Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Back to the grind - sort of

My mom and I did finish the 3 Day! It was incredible. Here we are saluting breast cancer survivors with our shoes during closing ceremonies.

So we're back in school. It was a beautiful 10 weeks of the 3 Rs of summer - reading, research, and relaxation - but now it's over. The first 10 days have been a whirlwind of lecture, pathology lab, and the incredible number of student organizations I committed myself to last year. I choose the word commit deliberately due to its dual use - referring to a promise to undertake a task and also to enter a treatment facility for mental illness. While I maintain that I have not really overextended myself, I didn't realize how crazy the first week of school would be. The combination of 22 hours of lecture (yikes!) and meetings for every student organization I've ever considered joining/working with was nearly too much for me, but I made it through somehow. Things are, however, settling down, so here's a quick update on things I've done in the last 10 days: (If this blog has taught me nothing it has reinforced to me the fact that I love lists.)

Cardiovascular Sequence: Using the past tense to describe this is somewhat inappropriate given that I'm only through the first 1.5 weeks of 3.5, but I like to look on the bright side and congratulate myself for getting this far. I've learned more about EKGs than I ever thought I'd want to, but am actually pretty impressed with how exciting it is to finally understand at least the basics (after 4 years of measuring heart rates using rabbit EKGs).

BGLAM: I'm our happy coordinator this year and we have a fantastic crop of new M1s. We're loving our allies as we plan National Coming Out As An Ally Day (some like to call it Ally Day, but I prefer NCOAAA, pronounced N-Co-aaaaaahhhh). It should be an exciting lunchtime of speakers and joy (officially October 11, but well be celebrating October 10). Were also gearing up for the 2006 GLMA Conference in San Francisco.

LANAMA: As community service chair, I'm excited at the variety of events well be working on this year. I'm going to be continuing with health outreach programs as well as helping with general LANAMA business.

Womens Health and Fitness Day: We signed up lots of interested folks for WHFD as well, which was particularly exciting. In my personal work for WHFD I have discovered how awful the IRS is. Now, I'm sure the individuals that work there are the usual cross section of humanity (that is, both good and bad), but the documents are terrible. It was a million pages of who can be tax exempt and who cannot, and to whom donations are tax deductible and to whom they are not. (As an aside, were tax exempt, but we don't have a big enough budget to even file taxes. And donations are not tax exempt.) After all of that, we're pretty much back where we started, except that now we have a tax ID number. Maybe that can be our new recruitment strategy: "Join the coolest student group - we have a tax ID number, an EIN if you will." - Or not.

Component Representative: This isnt exactly a student organization, but Sam and I are hard at work making sure that the M2 year runs as smoothly as possible. Reprising our roles as student liaisons to the faculty weve been clarifying test content, answering questions, and thankfully not setting up anatomy practice practical exams (a task that is now passed on to the new M1s).

Other student organizations: I've also joined AMWA, Medical Students for Choice, and Galens. I'm not as active in them, but I like to go to their events and I think they are exciting groups (regardless of their tax ID status).

So basically my plate is full. I'm enjoying myself.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

And summer ends

Alicia and I looking more than a little pixelated on top of the Empire State Building... Yay for vacation!!!

Before school starts tomorrow morning I thought Id post a few last thoughts. To start, Id like to finish my list of summer books.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

This was really great. Im not usually into the vampire genre (I guess after the advent of Anne Rice it is actually a genre), but this was amazing. In addition to being compelling and well written, I found the whole thing interesting. And, not to brag or anything, she at least started the book while she was in Ann Arbor as a MFA student, and she won a prestigious Hopwood award for the novel-in-progress. The public library here as about 15 copies. Id highly recommend this one.

A million little pieces by James Frey

So most of you have probably heard of this one... It probably should have been published as fiction, but it wasnt accepted (in spite of what I would consider to be a unique and interesting style). Instead, the author pitched it as a memoir (either at the urging of a publisher or of his own accord, who really knows?) and it was picked up for publication. Oprah featured it in her book club, and then it came out that it wasnt exactly the kind of memoir one would expect; that is, it wasnt an entirely factual account of things that actually happened in the life of the author. There was a great deal of bad press and Im sure that Mr. Frey made a great deal of money on the ensuing book sales. When I was at the Strand (amazing NYC book store) I found a copy for just under $4 and had to pick it up. I think that enjoying is the wrong word, but after spending my summer working with injection drug users its pretty enlightening. I only wish Id read it sooner. Id also recommend this one to anyone interested in working with substance use/abuse.

While Im not technically done with that one, I think it still counts as a summer book. It will help to stretch the summer out into the start of the school year. Its pretty hard for me to believe that this summer is over, but Im okay with it. Im kind of looking forward to some structure in my life again (type A thats me) and I think that the routine will help me finish up all of the summer work Im almost done with. Check back soon for the beginning of M2 year... Craziness...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I met the Yarn Harlot

Me, Stephanie "Yarn Harlot" Pearl-McPhee, and her traveling sock at the Ann Arbor District Library

Some of you may recognize the above photo as that of me, your faithful blogger, with an incredible celebrity of the knitting world. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka the Yarn Harlot, writes amazing books about knitting. She is hilarious. For those of you that are about to close this window because of the preceding two statements, I invite you to keep reading: knitting is fantastic, and, frankly, knitting is cool. If you dont believe me, try it sometime. In fact, if youll be here, at UMMS next year, e-mail me, and well add you to our knitting group e-mail list. While weve been somewhat inactive since our neuro sequence, weve got a regular crowd that gets together and knits (with a few folks who crochet). I dont have much else to say, in part because I know that no little witty anecdote will be as hilarious as the ones I heard at the library book signing on Sunday, and in part because Im not sure that knitting has much to do with medical school and I know thats what most of you want to hear about.

Although, as I typed that last sentence, I've realized that I knit more prolifically during my first year of medical school than during any other time in my life. In fact, I believe that knitting was what got me through my first free weekend. You see, I had taken my first quiz of medical school and really didn't have any studying to do during the weekend. I was like a drug addict in withdrawal: fidgety, a little irritable, and looking for something, anything, to do. So I knit. Knitting is great for this. It's a project that generally requires some concentration and lots of tiny, precise movements of the hands. I roomed with a dental student one summer in college who started knitting to improve her surgical technique. I don't know about that (I guess we'll see when the knitting group hits the wards), but it does amazing things for the mind in terms of quieting. It's almost like meditating in a lot of ways

So I guess knitting is, in fact, intimately connected with medical school. I suppose that any activity that allows for some escape from the rigors of school has to be, in some way. To quote the Yarn Harlot Knit on!