Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Number Games

I love numbers. I always have loved numbers. I find them to be immensely useful and surprisingly therapeutic. When I was a very small child, my parents used to give me strings of numbers to add. This was how we filled long car rides. They would yell out numbers, and I would add them to the growing sum filling my head. As I grew up, the number games grew increasingly complicated. My favorite game was a version of math bingo... it was amazing. Even now, number games often make their way into my thoughts and daydreams. I still count, add, or find numerical patters in the world around me as a way of distracting myself.

This evening when I was driving home from school I started thinking about the start of chanukah tomorrow night. (How did we get here already?! Where has the year gone?!) This was my thought process: 8. 8 are the nights of chanukah. 8 are the days between birth and circumcision. 8 are the years of training: high school + college, college + med school, or med school + residency (if I go into OB/GYN). We have 8 system blocks of pathology in our second year of medical school. 8 years ago I was just beginning college, not even thinking about medical school. Dear reader, what does the number 8 signify for you?

This led to me doing a quick google search of the "significance of 8 in judisiam". At www.faqs.org I found the following answer, which I really like: " The idea that eight represents "an octave higher" can be seen in the form of the letter ches. Its shape as written in the Ashkenazi variant of Assyrian Script, the script used in Sifrei Torah, is that of two zayin's connected by a bridge. Zayin is seven in gematria. Ches is eight. Ches shows the bridge between one seven, one complete world, and the next."

The moral of the story is that I hope that this chanukah/ holiday season bridges us all to family, friends, love, peace, and holiness. Happy chanukah!

(This picture was from my chanukah party in 2008)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Coming out as a future abortion provider

I recently told my 92 year old grandma that I plan to provide abortions as part of my future career. While my grandma is fairly liberal, she rarely talks about her feelings on political issues. She is highly critical of the world she lives in yet she remains very tight lipped about her opinions. Our family seems to have a "don't ask don't tell" policy when it comes to conversations with depth.

As one of the most important people in my life, and as someone who brags that her granddaughter is becoming a doctor, I felt it was really important for her to know the whole story. I want her to be proud of this too. I want her to know that I'm going through this all in hopes of providing comprehensive care to my future patients. I really want to know how she feels about abortion. I also really want to know what she's seen and experienced in her life: pre & post the 2nd wave feminist movement, pre & post roe v. wade, pre & post having children of her own.

Since I didn't have the guts to tell her out of the blue, I sent her a copy of "This Common Secret" with a long note from me. We have yet to really talk about it in depth but she did thank me for sending it to her and did say enough for me to know that she supports me.

In response to all of this, a friend sent me the following card from someecards. I feel thankful for family & friends.
Funny Congratulations Ecard: Congratulations on finally telling your grandma you're saving the world from ugly babies.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

psuedo-science: update

My A1C came down 0.4 points from 3 weeks of wearing my CGM sensor. That is a pretty convincing argument to wear the sensor more often. Especially as life gets a whole lot crazier with the start of clinical rotations in the near(ish) future.

Now if only I could figure out how to not have an allergic reaction from the tape used to hold the sensor on...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What a difference a year makes

The following was my facebook status a year ago today: "DONE with gross anatomy, though far from done with anatomy as I assume it will follow me throughout my education and career."

So thankful that I am no longer a first year medical student for so many reasons.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

positive mentorship

One of the many reasons I love my PI from this summer was highlighted in the e-mail I just got from him: "Remind me the official name of the award you won to spend your summer working your ass off rather than hanging out on the beach... ;)"

...he has an excellent sense of work/life balance.

Monday, November 15, 2010


For 3 & 4th year clinical rotations, I have a choice to make: stay in the city I live in, or move our schools satellite site in the state capitol. In hopes of making the decision easier I went up there today to check it out. However, I'm now just more confused about what I should do.

The advantages of going: way more hands on experience (as in getting to be first assist in all surgeries, delivering babies myself, etc.), working directly with attendings, a special focus on leadership, nice on-call rooms, tuition incentives, cheaper housing, free meals & parking, and getting to be in a small close knit cohort of students with administrations who deeply care about us and our experience. Plus, it is only an hour drive away so coming back is an option. Oh! And we found a gluten free bakery/restaurant.

The disadvantages: The satellite site is new, small, and clam. It is not an official academic hospital, and the ER is a level 2 rather than the level 1 here. They see a little less trauma and don't seem as busy overall. We also wont have the formal lectures, though they do teleconference or make us come in to the main campus for some of them. The city has a lot less unique funk; there is also a smaller young activist community and basically no Jewish or queer community. With so few student there, no residents and interns, and no already established outside community, it seems somewhat isolating. Also, not all the doctors know what to do with students, but that has already improved a lot since this first class started last May. I will have to do a 4 week elective in non-clinical leadership on top of the 4 weeks I already have to do for my MPH, reducing my elective time to 16 weeks total.

Students at both sites seem generally happy with their experience and are learning a lot. Either location will afford me solid training and the chance to become a good doctor. It is unclear whether one will be more advantageous than the other for residency applications. Seemingly, both decisions are good which makes it even more difficult to choose.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

April 14th 2011

I just scheduled the date. 5 months from tomorrow I will be taking the USMLE step 1. (Unless I decide to change the date.) As much as I don't buy into the whole "one test will determine the rest of your life", this test will significantly impact the rest of my life. One's step 1 score is the most distinguishing characteristic on residency applications. While scoring high doesn't guarantee anything, scoring low will close doors to competitive specialties as well as competitive cities. So if you see me freaking out, or disappearing, over the next 5 months, you now know why.

Side note: My exciting Saturday night plans? Preparing an MPH presentation, completing an abstract proposal, cuddling with my kitty, and maybe watching a bad movie. The joy of being a medical student!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

election day 2010

I voted! Did you? If you didn't, why the hell not?! How can you rationalize silencing your own voice? I don't care if you're apathetic, too busy, confused as to who to vote for, etc... it is your damn civic duty! While one little vote doesn't seem like a lot, what would happen if EVERYONE decided that their vote was worthy enough to be cast? So get over yourself and step up to the challenge. Vote. VOTE! Vote as if your life depends on it. In fact, your life (or at least the way you live in this country) may in fact depend on it.

Nothing compares to election day 2008. I spent the day on a med school interview in the Northeast. The interview went well, and I was excited by the political buzz surrounding me on the very liberal campus. The interview ended, I changed out of my suit in the parking lot, and began the long drive home all the while listening to NPR. I drove through small town after small town, each sporting a very different set of political propaganda. Driving across New Hampshire I counted signs to see if I could discern which way the state would swing. I arrived home to a house full of people anxiously awaiting results to come in. We were having an election night party. My housemate directed me to the stack of mail, where I found my first acceptance waiting for me. Getting into med school was the first victory of the night. A night of many small victories communally experienced in my cozy community. My high was grounded the next morning with the announcement of prop 8, but for one night I really believed we had the power to conquer the world.

I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be happy with the results of this election. I'm not yet sure what exactly I'll be unhappy about, but it isn't looking so good. It is looking even worse from my vantage point way down South in conservative land. I miss my cozy and loving community. I wish I were with them tonight. Such is life. You win some, you loose some.