Sunday, September 30, 2007

The rock won

I imagine that what you all wanted to see tonight was a close-up of my hairy leg.

My leg and a rock become intimately acquainted seven weeks ago. Strangely enough a number of people have assumed that this was because of a skateboarding injury. I don’t know what it is about me or about the cut that reeks of skateboarding, but that is the most common guess. I actually hurt it whitewater rafting, which is only slightly less interesting. The gash up my leg didn’t seem to want to heal for the first three weeks, remaining an ugly red scab that was still tender weeks later. But thankfully the scarring process has finally kicked in and it looks like this may be the final form.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


There’s a funny dichotomy to med school finances. Doctors are rich, but med students are incredibly poor. Your average homeless person has a net worth of zero dollars. Your average med student has a net worth of negative 150,000 dollars. Most of the time we ignore this massive debt. But every so often we panic and do stupid things, like become part of drug tests.

A couple weeks ago I volunteered for a new fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) study. The researchers are trying to test whether anti-hypertension medication can help autistic individuals increase their concentration. So they give the autistic patients various drugs and have them perform cognitive tasks while in the MRI machine. fMRI is interesting because it not only images your brain, but tells you which areas are being used and how strenuous this use is. So they can tell pretty well how each medication alters brain function, as well as recording the increase or decrease in actual performance on the tests. In order to be a valid experiment they need controls, so they’ve hired med students to come in and take the same drugs and do the same tests and they’ll see how our performance is altered.

The first week it went fine. I showed up, took my drugs and studied for 2 hours while we waited for the drugs to take effect. I felt nothing, but I think the drugs did lower my blood pressure. It’s a blind study, so I really shouldn’t know what my pressure is or else I’ll know when I’m taking the placebo, which will happen one of these weeks. After a couple hours I get into the MRI machine and have to lie completely still for about 40 minutes while I do a variety of mental tests, most of which are extremely easy. Rhyming, listing words that start with S, picking which words belong in an office and which don’t etc. The only hard one is when they show 3 words and I have to find a 4th word that connects them. For example, they show Jelly, Bag and String. The answer is Bean. Maybe that was easy for you, but they drive me crazy. Especially when I can’t move my head only have five seconds and am stuck in a giant humming tube. I don’t know how many the autistic patients are getting right, but I only bat about .50. I digress.

The first time is fine. But a couple days ago I have my second visit. I take my drugs and start reading about arrhythmias. Which, incidentally, are boring. So I’m not very surprised when I get sleepy and have a hard time concentrating. I thought back to the night before and am pretty sure that I got six or seven hours of sleep, which is normal for me. So I end up reading Readers Digest and playing Spider Solitaire instead until it’s time for me to take my tests.

We start off with my least favorite test. Nuclear, Album and Man. I think for a while and my time elapses. Was it Family? Yes it was, but I get it too late. At the end of the exam I figure I did about the same as last time. But while they’re recalibrating the machine for my next test I start to have a hard time focusing my eyes. Eventually they start and I list off about thirty types of clothing. Again they have the calibrate things and I get extremely tired. But soon enough it’s time to decide what rhymes with meat and what doesn’t. During the next break I fall asleep. These aren’t ten minute breaks mind you. This is about a minute and a half. The machine operator asks me if I’m ready for the next test and I don’t answer. He asks again and this wakes me up and I say that I am, hoping he just thought I wasn’t answering before. I manage to stay away for the rest of the 40 minutes, but just barely.

There’s a post-exam, which is uneventful. I mention that I think they medication is making me sleepy and they note this on my chart. I also happen to see my blood pressure on the chart (their security isn’t very tight) and am surprised to find that it had dropped from 120/80 when I came in (which is normal) to 85/?? now. That’s not a healthy pressure. But I feel better now so I drive home. I sit down in my recliner and figure out what I want to do for the hour until my next class starts.

I wake up 3 hours later. Fortunately my teacher is pretty cool and just has me sign the roll when I show up near the end of his physical exam lecture. But seeing as we were doing heart sounds and pulses and my blood had stopped moving I probably wouldn’t have been much help to the class.

So I need to make sure that I don’t develop high blood pressure, because at least one kind of medication knocks me out. But it did put 25 dollars in my pocket, which makes it all worth it.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Med school gourmet

As you well know, I’d always rather make up my own recipe than follow one. Here are two of my most popular culinary inventions of the last month.

Crunchy Quesadillas

It’s often been pointed out that Taco Bell has 5 ingredients that it uses for everything on its menu. This is only a very slight exaggeration. So when asked to make a Mexican dish, I thought I’d just take Taco Bell’s approach and invent something Mexicanish. I broiled two tortillas, one covered in cheese and the other in refried beans. Any beans will do, though mine had salsa mixed in, which added a bit to the taste. The only relatively novel thing in this dish was that after the tortillas were crisp/brown/melted I added a meticulous layer of tortilla chips onto the refried beans. I added some more cheese, slapped the two layers together and cooked it briefly so the layers melted together.

I had intended to have several layers (perhaps 3 tortillas) including a layer of grilled chicken. But I decided that I liked them relatively thin so the chicken out of the quesadillas themselves. It was already grilled though, so after cutting each tortilla into 8 slices and artfully arranging them in a dish I garnished them with chunked chicken with melted cheese to hold it in place.

So they were gooey and tasty, which is my personal definition of a quesadilla, plus a bit spicy and crunchy. I’ve actually made them a couple times since because they store relatively well (remaining crunchy.)

Chris Mix

A friend had told me he liked chocolate covered peanuts mixed with sour watermelon candies. I told him he was on crack. But since we had a test this week and I needed some study food, I decided to concoct my own mix.

Take 2 part Sour Patch Kids. Not everyone likes the Kids, but I do so tough nuts to everyone else. Add 2 parts chocolate covered peanuts. My roommate tried to add chocolate covered raisins, but I nixed that. Raisins are grapes soaked in evil. My only addition to the concept, but I feel a vital one, was adding 3 parts animal crackers. This supplied the vital base for the recipe. The chocolate was sweet, the Kids sour AND sweet, so it was really necessary to add something plane.

So basically it’s an alternative trail mix, removing anything healthy. It was also extremely popular. My batch for test week ended up being completely devoured between our viewing of the Flight of the Conchords and our trip to the Demolition Derby.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I haven’t written here in a while. There’s no good reason for it; I’ve just been busy. And when I have to choose between doing things and writing about the things I do, I choose to do things.

An interesting event of late is that my car’s brakes broke. It was rather inconvenient, but thankfully not dangerous. Before heading into the shop I mentally prepared for a particular price. This was rather silly since I know nothing about cars, but still, I decided how much it was going to set me back. Unfortunately it cost ten times the amount I’d prepared myself for. But due to my massive tuition and consequent massive loans, money has really ceased to have any meaning. So I took out my credit card, paid and went on my way. I need rotors after all. To try to balance out the damage to my finances I only spent a dollar at Wendy’s instead of my normal two.

Perhaps as a form of catharsis I went to a demolition derby last night. It was certainly enjoyable to see the cars smash themselves to bits. I had hoped for a completely redneck crowd, but most of them actually looked pretty normal. There were a couple hillbillies here and there, but nothing too extraordinary. There were ten matches or so, some of which were very entertaining. But really when you have cars hitting each other until one of them stops working, it generally is pretty slow near the end. But it was a good time. We also saw “the shortest street in the world” which we knew didn’t actually hold that honor. But it was an entertaining sign to see, and the street was remarkably short.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I should probably post something about my life, but tonight's not the night. Instead I will leave you with this fact:

I own 38 t-shirts.