Wharton’s Jelly

As I mentioned last week, I’m currently taking a hybrid classroom/clinical duties course centered around immunology and the immunocompromised patient. I’ve just finished a week on the stem cell transplant unit, where most patients have received a bone marrow transplant to treat leukemia. In general, these patients come to the hospital for one of three reasons:

  • To get their bone marrow transplant;
  • Their leukemia relapsed;
  • They developed an awful complication called graft-vs-host disease.

Continue reading

If Only The Neuro Exam Was LAST Week

…Said no one, ever.

I know last week I wrote a fairly graphic account of what it’s like to do a pelvic and butthole exam for the first time. Also, there’s no way I can ever top that on this blog, so don’t expect it. We actually finished our reproductive unit before the end of April; the practice exam itself was just rescheduled till recently. Our current unit is called Brain, Behavior and Movement, and covers head and brain anatomy, neurology, psychiatry, and the musculoskeletal system.

When we finish “BB&M,” we’ll be done with first year and start rotations. Woof. Continue reading

I’m Not Mature Enough For This

I am not mature enough for science.

Our current block is called “Endocrine, Digestion, and Reproduction,” running twelve weeks long. At five weeks in, I have three more before I disappear into the black hole that is studying for the weeklong test making up the last week of April. If Homeostasis (our previous block) is any judge, I will spend most of Nate’s Birthday Month getting fatter than the Michelin Man from inactivity and Chipotle, pretending to study anatomy until I break down in crocodile tears of frustration, and wearing pajamas to class.

This is not an exaggeration. It happened. Continue reading

Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.

Last week contained fourteen hours’ worth of exams – our comprehensive “end of block assessment” for the systems of the heart, lung, kidney, and blood. Plus anatomy and many other things I didn’t know. The Friday portion of the exam was a three-hour multiple choice exam of boards-style questions. For those of you that aren’t medical people, boards questions are notoriously difficult and are representative of the test all graduating medical students must pass to match into a residency program. An example: Continue reading

Presentation Skills: Needs Work

I’ve written quite a bit this academic year about our Physical Diagnosis class, including encounters with standardized patients. But starting in a couple of weeks, things change dramatically. Instead of practicing skills on standardized patients, we enter the hospital under the guidance of an assigned “tutor” to apply our lecture knowledge of the physical exam. Continue reading

Going Down Swinging

Two posts in one week? Must be winter break.

Working through the lung unit is the perfect time to get a lecture in about hypersensitivity reactions. “Hypersensitivity” is medicine’s fancy word for “my head takes on the size and consistency of a watermelon when the weather changes” or “my body thinks a cashew is smallpox.” Continue reading

Life In The Basement

After covering the heart and the kidneys, we’re now on the lungs. And with the lungs come chest x-rays. With chest x-rays come opacities and focal calcifications and diffuse consolidations. Also confusion, incompetency, and dismay. 

We had an hour-long lecture on chest x-rays earlier this week by a very effusive radiologist. He was quite intent that radiology is the best specialty and nearly begged us to come visit him in the radiology suite, which I can only assume is a dark closet in the hospital sub-basement. He spent so much time trying to impress upon us that radiology is the funnest, greatest specialty of them all that I am quite convinced it is not. Continue reading

IDENTIFY. DESCRIBE. fail.

Somewhat boring/necessary background unless you’re in my class:

At most schools, anatomy is taught in one continuous block, usually at the beginning of the year. By the time September rolls around, most students can identify bizarre-sounding muscles and tell you which stringy pale thing is a vein and which is a nerve. It’s harder than you think.

Our medical school works differently than most. We learn anatomy in segments, according to whatever physiologic systems we’re covering that block. For instance, this 12-week block, called Homeostasis, includes the heart, lung, and kidney. So we’ve dissected most of the thorax, where the heart and lungs are, and examined normal and abnormal kidneys in pathology lab (I’ve written about this previously). Continue reading