Today, I reflect on the first year of Today Comma I.

I believe I am the last of the -arkies to reflect on our anniversary, so please excuse me for being late with this post. This past year has been so filled with unexpected twists and turns! Life after college is not at all what I expected it to be, but I already feel much wiser to the world. I have a little bit more insight into life and a clearer vision of where I want to be in five or ten years, and I am grateful for it.

Last August, we started this blog because our lives after Duke took us to disparate corners of the world. From Philadelphia to Budapest, to be exact! I was in a remote island of Hawaii when the other three -arkies started this blog, but they used the nicknames that I gave to them in college to preserve their secret identities. (Funny story, I first nicknamed Charlotte “Charkbait” after the funny scene in Finding Nemo where the other fish in the aquarium christen Nemo “Sharkbait.” I shortened it to Charkie, and she started calling me Arkie soon after. That was how these names were born.)

Once upon a time, we gathered in Charkie’s dorm room every night to recap news, do our homework, philosophize, and order in takeout. I must add that it would take us at least 30 minutes to decide on where to order. Because Charkie kept the cupboard in the corner of her room stocked with coffee and chai, we had no lack of caffeine to keep us working late into the night. No matter how stressed I was in college about classes or my career plans, I always had the comfort of these familiar faces and this familiar routine to come back to at night, and every day I had at Duke ended up being a great day.

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Charkie Hosts Arkie’s 19th Birthday

Those moments, though treasured, are gone forever, but this blog has kept us connected over shared interests. This past year, this blog has documented our cooking experiments, has followed us on nights out, been the reservoir for stress about exams, and even captured our excitement about the royal baby, haha! Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed being able to document life after graduation, and I have my fingers crossed that we’ll have tons of great stories to share in the coming years.

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Today, I pack away the anatomy books

I finished anatomy today, thank goodness! It was not my best performance, to put it mildly, but I’m glad that it’s behind me – I was going a bit stir crazy looking at my notes for the past five days. My examiner was non-threatening and quite friendly, though he was (justifiably) not satisfied with many of responses.  😦  I’m primarily relieved and secondarily disappointed.

This time, my topics were:

– Inferior Vena Cava: Path, Tributaries
– Joints & Skeleton of the Larynx
– Development of the Kidneys
– Liver (histology slide)

My mom was interested in what questions I got — though first, I had to convince her that I passed; Thanks for the vote of confidence, mom! 😛 As she put it, and B has often said, medical school exams are for assessing your knowledge so you can keep building upon it (Well, something to that effect …).  She told me to go over the topics again while they were fresh in my mind, and move on to the next exam, which is in a week! Onwards!

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Thursday thoughts

It’s an average Thursday, but it feels like a holiday now that the anatomy midterm is over, the sun is shining, there’s only one lecture today (which I’m not attending …), and we have a week or so before the next exam!

Yesterday started with anatomy lecture at 8:45 – we’re on the urogenital system now which is intriguing it its architecture. Plus, it lends itself to funny moments, such as during a visual demonstration of the spermatic cord yesterday, when the professor proclaimed, “I am the testis!” After that was our exam, which was as pleasant as those things can be. Since Monday, we’d been hearing how difficult the examiners/underprepared the students were, but all in all, our group seems to be quite strong.

After that, we had our Professions class with a tour in the Ob/Gyn clinic this week, including a visit to the NICU! Those tiny babies! So delicate. I have been a bit surprised to learn that many residencies here are 5 years, but then I realized, that’s par for the course anywhere (hey Markie, look, a golf reference).

Next, we practiced delivering bad news in Communications class. We had a visiting professor who played the role of a difficult patient receiving bad news from the physician – namely, one of us. It’s a testament to her acting and the challenge of the task that even in this contrived and safe environment, my hands were sweaty and I was tripping over my words as I told her about her “recurrent tumor”. Whew.

Then, Rina and I had one more class and we headed to Menza for a group dinner! – the first of the semester, since this was one of our few free nights. It was fun, but we were all exhausted, and towards the end, I started to feel very ill, and had to leave quite abruptly 😦 Rina came with me and escorted me all the way home … oh it was so unpleasant. I can’t be sure, but I think it was food poisoning from the goat cheese salad.
BUT, I’m all recovered this morning and enjoying the day 🙂 I hope you do, too!

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Surgery, Sun, Song

– We visited the surgery clinic in our medical professions class, and got to see an endoscopy  to dilate a patient’s esophagus.  There we were, about ~30 1st year students crowded around a bed looking at the procedure happening in front of us. Speaking of esophagus … there’s a GI/respiratory anatomy exam coming up on Wednesday! It’s been on our minds, to say the least.

– It was no-jacket weather, and I am soaking up the rays. Plus, I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a building that gets so much sun. In the afternoon until early evening, I’m nearly blinded by sunlight while sitting at my desk. I love it 🙂

-Earworm. Because we’ve all been in the rain and waited for someone to come out of it.

 

Happy Friday, happy weekend, stay safe y’all.

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Smells like med school

‘Twas an exciting day in the life of a first-year medical student!

After a somewhat restless night, I reluctantly arose for anatomy lecture. Today’s topics were the nasal cavity & paranasal sinuses as the first part of the respiratory system. However, much of the lecture was a repeat from last semester when we studied the skull. Still .. I’ve forgotten pretty much … everything! Yikes. Repetition is the mother of all study?!

In dissection today, we were surprised with a fresh cadaver! Which sadly means that someone recently died and donated his/her body to science.
My use of pronouns is purposefully ambiguous; I could have sworn it was a deceased man, but then afterwards, some people said it was a woman! O_O cant’t make this stuff up … It’s still TBD in my mind and I’m going to ask around tomorrow 🙂 The confusion stems from the fact that the thoracic and abdominal cavities were opened for us when we got there, and the head and bottom half were mostly covered; still, you wouldn’t think there’d be that uncertainly! Oops.
Looking at the internal organs of a fresh specimen gave me a much better idea of the viscera compared to the preserved cadaver we use most of the time. The colors were so bright and the organs pliant and smooth, nearly as they are in vivo. The smell was distinctly different, too – a putrid, fetid smell compared to the chemical sting of formaldehyde. It could be my imagination, but it seems to be lingering more, too.
I have yet to write about it, but the cadaver that greets us in every dissection (“ours” for the year) has HIS (it’s a man!) own interesting insights and quirks to offer. Perhaps most notable is that his right lung is shifted way past the midline into the upper left part of his chest (it’s also quite blackened but, as I’ve mentioned previously, this may be expected from city life), and his left lung is completely atrophied.

Our Professions class met in the cardiology clinic in Buda today, which means I got to see and cross the Danube for the first time in a few months (I live about fifteen minutes away. #hermit). It’s the hospital system’s newest and most modern clinic, so I’m glad to have seen it, though it was a bit of a trek there and to the following class back in Pest. The presentation and tour were a good primer to cardiac catheterization and other basics of the present-day cardiologist’s arsenal, plus we could put some of our heart anatomy knowledge to practical use. We’ll be back there in the fourth year!

Sending lots of luck & love to Jarkie for her big test day tomorrow!

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Today, I’m Spring Breaking!

Yep, it’s SB’2013 … and though I have nothing special planned for the week off, I still feel a little bit of the jubilance at the prospect of sleeping in. Mostly, though, I feel the need to make it through lots of Anatomy and Biochem. :/  The weather was mild, but then decided it was JK and we’ve returned to frigid temperatures. All the more reason to stay indoors!

Yesterday, in our last Medical Communications lecture of the semester, we had a talk about the emergence of Web 2.0 and its role in medicine, e.g. how to make “e-patients” equal partners in treatment and how to use social media as a professional. I never thought I’d say this … but I’m taking suggestion for Twitter handles (why don’t they just call them “usernames”?!) for one day when I might possibly start building a professional web presence.

If I do become that sort of academic physician with meaningful thoughts to contribute, I’d like to pattern it after one of my favorite medical blogs, http://thoughtbroadcast.com/

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Long liver the long weekend!

Watching the announcement of the new pope on TV with an irreverent Catholic (Anna) makes for hilarity. Some commentary:

“Fifty thousand people standing out in the rain for what?!? Is that normal?!”

Me: He’s rather old…
A: No ‘rather’ – he’s old, period.

“Finally, we can sleep well in our beds tonight!”

One thing’s true – we will sleep well, though not necessarily because of the news in Vatican City. Tonight, I’m finishing some other loose study ends, not setting any alarm, and looking forward to a long weekend in my pajamas. We have the next two days off for a national holiday. I am so grateful for this extra time to catch up (read: start) on the GI system. I don’t know if I have the guts to stomach all the lecture material  =/ We started with the oral cavity a few weeks ago and have covered all the way down to the intestines by now, so I’m quite behind. The gall!

Our Medical Professions lecture was given by a psychiatrist today! I had been looking forward to hearing what he had to say, and though he was quite soft-spoken and didn’t offer any startling insights, it was still a nice reminder of what I one day hope to do (I think). It would’ve been nice if he could have spoken about his day-to-day duties more, but I’ve noticed that psychiatrists are usually extremely reticent or evasive when it comes to discussing the details of their work (and boy have I spent lots of time trying to figure that out!). Confidentiality is a particularly sensitive issue in psychiatry (why that is reflects the taboos of mental health still so deeply rooted in society), to the point that it makes it hard to know exactly what it is that a psychiatrist does. I think clarifying that would improve the image of mental health professionals and their role in medicine.

In the middle of his presentation was a figure from an article about a polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) … citing none other than one of my former Duke professors!! This was particularly startling because I did not enjoy his “Inside the Disordered Brain” course at all despite its promising name, but apparently he is a pretty big deal?! Go figure. My best memory from that class is making up wacky mnemonics with Kate.

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