Monday, December 29, 2008

The value of study

So little G.A. has been sick this week. I got a little tickle in my throat sitting in the airport waiting room on our way out here, and 24 hours later it was yet another cold. That makes 3 in 8 weeks. I hate colds, when the prodrome hits, I think "ok, i've done this, I know what this feels like, let's just fast forward 7 days and I'll be well again. I've been recovering, and now GA is sick. That makes you feel pretty terrible as a parent, knowing that you, and only you, are resposible for your little one's misery. He's a good little trooper though, and he smiles at me between his periodic bouts of coughing and congestion, which makes the smiling a little sad.

The midnight thought of a semi-awake medical student with a sick child make me realize that I know nothing about medicine. I study about 40-55 hours a week, and finished a unit on the respiratory system not quite 1 week ago. For all that work, however, I realized as I listened to my little boy's cough, that I didn't actually learn anything while studying respiratory viruses. The first clue of course was the fact that my second respiratory exam was the worst one I've had since anatomy a year and a half ago. It became obvious of course, as well, when I could not recall which viruses caused RSV, Croup, pertussis etc, nor which ones were associated with wheezing v. stridor v. cough v. rhinorrhea. Fortunately, it seems that GA has only a garden variety cold, but seeing costal retractions and hearing his cough made my mind whirl away to unpleasant places.

I imagine then, that the main purpose of 3rd year will be to actually acquaint me with the real presentation of these and other illnesses. What does a child with stridor actually present like? I know theoretically what to look for, but I'm a pretty visual learner, so I need to actually see something before I can really recall it in a useful way. It was pretty disheartening to realize that all my work is not as productive as I had imagined.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Things that make it feel like Christmas (to Mindy):

Shopping: I have done most of our Christmas shopping online this year. It has been cold, and I didn't want to take the baby out. Besides the fact that all of our gifts have to go to our families in Idaho, Utah, and Oregon. So, if we have to ship them anyway, we may as well let the company we buy from ship the stuff for us. I did send a couple packages yesterday via the US Postal Service. It cost $10 per package. Therefore, I am a huge fan of's super-save shipping and other companies' free shipping offers. I think online shopping will become a Christmas tradition.

Christmas Cards: I need to keep the promise I made to myself last year to sent my Christmas cards before December starts. They are so much work! At least I don't make my own cards, although I admire my sisters' beautiful home-made cards every year.

The Christmas Photo: I like getting photos in Christmas cards I receive, so I like to send photos in our cards. We didn't get a professional portrait taken this year. In fact, the only family picture we had was a snapshot a neighbor took of us when we happened to be out on a walk with her on a nice Fall day. So, that's what made it into our cards.

The Messiah
Nat King Cole (I love his rendition of "Sing Sweet and Low". So beautiful!)
The Manhatten Transfer
My family's old Christmas mix my dad made years & years ago (before I was born?). I couldn't tell you who the artists are, so don't bother asking.

I also don't think it would feel like Christmas without at least one summer sausage. We have experienced these things, and we're fully in the Christmas spirit. It's the end of Spiff's block of Pulm, and it's off to Oregon for family, fun, and a two-week vacation!
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Great Words Part II

Last year I had a post about great words in medicine. This is a follow up post to that one, demonstrating a few of the new words I have learned in the respiratory module.

Ferruginous: Having the color of iron rust; reddish-brown.
Choryza: sticky nasal secretions, seen in RSV
Recrudescence: To break out anew or come into renewed activity, as after a period of quiescence.
Birefringence: Double refraction. This is seen in microscopy with certain compounds in the body, namely talc and amyloid stained with Congo Red.
Atalectasis: Collapsed alveoli in the lung.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

America the strange

So this is a picture of what I want for Christmas. This is the perfect gift. It combines NASCAR with Thomas Kinkade. Yes folks, for a limited time, two of the classiest things in America are united in one perfect painting. Look at the jets, and the little boy perched on his daddy's shoulders, just waiting for some fiery mayhem to entertain his drab little Dickensian life. It's almost Norman Rockwell-esque, only this is Art, whereas Norman Rockwell was just some paint-by-numbers hack. Perhaps I have those reversed. No matter, Thomas Kinkade has finally engraved the Sport of Kings with his enchanted brush.

Additionally, I have decided to use my car as a tombstone. There seems to be a trend in our fair city of putting up a sticker in the back window of the car saying "In Loving Memory of Wallace "Buck" Servohammer, 1981-2004." Granted, there are probably a disproportionate amount of untimely deaths, especially in the north. Why the automobile, however? What can a rolling epitaph acomplish that a stone monument cannot? I can only assume that the car itself is "in loving memory". That, to preserve the untainted memory of their loved one, the driver purchased this automobile. Thus, quite literally, the car is "in loving memory of Joe "pink-eye" Jones". Perhaps the phenomenon is even more macabre. The family, unable to afford a traditional burial plot, elected instead for a motorized one. The car, then, is a mausoleum with the remains inside, and the sticker is an affordable epitaph.

This brings me to another point. There is a local cemetery with an associated vault that claims on the entry sign to be "A Library of Lives". Implicit in the use of the term library, is the notion that items may be borrowed and returned. Presumably then, one can, as a member of the library, check out some remains, which are due back within a specified time period. I don't even want to contemplate what people do with the cadaver during their loan period. I wonder if there are very popular corpses which you can only check out on reserve? Also, if it truly is a library, doubtless one does not check out the same 'volume' every time. What do people look for as they comb the shelves? "Oh, this one looks good, he was around in the 1790's." They might say to themselves, hoping to check out a piece of history.

Well, these are the ghoulish thoughts that my have occupied my mind of late.