Friday, September 30, 2011

To-Do List

My ridiculous to-do lists are really quite ridiculous.  I get so over-ambitious when I make them up that there is really no possible way I can finish all the things on my list for a particular day.  But even knowing that, somehow I'm always still disappointed with myself when it happens, aka every single day.

Here is my to-do list, photo taken this past Monday morning:

As you've noticed, on Monday I was still working on things from the previous Wednesday.  As you've also noticed, Thursday is not on the to-do list.  That is because I finished everything I wanted to do on Thursday!  As I finish things, instead of crossing them off, I delete them.  Trust me, it's much more satisfying.  And being able to delete a whole day is really the best feeling there is.

I also usually include things like "shower" and "eat dinner" on my list because (A) those things do take up time in the day and (B) I really like being able to delete things from my list.  The reason you don't see any of those on the list above is because they actually get done, so they're always deleted from the list.  You're not gonna see "eat dinner" from Wednesday still on the list on Monday - that would mean I hadn't eaten dinner in 6 days!  Now that would just be ridiculous.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Beans For Breakfast

Medical school is ruining me.  For breakfast one morning this weekend I had poached eggs with runny yolks - and for 48 full hours, I nervously waited for Salmonella or Campylobacter symptoms (which, by the way, never showed up).  But even worse, there was a bird on my friend's window sill when we woke up on Saturday morning.  She said that birds always hang out there and that her air conditioning unit is covered in bird poop.  A normal person might have thought, "Oh that's annoying."  But all I could think about was that she was going to end up with histoplasmosis!  Histoplasmosis, really?  I need help.  And apparently so does Johnny Cash.

(fast forward to 1:30 to hear about his bout with histoplasmosis)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fever and Malaise

What I have learned in microbiology so far is that every single disease presents with fever and malaise.  Starting a test question with, "a patient comes into your office complaining of fever and malaise" is not helpful.

Differential diagnosis: anything (really narrows it down, thanks).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


For once, we didn't have lectures or any work to do after our exam yesterday which meant we could actually enjoy the afternoon without overwhelming feelings of guilt.

A few of us went to Jersey City for lunch and to see one of our friend's new apartment.  But while we were enjoying a guilt-free beer with our sandwiches and spicy french fries (yum!), I couldn't help wondering what everyone else in the restaurant does that they can sit and have leisurely drinks at 2pm on a Monday afternoon.  Students also?  Homemakers?  Work at night?  Work Tues-Sat?  My curiosity will always go unsatisfied because I think it's probably considered unmannerly to ask random people sitting near you what they do for a living and how they can possibly be doing what they're doing.

A definite perk of being in school, though, is that the day is pretty much yours if you want it - like today I made an appointment at the genius bar at the Mac store and every single time slot I wanted was open because how many people are going to the mall in the middle of a weekday?  I made the mistake of going to Shop-Rite last Sunday morning and it was craaaazy.  I realized I have to take advantage of being in school and do things like grocery shopping on weekdays, when normal people are at work making money.

I'll be in bed talking to my friends on gchat who are already at their offices, and in that moment I'm thinking I have the better life because it's 10:00 and I'm still in my pajamas.  But come 5 or 6pm when they sign off gchat, they're done for the night.  I'll still be on the computer for another 5 hours trying to figure out which bacteria are oxidase positive and Gram negative and show up pink on MacConkey agar but green on Hektoen plates (potentially still in my pajamas).

Pros and cons to everything.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Med Student Stereotypes #3

Stereotype #3: The possibility of free food will make a medical student attend almost any event.

There is nothing a med student loves more than free food.

When we plan for any sort of interest group meeting or elective, the majority of the planning goes into what food we're going to provide.  Because unless you have the MOST interesting interest group in the world talking about the MOST interesting topic in the world at a time when there's no other meeting going on and right after an exam.... you better be serving food if you want anyone to show up.

While some people do have a few interests that they might be willing to head to a meeting about even without the lure of free food, the best way to ensure a crowd at your event is to send out an email with FUN COLORS promising FREE FOOD!!!.  That way, even people who might not feel all that strongly about whatever it is you're trying to teach them will still show up.

Pizza is the stand-by, but to realllllly draw a crowd, some people get fancy.  Indian food, Chinese food, sub sandwiches.  But sometimes the amount of food you have to order is overwhelming, and pizza is just easier.  Plus, it's cheaper, and still delicious.  There were weeks last year when I ate free pizza for two meals a day like three days in a row.

This time of year is a heavy meeting time - all the interest groups are holding their first meetings, the non-credit electives are starting up, lecture series are beginning...

So let the season of free food (free = pre-paid in the Student Activities Fund of our tuition) begin!

to see stereotypes #1 and #2, click here and here

Editor's Note (can I be the writer and the editor?): The only other way to ensure a crowd at your event is to make it mandatory.  Unfortunately I don't have that power, although i would love to write a mass email to all the students, "Come to Global Health 101 - or PERISH."  Somehow, I don't think that would be ok.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

NSFW (just kidding, it's safe)

For those who don't know what NSFW means (hi grandma!), it stands for "Not Safe For Work."  Websites will often put this at the top of their pages as a warning to people who may be reading in a public place that what's about to follow may include something inappropriate - some image or video that you wouldn't want to be up on your computer screen at work if your boss happened to be walking behind you.

Don't worry, this post does not include any porn and is totally safe for work.  But sometimes the things we study don't really seem all that safe for work.

We're in the bacteria unit of microbiology and each day or so we learn about bacterial infections of different systems - of the skin, of the respiratory tract, of the gut, and of course, of the genitourinary tract... which basically consist of UTIs and STDs.

As you might imagine, our notes are filled with lovely pictures of all the characteristic sores and ulcers that accompany such bacterial infections.  And when I'm studying in a public study room, I feel very uncomfortable whenever someone walks behind me as I have giant pictures of disgusting genitalia on my computer screen.  Sometimes I even quickly minimize my notes (which totally makes it seem worse) before I remember that I'm not actually doing something wrong, and everyone around me also has to study those same lectures.

I would switch to studying less explicit diseases while in public places, but first of all - is studying the differences between watery and bloody diarrhea any better?  And second of all, when my professor includes clip-art like this (with sound effects!) in her lecture:

How am I supposed to be mature about it???

Friday, September 9, 2011

Procrastination Part II

This is the way my normal study habits work:

Do two minutes of work, check facebook and get annoyed that no one's posted anything new since the last time I checked, do two more minutes of work, check facebook again and get annoyed about what that one kid posted, do two more minutes of work, check facebook again and get annoyed that no one's posted anything new (not even that one annoying kid who ALWAYS posts things??), do FIVE WHOLE minutes of work, then reward myself by checking facebook, twitter, NYMag, Daily Beast, Perez Hilton, any med school blogs, facebook again, twitter again, go back to work and start the cycle over again.

How do I break this vicious cycle of spending all day in front of my computer and getting nothing done? I wish I could say self-control. Because one would think that I would have at least a small amount of that. Don't deceive yourself though, I don't.

I go to the study room on the 8th floor of our building because for the first two weeks of school I didn't know the wireless password so I had NO CHOICE but to actually do work for longer intervals than just five minutes. CRAZY, right?! And yet, I still found ways to procrastinate. For example by continuously counting how many pages there are left to go over in a particular lecture. Which is obviously really important considering at the bottom of every page of slides it says "Page X of Y Pages." I'm not kidding - I think I spend equal amounts of time counting the physical pages and actually going over the content in those pages.

The no-internet strategy doesn't work for me anymore anyway since someone so rudely shared the password with me last week. Basically I just need someone to sit behind me at all times making fun of how often I stray to a different website so I feel bad about myself and stick to studying.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


OK I clearly haven't posted in awhile. There are many reasons that I could give for why I haven't posted, but it's really just that I'm excellent at procrastinating.

I spend more time procrastinating than I do doing ANYTHING else. I procrastinate for more time than I actually study. I even procrastinate going to bed sometimes. I'll be lying in bed, absolutely exhausted, and will sit there flipping through random facebook albums or just hitting "Stumble!" over and over again, not even letting the pages load before I stumble again. All I want to do is go to sleep, but I just can't make myself close the computer and shut my eyes. And it's never like I'm doing something interesting on the internet that's keeping me up.

My biggest form of procrastination is watching bad TV illegally on my computer (shh, don't tell the police). Anyone who knew me growing up knows that watching TV was never a big part of my life. I was always the one left out in conversations about any show that was on the night before. But I have become absolutely addicted to shows like Teen Mom and Real Housewives of Anywhere. I watch plenty of good shows too, don't get me wrong. I went through the entire series of How I Met Your Mother in about 2 weeks, and I watched the whole first season of Game of Thrones in a day and a half. I've rewatched all of Futurama, and am re-beginning season one of The Simpsons for like the fifth time. All unnecessary! And yet I can't tear myself away.

Through the help of a friend, I have discovered a really wonderful and amusing form of procrastination which does not take as long as a TV show and is much more entertaining. Last year while studying for an exam, this friend sent a few of us an amazing picture in which she made herself pretty close to identical to Justin Beiber. Why would anyone (who is not a 12 year old boy) want to make herself look like Justin Beiber? To avoid doing work of course.

While I could never ever look like Justin Beiber no matter how hard I try (my hair is way too curly), with the help of Photo Booth, I have managed to take some pretty ridiculous looking pictures of myself instead of studying. The ones below were taken on two separate procrastination sessions. Please enjoy them, and I hope I still have friends after this (although I won't be surprised if I don't).

my personal favorite:

and one kinda pretty one just so no one thinks i'm actually a hideous monster...