Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Never in the past 3 years have I uttered that word realistically. I've said it euphemistically, "I failed that test" when in reality, it was an A-; or I've said, "I failed at that lab" and then really got a low A (not even an A-, just a low A).

Most often it has referred to my own perfectionism exhibiting itself in an OCD manner - I think that might be true of many premeds -

never good enough
never fast enough
never smart enough
never study enough
never perfect enough

It's a trait we are rewarded well for... medical school admission. That one three word phrase keeps us up at night, striving for more knowledge, better understanding, extensive reading.

For non-trads, FUD sets in often; or rather, in my case it sets in daily (HA!). Last semester when FUD set in, my friends (hi K, hi T) would say, "Eh, Ad2b? Really?" and I'd move on.

This semester I have a professor I've spoken about on occasion. He's known to be the most difficult biochem professor but also has two outstanding faculty awards to his credit - granted by students. I don't mind hard as long as hard = good. In his case, he is GREAT!

And he knows me... he forgave my Fall 2009 chaos and welcomed me back into his classroom. And he started me studying the right things months ago so I could do well. And he told me to get an A in his class... and again, how to do so.

Enter the new job... the new CFO who is buried and can't get his head above water... and my waiting on him to respond all day so that I could focus on my biochem. I have only one day that I can dedicate to school - no work, no home, no nothing but school and on this day, I was at work... trying to make things pull together... and I never heard from him. By the time the day was done, it was late on Sunday night, I knew there were major things happening on Monday - I'd already worked 22 hours in 2 days and my Monday was looking no better.

And I had a take home. For biochem. That I scrambled to get done myself instead of going to the TA's to get their help and correct answers.

So, instead of feeling awesome about being in this particular professor's class, I'm embarrassed. Humiliated.

I failed the take home. It's only a few points (thank God) and our major midterm is next week but it is the failure of disappointing him.

And "Hello FUD my old friend! It's hard to see you again..."

Epic fail. ilvl 457.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

It's Been One Of Those Days

Where I feel like I could be the patient of these guys:

For reasons I can't disclose (my own privacy for instance), I LOVE this video!!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Old Emails

Those were some grand old days, eh?  Walking in the woods, wandering down to the boat, sauntering about town with a good bottle of Brunello on the mind, engaged in witty repartee?

I miss that too.

There's a reason, however, things happen.  There's a reason why I'm on my path chasing my dream, and you're unwinding yours.

There's a reason why my life is falling into place, piece by piece, and why you're wondering where you'll be next year and what you'll be doing.

No doubt both of us will be successful in our choices.  No doubt both of us will be... looking over the river that separates us... and wondering,

Should I?

Friday, February 24, 2012

To Apply This Year, Or Not?

July MCAT dates are now open.  The "click" here button has my fingers twitching.  My heart says, "YESSSSSS!!!!!"  My head says, "WAIT!"

Trying to wrap my head around what the pros and cons are... makes my head spin.  There is no clear cut answer.

The medical school changed their requirements for admission some years back.  Grades still average 3.7, MCAT still is about 34R but the application requirements are different.  I have them all completed.

My GPA is hovering around a 3.8... I have yet to take the MCAT so no clue on how I'd do there.

The pros are easy to see:

48 v 49 at application (49 v 50 at hopeful matriculation)
1 more year of working presumably
done with premed for the most part
pressure to continue without known contract off
easier to start planning for life

The cons are likewise easy:

no physics courses in my background until this summer
physics appears on the MCAT (I can however, get the physics edge through Kaplan)
failure to get in and having to redo the whole application cycle as a reapp vs. an original applicant

Truly at a cross-roads.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Group Projects

Insert puking sound.  You know the kind where a bunch of random people are assigned to a group with a random topic to digest and present?  You know where some of them get together presumably over drinks and appetizers?  You know, the kind where they don't include the others in the "group" and make isolated decisions?

Yeah.  My evolution/creationism class this semester.  I thought since I had not heard from anyone, I'd send out a suggestion for ways to present (the group thing, you know?  including others?)

I got this for a response:

"The Oprah idea is that Oprah would be hosting one of her talk shows with the topic of "Day-age...". We decided it would be funny and interesting to have various people talk to Oprah about the new findings on the legitimacy of this theory. 

-(Russian) Biologist

We figured it would be best also to not present opposing viewpoints. Also, someone brought up that there is a word in the bible when talking about the "creation event" that is something along the lines of the word "DAY" but the hebrew translation refers to "a period of time". Sort of an interesting fact there.."

Where the hell did the "WE" come from as I know of at least one other was NOT included either.

Not happy (obviously) as these clueless dolts... I don't care about how we present the material, I DO care about being included especially as MY grade freaking depends on it (20% of my grade, actually).

ughhhh.  I do not like group activities much, except when they operate as it's name sake; like a group!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Morphology Of A Premed

2008 - I think this might be the right thing to do.  Maybe I should check into this.  Maybe I can get accepted.  Maybe I can pass a test.  Maybe I can get into a class.  Maybe I can get health insurance.  Maybe.

2009 - I think this is where my class is.  I think this is the way to study.  I think this is the way to black out on exams.  I think this is why I flunked out the first time, 30 years ago.  I think that PV=nRT.  I think.  I think I will never be a point monger like those "other premeds".  I think they are obnoxious.  I think it is rude to question the professor on his answer key.  I think it makes me antsy and frustrated when those "other premeds" keep questioning for extra points. 

2010 - I think I'm going to ask just one teensie question about why I got this answer wrong; which is completely and utterly DIFFERENT than asking for the point.  I think.  I think maybe if I can defend my one answer, perhaps I can defend this answer as well.  I wish those "other premeds" would quit trying to get extra points on the exam.  ALL I am asking is "Why?" unlike them who are asking for points.  I think.

2011 - I think I'm going to go to school again.  I think I'm going to try and understand how the tests are worked by using old exams during my final prep work.  I think I'm going to do my exams in pen, "just in case".  I think I want to know why this mechanism is wrong because it looks right to me and because I did the exam in ink, I'm able to ask "Why" more effectively - just in case the professor grants a point (just in case, I tell ya!).  I think I'm not like those "other premeds" who mongers for measely points.  Seriously.  I think those measely points are not worth causing drama over.  I think those "other premeds" should just well... stop being "other premeds" and quit questioning.  Mostly.

2012 - I think the answers I put on the exam are right.  I think I should ask for my points.  I think if I get those points that puts me into the A range.  I think I love the "A" range.  I think I deserve the "A" range for my efforts and ability to defend my answer against an incorrect or at worst, indirectly worded question.  I think I may have to write an email about my answers because that three point difference could be big when accumulated over the semester, and I think I like an "A".  I think I'm typing an email to my professor to ask for my points.  I think I got a response.  I think.  I think I like the three points added to my score for my valiant and diligent determination to understand the question correctly and even better, answer it.

I know. I've crossed over the "premed" bridge because I'm now one of those "other premeds" :D

LOL - I never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, never, ever, ever NEVER thought I'd be one of them.

Premed morphology!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Food Fight

Seriously, funny. Professionals acting like kids. Who'd have thunk?

Food Fight

Now, if I could find a YouTube on it :D

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Acing Upper Division Biochem

My study guide for those who are taking it for premed, prevet, predent (do you have to?) prepharm, preprofessional.

When this semester started, I was told I had the hardest biochem professor at the university, that his tests are hard, that I should never ever underestimate them, and that I should likewise, get a 95 in his class overall.

Those words came from the professor himself and were echoed by the students in my other classes.

Here's what I'm doing so far and apparently, it is working:

1) I drew amino acids until my eyes bled. Every night, I drew them all. At first it was slow and painful. Mixing up the bonds on histidine and tryptophan (not the molecules, just the bonding on the aromatic rings). Along with the structures came the names, three letter abbreviations, and the single letter as well. As it got easier and I got less of them wrong, I started doing them as fast as I could. Before the midterm, I was able to get all 20 down on the paper in less than 5 minutes. No errors.

2) With the amino acids known, I started understanding their properties. Acid, base, polar, non-polar, non-anything (glycine), aromatic; and incidentally, I also memorized the pk's where given (R = 12.5, for instance). Then I made sure I knew what that meant as in, which hydrogen will leave the party first under which conditions. Knowing the pk's helped immensely and as I got closer to the midterm, it helped with playing "biochem games"

START, FART, YAR, WEAR, QWEEN, and any others I could think of were drawn at different pH's. What did this force?

It forced me to think about which atom was deprotonated at which point - did the alpha carbon lose its protons? or did the "R" group histidine lose its? And how, exactly, does one handle the protons on the arginine at pH 4.3 (the two on the backbone get lost to the peptide bond, the others stay put and the alpha carboxy loses it's H off the bat).

I loved word games when I was a kid. Find a word. Scrabble. Literati when Yahoo! first launched games on its site back in the 90s. Biochem has become that.

And I continue to draw the amino acids now. Every day. And I continue to make sure I can draw the "words" in biochem as well, along with knowing all the charges on the residues and the overall charge.

3) I'm drawing the mechanisms (yeay for ochem) for the enzymes. I do not know if we will be tested on it but given we're drawing them in class, I suspect I will have to know these too. So my sketch book now has amino acids, and enzyme mechanisms. Along with the mechanisms, I'm drawing all the graphs for Vmax, Km, and making sure I can explain in writing why the double reciprocal matters and what the lines actually tell me (its the inverse of the initial thought).

And last, I'm getting my sleep... and I'm enjoying my life a bit more.

Ochem sucked every ounce of energy I had, each and every weekend until the last day when I was told:

"Why take ochem 2? You don't need it!"

The sun shone brightly that day. And I'm LOVING biochem!

More tips/hints/tricks to come :)

Point Taken

My grade went up to an A- :D There was an answer underneath the staple that I could not see so got the question wrong, the points were given back. I discussed my rationale for another question and how I derived my answer, the point was given back for that too.

The last question he would not :( BUT that's okay. What he did tell me was "blah blah blah blah blah WHEN YOU GET INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL blah blah blah" - he still has faith in me. Wow.

Happy Valentine's Day to me!

And to all of you.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Not Stellar But Acceptable

I was warned biochem would be harder than my first course with the same instructor. I was warned not to take it lightly. I was warned that my study habits would need to change a bit to answer/regurgitate to think.

The B+ is okay. I drew tryptophan wrong, got confused on some of the multiple choice, and did not really study BPG at all.

A B+ is okay. Three more exams to go. I know what to change... and will!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


I saw Jennifer Hudson in the first Sex movie playing Carrie Bradshaw's personal assistant after she'd been ditched at the altar.  No clue who she was (remember, I lived in a cave channeling my inner Wilma).

Then I saw the transformation and wondered how I could hire a trainer to look equally as svelte.  It was also her handling of the family travesty that won me over.  Her classy, dignified manner in keeping what should be private, just that.

Tonight, in case you missed it, or have lived in your own cave, or have worked the past 36 hours... Whitney Houston passed away.  While saddened to hear of someone so blessed with a voice and looks, I was not overly surprised.  Demons kill many people.  Addiction is a terrible thing, especially when it is not acknowledged.

What blows me away, is Jennifer singing the Dolly Parton classic, made overly famous by Whitney.

Jennifer owns this now.  Glorious, self assured, blessed, grounded, beautiful.
(all rights belong to the Grammy's, btw)

Of course, I remember where I was when I heard about Whitney... 3rd boss, Blackrock Caverns, with Ariyelle.

And, I'll never forget where I was when I heard this song either... or the first person who came into my mind. He's not married, nor has he found someone else but... I wish him the best and I will always...

Puppy Mill Foster #272

Macy is all of 8#, maybe 8.5# after she's had a bath.  At 3 years of age, she's had six litters of puppies presumably, since she is a dachshund, probably about 60 pups total.

She just had her last.

A backyard breeder (you're one of them if you are breeding your dogs for profit, or to give your children the "blessing of seeing how life is created", or you just let your non-altered dog run loose and welcome the puppies when they are born exactly 63 days later), had over 85 breeding dogs on the property.  The humane society confiscated them when the neighbors complained of barking (ya think??!?!), the smell (you don't say...), and the general "yuck" factor.

I have not been a foster home since 2009.  A long ago rescue group had placed my last foster.  It was a hard job - you get attached to the dogs knowing they will find forever homes (you hope) somewhere else.  I just couldn't do it anymore - the meet/greets inside the home with the resident dogs that sometimes went very well, generally went good, and sometimes - in one case - the dog was just born bred to kill - so, I called it quits in 2009.

An email went out - a desperate cry for help for just a short term foster for a load of dachshunds, terriers, poodles, chi's, and others.  I caved.

Macy is here now.  All 8# of her in her blue feathery fur with brown little muzzle, she's sitting on my lap.  It's been fun to watch her put Bentley in his place - her body is shorter than his head.  And watch him cock his head in puzzlement over the strange creature on my lap... of course, he wants to sit in it too!

She leaves tomorrow to get spayed and other vet requirements taken care of.  She'll be gone about a week.  It'll be quiet in our house again - the loud yapping only a dachshund can make (and often) will be gone. 

With any luck, she'll have her forever home next weekend.  And I'll have remembered why I said, "never again" ... but it'll have been worth it.

Pictures when I get them!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Learn 2 Count

Yeah, like bonds inside a ring with N probably require a few more bonds; or you know, maybe that ring on a ring can't have 5 bonds coming off the C.

Shucks.  There went my 100%!

Okay, so now I need to regroup.  The test was not *that* terrible, it was not *that* hard but it WAS harder than I expected it to be.  He did warn me.  He did tell me this was not his 100x class.  He did say that regurgitating the information on his slides would not be enough.

What I failed to do is count.  -1

What I failed to do, was study the lightly touched slide on 2,3 BPG.  -1

Praying for partial credit!

Lesson learned: count.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Midterm #1 - Biochem

20 Amino Acids - structures, names, properties, abbreviations, single letter notation: check!

Molecules of the day - sucralose, cyclamate, aspartame, melamine: check!

Ras - on/off configuration, what protein could cause the mis-function: check!

Hemoglobin & myoglobin - which has what for helices and strands, which does what for which body area, importance of proximal and distal histidine, ligands required for each, how many heme's can be bound, affect of pH/CO/BCG on hemoglobin: check! (need to do more research on the graphs - not quite comfortable explaining them yet)

Carbon bonding - doh! check!

Did I mention drawing all 20 amino acids and naming them along with properties and their abbreviations? Check!

PrPc v. PrPsc - function of the proteins, what happens when the form of the protein changes but overshadows the normal shape, prion diseases including mad cow, scrapie: check!

Henderson-Hasselbach - well? I need to work here. I think my heart with sustain arrhythmia if I were to try and work problems right now without a little more prep work - so that is where I'm focusing tonight - I get the equation; what I want to solidify in my head is what to do with what information; how to group it, how to set up the right numbers

Oh yeah, amino acids - all 20 of them (easy peeeeeeasy!)

Chasing an elusive 100% on the first exam from the biochem prof who has stood behind me for a couple of years now. I do NOT want to disappoint him (or worse, me!)

Oh, and my job?

Love it!

Best part of the last few days?

I got to see my dad, who one year ago sustained a heart attack, subsequently rupturing his spleen (while on coumadin), and getting Pseudomonas infections x3 plus staph x2, and kidney failure + prostate cancer.  He's doing awesome - eating well, smiling, happy, thankful, blessed.

My dad... what's better than a 100% on an exam?  A healthier 82 year old father!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Help Save Heidi

I love dogs. Remember the doberman who was outside in the very brutal winter, chained to a metal shed and eventually, left for 10 days without water or food?

Let's just say she didn't get to the full 10 days without water and or food. She is safe now and the 10-pronged bark collar she had embedded in her neck is somewhere at the bottom of a river somewhere in the colder part of the country.

Anyway, here is another dobe story. All you have to do is click, read, and sign (if you want). Just a few clicks on the keyboard - no email addy required, no phone number... just a few clicks to help this family save their dog.

Biochem Amino Acid Memorization

Biochem - exam looming so what does a good student do to reduce the stress?

YOUTUBE videos!

I started drawing amino acids about 2 or 3 weeks ago; fell off the "contract ended OMG" cliff, wandered onto the "spring MCAT looming" bridge, am now settled into a new contract (with physicians as a director of finance - yes, really! I'm baaaaack!) and am now back to having biochem exams (yeay for biochem!!!).

Enjoy - this will help me to retest myself come Monday!