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To Blog or Not To Blog

It’s funny, you would think that after deciding to take a break from school last June and focus on work and traveling, I would have had all the time in the world to resurrect this blog, catch up on my Goodreads book list, and reacquaint myself with the girl who began this blog. But life literally escaped me. True, I tacked on a few more responsibilities and I engaged in #teamnosleep more often than not. But there are periods of last year where I can’t even tell you what consumed my time. When I try to recall last summer for insistence, I need to pull out my Google Calendar and visibly see what my time commitments were – and I think the summer flew by simply because I was following that motto “work hard, play hard”. In 2016 alone, I worked over 2000 hours as an ER scribe. And this didn’t include the occasional babysitting gig, my weekly shift at the local yoga studio, or my new position as Anatomy/Physiology STEM Coach at a nearby community college.

That being said, I feel such a void currently now that my hectic scheduled has dwindled down to simply school. And I know that’s a good thing – to not have to worry about financial commitments and to simply be a student and learn. I haven’t experienced that since high school! But at the same time, for someone who followed a routine – “work in the ED from 6P-4A, teach Anatomy/Physiology from 9-5P, repeat” – I feel out of my element. Additionally, I’m away from my support system – my friends and my family. Besides the occasional text or Snapchat, I am completely and utterly alone. It is difficult to simply not fall into a whole, and that is why I am so grateful for classes that I am taking, which keep me motivated.

Anatomy is one of my loves. I fell in love with the subject when I took it at my local community college and then gained respect for it when I dissected a donor and proceeded to use that donor as well as others to teach the lower-level Anatomy classes. Do I have an edge? Well slightly, but that doesn’t mean I came in with all the knowledge. I was introduced to multifidus, the branches of the axillary artery, and I finally now understand the brachial plexus (because for some reason, it just did not click in my head years ago). But what I am learning, specifically clinically-oriented Anatomy, has been absolutely riveting, that I want to learn more, I want to learn everything – what’s before, after, and under. So when other students ask me if I study a lot, I laugh, because I honestly waste more hours trying to decide whether I want to resurrect this blog than memorizing innervations. That doesn’t mean I don’t study at all, but when I review the material, I do it with the intention that I will be using this information when I treat my patients.

Span of One Day

At 4 AM yesterday, I went off to babysit a child who was about to become a big brother. At 7 AM, his father sent me pictures of the latest addition to our population. Although the delivery itself had some complications requiring a C-section, the outcome was a healthy baby boy. My charge and I spent the rest of the day looking at pictures of his new sibling and celebrating the day of his birth.

At 6 PM the same day, I headed to the ED to start another 8 hour shift. Not even thirty minutes into the shift, we had two full arrests come in by paramedics. The physician whom I was scribing for took the 97 year old who was in respiratory distress. The other ER physician took the 4 year old pediatric cardiac arrest. As far as I know, our 97 year old is still thriving, albeit in critical condition in the ICU. The 4 year old, who was running in the park just an hour before, was pronounced dead shortly after her arrival. There are a lot of terrible sounds in the world. But the sound of a mother screaming out her daughter’s name is bone-chilling. It is a wonder how anyone – physician, nurse, respiratory technician, EMT – can continue on with their jobs after losing such a battle.

January 29th marks a witnessed birth and death. Life works in strange ways, doesn’t it?

Scams in Cam(bodia)

So I am writing this post in the lounge floor of the One Stop Hostel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It’s almost 4 PM, but as my day started early around 0630, I figured now would be a good time to get my affairs in orders and send a few updates. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to post about this trip or not, especially as this year’s trip has nothing to do with medicine whatsoever (i.e. GapMedics). However, I was reminded yet again that this is my personal blog and therefore can choose whatever topics I would like to talk about.

Today began with an early start due to this wonderful guide (http://www.fodors.com/world/asia/cambodia/experiences/touring-phnom-penh-2814532), which gave me wonderful directions to seven different places. Since you can definitely walk around Phnom Pehn (though, would I call it walker-friendly? – you definitely need to not be afraid of walking on roads and/or around rubbish), it was great to simply tour the city on my own two feet. However, what took the most out of me was not the amount of walking or the heat or the price of admission to these various places (which were steep). It was the non-stop calling from tuk tuk and moto drivers alike asking if I needed a ride. At first, being so naïve, I thought they were genuinely caring for my well-being, as a 20-something old-young woman roaming the streets of Phnom Pehn by herself. But when the tuk tuk drivers began following me asking where I was from and how long I was staying here, that’s when my suspicions began to rise. My one bit of advice to anyone traveling to a foreign county – spend a day researching anything and everything about the places you’re going to. It may “seem” like a waste, but it’s better to go into a country well-informed than become a pawn in the large scamming scale.

So when, on my way to the Royal Palace, a tuk tuk driver came up to me and told me that the Royal Palace was “specially closed” this morning and pointed to a few monks leaving, I knew I was being scammed instantly. Rather than letting him take me to another destination “until the Royal Palace opened” I told him no thanks and that I would rather get pictures of what I can outside. Lo and behold, the palace was open. And although I KNEW this guy was scamming me and I had one-upped him, I still couldn’t help feeling irked. I mean really, I’ve been to so many other places and in those cities, none of the tuk tuk drivers ever harassed you to the point where you were sick of going out. I was so read to cave at the end and just pay a $1 to get a ride home so that I can avoid the constant “lady, tuk tuk?”, “miss, where are you going today”.

 

 

11 out of 10

Between working a number of shifts in the ED, prosecting, teaching Anatomy, and babysitting, I have not had a chance to sit down and update this blog. It may be due to the overnight shifts, which have been warping my sense of time, but I legitimately thought that we were at the end of October up until I resurfaced the other day to find out that it’s only mid-October! I guess with the on-going application cycle, it’s best to keep busy and not become obsessed with the intricate workings of medical school admissions.

Anyway, I wanted to write a brief post highlighting a new book by Freida McFadden aka Dr. Fizzy. It’s called 11 out of 10: A Collection of Humorous Medical Short Stories, and as you may surmise, there are a number of contributors to this particular novel including, yours truly!

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A quick disclaimer, my short story is definitely not that great when compared to some of these seasoned writers. I wrote it about two years ago, and in retrospect, it definitely sounds “green” to me. If I had the chance to re-do it, I could probably come up with funnier material, especially with everything I’ve encountered as a scribe thus far. But I digress. Regardless of how funny (or not) my own story is, I can guarantee that it is part of a collection of amazing stories written from various perspectives. The best part is that 100% of the proceeds will be donated directed to “Deworm the World“, a charity hand-selected by Dr. Fizzy herself.

So, if you have a moment, check out the links above. Even if you’re not interested in the book itself, consider donating directly to the charity as all it takes is mere pennies to get the appropriate medication to these children who are riddled with parasitic infections.

— A.

Memorizing Muscle Facts (Again)

Although I planned to take a break from school this year and instead, work more hours to pay for the ridiculous amount of debt I have accrued from applications thus far, my three-month summer break left me craving for some educational stimulation. So, I signed up for a Human Prosection class series that will begin this Fall and finish up at the end of Spring semester next year. It’s actually a pretty awesome class so far – and it’s amazing that a class like this is offered through a community college. What is Prosection, you ask? It is a class where a cadaver is dissected with the intent of using it to teach and demonstrate anatomical structures. In short, this cadaver will be a teaching tool for years to come and cannot be dissected without regard. But yes, that means that I, a pre-medical student, have the opportunity to dissect a full cadaver from beginning to the end with four other students. There are medical schools in the US that offer fewer opportunities for their students as they move forward towards “Virtual Anatomy”.

But I digress. While the experience has been enriching so far, one item that I am not looking forward to, is teaching muscle facts to students in the lower level Anatomy classes in two weeks. When I was in their position, I went for a straight memorization method and was able to muddle through the muscle unit of Anatomy. However, teaching is an entirely different game as students will be asking me questions that will challenge my understanding of the entire body. So this week, I will not only have to memorize the muscles, insertions, origins, and actions again, but I will have to do it in a way where I can verbally recall them without faltering in front of my students.

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This linked post from Action Potential has some great tips that I am going to attempt this week. However, if anyone else has any other tricks up their sleeves – or any teaching pointers to seem more confident in front of your fellow peers – please send them my way!

— A.

Source: How to memorize origins and insertions

Future Me

I was in class the other day listening to lecture and taking notes here and there, when my professor – a quirky individual himself – called me out and asked me why I was taking notes at all.

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It was as if I had committed some crime like sneaking cookies!

I never like being put on the spot, so I simply stuttered, strung a few words together, and proceeded to pause as if I had halted my note-taking all together. That was the beginning of the semester, and while my professor is just as quirky as ever, I had an epiphany the other day. Sure, writing down equations that you can simply get off of slides is fine. But when I take down notes, it is not for “present me”, but rather for “future me”. Whether those notes will be used when we have a pop quiz or to study off of prior to an exam, those notes are a present from me, to me. Similarly, I have to realize that all my current actions will affect “future A” in some way. Again, this may be a silly realization – perhaps everyone already knew this. But this sentiment didn’t dawn on me until now. What I do in the present will affect my future. So I should really help my #1 homegirl out – whether that’s in education, health, wellness, etc.