth control (China). The Catholic Church said long ago that the widespread use of birth control would lead to increased promiscuity. Why do we place the burden of birth control on the woman? (The answer, of course, is that women are the ones who get pregnant, but stick with me here). Why don’t men have that responsibility? Why make everyone wear Kevlar instead of making the guns shoot blanks? At the end of the day, birth control is a tool, and it’s one worth using. Side note: I have a friend in medical school who is Catholic and did the FAM thing after they got married. Their baby is due next month.

The sad part about the whole lecture I attended was that we forget about how incredible children are. The whole discussion treated kids like a chore, some sort of duty imposed on people to attend to eventually. Having children is a huge event, something that we celebrate every single year.

This brings me to the last subject, one that I have meant to write about since the State of the Union. Obama said that “Women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes”, implying of course that women are somehow unfairly paid less for doing the exact same thing as men. When you compare all men and all women that work 30+ hours a week in the United States, you will reach the shocking conclusion that men do, in fact, make more than women. Is this a vast sexist conspiracy to degrade women, or is it a reflection of our workforce? Consider this. Men are more likely to be CEO’s, neurosurgeons, or to work in high paying but dangerous or remote jobs (oil drilling). Women have significant presences in those fields (CEO of Yahoo, for example), but are more likely to own small businesses or work part time. So in that “fact” we go thrown in our face, we had 80 hr/wk neurosurgeons and executives being evenly compared to elementary school teachers. There’s no gender inequality there, that’s just economics. Also, we don’t value a woman’s work at home in terms of income. If a woman stays home to take care of their two young children, she won’t get a W2, but has done some inherently valuable work. If she were to get a job, they would have to pay for childcare, increased living expenses (gas, food, clothes) and account for the decreased time with the kids. There’s huge value associated with a “Homemaker”, and no way to measure the value of a woman who brings new life to the world.

There are even indications that a “gap” is beginning to form the other way. Girls tend to do better in math and science than boys, and have brains that mature much more quickly after puberty (up to several decades, some say). I was lucky to be a guy during medical school admissions. My class is 50/50 male/female, but the applicant pool was 40/60 male/female. It seems as though men are becoming progressively dumber, while women become smarter.

That’s probably where I should stop. I think I can pick up here when I start my next post. Judging by my schedule, I should have that up by May.

Thanks for reading! Sorry for no pictures!

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Tales from Anatomy Part 1

What a week! I write this on my first Saturday after my first week of anatomy, and I am still alive to tell the tale. This Clinical Anatomy course is seven weeks long, which means we will be immersed in anatomy until Thanksgiving or so. I’ll likely write just once each week as I suffer through the course. There is a pretty significant time commitment involved between attending lectures, doing the dissections, and then learning the material.

Yes, the material. The fire hose analogy is definitely beginning to apply (med school is like drinking from a fire hose). The first block of Cell Biology was like a high pressure garden hose (enough to drown you, probably) but just the first week of anatomy was upgraded to full-size fire hose. I have a relatively good background in anatomy, having taken a difficult course in undergrad that included cadaver work, but this is pretty intense. 

The course is organized like this. Every morning we have lectures on pertinent structures and organs (muscles of the back, etc) as well as clinical problems associated with those structures (spinal trauma, paralysis, etc for spinal cord). This can take anywhere from a quick hour of lecture up to 5 hours of lecture. After that’s finished we go the cadaver lab. Three students are assigned per body for each day of dissection, but we switch off with another group of 3 about every other day. That means I do dissections with two others on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday while three other students dissect Tuesday and Thursday. Once we finish our dissection, we present all of the muscles and structures we found to the other half of the group. 

The pace is pretty frantic, because I believe that when the faculty shortened the course from 10 to 7 weeks they kept the same amount of dissection and cut out other activities like cross sections. My experience with dissection in the past has been very meticulous and careful, with lots of effort taken to make sure the maximum amount of material can be gleaned from each body. This is more like “do as best as you can but make sure you do it really fast”. In the first week we have done the back, neck, thorax, heart, lungs, and associated nerves, glands, and muscles. Then we took a quiz on it yesterday. That’s a pretty quick pace.

There is good news. First, the course only has six weeks left, and I can probably do anything for six weeks. Second, I do actually enjoy dissection work. While tedious and time consuming and smells bad and sometimes burns my eyes, it’s actually pretty cool to be able to learn anatomy so directly. Very few people have the privilege to ever look inside of a body like this, and I think it’s cool that I can see the heart, lungs, and vessels that once kept someone alive. 

So after one week I’m still in good shape. I have had a great Saturday around the house with my wife and the puppy. I have a great book to read (non-class material). There has been some absolutely FANTASTIC baseball played the last few days. The Cardinals took game 1 into the 13th inning, keeping me awake until 12:30 last night. I’m also excited to see the Red Sox play the Tigers tonight, since I think the Sox could clean house against the Tigers. On a different note, the incredibly terrible Jacksonville Jaguars travel to Denver to play the amazingly talented Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos this weekend. I bet Denver wins by 40. Lastly, the greatest race on earth is being held today in Hawaii, as the Ironman World Championship is going on today. It’s been a beautiful fall weekend and a fulfilling week, and to make sure I’m ready for the next week I’m going to stop blogging for now and continue on later. 

Thanks for Reading!

Wrapping It Up

This week concludes Cell Biology, Metabolism, and Genetics. We will take the last exam on Friday. Despite my abysmal performance on the last quiz (and passing Epidemiology and Research by the skin of my teeth), I need to score just a 36% on this final test in order to pass the block and never see any of these subjects again (until Step 1). Tomorrow is given entirely for self study in preparation for the exam, which will be followed by a glorious weekend with NOTHING to study before anatomy begins next Monday.

I’m actually a little bit worried about that. I am comfortable with brute memorization and have fairly good visual skills, so the material isn’t too unsettling. What worries me is this new format. A 10 week course in the past has been re-packaged into 7 weeks. Apparently the amount of dissection has remained unchanged, which is potentially bad news. They reduced the amount of histology and cross section lab work, while adding more clinical applications and emphasizing radiology reading (something we will have to actually use). A few second years told me that it will be much better than their schedule. We start dissection on the back, then switch to the front and work from the head down. Some second years told me that they had passed the course by acing exams until they hit the waist, at which point they slacked off. One girl mentioned she knew almost nothing about the lower legs and feet, since she didn’t really go to class for that part. That’s hilarious, if true, and reminds me of this.

I may fall into that same trap, because Week 5 or 6 of anatomy coincides with the release of about 3 of my favorite video games, as well as my birthday. I plan to do well and study hard, but my scores may decrease slightly after November begins 🙂

Ready for a big reason why I may fail this next exam? Here it is.

This is little Zoe, the newest addition to our family. I had a post in draft describing all of the reasons I wanted a dog, and finally convinced my wife to go to an adoption event last weekend because we saw that cute little pup on Craigslist. Now she is ours. She is part Rottweiler/Doberman, but is pretty small. Her mom is only 35 pounds, and she shouldn’t get bigger than that. She is recovering from pneumonia right now, so her endurance for romping in the yard is about 10 minutes. Let me tell you, there is NOTHING in the world sadder than a 4.5lb puppy with pneumonia. NOTHING.

She’s doing pretty good on housetraining and basic stuff, and is pretty chill for a puppy. In high school and college our family dog was a big yellow lab, 90lbs of love and spastic crazy tail. Our house and yard aren’t great for a dog of that…..girth. I like big dogs, and Zoe is a good compromise.

Despite my prolonged periods of non-posting, I have noticed continued views on posts in my absence. How cool is that? And if you are reading my blog from Australia please email me and tell me how you found it. If you Google “basically useless”, am I on the front page? Should I be excited about that?

In all seriousness, I have a theory I call the Blogger’s Paradox: those with the least time to write blogs often have incredible material to work with, should they decide to write. I have read blogs in the past where posts were frequent and the authors time was obviously plentiful, but the quality just wasn’t there. People who have different experiences on a daily basis can pull from that and write strong blogs, if they have the time. One benefit of medical is taking a daily swim in the pool of weird stuff, whether it’s diseases, classmates, or the strange things professors do and say. I try to make writing a daily habit, and I largely succeed, but the result is not always ready to be published, so I often have drafts and scraps floating around for days on end. Any time a big test looms in the future, however, you can count on posts while I do my best to not study 🙂

Thanks for reading! As always, feel free to comment below or send an email directly to my face at sortadrwordpress@gmail.com

Coats and Conversations

After finally finishing our move this weekend, I feel like I can sit down and unwind a little bit. I’m a little bit scrambled right now…it’s been a long few days. I didn’t even find the box with my underwear in it until just a few minutes ago.  Let me help you catch up a little.

Most of this weekend we spent moving. Since my wife and I just bought this house, our first, we both like it a lot. As well as being larger and newer than our previous rental, it also now boasts special amenities like hot water and Wi-Fi. Thanks to a snafu with the utility company, we went the first night and half of the second day with no running water (still had electricity though, much needed in this oppressive humidity). Now that we own the house, however, we have a grand list of projects to accomplish, and since I start medical school tomorrow, I’m beginning to realize most of these projects are going to take a while, especially considering my incompetence at handyman work (earlier today I installed a toilet paper roll holder at nearly a 45 degree angle to the ground, because I installed it while sitting on the toilet seat. I never stood back to see how level it was. Derp)

The good times got rolling when I went to pick up the Uhaul trailer and discovered that Uhaul does not rent any trailers to people with Ford Explorers, due to a history of lawsuits and bla bla bla. Now I’ll give you one guess what I drive, and what vehicle I was planning on using for towing this big trailer down the highway. Awesome. Of course you don’t rent to people who drive MY EXACT CAR. Ironically, if I had driven a Ford Escape (which is smaller) I would have been fine. Also, Mercury Mariners and Lincoln Navigators are both just fine, despite being near replicas of my car. I put together this stunning visual to illustrate the logic behind this.

Image

*This is totally accurate and reflects actual Uhaul policy

I was able to overcome this dilemma thanks to a friend with a truck who picked up the trailer and took it to my house, where I hooked it up to my Explorer and drove for several hours at highway speeds with no problem. Everything after we arrived was a blur of rain, humidity, boxes, painting, and more boxes, then suddenly it’s Sunday night. I don’t quite know how we managed to get to this point, but I know it would never have happened without a friend named Dave and my parents sacrificing their entire weekend to drive up here, help us move, and then go to the White Coat Ceremony.

Ah yes, you knew I had to be getting to that. The other main event this weekend was me getting “cloaked” with a short white coat, which indicates my entry into the medical profession (the white part of the coat means “doctor”, but the short part means “doesn’t actually know anything”). The ceremony was about 90 minutes and included lots of speakers telling the parents how great the university is, but I got to spend about 90 minutes in a big room with my entire class. I’m interested to know, after such a long year of trying to get in to medical school, who all the other people who got in are. No one just accidentally shows up in medical school (probably), and while I have enjoyed mocking some of our more ridiculous members, I have always hoped to meet some really stellar people once I got in to medical school. This white coat thing was the first time we all got together, so I had a chance to do just that. 

Would you believe that this is my class? It’s not….I stole it from the internet.

My medical school is a larger private school, and I was amazed at the geographical diversity I saw. I imagined many students would be locals, people who attended the associated undergraduate school and then matriculated directly into my school. Instead, the first four people I met represented the four corners of America (San Diego, Seattle, Portland, and someplace in Florida). Since this is a private school, there is no “in state” or “out of state”, so much of the class comes from somewhere besides this area of the Midwest. I think that’s pretty neat, and despite my normally introverted and reserved demeanor, I am excited to get to know these people. The “meeting” part will have to come later, I suppose, since most conversations are following the standard format I learned in college. The year begins with “Hi I’m ________, from ____________, and I went to high school at ____________”. Then it’s “how are classes going?”, then “how are midterms going”, then “are you going home for Thanksgiving?”. The next part is tricky, because you can either ask about how Thanksgiving went (dangerous), ask what they are doing for Christmas (a little better), or ask about finals (safest). In January you ask about how break went, in February everyone is depressed and stays in their dorms, in March you talk about spring break plans, after which you ask about spring break, then suddenly it’s the end of the year and you ask about summer plans. Boom. Every year for four years. It’s like the small talk road map. I was going to make another MS Paint illustration for this, but it surpassed my abilities. Maybe next time.

So tomorrow we really begin. I don’t think we are actually expected to learn anything this next week. Most of our schedule is meetings, info sessions, and paperwork. It looks suspiciously like orientation at my undergrad, which was excruciatingly boring, mixed with some activities that actually look like fun. I will go to as many as I can, and spend the rest of my free time catching up on sleep and probably blogging right here. This leads me to the last sad part of this post, the fact that my wife had to leave and drive back to our old city for a few more weeks of work, leaving me all alone in this new house until next weekend. I will be fine, since I’m usually pretty good at entertaining myself (blogging, reading, etc), but I hope she makes it through the week in various guest rooms and basements. 

For now, I will leave you with this gem of a personal statement, which is required reading if you or anyone you know has agonized over an essay for medical school at any point in your life.

Thanks for reading.

Life is Weird – Updates

I have lived in the Midwest for around 7 years now, so I am somewhat familiar with the weather patterns (or lack thereof) that we experience. Example: typically in July we experience week after week of blazing heat (100+) with high humidity, just to add more misery icing onto the melting, sad cake that is late July. Today, however, it is 65 degrees and pouring rain. Even weirder, the highs for the last few days have been low 70s, with even more rain. Last summer I only mowed my lawn once, because it never rained and all vegetation turned into crispy brown kindling. Anyways, life is weird.

Tuesday night I couldn’t sleep. This is weird because I usually don’t spend more than two minutes in bed before falling into a deep sleep, which lasts until my iPhone jars me from my slumber in the morning. I sleep through earthquakes, fire alarms, thunderstorms, and long plane rides with screaming kids. Most times I am in such deep sleep that I don’t even realize I need to pee, until I finally get up in the morning and dash to the bathroom (urinating for four straight minutes, oddly enough, is not something my wife finds attractive). So Tuesday night I found myself laying in bed from 12-330, shifting around, rolling over, staring at the ceiling, and NOT SLEEPING. I didn’t like it at all. Life is weird. 

 My younger brother is 17 and in the hospital since yesterday. A normally healthy young man, he cut his leg with a chainsaw last week and now has a bizarre infection. Local doctors are conferring with Infectious Disease specialists in large cities to try to figure out what he has, and blood cultures aren’t showing anything. As I repeatedly tell my friends and family, and despite the title of this blog, I didn’t magically become a doctor when I was accepted into medical school. I still have the same amount of medical knowledge (nothing) that I graduated college with. So when my brother has all these weird symptoms and lab results, I feel like I’m trying to stare at one of these crazy boats.

This is really a thing. It’s called “dazzle” camouflage, and it’s used by only the most fabulous ships in the navy.

A week from today I will move and start orientation things with my medical school class. My beautiful (talented, lovely, wife who is way too good for me) has been interviewing with design firms in this new city, and has received no less than five job offers from various companies, some of whom are not even openly hiring. As a recent college graduate, I know so many people looking and applying for jobs across the nation and getting nothing. My wife, on the other hand, pulls in five incredible offers in one target city (at double her current salary….suga’ mama!!)

Finally, I have carried a composition notebook constantly this week, jotting down ideas and actually working on my book, which I have no chance of ever finishing in this decade. I’ve done that and played an unusually large amount of Minecraft, and it’s been a great week off of work. Oh right, I didn’t mention that. As of last Sunday, I am officially unemployed for the first time in about 5 years 🙂 I have worked through most of high school and all of college, and I feel myself beginning to go a little bit insane after one week of packing and “vacation” at home. I know I’m going insane because I can read, on other blogs, how terrible medical school supposedly is and I still get excited about starting it, just to be doing something.

Life is weird.

Thanks for reading