Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Very Warm Welcome

I've been noticing lately that there has been an increase in international visitors to my blog. I just wanted to offer you all a proper welcome. So...

Boa vinda
Добро пожаловать
dobrodošli na
mile widziany
Hoş geldiniz
مرحبا!, أهِ وسهِ!

I hope you all, internationally and domestically, feel welcome here. Mucho gusto. Y'all come back now, ya hear!?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Apparently I miscalculated in my post yesterday. I said yesterday that the time to get started studying was "now." As it turns out, the "now" of yesterday got postponed to today. Sorry for any complications or difficulties this may have caused you.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Deceptively easy.

That's how the second semester of med school starts out. It seems so laid back compared to first semester... no 2-hour anatomy lectures followed by 2 hours in the lab dissecting. No biochemsitry burying you in mounds of enzymes and pathways. And no cell biology with it's receptor-mediated signaling cascades.

Instead, we look at pictures of cells in histology, and we talk about the flu in microbiology. Sure, maybe physiology is a little challenging, but it's enjoyable...

That's what I'm saying now, but our first test isn't for another 2 weeks or so. I have a feeling that come test time, the hammer will come down. So it's off to the library for some non-motivated studying. It has to start some time. That time is now.

Monday, January 09, 2006

A Sample

Today began my second semester of medical school. But before I get too involved in this round, allow me to give you a sample from round one. The following is a reflection paper I wrote after my first week of anatomy lab where we dissected a human cadaver.

During orientation we were told that everyone has a reaction to working with a cadaver for the first time. We were told that the reactions vary widely between individuals, and that all are acceptable. We were also told to think about and consider our own reactions to the cadavers. So, armed with this new insight and instruction I began to predict and analyze my reaction to the first day of anatomy lab. In the past I have, on occasion, become queasy at the sight of blood and the experience of investigating the insides of the human body. Once, while observing a surgery, I had to leave the operating room due to the combination of sights, sounds and smells. On the other hand, I have also had experiences of looking into a living human body and marveling at the miracle of life without getting sick or light-headed at all. Because of these different responses to differing situations, I was unsure of how I would react to the first day of anatomy lab.
Upon opening the table on Monday, the first thing I saw was the feet of our cadaver. Though this uniquely human feature was somewhat shocking (his feet had to be held out of the way in order to open the table fully), I did not have any adverse physical reactions to the sight of our cadaver, nor to touching him or performing the dissection. It did, however, take the first thirty or forty-five minutes to reach some sense of comfort with the work we were beginning. I made eye contact with one of my classmates as we began the dissection and we both had looks of uncertainty about the task facing us. By the end of our time in lab on Monday, though, my whole group was actively participating in the work.
On Tuesday we discussed in small groups our responses to the first cadaver experience, and I spent time considering my own response, which I felt was really almost a lack of a response. Why did I not become sick at the sight of this dead body? How should I feel about cutting open and dissecting a dead human being? Who was this person who donated his body for our educational benefit and for the medical benefit of our future patients? What kind of life did he live? How old was he at the time of his death? How did he die? All of these questions occupied my mind for the first day or two after the lab experience.
I also had another experience on Monday that affected my response to working on this dead body. The grandfather of one of my friends died on Monday morning while my friend was brushing her grandfather’s teeth. Her description of that experience somehow altered my feelings toward this dead body on the table in anatomy lab. On Wednesday, as I approached the table for the second day of dissection, I saw the exposed hand of our cadaver. The humanity of this man struck me in a new way this time. Later on, as we closed up the table for the day, we had to hold the cadaver’s feet out of the way and shift his head in order to close the table. This action of moving his feet and head seemed to me in some way similar to the care that I often must give to my own grandparents now that they are older and feebler. Somehow, over the course of Wednesday’s and Friday’s lab experiences, this man has become like an old friend to me. Every day he will be waiting for our lab group, waiting to show us something new about the human body. He wants to teach us, but in return we must take care of him, moving his limbs for him, spraying him down to keep him moisturized, and being gentle so as not to disturb some part of him that he is waiting to show us later on in the semester.
I am not quite certain how I came to this response towards this unknown dead man whose body we are systematically taking apart, but a sense of thankfulness and respect has become my overriding feeling towards this gentleman, and I appreciate the opportunity that he is providing for me even in his death.