Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Routine

It is 9:30am on a Wednesday. I am in the library just now beginning to study for my Microbiology exam on Friday. 2 days to learn somewhere between 50 bacteria and viruses, what disease they cause, how they cause it, etc. It would appear that I am the epitome of procrastination but for once in my life... I'm the norm...

You see, it is 9:30am on Wednesday. At 8:30am I finished a Physiology exam that I had studied for since last Wednesday's Microbiology exam (a week between exams was a luxury and I did do some skimming of Micro last week). So 8:30am-9:30am was my reflecting period on the Phys exam, and now begins my focus (post-blogging of course) on Micro. That makes me normal because all these other 1st year med students sitting around me are doing the exact same thing. I can guarantee none of us touched Micro this week until now, and now none of us will touch any other class until Friday morning at 9:30 when Micro is over.

That is the routine. The beauty that I'm regaining consciousness of is that God has given us the ability to make the routine work. Those who choose to balance the routine with school/work, life, family, faith are able to succeed in this environment as much as those whose rent checks might as well go to the Library. That has to be God!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bootcamp, Bugs, and Brain-fry

I do not often blog without a significant and self-declared 'profound' purpose out of respect for my readers. But tonight I'm breaking my own rule to detail what happens to a human brain and body during a typically atypical 18 hour med school day.
Read on my friend, read on...

My day started at 5:30am as I awoke to prepare for the first session of 'Beach Body Bootcamp' at DMU's wellness center. No, I am not trying for a 'Hasselhoff-ian' Southbeach lifeguard physique, but I am trying to establish a LIFESTYLE of better health. Of course, better health means pushing myself precariously close to the vomitous cliff, but man I felt good most of the day!

I also had to miss some morning classes to go get my 3rd vaccination in the Hepatitis B series that all healthcare workers (and med students) are required to have. If you didn't already know, County Health Departments are THE place for affordable immunizations. But you do risk getting your immunization done too high where more nerves are. It worried me that the immunization was given right through the middle of my right shoulder tattoo, thinking that it could pose an infection risk of some sort. Of course I had to research this and while there is not a lot of info in the medical journals, and most doctors/nurses have never had a problem puncturing through tattoos, there is a recent journal article out of Alberta noting that 3 women in labor received epidurals through lower back tattoos without incidence. So now all I have is soreness in both shoulders from Bootcamp pushups and vaccination side effects.

Since it was Tuesday I also had a Christian Medical Association club meeting today. No free lunch at this club meeting, but some great spiritual nourishment!

Tuesdays this semester also means Physical Diagnosis lab! Yeah for actually learning something about medical practice while in medical school! I was a bad lab partner today I must admit. It seems that my 'excess tissue' makes it hard for an inexperienced student to find many pulses, palpate certain structures, get different sounds during percussion, etc. Don't worry though... my lab partner was skinny, so it worked out for me...

Oh, if your doctor ever tells you he needs to "percuss or pat your kidneys for tenderness or pain" we actually call the technique a "kidney punch". You might have thought kidney punches were only intended to cause pain, but NO, they can be diagnostic too! (It's not really a punch so don't worry)

So I spent my evening cuddled up with my laptop in various positions of temporary relief from bootcamp and vaccination pain, studying for my Microbiology exam in the morning. This is the first exam of the semester and I definitely have struggled with getting back into the study swing. I must admit that I've come to a conclusion. The battle for survival between the humans (and their immune system) and Microbial species is simply amazing. Example: Some bacterial species have a prominent cell wall in addition to their cell membranes. Penicillin is an antibiotic of the Beta-Lactam class that stops the formation of the cell wall around some of these species and they die, ideally. Penicillin worked great at first until a species of bacteria with Anti-Beta-Lactam capabilities shared those genes with other species, and yes bacteria are capable of changing their genome 4 different ways. So in the case of Staph Aureus bacteria we came up with Methicillin which worked great UNTIL a Methicillin-Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA) came up. Now we have Vancomycin to treat MRSA and there now appears to be VRSA. By the way, Staph Aureus is a small but normal part of the flora on our skin, so our body does a great job of fighting it naturally the vast majority of the time.

This is my life. It is now 11:30pm. I woke up at 5:30am.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hardest Working Person on the Planet

So this morning when I worked out on the stationary bike, I got my working heart rate up to 145 BPM. Vastly more exciting though was seeing & hearing the first ultrasound of Katrina and I's baby, now at 8 week's gestation. I am now able to say with clear conscience that a developing fetus is the Hardest Working Person on the Planet... and here is why.

First off, I know many of my friends and I have differing opinions on the 'personhood' of a fetus but we can get past this by identifying this particular blog post as 'cute' and not 'political'. Sound good? Good!

Back to the story. So at the ultrasound our baby had a healthy 170 BPM heart rate, which got me thinking about why such a high heart rate is necessary for such a small thing. That, of course, led me into scientific thought. The heart rate is so high because of the mass amount of gas exchange needed to support the unfathomable amount of metabolism occuring in the fetus. Think about this:

-At 8 weeks our fetus is 2cm long.
-At 40 weeks normal gestation a newborn is about 51cm (20 inches) long.
-This is a 2500% increase in size over 32 weeks.
-Should I grow 2500% between now and baby's due date, I would go from 75 inches (6'3") to 1905 inches or approximately 160 feet tall.

By the way, baby is not just getting bigger during these 32 weeks; he/she is also developing most every body system and structure from this point forward. Almost equally impressive is the growth of the mother's womb and adaptation of her anatomy to pass "a camel through the eye of a needle".

Babies are neat! Mommies are neat too!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Iowa Caucuses 2008!

So Thursday night, 1/3/08 was simply amazing, at least for me being the political junkie that I am. I was able not only to participate in the Iowa Caucuses, but so much more...

First off, you can see videos and pictures of my Caucus experience at:

So, my caucus precinct location was a high school cafeteria not far from our apartment. The turnout there was 471 which was more than double the previous record turnout for this precinct. Our precinct includes a prominent neighborhood and the Governor's mansion, so Iowa Governor Chet Culver and Attorney General Tom Miller were both there and I got to meet Mr. Miller and chat with him for awhile. Governor Culver even stepped in at one point to calm down one caucus-goer regarding the rules of the caucus. I was also interviewed by a reporter from the Chicago Sun-Times, although I don't think I made any articles.

Ultimately though, I think I may have been a part of history! I am a Barack Obama supporter and our precinct went 60% for Obama (He won the state with 38%). His victory speech in Iowa was so very inspiring! I encourage you to listen to it if you haven't already at:
I stood among this packed crowd of people chanting for Obama and saw Clinton and Edwards supporters looking very dejected. It simply was an amazing experience, and somehow I ended up becoming one of the Obama delegates to the county convention where the final votes actually happen. Wow! Wow! Wow!

Rick and Katrina - 2007 year in pictures

Type rest of the post here

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Winter Days Free-Write

Bitter cold outside
tightening the lungs
as wind whips by
and sunlight deceives

A day to hide
in the blanket warmth
of home and love
and an old sweatshirt

Movies and football
drama and... drama
stealing glances
at my beautiful wife

Smiles and joy
heartwarming day
catching my wife
stealing glances at me

Winter days
have a warmth
of their own.