Monday, April 30, 2012

Lost Elders

My parents' lives right now are pretty unstable.  Life changes from last year, health issues which lead to so many undesirable outcomes still linger.  Tomorrow starts the first day of their lives without major issues looming.

Packed up suitcase inside the mini-van, Dad drove to meet me at the store where Gman works.  We'd agreed to meet there...

In an hour.  It is about 45 minutes to an hour away, Dad had directions.  He's used to driving alone; he traveled the country extensively for 33 years in whatever car Motorola (of old Fortune 25 fame pre-cell phone and that debacle for big, bat-winged "M") supplied to him.  I think the sum total every year for his mileage averaged 80k.

Per year.

But yesterday, on a rainy, cold Sunday 2 hours after we last spoke, the call came.

"PJ, I'm lost."

"Do you know what highway you're on?"

"Yeah, I just passed the St. Motherofgod exit heading south.  Does that help you?"

"Yep, sure does!  Stay on that road.  Okay?"

"Got it," said a frazzled dad.

"Okay, then when you see the Old Barely Aspen Road, I want you to get off on that exit, and park on the end of the ramp.  Okay?"

"At the end of the off ramp for Old Barely Aspen Road, is that what you said?"

"Yes, Dad.  You do that, Gman and I are leaving now to come get you.  Just get to the road, and we'll take it from there."

I knew better than to leave him with directions.  And I also knew that I needed a 2nd set of eyes to help me look for my dad in a minivan driving along a major interstate going the opposite direction at 75 MPH.

We never got there.  Dad ... well, Dad, got off on that Old Barely Aspen Road and then did not stop (or get $200!  haha).  He turned and headed east.  Luckily for me, I spotted him at the same time as Gman.

"Was that him?" I asked.


Quickly dialing my dad's cell phone (actually my mom's but that's a wholeotherstory)...

"Hey dad?  You aren't by chance driving down Jefferson, are you?"

"Yeah.  Was I supposed to stop?"

And so it went.  We got him to pull over on the side of the road.

"You want me to pull over on the side of the road?  And just stop?"

Yes, Dad.  We need you to stop and park the minivan.  We need you to be safe.  We need you to be of sound mind.

After picking up my dad, Gman driving the minivan, we settled in for dinner.

Dad got his favorite foods.

I got my Dad.  Lost elder and all, I still have my dad.

And that is where I wonder:

For all the bracelets out there for penicillin allergy, or electronic implantable devices, could the med device people just put a GPS chip into the bracelet?  Much like we do for dogs?  So that when elders are lost, we can track them?

I see these folks in the news all the time, sadly.  How much easier could it be than to add that simple piece of electronic tracking onto something the elderly already use, to ensure peace of mind for them and their families?

My lost elder is safely tucked into a hotel room tonight (today - it's 4:30 AM here).  My lost elder is found.

I'm lucky.  Let's try to make other families just as lucky!

And of course, make it a great Monday!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Crunch Berries

Caving into selfish, sugary, hyperglycemic high I realized there are other side effects. Affects that are not exactly painful but, ahem, tingly. Researching I found that high sugary substances like my favorite out-of-the-box-sans-milk cereal, create an acid environment and the pH of the urine drops. Which causes the tingle factor.

To buffer the acidic environment one pounds water (my favorite = Propel Kiwi-Strawberry Zero) and eat alkaline foods. Obviously, the water helps with the higher hydrogen ion content, and alkaline foods act the same way. The things I'm learning after ochem that really apply. Who knew!? So, if you're ever (male of female) having an issue with tingle factor (not from sun tanning lotion in tanning bed), here's a list of foods that will help alleviate the problem:

Slightly Alkaline Foods * Peas * Watermelons * Apples * Blueberries * Pears * Grapes * Onions * Bananas * Raspberries * Peaches * Tomatoes * Oranges * Lemons * Apricots * Grapefruits * Potatoes (sweet or white) * Strawberries * Tangerines

Medium Alkaline Foods * Cherries * Limes * Green Beans * Dried Dates * Raisins * Avocado * Pineapple * Cauliflower * Mushrooms * Rutabagas * Radishes * Cucumbers * Green Soy Beans * Brussels Sprouts * Beets

High Alkaline Foods * Broccoli * Cabbage * Rhubarb * Lima Beans * Lettuce * Sauerkraut * Watercress * Chard * Dried Beans * Carrots * Dried Figs * Celery * Molasses * Beet Greens * Raw Spinach

So, now after polishing off that box, I mean handful of sugary cereal snack, you can top it off with figs, celery or chard! And if you're not prone to sauerkraut (who can resist it?!?!?  I LOVE the stuff!!!), just skip the cereal :)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

From Vegas

Just me unwinding.  Pictures of happy people that I miss sending memories scattering into the wind.

And like... him... pitch perfect.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Life Is Like Chess

Pieces get moved around, strategic alliances are built between pawns, rooks, and kings.  I like playing chess and while would only profess to be marginal at playing it, I'm always willing to improve... and move my pieces differently.

Hence, I believe my life like chess.

We are scheduled to leave the area which has been home to me for over 20 years to a place that I fondly remember; white sandy beaches, fabulous crab on the ocean watching the wayward dolphin do strut his stuff on his own without a trainer; 5PM storms that came like clockwork (Atlantic breezes flow one way, Gulf breezes the other and when they meet, beautiful storms!).

Resumes have been sent to recruiters.  Houses to look at to come soon.

And shortly after the summer sets into my native home state, my son and I will leave.

Dad recently told me that I should not tether myself to a state where opportunities feel dried up.  I don't think he thought at the time, I'd really leave.  And while he is happy I am moving on with my life elsewhere, he is very sad to see my son and I leave.  Truth be told, I'm sad to leave him behind.  My dad is the salt of the earth.  He is the finest man I know and my life has been completely blessed having him for a father.  ALL children should be so lucky!

But like chess pieces on a board, there is a purpose behind my move.  I once lived in the state.  It was my own greed that stopped me 15 years ago from becoming a permanent fixture there.  I wanted more money to be a director (at 31) of the very large, global company.  Every time a lapse in employment has happened, I've thought I should move back.  And every instance when the timing has been ripe, something locally has come through stopping the move.  Strategically planned and now being executed.

Beyond that of a job and a change of scenery, there is the notion that I am set here in my state's medical community.  If I can somehow pull my ass out of the mess I'm in for biochem (I'm at a B+ max right now), I will be golden here.

Next year, at applications, I will also be a resident of the new state and hopefully, that will enable me to apply as in-state vs. outstate not only moving my app up (I hope) a notch on the pool, but also giving me in-state tuition rates if accepted.

IF I don't get accepted anywhere, I'll still be:

1)  on a beach
2)  warm
3)  happy

PACS, you've been warned!  hahaha

Make it a great day!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A MUST Visit Link For All Pre-Meds

This is what I do when I panic (OMFGIAMNOTGOINGTOGETIN type panic!)

1)  I breathe deeply and for as long as it takes to make the headache go away (that, or I pound Tylenol as hard as that is on my liver and kidneys)

2)  I redo my GPA calculator and update for latest/greatest info (and I have separate scenarios listed so that if I get a B in biochem or an A- or whatever, I see how it affects my overall-last-three-year's GPA which, happens by the way, to be my cGPA and my BCPM)

3)  I hit up this website typing in all the particulars...

PreMed Stats Med School Options

and after noticing that there are MANY blue and green schools listed (okay, so I won't get into the red schools: Johns Hopkins, or Mayo, or ... pick your favorite top 10 med school - seriously, I'm 47 almost 48, they'd have laughed at me anyway :D)...

I breathe again.

MCAT.  Forget more courses.  I'm sitting with a lousy 3.61 in BCPM but MCAT is my leveler.  I'm taking it in January taking the 6 months prior to really master everything I can and hone my timing.


Blue and Green = happy Ad2b!

Eh, No A

Grades are posted.  I'm above the mean (again) by a bit but it's still a "B" or "B+"... oh well, felt good while it lasted!

What can I do differently?

Not live life on this edge.  Had I known I'd be without a job or without income or without stability, I'd never have returned.  The headache I wake up with every morning, my left arm tingling all the time is beyond horrid.

Two weeks left.  I will make it.  Then work on stability again.  Then decide.

Continue?  Or stop.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Maybe I Do Like Procedures

Bentley, my beloved heart-mender, was - ahem - "teutored" last July.  When it became apparent he would never make it into the show ring and win, when it became apparent his cloudy, cataract laden eyes at less than a year would be wrongful to send into the next generation of great dane puppies, he was "snipped"... we do not use the 'n' word in our house.

What I did not know until very recently, is that his stitches did not dissolve.  They have to be snipped (pardon the pun) and gently withdrawn.  From "there" where his, how shall I say this for the more gentle of readers, family jewels no longer reside.

Today was the day.  I knew it had to be done.  And although I'm not squeamish, I do not like to inflict pain.

Carefully, I put Neosporin (is that medication GOD or what?!?!?!?  I mean you could use it to cure anything!) on the open sores that had appeared (that's what prompted my 'looking' in the first place - he was licking all the time) on his sores.  Eyeglasses on, tweezers, and nail clippers (I'm not a doc, right?  I have no 'tools') and he laid on the floor.

Over the next 10 minutes or so, I carefully held one end of the suture up, while trying to gently clip the knotted end.  Painstaking, yes; to be sure, Bentley was completely oblivious for the longest time that I was snipping and clipping "there" ...

And then it was done.  The sutures needed a little tug to come loose once I'd clipped the knot, and Bentley leaned over to lick me.

Not sure if he was thankful the itchy sutures were out, or if he was thankful I was done, or if he is just a licker (I tend to think the latter - any chance for a slurpy great dane kiss, and he's all in!).

Anyway, it was kind of cool... in a geeky sort of way.  Maybe I would not mind being procedural (okay, yes, I realize that procedures as a doc are FAR more complicated than suture removal on a dog... I get that.  Baby steps!)

Paying Tribute

Gaming.  In the minds of many, it conjures images of drooling, obese men (generally), sucking down Blatz beer, dripping nacho cheese on their unshaven faces which contain seriously bad teeth which sit upon a body that has been unshowered in days, if not weeks, and reeks of B.O.

Am I close?

These same people are then thought to be (by those who don't know them): stupid, ignorant, unsociable, illiterate, and socially inept, or worse, lacking any sort of emotion that "normal" humans feel.


Last night, I started scrolling through my laundry list of servers that I have built characters on during the 7+ years the game has existed on the internet (apparently, it was a PC game before but not able to be played with others? - I don't know...) anyway, I came to Norgannon.  A server most notably known for a young man who died far too young of brain tumors.

His wish was to tour Blizzard's headquarters and meet some developers.  Who knew the multi-bazillionaires there would care about a small young man who played WoW with his dad.  Last night, while running around, I remembered Ezra and the fun night in WoW a few years ago when 3,000 or so of us made baby cows (tauren) and did a "run with the baby bulls" through the area in game.

So, Ezra.  Make-A-Wish has granted so many youngsters with terminal illnesses dreams that might have never come true without the organization.

Ezra's story touched many of us who never met the young boy.  Blizzard touched many of us, and continues to, by creating tributes inside the game to the people who leave us much too soon.  Ezra was able to create a story line in the game (the game itself is much more than just killing other cartoonish characters; it is the story of good v. evil, each quest line has a purpose, a scavenger hunt, and a role in the larger picture).

Ezra created a story line with a dog.  His dog has gone missing and it is up to the people who play the game to help Ahab find the dog.  Cute story line.  At the end... well, I've yet to watch anyone not /bow or /kneel in silent tribute to the quest giver.  It is a gamer's way of honoring.

In Ezra's case, he left this world behind but his gamer friends known, and unknown, to him did a run with the baby bulls.

And crashed a server.

To our great delight.

Someone actually posted the video of that great night as 3,000 or so of us took part in making new characters, joining a guild "Run For Ezra".  It was all that most of us could do for a child we'd never meet.  If you watch the video, please realize that every one of those dancing characters has a sole person behind.  A person who chose to create the character and take part in a game to honor a young man.  Each person took about an hour out of their day to serve another - Ezra's real family.  It is widely speculated his father was on that night.

Eyes watering, if you could read the scrolling chat in the lower right corner, there were no dry eyes.

Why all of this?

Sometimes I truly wonder what others think when they know, or find out, my closet gaming fun.  Yes, I see concerts, I see real people all the time.  I go out, see comedy clubs, travel, chat about normal stuff (politics, history, books, travel, school.... always something about school!).  I'm normal.  In gamer world, people say real women don't play video games.  Or if they do, they must be really ugly.  I am real, and I'm farfromfugly.  :)

Sometimes I hope to change a few people's minds on video games.  They are NOT an excuse to avoid the real world and those that use it for that purpose are ill.  Sometimes I hope to have people see that gamers are not cold hearted killers (like the bastage in Norway), we have a huge heart.

We do care.

We even care about those we will never meet.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Next Job

Screw being a doctor!  I'm going back to being a wealthy, top level executive.

I'd rather own one of these babies... yep, rev it up, my long, blond hair freely flowing in the wind (channeling my inner Christie Brinkely in the Vacation movie) with perfect nails, and polished white teeth.

Bring it onto me!

In case you're wondering, it is a Lambo, not a Lexus cross-over.  Pffft at Lexus...

And no, I'm not giving up wanting to be a doc.  It's just that owning one of these gorgeous SUVs and being a doc are probably mutually excludable. Sadly.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Bum

A few months ago, I took my son and I to a TSO concert.  One of my favorite songs of that band is, "Old City Bar" - it reminds me of many things in life: helping others, humility, hope.

On my way to school every day, I take different routes primarily dependent on my mood.  If I'm in a cheery mood, and unhurried, I take the route through town which is much shorter mileage wise, but more time consuming.  Although a highway, it was filled with stoplights.

The other route takes me through the capital city.  To get from one interstate to the other, you have to get off the one, stop at a light, take a city street, and pick up the other.  At that street light, there is always a homeless man: rags, can, sign, ratty hat, dirty disheveled clothing, and a smile.

He sings.  He dances.  He plays music that you can hear if you have the windows rolled down.

A few weeks ago in my Escalade, I watched other cars (Prius and Honda owners; Suburu's and Fiesta folks) give him some money.  Guilt washed over me a little.  How close I've come to living like him - or at least feeling like I might end up like him.  I rolled down my window and gave him what little cash I had (I never carry more than a couple bucks).

He is missing fingers on his hands, easily covered by the huge woolen mittens he wears but you can see they are missing.  The way he holds his hand.

Each day since then, if he's been there, I've given him something.  Maybe $1 in coins, or $2... today I had exactly $0.27.  He cheerily took it, dropped it into his can.

The light didn't change.

And I remembered, a DQ card leftover from my days at the physician network was in my purse.

Rolling down the window, I motioned him over and gave it to him, "I don't know how much is on it but it's all yours.  There should be enough for a burger or two."

His eyes welled up.  He could barely speak... but mumbled, "I hope God blesses you!"  I think he perked up a little.

He already did sir.  In a sad way, he reminded me of how lucky I really am.  Generally speaking, I have found most homeless people to not choose that way of life, they are mentally ill unable to conform to a society they do not understand.

As my days wind down in school, I will continue to bring change for him... and roo that day when it ends.  I will miss seeing his happy face and the reminder of how good I really have it.

Make it a great day!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Perhaps, Lest I Get Cocky


WHOO Hoo!!!

/happy dance

(that or I really, really, really screwed it up bad!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

MyLife - Website

I have an old email address that I used a long time ago.  Apparently, the folks at MyLife found fit to run through my entire email address list, of the associated email account, plus all contacts, and somehow a "MyLife" account got set up with my email address linked to?

My ex bf.

I'm sure that I clicked on the stupid thing before we started, and while we were, dating, I'm sure I clicked and wondered WTH it was.  As one of my professors says, I've got a bottomless pit of curiosity.  But not to the point of invading someone's privacy!

Now, I'm pissed.

It feels completely invasive of his and my privacy.  Well, it feels that way because it is.  Despite my walking away from him and his... penchant for things I don't agree with, his privacy is important to me.  Protecting his life has been critical for me.

How embarrassing!!  It's not enough that he wrote me two weeks ago saying he'd been thinking about me (orly?)... wonder if he somehow got some botched up emails saying he was... oh dear God.

So, to all of you: avoid MyLife.  Don't click on it.  I put it up there with hackers in gamer-land.  Creeps!

I've deleted "his" account on Mylife with my email address attached.  They didn't even have his right birthday, or year.  I've also deleted that email address as apparently, hackers or MyLife itself, has used it for bogus reasons.


This Train

Keeps motoring on... my headache has subsided a bit, I'm back on track to ace the biochem exam; I finally see all the logic, I see dehydrogenase and know instinctively the NAD+ and NADH, I see isomerase (duh) and know what happens there, and kinase, and ... yep, I've got this; every compound, every enzyme, every energy transition; glycolysis, gluconeogenesis (hexokinase, phosphofructokinase, and pyruvate kinase cannot be reversed and are done so through other enzymes recreating the oxaloacetate into phosphoenolpyruvate); fructose into glycolysis, galactose into glycolysis; disease states of metabolism (and why and which tests for which enzymes).  More polishing, more refining, more...

I can't fail because "This Train" is not stopping.  Not today.  Not tomorrow.

And, thank God, for Bruce!  Enjoy!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

After The World Goes To Hell

Ha!  I looked at my blog this morning and realized I had not blathered for a few days.  Not that anyone was sending the cavalry to my door, or beating smoke signals over the airport (which would be a bad idea anyway, probably get you arrested), or otherwise, blowing up my phone with text and calls (except for you K, thank you!!!) - the obligation to talk about what's happening in this premed's life has been followed for almost four years now!

That shocks me!  I started this four years ago?!?!


Last week remains a blur.  Waking up with blurred vision, barfing blood (sorry if you're squeemish in the morning), massive headache (yes, migraine - I've just never had one happen overnight when presumably, I'm dreaming about eating ice cream), and other assorted issues - I did not take the biochem exam. I take it on Monday instead.

What caused the migraine?

Most likely realizing on late Weds night that I have not worked in almost two months, and the three months before that were pretty sparse due to: holidays, thanksgiving, finals.  So, in the last 6 months, cumulatively, I've probably worked 6 weeks.  With tuition, car payment, insurance, rent, blahblahblah...

That freaked me out.  So, of course, I went and looked at medical school loans/grants/scholarships to see how the heck I'm going to pay for that and then to calm my spinning head down I concluded this:

1)  the extra year I'm taking before MCAT will also do me well financially - I can pay down all my debt to near zero and put money in the bank, and plausibly, buy a house; still a bummer; I'll still be almost 49 at application and I can't undo my age; while I may not feel like a 47 year old today, chronologically, I still am; and statistically, I have fewer years left in my life than my 25 year old brethren

2)  the time I have now, can be spent finding a private loan to help me through the next four weeks until the next perm role or contract job comes through (recently interviewing for a perm role where the recruiter wanted to push me to the vice president role, I said no... I really want to be a doc; if 133 accredited allopathic medical schools laugh heartily in my face and slam the door shut, then I'll reconsider - but only then); the question became how I'd work school in with my job (despite that I've done so for a year now, pretty easily)

3)  the old house - the one Miranda Lambert's song flowed through the stereo the night my son and I moved our last things out - is being investigated by the US Government for fraudulent action on the part of the big bank... I was told there is a solid footing upon which to demand I get my house back...  In all honesty, I loved my old house and almost everything about it... that word "almost" being critical.  It was poorly built by a crappy contractor who cut corners both legal and otherwise to build it.  Also, it would mean displacing a family who had no idea the issues.  I can't do that, but I'd sure like some of my $400,000 back.  That was pure equity.

4)  my parents are having trouble.  For their privacy and protection, I won't say the circumstances, but it made me really sad; that came to a head on Weds night.

Thursday at 6:30 AM, I realized, I could not see well.  The buzzing bees inside my head a little loud and turning the light on, my vision was just not hazy from sleeping but Bentley Boo was in triplicate.  Never a good sign.

I'm fine now.  After two days of almost complete rest, medication for the migraine, and more rest - I'm feeling pretty good!

I know the rest will fall into place.  I know things will work out the way they are supposed to, they always do.  I know my path will become clearer as the days pass.

I just wish I had the resolution to some of that now. :D

On to biochem and making sure I ace the test.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Remember That Fall?

Probably not.  I fell back in November while running in full suit and dress coat, replete with 35# backpack (ochem, ugh); landing on my one knee, slamming my arm out in front of me to break my fall (broken arm > broken face!).  Well,  my arm has not healed.  It has gotten worse.

Yesterday, in my biochem prof's office, I turned to do something, the pain shot up my arm, into my back and I about... got sick.

"You should do something about that," he said.

So, today I met with a doc at the clinic.  Great guy.  Factual.  Interested.  Candid.

"Premed," he commented.

"Yes," came my response.

"Other degrees?" he queried.

"Yes, BA and MBA all from..." and I waited for his next comments, expecting the "What the Sam hell are you thinking?  You are too old, too this, or too that, or toooo..."  Sometimes, it seems like so many who are in the profession don't want the elders to be there, or think we are too old, too slow, too this or that...

It never came.

Instead, the conversation was a careful probing of why now, what is driving me, and when we were done, I got this:

"Here's your deal.  You will need to stay away from focusing on specialty at this phase of the game.  For you, your whole deal is getting in and here's how you're going to do it."

With that he laid out some other plans I had considered but not fully thought through.  I'm not at applications right now, I'm in sheer panic mode as I scramble (yet again) for another contract (yet again) with midterms this week (yet again) and try to stay hyper focused on my task at hand (yet again).

After the x-rays, I talked to the tech who I'm pretty sure mentioned something about blahblahblahlbahheisormightbeontheadcomblahblahblahblahblah.

I went back to the exam room for the follow-up (my arm is fine, I've been sent to PT).  Enzyme, compound, process, and disease state flashcards laid out in front of me, he walked in.

"Arm is good.  What I want you to do is this..." and then he reiterated his thoughts for my plan.  He reiterated what my to-be strategy should be.

And I, am very, very thankful for his candor... I will make it.  And he was one more on my path, propelling me forward, encouraging me, and not saying "Why??" but "Here's how."

Sometimes, most times, it's the little things that help.  (Of course, a contract wouldn't hurt right about now either!!!)

Now back to biochem...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Dinner Conversation

My parents, thankfully, are healthy, active, and alert this year.  A far cry from last year when I just did not know about my dad.

Mom's cooking is always awesome and tonight was no different.  Munching on the ham we'd been salivating over, my son's thoughts on getting a finance degree came out.  He wants to be a CFO someday and we'd been talking on the drive down, what his path would need to look like.  Thankfully, he has my own past to guide him on politics; perhaps, more thankfully, he has a great head on his shoulders.

Dad's life as a former executive of a former S&P 500 came up; we talked about the innovation that he saw in his lifetime with that company, and of that which I saw.  During his lifetime, he also saw stock splits about 1x per year, and sometimes even twice.  My son was all ears learning how stock splits work, why it is good to start early and buy often when younger.

Slowly, my old life from 15 years ago arose.  I'd been a senior consultant for one of the public accounting firms back then - Big 8, little 12, small 6 - I don't remember how that went but we were the consulting arm taking the Snoopy dog company public.  Converting them from statutory reporting to US GAAP was an adventure and one that I still fondly remember.

Because I did NOT live in the area, I flew in every Monday and out every Friday.  After a few weeks of that, I asked if I could just get a condo and live there, flying my son down he could just attend school.  We'd keep my house in the metro but it would be win-win for everyone:

client got charged less fees (me not traveling saved countless $1,000s)
I got to see my son every day
I worked longer
I was happier

(okay, so maybe it was more win for me :D)

Anyway, one of the other perks is that if I did not travel on a weekend, I could use that money for other things - and if not used for several weekends, I could use the sum total for other things.  So, before moving my son to Florida, I saved; to fly him and my parents who were nannying for me at the time, to Florida for a long weekend.

Remember, 15 years ago, my son was 5.

He'd never flown before.

He'd been told, like many small children, that heaven is above the clouds.  He'd been told, like many small children, that God "watched over us."

So, when the plane hit 33,000 feet above ground, and the clouds billowed below the belly of the aircraft, my cute, precocious 5 year old, while mashing his face against the oval window of the fuselage, asked in a very loud voice:

"Where's Jesus?"

And that brought gales of laughter tonight!  Apparently, back then, it brought gales of laughter to the airplane full of passengers embarking on a journey to warmer, sunnier weather.

Indeed.  Leave it to my son!

Hope you enjoyed a great Sunday!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Tips & Tricks For Biochem

Where to start:

Well, if I were to use my favorite movie, "Sound of Music" we'd start at the very beginning... with amino acids and learn all of them (we did!).  Why do we start there?  Well, learning the bonding, acidity (or not), polarity (or not) helps when you get to synthesizing the amount of mechanisms that need to be learned from glycolysis through electron transport.

It is not a matter of learning the cycle and the names, it is the "why" that we get asked.  Why does citrate become isocitrate in Krebs?  Why does alpha-ketoglutarate become succinyl-CoA?  And then of course, how?  and with what energy?  is there a payoff for the energy input?

Because we learned enzymes for the last exam, we now can incorporate that into learning what enzymes catalyze the reactions listed above but also what inhibitors would stop them.

Had I not had this class, I would not have understood Dr. Grumpy's picture post the other day with "Free Metformin" below a box of cookies.  The humor would have passed me by...

So, today I study.  I nailed the 100% on the take home, nailed the 100% on the assignment, now I need to nail (or come close to) nailing a 100% on the midterm this week.  If I can do that, I'm sitting pretty well in the class; possibly, if he does any sort of smoothing for my exam 2 debacle (recall that is when I was told my contract was ending early due to promotion of internal person - absolutely the right decision for the finance team but SUCKS for me!!! - and I am still scrambling to find the next one - more on that another time).

If I can do well, I'm set up to get a great grade.  If I can do well, confidence rises again; hope springs eternal (truth be told, hope never leaves me).  Med school is no longer some nebulous idea or thought, it is on the horizon; and if I'm blessed enough with an invite it goes without saying, there would be a bright shining light over the city!

Enjoy your weekend - embrace your life!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Orchestral Humor

Of course, many do not remember Victor Borge, the amazingly talented statesman who never needed to swear to be funny, never needed sex to be current, just used the English language and his pianistic passion to stay relevant... This video is of an improvised performance. Victor had never played the song before and about midway through, you realize how utterly outstanding it is to have these two maestros of their instruments playing on stage. Together.


Okay, I'm on a roll tonight - Borge was - and I can insert here, I'm speechless - talent is too limited in emphasis on the talent this man had.

I spit when he said, "I always forget three things."  Insert pregnant pause, "um... four now!"

Haha - Enjoy!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Nailed It

With a little time on my hands, and a lot of persistence, I nailed my first 100%.  True, it was a small take home problem set (the same kind I flunked a few weeks ago) but it feels like victory!

What's next for biochem?

Well, for starters:

All enzymatic reactions in the cycles: glycolysis, TCA, and ETC; similar enzymatic reactions with gluconeogenesis; all hormones that help the pathways and why they help as well as where their enzymes work; disease states related to enzymatic reactions and why the disease states react the way they do; and finally, inhibition.

With one week to go before the exam, I'm feeling like I've got this... Perhaps, if I'm lucky, I'll be singing the "A" in biochem happy song in about 5 weeks.  When the semester is over, when I say goodbye to premed prereqs and hellooooo to MCAT prep.

Wow!  It's here!  So Soon!  (okay, it only feels like time has flown since I started this path but really, wow!)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Written Around Valentine's Day

Some of the recent posts have been in draft form for weeks, if not months.  They're here now, for better or worse...  this one was written around Valentine's Day as I looked back on 2011.

Whisper quietly as you walk me to the car
Gently kiss me goodnight
Tell me you'll see me in the 'morrow
And watch me drive away

Closing the door it reminds you
How hesitant it is to go
Away into the darkness
Without ... me.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Fumarate

When biochem started 10 or so weeks ago, I wondered how I would do, if I could like this class I've wanted to take since about... eh... 1980... yes, I know, before most of you were born.  HA!

We started right in on amino acids, drawing, configuring, understanding; disease states, how an apparent minor change from valine to argninine could cause catastrophic problems, and synthesized sugars. Or in my class those were better known as "Molecule of the Day" and given again as case studies for disease states. With that exam, my prep included making up words using the letters assigned for each amino acid: LARGE, WADGER, and others. It helped to draw the molecule, along with the peptide bonds formed, list the pH at which each change occurs, or if starting mat was at, say 10.3, how that would affect each amino acid (does the N lose the H's???).

Fast forwarding into purines, pyrimidines, all the sugars you can think of and why a hydroxyl in the beta form on carbon 1 of glucose goes up, instead of down, it started to all make sense. As most classes do, if you just stick with them, plow through the drawing, the homework (assigned and collected, or not), if you just look for the similarities and redundancies, biochem is actually, really pretty easy.

That or my prof is awesome! Or both!

What I have not posted, and here for your viewing pleasure is my first - off the top of my head - Kreb's Cycle. I drew it in full color (courtesy of Olivia's guidance) to learn which enzymes do what to whom and what the products are, or what those products turn into. In the Kreb's cycle almost everything turns into a substrate for the next enzyme which is why the wheels on the Kreb's Cycle go "round and round" ...

What is fun now, like the amino acid conjugation that I practiced, is using the compound names from the Kreb's cycle to make up sentences such as: my fumarate was dehydrogenased from succinate (sounds really, really awful, doesn't it??). But it makes sense. Sounds like I'm fuming because I lost water which sucks... but backwards. Mnemonics, FTW!

With only a few weeks left in the course (boo!), I'm amazed at how much I've learned. Reading the BRS Biochem review book before bed each night (it's an insomnia cure!), I've come to realize that my professor was right:

He does not teach for memorization and regurgitation, he teaches so that those of us bound for medical school, or pharm, or nursing, or nutrition, or PA/NP, or ... will ace our entrance exams (MCAT - whoo hoo!), our boards (USMLE - eeeeek!), and fulfill our dreams.

Who knew, it all started here:

After reviewing the first draft, I added in more cofactors, all the compounds' names, any energy changes that occur (ATP -> ADP), and submitted it for my grade.

I think I got an A. Heading into the third and final midterm, I'm feeling pretty stoked, pretty on track!

After all the roller-coaster of emotions and mental gymnastics of ochem, where I never felt settled, never felt solid, this feels G-R-E-A-T!

Make it a great night!

Help For Those 60+ & Home Bound

Many weeks ago, I posted about an organization that helps those that are home bound. The little I knew about the organization and the limited reading I had done on it, left my knowledge a bit sparse.

Store-To-Door helps those 60+ who are unable to shop for themselves. Medical infirmities such as: ALS, MS, CHF, emphysema, COPD, and many other health related concerns, create substantial difficulties in the person's ability to care for themselves, especially as they age. Unable to get basic needs met, they often enter assisted living - which I believe we'd all say are awesome in what they do, but again, if we had the choice, wouldn't we all rather stay in our homes? Where we know "those" sounds? Where the "smells" are soothing?

There are organizations often supported through religious and civic groups that supply home care, transportation, and other tangible types of help.


takes it one step further and supplies the groceries (click link to see the website).

Below is a clip that got picked up by a city media outlet and posted. It tells a poignant story of a man who is thrilled to stay home, thankful for the organization!

 Enjoy - support - be happy!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Number 1 Fan Of The Man

Well, not exactly Tennessee, but close :)

Yep... I think of you ... pride thing, lioness pride.