Sunday, December 24, 2006

B H 90210 Christmas Special

I have a special place in my heart for Beverly Hills 90210, as I eluded to in an earlier post. This morning I watched the BH Christmas special. It actually made me cry. They take in a homeless man for Christmas eve and he turns out to be a man whose wife died the previous year and he took to the streets to try and re-find the meaning of Christmas. I'm sappy, I know. But dude, watch it, I swear, it will make you feel Christmassy!

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way....

Friday, December 22, 2006

Please Snow

It's been 2 years since I've been home for Christmas and this year I thought I might get a white Christmas. I was mistaken. As I gaze outdoors it looks more like Scotland here than it does Canada. Drizzle, drizzle, drizzle. Santa is going to have a hard time with take-offs here, higher coefficient of friction between the sleigh and the roof. I hope he has an on-board computer to help with the new calculations!

Ben is very disappointed that his first Christmas in Canada is going to be a wet one not a cold one. We took him out to pick a Christmas tree the other day. Man, the Scots do NOT know anything about trees. He tried to pick 3 yellow ones, one covered in pine cones, and one where the actual branches didn't start until 2 feet off the ground. Jeeze. We finally found a beauty and cut it down, took it back to the car and brought it home to decorate. I'll put a picture up when I'm back at my parents' house and get a chance to snap one. The tree smells so good, it has a slightly lemony scent and just fills my parents house with happy Christmas memories. It's full of our ornaments ranging from childhood crafts to a beautiful hand made glass star on the top. Christmas has arrived!

I'm staying at Ben's house right now until this evening when we'll descend on my parents' house until boxing day. Ben's at work so all I do all day is watch what not to wear and eat Kraft dinner. It's not as fun as it sounds. I've even lowered myself to doing his laundry and cleaning his room out of boredom. I go out and shop and make fancy dinners because otherwise I think I might die of loneliness. Being a housewife isn't all it's cracked up to be and I don't think I'd be able to do it for long. I'm glad he's off until new years starting tomorrow!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everybody!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Holiday Time

Ah, Christmas. The time when people fill the malls and try to kill you in the subway with large boxes and packages they are wielding with careless joy. I'm trying to relax and enjoy the holiday and forget about my awful exam. It's not happening yet, but hopefully it will by Sunday.

This holiday has been a sad one for my grandmother. Her last living sibling died a few days ago and she has found herself the last survivor of the family she grew up with. I was speaking to her on the telephone and she reminded me that, as the youngest, I would probably also be the last one left of those I grew up with. She called the it curse of being the youngest child - never alone until everyone else has gone. It's hard to listen to someone who has always been upbeat and happy talk about such depressing things. She still has her husband and her children and many grandchildren but it is almost like she's decided that her life is over. She told me that if I was busy not to come visit over the holiday because she's already had her fair share... Of course I'm going to go visit but it's sad to hear someone talking that way. I hope she gets out of her rut soon. I think part of it is that she's surrounded everyday by people who are older and more ill than she and my grandfather are because they live in a retirement community. I hope it is just part of the mourning process and doesn't spill over into her long-term outlook on life.

In good news, I'm almost finished my Christmas shopping and all my sibs are coming over on Christmas day along with their spouses and my darling cute nephew. I am making trifle and Christmas log (a family tradition) and we are going to stuff ourselves silly. Mmmmmmm!

Happy holidays everyone.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Well.. it's an end... not the one I was hoping for

Our practical today was BRUTAL. Last year's practical was so easy compared to ours. Why do I need to know the layers of the vocal folds? WHAT THE HELL. I can see needing to read an audiogram or look at a red eye, but the fucking layers of the vocal folds? kill me now. We all started laughing when we saw the question because nobody knew it, no one. I also didn't recognize that the histology slice we were given was the pons, oops. there goes another 10 marks. So, basically, I hope I did well on the short answer or I might be revisiting neurology in the summer.

But, I'm done. Now it's time to break out the christmas music and the white wine. Medstudentitis is home!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

fried brain

This is what my brain looks like. I still have another exam tomorrow and my brain is fried. I just had my long-answer exam and it didn't go as well as I'd hoped. They always put on the things I didn't really study that well! mild cognitive decline... uh ... uh...

I'm tired of writing exams. I'm going to go join the circus.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


One down, two to go. I'm glad I read over all of my notes last night, there were a few things I didn't know but I think I knew at least 80 out of 110 questions for sure. That may sound like not too many, but it's enough to pass! Then figuring into the average guessing (1/5) that's 86/110, minus ones I thought I got right that I didn't, back to 80. Whew. All I need is a 60 to pass.

I almost crapped myself this morning FYI.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


So, the exam is tomorrow morning. You may wonder why I'm writing in my blog at a time like this but I've been sitting on my ass since 8:30 this morning going over my notes that I finished yesterday. I'm taking a break :) My brain is very very very full and I'm not sure how much good this is doing me but I'm doing it anyways because if I don't read over everything (all 14 weeks) today, I know I'm going to regret it later. So, I'm on page 195 of 303... but I'm almost done neuro so that's half the battle. Psych is going to be the fastest read-through ever.

And, in different happier news, my friend Amy is getting married. I'm so happy for her I could burst with happiness. Maybe Ben will get off his "I'm not getting married" horse sometime and ask me to marry him - but I'm not holding my breath (as a child would if they had breath holding spells - not seizures, or as someone had paradoxical vocal cord opening would). Amy is the person I think out of all my friends who probably deserves a great guy like Brian the most. So, this one's to Amy!

This is the part where I sing a silly drinking song that Amy and I both experienced during our undergraduate education together, you ready?

Here's to Amy,
She's a horses ass.
Why was she born so pitiful?
Why was she born at all?
She's no fucking good to anyone,
She's no fucking good at all!
Sooo... drink motherfucker, drink motherfucker, drink motherfucker, drink.
drink motherfucker, drink motherfucker, drink motherfucker, drink.
Chug one for me Princess Amy!!!!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Kind of like

It's kind of like that 90210 episode where Brenda and Kelly both show up for the spring dance in the same outfit and they're really mad at each other because they both said they didn't want it. That disappointment is kind of what reading old exams and finding out you can't answer any of the questions is like. Except the exam thing is 200000000 x worse.

I have a lot of work to do tomorrow. I'm exhausted but I guess I should stay up and finish reading over ophtho and ENT as I'm sure I won't have time to get to them tomorrow and they are at least part of the exam. Ugh.

I guess all I can hope for is that this will turn out like that episode of 90210: Brenda has sex, Kelly is elected Spring Queen and Steve has a mental breakdown because Kelly forgot his birthday. I plan to be the Steve of the situation.

1 day until stupid exams.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Damn Hands

My hands are seriously getting me down. They're like the man. Only they're attached to my body. They're holding me back from my studying potential. I need a robotic right hand. I've never written so much that I'm totally crippled and it's still 2 days until the exam.

Ahhhhhhhhhh 2 days!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I really should be...

I really should be starting on psychiatry. I just finished my first pass of my notes on neurology - i.e. the week a day method of taking notes on notes - my study method. I know it's long and tedious, but I find that it works, so, 8 weeks of neurology in 8 days, not too bad. I'll go over it for a second and third time on Monday and Tuesday as I'm not too worried about ENT and Ophtho for this exam (esp the multiple choice).

Psych is a bit of a funny one - lots of stuff to know i.e. diagnostic criteria but lots of it is common sense. Lots of the disorders seem very similar to me though so I'm probably not going to get through all of it tonight and tomorrow as planned.

Then on to exams Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Mutliple choice then short answer then practical. Apparently they've had trouble in the past with the projector for the practical so I'm looking forward to that shit show. If there's something to screw up, I'm sure this med school will manage it.

The worst thing about medicine is that you can never throw out your notes after a year like in Undergrad. Well, ok, I was a pack-rat and probably still have some notes on differential equations somewhere from my undergraduate degree, but I have managed to gleefully part with everything that ever had to do with thermodynamics. With my medicine notes, I know that I'm going to have to know all of this stuff for the rest of my life, so I'd better keep the notes around incase I forget it all. I've taken to getting all of my notes bound together so I can recycle binders. I'm cheap and it takes up less shelf space.

Ahhhhh. 3 days until exams.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

There is a reason that this bike lock comes with a guarantee of $1000 dollars replacement value for your bike if it gets stolen while locked up (you have to present the cut lock). It really is a good bike lock. For this reason, it was my worst nightmare today when my key broke off in the locking mechanism. It was pretty cold today and had rained last night so my lock had gotten a little iced up. I managed to open it in the morning but went too far in trying to force it open this afternoon. I was at a store getting some pens for my awesome study afternoon when my nightmare began.

This lock is hacksaw proof - believe me, I tried. I was practically crying out in the cold in the snow with my freezing hands and very unhelpful hacksaw when an angel came down from above. Or, a man in a trench coat, but hey, I'll take it. By coincidence he knew a police officer/angel who was also a lock-smith/angel. He called him and the police officer said that by coincidence he was also going to the store I was locked up outside and he would be there in 10 minutes with his tools that he had in his car to take a look. He came, he saw, he couldn't fix but he promised to come back after work with more tools and try to finish the job.

I got a call at 3:30 that not only had he managed to bust open the lock, he also had my bike in the back of his car and was coming to drop it off at my house! When he got here I asked if he still had the lock because of the guarantee and he said he'd thrown it out. No problem, I said I'd call the shop where he cut it off and I'd get them to put it aside. 10 minutes later he calls me back and tells me that he went back and GOT THE LOCK OUT OF THE GARBAGE and is going to DROP IT IN MY MAILBOX later that day!

I mean, who does this stuff happen to? Since when is there a police locksmith magically on hand to unlock your frozen shut no good bike lock when you're in major crisis because you need to get home to study?! This was the worst/very best day ever.

Now, the question is, what kind of thank-you gift can you drop off at a police station for a detective without it looking like a bribe or a bomb?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

December 6th

On December 6, 1989, classes were in session at the École Polytechnique at the University of Montreal, located on the north slope of Mont Royal. It was the largest engineering school in Canada, with about 5,000 students enrolled at that time. A six-story yellow brick building housed the classrooms and offices.

To the students it seemed like a normal day, if cold and drizzly. It was the last day of the session, with final presentations going on in different places. About 60 students sat in classroom C-230, on the building's second floor. It was just after 5 p.m., and the sky had darkened. For some, that made it easier to focus on the lecture offered by two students about the mechanics of heat transfer.

Soon after, for 45 minutes, an enraged gunman roamed the corridors and killed 14 women. Marc Lepine, 25, separated the men from the women and before opening fire on the classroom of female engineering students he screamed, "I hate feminists." Almost immediately, the Montreal Massacre became a galvanizing moment in which mourning turned into outrage about all violence against women.

The murdered women were:

Genevieve Bergeron, aged 21;

Helene Colgan, 23;

Nathalie Croteau, 23;

Barbara Daigneault, 22;

Anne-Marie Edward, 21;

Maud Haviernick, 29;

Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31;

Maryse Leclair, 23;

Anne St.-Arneault, 23;

Michele Richard, 21;

Maryse Laganiere, 25;

Anne-Marie Lemay, 22;

Sonia Pelletier, 28; and

Annie Turcotte, aged 21.

These women deserve to be remembered and the horrible act that took their lives NEEDS to be remembered. Violence against women did not start or stop with the Montreal Massacre:
  • 30% of women currently or previously married have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence at the hands of a marital partner (Fitzgerald 1999).
  • 21% of women abused by a marital partner were assaulted during pregnancy; 40% of these women stated that the abuse began during their pregnancy (Fitzgerald 1999).
  • In a recent survey, 12% of women aged 18 to 24 reported at least one incident of violence by a marital partner in a one-year period - 4 times the national average (Fitzgerald 1999).
  • One-third of women who were assaulted by a partner feared for their lives at some point during the abusive relationship (Rodgers 1994).
  • 45% of women who experienced spousal violence indicated that they had suffered injury, and 43% of these women required medical attention (Rodgers 1994).
  • Women married to or living with heavy drinkers, are 5 times more likely to be assaulted by their partners than are women who live with non-drinkers (Fitzgerald 1999).
  • Women constitute 98% of spousal violence victims of kidnapping/hostage-taking and sexual assault (Fitzgerald 1999).
These are just the numbers about spousal abuse, many women are also assaulted by men they do not know.

Today I urge you to think about all of the victims of violence against women in the world and to ask yourself what you can do to make a difference. Men and boys are asked on this day and all days of the year to wear a white ribbon. Wearing a white ribbon is a personal pledge to never commit, condone nor remain silent about violence against women.

Fitzgerald, Robin. Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile. Statistics Canada, 1999.

Rodgers, Karen. "Wife Assault: The Findings of a National Survey." Juristat 14, 9. Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada, 1994.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

My Poor Dented Finger

Last night I went climbing for the first time in a year and a half. I used to be good, now I suck. The picture above is of Ben when we went on a climbing date when we first started dating. He's such a monkey. I think one of my main problems is that I have very sweaty hands. I think it has gotten worse. I go through chalk and re-chalk up more than anyone ever. I think if I went back to climbing a lot I'd have to start using antiperspirant on my hands.

The place was cool, pretty small, but has a chimney climb that's really long. All of the ropes are set up on grisgris so you don't really have to think about belaying or dropping someone. That's always an advantage. I think my shoes shrunk since last time I wore them, or my feet grew, or I'm really not used to the excruciating pain anymore. I think if I was going to get back into it I'd buy new shoes - perhaps not 2 sizes smaller than my feet this time, although it's supposed to make me a better climber it just ends up with me climbing with my arms so I don't put any weight on my sore feet. Anyhoo, today my arms are very sore.

I have also got a study injury, I've managed to totally dent my middle finger on my right hand from all of my furious scribblings. Owie! I'm going to have to learn how to write with my toes.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

You know you're going crazy when...

First sign you're going crazy when studying:
You start to read your lectures in the accents of the lecturer. Right now I'm doing it in my head, but I'm sure as soon as I get a bit nuttier I'll start doing it out loud. My medical school seems to have a thing for hiring South Africans - so right now I'm learning about pediatric upper airway obstruction in a lovely South African accent. How come they say trachea so weird? (i.e. Truck-eee-a). It kind of makes me giggle.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why oh why did I watch Grey's Anatomy tonight instead of studying. I mean, I still studied, but I could have finished what was on my study schedule if I hadn't watched grey's (maybe). Nothing like unrealistic study expectations to make you feel good about yourself. Oh, and finding out there were 14 weeks of lecture not 13 (my whole study schedule hinged on lucky 13).


Tuesday, November 28, 2006


What a freakin' shit show.

You know when they put something on the OSCE that you learned in lecture this semester and haven't studied yet that you're in trouble. Yes, I'm the idiot who confused glaucoma and macular degeneration. Yes, I probably failed that station. Were we supposed to know those things for the OSCE? NO.

We were supposed to be tested in the skills and information learned in our clinical skills and our expanded clinical skills sessions. Macular degeneration was covered in neither. Fundoscopy, yes, strabismus, yes, nystagmus, yes, but macular degen, no. I didn't know we were supposed to have studied everything for our final exam that's in 2 weeks before our OSCE. It's fair game next semester, but not this one. I know I might sound like a whiny loser, but I really did think it was unfair, and so did others.

My lady for the sciatic nerve section didn't know her dermatomes so gave me a very confusing picture of which nerve roots were affected, thus I couldn't answer the question at that station. Fuck. This was awful and I feel like crying. I'm going to be an awful doctor.

Monday, November 27, 2006


So, it's coming to the end of the semester and that means it's time for our OSCE. For those of you not in the know, it stands for Objective Structured Clinical Examination. Basically you go through a number of timed stations, each of which consists of a clinical scenario for which you must do a history or a physical exam.

For example: Ted is a 47 year old man who has come in with a complaint of melena. Do a focused physical exam. You will be asked a question at the 5 minute mark.

At this station you would be expected to do an abdominal exam and then a DRE. The examiner has things on a checklist that you get points for doing i.e. light palpation of the abdomen. It's great because every time you do something right you can hear them checking it off - it's a boost of confidence. Unless, of course, you do 5 things and don't head any check marks being made! It is totally artificial and isn't like being with a real patient at all, but it does test your ability to remember which tests to do for what scenario.

I have my OSCE for this semester tomorrow. I'm scared. Mostly because this semester we have had little time to practice our histories and physicals and have instead been focused more on findings, special skills etc. I have to go over my upper and lower back pain exams today and make sure I don't forget something important. I need to remember to FIFE the heck out of people on my history (function, ideas, feelings, expectations) and I need to go over my relevant review of systems because I keep forgetting which questions relate to which clinical scenarios i.e. seronegative arthropathy questions (SOAP BRAIN MD anyone?).

Then I have 2 weeks to study for exams. I started studying a while ago but have sort of lulled myself into a false sense of security and been going pretty slowly. I need to step it up now. 2 weeks to go through a week of notes a day for a total of 13 weeks. I've read the entire textbook but need to start filling in the blanks and reminding myself of what I do and don't know.

MCQ on the 13th, Short answer on the 14th and Practical on the 15th and then I'm FREE for Christmas. I'm excited.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

You meet the nicest people in med school

Lately I've been a bit frustrated with a few people in my class (as you could probably tell from the last post). Sometimes, I forget how many nice people there are in medical school who I would have never met otherwise. After the latest frustrating incident with a few group members, one of the girls in my group came up to me and touched me on the arm. She said, "Don't worry, I felt the same way too. I like how you looked them in the eye when you were giving your criticisms, that was honorable." It was like it all ceased to matter. Someone had heard what I said and how I felt and she acknowledged that I was upset and needed support. If she wasn't going into pathology, I would want her as my doctor any day!

So, let this be a lesson to us all, great people go into medicine. The wanks are the exceptions, not the rule.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bad Day

Some people you just can't get along with. You try to give them honest feedback in a group situation being as transparent and constructive as possible, and they take it the wrong way. You try to let them give you open and honest criticism, and they don't say anything and then make sarcastic comments afterwards. They tell everyone else how they love to give feedback and if they have a problem with someone they'll go up to them and arrange a time to tell them how they feel, and then when they clearly have a problem with you they just sit there and act all passive aggressively. I'm sick of it. Grow up.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Making Medicine Sound Good

Today some colleagues and I gave a talk at a conference to a bunch of engineers who might want to be doctors one day. We discussed all of the things you have to do to get into medical school, why it's great to be an engineer when applying, and how we went about getting in. It was all going well until someone asked what it was we didn't know about medicine when we got into medical school. When someone asks you this question, it's hard to make medical school sound good.

When I got into medical school I thought it was going to be awesome: I thought I would get to see patients and learn how to be a great doctor; I thought I would have fantastic classmates; I thought my professors would be great mentors; and, I thought I would fall in love with a specialty that I would do for the rest of my life. For the most part, all of these things are true.

What I didn't know is that I wouldn't get to see many patients until 3rd year, I would have to sit through hours of lecture that were pitched way above my level of understanding and mumbled through by professors who would rather be operating/medicating/sleeping/etc., and that my life would revolve much more around medical school than I ever thought it would. I love medical school, but there definitely are some drawbacks that I never imagined before hand.

I fell in love with rural family medicine and think I would like to do that for the rest of my life, but I'm not always sure. I have some great mentors who are also my professors, but some of them don't really care who I am or what I do. I love many of the people in my class, but sometimes it's a bit claustrophobic to be with them every minute of the day. Alas, medical school like life isn't perfect. And I don't expect it to be.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


There has been a bit of a hubub this week at my med school. Last week we had a scheduled session on "career counseling" which not many people attended. I was personally at the family medicine forum in Quebec City representing my school and learning about family medicine promotion initiatives for the coming year. Other classmates were studying, sleeping, doing observerships, cramming in a little bit of exercise, or generally doing anything but going to this lecture. We then got an email later that week from the doctor who was giving the lecture complaining that nobody showed up and telling us that it was unprofessional of us all to miss it.

I wrote him a message saying that I was sorry I had missed it but the lecture only went onto our schedule 2 weeks earlier and I'd already booked my train tickets to attend this conference. Other individuals sent him emails explaining that they preferred to be doing the things they were actually doing at the time and didn't think the lecture was that helpful in the curriculum (those who were concerned about their future career probably went). Then Dr. Career counselor proceeded to flip out and send an email to the entire medical school explaining how our class is full of unprofessional assholes and taking people's private emails to him and cutting bits out of them to demonstrate that we're assholes. He didn't name any names within our class, but it left me scratching my head... Isn't that a bit unprofessional? Isn't it unprofessional to add a lecture to our schedule on short notice and then take it personally when people have scheduled other things for that time slot?

I think all in all this is a very bad situation. If I was giving the lecture, yes, I'd be pissed if nobody showed up. But, I wouldn't send an email to the whole medical school berating the individuals who didn't come and complaining about "unprofessional behavior". Counseling should be optional and on an as per need basis. Lectures on career counseling don't seem very effective to me. But, alas, I didn't go so I have no idea what he said.

We're grown-ups. Everyone in my class already has an undergraduate degree (or at least 3 years of one) and we should be responsible for our own education. The taking attendance malarky that has happened at this medical school lately is stupid. If people learn better at their desk at their house, so be it. If they can pass the exams and interact clinically with patients at an acceptable standard, what's to say that they aren't going to be as good a physician as any of the rest of us? What use is it wasting one's time in a lecture if that is not the way that one learns? Ultimately, one will not pass unless they learn the material, so let us learn it as we see fit.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Why Med Students are Human

Lately I've been having trouble with three things:
1) Wine
2) Cupcakes/Candy
3) Going to the gym

Wine for me is greatly connected to time spent with friends/family having fun and being care-free. My family loves wine and loves to discuss wine and go on wine tasting/buying trips. I don't drink very often (maybe 2/3 times a month) and if I go out to a restaurant I only ever have one glass. The problem for me is when there's a whole bottle just sitting there. I drink wine like it's water - I tell myself that I should alternate between wine and water because I'm just drinking wine because I'm thirsty, but I never do. Wine also exacerbates my stomach problems. Alcohol is also not great for weight loss/maintenance (see items 2 and 3) so part of my new commitment to personal health and fitness is cutting down. Wish me luck.

Recently I was at a baby shower where there was far too much wine and far too many cupcakes. I managed to limit myself to one cupcake while there, but dammit, my Mum sent me home with 6 leftover ones! If something is there, I will eat it (or drink it). I tell myself that once they're gone, they're gone, but somthing else always seems to come along i.e. leftover halloween candy. I need to develop more willpower. No more cupcakes. Dammit.

Last but not least, the gym. I always have grand plans to make it to the gym 3 times a week. I usually make it twice. Although I ride my bike to and from school every day it's not enough exercise and I'm not liking what's happenening to my body. With exams coming up I have a hard time seeing myself keeping up with my work-out routine. I need to find something else to do that doesn't involve travelling. The upside is that my gym is in the grocery store so I can't very well go buy groceries without commiting to a workout. Unfortunately, sometimes I just choose to go for a week eating frozen food and everything in cans from my pantry and stealing my roommate's milk instead of going shopping. I guess overall laziness might be more my problem.

So, I guess it all comes down to me needing to get off my growing ass and take care of myself. How come it's always easier to sit here and worry about failing neurology?

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Hand in hand we come
Christopher Robin and I
To lay this book in your lap.
Say you're suprised?
Say you like it?
Say it's just what you wanted?
Because it's yours ---
Because we love you.

Welcome to the world Ari Campbell Good

Sunday, October 29, 2006


This weekend was our medicine halloween party. It's funny how when you get a whole bunch of really intelligent people together and give them alcohol they turn into absolute idiots. Especially when they spend too much time studying on a regular basis so feel this is one of their only chances to have fun. There was some nudity, some passing out, and a lot of medcest. I went as the paperbag princess (from the Robert Munsch book) and Ben went as Maverick from top-gun. The highlight costumes of the night were "alopecia ariata" and "dermatomes" - the guy who went as the dermatomes actually let someone draw all of the dermatomes on his almost naked body with a permanent marker... I bet he's regretting that now!

All in all, I was feeling pretty good this morning, which many people in my class aren't going to be able to say!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The outcome

So I actually sat through the entire 8 hours of the domestic violence workshop. Believe me, all of us who stayed deserve a medal. Take everything I mentioned yesterday, add a stupid lecture in which they defined "interprofessional", "interprofessional teams", "teams", etc. ad nauseum for 45 minutes and a lame lunchtime activity. The lunchtime interprofessional activity involved not having enough sandwhiches to go around and discussing cases for which we had to answer questions in "interdisciplinary groups" that were aimed to elicit responses of how great things are in the hospital when people act as a team (duh!). It was truly mind numbing. The only two good sessions of the whole day were the talk from a police officer on police roles in domestic violence and the talk from a woman who works at interval house - our local women's shelter. Everything that was useful from the day could be summed up in approximately 30 minutes of material. Sometimes I really hate med school!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Medical School

I'm not sure if it's all med schools or just my med school that has the ability to take something that sounds really interesting and useful and turn it into the most dull/boring/useless thing in the universe. This is why I'm not looking forward to the day-long seminar I have tomorrow on domestic violence. I think that domestic violence is an important issue and that we definitely need special training on domestic violence in our curriculum. I hope that if someone affected by domestic abuse comes into my clinic one day I'll be able to help him/her figure out a way to get out of the situation and make a better life for him/herself.

This all being said, I'm not looking forward to my med school taking something so important and turning it into a 8 hour lecture-heavy experience in which I won't learn anything on how to actually manage patients in a domestic abuse situation. Inevitably this day is going to turn into a series of lectures on statistics of how many abused women need facial reconstructive surgery and exactly how many proline sutures are used each year to treat domestic abuse. There will be statistics about how many women affected by domestic violence live on streets starting with the letter 'B'. It will turn into discussions on "interdisciplinary care" that use lots of buzz words like SYNERGY and COOPERATION but actually don't SAY anything useful about how to locate resources or when to call law enforcement. I'm not sure how they can work a pharmacology lecture full of drawings of molecular structures and the cytochrome P450 cycle into domestic abuse, but I assure you, they will.

I really really hope that the workshop doesn't turn into yet another med school debacle, but judging from our AIDS symposium last year, I feel it coming on. I'm going to try to be optimistic. As you can tell, I'm not very good at it. So, expect a follow-up post tomorrow or the next day with the final thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

Monday, October 16, 2006


I'm a bit under the weather, so this will be a short one, but I promise a longer post soon...

In the past week I've had a few interesting tests as a volunteer for demonstrations in our expanded clinical skills sessions. I've had an EEG, a needle EMG, a nerve conduction test, some hearing tests and electronystagmography. It has definitely been interesting. In the past I've also had MRIs and ultrasounds as parts of research projects. I'm a big supporter of doing the tests to know what these things feel like to your patients. Obviously, I wouldn't support putting med students through tests with high risk associated with them (CTs because of the x-ray dose, LPs, etc) but I think it's definitely a worthy learning experience to feel what the battery of common tests patients go through feels like. Some are scary (MRIs of the head) some are uncomfortable (EMG, nerve conduction) and some are not scary at all (hearing tests, EEG) and I think it's good to have gone through them so we can warn our patients about what to expect.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

On Turning 25....

I turned 25 yesterday. I didn't think it would be a big deal until yesterday. When I said "you're 25" to myself, I suddenly started using other 25 year olds I know as a yardstick...
- I am not married (my parents and my brother were both married by 25)
- I have not got a real job (all of my friends have real jobs)
- I can't support myself (see above)
- many other stupid things I was thinking

The hardest thing for me was thinking that next year I would be 26. 26 seems really old to me. It's considered "late twenties". I swear I'm 18 years old.

Thankfully I do have a few things going for me:
- A wonderful boyfriend
- In training for a career I'm going to love
- Parents to pay my way through med school who love me
- Great brother and sister and inlaws
- <5 wrinkles
- a nice booty :)

So, now I'm off to my birthday party and I hope my birthday blues don't come back. I'm going to try and refrain from drinking too much sake...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Finally felt a liver!

In medical school you learn all your examinations on normal people. You learn to palpate the liver on someone without a palpable liver. You palpate systematically up from the suprapubic area to the costal margin on the right side with two hands asking the person to breathe in and out through their mouth. They tell you that when the person inspires the liver will brush up against your fingers and then recede on expiration back upwards (sometimes under the costal margin). This has remained a mystery to me for the past year and a half. I never felt a liver.

Yesterday I felt a liver for the first time. Mr. Yellow was a patient on medical service in for investigations into the source of his jaundice. His liver was HUGE. If you pulled up his shirt and inspected his belly you could actually see the outline of his liver. It took up almost the entire right side of the abdomen and part of the upper left quadrant. I palpated, and felt it, the kiss of a liver on my fingertips. Due to his condition his liver was nodular and I could actually feel the texture as it moved under my hand. Sadly, Mr. Y's CT scan revealed multiple liver mets from an unknown primary CA. I'm impressed that Mr. Y allowed 10 students to come in and palpate his belly and I'm very greatful. Without willing patients on the wards, medical students would only be able to practice on standardized patients and volunteer patients who usually do not have positive findings. They're doing a real service to the medical community by participating in our education.

To anyone who has ever been seen by a medical student: thank you. We all very much appreciate it.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


I like curry but it never ever agrees with me. I have a very sensitive tummy and I have a psychosomatic tummy too. Whenever I know something sad is coming up I start to feel very nauseated. It used to happen to me whenever I was traveling between Scotland and Canada because even though both countries were something to look forward to, I was also always leaving something behind. Anyways, enough about that, let's talk curry.

I made curry last night for Ben and I and I used Patak's tikka masala sauce. It was VERY good. I made a chickpea curry with potatoes and a few green veggies (green beans and broccoli). It was just as great as take away curry from Scotland. Scotland has very good take away curry due to the large Indian immigrant population. I made rice in our steamer for the first time too, and it was fab.

BUT the best part of the meal was the chapattis! I usually make naan bread or poppadums but we went to an asian grocery yesterday and they had chapattis that can be cooked from frozen. They were SO GOOD. I highly recommend Shana frozen chapattis. All you have to do is head up a non-stick pan and slap in the frozen chapatti. Move them around for 2 minutes, flip and repeat, and eat! I recommend a curry burrito made with a chapatti and some fabulous chickpea masala.

In other news, Ben bought me my birthday present yesterday ( my birthday is next Monday - Canadian thanksgiving) and I LOVE it. He bought me the winter boots I have been drooling over for a month. They are going to last me for YEARS and I've already been proofing them like crazy so they won't get damaged in the rain. They are so warm they were making my calves sweat at brunch today. They're shearling on the inside and I could wear them with bare feet but that would probably stink them up :) I love my boyfriend who listens to what I am yammering on about all the time (not just because he bought me a great present though!).

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bad Dreams

I like naps. You could say that I live for naps. Ok, I'll say it, I LOVE naps. But today, my mid-afternoon nap was ruined. I had the most HORRIBLE dream. I was on the edge of a pond and two big kids were coming at me with big metal poles trying to kill me. Suddenly I had got one of the kids into the water and somehow he died... Then the other guy said that now he was no longer worried about his honor and I should kill him too. There I was in my dream bashing this guy's head with a metal pole, then I told someone I could do it and they bashed him until his head flew off.

What the heck!?!?! If this happens again, afternoon naps might be ruined forever. Dammit!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Something to look forward to...

Last night I lay in bed for a couple of hours trying to fall asleep. I kept thinking about Glasgow (where I used to live) and how everyone there was doing. I was experiencing these great visceral memories - I could feel myself riding the tube, smell the rain in the air, imagine opening the door of my little flat to Ben waiting at the end of a long day, walking through the graveyard I used to go searching for old/neat gravestones in. It was almost better than dreaming.

When I first got to Glasgow and knew nobody, I started out my adventure living with 5 other students. They all went to Glasgow University (I went to Strathclyde) and 2 of them were in medicine. I watched my friend R go through their equivalent of clerkship, come home absolutely knackered at the end of the day, and graduate and move to London to start out his life in a big city hospital with his girlfriend B. My friend P had failed a year so was graduating a year behind R. She knew how to party and introduced me to the sport of white water kayaking and the paddling club she was a member of. She was my first real friend and we're still friends to this day. P is the kind of person who can go out, drink 8 pints of some weird alcoholic concoction that includes beer, vodka and black currant, or even worse, alcoholic orange juice with extra shots of vodka, and convince herself she'll be ok to go to clinic the next day. Yes, she failed a year, but she didn't give any of it up and she learned to keep up despite her weekly 3 days of partying.

Last night I decided to write P an email before I went to bed asking how things were going. She graduated this summer and just started her first real doctoring job (they don't really do residency there... it's more a series of jobs you apply for and just move up the ranks). I got an email back this morning and two lines stood out:

"Being a doctor sucks ass and I'm not going to recommend it" and "It is like being a well paid secretary with worse hours".

It's funny but I haven't had a single friend yet who went out into the big bad world of medicine as an actual doctor and had great things to say about it. They should tell us this before we go through all that work to get accepted to medical school.

But, for now, I'm just going to hope that it's going to be better for me and enjoy the time I have left in the shelter of the university. I'm going to try to get back to Glasgow too, I miss it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Neglecting My Blog

I've been neglecting my blog a bit lately. This is due to a combination of reasons:
1) Neuroanatomy. We are having a quiz next week in which I have to look at pins in small slices of brain and identify the nucleus/tract/thingie that they point to. I have only been able to get through one chapter of the text so far and I can't retain the information I've tried to put in my brain. The worst thing by far is that all of the brain looks the same to me, and the names are SO complicated. Why can't they call the nuclei and stuff something that makes sense?!? Argh.
2) Clubs. I'm the director of one club (family medicine interest group) and an exec member of another (med students 4 choice) and they suck time. I had two meetings today and I haven't been home for 13 hours. I studied for a few hours today and I am totally pooped.
3) Nobody commented on my last entry. I'm not petty, but nobody likes thinking that nobody loves them. I will, however, suck it up now.

We had an interesting lecture the other day on depression in physicians. This tied into what I've been reading lately in barbados butterfly's blog about the hardships of surgical training and the recent tragic deaths of two surgical registrars in Australia. Did you know that male physicians are 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than their gender matched counterparts in the general public? And female physicians? 5 times more likely to commit suicide. These are American statistics. The times of greatest depression for medical students are 1) at the end of second year right before clerkship 2) the beginning of residency (after the honeymoon period).

The worst thing is that what makes us good physicians or good at getting into medical school is often what makes us prone to being depressed and not getting help. We are private people who are good about keeping our emotions to ourselves, we strive for perfection so we are embarrassed to admit that we can't handle a problem, and we feel guilty about taking time off from work so we don't take the time to go get help. We are dedicated to our patients so we tend to put ourselves last. We can keep up appearances when things below the surface are falling apart - our colleagues and friends are often the last to know that we are having trouble so they are unable to suggest that we get help in a timely manner. All of these things contribute to us being prone to letting depression get so far that we decide to end our lives.

The good news is that this problem is being addressed. Not only through educational lectures and physician wellness sessions in med school but through making help very accessible and confidential. If you think you might be depressed and need help and you are in Ontario, you can call the OMA physician help-line at 1-800-851-6606 . If you're in another province find out if you have a physician help line, or find a counseling service. Remember that if you're dead or ill, you can't help your patients so taking some time now to take care of yourself is worth it.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I was absolutely shocked to hear about what happened in at a cegep (junior college equivalent) in Montreal yesterday. The incident has been compared to Columbine and to the Montreal Massacre. I think that the comparisons to Marc Lepine's horrific acts are somewhat misleading (read more about the Montreal Massacre here) because this incident seems to be more of a random act of violence; however, this is definitely reminiscent of other school shootings such as that in Columbine. Interestingly, there are many more school shootings that have occurred world-wide than most of us know of.

I don't have anything profound to say. I'm deeply saddened by the loss of 1 student so far, the wounding of 20 others, and the psychological trauma that so many students will have to live through. I hope that something constructive happens from this, but judging from the fact that school shootings have been happening for 10 years or more now and we still haven't been able to prevent them, I'm not optimistic. There is an article here that talks about the difficulty of profiling and predicting school shootings.

As I said before, this will not make me afraid to attend university or to speak my mind or make me support administrators who want to kick every goth kid out of school. I was a punk, I had a mohawk at one time amongst other ridiculous hairstyles (see below), I didn't shoot anybody. Neither did any of my friends. My mom works at a university. She wears a black trenchcoat... I don't think she's going to shoot anybody either. What we do from here on out has to be constructive, not reactionary.

Ridiculous looking, perhaps, but not a shooter

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

September 12th

I didn't put up a post on my blog discussing September 11th and the anniversary of the world trade center attacks. Primarily, because I didn't have much to add. I didn't even know anything had happened on September 11th until September 12th because I was camping. Yes, the events were tragic and I feel for those who were directly affected by the tragedy. I was proud that many Canadians pitched in and helped out stranded Americans and other travelers who were grounded. But, many other people have much more meaningful things to say about this event. What I want to say in this post is a little bit about yesterday.

I happened to watch a few American network television shows yesterday (surprise surprise) and there was something I was really struck by. There were lots of people talking on TV about how afraid they are. Afraid that a terrorist is going to kill them. Afraid that they will be part of the next September 11th. I heard more than one person repeat the sentiment that it was not "if" but "when" the next attack is going to happen. I think it's perhaps an even bigger tragedy than the September 11th attacks itself that these people live in constant fear for their lives.

It's this kind of fear that gives certain people a lot of power, like those in charge of governments. It's the kind of fear that blurs lines of civil rights. There was a show on TLC the other day about balancing security and liberty, unfortunately I missed it. If anyone saw it I would be interested to hear what they thought of it.

Anyways, if we lived in fear every day of dying in all the many ways we can possibly die, we'd be paralyzed into staying in bed - although I'm sure there's a way in which your bed could kill you too (think morbid obesity). Carpe Diem folks, carpe diem.

Monday, September 11, 2006

My eye

Ok, so I have an eye thing. I constantly think there's something in my eye. This morning I woke up with the puffiest allergic eyes every. Then, as of an hour ago, I'm convinced I have a worm in my eye socket because i've got these creepy crawly feeling. It sounds funny, but I'd rather there WAS actually a worm in my eye because then I wouldn't be crazy.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Yet again asking the question

Yet again today I was asking myself the question: is it always going to be this hard?

Ben just left again for home to go to work tomorrow morning. We had a great weekend, lots of walking, relaxing, reading, etc. We went out for dinner last night and ate lunch today down by the lake shore. I can't believe it's over already. Next weekend I go there. This weekend is going to be pretty heavy and hectic, but all I can think about is being together again. Somehow this seems harder than when we lived on different continents - the goodbyes are more frequent and the visits shorter. Either way, I don't love him any less. I might just love him a little bit more.

I promise I won't make a post like this every Sunday - I guess I'm just going to have to get used to this.

In other news, this week I go back to clinical skills. We have a "back to the bedside" session in which I'm going to meet my new tutors, my new group, and hopefully remember something about examining patients. It's time to get out bates! I also have to review the neuro exam and significance of findings for PBL. For those of you who are not familiar with it, PBL is problem based learning. It was invented at McMaster university in Hamilton Ontario (Canada :) and has spread worldwide. When I lived in Scotland they were using PBL as a teaching strategy at Glasgow University. Some people love it, some people hate it. Basically we're given a case study in small bites and within our group of students have to read it over, discuss teaching points in the cases, and identify learning goals for the next session. There is a faculty member there to supervise but they're not meant to participate at all in the discussion - only get us back on track if we need it. My new supervisor went to McMaster university and is a bit of PBL nut. Overall my group seems to be full of nice people who are willing to contribute which is good - although one girl is always looking for zebras when the horse is trying to lick the salt off her hands.

This session was about MS. Well, we're pretty sure it was about MS - since we haven't actually had any more neuro than 3 neuroanatomy lectures and one neuroimaging lecture we can't be sure, but it was what we came up with anyways. Pre-teen girl presents with bilateral symmetrical parasthesias and muscle weakness in her lower extremity which spreads to the hands (also symmetrical and bilat). Normal sensory perception (proprioception, pain, light touch) and normal bladder and bowel function. Apparently this is a very typical presentation of something - We guessed MS. The only thing we were confused about is that it was progressing day by day which we weren't sure is consistent. I guess I'll find out with my research this evening! Something to do to keep my mind off being lonely.

Friday, September 08, 2006


I am here writing this because I am SKIPPING. That's right. I did NOT go to my neuro lab today. You may be thinking: she is so craptacular at neuro that she should perhaps be attending her lab. BUT, friends, let me tell you - this lab sucks. We were given sheets with questions organized into "modules" to fill in. Then we basically went from table to table and filled in the questions from the book... That's right, there was no actual lab equipment or specimens involved. So, I decided to do the questions at home and meet up with some friends to figure stuff out that we don't know. Plus, i'm doing my laundry and getting ready for the history of medicine tour I'm reading a station for tonight.

My station is cool. I'm talking about women in medicine at my university. It's pretty crazy, my university allowed women into the medical school and then kicked them out and didn't let them in for another 60 YEARS. This is an example of how universities sometimes succumb to pressure from the masses eventhough they know what they're doing is wrong. They knew it was right to let women in but folded when people complained. It's pretty shameful.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


It's sad that on the first day of school I'm already regretting volunteering for the few things I did. Neuro is going to KILL me. I have absolutely no knowledge base for this subject and I was lost the first day. I am going off tomorrow to buy Blumenfeld's Neuroanatomy through clinical cases. Please god make it help me!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Naked Tomato

Ok... so I just found out from flea's blog that apparently someone left him this comment when medical pathetical unexpectedly came down :

"flea i think it only fair to tell you that naked tomato was actually a 18 year old college student using the online anonimity to pass herself off as a doctor. her name is jessica and she has taken her blog down since someone called her on the fact that she is not in any way shape or form a doctor but a child living out a sick fantasy in crying fake rape and impersontaing a doctor. she has never been out of massachusetts she is a only child not 1 of 11 and her mother also lives in ma not ireland. she has removed her board but wanted to let you know this in case she tries to contact you. thought it fair"

I also really hope that this is a farce. I believe that Naked Tomato was frightened after writing her post about rape and possibly someone was able to discern her real identity and scared her enough to take her blog down. Naked tomato, if you're still reading this, I hope that you're ok. I respect you and your right to take down your blog whenever you want, but I fear that it was forced and not what you wanted.

If you're not who you said you were, then I think you probably need some help. Lots of people within the medical community will be able to support and get you the help you need if you reach out to someone. You're in my thoughts.


Saying Goodbye

No matter how long or short the time between meetings, saying goodbye never gets easier. Today I came back to medical school after my summer vacation and had to say goodbye to Ben before he headed back to big city and to work tomorrow. He's also moving into a new place so we're both stressed out and feeling very alone. We've had more goodbyes than the average couple, we lived together for a year, then apart for another - separated by an ocean and 7 hours of air travel - and now we're in the same country again; the same province even. No matter where we're going, ever time I say goodbye to him it feels like he's taking a piece of me with him, a piece that it's very hard to live without. I worry that something will happen to him and I'll never be whole again. I wish he was with me always.

P.S. Where have you gone naked tomato? I've been trying to access your blog all day but it seems to be gone?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ladies who Lunch

I haven't posted in a couple of days because I've been doing nothing. Well, not really nothing, but things that aren't very interesting. I've been a lady of leisure, which for the most part is kind of boring. So I will blog about the exceptions to the boring

I had lunch with my friend Dr. F. who is a Dr. of the Noam Chompsky sort. She's actually so cool that she's like a female version of Noam. She is the most sarcastic person I know, and that's a good thing. She absolutely kills me. We had amazing thai soup for dinner. Here's a recipe for thai soup - make it. It's like liquid crack.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1" fresh ginger root
3 scallions (green onions), chopped
2 tablespoons lemongrass, chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
3/4 pound broccoli, cut into small chunks
2 carrots, cut into small chunks
1 quart vegetarian 'chicken' broth (I don't know what this is - I use onion broth usually or vegetable broth)
1 - 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1/2 tsp saltPinch of black pepper
1 lemon, sliced thinShredded fresh Thai basil

Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan, and fry the garlic until it starts to brown (to make a spicy version of this dish, start by frying one tablespoon Thai chile paste with garlic and sweet basil in the oil instead of garlic). Stir-fry broccoli and carrots until crisp-tender. Remove and set aside. Fry the ginger, scallons, and lemongrass for a few minutes, then add the mushrooms and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add the broth, red curry paste, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Add broccoli and carrots. Heat briefly.
Serve with in bowls and sprinkle with Thai pepper powder and fried garlic. Eat with steamed Thai jasmine rice. Garnish with fresh lime and a pinch of basil.

After lunch I bought cupcakes from the Cupcake Shoppe. Oh my god were they good. Especially pretty n' pink.

I also went to Pioneer Village with my boyfriend's mother who is visiting from Scotland. She's been here for 3 weeks staying with my family and she's going back home on Thursday. It's been hard to know what she wants to do and determine whether she's been having a good time. I can't read her at all. She says she wants to relax and not do anything but then my mom is all flustered about where to take her. Ben is at work all day so it has fallen to the rest of us to entertain her, which is fine except it's hard to figure out what to do. Anyways, we took her to niagara falls and the cottage and stuff so I hope she had a good time. Pioneer village was fun because we asked them all sorts of questions they couldn't answer. It was funny to see the blank looks on their faces when they had no clue what we were on about. It's even funnier because Ben's mom has been annoyed with my incessant question asking in the past but she saw the fun of it yesterday.

Today I need to work. So hopefully I will actually get dressed soon since it's 11:00 and I just woke up half an hour ago. Eventhough I've been doing nothing, I'm actually kind of enjoying it, boredom and all. Ben has started calling me betty because I've been kind of house-wifey doing the laundry and making dinner for people. He shouldn't get used to it though!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Kick in the pants

It's a real kick in the pants when on I'm-finished-work-sleep-in-day number 1, I get out of bed at 6:30 to make my boyfriend a sandwich because i feel bad that he has to get up and I don't. Thankfully I went back to sleep until 9 after he left. Then, on IFWSID number 2, at 8:45 some kind of concrete cutting machine the size of my entire house rolls into the neighbourhood and starts making so much noise I wake up wondering if some kind of natural disaster has occurred and I'm actually flying around in my bed like dorothy from the wizard of oz. What the heck? The gods of sleeping in must be against me. Excuse me while I go spend my day watching Oprah and Dr. Phil to make up for it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Procrastination and Quarrelling

Last night I sat down to write a report that I'd been putting off since June 27th and was due August 22nd. All I wanted to do was get it over with but I was stuck (again) on what to write after the first paragraph. I had tried to write this report 3 times already and given up each time, putting it off for a later date. Tonight, however, I HAD to get it done. So, I sat down and wrote a paragraph and then asked my boyfriend to read it and let me know what he thought so far. That was my first mistake. I came back and he was surfing autotrader on my computer. Now, if I hadn't been a bit stressed about writing this thing I may have brushed this off. But, as I tend to get a bit panicky in these situations, I got angry at him for sitting on my computer wasting time. Then he tried to give me some "helpful" suggestions that sounded more to me like "what you've written is crap, but nobody will care anyways, so just write anything to fill the two pages". Now, I'm sure that's not what he meant, but whatever processing happened between his mouth and my brain resulted in that message being perceived. This led to me asking him to but out and him throwing a hissy fit and telling me I was irresponsible because I ALWAYS leave things to the last minute and that I clearly didn't love him because I would have done it already if I did. Lets just say that we both got a bit upset.

The evening became extremely reminiscent of the time I asked him to edit my master's thesis and then proceeded to want to kill him on a train in the middle of the Scottish highlands. So, note to self in the future - not asking partner to look at work and critique it is probably a healthy way to preserve our relationship. For some reason I can take anyone else's criticism but not his - we just don't seem to mesh in that way.

It all got sorted out in the end and I apologized and we made up before going to bed but man, it was more stressful than it had to be. I'm not going to say I'm going to stop doing things at the last minute because that's just who I am, but maybe next time I'll go about it more quietly.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Back to School

It's almost time to go back to school and I'll admit it - I'm kind of looking forward to it. Mostly because I'm SO BORED. My job is winding down and I have half of next week and the entire week after off. I'm considering calling up my family physician and asking whether I can shadow her for a day. She does quite a lot of OB so it would be good to see how she balances her practice and ask some questions. I'm afraid that I've forgotten every physical exam skill I've learned along with the names of the cranial nerves and what they do (oo ooo oo to touch and feel....) so maybe i'll embarass myself royally.

The only thing I'm not looking forward to is moving away from Ben, again. I know it's not as far as me being in Canada and him being in Scotland but 3 hours is still far. I know I'll get to see him every weekend but going to bed alone again is going to be difficult. I wish I went to the medical school near his work or that he worked near where I go to school. In good news, several of my classmates are married to spouses who live in other cities and they seem to be keeping it together so maybe after 2 years of dating we can too!

I'm going to go read my bates manual now.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Too many people

When Doctor Annunciate pulled back the curtain and breezed into the small "room" with its unsheeted bed and broken down blood pressure monitor in the corner, I followed. I stood and waited for him to introduce me to the patient, "this is my medical student, she is following me around for the day". She looked over to me and said hello, asked me how I was, and we made a bit of polite conversation. In my head a voice was screaming, too many people, not enough chairs, I'm making the patient uncomfortable. Mrs. Z was there with her husband and they both looked to be in their seventies or eighties. She was quiet and looked worried, she held her husband's hand for comfort. She looked like an old fashioned sort of woman, someone for whom propriety and privacy were especially important.

They were sitting in the two chairs facing the bed. This left Dr. A and I to perch on the side of the mattress. The head of the bed was slightly inclined and didn't seem to want to flatten down. This meant that I was constantly fighting a battle with gravity, trying to avoid sliding into Dr. A's lap. I forgot my discomfort when Dr. A suddenly burst out in his very loud tenor voice, "So I hear you're having trouble with your bowels Mrs. Z." Everyone in the clinic must have heard him, especially the patients sitting in the waiting room right down the hall. Mrs. Z looked at me with pleading eyes, a bright red flush creeping from the collar of her blouse up to her forehead. She wasn't the only one who was embarassed - I wanted to help her dig a hole in the floor so we both could escape. Rest assured it's not the mention of bowels I found embarassing, it was the manner in which the doctor approached what was so obviously a private matter for the patient. We had established in our opening conversation that she was not hard of hearing, so there was no need to speak so loudly. Voice volume is an important part of speech and this doctor got it all wrong. I hope I never follow his example.

(note: names and circumstances have been changed to maintain the patient's privacy)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I've been tagged

Ok, I've been tagged by Nathan so here goes:

1. One book that changed your life: Hasidic tales of the Holocaust, Yaffa Eliach

2. One book that you’ve read more than once: The Hunter's Moon, O.R. Melling

3. One book you’d want on a desert island: Edible Wild Plants and Herbs: A Pocket Guide, Alan M. Cvancara

4. One book that made you laugh: Too Close To the Falls, Catherine Gildner

5. One book that made you cry: The Girls, Lori Lansens

6. One book that you wish had been written:
EDIT: I can't read and I thought this said "one book you wish you had written" and to that I answered: The Time Traveller's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger because it's a great book.
To the actual question "One book that you wish had been written" I would have to say: '1000 ways not to cry when being yelled at'

7. One book that you wish had never been written: Unborn Destiny, Kevin Mark Smith

8. One book you’re currently reading: The Red Tent, Anita Diamant

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: Pilgrim, Timothy Findley

I tag... intelinurse2b and nakedtomato


"Strabismus, more commonly known as crossed-eyes or wall-eyed, is a vision condition in which a person can not align both eyes simultaneously under normal conditions. One or both of the eyes may turn in, out, up or down. An eye turn may be constant (when the eye turns all of the time) or intermittent (turning only some of the time, such as, under stressful situations or when ill). " (

When researchers do research into strabismus in primates they induce strabismus by making the primates wear goggles. I went to a research presentation the other day about this topic. One word to the wise strabismus researcher, if you put pictures like this is your presentation, do not get offended when people laugh!

(Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2004;45:821–827)

Monday, August 14, 2006


I have never been so ashamed of the Canadian government as I was this morning when I heard that Stephen Harper will not be attending the international AIDS conference going on right now in Toronto. Do you know why he isn't attending something so important? Because he's afraid of being booed. That's right. He's afraid that those who do not agree with his government's views on same-sex marriage will boo him. So, let's think about this for a minute. What's more important? Representing the host country of a very important scientific conference with a great many very influential delegates OR the fear of people reacting negatively to one of your policies? As Andy Barry said this morning on the CBC, this conference is an opportunity for the government to have open and honest discourse with the people about their policies including their stance on aid for AIDS research and victims. Instead, they chose to throw away that opportunity and not even SHOW UP. It's disgusting.

The Great Thing About Siblings

There are some great things about siblings. Especially when they're funny. Ben and I went to a baseball game with my brother Dave and his wife Erin a few weekends ago. Apparently I missed the fact that they now play music when the player goes up to bat. According to Dave, they can choose their own music. We had a conversation that went like this:

me: wouldn't it be awsome if you played a prank on your teammate and switched up his music to something really embarassing like 'Lady in Red' or "Itsy Bitsy Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"
Dave: I think if I ever go into major league baseball I'm going to use 'You make me feel like a natural woman'
Ben: How about 'It's Raining Men'
Erin: how about 'Man! I feel like a woman'

I almost peed myself I was laughing so hard.

It's great to have siblings you can hang out with and enjoy their company. Not like when we were kids and they just sat on my head.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Things that are good

So, I just finished reading a trilogy called "His Dark Matters" by Philip Pullman. I don't really read fantasy, but these books were great. I even cried at the end of two of the books. They're lovely and sentimental at times and exciting at others. I really recommend them. And if you have read them, I reckon my daemon is a chipmunk.

Right at this very moment (and for the past few days) I have been listening obsessively to this album. It came out in Scotland while I was there with the first single "Black horse and the Cherry Tree" - I liked it right away. Lately the song "Suddenly I see" has been getting a lot of airplay due to its use in the TV show So You Think You Can Dance. I am very pleased that KT has started to make her dent in North America because I think she's extremely talented. She's like a modern Carol King or Laura Niro. By far my favorite song on this album is "Under the Weather". It was the theme to my first few weeks after Ben left last September and it's very bittersweet. "When I turn out the light, you're out of sight, although I know that I'm not alone. It feels like home."

Last but not least, PC Cookies 'n' Creme Ice Cream. I can't explain how good this ice cream is. It's like taking a normal cookies and creme ice cream (good in itself) and adding to it the middle white bit of oreos. Seriously. It's good.

The Rant

Well, my dear friend Elissa has been calling for me to re-post the rant that I posted a few days ago. The subject of this rant was the anti-social behavior that has resulted from kids being allowed to practice their social lives completely over the internerd and how parents need to make sure that there is a balance struck between kids finding a group of their peers (on the internet in the case of the kids I was talking about) and kids being educated in social graces that they will need later in life, like the art of conversation and the arts of interacting with one's peers in a face to face manner (and in some cases being able to resolve conflict that may arise in a civil manner). These are things that CAN be learned. Yes, some people are naturals, but that doesn't mean that the shy kid that loves talking about slip knot on the internet with other kids who might be a bit nerdy can't learn to also interact well with people outside his/her peer group. I think parents are doing a great disservice to their kids by not encouraging them/forcing them to join social activities and allowing them to hang out on the internet all day. When they grow up to be adults they are going to have to find jobs and interact with others and they will need to draw on social skills they should be learning as kids. I was forced to go do things i didn't like as a kid but I can honestly say that I'm better for it now. I was and still am a huge nerd, but if my parents hadn't forced me to get out and interact with people I'd probably be a socially awkward nerd, which I'm not. I'm not saying it's cold-turkey, no internet, what I am saying is that they need a diverse range of interactions with others. Always hanging out with people just like you prevents you from growing socially.

Letting your kids sit in their rooms and play on the internet is EASY. Making them get involved is HARD. Parenting should not be easy. Some things that your kids hate now will make them better people in the future. Balance in important. I hope this sounded a lot less a-hole-ish this time.