Monthly Archives: September 2011

A Foray Home


This weekend at home was absolutely perfect but way too brief. The three and a half hour trek seemed minimal as I caught up on the Top 40 tunes and relished the opportunity to do absolutely nothing. I can’t think of anything better in this world than the feeling I get driving up to my house after an extended absence. I love going home and knowing that my desire to sit on the couch and watch 2 hours of “Beyond Scared Straight” will be accepted and encouraged. My parents are so supportive and from the special dinners they planned to the time they afforded me to sit like a lump, this weekend helped rejuvenate me…and make me acutely aware of how absurd my “life” is right now.

This weekend was the first time I haven’t studied for the entirety of a day in almost five weeks. I ate meals while talking to other people and I fell asleep after watching TV-not after reviewing flashcards or lecture notes. It was surreal and I even found myself feeling guilty that I wasn’t studying. Pretty pathetic but the new normal has really taken over. I cannot wait for the next time I can go home-for now, I’ll relive the visit when I’m stressed later this week and hope it can keep all the anxiety at bay. Isn’t going home the best?


What I learned while trying to master the scapular anastamosis, everything connects in the body (no duh) so what I thought I could forget, I have need to recall. The big picture is finally starting to materialize.


A Halfway Mark


Halfway done with Anatomy! Can it be true?

We had our second exam this past Thursday and I cannot tell you how good it feels to be done. This material we just conquered, or attempted to, was by far some of the most difficult material we will cover and it feels pretty amazing to be able to put this chapter behind us. Now, on to the back and upper extremity! After an indulgent ice cream with friends to celebrate the completion of more than half of our course, I took care of all that has piled up over the past weeks while I holed up in the library. Laundry, dusting, dishes…all seemed to take a back seat to the perineum and abdominal cavity but have now been tended to. It’s sad when you begin to feel a sense of accomplishment when you are able to dust a shelf or do a load of laundry. Medical school sure changes expectations, that’s for sure.

I’m sorry I’ve been absent; the cadaver lab claimed any and all of my extra time in the past couple of weeks and I literally started almost four blogs only to have to discard them as they became outdated from sitting on my phone. Our next exam is actually two weeks from this past Friday—we don’t get three weeks before our next exam this time but apparently the material is a little more accessible than that we just completed so I’m not too concerned about the impending deadline just yet.

I’ve been reading some pleasure books before I go to sleep because I’ve been plagued by a terrible restlessness and insomnia if I don’t distract myself prior to hitting the hay. Most recently I started dreaming I was an artery running between the lumbosacral trunk and first sacral nerve…do you know how unnerving it is when you wake up and wonder why you aren’t filled with blood coursing through the greater sciatic foramen?! This intense studying does something to you; I’m convinced future studies will show that all medical school students have slight symptoms of insanity. My dreams would really encourage the exploration of such a hypothesis. For those in the know, I was dreaming I was the superior gluteal artery. Why that artery of all others I’m not sure but nonetheless, I was busy vascularizing the gluteus maximus instead of getting good sleep. Not a good scenario. In my attempt to dream of something other than anatomical structures, I have read The Help, Sarah’s Key, and most recently The Hunger Games Trilogy. I only read for about 20 minutes but I’ve been powering through these books and I highly recommend each and everyone. Motivation? Each is being made into a movie—it can become a full entertainment experience! Let me know if you have or will be reading them and what you thought…I couldn’t put The Hunger Games down. Talk about a page turner! Those books are nothing like Hollinshead’s Textbook of Anatomy.

After our exam, and what seemed like an interminable lab Friday afternoon, I went home for the weekend! It was the best visit and, though brief, was just the break I needed. Now it’s back to studying but I promise to update about my weekend home in the early part of this week. I already miss the Burgh…but how bout dem Stillers?!
Hope all’s well (and that you’re happy I’m back from my hiatus)!

What I learned while taking my second set of exams, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are not great snacks to eat while taking exams. I’m pretty sure some of my short answers have as much peanut butter residue as words written down.

A Big White Board


Just thought I’d share a quick picture and update of how this weekend has been so far!

I spent my Saturday night in a small classroom we call a PBL, or problem based learning, room. The spaces are equipped with wall-length white boards, flat screen TV’s and comfy chairs perfect for an escape from the library cubbies. I charted out the entire abdominal cavity, and then some, on the white board to try and fully visualize what we had been studying. Success? We’ll see in a week and half on our next exam but it felt like a productive night. My, how my Saturday nights have changed!

I’m glad that I will have another day tomorrow to study. I’m not exactly thrilled at the prospect of spending three days straight in the library but I’ve taken some breaks to prevent burn out. (Burn out: a common syndrome amongst the medical school student population in which ones’ brain ceases to function and Facebook seems a viable alternative to, well, everything). I went to Hershey Park on Saturday from 9:30 to 10–the park is free for the last half hour–and ate an enormous sundae at Friendly’s. 2000 calories and 45 minutes away from studying really do wonders. Saturday was a little intense in terms of studying but I was able to get a run in and even did a kickboxing video (I pulled my latissmus dorsi according to one of my friends and I’m pretty sure that people watching me from outside my apartment were laughing hysterically). Regardless, it was a really good day and I’m hoping tomorrow will bring more of the same.

Enjoy the gibberish, or what you can even see of it, and I’ll write you again soon!

Can you imagine how painful this was to erase?

A GI Revelation


I have officially completed my first month of medical school AND only have 7 weeks remaining before I’m officially done with Anatomy! Is this real life?!
I mentioned in my last blog that we’d be moving on to the abdominal region and pelvis in this next three week interval. I was a little apprehensive about starting this particular section for several reasons. Besides the obvious challenge inherent in the sheer number of organs in the abdomen, I am not exactly a big fan of GI stuff. For those who know me well, you will laugh at the idea of me discussing stomach contents and gastrointestinal distress. Prior to exploring the subject in anatomy, I was pretty set against considering GI as a speciality. I am definitely an emetaphobic (huge fear of vomit) and I really don’t think talking about the regularity of bowel movements would make for a fascinating day. Needless to say, I was less than enthusiastic about spending four hours a day in lab up to my elbows in intestines and bile. Now that we’ve completed the abdomen, in five days no less, I can honestly say my opinion has changed dramatically. I am fascinated by the GI tract! Granted, I still don’t want to talk about poop but I have learned to marvel at the complexity and organization of the system. The interaction between organs and the structural genius of the system is truly remarkable. Yesterday in lab we performed a full autopsy of the abdominal cavity by removing the entire tract from the esophagus down to the rectum. We laid out the entire contents of the cavity on a tray and reconstructed what we had seen in situ. Outside of the body, the relationships between the organs, vessels, more challenging to discern but I literally got to hold the length of my cadaver’s colon in my hands.  It was definitely a worthwhile trade off. 

Today we’ve been inundated by clinical correlates and have learned all about the ways in which various systems manifest disease through the GI system.  We learned about the silent and deadly manifestation of pancreatic cancer, retrocecal appendices, the Whipple operation and GI bleeds. While we haven’t been exposed to a lot of physiology yet, we are able to understand a lot of the symptoms and conditions of the pathologies presented because of how much anatomy we learn through SBMP. It’s really exciting to be able to follow a GI surgeon as he talks about his typical surgical day. If I’ve learned anything from the anatomy of the stomach, it’s a method to prevent alcoholism. Show someone a picture of a patient with caput medusa and they’ll never have a drink again. Essentially, alcoholics develop portal hypertension-the vein draining into the liver is compromised so blood needs to flow into other vessels to avoid the constriction. The result? A distended stomach replete with large blue vessels and herniated material in the button belly. Imagine an “outie” belly button….times 300. It’s appalling. 

We have a three day weekend coming up, I can’t stop smiling, and I am looking forward to a weekend filled with studying and some relaxation. Our next section, the pelvis, is reportedly the most difficult section of anatomy so I can only imagine what my stress level will be next week. For now, I’m going to try and master what we’ve learned this week and enjoy the small break we’re being given. Promise I’ll post again this weekend!


What I learned while trying to understand splanchnic nerves, peptic ulcers can come from several sources: alcoholism, H. Pylori, and NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatories). Takeaway: follow those rules on the back of the Advil bottle and don’t let people convince you that stress has any affect on the presence of ulcers!  It’s a big ole wives tale.