Friday, October 30, 2009

Did you know?

That double hand transplantation is possible?

...and that it restores feeling, strength and dexterity to each hand? To the point that someone can sew again, drive again, eat with a fork again?

HOW AMAZING IS THAT?! I got to hear about this firsthand from Dr. Dubernard, whose team performed the world's first successful face, hand and double hand transplants. This type of innovation is what makes medicine incredible. He gave people their lives back, and continues to help make people whole again, and he thinks we should be able to transplant any part of the body in the future. His advice: dream.

Monday, October 26, 2009 makes MSNBC news

Here's the link to the article, check it out!

Favorite quotes:

"Users joke it's like for breast cancer patients"

"Suddenly I get choices, I have decisions to make, I can decide what I want to do and what's best for me. It's a very empowering feeling," said Valerie Gardner, a user of the site"

"Everything we have ever learned about breast cancer, every advance has come out of clinical trials," she said. "I think that we can very soon see a time when we don't have to worry about dying from breast cancer.""

Monday morning

Hit the alarm 5 times, jump out of bed with 5 minutes to spare, grab a diet coke and race to class. Right now I'm learning about diagnostic testing for coronary artery disease, how to figure out the most efficient method of analyzing if an individual has coronary artery disease. We're analyzing how initial diagnostic tests impact QALYs (Quality Adjusted Life Years) of a person, life expectancy, including test costs (including the cost contribution of a false negative and false positive test), and cost of downstream treatment based on initial test result.

After this I race off to biochem, developmental biology, learn about the role of a hospitalist at lunch, then 4 hours of Practice of Medicine, learning about cohort studies, psychiatry, and clinical skills on giving information to patients. Then I meet with my advocacy group to discuss how we will incorporate patient safety/quality improvement into the med school curricula, then a townhall meeting to discuss clinical grades, then a study group, then...DINNER!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Spilled Milk

I really liked this story, its written by Jack Canfield and was in the HuffingtonPost today...

"One of the best stories I've ever heard about "spilt milk" and the lessons of making a mess comes from a famous research scientist who made several very important medical breakthroughs. A newspaper reporter once asked him why he thought he was able to be so much more creative than the average person. What set him so far apart from others?
He responded that, in his opinion, it all came from an experience with his mother, which occurred when he was about two years old. He had been trying to remove a bottle of milk from the refrigerator, when he lost his grip on the slippery bottle and it fell, spilling its contents all over the kitchen floor--a veritable sea of milk! (Thankfully, no glass shattered, but the milk kept flowing out like a river.)
When his mother came into the kitchen, instead of yelling at him, giving him a lecture, or punishing him, she said, "Robert, what a great and wonderful mess you have made! I have rarely seen such a huge puddle of milk. Well, the damage has already been done. Would you like to get down and play in the milk for a few minutes before we clean it up?"
Indeed, he did. After a few minutes his mother said, "You know, Robert, whenever you make a mess like this, eventually you have to clean it up, and restore everything to its proper order. So, how would you like to do that? We could use a sponge, a towel or a mop. What do you prefer?" He chose the sponge and together they cleaned up the spilled milk.
His mother then said, "You know what we have here is a failed experiment in how to effectively carry a big milk bottle with two tiny hands. Let's go out in the back yard and fill the bottle with water and see if you can discover a way to carry it without dropping it." The little boy learned that if he grasped the bottle at the top near the lip with both hands, he could carry it without dropping it. What a wonderful lesson!
This renowned scientist then remarked that it was at that moment he knew he didn't need to be afraid to make mistakes. Instead he learned that mistakes were just opportunities for learning something new, which is, after all, what scientific experiments are all about. They are simply that--just experiments to see what happens. Even if the experiment "doesn't work," we usually learn something valuable from it."

American East

I watched the movie American East last night. It was about a Muslim-American family living in Los Angeles post 9/11. The main character was a widowed father struggling to make ends meet holding down multiple businesses, restaurant owner, taxi-cab owner, hair-salon owner. This movie had a bittersweet ending, and definitely makes you think about many different issues from a different perspective. In all, I really enjoyed it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Confused and Awestruck

As I am reviewing my lecture notes from my developmental biology class, I am feeling simultaneous feelings of utter confusion and complete awe. I just can't believe so many of us turn out so normal looking, given how complicated it is to make a functioning fetus from an embryo. IT IS AMAZING! We have neural cells that are able to migrate all over us, make up our skin pigment, gut nervous system, eye color. Our heart starts working after 3 weeks and is a single tube that somehow develops into 4 chambers with valves and the rest of our beautiful circulation system. Our stomach actually internally rotates and ends up on our left side even though it rotates to the right first. To top it off, our intestines actually LEAVE our bodies because there isn't enough room to contain all of it and enter an extraembryonic cavity in the umbilical cord before deciding they want in on the party and excitement that is embryonic development.

Seriously, thank your body, it's amazing. Don't mess it up. Treat it well.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

3 Things About Today

In my Healer's Art class, the class begins by asking 3 questions, and I thought I would share my responses with you today...What Inspired Me: In my CPR class, hearing Dr. Smith-Coggins talk about the Good Samaritan Laws in California and other states, and then subsequently sharing with us her own views, when she feels that she has a personal responsibility to help, and thinks there is a good chance she can help, she always does so.

What Moved Me: As I was running from the Student Lounge to CCSR, I saw a big, stunningly beautiful bluebird land and perch on a bike rack. I stopped running, admired, smiled, and had to run a little faster the rest of the way to be on time to my meeting.

What Motivated Me: I had an optional Anatomy midterm today, British Style, meaning that you have 15 minutes with a TA or professor and they quiz you. I had the pleasure of being quizzed by one of our professors, Dr. Whitmore, and did well, a "comfortable pass" as he declared, and I'm now happy with my study habits and motivated to learn more anatomy!

How to Save a Life

I get to learn CPR this week! Finally!

A -airway
B -breathing
C -circulation
D -defibrillation

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Anatomy Update!

I love anatomy lab. Where else in the world do you get to touch bile, feel gallbladder stones, and sift through the fat apron (more properly coined the "greater omentum")? We're deep into the gut right now, which means I can identify the liver and stomach (if you have a pain on your right side, its NOT your stomach), the many arteries that supply your stomach with blood, and a few veins to boot. I kind of miss working with lots of muscles and tendons...the good old days of the "upper limb". Maybe this is a sign that I should be an orthaepedic surgeon?

Rain drops keep falling on my head...

Today was the first day, in 5 months since my car's convertible roof was slashed that it rained. It really rained. I was soaked to the bone after walking to class from the parking structure. Unfortunately, the inside of my car was soaked too. I guess my waterproofing job didn't quite make the cut...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oh Freak Out

I love Stanford, I really do. I really really do. But this whole needing to figure out my life sooner rather than later thing--not really feeling it. In fact, at least once a week I plan my entire life to a T, only to realize the next morning that X, Y, and Z probably won't work, plus I have zero real world experience about that specific area of medicine and am just conjecturing. Talk about daily freak outs.

Every mentor, role model, successful person that I've talked with, or read about, has said that their paths have been full of surprises, spontaneity, unexpected turns of events. Well that sure doesn't help me! How am I supposed to plan a scholarly concentration around that? Or figure out what to spend next summer doing? Or decide which PoM project to work on? Bah humug!

But then, time and time again, it is SO TRUE. It's always the unexpected turn of events, the one thing you never would have even thought of. Me work at UCSF after graduating college? Never predicted. Me end up at Stanford? I would have just laughed at you. Me throw the javelin? Now that is just plain absurd.

But I would argue that it's not all chalked up to spontaneity or serendipity. You have to WORK HARD to put yourself in a position where things seem to magically fall into place. It's really about pursuing the scent of your goal. I may not know what my end-all goal is (except that its going to be BIG!), but I've got to use all of my senses all the time to smell it, and then follow that scent like a mad-dog. Just saying, "hmm that's interesting and forgetting about it" is not going to cut it.

So the next time I'm freaking out, you can settle me down by asking what scents I've been liking lately, and what I've been doing to follow them. I would really appreciate being brought back to earth. :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Quote of the Day

Medicine is Hollywood for ugly people. Every time you enter a room
you're a star.

-hilarious quote by an ER doc just now

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sharing Grief and Honoring Loss

Tonight in my Healer's Art Class we had a conversation about dealing with Grief and Loss. We talked about ways in which we liked how other people have responded to our personal losses in the past...and ways we didn't like very much.

When we deal with grief or a loss, a lot of people tend to intellectualize it, devalue the loss, be in denial or ignore the loss, we get angry, we blame people, we rationalize it, we spiritualize it.

A lot of times we try to be helpful when someone else experiences a loss by saying things like "it's going to be okay", or asking if there's anything we can do, or giving advice, or filling up air space by talking. But really, most people probably just want a show of compassion, a hug, and someone to really listen to them.

This class is a really nice change of pace from my other classes (Quick what are the symptoms associated with 45, x? Trisomy 21? What are the steps of fertilization? Which one is the ulnar nerve again?!), and helps me think about some of the issues I'll be dealing with regularly. As it was put tonight, this class is prophylaxis against the transition from the precynical years to the cynical years...I also love my small group, a lot.

Here is the quote we were presented with at the start of our session: "The real voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new vistas but in having new eyes" -Marcel Proust

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ways Med School is Making Me Crazy

  • When I eat, I now think of the TAC cycle, ETC, and fatty acid synthesis. Fatty acid synthesis is bad news.
  • When I run, I think about oxygen, hypoxia, and all my muscles of respiration
  • When I type, I see my extensor carpis and extensor digitorums moving on the back of my hand.
  • I now check people to see if they have a palmaris longus, and wonder which people I know have a 3-lobed left lung
  • When I cook, I look for the nerves and blood supply in the chicken or meat
  • When I bowl, I complain that my interossei and lumbricals are sore
  • When I sleep...oh wait, I don't really sleep.
I'm sure this list will get longer!

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Last night I went bowling at Palo Alto Bowl and it was a ton of fun. For not bowling in 3+ years, I did pretty well. 4 games in an hour, and I scored 115, 166, 149, 148. For the second game I actually bowled a "4 bagger" which means I threw 4 strikes in a row! It was awesome! If I could get a spare for the life of me, I might have been over 200 that game. However, my left lumbricals, doral and palmar interossei, flexor carpis and extensor carpis are quite sore today after all that bowling!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Quote of the Day

The most important thing to remember is this: To be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become.

~W.E.B. Du Bois