Thursday, October 29, 2009

Long Week is Long

Wow, it's been a hideously long week, and it's not even over yet! o_O

On Monday I went to a potluck at a labmate's condo. My anatomy lab group - the best group in the West lab I must say - decided to have a potluck dinner and just relax and talk. So we met at a labmate's condo about 20 minutes away from school - I'll call him Jon. He has a cat named Stewie (the baby from the show Family Guy). I think his cat really liked me, lol. When the other lab members showed up, all they wanted to talk about was Jon's proposal to his fiance, how they met, and their eventual wedding. Women, I swear. It was actually a bit depressing for me since I've never had a relationship and marriage is sooo far away for me, if ever (depending on what happens and what state I'm in). I feel so alone. But I didn't show it and just toughed it out. I think Jon liked having another guy to just be around who's not all into talking about proposing and wedding stuff, haha. Overall the food was really good we were stuffed, and there were TONS of leftovers.

Yesterday I was at school from 8:20am until almost 9pm. o_O Classes, lab, dinner thing, and devo tutoring. The devo tutor was honestly much better than the professor for the course. She was clear and easy to understand, she was dynamic, and most importantly, she was enthusiastic. At least 2/3 of my class was at the devo tutoring session. The professor for the course is just old and slow . . . really nice guy in person though.

Tuesday through tonight (Thursday) there were a series of dinners put on by various student groups. It was nice interacting with M2s, M3s, and M4s, and getting a sense about Step 1 of the boards as well as rotations. It was also nice talking to various pediatricians and subspecialists to get a sense of what their lives are like. There may hopefully be an opportunity to shadow a couple of them in the near future, if I ever get on that. It seems every pediatrician I talk to pushes me a bit further towards wanting to be a pediatrician, which I suppose is good.

This was also "supported" (at least in my mind) by my medical interviewing course earlier this afternoon. I had to interview a standardized patient (SP) who was an elderly woman with depression. That was A LOT more difficult than I'd imagine it to be. I knew I was not at my best when I said something like, "I ask about the stairs and walking around because we're concerned about falls, which could be very bad in the elderly," and the SP responded with, "Oh, I never really thought about myself as being elderly, I guess I am . . ." Shit. For crying out loud, she was supposed to be 75!! There were 1-2 more other instances where I kind of froze up in my mind as I paused to think how to best phrase my next question - it didn't help though. Apparently I came across as being "more clinical" compared to the other M1 who interviewed her just prior, who instead came across as "more empathetic." Blah!! I don't know. I guess I can't quite connect with older patients as I can with younger patients. It somehow feels "weird" to me, like I have to be extra respectful and/or extra cautious about what I say around older patients. I guess I'll figure out how this pans out during rotations.

And speaking of different medical specialties, I've noticed some distinct trends. Psychiatrists keep stressing how it's okay to see them and how all other specialties will come across patients with mental issues (which is true), but it almost seems as if they're "preemptively" fighting the stigma attached to psychiatry and trying to legitimizing their field in medicine. Family physicians keep trying to defend themselves as a legitimate specialty and deserving of recognition, and how they're not slackers and actually really important. Pediatricians keep emphasizing how understanding they are about having families, placing families above work, and how woman-friendly the field is, but also how they (for some reason) earn in the lowest income bracket right next to family physicians. Surgeons keep going on about how great surgery is . . . but fail to mention how little of a life they have otherwise. Primary care physicians (internal med, peds, family med) keep trying to defend themselves against surgeons. It's all quite interesting.

One of the things that (right now) draws me to peds is some of the things I keep hearing said. How in peds you can watch kids grow up - sometimes from when they're a baby until they go off to college, how you become a part of their families, and how the kids consider you "their doctor." When kids think of the doctor they immediately think of their pediatricians, and you're the first impact on young people concerning medicine. There's a special honor in that, I think. The pediatricians I've talked to all seem really happy and really laid back, even the ones who do surgeries.

Lastly, my class is more gunner-ish than I thought. People have already lined up mentors for summer research and I haven't even started yet! People have already begun shadowing physicians left and right. I'm starting to feel like I constantly have to step up my game, but I just want some time to unwind and relax - like, REALLY relax. I really really need to catch up on studying this weekend - I'm more than a week behind in practically all my classes. So much for Halloween weekend, lol.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Visiting Friend

Saturday morning I drove to Chicago starting at around 8am. I avoided traffic and rush hour for the most part, only hitting the very tail end for about 15-20 minutes. I got there around 10am or so. My friend from out-of-town (SR-F) was staying downtown with a mutual friend (SN-F) who's an M2 at Northwestern's med school in downtown Chicago.

I arrive and was fortuitous enough to find street parking, as the parking structures were really expensive. Heck, the street parking was expensive at $2/hour! Because my GPS is stupid sometimes, I walked a block down looking for the apartment on the right side of the street. When I walked back to my car I found out that I literally parked in front of the front door to the apartment. *facepalms*

SN-F was on rounds with the dermatologists (she's gunning for dermatology) so we waited in her apartment for her to finish. Her apartment had 45 floors, I had never seen so many buttons in an elevator! SR-F took a picture of them because she hadn't seen so many either. SN-F was running behind schedule so she told us to go eat brunch without her. She recommended a great local place called West Egg that serves breakfast and lunch. It was really good! When we finished eating, SN-F still hadn't finished rounds. We waited for a few minutes before deciding to head back to her apartment. She had finished by the time we returned, so she was there to greet us.

We chatted for a bit, catching up, then SN-F took us on a quick 30-minute tour of the Northwestern med campus. All I have to say is, wow. All the hospitals looked and felt like fancy hotels. The lobbies were huge with receptionists and all! There were escalators up to second and third floors and it was all just so pretty - I couldn't believe this was a hospital system. Also, all the buildings are connected on the 2nd floor via glass skywalks. We didn't even see doctors in white coats or scrubs. SN-F responded that you'd only see them in the higher floors. It was a great campus situated in a nice downtown area.

SR-F and I left Chicago around 3pm and thankfully didn't hit much traffic on our way out of the city. When we returned to my place, I gave her a quick tour of my med school - the anatomy labs, the library, and the route we take to hospital cafeteria (because it goes through 2 hospitals). We then chilled at my apartment for maybe half an hour then walked to a local pub/restaurant for dinner. The rest of the night was rather uneventful, just catching up mostly.

The next morning we made pancakes. :-D Then with my roommate we went to see Where the Wild Things Are. I thought it was a great movie and a pretty psychological one, as the monsters (or whatever they are) paralleled Max's imagination and how the progression showed how Max's mind worked out some of the problems in his life and how it gave him a perspective other than his own. It was a surprisingly and refreshingly intellectual movie, if one chose to watch it as such. I think the critics who were talking smack about the movie were talking out of their asses.

After the movie my roommate left to go eat somewhere on his own while SR-F and I got a quick lunch before I drove her back. I drove her to a Metra train station that went directly to Union Station rather than driving all the way into downtown Chicago again. Good thing she made it to Union Station on time and that her MegaBus out of Chicago was also more or less on time.

All in all it was a pretty relaxed and fun weekend. LOTS of driving on my part, way more than I'd like. I rather dislike long-distance driving - it exhausts me. At least the weather was really nice for most of the weekend. But now it's all gray, cloudy, and rainy again. Ugh.

I was talking to my brother who just had his first (I think) med school interview on Friday back at my alma mater. He said it went pretty well, which is cool. I'd just like to share one thing.

He had 3 interviews with 3 physicians, 2 of them faculty physicians I think. One of them was a radiation oncologist. My brother mentioned in some form that he likes origami. The radiation oncologist asked him to make something for her. So my brother made an origami strawberry as he asked her why she decided to go into radiation oncology. By the time she finished he had also finished making the origami strawberry.

I wish I made origami during my med school interviews, lol.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Died of a Heavy Heart

On Wednesday we took the heart out of our cadaver. He died at the ripe old age of 92 due to congestive heart failure, so his heart was about twice the size of a normal heart. It was quite heavy for a heart. He also had a triple bypass surgery, as he had "fake" arteries going all around his heart. That said, he looked REALLY good for a 92-year-old; we thought he was in his late-70s or early-80s.

For some reason there's something oddly symbolic about taking out a heart. It's almost like, "NOW we're doctors." We passed the heart around our table, taking turns holding it and examining the valves, the aorta, the superior and inferior vena cava, the pulmonary arteries and veins, etc. As one of my lab-mates said, "It's not every day that you get to hold a human heart." The lab table across from us had a heart that looked like a snail, because they took out the aorta higher up whereas we removed it right where it met the heart. I must admit, it was kind of cute . . . for a heart.

Today we dissected further into the heart. The left ventricle (that pumps blood to the body via the aorta) was massive. It had hypertrophied (got bigger) to the point where there wasn't much of a cavity for blood to go - that space had become mostly cardiac muscle. But we could still see all the structures inside the heart really clearly, so that was cool.

Then a few of us at a time were called into the inner lab by the oldest anatomy professor there. Once the 8 or so of us had assembled, he ordered me to take off my top scrub and shirt. O_O How embarrassing. Then he had me sit with my back turned to everyone so he could demonstrate an exam on my back (basically he man-handled me, lol). I'm really ticklish so that wasn't very fun. Then he turned me around and had everyone take turns listening to the 4 heart sounds (it's a consensus, my heart's just fine and healthy). Still, that was embarrassing and just a bit creepy as I was being touched (ungloved) by the oldest professor there. I still think he's older than our cadaver - at least, he looks older. Oh well, all for the pursuit of medicine I guess . . .

Tomorrow I have to drive to Chicago to pick up a friend who's visiting. That's not going to be fun because it's been raining in this part of the Midwest for about a week. Also, with construction, traffic, and the fact that I've never driven in downtown Chicago, I'm quite a bit anxious. Hopefully I'll miss rush hour and the rain keeps the people at bay, lol.

If you read Landyn's blog at Stuck In The Middle, he's having a really rough time right now. Working practically full-time and being a full-time student is really taking its toll on him (as it would on anyone). He's being a real trooper and it's amazing that he's held up as well as he has thus far.

But he's at his limits. Anyone would be overwhelmed in his situation. So at the very least go visit his blog and give him a comforting comment and an e-hug. If anyone has any ideas how we as the blogosphere community can help him, please let everyone know.

Thanks all.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Regression in the Service of Sanity

The title comes from something else that the psychiatrist who teaches our "Foundations of Human Behavior" class called "regression in the service of the ego." I liked it and thought it was fitting.

Anyway, when I study I often like to listen to classical music because lyrics distract me. Music helps me pace myself and limit how I sometimes read the same things over and over again without it going in. Last week while studying hardcore for exams I listened to quite a bit of classical music. I came across the following:

Beethoven - Symphony No. 7, Movement 2 - Allegretto.

This was the best recording I found on YouTube. The beginning is a bit too legato and it's a tad faster than my recording.

The moment I heard the opening to this piece I had a flashback moment to high school (I think sophomore year) when I played it. I was 6th chair then. I missed playing pieces like this - I missed the feeling of the strings under my fingers and the vibrations of the cello body against my legs. I missed how the subtle layers of the piece build on top of themselves, ever-gradually crescendo-ing. I missed the focus, the concentration, the intensity that music brings. It's what people would call "being in the zone," and it's been a long time since I've felt in the zone.

Hearing and smell are powerful triggers. Even though sight dominates our senses, it betrays memory the easiest in my opinion. Things visually change - houses, plants, people - all things subject to age. But smells and sounds can remain fresh. The sense of smell has the more direct tract into the brain via cranial nerve I (olfactory). There are smells that will bring back memories of when I was 3 or 4. And for me, hearing is the second most powerful memory trigger. I'll hear a song or piece and either associate it with something or be transported back to when I played it. There are very few things I truly missed about high school, but orchestra was something I dearly miss.
For a total change of subject, a friend linked the following on Facebook:


Lyrics found here.

I totally lol'd at this when I saw it. I found it hilarious!! There are subtle inside jokes there, hehe. This will be in my head when we start dissecting the thorax . . . tomorrow. Note: Rollin's and Netter's are anatomy textbooks. And my anatomy lab doesn't look anything like the anatomy lab in there.

And the following was created by med students somewhere in Canada:

Piss in my Scrubs

Oh Canadians. :-P

Friday, October 16, 2009

Well, I Passed . . .

It's been a long and rough week. And I'm finally glad it's (almost) over.

5 exams this week. It's been a long time since I've had to study so hardcore for exams; usually, my exams have been spaced just far enough to have at least half a day to breathe in between exams. But this week, this week was a constant onslaught. Compound that on top of the fact that this is the hardest block in all subjects ("head and neck" for human development (devo) and anatomy, and a TON of info in biochem).

I didn't sleep much before my exams on Wednesday, maybe 5 hours. I also didn't sleep much last night; I spontaneously woke up after maybe about 5 hours of sleep with biochem racing in my head. It was still dark outside. Ugh. At least I passed all my exams . . . barely. If I had gotten one more question wrong here or there, the scary "Low Pass" lady may have had to hunt me down and that wouldn't be pleasant.

I won't bore you with the minutia (because that's what I was tested on), but for the life of me I could not remember the pterygopalantine fossa and what went through it. It's seriously the "black box" of head and neck anatomy for me - I was more or less fine on everything else. And despite being able to recall all the biochemical pathways and having what I felt was a decent understanding of it, I apparently did worse than I'd like. 3 more weeks until the next block exams. At least it's rumored to be the easiest block - so hopefully I'll do A LOT better.

I had a moment while studying this week - a moment where I wished I had just finished my MPH and gone on with a career in public health, a moment where I wished I was still in undergrad or even grad school. Still toying with finishing my MPH though (in addition to my MD), but I'll have to figure that out in due time.

Now I have to go tidy up the apartment a bit before people arrive - it's a mess. My roommate convinced friends to come over to our apartment to play some poker. I keep forgetting how to play that game. :-/

And tomorrow, I have to wake up early-ish to go volunteer at the free clinic as a "patient educator." That should be interesting but I really wanted to sleep in. And I kind of look like an Asian hobo right now. As they say, "C'est la vie."

Friday, October 9, 2009


Hmm, no one got or seemed to have noticed my reference in the title of my last post. I'm not too surprised; you'd have to be pretty geeky to figure it out. :-P

Anyway, I'm feeling somewhat better today. The cold, gray, cloudy, rainy weather isn't helping any though. Apparently we're supposed to get a frost warning for Sunday morning as the temperature dips to about 28F. Wtf, I hate the Midwest. Must . . . get . . . into . . . residency . . . elsewhere . . .

This morning I went into the anatomy lab with my lab group around 11:30am. We were there until about 3pm. Medicine is an all-consuming field, and is rightly called the "jealous mistress." At the moment, in my current state, that's sort of a good thing. See, the all-consuming nature puts me into a kind of trance. While I'm focused, all that exists are my peers, me, and the body (or patient) before us. While I'm in the anatomy labs life outside is put on hold. I am where no cell phone can reach me, no internet can distract me, no personal emotions/woes can waver me. We all become dedicated with one goal: to identify as many structures as possible and to learn from each other (and other groups' cadavers). We found the elusive torus tubarius (which I still think would make an excellent sci-fi name for a planet) right above the Eustachian tubes, we located the hidden levator veli palatini, and saw the internal thoracic artery (which was easy to find once you know where to look). On one body we saw the glossopharyngeal nerve (cranial nerve IX), which hadn't been successfully dissected out on any other body. While we moved from body to body, our purpose was solitary and almost nothing disturbed our trance-like focus.

This doesn't mean, however, that we didn't have some fun while poking around inside bisected skulls that look no longer human - indeed, some look like zombie aliens that would readily maul your own living face off. We would often encounter some structure whose name would evade our memory. One person with the probe would poke at it, another with the anatomy book would look up the possibilities, and the rest of us would concur (literally saying, "I concur") or not.

The trance is almost absolute. The "outside" world doesn't rush back until I change out of my scrubs. But when it rushes back, it redoubles its force, and I am exhausted. It's an . . . unnerving sensation.
I got a ride back to my apartment from a lab mate, Leslie, because I didn't feel like walking 15 minutes in the drizzling cold. She asked me how the LGBTPM talk went, because she wasn't able to go though she wanted to. Apparently she's super-liberal and is hoping to transfer med schools (you can do that?!) to where her boyfriend is. She knows the dean of admissions at that other med school - who happens to be gay - because she worked for his partner at Planned Parenthood for a couple years.

She was shocked at how conservative our class and our med school was. As far as she could tell, there wasn't a single "out" person in our class. In the car ride back, she asked me if I knew anyone in the class who might be LGBT. *insert hesitant pause here* I responded, "Umm, yeah, me."

Did I just come out to her? Yes. Though I didn't use the words "bi" or "gay" (at the time), simply "I don't know what I am." It seems she has pretty good gaydar and thought I had been out back in undergrad but not here; she was mistaken with that, lol. While in PA, her best friend was so-called "King of the Gays" and she knew many many gay guys - hence her apparently really sensitive gaydar (if only I had that).

At this point we had arrived at my apartment. Upon stepping into my apartment, a sinking feeling overcame me. It was like confessing to a crime - how it gripped my chest. I laid on the couch for a while, napping lethargically. I then sent her an email asking her to keep what we talked about confidential between us - almost as if to absolve myself.

Her response later amused me. If only she were single, perhaps I'd consider my slight crush on her. But alas, the curse meant she of course had a boyfriend. I digressed, in there she assured me that my trust wasn't misplaced and that I should always feel comfortable confiding in her. Also, she offered to be my "wing-woman" should we ever go out to a gay bar/club or something. Fleetingly I felt like Ted Mosby with her as a female version of Barney Stinson (though she's more like Lily Aldrin in personality) from the show How I Met Your Mother, lol.

Oh yeah, the one remaining member of our lab group didn't come in to anatomy lab because she was busy shadowing the chief of surgery - scrubbing in and even assisting in a mastectomy (at least insofar as holding the retractors). Gunner. -_- Pfft, she doesn't even know the cranial nerves yet. Now I've got to get my game on.

It may be a while until I post again. Block 2 exams all next week. Joy. So not ready. T.T

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Power Overwhelming

To whoever knows where and who says the quote of this post's title, you have my love.

Anyway, before you read my (what will probably end up being somewhat long) post below, first head over to Jeremy's blog at Falling Through the Void and wish him a happy 21st birthday today!! :D

The last day or so I've felt pretty overwhelmed. Not sure at what exactly, just overwhelmed. I mean, I'm doing alright with classes and such, considering I have Block 2 exams next week (head and neck - the hardest Block). I should be studying furiously right now instead of making this post, but whatever.

Yesterday I was at school for over 11 hours - 8:15am until 7:30pm or so. It was 11 hours of classes, presentation, anatomy lab, and review sessions. There was one more review session that I just decided to not attend because my focus started getting fuzzy. That, and I was falling in and out of sleep all day and zoning out every few minutes for the last hour of anatomy lab. I power-walked back to my apartment and was just exhausted.

I hate being exhausted. Exhaustion means I can't control my emotions very well and random things get to me. In anatomy lab, one of the "daddies" (there's a group of married dads who sit and study together - it's like they have their own clique) was talking about how much he loved his 10-month-old son and how funny his son was when he farted. His son would make this funny angry-like grimace right before he farted, and after he farted he'd smile and laugh. A small part of me cried at this I think.

Time dragged by when I got back to my apartment. It was surreal and rather lonesome. I guess I could feel the clock tick (though there aren't any ticking clocks in my apartment). I don't have much time in med school for a social life and in residency I'll have even less. By the time I'm out, I'll be over 30 - too old to really start looking for a relationship . . . Anyway, I went to bed super-early (for me, anyway). But I woke up 3-5 times throughout the night. I've never had such interrupted sleep before; that bothered me.

I'm alright today though. I would be better still if it weren't dark, cloudy, rainy, and cold outside. >.<
Today I went to a LGBTPM (LGBT Persons in Medicine) lunch talk. The speaker was the chief of gynecological oncology or something like that. Apparently she's lesbian. Why have I met several lesbians in high positions but not bi/gay men? Curious . . .

Anyway, she gave a presentation on LGBT issues in health and medicine. It's quite shocking but a part of me wasn't surprised. There was a report in 1989 that found 1 in 3 teen suicides was related to sexual identity/orientation issues. This report was buried. I can't remember exactly the other figures she said, but something like 60-64% of LGBT persons report getting substandard care from their healthcare providers - or maybe that's the figure of LGBT persons who feel uncomfortable coming out to their doctors. Also, about 2/3 of out LGBT medicine professionals (doctors, nurses, etc) report getting negative comments or harassment due to their sexual orientation. They also report that many of their colleagues made denigrating remarks about LGBT people behind their backs.

She also discussed how back when she was in med school, in the late 1980s, that homosexuality was grouped together with pedophilia and bestiality lecture(s) in the psychopathology course. Human sexuality was its own course and lasted only 2 weeks. Not much has changed since, except maybe that homosexuality was moved to the human sexuality unit. She then went on to say how banning same-sex marriage can also be a health issue.

A 2007 case where two lesbians and their 3 children were vacationing in Florida, and one of them got a brain aneurysm and had to be rushed to the hospital. The hospital denied the partner and their 3 kids from visiting her while in the hospital. She ended up dying 8 hours later. In those 8 hours, the partner had time to fax over her durable powers of attorney to see her dying partner with their 3 kids. They were still denied. The hospital also refused to release her death record to the partner, so she wasn't able to get reimbursement from life insurance and such. The partner decided (rightly so) to sue the hospital, but apparently just last week the FL state supreme court turned down the case.

It's embarrassing that LGBT persons don't feel comfortable coming out to their doctors, and when they do, they often get substandard treatment. It's equally shameful that LGBT members of the medical community must often hide. I've heard that sometimes being out as a med student can harm one's chances at certain residencies (not sure if this is a rumor or not, but it doesn't surprise me if it isn't) - maybe I should be safe and "conservative" about this, just in case.

I was really annoyed when only 3 M1s showed up for the talk, including myself. Apparently, out of a class of over 200, only 3 of us cared enough about the issue to attend. Oh, and the other two were women. What does that say?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kids Are Great

So earlier today I skipped all my classes. But I had a good and valid reason to do so!

Along with Michelle, I went to a high school in a nearby city to give an obesity presentation to a health class of 10th graders. They had just started the nutrition unit, so our timing was perfect.

We arrived earlier than we thought, and we just talked with the teacher a bit in her prep hour. She's a HUGE health nut (which is great, since she teaches health). She talked about how she ran a marathon over the weekend, and about the perceptions her students have on diet and exercise and weight loss, and how doctors barely talk about nutrition (which is totally true - medical education SUCKS in that regard) and ways to prevent chronic illnesses. She remarked how she saw a major article a month or so ago on cancer and they had all these doctors talk about treatments, and interventions, and all that. But not once was prevention mentioned in the article and how nutrition and lifestyle factors into cancer risk.

Then the 10th graders started to filter in. Wow, I totally forgot how young they are. o_O I mean, was it really that long ago that I was sitting in a similar class? Beforehand the teacher told us how this class was a class full of kids who're in the honors/AP track and all really intelligent. That definitely made our work easier. We had a great time with them and they were really responsive and interactive. I loved seeing the wheels in their heads turn as we asked open-ended questions. What REALLY surprised me was, when we asked "How many of you know someone with diabetes?" they all rose their hands. Wow, back in my day (I can't believe I just typed this), I knew of maybe 1-2 people with diabetes.

We actually finished the presentation 5-7 minutes early, so we just opened it up to any questions they had. One kid asked me, "So what do you want to do after med school?" I looked at Michelle and was like, "Uh . . . become a doctor?" He continued with, "Do you want to keep doing stuff like this? Coming into classrooms and teaching about health?" That surprised me a little. And you know what, I responded with how I would actually love to do this a couple times a year as a doctor and really teach/engage kids in healthy lifestyles. I then told them really briefly about how I taught undergrad genetics for a semester - I think some of their eyes bulged out of their orbits at that, lol. Yeah, overall a great bunch of kids.

As they left, Michelle and I prepped to give the next presentation, which was the hour immediately after. This next class couldn't have been more different. This was a class of special ed students - some who were autistic, some with Down's syndrome - all with some degree of mental retardation. There were 3 aides in the room to help them, which was good.

We altered how we presented the material and took more time to explain things, simplify things, and just go at a slower pace for them. For the most part I think almost all of them were able to grasp what we were telling them. And collectively it was great watching their wheels turn in a different way from the previous class. Some of the kids weren't able to speak, and some were quite vocal. I was personally impressed with how well they grasped what we were presenting and how well they were able to answer our questions.

At the very end of class, this one kid got up and walked over to me. I had no idea what he was saying - he had both Down's syndrome and was severely autistic. But he came over to me after the presentation was done and took out his wallet, and for some reason, showed me the one dollar he had in there. And this other kid was telling me what he was going to do for his "30 day challenge" activity that we encouraged them to do.

I really do enjoy working with kids - they're great! ^_^ It's funny how they're simultaneously smarter than what we give them credit for, and exactly what we would expect of them. But overall, I think kids have a great capacity to really grasp health info if it's presented in an age-appropriate manner.

Btw, about 25 million kids in the US are overweight. That's 1 in 3 kids. Is anyone surprised?

It seems the blogosphere has been having a really down time lately. I hope James is feeling better and getting out of his funk. And I hope Fer is finding ways to get enough sleep and coping with all the busy-ness in his life.

And I've had the opportunity lately to chat with a great guy, Dave83201. I know you've been really stressed out lately, and I hope I've been able to entertain you and give you some relief from your stresses.

Now, to continue studying the head and neck, as well as biochem. Block 2 exams next week and I'm just not ready. O_O

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mid-Autumn Festival

Today was the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节 - zhong1 qiu1 jie3). It's also more colloquially known as the "moon festival" because one of the highlights in celebrating this holiday is eating so-called moon cakes. I love Chinese holidays because they all center around food (well, almost all). My two favorite holidays are Thanksgiving and Chinese New Years (I think I might've blogged about that before . . . a long time ago).

Because the Chinese calendar is a lunar calendar, the dates of all the holidays change every year. This is annoying as I didn't know today was the Mid-Autumn Festival until a friend IM'd me yesterday reminding me of it. So this afternoon, a friend and I made a special trip to a nearby Vietnamese store to specifically buy a box of moon cakes. And it was totally worth it. Too bad it's cloudy today and I can't see the full moon. :-/ *curses the Midwest*

Also today several of us met with local Hmong leaders to discuss the Hmong Health Education Program that an out-going M4 secured a 4-year grant for. The Hmong are a minority group within the Asian population in the US; they're a minority within a minority. Many of the older generation being refugees from Vietnam that the US oh so carelessly didn't treat well once they were on US soil. Holy crap I never thought it'd be such a daunting task! I mean, I had learned about this special population in my medical anthropology course in undergrad, and I had assumed things had improved for them in the last 30-40 years. Apparently not - they're still just as marginalized, the barriers are still up. The difficulty extends beyond "just" translation obstacles, there are fundamental communication barriers in reaching this population that we as med students are just not equipped to handle.

The M4 kept mentioning all these organizations that we might be partnering up with, but the task of communicating and coordinating all those groups might largely fall to us. And I don't think any of us - the M1s and M2s - expected to be given such a large responsibility. We had thought our main role was to develop culturally sensitive material to be used in radio broadcasting and in handouts/leaflets. Even this is easier said than done, as none of us on the committee (or probably in the entire med school) can translate into Hmong. We'd have to work really closely with specific Hmong community members at length to make sure the material is at an acceptable level of comprehension and accurately translated.

It's annoying that the M4 made many of the initial contacts, so they're familiar with him but not us. And since he's outgoing, that means he's not likely to have a direct participatory role in what happens. That bastard, lol. I think all of us M1s left the meeting feeling like we're in over our heads and the whole "What have we gotten ourselves into?" mentality. But, if we make this work (and we CAN make this work), it'll be an amazing achievement. Truly something worthwhile.