Saturday, October 25, 2008


Our little boy arrived last week. He's perfect and we love him. He has sandy blond hair, dark eyes, tiny hands and feet, and an insatiable apetite. Monday was a very difficult day for us, and tuesday was even worse. It's difficult to have a little boy whom you know is hungry, but can't eat very well, and who gets frustrated with our clumsy attempts to help him. He is doing much much better now, and has more or less figured out what breastfeeding entails. I love rocking him back and forth and watching his eyes track my face, even in his cross-eyed way. I can't really convey the wild emotional oscillations that we have both felt this week, but I haven't had as many profound spiritual experiences in so short a time as I had this week. We are all doing well, and so is our little boy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Debts We Owe

I am firmly convinced that the fact we have so many wonderful friends here is not chance. I know that we were all brought to this city to go through medical school together because Heavenly Father, in his wisdom, knew that we would need each other. I cannot express the gratitude I feel to our friends who are far more selfless than I'll probably ever be. Our friends who will drop what they're doing and be with my wife as she struggles with our newborn boy, who will help her learn to nurse, who will hold my crying baby so I can take a 35 minute nap, people who will just sit with mindy and be with her, these are people whose service I can never repay. You know who you are, know that your efforts are welcome and have bolstered our flagging spirits. Thank you.
-G, M, and J.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


So I was studying some pharmacology for cardio and my mind wandered, as it usually does in the evening, to a talk by Elder Bednar given in conference two weeks ago. In it, he recounted a story wherein an apostle asked Elder Bednar's wife to pray, but only to express thanks. I made a little goal to try that for a week in my evening prayers and see how things went. I guess I'm pretty needy because I only went 2 days. Here are a few of the things I'm grateful for though:

Mindy's health
Our very nice but affordable apartment
The fact that our car hasn't died despite being close to 200K miles
Academic succcess (pending our neuro grades)
Our babie's health in utero
Good friends who are generous
The Bach Cello Suite in G prelude. Pretty much a perfect piece of music.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I am 39 1/2 weeks pregnant. I went to the doctor yesterday, and all the news was good. I am 100% healthy, and so is the baby. My blood pressure was fine, the urine test was normal, the baby's heart rate is fine. I'm just a tiny bit dilated, and even just a tiny bit more than last week. I should be so relieved that everything is okay. But instead, the hormones of the irrational pregnant woman set in, and I broke down crying to the doctor in the middle of the examination room. I also continued to cry off and on for another two hours after leaving the doctor's office.

In a high school English class, we studied a story of a war-time message runner. He was assigned to take a message to the next unit over as quickly as he could. He took off running...and kept on running because he had no idea how far away the next unit was located, or how long it was going to take to get there. I ran my first half marathon this past spring, and it really wasn't all that bad. I trained for it, paced myself, and I really enjoyed it. Mile twelve wasn't even that bad because I knew that the finish line was only a mile away.

I feel a bit like the message runner right now. I have a general idea how long this pregnancy will last, and I know that I won't be "running" forever. But there is no finish line in sight. I am having a difficult time enduring the unknown distance. So I cry when the doctor tells me that everything is fine.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


After my neuro exam, we went out to dinner and stopped at an international market along the way home.  Finally, I've found somewhere that can both sell me individual quail's eggs, as well as individually shrink wrapped Norwegian Mackerel.  If they're out of those, I can make do with canned pig tongue or box of dried goldfish from the snack aisle.  Aside from the unique and bizarre (to my occidocentric mind) the international market stocks a candy from my childhood, the Kinder-egg.  

My visit to the market made me aware of a fluke of neuroanatomy.  The olfactory portion of our brains involves, in part, the amygdala which is part of the limbic system.  The amydala, among other things, integrates incoming smells with visceral input, and mediates such reactions as salivation in response to a savory scent, or nausea in response to a foul odor.   Though closely related anatomically to the hippocampus, to my knowledge, the hippocampal and amygdaloid paths do not share any common, direct connection.  The hippocampus is thought to be involved with the creation and consolidation of new memories.  Though I don't know, I postulate that the lack of common connections is why we can't remember smells the same way recall visual information.   We can all picture our first apartment or picture what an airplane looks like without too much difficulty.  I doubt, however, that you can 'remember' what a lemon meringue pie actually smells like, in the same way you recall visual information, which would be by actually mentally 'smelling' the pie at the moment of recall.  We all know that sweaty feet stink, but upon reading this, you don't actually smell feet (unless they're your own) instead, we can only recognize a smell upon smelling it again.  At the international market, we purchased a box of Lu butter cookies as as post-exam treat.   Upon opening the box, I instantly recognized and pictured my childhood time in France when I must have eaten those very same cookies as a kindergarten child in Paris.   It's strange that you can't smell something upon recall, but that olfaction is still a very powerful component of memory. 

Friday, October 03, 2008

The end of Neurosciences.

I finally finished Neuro. The last two days saw me in the lab and lecture hall taking my exam. There were a total 240 questions. Let me say just this: I HATE NEUROLOGY. There has not been a course in medical school that I have liked less. I hated learning the stupid pathways, I hated how everything is reversed and upside down, I dislike learning anatomy by cross section, I don't like localizing lesions, I don't like memorizing psych drugs that all sound the same (fluvoxamine, flurazepam, fluphenazine, flumazenil, fluoxetin, phenterezine, etc..). I do not like it on a bus, I do not like it, it makes me cuss! I would not, could not, like neuro, I will not, shall not like neuro. I will not study it Sam I AM! I hope I passed this execrable class because at least then I don't have to take it again. I pity neurologists who have subjected themselves to a lifetime of this specialty. NOPE, not for me; I can cross this one off the old list and never look back. Onwards we go, to Cardio! where things make sense, and you can actually intervene and have a beneficial impact. The fact that you can precisely localize someone's capsular stroke or their MS or their pontine hemorrhage is nice, but you CAN'T DO ANYTHING about it (ok you purists, you can treat MS with steroids, interferon B, Natalizumab, cyclophosphamide, interferon alpha, and other crap, but the disease isn't going away.) IT'S DONE, AND I DON'T HAVE TO LOOK BACK. The longest and worst block of MSII is over with.

Sentimental Piano Teacher

I have been reminiscing about my former piano studio lately. My friend, Maggie, used to be a children's art teacher, and she originally started her blog to record stories of her students. I really wish I had done that with my piano students. But since I didn't, here are a few little memories of conversations I had with some of my students that explain a bit why I love teaching so much:

#1: Dots
I taught a brilliant little six-year-old boy for a couple years. He picked up on piano very quickly, and he rarely had to work hard at it. He was very inquisitive, and sometimes the conversations we had in lessons would get a bit off-base. For example, in the middle of a lesson one summer day, he looked at my arm and asked,
"What are the dots for?"
Puzzled, I replied, "What dots?"
He pointed and waved his finger at my arm.
I said, "Oh, they're freckles!"
He said, "Yeah, but what are they for?"
I have never contemplated the purpose of a freckle before. I still don't know.

#2: Piano
Same little boy, same type of situation. In the middle of a lesson, he stops and asks,
"What is the piano for?"
Caught off guard by the question, I offer my best explanation, "It's for making music."
He says, "Yeah, but what is it for? Can I sell it?"
I reply, "You'll have to ask your mom."

#3: Lines
I taught another very talented little six-year-old girl. She was a beginner and was quickly progressing through the primer-level piano books, which begin with learning how to read music notes off the staff. She looked ahead in the book one day and got very excited to see that she would soon be learning the staff. She exclaimed to her neighbor (at whose house she took lessons and practiced), "Look, Bonnie, I'm only six, and I get lines!"

I have had a few inquiries about piano lessons recently. I don't know if anything will come of it, but I would love to start teaching again. With comments like these from students, wouldn't you?