Reflections of 2009 - A Blog Review

As per Srav's reminder and instructions- Take the first line(s) of your first blog entry of each month and presto:

Well, I'm not exactly ready to go. The problem is my bags are OVER packed. 

So, I cannot sleep again... I don't know if it was the 2 hour nap after lecture (thank you migraine and Relpax for that!), the cup of coffee at 8pm or the fact that I'm feeling a little guilty for the amount (or lack thereof) of studying I accomplished today but here it is, after 2am and I am wide awake. 

I know I haven't posted lately, and I'm sorry... I'm going to use the excuse of midterms. That and I'm on island time... 

[Somewhere Over the Rainbow...]...blue birds fly? Maybe but not in Grenada. Instead we've got cows, geckos and toads!

My grandmother just passed away. I have been wearing her pearl earrings since I learned that she decided to leave the hospital on Tuesday. 

Term One ended. I did finish all four books and Fox's memoir is worth the read.

If you are in medicine then you  know that July 1st means the new residents have started working. 

I am back! I made it despite a bit of a layover in Trinidad and now that I am here I'm feeling quite unmotivated... maybe I did a little too much this summer, but I still have a few days before classes begin to sleep in, get settled, enjoy Spicemas, go to the beach, etc. so it should be okay.

So, one of my goals for term 2 was to attend a health fair. And I went to my first today. It was amazing. 

[Happy. Lucky. Loved.] Just a few words to describe my mood at the moment.

So, I did it. I went on my first Hash. 

There is nothing left to do but study.

So, that pretty much sums up year one of medical school and 2009. Other stuff that didn't make the blog but are also important and worth noting... I celebrated my one year anniversary to the love of my life (my constant support and the person I cannot imagine being without.) My classmates are some amazing people and among them I made new friends for life. I was reminded of how lucky I am to have such a wonderful loving and supportive family. Going to medical school in another country is hard. But medicine is not an easy field and if anything SGU and Grenada have prepared me for whatever may come my way. I survived year one of medical school and have no regrets, so no looking back- Happy New Year and Welcome 2010! Wishing my readers and everyone the best this coming year.

Just some numbers

This is my 50th entry in just over a year. (Belated happy first b-day blog!)

Only 11 days until Grenada. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

2010 is just 28 hours away and I have plans to spend it an amazing downtown NYC apartment of a good friend with my husband, a few friends and 200 or so other people I may or may not know... 

So far vacation has consisted of reading 5.5 books and packing 0 boxes. (I guess we know what my first New Year's Resolution will be. Less reading, more packing..... blah.)

The temperature today was 24. Cold, but it would be better if there were fresh snow to go with the freezing temperature...  Maybe tomorrow, my fingers are crossed. 


Oh Christmas Tree...

There is nothing left to do but study. Today was our last day of classes, year one of medical school will be over in a week. There are just three exams between now and me getting on a plane next Friday night.  I cannot begin to explain how excited I am to celebrate Christmas in the city. I have been listening to carols non-stop. My mini Christmas tree is up and tonight I hosted friends for a Yankee Exchange-Holiday Party- Celebration. Gifts were opened, and stolen, we watched "Home Alone", drank rum punch and ate my home-made gingerbread people...

Not a bad way to end the term. Now its study time with no stopping until my first final on Tuesday. Happy Holidays from Grenada! I can't wait to be home...


Rain and Pumpkin Pie

So, it is finally raining without real pause. There are puddles and the sky has been gray all day. I'm not usually excited for dreary weather but since I've been on this island of warmth and sun (but I'm not complaining) for the last four months it is kind of a nice change. And it complements my Christmas music and plans to make Pumpkin pie. With my A/C on I can wear a sweater and pretend it is cold. I'm drinking hot tea and staring at my mini Christmas tree. Life is good. Immunology final was yesterday and I'm anxiously awaiting my grade as I to study for neuro and physio and the end of term 2, aka year one of medical school!

I've had a bit of time this term so I've been exploring the medical blogosphere and stumbled across Grand rounds (blog style) which is hosted by How to Cope with Pain this week. An old post of mine is featured in the desert section, check it out.  Oh and I hope you have a pain free and Happy Thanksgiving! 


I love Christmas!

Okay, so I KNOW that is not even Thanksgiving yet but I am far away from my family and I happen to love the holiday, so if it makes me happy to put up Christmas lights then that is what I am going to do! See picture below. It is my balcony with lights.... perhaps in the short time while they burned bright before burning out (I forgot the whole 110V to 220V need a transformer thing).

I also have a mini tree, I have it decorated and I'll put up pictures once I get around to taking them. Until then enjoy this pic which I took at the grocery store last weekend and my very bright lights. I have since replaced the lights. So, in recap, I am now in Christmas mode. I have lights, a tree and listen to Christmas music every day while studying. Also, I am making vegetarian stuffing, vegan stuffing and at least two kinds of Pumpkin Pies for my Grenada Thanksgiving. I  cannot wait.... Happy Holidays!

P.S. Immuno final is on Monday. Two days to study while enjoying all my Christmas cheer. Now if only I could figure out how to get a Peppermint Spice Mocha on the island...


Looking forward....

So, forgive me for not posting much lately. I haven't had anything to say, or at least I've lacked the energy to sit down and type it out. Term 2 is drawing to an end and dragging its feet to get there...  But I can't complain, this term has been good: I did accomplish most of what I wanted (a hash, two health fairs, a nice vacation visit with Doctor Boyfriend) and I genuinely liked the subject matter, even if some of the classes seemed disjointed, unorganized, etc. Perhaps I'll post more about MS1 reflections when its all over.

Until then, I'm looking forward. Just three more weeks of class. Four exams (of which three are finals, the other is a cumulative end of first year exam to show you where you stand as far as class rank, that maybe I'm not looking forward to.) Also I will be celebrating Thanksgiving on the island (with 45 of my classmates!) which I am really excited about. I'm preparing to make pies and vegetarian stuffing. I'm also debating as to when I can put up my Christmas tree. I would wait until Thanksgiving, but since I'm leaving the island on Dec 11th I'm thinking I can put it up extra early so that it can be enjoyed for the maximum amount of time. I mean, I went to the trouble to buy a fake tree, so I should put it up, ASAP, right?  I have heard Christmas music on two occasion around the island in the last 24 hours so maybe that is my go ahead. Now if only I had lights to string on my balcony... I think a study break and visit to the hardware store is in order. So, until next time- I'm looking forward!


Halloween Hash Happenings

So, I did it. I went on my first Hash. For those of you reading along at home who might not know, a Hash is a hike or a run and kind of race, except it isn't... Let me explain.

(If you know all about Hash Rules then skip this paragraph.) The Hash Trail is set (there are typically two, one for runners and one for walkers with the runners trail being slightly longer) and by set I mean someone first creates a trail through mountains, hills, streams, beaches, etc. and leaves shredded pieces of paper along the way. However, there are also "forced" trails- circles that signify branches in the trail and you have to guess which one is correct. If you guess incorrectly you will find yourself upon a big X at some point and thus have to turn back, return to the circle and take the other trail. Now there are some other Hash pointers. At any forced trail you can call, "Are you?" and others will reply, "On, On" meaning they are on the correct  trail, or "Checking" if they are exploring the forced trail and not sure or "On, Back" if they have discovered an X and are on their way back to the circle. There is also the spraying of "virgin" Hashers at the end with beer and then lots of beer to drink. For the entire history of the Hash, read here.

We went with the Grenada Hash Hound Harriers (the local island Hash club) and they have Hashes pretty much every other week and sometimes more. This one was at La Phare Bleu in our own Parish of St. Georges, it was beautiful, a nice hike complete with swimming and party afterwards. There was a pool, Carib Tent, good food, lots of families, locals, fellow SGUers and it was a nice way to spend an afternoon/evening. Plus since it was Halloween there were plenty of costumes (I went as Static Cling- socks and dryer sheets stuck to to me, hair sticking out) and even a haunted house towards the end of the Hash. Cost= $2 EC + food/drinks. Well worth it. Something I recommend and will absolutely do again. The ultimate way to see the island and enjoy a study break.... speaking of studying I guess I had better get back to that, ON, ON!  (oh and enjoy some pics from along the Hash.)


Vacation Week

Okay, so its not really vacation because we still have classes but Dr. Boyfriend is visiting, midterms are over (and they went okay, not stellar I can join IEA great, but I think I'm finding my study groove and I actually like the material this term so I'm happy) and I feel like I'm on vacation. I've been to the beach two days in a row and have started on a non-academic work of fiction. Life is good. Now if only Dr. Boyfriend could magically stay on the island to brew my coffee during lecture breaks and keep me company during study time... but I'll enjoy this week to its fullest. It is strange to think that after this term my time in Grenada will be half over. It is amazing how fast time goes by.

I'm off to run some errands and then go explore St. George's with my tourist... Happy vacation week fellow classmates! I know I am going to enjoy it. Pictures and details to follow.


Happy. Lucky. Loved.

Just a few words to describe my mood at the moment. Yesterday was my birthday and while maybe it could have been depressing to be away from Dr. Boyfriend and studying for midterms it was actually a really great day. I have wonderful friends here and they all came over for wine, cake and nutmeg ice cream.  I am lucky. I get to study all weekend and I am living a pretty good life here in Grenada. Facebook and Skype keep me feeling connected even if I'm an island away. Maybe the grocery store is out of cheese. Maybe I can't good coffee beans here and am risk of running out the week of midterms. But in the scheme of things, in the importance of what really matters, these are minor details. I'm doing what I want with my life. I am lucky to be here. I am loved by my wonderful friends and I wouldn't trade this life for anything.


Brain Day

In honor of devoting most of my day to neuro, here is a way interesting bio from a wiki search I did today.

Exceptional case

One interesting case involving a person with past hydrocephalus was a 44-year old French man, whose brain had been reduced to little more than a thin sheet of actual brain tissue, due to the buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in his head. The man, who had had a shunt inserted into his head to drain away fluid (which was removed when he was 14), went to a hospital after he had been experiencing mild weakness in his left leg.
DWS: All of the black in the middle is cerebrospinal fluid and the brain matter is the rim of white along the outside of the skull. This is a screen shot from aFox News report.
In July 2007, Fox News quoted Dr. Lionel Feuillet of Hôpital de la Timone inMarseille as saying: "The images were most unusual... the brain was virtually absent."[10] When doctors learned of the man's medical history, they performed a computed tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, and were astonished to see "massive enlargement" of the lateral ventricles in the skull. Intelligence tests showed the man had an IQ of 75, below the average score of 100. This would be considered "borderline intellectual functioning"- which is to say not quite mental retardation.
Remarkably, the man was a married father of two children, and worked as a civil servant, leading an at least superficially normal life, despite having enlarged ventricles with a decreased volume of brain tissue. "What I find amazing to this day is how the brain can deal with something which you think should not be compatible with life," commented Dr. Max Muenke, a pediatric brain defect specialist at the National Human Genome Research Institute. "If something happens very slowly over quite some time, maybe over decades, the different parts of the brain take up functions that would normally be done by the part that is pushed to the side."[11][12]

I love that site, and speaking of loving web sites I have started a new list of links with some of my favorites or most helpful to date. If you have anything that I should add to my list please let me know....

And since today is self-declared brain day, here is an interesting theory on play. I obviously went to the wrong pre-school. Check out this article in the New York Times Magazine: Can the Right Kinds of Play Teach Self-Control?

Speaking of self-control I think its time I return to my studies. I think I've developed ADHD since starting medical school but more on that later... Time to pre-read for 2 hours of immuno tomorrow.


What a Week!

I am exhausted. It has been a marathon of a week. To recap- Monday: took Community & Preventative Medicine Final, Tuesday: started a new class (so now my schedule is Immunology, Physiology and Neuroscience- I think the honeymoon is over), Wednesday: was a guest blogger at http://www.mothersinmedicine.com/ (btw- now I'm scared to have kids, childcare sounds like a nightmare, maybe Dr. Boyfriend can retire and be the stay at home dad), Thursday: lecture, lab, gym, buy tix for an event at Fenway, which brings us to today: I had lecture this morning and could barely pay attention I just feel drained and finally physio lab this afternoon. (Yes clinical skills are nice and all but 4pm on a Friday and you are telling me how to interpret an EKG and asking rhetorical question after question. Its time for class to end!) But I made it, week over. Smile. Sigh. Nap-time?

However, I have SO MUCH studying to do this weekend so I can't even take a break. We did cardio in physiology this week and I need to spend some serious time with the beloved Wiggers Diagram. That doesn't sound fun, so here is something more entertaining for you to look at.

 I'll stop complaining now as I'm off to meet my favorite island girl and do questions at my favorite coffee shop until I start drinking, or they close or both. Cheers!


Health Fair?-Check!

So, one of my goals for term 2 was to attend a health fair. And I went to my first today. It was amazing. Sponsored by AMSA and held in the parish of St. George's at a community Center on top of a hill. And quite a large hill, I think it was 1o degrees cooler there with a wonderful breeze blowing through the center which was basically a large cement building about half the size of a football field. I went with Women in Medicine so my job was to take medical histories and perform breast exams. Dr. McGill who is an OB/GYN came to teach us and supervise, she was amazing. I learned a lot. I saw someone with polycystic ovarian disease and examined lots of breasts: patients ranged from teen to elderly. They were fun, grateful and wonderful. I feel in love with each of them. The women who had never had breast exams before, the one who thought she might be pregnant, the ticklish 17 year old, the little boy peeping in from the corner of the our makeshift room, the man who demanded to see the doctor. I had to explain that he could see another doctor, but didn't really need a breast exam or to see "a women's doctor". It was a good day.

I am here for another year and half and I will go back to another health fair or 2 or 3. It is nice to see "life" and people beyond the campus. It was so nice to experience medicine beyond the textbooks. So far, this is my term 2 highlight.


Class-Notes and Quotes

So today we started our next block of classes and I'm pretty excited and a little apprehensive: Community and Preventative Medicine (final in 3 weeks), Neuroscience (love the topic but after the self-assessment quiz I'm reminded how much I really don't love anatomy. Time to learn names of a million structures, oh goodie!) and Physiology (Cardio, Renal and Pulmonary, oh my.)

Today was all intro so I don't have much to say except the profs seem great, funny, nice and ready for us to hit the books. But I did manage to find a quote that pretty much sums up each class, so without further ado.

CPM: "If people are falling over the edge of a cliff and sustaining injuries, the problem can be dealt with by stationing ambulances at the bottom, or erecting a fence at the top." -Dennis Burkitt

Neuroscience: "Don't be afraid." Oh and don't forget to take the on-line self assessment quiz where you must label and learn a few hundred gyri, vessels, sulci and nerves. No big deal.

Physiology: "Skin, skin its a wonderful thing, keeps the outside out and the inside in."


Study Break link of the Week: Play Patient

So, I'm one test down (Parasit went well, now this it is over I can honestly say I enjoyed the class, was happy with the exam, and am sad that Dr. Macpherson won't be taking a trip to Africa during my summer break- nope, I'll be here in Grenada term 4 instead of building biconal fly traps... sigh) Just one to go (yes I should be studying, and I'll get back to in soon, but I read Experiencing Life, Briefly, Inside a Nursing Home this morning and its just too good not to share.)

Thinking of doing geriatrics,? Okay, then go live in a nursing home for 10 days! That is exactly what students at U of New England are doing. Now, I do not have dreams of geriatrics in my future but this program impresses me. I don't know how helpful it will be to the shortage of physicians entering into geriatric care but its a novel idea. And one that could probably be applied to other specialties as well. Rehab therapy or inpatient pscychiatry for instance. Or maybe it should be required that all medical students spend the night in a hospital (as a patient). For the majority or us, we are all fortunate enough to have not had some major medical trauma that caused us to be admitted and a "patient". There are books written about this, the cardiologist who has a heart attack, the neuroscientist that has a stroke but maybe it should be an added part of the cirriculum of our medical education. Of course short of actually experiencing these medical problems: having disabilitating arthiritis or suffering a stroke and subsequently the inability to move one side of your body it is hard to fully experience what these patients go through ever day, but maybe this program is a start.

Many years ago I was in a car accident and what I remember most vividly is the ride to the hospital and the fuss at finding my insurance card- the EMT was just doing his job but since I only had superficial face wounds from my head going through the windshield, this took up time between vital sign checks. I then remember having to pee but since I was on a backboard awaiting CT scan to rule out fractures or internal bleeding I had to lay there. I finally grabbed a nurse walking by and begged for a bedpan. I really thought I was going to urinate on myself but somehow I got my x-ray next and was able to walk myself to the bathroom. In any case, my point is that I was only a patient for several hours and my memories are of the insurance and being left in the hallway on a backboard with a headache. So combine those with 10 days in an institution and maybe I'll become the empathetic doctor I hope to be.

Oh, and I guess study break is over, genetics is calling... I love term 2!


Is there such a thing?

as too much studying? I don't really think so, but after the busy schedule that was term 1 it seems we have an abundance of time term 2. We have finals already, give it up for 1 credit classes taught in just two weeks. aka Genetics and Parasitolog. I'm loving it! Well, we'll see if I'm as excited about them after the exam but as of now, I feel like we had plenty of time to prepare and its a nice change from term 1 when it was all about cramming as much in as possible and hoping most or at least some of it would stick. There is only a certain amount of material that can be covered in 16 lectures so... bring on the exam -this girl is sick of studying!


Colors from Carnival

So I experienced J'ouvert. This is the Spicemas Jab-Jab parade portion of Carnival festivities. (Follow the link for a short history and more pictures.)

It was all I had heard it would be and so much more. There was paint in the regular black and red and then some silver, orange, green and even some rouge pink and purple.... I can't begin to describe it, just imagine thousands of people in every color or paint dancing behind speakers strapped to the back of a truck. Then repeat with a different color and another group of painted dancers.

The painting and gathering started in the early morning hours (2am, 3am) and lasted until well after sunrise. We arrived in time to see the finale march and it was worth looking at. I'll be back next year, perhaps as a participant instead of spectator. Today I was happy to watch the festivities from afar. Enjoy the pictures!


The Hardest Part

I got married less than 2 months before starting medical school. (Granted we dated for 7 years and were engaged for another one. But in a way, that makes it harder as we were never more than 30 miles apart. Now we live 2000 miles away from one another.) My husband is finishing his residency back in the US while I am here in Grenada. We may both find ourselves in NY in 18 months as I start my clinical years and he completes his fellowhip. Or we could end up in different cities and not live together for another four years. In which case, maybe this is just practice.

But back to the present, I am lucky in that I get to live in married housing. I won't complain about my studio apartment or balcony view. But its just me and my lonely self staring across the terra cotta colored rooftops out at the shimmering turquoise sea. It is easy to fall in love with the view and the surroundings, but it makes you all more aware that you want to be with the love of your life to share it.

I rarely blog about being away from my hubby and it is not because I don't miss him. To me, its a given that I will and do miss him and so I negate to mention him. Not because he is not on my mind, but precisely because he is on my mind, all of the time. Yes Skype helps and so does being busy with studying, but after spending the summer together it is difficult not to notice the silence and absence of your partner. Good friends help. I don't know what I would do without them. But try at the might, they are not boyfriend.

I don't regret for a second being here and I know we will survive the long-distance relationship... but in case you were wondering, doing this is the hardest part.


The Same but Different

I am back! I made it despite a bit of a layover in Trinidad and now that I am here I'm feeling quite unmotivated... maybe I did a little too much this summer, but I still have a few days before classes begin to sleep in, get settled, enjoy Spicemas, go to the beach, etc. so it should be okay.

It is official, I am a 2nd term student. I registered today and got my term 2 schedule. First up Parasitology and Genetics. Four hours of class for not quite two weeks and then we take finals. So that will be short and quick, nothing like diving in. But I think I'm ready, or I should be by Tuesday. Class starts at 8am so that will be a bit rough, I haven't had to wake up at 7am regularly in a very long time...

Grenada is just as I left it. Not too much to report. I am starting to recognize faces as I walk across campus. I have an amazing balcony and view so I love my studio apartment and am happy I decided to stay on campus. I'll post some pictures soon.

I am trying to ease back into studying, the goal was to pre-read Genetics and I am more than half way done with the book so I should be able to accomplish this. The island is still pretty quiet but there are more students by the day. The first termers have orientation next week and I can tell they are staring to arrive as they walk around with parents and look a little lost but I think once they are all here I'll feel a little different... right now it feels kind of like first term again, minus all the excitement and anxiety.


Dear Grenada,

How was your summer? Did you miss me? The time went by so fast, and I'll be back on your island in just six days. I am sure you are busy getting ready for Carnival. It will be my first Spice Mas experience so I'm counting on you to make it memorable.

While I was away I traveled and worked and played. I did lots of summer things. I went to the beach (but don't worry your beaches are nicer), many BBQ's, a concert, wine tasting at the semi-local vineyards, and many other fun things.

I did things I can't do in Grenada. I had Starbucks almost every day and often twice a day (thanks to the new Starbucks in the Hospital lobby where I worked.) I bought lots of coffee to bring back with me. I shopped and bought new flip flop and t-shirts and dresses. BTW, do you think I need anything special for rainy season? I have two umbrellas, awesome rain boots and a yellow slicker with a hood. When I use it all I look like a 5 year old ready to go puddle jumping. I'm sure you will make some nice mud and puddles for me this term.

I tried to pre-read for Genetics and maybe I'll finish the book before classes start. I'm looking forward to school again. Do you think Term II is better than Term I? I think I'll find the subject material more interesting. Genetics, Parasitology, Neuroscience, Immunology, Physiology, Community Health. I can't wait!

Well, I guess that is it. I hope you had a nice summer and didn't miss me too much! I admit, I did miss you. It was great to be home, but I'm ready to come back. My flight gets in at 7:15pm on the 5th and Gypsy will be with me if you want to send a cab for us. Okay, well I had better start packing and making sure I have everything I need for the term. Let me know if you think there is anything I must bring. Otherwise, I'll see you soon!

Spice Island Queen

You are bacteria!

I found this fascinating blog post today: Thanks IcedLatte as always. The TED video is kind of long, but so cool! I think I need to be in class again. This makes me want to take micro. But that's not until 4th term? That seems so far away...

Consider this. You are mostly bacteria. You are covered with an armour of bacteria that protect you, live with you, are you! Consider that bacteria, if they really want to, can reduce you to dust AND that they talk about it RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU with their own secret language. AND they all speak the bacterial equivalent of Esperanto and can communicate fluidly not only with members of their own species, but outside their own species. Not only can they destroy you, but they will outlive you. They will digest you.

IcedLatte, Medical Marginalia: The squid as stealth bomber; all bacteria talk, Jul 2009



Don't Get Sick in July, or if over 65

If you are in medicine then you  know that July 1st means the new residents have started working.  And so, if you are a patient you will be one of the first actual patients that new resident gets to take care of- as an MD and not simply a medical student. This isn't a bad thing, this is how our training works. Think hyper-viginallant doctors that are going to check and double check everything because they are scared. Think nurses looking over shoulders and suggesting treatment options and medication orders. Think chief residents that are taking extra care. Don't get sick on July 1, but if you do, and you get treated at an academic hospital, chances are you'll get great care. Though the intern may need help figuring out how to order a lab or access the electronic charting system....

Now here is something else to think about. The Patient Doctors Don't Know. I have no preconceptions that I will enter the field of geriatrics, but I am sure that in my residency I will have to take care of  many elderly patients. And as this ob-ed physician points out it is not part of my required training.... Why is that we don't have a required geriatrics rotation? Geriatrics is one of the lesser paid medical fields and short on physicians. This will not change under or current health care system, yet with increasing numbers of the population reaching retirement age and living another 20-30 years this is going to be become an even bigger issue. Just some food for thought. 

I'll be back in Grenada in just 32 days.


Summer Blues

So, this week is technically only the 2nd of summer, although I feel like my summer is nearly over. With the rainy and cold weather I was starting to think summer might not show up at all. But now its here, and I hope to enjoy it. For what is left... My last day of work is August 1st, I leave for Grenada August 5th. Lots happens between now and then.  And I'm thinking I might need to start studying for genetics at some point. 

Ah, well, as one of my favorite attendings warned me, once medical school starts you will never have the discrecinary time like you use to. Its a a whole new world. And I'm not complaining, not really. I like being a medical student. I like learning, and most days I like studying. 

Yet at the moment as I'm contemplating my remaining summer I can't help but reflect one how one keeps her sense of self. Several articles and posts have brought this issue to the forefront of my mind. The first was this article in the New York Times. The second a blog entry from one of my favorite blogging medical students.

I try to have interests and friends outside of medicine. I went running this morning. I watch Baseball (go Red Sox) and read. I am proud to say that I did leave campus during first term. I walked around St. George's and went to dinner with friends. I checked out beaches and saw the "Vagina Monolouges" the weekend before the Unified. I studied, but it wasn't all I did and I think it made me happier. I need to perfect my studying methods, I could stand to raise my grades but I am not willing to give up myself in the process nor do I think it is healthy to do so. 

I'll be back in Grenada before I know it and I plan to kick 2nd terms butt. But I also want to do a Hash. Volunteer for a health fair, drive around the island, check out Bathaway Beach and so many other things. Term 2 will start, and I'll be a medical student again but it isn't all I plan to be.


Home Again

Term One ended. I did finish all four books and Fox's memoir is worth the read. My favorite Grenada beach? Prickly Bay. Quiet, picturesque and right off the Lanse Aux Epines bus route. (I also visited BBC and Paradise Beach which are both worth checking out as well.)

I came "home", worked for a week and then did a mini tour of the Southern Colorado before going to my "hometown" for a week vacation, it is always good to see the family. I got back "home" this morning and am looking forward to enjoying my summer. I'll be working but I like my job and coworkers and it gives me something to do while Dr. Boyfriend is being a resident.

I know this may sound crazy, but I kind of miss Grenada. I don't miss the schoolwork yet, but I'm guessing by the time the summer is over I'll even be ready for that. Right now I just miss the always warm weather and my view of the Caribbean Sea in the morning. Now don't get me wrong, being among the land of Starbucks and grocery stores that actually are fully stocked is nice.  And I am looking forward to many more books this summer and plenty of sleeping in and walking around the city time. Being in the Southwest among mountains and streams and lakes was revitalizing, I had forgotten how much I love the mountains. Speaking of which the trip to the rainforest and Seven Sisters waterfalls was pretty amazing. Fellow SGUers should do this if they haven't already. I am proud to say that I did see a lot of Grenada doing term one. I still have a lot of exploring to do but I'm off to a good start, I've made me non-academic list of for term 2 and am looking forward to going back to my Grenada home. After my relaxing summer at this home, this is....


Four Books, Four Beaches

So, I have four days left on the island and plan to spend a good deal of it at the beach. I went to the library today to check out any/all books that I deemed beach worthy. (There wasn't much to choose from. Note to self, bring fiction for next term.)

So far I'm half way through Toni Morrison's "Tar Baby" which is set on a Caribbean island, go figure! I also checked out "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant", "The Hours" and Michel J. Fox's memoir, "Lucky Man". My goal is to read each one on a different beach. I didn't make it to the beach today (I was too tired from my hike to the Seven Sisters Waterfalls, details to follow in subsequent post) but I did find a hammock in walking distance of a nice view of Blacksand Beach. So I'm going to count that as #1.


A little help from my friends

This post is dedicated to some of my friends and favorite people: FU, the Gypsy, Miss P, and Classic Rock  (you know who you are!)

So, I made it. Term 1 is officially over and we are 2nd termers!  Only 1.5 years of basic sciences left. And then 2 years of clinicals and then 3-5 years of residency, and then an optional fellowship. But who's counting? Term 1 is history and that is all that matters at the moment.

Friday was a blur. We took anatomy, reminisced over beers and then went to Club Bananas for dancing and really good fries (thanks Classic Rock.) Yesterday was low key, packing, putting things in storage, dinner at the local Prickly Bay Waterside. I'm here for another week and plan to enjoy the island but my favorite people are soon leaving me day by day to go home. However we did have one final hurrah. And as we sat around last night I had to think back to orientation. I love my class, I love my friends and term 1 wouldn't have been as fun or as palatable without them. Bring on term 2! (After a nice summer at home that is.)

Was term 1 difficult? Yes, because it was hard to know how to study. And it was hard to study all the time. It was terrifying and boring and interesting and exciting, depending on the subject and professor and a million other factors that changes by the moment. But thanks to my favorite people and our many study dates and non-study dates (thanks FU) and DES and BRS and lots and lots of studying I think I might sort of have the hang of this med school business after all. But not without a little help from my friends.


Final Thoughts

So, finals week is here. I just took my biochem exam and have histo and anatomy to go.  It is amazing that the term will be over on Friday, sometimes it seems like I just got here. One of my study partners and friends shared this video on Faceboook. Its entertaining and what's more, I think I really did learn 99% of the things in the video this term. Kind of amazing when you think about it. I'll have more to share after finals are over, for now I must go study so I can kick histo butt tomorrow. Enjoy! 


Grandma- death on her own terms

My grandmother just passed away. I have been wearing her pearl earrings since I learned that she decided to leave the hospital on Tuesday. She made the decision herself,  she said she was sick of tests and sick of fighting and she wanted to be left alone.  And because she was unable to eat and in a state of organ failure her family and doctors were able to respect her wishes... She was discharged to hospice care and was at my Aunt's house for only three days. This is what she wanted.  And as sad as I am by her passing I am grateful that her death was on her own terms. 

My grandmother lived a full life and in the end her body simply gave out. She buried a son during Vietnam and lost her husband to prostate cancer 13 year ago. This past year she had a stroke and when I went to visit her during rehab she was as practical and independent as ever. Over the last few years she sold her house when she could no longer walk up and down the stairs. She sold me her car when she could no longer turn the steering wheel due to her arthritis. After her stroke she moved to California and resided in a house with 4 other women and a full time aide until recently. 

My grandmother was a strong woman. I will miss her. I spent many a college break at her house, debating the merits of pursuing medicine. I can remember the exact moment that I decided I wanted to be doctor. I was in her living room.  My grandmother was always encouraging but never sentimental. She would tell me to study for my upcoming exams and to quit crying. And so I will go study but I will be thinking of her. Her death was on her own terms but still she will be missed, and so in memory of my grandmother I leave you with another's words.
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

- John Donne


I can see the beach from here...

So, after a productive day and a very apathetic week I am feeling hopeful again. Finals are only two weeks away. Just 27 hours of lecture, 13 hours of small group/lab, three weekends to study for for finals and then I'll be sitting for the exams that mark the end of first term. I have SO much to learn, review and study in the meantime but I also know that I'll be on a plane home four weeks from tomorrow and that thought is sustaining me. I can study, I like to study, I can drink coffee, I can do without 8 hours of sleep a night. I can and I will. This is my mantra. I will post again when finals are over and I'm enjoying the island of Grenada as a normal person and not a student. Until then I will study.... Only 21 days and I can wake up and go to the beach without BRS!


I kind of like it here

Now, don't get me wrong, I am looking forward to my last real summer vacation. Who knows when or how old I'll be before I have over two months of personal time to work, travel and lounge at my discretion again. And of course I do miss certain things and people from home. I am looking forward to going home, but I am not dreading coming back in August either.

The thing is, I like Grenada and I think I'm getting a good medical education at SGU. I like my classmates, I've made some amazing friends. Sure medical school is a lot of work, but I think this setting makes it easier to work. There are few distractions that are not self created and people here work hard. Of course there will always be those that work harder or play harder than you but for the most part my classmates want to be here and we are all doing our best to do well. 

I have not been counting down the days because I really don't have anything to count down to. Sure ordering a drink from Starbucks, seeing my husband, going to the playground with my nieces, walking around a modern hospital, reading The New Yorker on the Monday it comes out, all of that will be nice. But last night I went out to dinner with a few of my favorite island people and we celebrated a Birthday, a published paper, a summer travel internship and being a month away from completing first term, and that was nice too...

I could write about everything I miss from home and the States, but the thing is, I am starting to think of Grenada as my second home and I'm going to miss my friends from here and the amazing view of the water and the Island time lifestyle over the summer. I recognize that this is not the place for everyone, but as for me I'm okay with being a SGU student in Grenada, 'cause, I kind of like it here! 


quiet spots

The last few days have been filled with quiet, a very good quiet.

Thursday after class I headed to Carriacou with two of my favorite people. A nauseating, rainy, windy and very crowded 2 hour + ferry ride later we arrived to find that everything was closing. Dinner was beer and bread but we were on vacay so no complaints. The next day being Good Friday meant that all shops and such were closed so it gave us plenty of time to catch up on anatomy and biochem. And we even made it to the beach despite the rain shower and scary dogs. Afterwards more studying was had. It was just nice to be somewhere different even if we were doing the same things (studying, eating, sleeping, watching a movie on a computer). Saturday was a bit more eventful with a proper british breakfast at the cutest little house/restaurant, Lyme and Dine followed by a walk through the main town of Hillsborough. It was time to come back to Grenada but not everyone was ready to leave so we found a place for "but I'm not ready to go back to Grenada" girl to stay and said our goodbyes. The ferry ride back was peaceful. The weekend proceeded without much to note, it seems many students went away and campus seemed deserted, it was a change to walk around and not see 1/2 the class between the anatomy lab and the student center. I love my class but Grenada is kind of small and our class is large so you are bound to run into someone no matter where you go. Grocery store, coffee shop, far side of the island, it doesn't seem to matter.... so for a day it was refreshing to only see a total of 2 people during the walk from my apartment to the anatomy lab. 

Today I decided to go for a run and found a desolate spot with a view of campus on one side and the airport on the other. (See picture above.) After sitting and reflecting for awhile I was ready to study again. I think I needed this weekend. Finals will be here in just over a month and there is so much to learn and review in that time. Now I'm sure that before I know it, I'll be home for the summer and first term will seem a distant memory... but in the meantime I've found my quiet spot to run to when I need a study break or feel homesick or just want to sit and appreciate the place I'm in. And next Easter I've got a whole quiet island to visit again...


Somewhere Over the Rainbow...

...blue birds fly? Maybe but not in Grenada. Instead we've got cows, geckos and toads!

You never know what you might see walking home. In the past two months I've seen all three.
The cows like to roam around campus and have often been cited across from Mocha Jumby or by an unsuspecting student out for an evening jog. The seems to graze at dusk (the three times I've seen them at least), I have no idea where they are during the day, but I like to think they are the SGU cows. 

The gecko I saw just this past week on my way home from class, I thought he was kind of cute.

The toad greeted me tonight. At first I thought someone put a rock in front of my door and I was about to kick it when I realized that it was alive! I thought I would scare him off or squish him when I opened the door, but no, he just looked at me.  Hopefully he hops away by morning. Else I may have to keep him for a pet. 

Oh, and the rainbow? That is the 2nd one I've seen since arriving. The first one was the day of the white coat ceremony. And now that the semester is half way over I looked out my window and saw this one. I think its a sign. While Grenada may not have blue birds we've got rainbows and critters and cows and our skies are blue and I think dreams do dare come true...


The Coffee Effect

Bored? Love coffee? Want to improve your next timed mile? Look here for an interesting read in the New York Times citing coffee as a performance enhancer. 

Side note: I'm always curious of those people who can make it through the day without a cup of joe. You don't drink coffee? Tea? Why not?!? I guess I started really drinking coffee in high school, it seemed cool, and then in college I discovered Starbucks and the Carmel Macchiato. Those kept me awake through many hours of lecture.  I can skip breakfast but I cannot skip my morning coffee. Does that make me an addict, probably...

I can't say that I've been running many 5Ks since I came to Grenada, okay I confess, I haven't run at all, or gone to the gym, even once... But that's another post.  However, I study with coffee does that count? And in my previous life would work out with coffee. I didn't see anything odd about finishing my afterwork iced coffee while on the treadmill. I never gave it any thought but I guess it improved my ability to run too. How neat!  As for right now, the only thing coffee is improving is my ability to stay awake during lecture...


Don't Study with a Migraine

Now there are probably many reasons while its a bad idea to study when your head is throbbing. For starters the light is too bright, in fact you can see the fluorescent light flickering from across the room, that the sound of the ant crawling on the floor is annoying you and you can smell someone, somewhere cooking something that is making you want to be sick... However, while a perfectly quiet and dark room with A/C would have been nice, somehow I decided to take some drugs and soldier through. After all the pain was somewhat relieved and I should be able to deal with the rest, right? 

A look at my notes the next day suggests differently. I was outlining biochem. Somehow I'd turned the mutagen, nitrous acid into nitric oxide. Now, I have to Wiki this because I swear NO is an important drug, a brochodilator, component of Viagra, etc, etc. So how is it a carcinogen? Well its not, at least not unless you have chronic exposure of it, according to Wiki. So I go back to my real notes and low and behold, the mutagen that Dr. C wanted to teach us about was nitrous acid. (Which I would stay away from btw, that bacon you had for breakfast, just may increase your chance of  colorectal cancer.) So, I'm pretty sure I made a few other such errors. (And considering I took my Histo midterm while in a similar state I guess I should be estactic that I actually passed that exam. Yikes!) So now I have to redo the migraine study lecture and see what fun things I may have created in my semi-lucid state. So the moral of the story, don't study with a migraine.  Or else you may confuse yourself.

In, other developments, Match Day was last Thursday. Congrats to all who matched. In case you don't know the Match is when you find out where you will be doing your residency. It is a big deal for 4th year medical students as it determines where you will be working and living for the next 3, 4 or 5 years and I'll have more to say on this later. But I was a little disappointed that there was no mention of Match Day at SGU. I know we are kind of separated from our 3rd and 4th year classmates as they are in the US and UK doing rotations but I guess I expected the website to be updated with the list, or something. But no, I had to dig around and wait several days before I could even find the link. If you are curious, SGU's match list is here. I'm surprised that out of 400, only 1 was neurology... I don't think its become the new dermatology in the the last year, but only 1/400, odd.  For an interesting read about Match Day, and one of my new favorite blogs (not because she calls herself Dr. Icedlatte, but it doesn't hurt) look here.

That's all I've got. Time to tackle the day, hopefully without the migraine. Until next time...


Liming is not studying

So, since midterms I have had a hard time motivating myself to study.  But I before I continue, first some definitions. In Grenada (and the Caribbean) the term "liming" refers to hanging out, chillin', doing nothing productive, socializing, etc. One explanation for this term is that the islands use to have large lime farms and those that worked on these farms were "limers", evidently much of their job required sitting around and hence when in the Carib, one is liming. 

So, back to this week: I think that I have mastered the art of liming. Studying, not so much but liming, check! Monday-Rituals coffee house while I tried to study but mostly skyped and chatted with friends on line, Tuesday-beach in AM and a real movie theatre in the PM, Wednesday- field trip to pet store with A after a long lunch causing us to miss half of histology lecture, Thursday- couldn't find anyone to do anything with and was already at Mocha after my anatomy review group so I actually studied, Friday- went to the village of Gouyave on the other side of the island for Fish Friday. Tomorrow is Sandblast which I believe is just a party on the beach... but I'll fill you in later.  So one week into the second half of the term and I'm a few lectures behind, I guess that is what Sunday is for. Liming does not equal studying, but it is fun!


Island Time

I know I haven't posted lately, and I'm sorry... I'm going to use the excuse of midterms. That and I'm on island time... If you have ever been to an island, and I don't think it matters which one or where, you will know what I am talking about. Life on an island (save Long Island which doesn't count since just an overgrown suburb of NYC) is a little less hectic and a little less punctual than the mainland. Grenada is no exception and as an upper termer told me the first week here, "nothing will ever start on time except for your classes and tests."  I've been here for two months and I am half way done with first semester and I feel as if I've pretty much adjusted by now. I know what to expect from the exams and I know not to stress over the fact that the bus is late or the service slow. I came home from class today and discovered that my window had been fixed. (See previous post.) No more howling wind... how peaceful my apartment will be now.

In other news, I survived midterms and actually had a whole weekend to go to the beach (twice!), read a book, get a pedicure and buy a pair of shoes. Not to mention dance at Bananas, bake an apple pie, make dinner for some friends, drink wine and watch a movie. The weekend was so nice I'm not sure if I remember how to study or sit through lectures. I needed coffee and candy to stay awake during histo and biochem. Now I'm enjoying a nice latte at Rituals and thinking of things to do besides review the fours hours of lecture I had today... But I'm in med school, so there's no time for Island time,  I guess its back to the grind.... at least I have my latte. Let's see, do I want to study protein transcription or renal histology or maybe pre-read for anatomy tomorrow, I'm sure the pelvic wall is fascinating. Oh the decisions...


When the Wind Blows

So, I have a broken drafty window which means it sounds much windier in my room than it is actually and it took me a week to come up with a way to plug it by stuffing a pillow case and creating a semi-seal. But I digress. It seems in Grenada (and at SGU) things change rather quickly. You can be having a fabulous day full thinking you are prepared for small group while the sun is shining, the birds are chirping... and then the next minute the sky is dark, the wind blows and rain falls, you are being berated for knowing nothing, your professor call the class a disgrace (half of us failed the Biochem Unified) and you want to go crawl under the covers and hide. 

My confidence, I think they are out to steal it. Medical school is humbling, you are reminded how much you do not know (a lot) EVERY SINGLE DAY. Which is hard when you feel like all you do is study, and still you know nothing. And worse yet, you begin to realize how much you don't know and thus how much more you must study... But then, when you are least expecting it the rain stops, the sun comes out and your friends rally around you. Another productive day of studying and you feel caught up and happy to be here, for the moment. Until the wind blows again. And so it goes. This first month has been full of many ups and downs, more than I thought possible in such a short amount of time, but things here change quickly. And I think it is important to remember that. It is easy to feel sorry for yourself but then you look around and realize in the big picture that the wind has to stop eventually and it might even stop sooner than you expect.

This morning I woke up to rain pelting on my window and wind blowing into my room and I thought it might be hurricane season already... But now the sun is out and the sky is blue again. Right now the day looks promising and I've already put in an hour worth of studying, had my coffee, read the New York Times online and said good morning to boyfriend. I still hear the wind  blowing (maybe a work order to fix my window would be more effective than the pillowcase, I'll have to work on that) but only time will tell what today will bring.... maybe I'll keep my confidence from blowing away.


After the Unified

So, the first exam (well quiz) of med school has come and gone. They call it the Unified because it is a quiz worth 5-6% of your grade for each class and covers anatomy, histology and biochemistry. Oh and we had our Bioethics Final today too! I won't know how I did until tomorrow, or whenever they put up our grades but in the meantime it is nice. Nice to NOT have 4 hours worth of lectures to digest tonight, nice to be able to go out without Gray's or BRS, nice to have a reason to take a break. So I am off to Bananas (the local bar/club) and its Bananas in Pajamas night so it should be interesting... classes resume tomorrow and only three weeks until midterms, but for the moment I am enjoying Grenada. Cheers!


The Rumor Was True!!!

So I woke up at 6:15am (after going to bed sometime after 1am) to drag myself to lab. On the plus side I did manage to make a pot of coffee and down 2 cups... so at least I'm caffeinated, not the same as awake, but its something. I notice on my walk to lab that it is awfully quiet this morning. Normally I see others in scrubs making their way from down the hill but today, I see no one. I know this is a sign and I start to think... that rumor I heard on Monday- my classmate heard from someone that lab was Friday this week instead of Thursday, maybe I should have investigated it? hmm...  I assumed it was a rumor since no announcements were made in class, no post on Angel (our web server for each course), etc. So, I checked my master blue schedule and it says lab groups C/D 7:45am Thursday 2/12/09. I am not hallucinating,  but WHERE IS EVERYONE? I see another person following behind me and another coming up the hill. I start to feel better but yet I also know that something it just not right. Sure enough I open the door to dry lab and no Dr. Brahim, no one at all... Its 7:37am so I'm early but not that early... I walk back outside and now there are 4 of us. No lab? No lab! Well, yes we have lab, but not until tomorrow. lol! And so it goes. The group slowly grows to about a dozen. I go back inside and find someone official to collaborate my theory. Today is a clinical meeting day so all the professors have to be in meetings and thus are not running lab. Go figure. Sigh. Its now almost 8am and I've had my two cups of coffee, so what to do?  Not a single one of the dozen wants to go into lab with me. I figure I'm already up and in scrubs so why not go in and figure out what I'm suppose to know for tomorrow. Luckily Dr. D (visiting prof from UK, excused from meetings) was there and he gave me the guided tour of the forearm and hand. Then another student showed up and I was able to show him everything I learned and then another friend came in and we showed him and so after 1.5 hours I felt confident in what I was doing.... So not a complete waste, but still... I guess next time I'll believe the rumor! 

Speaking of rumors, if you are a possible or current med student and want the BEST BLOG ever re: SGU you should check out The Rumors Were True by Topher. He has long since left SGU but has some good advice and entertaining posts if you are looking for that.... Or if you just want to watch someone solve the Rubix cube in less than a minute. It is pretty impressive!

So what did I learn today? Maybe the rumors are true after all, at least some of them.... Okay, time to study. Only 4 days until the Unified Quiz!  


Around Campus

This past week just flew by but I did manage to take a few photos... The third one below is from the top of the hill and it is my favorite view on campus.

I love how I can see the water in the distance and the campus below. I try to walk this way to class every day and appreciate that I am in Grenada.  The other views are not bad either...

This last picture is a shot of the Bell Tower lecture hall and the place I spend a min of 4 hours every day. Good times! (There are officially 417 first term students, in case anyone was wondering.)


Another Week

So, I cannot sleep again... I don't know if it was the 2 hour nap after lecture (thank you migraine and Relpax for that!), the cup of coffee at 8pm or the fact that I'm feeling a little guilty for the amount (or lack thereof) of studying I accomplished today but here it is, after 2am and I am wide awake. I tried Netter's anatomy flashcards, they usually put me to sleep but to no avail... but maybe I can name all the muscles of the thenar now.

In more exciting news (oh wait, I'm in medical school, my life is class and studying, there is no exciting news, sorry to get your hopes up) this marks the start of my third week of classes... time is going by so quickly! DES study groups stated this week and I went to a biochem review tonight, it was pretty decent and since there were three tutors and only three students we got one-on-one time so that was good. I also looked at 50 epithelium slides via Histotime in my least favorite place, the library.  (Too bad I can't figure out how to run it on my computer- not very Mac compatible. If anyone know any tricks please do tell...)  But there was no one at the library so I did get to print about 100 pages of notes and BRS material, yay! What else can I say?

Run down of my weekend:
Saturday- I met with a small anatomy study group and that was good.  Afterwards we headed to IGA for groceries and then stopped for dinner at some bar/restaurant, the name escapes me, near the rotary. It was my first experience of true Grenadian service. Menus were already on the table when we sat down and after 20 minutes one of girls I was with asked if someone would help us. Within 5 minutes our orders were placed and we had food within 15 minutes so overall, not too bad. And it was cheap: I got a fish sandwich ($11 EC) fries ($8 EC) and diet coke ($3.50EC) so with tip my meal cost around $28EC or $11 US! No complaints here...  That really was the highlight of my weekend. I had planned to go to the beach in the morning, just for an hour or so but it was raining and thus I stayed inside with my books.... (I am sad to report that I have yet to go to the beach. It is not far but it seems that every time I try, it is either raining or I'm in the middle of studying.) Sunday was anatomy lab-small group where I realized just how much I need to study after which I headed to Mocha Jumby for my usual.

So now another week of classes...  and only two weeks until the Unified Quiz (its only worth 5% of our grade but it lets us know how we are doing, kind of a check system to make sure your study methods are working before you take the midterm three weeks later.) 

That is about it, sorry I can't be more exciting. But I promise more pictures soon!


Sleep Evades Me...

I finally get it. Dr. Boyfriend spent many a med school night tossing and turning and I would always wonder why he was so nervous. Before every test, new rotation, etc. he seemed to be anxiety ridden the night before. He would toss and turn and talk to me all night. I would say, "don't worry and GO TO SLEEP!" Well I'm 10 days in and I cannot seem to sleep. I've given up at this point, four hours of trying and I have to wake up in an hour anyhow. Tomorrow, or rather today, it just FEELS like tomorrow, I have my first anatomy lab. Now I know that Dr. Loukas will not kick me out of the lab or make me stand on my head because I forget what innervates trapezius but still I keep thinking of everything I might not know.... Is this logical? Of course not, but I can't help it. In two hours I start my marathon of a day: dry lab, wet lab, small groups and then fours hours of lecture before trying to study for the night and the chances of me making it through two hours of biochem and two hour of anatomy lecture are not looking good. Not unless I can find some espresso on this island. 

Also I thought the sun would be getting up soon, but no,its pitch dark out!  I always thought being this close to the equator would mean more daylight and I was disappointed my first week when it would be dark by the time I ate dinner and got to Mocha Jumby's, I just figured it I woke up early I would see the sun (but up until today I haven't had the need to get up before 7am.) And thanks to google, I now know, that today the sun doesn't rise until 6:32am (it sets at 6:08pm) so I have another hour of night. Speaking of google, my bioethics professor shared this was us yesterday. Maybe you'll enjoy it too! Era, I dedicate this to you.