Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

1. When I make the decision to re-enroll, I will not question that decision again until the end of the semester; no matter how crazy, busy, frenetic my life gets, OR how lazy I feel.

2. IF I re-enroll in school, I will set aside 2 hours every day to do something COMPLETELY unrelated to school; not work, not books, not studying, not being on campus and commuting home does not count! I'm thinking cooking my favorite Ghiradelli brownies, or watching a movie, or running with the dogs...

3. I will spend time at concerts - small and large venue, opera (what I wouldn't do for another run of "Faust"!!) or even another run of "Spamalot" ... /whistles, "Always look on the bright side of life..."

4. I will sign up for another 1/2 marathon. Eek. The last one was so much fun, laughed throughout the entire 13.2 miles, and smiled broadly at the end. Runner's high, however, led to runner's low... will remind myself to rest afterward as well, hoping to thwart that low. It was gawdawful.

5. I will travel to Africa and volunteer in clinic in one of the capital cities.

6. Enjoy my life more this year than last. Should not be hard to do. 2009 was a doozy only to be bested by 1986.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

"Fine Doctor You Will Make!"

Spent Christmas Eve in the hospital strung up to an IV with meds freely flowing. Apparently, that little ache in my back, a myriad of other symptoms that I've been somewhat ignoring for TWO years, roared loudly and pronounced me ill.

The attending ER doc laughed when he saw my student insurance card and asked what I was in school for. Ermm... rural family practice.

Then the nurse came in, shook her head, "Want to see your lab results?"

"Does the mouthy, drooly basset hound bark?" I laughed.

Note to self: apparently, red blood cells in the urine a bad sign. I'll remember that someday when my own patients come to me and say they've been ignoring some really bad signs for a few YEARS.

When I was released from the hospital the discharging doc with her warm eyes reminded me that health care begins with me, at home. If I'm not well enough to take care of myself, I'm probably not well enough to take care of others. "Fine doctor you will make, but you have to live to do so."

Gotcha. Now about that broken hand of mine from this morning...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Livin' Fast Forward

Just because it makes me happy, dance around the house, smile, and ponder 2010.

Hope you enjoy!

If you've never had a chance to see him in concert, Kenny Chesney, is one of the most fun, dance around the arena events one can get to. Am thinking if I choose to keep going (haha... we all know... don't we) that I may have to find time to get in a concert or two.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

EMT Training

Thinking about getting the EMT basic certification. A friend of mine from high school is in charge of an embassy in a developing part of the world. After asking if there's be a means to have me come there and assist in the clinics, he said it'd be a piece of cake to get me over there and into a clinic if I had the EMT.

So, I've checked the local community colleges for the program/classes required, test dates, etc and think I may take them. I'm not sure how much or how little it will help on my application to have EMT BUT I am hoping that me going to a 3rd world country and my experience helping in a clinic there will be interesting to the adcom.

Just a thought. Will continue to ponder it. For if I do that, then...

Do I answer the wink from school? It said there's a pharmacology class open as well... and whispers softly that the biology professor I like still has seats available in his labs. And of course, I've already been reading the neuro sci book by Dr. Doidge. FASCINATING!

Make it a great day!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Mass - Cathedral

I'm not Catholic... not even sure I could be considered a strong Christian. I believe that Christ existed, I believe very strongly in God as the Creator (mixed in with some good old fashioned evolution) but if my canine companions are unwelcome in Heaven, then I'm pretty sure I don't want to go there either. Anyway, I go to Mass. It's beautiful.

About 1.5 hours before Mass the Cathedral puts on a choral/organ/harps performance. It's wonderful, peaceful, angelic. The Mass itself is obviously very Catholic with all its pageantry, opulence, and grandeur. I leave with a sense of well being and peace; wanting to give back to others, grateful for what I already have.

This year the former senator from my great state sat in front of me. In 2002 my son, then 10, and I volunteered some 2000+ hours to get him and the governor elected, and they were. I met him several times along with his wife; he was arrogant, insensitive, and many other not-so-nice adjectives. I really didn't like him much.

In keeping with my hopeful anonymity of myself and others, I'm not disclosing what happened this past year to him but I think he got a pantry full of humble pie.

Tonight he was polite, we chatted a few minutes - he has a friend connection to one of mine - he was sincere. The calm, cool arrogance of the man was gone replaced by a humility that came from within, not his PR person's script.

I told him that I hoped 2010 was much kinder to him than 2009 had been. He said God always has a plan. I smiled, "I know. Are you going to listen?"

The former Senator from my great state, let out his shoulders a bit, smiled warmly, "Yes. Are you?"

If only he knew. May the shared humble pie that both of us got served, help us to continue to follow God's plan, whatever that may be.

I hope that 2010 is better than 2009 for all of us!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

I hope it is a blessed night without any issues in the mounting snow.

I hope your families all arrived safe and sound, and are indulging in great food, great fun, great story making.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Looking In Reverse At 2009

Letter to my RL friends and now to all of you:
What an amazing year!

Some of you, probably most, read that and thought, "Eh? Seriously?" To which I would say, "YES!"

While I could choose to dwell on how difficult this year has been, I won't. Instead, I'll look back and dance on the grave of despair, and dig my pointy, well-heeled toes into the soil singing Neil Diamond's, "Pretty Amazing Grace" !!

At the beginning of the year I was registered for chemistry and math, chasing a dream, following a lifelong passion. Yes, there were some bumps, or many, along that semester but what did I learn? I can persevere.

In May a visit to the medical school in smaller town showed that oncology was out, I'd fallen in love with the idea of rural family med.

In June I got a job as clerical staff on the university campus. What did I learn? I can go from mega-bucks and no meaning, to no bucks and wealth of purpose. I can have a boss 1/2 my age learning as much from her as she from me.

In July, the children of my 4th grade teacher reached out to me, letting me know what I wrote about their father meant a lot to them. I'd be sorely remiss to not remark on them writing to me, proved he lives on through them; my drive was renewed, hope restored.

In August it was affirmed that rural care is where it's at. To the physician and his nurse who opened their clinic and their professional lives for me to peek into, "Thank you" seems insufficient. Simply allowing me to divorce my lunch and not laugh at me (thank you, thank you!!) showed me grace, humility, and warmth. I'm likewise blessed that your patients seemed completely fine having a perfectly unknown, un-medically trained student in their exams. I came home that first day with a smile so bright, I think I lit up the sky!

On a day in October when I questioned my age, my path, my rationale being in your clinic again reaffirmed my drive. You two are everything and more that I believe rural family practitioners should be. I was blessed to spend my time with you (and will eagerly look forward to more!... just no small lunches :D) BTW, thank you for taking such great care of my father.

During fall semester I learned why phosphorylation is important to health, why we really breathe (no, it's not to fill your lungs, it has to do with blood pH), what happens with diabetics, why HIV is so incredibly deadly and scientists are unable to make a vaccine for it (RNA replication, CD4 and GP 120 be damned), and why some genetic mutations can really cause havoc. It was about at that time, neurology winked at me. I like the winks! But I'm sold on rural care and biochem.

Through my biochem class, and my blog, I was hooked into an ALS research group that I'm looking forward to volunteering for. Through physics I learned that professors don't have to be creepy to be funny in class and teach. Through chemistry... well, I learned to focus on the rainbows in life and chasing a dream. :D

With my son, I learned to let go, and let God. Sometimes children who are overindulged need to have pendulum swing the other way for a bit, to become more centered. I'm blessed with amazing parents who have seen our need to help him become the man we know he already is; he now needs to find that for himself. While he looks at joining the Marines (and I cringe) that may be his path, his dream, his passion.

I hope all of you always embrace the storms of life so that the awakening sunshine feels 10x better. May you always see the rainbows in every situation for they represent the hope of a new beginning, a new horizon.

Some people dream. Some people do. (now trademarked, btw). I could not have survived this year and all its bumps without your help, support, prayers, guidance, and love. I am blessed to have all of you in my life and am ever so thankful for that.

This year, and always, I wish you a very blessed Christmas (Happy Hanukkah) and very Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Shadowing Physician - Caring Nurse

Dad's physician happens to be the man I traipse around after once in awhile. His nurse is forthright, kind, caring, happens to keep it very quiet about my lunch "divorce" and together, they are an awesome team.

At 79 my dad has not stopped working, he's the local carry out "boy" at the grocery store and a strong testament to that generation. If he did stop working, well... I'd just prefer he didn't. It keeps him occupied, busy, engaged in life, surrounded by people (customers) that just love him to pieces. I can understand why.

Dad is unlike the fathers I hear about from my friends. Dad was always an amazing man - kind, caring, forthright, honest, and supportive; he was on the road 5 days a week while I grew up selling Motorola to places that would not buy anything but GE back in the days of 2-way radios and microwave towers, the golden age of that company before cell phones and wireless destroyed it.

He busted tail in his company car to get home on Fridays before I was out of school, picking me up; then found time to play catch or games with me, and on Saturday mornings he watched cartoons. He also always made time to listen, even if he did fall asleep on me one time while I was blathering on about something. He is also known to use editorial embellishment if it fits the need.

A few weeks ago the physician came into where Dad works. I'm sure Dad being Dad struck up the conversation about how well I love coming down there and shadowing; apparently, the physician said they like having me and the patients are wondering when I'll be back. I'm thinking, as he tells me that, "sounds like Dad's embellishment to make sad daughter feel better" moment.

Yesterday, the nurse came in and talked to Dad. Dad is also having to explain why my son lives there now. He mentioned that he has told people this past semester knocked me on my butt. When talking to her, she replied and maybe this time it wasn't Dad's wanting to fix things for his daughter but really what she said:

"Does she think any physician had it easy when they embarked on this path? For if so, this was her wake up call. Tell her to get back on the bus."

And 2nd

"Our patients love her. We love having her around. You better tell her that."

Dad did. And then added himself, "Best you get back to school so that you can become what you were meant to be."

Okay Dad. Love ya. (Mom too... )

Monday, December 21, 2009

Publication of Blog

For those that wondered, fell off the followers list, thought "Meh" taking the blog out of circulation allowed me the ability to truly get away from the path for a few days, to see how I really felt about not continuing on.

It was nothing personal; no one had access to it but me.

My best to all of you through these holidays.


One Day At A Time

A professor of mine, the one that I dropped out of his class, wrote to me and said he didn't think a "B" would hurt me getting into med school. I don't think he understands that generally speaking, an 89.5% in ANY class is at least an A-, NOT a B or "maybe" a B+.

I also think that while he is understanding that it may not hurt another undergrad who has NO degree in hand (or life experience) probably doesn't care about the one "B" on the transcript. For the most part, I'd have to agree with him, except when trying to think of how I'd explain to an admission committee:


On my fall semester transcript. Really? You dropped two classes and all you could manage was a "B"? It's not the "B" per se, it is the drive killer. I am missing it at the moment.

I dropped out. I felt a little relieved. Then I got an email from someone I've known since I was 15. He was my first boyfriend. We've kept in touch for 30 years - through his marriage, his two kids, his career, my son, my boyfriends, my life. At one point, I wrote a rather lengthy novel based on our dreams as individuals (he wanted to be PoTUS, I wanted to be... wait for it...

a cancer doc).

Anyway, he asked how my final went. I said it was fine. Then he read here and wrote:

"I think you are crazy to drop out of school."

D'Artagnan (my dad's nickname for him), once again, to the point and honest. I told him one day at a time right now; he told me to chuck up and be a man. haha, not up for THAT surgery.

We'll see... my classes are still open, just got an inkling for a job on weekends so that I'm not so distracted during the week trying to work on campus, my house is stabilized, my son is doing okay. One day at a time. Today? I don't know yet.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Withdrawn From School

That's never a great feeling. Wowser.

Yikes. Just yikes.

Actually, I just found out a 100 won't do me any good. Apparently, when 90% of the class argues points and their scores are likewise adjusted upward, the mean changes. For those of us who don't argue points, obviously, the converse happens.

My overall grade is 86.5%, good enough for a mid B- (the university uses +/- grading).

A score of 100 on final (which I think I could have done) would have gotten me to an 89.5%, good enough for a B, MAYBE a B+ ...

I've dropped out.

The test I took a few weeks ago where I did not even study sickle cell trait or CF, I did just slightly ABOVE the mean. Haha. Not bad considering 34 points were on two topics I knew little about.

The 2nd test, the one I thought I had done really well on, everyone complained about their scores and answers. I did not. So, that hurt me.

It's been a difficult journey. Hopping off for now.

And this just sent to me:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Munchausen by proxy syndrome

Odd topic of the day... I know.

One of my great passions in life is animal rescue - specifically, great danes. Due to another forum, I have come to believe MBPS can also occur with animals, not just human children. The same sick, twisted way of treating and abusing children just gets turned onto the poor pups.

This poser got a pup in 2007. A few weeks into owning it, the pup wobbled. Five months later, it was dead.

Six months after that in 2008, the poser got another great dane pup, flamed away at neutering or not, then while on the operating table 5 months later, the vet found necrotic tissue, and subsequent to that, the dog died.

Three months after that, in 2009 the poser got yet another great dane pup, flamed away at some or other disease, and now sadly, the poor dog after having so much surgery, is not doing well. What do you want to bet it dies too!?

Three great dane pups, in three years... oh, and all with behavior issues yet her boyfriend's apparent "stud" dog has none.

I think, it is something else entirely. The profile fits her to a "T"...

(copied from this website:

Munchausen by proxy syndrome (MBPS) is a relatively uncommon condition that involves the exaggeration or fabrication of illnesses or symptoms by a primary caretaker. One of the most harmful forms of child abuse, MBPS was named after Baron von Munchausen, an 18th-century German dignitary known for telling outlandish stories.

About MBPS

In MBPS, an individual — usually a mother — deliberately makes another person (most often his or her own preschool child) sick or convinces others that the person is sick. The parent or caregiver misleads others into thinking that the child has medical problems by lying and reporting fictitious episodes. He or she may exaggerate, fabricate, or induce symptoms. As a result, doctors usually order tests, try different types of medications, and may even hospitalize the child or perform surgery to determine the cause.

Typically, the perpetrator feels satisfied by gaining the attention and sympathy of doctors, nurses, and others who come into contact with him or her and the child. Some experts believe that it isn't just the attention that's gained from the "illness" of the child that drives this behavior, but also the satisfaction in being able to deceive individuals that they consider to be more important and powerful than themselves.

Because the parent or caregiver appears to be so caring and attentive, often no one suspects any wrongdoing. A perplexing aspect of the syndrome is the ability of the parent or caregiver to fool and manipulate doctors. Frequently, the perpetrator is familiar with the medical profession and is very good at fooling the doctors. Even the most experienced doctors can miss the meaning of the inconsistencies in the child's symptoms. It's not unusual for medical personnel to overlook the possibility of MBPS because it goes against the belief that a parent or caregiver would never deliberately hurt his or her child.

Children who are subject to MBPS are typically preschool age, although there have been reported cases in kids up to 16 years old, and there are equal numbers of boys and girls. About 98% of the perpetrators are female.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Overheard At The Wash Bowl

A few weeks ago, I decided to cut my very long, very ... scraggly hair. It was more of a therapeutic experience than really caring about my hair length. After discussing what I wanted done, the woman I go to started asking about my pre-med path, how it is going (haha - or not), what she could do to help (pray!), and then led me to the wash basins.

This particular spa puts lavender heated wraps around the neck area so while being soaped and head massaged, the aromatic therapy unwinds the mind. I LOVE it. She is amazing at it too :)

Anyway, we started talking about finances related to school, my favorite classes (physics and biochem - gen chem can kiss my ...) when the lady next to me piped in asking what schooling I was going for. Telling her med school, she asked if I was nuts (yes, probably).

She then went on to disparage the hospitals, clinics, medical professional partners and finally stated that she wished she had more business background when she entered the profession.

She is an MD and an unhappy one at that.

I feel for her. She said she loved her patients, loved the care providing, and science aspect of the job but hated, simply HATED, the business aspect of it.

Several months ago I was telling my then boyfriend, a physician, what I think went wrong with the medical industry some decades ago. So, I'm going to digress here for a minute, or two.

Back in the 1800s a doc with a dark black bag, a stethoscope and some quinine pills set off on his horse, or maybe with a buggy, and visited his patients. He listened to their stories, he took their lives into consideration when thinking about how to help, and then hopped back into his buggy and went a few miles down the road to his next patient. When patients were too sick to pay at that time, he probably figured out another way they could "pay" their bill, and moved on.

In his community he was beloved by all. As time moved forward and his patient practice grew, he recruited another doc knowing he could not provide the best care for his growing practice and awesome reputation. Some time after that, the doctors needed a nurse to help with triage and opened a small, tiny clinic in the town. As that practice continued to grow, the docs hired a bookkeeper to help pay the bills, pay the nurse, and of course, pay themselves.

Eventually, that one doc shop turned into a large clinic by the early 1900s, several small clinics merged to become a larger clinic and no longer hiring just bookkeepers, they hired finance people to run the business aspect.

The business people probably had no medical experience but saw with a twinkle in their eyes how much money they could make providing guidance and strategy to physicians. As that larger clinic grew, just a finance person was not good enough and an MBA had to be hired.

Now that small doc with a horse and a buggy had lost control over HOW he managed his patient's care, WHEN he managed their care, and HOW LONG he could spend with each one.

On top of that, business people are not known for their empathetic nature only looking at bottom lines and financial statements. CEOs of large behemoth hospital/clinic/pharmacy chains are generally not physician trained.

Therein, lies a HUGE problem. Empathy gone at the top (in the business world we call that "tone at the top" for Sarbanes-Oxley purposes), moral compass and doing what is right somewhat skewed by bottom line numbers, physicians are caught in the middle of a web of MBA branded CEOs and presidents, vs. CEOs that are MD trained.

I bet the woman at the wash bowl was in a clinic setting run by a CEO with an MBA, a 7-figure salary, and the inverse amount of empathy. I can understand why she doesn't like it. The politics of becoming a sycophant so that required operating conditions are set is not fun in any setting.

In this case, people's lives ARE at stake so the stress has to be greater.

When she heard my background, she proclaimed, "You'll be fine being a physician. You already know the dirty politics of the business aspect of it."

Sadly, I do. Too bad as a society we have lost our direction and course of what it means to provide and receive medical care and is now a business; just like a bank, or auto dealership, or Target.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


of 100... and I'm NOT happy. My paper got docked for clarity reasons. I'm not thrilled with that but have set up an appt with the professor to find out what would have "wowed" him and gotten me the full points. I also know that he went easy on these papers because it is not a writing intensive class. In order for me to feel like I can succeed in the more advanced sciences, I really want to be able to write and "wow" the professors.

Hopefully, I will get that from meeting with him. And also, this time, I've printed out ALL the study guide sheets for the exam. And I do intend on the full 100 points. Hopefully, that will get me a beloved A... I can only hope.

Make it a great day!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jenny Sanford

A woman to be respected and admired. Her self esteem is not tied to a man, or a ring on her finger. Her self esteem is tied to raising good kids, living a good life, and being true to herself.

It had to be hurtful to find out he had an affair. What had to be worse was him publicly announcing he still loved the other woman.

Kudos to her for not discussing their relationship, not discussing her children's lives, and for being true to herself.

As a professor said yesterday to his class: stay on true north. Define yourself by your values and live by them. A tiny skew to one direction will set an entire life off course in a few years. Don't do it.

Jenny Sanford is true to her family, her beliefs, her children and keeping mum about matters that should remain that way.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Loss of Words

I've met someone through the university; amazing individual - twinkling eyes, stories I'm sure I'd love to hear, a wife he adores, children he loves, grandchildren; charismatic, kind hearted, I go on forever.

For privacy reasons (his life), I will not state what it is that is bothering me but... sometimes I just don't know what to say when I hear news that is not delightful. Instead, I just wanted to give him a hug, tell him I think and pray for his family, and hug him again. I wish that were 1) appropriate and 2) enough.

Instead, I'm rendered speechless... and yet my heart aches for him and his family. I wish I had gone to med school 20 years ago and done the PhD route as well. I wish I had found a way to help back then so now, I'd have the tools to say the right thing, to help, to comfort.

Instead, all I could say is I'm so sorry. It seems too trite.

Semester Winding Down

Semester horribilis to steal from Queen Elizabeth. What a horrible semester! In looking back I question many things:

1) Should I have overcome everything and pushed forward (no, I tried; foreclosure, bankruptcy, my son's mental health issues, not to mention the chemistry department's lack of taking care of their issues)

2) Will this affect me for med school (perhaps, but if I don't try, if I don't continue on; trying something different, I will never know)

3) Did I learn anything (absolutely!!! LOVED biochem, which btw, in the professor's defense, it was my bad; there was a 2nd study guide that I spaced out that DID have the cystic fibrosis and sickle cell trait items on it; completely my fault)

4) Did I learn anything else (yes; I really want to be a family doc; neuro has peeked my interest; research is something I love)

5) Am I glad it is over? There is the yes answer, the h*** yes answer, and then the answer to that question. Very glad.

I will be taking my chemistry sequence elsewhere for reasons I cannot post. Those who know understand and support this. During my break I 'm pre-reading the "textbook" for neurology (it is a paperback novel-like book written by Dr. Doidge -fascinating); will be registering for the summer physics institute so I can complete that series; and relaxing.

Foreclosure done. Bankruptcy not going through with it (don't need to with my home settled). My son is safe and doing well with my parents (Thank you Mom and Dad - you rawk!). I will figure out a way to pay for this semester (yet unpaid due to home) and pay for next semester.

Mostly, I'm going to relax. Rejuvenate. Cheers!

Monday, December 7, 2009


What a hard topic to write about. Futile. In the 17 years since our family friend was diagnosed with the disease, and subsequently succumbed to it as well, no dynamic therapies have been found, no progression cessation regiments, still, not a lot of hope.

Able mind, unable body. I'm glad the paper is done, and likewise, I did learn: SOD1 mutations, missense, glutamate aggregation, myelin sheath degeneration, motor neuron disease. I even found I like reading neurology materials (please keep that VERY quiet... no one need know, I've found an area that peaks my curiousity).

Glad the paper is finished. I think I could have done a better job... so goes the life of a pre-med: always doing my best, second guessing if that is good enough, and praying it all comes out in the end with an acceptance letter somewhere.

Make it a great day!

Friday, December 4, 2009

That Test Sucked!!!

Dear God.

That is all :)

Actually, the test was not THAT brutal just very different from the study guide given to us. I felt I would have done extremely well had the material noted on study guide been what was exactly tested. It was not. Never a great feeling when you get to end sheets of WRITTEN part of exam and think, "Um, say what?!"

So I punted. I wrote what I knew. Made up a hilarious name for a medication for sickle cell (the disease is NOT hilarious but my medication name was)

Infantisis fetalisis hemoglobinesteraselol

So yea. Couldn't answer the questions as detailed as I would have liked to in sickle cell trait because I did not study the trait, I studied the disease, why it occurs, where it starts (GLU hydrophilic codon replaced by VAL hydrophobic codon), what the impact of that missense does to the gene, how that affects the patient (vasodilation, or vasoconstriction, or platelets clogging arteries and veins as they now hydrophobic clumps get herded by water inside body).

Oh, and the last page was on Cystic Fibrosis. It wasn't on study guide. So my knowledge of the disease came from in class discussion and personal knowledge.

However, since the test sucked, I sucked on it, and that pretty much sums up my test day, I'm taking a different thought process on this:

1) do really well on paper that is required and needs to be complete by Monday (worth same amount of points as an exam)

2) understand how the instructor tests so that I can nail the last exam

Do very well in class overall.

I learned from this experience... and quietly admit, if I don't get into med school (le gasp and cry), I think I love biochem, and research and possibly PhD? I don't know. I really hope I can be with patients, not behind a desk and microscope all day. But I must prepare for backup plan (and possibly a PhD program wouldn't admit me anyway?)

So... I'm good with today. Exam sucked. I learned something new.

Make it a great day!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ethics Debate - Biochem - Stem Cell

Very interesting discussion arose today related to stem cell research. On one side of the debate is the group who has relatives, friends, acquaintances that have acquired a disease that is potentially treatable and curable via stem cell. On the other side, is the group that believes all life starts when sperm meets egg and is thereafter, sanctified. There is, of course, an entire mid-section of people who tend to be in the middle of the bell curve, so to speak, and not swayed drastically to one side or the other.

Normally, our biochem class is very quiet. There are few of those in class who raise hands, ask questions, point out novelties (or not) and who hope add to the discussion (/looks around). Then there are those who sit there, taking it all in, not saying a word but hearing everything... and thinking.

Today, the class was very definitely not quiet. Stem cell research. Biochem. The ethics debate begun mid-afternoon could have easily taken the remainder of class and then next few.

When does life start?

What is more valuable - a life already begun in earnest and working, paying taxes, and bearing children? Or the life that has yet to do those things?

What should be done with embryonic cells when the donating parents no longer want them?

Where should the cloning of cells stop? If we start, some would say, we cannot stop. If we don't start, people die of diseases that ravage their systems leaving them physically feeble and in some cases, mentally as well.

If scientists resolve the religious issue, what about the ideological one?

Fascinating day in biochem. Loved it!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Biochem - Basic Organic Chemistry & More

Nucleotides, genomes, structures, missense v. mismatch, carbon structures, proteins, amino acids, and more, found here:

Nice break we had for Thanksgiving. Nice respite though I know the semester is soon over and next one to start. This learning component of my life is fabulous! Love it and given last week's news, can hardly wait to see how I do just being a student.

I have another exam looming in biochem. Luckily, I know most of the material pretty well. Now to master it and finally, have some REALLY great news to live on for a bit.

What a journey this has been. Thanks for traveling the road with me!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

By Helping A Neighbor, Or Even A Stranger...

Something for all of us to think about. As already noted, I'm especially thankful for the strangers who happen upon this blog, send me notes of support and encouragement.

If you want to arrange it
This world you can change it
If we could somehow make this
Christmas thing last

By helping a neighbor
Or even a stranger
And to know who needs help
You need only just ask



Thursday, November 26, 2009

Postal Mail

Not very good at opening it. Sometimes I go for weeks without bothering to stop at the mail box. Generally, when I do there are 20 magazines, a bunch of junk mail, and other assorted trash included. And for the past 20+ months, foreclosure notices, late payment notices, and the ultimate sheriff's sale notice.

The foreclosure prevention services offered first by the Bush administration, and then painted with a prettier face in Obama's administration did little to help those that really needed it. A friend of mine had a mortgage under $100k, they had no income, no unemployment as they've never worked, and five kids. They got help. Government and the TARP money spent for them, did in fact, keep them in their house at a reduced rate. I was thrilled for them!! Someone aught to get help.

My situation was very different. I'd worked for 16 years making well over $100k a year and in a few of those years, in excess of $250k. I was never late on my mortgage, never missed a tax due date, never ever thought I'd get behind.

And then I, vice president internal audit whose job it is to make sure the SEC filings are accurate, told my boss he really needed to consider opening the financial "books" back up and restating the financials. He was livid. He yelled at me. And then he got my badge access denied. I was unemployed. Doing the right thing, saying the right thing, relying on the right people for my own decisions, I was fired. Then the company denied my unemployment.

Then they slammed me in the industry supplanting lies and deceit to anyone who would listen - and coming from a still in position executive, "he" had to be right and me wrong. Defamation crossed my mind but it is a hard thing to prove, and harder to pay for lawsuit when one is quickly running of liquid cash.

Immediately I called Wells Fargo, asked for help. At that point, I'd never missed a payment... a $4200 a month payment. I asked to have some leeway in the escrow that I really did not need as I've always had over 30% equity in the house, always carried insurance on both buildings, and always paid my taxes. Wells Fargo said, "Screw you."

For the next 24 months they have and they did.

So, one can imagine I was never exactly happy about getting my mail. Never excited to see which offers might come my way because none of them were either legit or helpful.

Until ... I opened up the latest and greatest from Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

Inside the white envelope, for reasons unknown to me, my mortgage had been reduced by almost $2000. The principle had been anchored back to what I originally owed before that fateful December, 2 years ago.

I'm no longer wondering how I will live as a homeless person and no longer wondering where I can go. I'm no longer worried about how to pay for storage and or moving expenses as I am no longer in foreclosure.

To my closest friends who have known all along how bad things were getting, and how hard things were getting on me, and how terrified I was inside but kept calling and kept encouraging me and kept me on the path to med school:

This is my public thank you.

I could not, and would not, have made it without you.

I am truly blessed and absolutely, over the moon, thankful.

Make it a great day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yippee! Break!

So plans for all of you this coming holiday?

Big dinners, happy festivities, lots of shopping?


I'm alone this year so right after I pop the turkey into the oven, my little white truck is taking me to the local high school to help with the meals on wheels program. Seems like the right thing to do - help others and my own life will seem so much better. Focus on others and my plight will be lessened.

Part of the journey to med school, for me, is learning to live with times that are not easy and not fun and not quite happy. If this is a test of my determination, volunteering is the PERFECT answer.

I simply cannot wait to help!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Apparently, Someone Else Thinks Getting Old Is Funny Too

Story of a Challenged Senior

I thought about the 30 year business I ran with 1800 employees, all without a Blackberry that played music, took videos, pictures and communicated with Facebook and Twitter.

I signed up under duress for Twitter and Facebook, so my seven kids, their spouses, 13 grandkids and 2 great grand kids could communicate with me in the modern way. I figured I could handle something as simple as Twitter with only 140 characters of space.

That was before one of my grandkids hooked me up for Tweeter, Tweetree, Twhirl, Twitterfon, Tweetie and Twittererific Tweetdeck, Twitpix and something that sends every message to my cell phone and every other program within the texting world.

My phone was beeping every three minutes with the details of everything except the bowel movements of the entire next generation. I am not ready to live like this. I keep my cell phone in the garage in my golf bag.

The kids bought me a GPS for my last birthday because they say I get lost every now and then going over to the grocery store or library. I keep that in a box under my tool bench with the Blue tooth [it's red] phone I am supposed to use when I drive. I wore it once and was standing in line at Barnes and Noble talking to my wife as everyone in the nearest 50 yards was glaring at me. Seems I have to take my hearing aid out to use it and I got a little loud..

I mean the GPS looked pretty smart on my dash board, but the lady inside was the most annoying, rudest person I had run into in a long time. Every 10 minutes, she would sarcastically say, "Re-calc-ul-ating" You would think that she could be nicer. It was like she could barely tolerate me. She would let go with a deep sigh and then tell me to make a U-turn at the next light. Then when I would make a right turn instead, it was not good.

When I get really lost now, I call my wife and tell her the name of the cross streets and while she is starting to develop the same tone as Gypsy, the GSP lady, at least she loves me.

To be perfectly frank, I am still trying to learn how to use the cordless phones in our house. We have had them for 4 years, but I still haven't figured out how I can lose three phones all at once and have run around digging under chair cushions and checking bathrooms and the dirty laundry baskets when the phone rings.

The world is just getting too complex for me. They even mess me up every time I go to the grocery store. You would think they could settle on something themselves but this sudden "Paper or Plastic?" every time I check out just knocks me for a loop.

I bought some of those cloth reusable bags to avoid looking confused but I never remember to take them in with me.

Now I toss it back to them. When they ask me, "Paper or Plastic?" I just say, "Doesn't matter to me. I am bi-sacksual.." Then it's their turn to stare at me with a blank look.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

For Garret...

From here to beyond, beyond.


HIV Videos

Retroviruses explained in a very cool video - some components still befuddle me, but before our next exam, I will understand!

And why drugs are so difficult to develop against this deadly disease. The mutational ability of the virus helps the virus stay alive (yes, I do believe that virus' are living things)

Friendly Comparison Games

Another forum has had me thinking about friendly comparison. Maybe it is human nature to see others and their accomplishments, or lifestyle, or life choices, and wonder about our own. I'm not sure. Maybe I lack that "gene" or maybe, I've just grown out of it. To me, it is a dangerous and self-destructive cycle to compare oneself against another. The old adage about someone, somewhere has it worse than you, can likewise be stated, someone, somewhere has it better than you.

One of my friends has this uncanny ability to always say the right thing, always stay in a job she hates with people who are lazy and as un-hardworking as her. Her lip never seems bent or bitten, she just seems to be able to navigate the treacherous lanes of the business world, and succeed. Her empathy toward others never falters, if you are her friend, it seems you're her friend for life. She even overlooks the crappy things that other friends do to her, and still speaks to them. On top of that, she's good with money, ALWAYS has the best clothes, the perfect nails, the cutest hair cuts, and the whitest teeth. She amazes me!

I'm nothing like her. If I tried to compare myself to her, I'd be a complete failure. My clothes are not cute (hard to be "cute" at 6'1"), my nails - yeah, they're short and not manicured, and everyone knows, the business world befuddled me.

One of my other friends... and I'm pausing here to reflect... he is. In the 15 or so years that I've been able to consider him a friend, I've never been more impressed or amazed. He likewise, always seems to know the right things to say (or not to say at all!!), is kind, compassionate, caring, friendly, helpful, nice, fun, good with money; just an all around great guy. The first time I met him he was putting shoe-goo into the soles of his running shoes. I started to laugh at him. He smiled told me the shoes were perfectly good, just that the soles were wearing out. What made that more ironic is that he and his family are extremely wealthy. You would never know it though for the wealth is never flaunted, never pushed, never, ever, ever discussed. Humility runs deep in that family. As you can imagine, he's always been sort of on a pedestal for me. A great man from a great family with a great backbone and solid heart.

I'm nothing like him either. If compared myself to him, I'd be a complete failure. I'm dirt poor, not that frugal (hell no, I'd BUY new shoes if it meant selling CDs at the local pawn shop), never seem to know the exact right thing to say, and certainly not always funny. (Yes, bambi needed to be put in my car!)

Another one of my friends is a horse rancher and researcher. She has a couple of little guys and she's an awesome mom! She also speaks what is on her mind sometimes tactfully and sometimes not, she does what she thinks she is the right thing to do no matter what, is frugal with her money, divorced her p.o.s. husband before he could hurt their kids, AND got solid A's as an undergrad at the normal u-grad age. She works like a dog - horses, dogs, kids, job... and somehow makes it all gel.

I'm nothing like her either. If I compared myself to her, I'd be lazy, still dirt poor, didn't get A's in anything but tennis and golf in undergrad, and my son's issues along with my ex are already well noted.

Last, there is my friend who many years ago set up a play date with her son and mine. She and her family had moved here from L.A. to make sure their son had a good midwestern upbringing. My son came home one day from the local mall's child activity center (romper room with capital FUN) and said he'd given out our very private, very unpublished phone number to this woman and her husband. I was horrified. Then... she called. I was polite wondering what kind of drug runners they had to be to escape from L.A. notorious drug investigation squads. Then she asked to meet me. Politely, as is the nature of our region, I agreed. Harmless, right? I mean the drugs aren't going to be sold to me in the mall! Therein, ensued a more than humbling experience for me.

Her husband was at the top of the legal ladder at "the" largest movie making studio in L.A. He had graduated #1 in his class at UCLA Law, editor of the law review; she was a physical therapist. He had a movie produced starring Bruce Willis and yes, his name is on the backside of the DVD cover. They are an incredible couple and amazing parents. Their love for one another, their love and unending patience for their child who is beyond blessed to have "them" for parents is what Hollywood movies are meant for. All three of them are brilliant.

I'm nothing like any of them either. I'm not brilliant, will not graduate #1 in anything - ever, will never have a movie produced or made about me, and do not have their patience. While I adore my son and will forever despite his grievances with me, I'm not an amazing parent. I'm just a mom who tries, and tried, hard.

With all of that, I'd be a failure if I compared myself to just four of my friends. In their own right, each one of them is successful in their own way.

And so am I, in mine.

So to those of you who read this (and I know you do), please stop with the comparisons to your straight A friends who go to Ivy league schools and got the "big initial degrees" from those Ivy league schools.

YOU are special and awesome in your own way. Find it. And find a way to congratulate yourself on being ... just you.

Make it a great day!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

How Much Compassion Required (edited)

Compassion or naivety? Compassion or enabling?

A situation has arisen over the past few days that gives me a bit of pause to question my own compassion toward others and whether or not my next reaction is compassionate, or enabling, or something entirely different.

Someone, whom I do not know first hand, has been sending me text message that threaten my life. The first one came with my first name and was innocuous. The 2nd one came and said I needed to be very careful when coming home that night. The 3rd one, shortly thereafter, said "Jason would be waiting for me." I took that to be a strong reference to the slasher type movies that were common in the 80s and 90s. Given that I live alone, my house and property is secluded, it made me nervous and a little scared. Given that I likewise have a former professor who stalks me as well as his wife, I needed to be careful.

At that point, I took the text messages to the campus police department (jurisdiction is questionable as I received them while in class but don't live on campus). The police report was written up, I was given the report number told that the individual would be told to stop, and an investigation begun.

Apparently, the investigating officer is sick and was unable to start reviewing the report.

I got another one last night and lest there be any doubt as to the "Jason" reference, it was cleared up yesterday afternoon.

"Jason from Friday the 13th will be awaiting for you at home tonight when you get there."

I didn't need to ask if I was over reacting and immediately went to the police department. The individual who answered the phone at the number in my text message hung up on the officer. The officer called back. The individual hung up again.

It seems to me the individual finally understands what harassment is and that threatening someone is not taken lightly. Nor should it. The individual was told to quit texting me, quit harassing me and that it was felony terroristic threats.

I got one more yesterday after I left the police department.

"I'm sorry. The texts were just a joke."

It seems to me this individual has a warped sense of entitlement and does not truly understand what harassment and threatening texts are. In a word, abuse.

Every abuser I've known, including the filth that lived here with my son and I, was "sorry" and yet that did not change their behavior. Every rapist I know and have talked to felt "sorry" they had committed the crime and in the back of my mind, I've always wondered if they really did, or if they were just sorry they were caught.

I've often ended up at just sorry they were caught.

So, my compassion toward an individual is caught in the cross fire right now - I have no doubt he's sorry he got caught. What I don't know is if he would/will do it again to someone else and if I try to get the police department to stop the investigation, am I enabling him to continue the crap behavior.

As a physician I'm sure this question gets pondered with one drug specifically, and I'm sure many others as well: oxycontin. So how does a physician finally adapt their compassionate ways to stopping an addict or at least, draw the line between compassion and enabling.

In my case, I am not interfering with the investigation. The individual needs to have consequences for his behavior. I did not find his "jokes" funny or interesting or wanted.

My compassion in this regard has found it's limit and I won't enable his crap behavior further.

(edited portion)

For some who may wonder about my safety inside my home, I am. The canines who share my abode with me, are protective, large, and loving. A few weeks ago, my own father who has known the younger great dane since he arrived in my home, failed to announce himself as he walked through the front door of my house. Storm, for all his loving goofiness, became instantly protective of his pack leader, fast asleep on the sofa, and bit my dad... and then quickly realized "oops!"

I believe Storm would have not stopped had it been anyone else he did not recognize. Had it been a true intruder, someone far more unwelcome in my home, the assault would not have stopped.

And Storm, is what I call very affectionately, my "little great dane" - not trained to protect, not trained to be fierce, just instinctively, he is.

I'm safe.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Quick Funny On Age

Received this in my email today:

"How Old Are You, xxx?" as the subject line. I choked and laughed. Timely, I might add given another forum's propensity to bring out the worst in ageism and pre-meds.

The entire email is here:

Monday morning (xxx),
Two months ago we told you all about interview questions you should avoid answering in "Don't Answer That Interview Question." That piece sparked a flood of comments from you, Readers, and based on the volume of your emails, the (illegal) question that gets asked most is the age question.

Despite all of our attempts to be a "PC" society, the sad truth is that ageism still exists in force. Enlightened employers know that older workers bring wisdom, maturity, and experience to the table, but too often, it seems, that doesn't translate into a level playing field in the interview.

And in some ways, this is the most difficult issue we here at TheLadders face in advising you.

We're all getting older – hey, even Jim Morrison would be 65 now – and the younger folks coming into the workforce and doing the resume screening seem to place a higher value on youth than years of contribution.

So we had writer Patty Orsini look at how to handle – and how to dodge – the age question in our most recent Advice package.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Age (Le Gasp)

I'm unfazed by trying to do the unthinkable at my age. When I was younger I was unfazed as well. However, back then, some 20+ years ago, I was also unfazed about drinking and driving, smoking cigarettes during a screening of the latest "Halloween" movie, or other issues such as chronic poverty, homelessness, civil rights of individuals, lack of medical care, or really, anything else. I was simply, clueless.

Some on other forums have trashed my dream and the pursuit of medicine at, le' gasp, "my age"... apparently, I should be holed up in my home with bunny slippers on, sipping cocktails, and waiting for death since apparently, trying to give back to society for another 20 - 30 years is unthinkable. Apparently, at 45 one's life is over and we should all just sit back and wait for the ugly dude in the black dress/cape like thing carrying a sickle.

For all of those of you who prescribe to that notion, please leave. Seriously. Get a grip. Grow up. And leave.

Yep, my younger peers are sometimes sharper and quicker in their detailed observations... but not generally. What I *may* lack in astonishing speed of understanding, I far more than make up for it when putting together the details I need and the strategy. Something about that overall comprehension I had to use as an executive that the younger folks lack.

This is likewise NOT a bash on my younger peers. I love being in school with them - they have accepted me openly as one of them, never guessing how old I am (le gasp) or that my son is their age (more le gasp) nor caring whether or not I get something immediately. Most of the time, they are asking ME for help in understanding those detailed issues and questions, and the subsequent strategy; not the reverse.

For those of you who wonder why some medical school would admit someone who is surely awaiting for death to show and take my soul leaving behind apparently a withered body, they would admit me for many reasons.

Some students who get into med school right at 22, leave the profession some 20 years later due to burnout. So, at 49 they are burnt out and leaving for administrative jobs vs. staying in the profession as physicians. Hmmm.... I plan on practicing until I'm in my 70s.... same duration, 20 years. Why wouldn't a med school admit me? Monetarily, I've already made more than most doctors, and the professors who teach them. With that old notion about how much investment a medical school makes in each med student, the water leaks out. I can already give back to the med school if that is the argument. I already have.

Some students, in fact most, have no interest in serving the rural communities, especially women who are catered to for their lack of apparent numbers in admissions. Take that women are less often going into medicine than men, a woman who actually wants to be in a rural setting, the age (le gasp) becomes even less meaningful. Twenty years of a rural physician is better than none. Further, those women who have door wide open for them are more often than not choosing the highly paid specialties rather than the lowly paid rural, or even metro, family physicians.

Some students who get into med school, for lack of a better word, lack compassion. They're darn smart, they ace tests, they can wiz-bang around a molecule like there is no tomorrow, but they can't empathize or relate to a patient. Their egos enter a door before their bodies. I had a doc like that once and dated another. Older students, replete with our bunny slippers, lost our egos to the bad rush of the business world and sociopaths that dwell there. Egos bashed and bruised are seldom recovered. We simply adapt and use that honed psyche to help others.

Some of us, despite our age (le gasp) even follow our passion and our dream. Hoping that unlike some shrill naysayers, that the door is opened and we are allowed a seat in a class.

So, I guess I will put away my bunny slippers and if the dark shadow darkens my door step carrying a scythe, I'll slap him upside the head and tell him to get a life and a clue - I'm not dead yet, nor am I close, despite my age (le gasp!).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hoping The Door Opens At Some Point

Some days my head meets the nail. Some days the pans aren't dented quite enough. Some days it would seem the faith that brought me to the door is testing my utter mettle as I try to make things gel.

I'm still ever thankful for the supportive professors, friends and adviser that I have at school. I'm still ever thankful for my parents who ... love me no matter what path I traipse along, and support me no matter the personal cost to them. Honestly, their faith in me sometimes brings up the utter guilt that dwells within. This dream of mine is their journey as well. Thankfully, they believe in this path of mine too. They too remember me wanting to be a doc when I was little, and doing chemistry experiments in our dungeon of a basement.

I'm blessed, I know that.

I told someone with complete confidence a few weeks ago, "What God brings you to, He'll bring you through" ...

I look upward and ask, "Now?"

Okay, a few days or weeks pass and I think, "Okay, how about now?!"

Still the utter quiet resonates in my home.

"Maybe, now?"

Nope. Still no answers.

I keep hoping the current issues will go away, resolve themselves, and allow me to just be a student. In the meantime, I try to focus on things that make me smile, make me laugh, or just allow me the peace and quiet of a nice night at home.

Some days the music can't get quite loud enough nor the pans dented quite liberally.

Today, would be one of them.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Flu Fatality Hits Home

Many years ago, the families were best of friends - visiting each other from far away as one family moved. The kids were all friends - older, younger and tweeners. As time passed, the parents of the two families remained close friends attending their kids' weddings, birthday celebrations, and more.

In the late 80's a call came home from the mother of other family. The husband had suffered a fatal heart attack. If I remember right he was in his mid-60s so a relatively young man. What I remember most about him was his effervescent personality and calm demeanor... and their basset hound! It was sudden, without warning, and sad.

In the early 90's, a call came home from my own mother saying the wife of that man had just gotten out of bed, weak in the feet and unable to feel her legs. After several trips to the Mayo Clinic (hometown hospital as we are all from Rochester), she was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease. I had no idea what that meant but was soon to find out. You can read that story here:

A few years passed, she passed away and her daughter, the one I have such good, fond memories of was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the age of 50, with an IQ of maybe 85-90, she was aware that her health was not strong and that treatment would make her ill. She was aware that she could soon join her mom and dad and that gave her some modicum of comfort. She passed away a few short years ago, surrounded by the Wynonna song that was played while her mom passed.

And tonight, the older brother of those siblings was eulogized as he passed away quite suddenly and unexpectedly from complications of H1N1. He had his dad's personality and was well loved by everyone. Easy going, calm, funny, good natured, and fun to be around, he was just like his dad. Sadly, he was also overweight, probably diabetic, had congestive heart failure, and contracted the flu. As is well stated, the complications of H1N1 are hardest on those with already compromised health systems - the elderly, the young, and those with respiratory ailments.

Sadly, this family has endured more than it's fair share of health related issues.

And for all of us, a reminder as to why staying home and away from the public is so critical if you get the flu.

Don't pass it on. Wash your hands (not that little sprinkling of water you think is adequate - use soap!). Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough and wash your hands promptly. Stay home.

To the family, I'm so sorry.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"This Is It"

When Michael Jackson passed away in June, like many other closet fans of his, I mourned the loss. While I secretly danced in my home to his music, and listened to it loudly in my truck, I never openly admitted my secret amazement at this talented musician.

My secrecy never had to do with his music. He was beyond talented. I would akin him to a modern day Mozart - just as gifted, obsessed with perfection, and just as tragic.

Tonight's viewing of the movie, "This Is It" was awesome to watch, a feast for my ears, and a massage for my feet as they never quit moving. I wanted to get up and dance but knew better. I also had to choke back a few tears as I realized this amazing talent would never grace the stage again.

Not that it matters from the other side of a computer screen, his family should be embraced and honored for letting this picture be made. I realize the naysayers out there and the sarcastic dolts will say the family let it be released for money.

Perhaps. Who cares?

Michael loved what he did - you can feel it as you are taken on a journey through concert rehearsals. Michael was energized, active, and engaged not some doped up, zombie that some would like you, dear reader, to believe.

Go watch. Go pay the $10 (really? when did those prices go up?!). Go enjoy.

I know I did - my feet are still moving!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Note To Self:

When rushing out the door to take exams, make sure to bring the little white pills... you know, the ones that are labeled "Propranolol" and help you not get headaches mid-exam?!

Yep, ran out the door this morning, rushing around to get things to my bosses (yes, I am a teensy little clerical worker for a department on campus) and forgot my beta blockers. Dumb headache started about 5 mins pre-exam... hands went cold. I made it through the exam ... go ahead, ask me Type 1 vs Type 2? Citric acid cycle? oxidation phosphorylation? GLUT2... really, go ahead, make my day :P

So, now here's the scoopage - beta blockers, what do they do? How do they help me cope with exams when I don't generally have high blood pressure? I could probably answer that too.

In my rudimentary knowledge, I knew that adrenaline was pumped our probably from the adrenal glands (good guess, eh?). What I figured beta blockers did was stop that pumping action thereby stopping the secretion of adrenaline (epinephrine I've come to find out). So, I was pretty darn close, I think.

And while we're at it: lipoproteins make it possible for insoluble molecules to float through the body because the outside of the lipoprotein is hydrophillic with polarized heads of a carbon chain with the hydrophobic tails turned inward where the little insoluble molecule sits very nice while being transported around the body.


Make it a great day!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oh, Nevermind - THIS Is Why I Love Science

Harvard could do a couple of things to improve this:

1) Explain what is happening with lipds with moving text boxes
2) Explain the protein building blocks are adding and deleting molecules
3) Tell in the video notes what the song is :)

Biochem or Christmas Lighting Thoughts...

You tell me! (Actually, I AM studying biochem, just taking a wee break and thinking about Thanksgiving weekend activity... if only I had the money this year that I'd hoped, my house would be done up like this)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Biochem Test Looming... Study Tips

With the classroom notes in hand, and the test prep questions printed out, the preparation for the looming exam is well under way. Unlike other classes in prep for med school, this one is different.

There are no exhaustive equations to manipulate whilst punching random numbers and variables into a NON-graphing calculator (you did get that, right? non-graphing because obviously if we can program the dumb thing we can get orbital shape right too on a test... seriously, doesn't the administration think if we're smart enough to program a calculator to get the right answer, we just might be smart enough to know how to USE the dumb equations in the first place?)... anyway, I digress.

Biochem is different. Sure there are numbers involved: 200+ is bad on a glucose check no matter the time after fasting: 160 bp is bad no matter when it is taken; and yes there are other numbers involved too: BMI 18<25, 26<30; waist measurements; how many lipoproteins make up a chain that will be cleaved during various processes and yet, biochem is not about numbers. The numbers make the real deal understandable.

What makes studying for this class, almost fun? Integrating organic chemistry with health and finally seeing how knowing what one molecule change (orientation on the molecule for a carbon cluster) impacts the whole chemistry of the body, and especially, insulin response. A fructose is very similar to a glucose except for one tiny little change.

Yep, and we studied leptin, lipogenic attributes of fructose vs. glucose, genetic and environmental impact on various peoples, and how - really how - the impact of personal choice impacts far more today than genetics. Genetics can't leap inside a generation so eliminating one variable leaves, personal choice, or more kindly, "environment"... I'll have to remember that when I reach by personal choice for my diet coke and dark chocolate Milky Way bar. :D

So, how am I studying?

Each component of the test prep sheet gets everything I know about it written down. Then I'm comparing that to the lecture notes, things I find online (the ATP youtube is awesome for remembering things), and WebMD. Oh yeah, and you guys who read this blog and write me back (what's up with that anyway!?! /unschlucking tongue from inside of cheek now - you guys are awesome!)

Here's to biochem, here's to another test... Maybe this exam will be the one that finally puts my test anxiety to bed, and lets me start looking at tossing the propranolol... must say though, I do like that name... lol.

Make it a great day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009


She sings, she laughs, she growls but mostly, she sings. And, I for one, hope she never stops.

When life sucks eggs and dispenses with the subsequent gas, generally Wy's cds get ramped up until my speakers bleed, pots get pounded with spatulas until they are dented, and I am exhausted.

They've been played a lot lately. I'm surprised some of them made it through the past few weeks; actually, one of my speakers didn't.

Wy has always been the only female singer I've ever really bought into. She's a no-holds bared singer with a soul that runs deep, wild, and mysterious. She wears her heart on her sleeve for all the world to see and sing. Her Harley blood probably runs just as honestly in her veins as it does on the road when she drives, her wild red hair flying in the wind.

Wy mentioned something about faith tonight when I met her, I said what God brings you to, He will help you through. She looked at me and said, "Amen." She was gracious, amazing, warm, funny, engaging... I was already an adoring fan of hers and tonight, she became irreplaceable.

Thank you, JB... I will -

Sing from somewhere way down deep
Sing and make the angels weep
Sing and open heaven’s door
Sing ‘til you can’t sing no more

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Shameless Plug...

As written several times, there are many who gently nudge, support, encourage and most of all, listen. I try to reciprocate but sometimes, I just fail.

A friend of mine, if I'm lucky enough to call him that, has written a book on Neil Diamond's life. And I'm shamelessly, plugging it here. My golden retriever is named after a lyric in one of Neil's songs:

The Story of My Life

"The story of my life is very plain to read
It starts the day you came
And ends the day you leave
The story of my life begins and ends with you
The names are still the same
And the story's still the truth


It's the story of our times and never letting go
If I die today, I wanted you to know "

Hope's real name? "Story Of Our Times"

So how does one actually meet these people? Well, in this case, one late evening in the mid-90s after having slept outside the Target Center for Elton John tickets (yes, for you youngsters that is long before buying tix online at Ticketmaster). After settling in front of the arena, #9 in line, I slept on a lawn chair completely set up with a cooler and some diet coke (go figure!!).

I was ecstatic when the windows opened up and I was first in line at my window. MORE ecstatic when I realized I was going to see my very first Elton John show (I'm a die-hard).

Sadly, the night of the great concert, a certain music reviewer disparaged my idyllic piano player/singer and said the concert basically, sucked. They say health hath no fury like a woman scorned, and I would disagree. Hell hath no fury like a woman who reads a reviewer's comment and heartily disagrees. I wrote the repugnant reviewer. I asked him which grade school he actually graduated from and if he'd advanced musically beyond playing a xylophone and/or glockenspiel.

He wrote back. Eee gad!! Le Gasp! And therein started a friendship of sorts. I never met the man face to face until well into the 2000s. We corresponded about our kids, our lives, and he NEVER recanted his account of that concert. It never mattered to me. I'd moved on. And while I'm still a die-hard Elton fan, I too can sometimes understand where the reviewer comes from. I think he is spot on.

And so, I think a book by him, is probably less a review than a composite of a well-known, and beloved singer. If it holds true to form, it is worth the few bucks you will pay for it and I, for one, can tell you, he's objective.

(and by the way, thank you, JB)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Relief, Excitement, Research!

Many years ago, in a city far, far away a 4th grader found out her teacher had some disease that was unpronounceable, spellable yes, but could not be pronounced. The little 4th grader headed to the library to find books (all far too over her head) and then to doctors in the network of family friends to discuss.

The discussions were probably very high level as the 4th grader was smart, just not "that" smart. I'm pretty sure some things were left out as age appropriate. The aside from learning about leukemia, was learning to research.

For my biochem class that I've been allowed to rejoin, there is a research paper due. My inner geek exploded inside with joy, glee, sheer smiles! I LOVE to research topics - from medicine to pharmaceuticals to clinical trials to chemistry ... the pattern is becoming clearer.

In 35 years, I've moved a bit from cancer and leukemia research having long since realized there are other interesting diseases out there. My choice this time, is ALS.

Lou Gehrig's disease robs the individual of their motor function including swallowing and eventually, breathing. As the body declines, their minds do not. It is an insufferable disease that I saw first hand some 15 years ago in one of my family's very close friends.

My mother became the primary care-giver for a woman who had been her close friend in high school and throughout life. My mother is not a nurse, not a physician and the closest she has come to medicine is her own health. My mom, however, has a good heart... and gave it all for this woman to live as peaceably as she could.

My parents put a ramp through the front door of their house to make sure the lady's motorized wheelchair could get through. They had already built the house with wide enough door jambs to allow for their elderly years and the possibility that one of them might be bound.

As the woman's health declined, her mood did too. That is not unexpected as the mind stays fully alert which increases the potential for depression. Her professional care-givers would often not show up so my mom would be called and on one occasion, I was. I volunteered to go. This woman had known me all my life and had been amazing. It was my turn to give back.

Little did I know and yet, I knew I'd never regret that I went.

She needed to be turned about every 5 minutes. ALS robs the person of the ability of simple things like rolling over in bed, moving an arm, changing a leg position, even... moving the head. The eyes can still move, the mouth can still speak but nothing else works. Every 5 minutes for 10 hours, I would try to understand what she wanted as ALS started robbing her of speech as well. A head moved to the left, a pillow fluffed, a tear wiped... whatever she needed. Eventually, exhaustion took her that night for about 2 hours, I think. I too, was exhausted - emotionally as well as physically.

I stayed until the professionals showed up. I cooked her bran for her, carefully fed her, gave her sips of water, prayed with her for a peaceful passing. She was scared.

No, she was terrified. Not of death but of how that would come. Choking was now common in her life and sometimes, just catching her breath was a hard day's work.

Thankfully, her passing was painless and peaceful. She had suffered this disease for three years before it took her.

In honor of her, and my mom who took care of her until the end (and who's 78th birthday it is on Saturday), I'm doing my research on ALS. I am hoping to find some better news or at least hopeful news, compared to that which was dispensed in 1993.

Chem Midterm Done, Biochem Next Up...

This song, light and fluffy, reminds me of my brain right now because not everything can be so serious and hard and difficult. Sometimes, it's nice to just sit back, relax, and smile. (And yes, I KNOW, it might be a bit egotistical but seriously, this is a blog about MY journey and things I find along the way... what'd you expect?! :D)

Make it a great day - and a better one tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

And There In The Bowels

of a old, outdated building, in a tiny office tucked way in the corner sat my adviser. She sat, listened, didn't say a word. As I continued, she continued to just listen: never judging me, never disparaging me or asking what I could have done differently, just listened.

Then she inquired about my safety. THAT she was concerned about. Yes, she was concerned about my academics but Maslow's pyramid starts at safety and that was first and foremost in her mind.

Safety from what you ask?

A stalker.

(I edited this portion out from an earlier version of this post and placed into the comment section.)

This is not about him, for that is a waste of space. This is for my adviser who in the shallow, darkened end of an old building, in the back corner of an not-so-well lit room, gave me support and then some to continue the path. She put a light on the "prize" again for me. She helped me see objectively what my options were and what the resolutions to those would do to me related to med school.

None of them hopeless or bad.

She restored some light. And to her, as to many of you, I am thankful.

And as it turns out, I'm staying in biochem (YEAY!) and yes, I'm safe.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Private Loan Information - Coming Soon

Several companies are still supplying needed private loans to credit-worthy students OR not-so credit-worthy students WITH co-signers.

I'm in the midst of studying for gen chem II exam. Will post more on it soon.

Until then,

Make it a great day!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It Is So Tempting To Blame Obama

And yet I won't. I did not vote for him and quite honestly, didn't vote for McCain either. The latter had my vote until Palin was attached but then, dear old Colin Powell got my 3x write in vote - 2000, 2004, 2008.

Why not Obama?

I'm not going to denigrate my blog with a political bent, although, I have a hankering to. Discussing what is wrong with Obama's health care plan is open season.

During the years I was fully employed making well over $200,000 a year, paying $80,000 a year in taxes (withdrawn from paychecks) and FICA and Med, I had decent health care coverage. Not great but it was decent enough that if I needed to get to a doc, I could. At $200,000+ a year, I had more than enough money to take care of my son, take care of my home, take care of things that needed tending and even put away funds for retirement (now long tossed out the window) and open a securities account.

The war chest was built using lies and taking money I'd rather have been spent making sure the homeless on the street were cared for. Why is that the most powerful country in the world would rather make bombs and blow the snot out of another country without provocation, than take care of our own. Most homeless are not there because they chose to be - they are ill: mentally and generally, physically. The veterinarians have shown far more compassion for our homeless than our government caring for the homeless person's pet often for free. Even vets understand the compassion and warmth a pet can bring.

The first democrat I would have ever voted for was Paul Wellstone (guess you now have it, I'm from Minnesota). I wrote him shortly before the election that year and told him he would be the first Democrat that I would ever vote for, and hopefully, the last (as I was praying the GOP would get back to mid-ground). The letter I received back from Senator Wellstone was typed but signed by him, with a small comment underneath his sig. He died a few days later in a plane crash and my vote went to Mondale. Why would I not vote for, refuse to vote for, Norm Coleman?

Somewhere along the way, Norm forgot who he fought for when he first entered politics. He forgot the common folk who don't have healthcare, don't have food, don't have basic necessities of life. He forgot, or quickly found out it was not vote-worthy, the people who made him the mayor of St. Paul and supported his wrangling of a hockey team (the state, however, does thank you, Norm, for that!).

Norm is indicative of what is wrong.

He chased money. He chased votes. He chased like a dog after a car, things that were not helping mid-America and eventually, all America. Common necessities, basic needs. Maslow's pyramid... security, safety, food, health.

By chasing money all politicians forget to chase a moral compass. That moral compass gets lost in the plethora of indulgent dinners, PAC funding, and ego stroking. Obama is no different. I believe his goal is to help Americans get health care but his means are off base and therefore, his moral compass is wrong.

Obama still cares about lining his pockets with PAC money for 2012. Obama can't disparage the CEOs of insurance companies because they horde big money and big egos and big lawyers. Obama can't disparage the lawyers because... lawyers tend not to disparage their own ilk. Obama is set up for failure because the people he most trusts - those like him with pedigree initials from pedigree top-ranking law schools - don't get the moral compass thing either: forget about lining the pockets and do what is right.

They won't. They can't. And because of all that, $200,000+ a year went to fund bombs and fuel for Iraq instead of needles and blood and pharmaceutical research for disease fighting drugs.

I don't blame Obama for the health care mess. I blame greedy CEOs, greedy BoDs, greedy lawyers, greedy insurance companies run by greedy CEOs supported by greedy lawyers and enhanced sycophants surrounding the same.

Okay, so much for not being a political bent. :)

Make it a great day!

P.S. I was never ever worth that amount of money, I don't kid myself. Going into work everyday, I wondered why they paid me as much as they did to sit around, strategize how to use internal audit to make the company more money, commit no fraud (they did anyway), and manage/motivate/direct my teams. One day, while sitting in the board room, almost to the point of checking out the backsides of my eyelids whilst the "powers that be" discussed ad nauseum the derivative instruments of Goldman-Sachs, and the impact of selling short our position on the housing stocks, I questioned:

"Do you put this much effort into releasing good (product)? If we focus on doing good things, the rest will come. Two hours on derivative instruments when that is x% of our portfolio, is not difficult or worth it. We are not performing brain surgery here."

No, they didn't like me much. Especially when I told them they were committing fraud. But then again, at that time, the executive administration of the US government's SEC looked the other way when told companies were. Ironically, a finance executive once also employed by that company as a contractor just told me, "If anyone in this life deserves to do what they love, find their path and their dream, it is you, J." She was the former CEO and CFO of a multi-billion dollar company. She got it. She understood. She likewise laughed at the gobs of money thrown at people who move boxes and cups around all day playing, "Find the penny" (okay, that was snide but the point made, eh?)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick Or Treat - MD vs DO - Stalker Or Curious

All of those can be puzzling to many. Do you want a treat or would seeing a grand trick be better. I think seeing David Copperfield would be far more enjoyable than an entire bag of Snickers, dark chocolate Milky Way bars, or Toblerone... well, maybe on that last one.

The MD vs DO question gets raised a lot... Why only one type and not the other? What is the difference? How are they paid differently? Respected differently? Public perception?

Here's my own take on it. The two different types of schools MANDATE the same types of classes: gross anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, physician in society, etc. So I blatantly copied the programs from one of each, top of their respective osteopathic vs. allopathic schools.

Can you tell which one is which?

Description: Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health (CEPH) combines teaching of core skills of clinical epidemiology (including biostatistics, study design, and critical reading) as they apply to the care of individuals ...

Description: This course is required for all entering medical and dental students. It is designed to provide a broad overview of the profession from a variety of perspectives. It will also aim to clarify the goals, ...

Description: Molecular and Cellular Basis of Medicine provides an introduction to biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology. The course will cover not only well-established findings but also recent advances that ...

Description: The Integrated Human Physiology course builds on anatomy, biochemistry, and cell biology, and presumes a working knowledge of the basics of college physics and chemistry. Using case tutorials, lectures, ...

Description: The Human Body course provides the foundation for understanding the anatomic basis of diseases studied in subsequent courses and encountered firsthand in clinical settings.

Description: This course will present an integrated introduction to general mechanisms of cell, tissue and organ injury (general pathology), the principal mechanisms of responses to injury and defense against foreign ...

Description: This course will focus on fundamental aspects of human genetics. Both classical and modern genetic principles and methods will be covered, with a strong emphasis on applications to human biology and medicine. ...

Description: Students will learn to take a medical history with excellent communication skills and to develop relationships with patients. Understanding the patient's experience of illness and various aspects of the ...

Description: This course provides an overview of many ethical issues that arise in the practice of medicine and research. The class will be entirely taught in separate sections with an enrollment of about 14 students ...

Description: This 5-week course will provide an in-depth analysis of recent advances in our understanding of human disease pathogenesis, as afforded by contemporary biomedical research in the basic sciences. Topics ...

Description: Physician In Community

Description: Scholarship in Medicine

Description: All physicians, regardless of their specialty, will work in setting where social, economic, and political forces powerfully influence who gets sick, the diseases that afflict them, the treatments that ...

First Year

Structural Principles of Medicine . . . . . . 13
Principles and Practice I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Primary Care Skills I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1


Cellular and Molecular Basis of Medicine . . . . . . . . . 14
Principles and Practice II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Primary Care Skills II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1


Emergency Medicine I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Cardiovascular, Renal and Pulmonary Medicine . . . . 12
Medicine and Society I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Principles and Practice III . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Primary Care Skills III . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

So, why I am allopathic only? As I have said elsewhere, after a life in the business world of not fitting the cookie-cutter mold the business world wanted (lying, cheating, throwing friends under the bus - do-I-sound-angry-at-all - to get ahead, lack of compassion, and I could go on), I just want to fit in the box where I don't have to explain my choices. I'm spineless and I think and believe it takes a stronger individual than I to overcome the haphazard comments about DO that are not meant to be chiding, but indeed are. I have great respect for my peers and others who have advanced to and through the DO. In many ways, they have had to overcome greater obstacles than their MD brethren although BOTH are conferred the exact same rights in the United States and DOs CAN BE board certified with MD boards.

My last comment is aimed at one individual only:

Bezerkely post hold digger: stop. Cease and desist. If this is the poor post hold digger's wife, you've been lied to... greatly.

That is all.