Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Problem with Procrastination

            I am the kind of person who frets.  I fret and worry when I have a big test coming up or an argument with a friend, and I fret when I don’t have anything to fret about.  With my first big test of the semester coming up and the most important presentation of the semester looming just 8 days away, I have spent a fare amount of time this weekend worrying about everything that could possibly go wrong instead of just sitting down and studying.  I have 8 different types of aphasia to memorize along with a very complicated diagram of the brain complete with color coding and labeling of a million different sulci and gyri.  I have a stack of flashcards about 6 inches high, yet here I sit on the couch watching the Grammy’s and staring at them instead of memorizing them.  But my girl Taylor Swift is picking up awards left and right and she’s from Nashville so I’m kind of obligated to watch, right?!  Ok not the best reasoning.  Guess it’s time to head back to some itunes solo piano radio and the kitchen table which has become my permanent library ever since Friday’s big snow has turned Nashville into a ghost town.  Wish me luck!

It snowed in Nashville!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Let It Snow!

SNOW DAY!!!  That’s right people, the kids are out of school, snow is still falling, and the entire city of Nashville is freaking out.  Today’s snow storm has been the talk of the town for the past week with weather forecasters saying that emergency plans are in place and this time they are certain there will be significant snow fall. 
Because the weatherman was SO sure there was going to be a blizzard, my friends and I decided that last night would be a good night to go out.  Class would be canceled, we would get to sleep in, and it would be a three-day weekend.  So we all headed downtown to a wine tasting at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.  The premise of the party is that you form teams of three, each team brings three bottles of the same organic red wine, two bottles are opened for blind tasting and the other is saved to be added to the stash that goes home with the team that brought the winning bottle.  And guess what?!  My friend and classmate won third place out of 800 people and took home a cart loaded up with 50 bottles of wine!  Needless to say, that snow day was going to really come in handy.  After the classy wine tasting we headed over to Paradise Park…the trailer park bar.  With thoughts of Dr. Ohde and his 8:15am anatomy lecture far from our minds we danced the night away and made friends with the locals.


As I climbed into bed at 2:00AM with my pajamas on inside out, I set my alarm for 6:30 just in case the snow didn’t show, but fully intending to hit the snooze button at least 100 times and sleep until noon.  So when I woke up and rushed to the window you can imagine my disappointment when I saw that the ground was bone dry and there was not a snowflake to be found.  Not one stinking flake!  So off to class we went, with headaches and coffee cups in tow, to learn about the mesencephalon, diencephalon, and countless other things I know absolutely nothing about.
But as the day has gone on the “snow day” has finally started and it is actually kind of legit.  My second class of the day was canceled and my roommate and I have spent the afternoon eating our weight in popcorn and watching an entire season’s worth of Project Runway.  And though I am certainly loving the unexpected day of relaxation, the reaction of the locals is completely comical.  The snow is supposed to continue through tomorrow afternoon with a projected accumulation of up to 6 inches!  This is serious snow in Nashville.  The hospital has called a Code Orange Alert for Inclement Weather and has set up a conference room full of cots for staff members who don’t want to venture into the blizzard to head home.  Oh, you silly Southerners!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Is this real life?!

            That’s a direct quote from a girlfriend as she and I, along with 10 other girls, watched as a man in scrubs detached the heads and removed the brains of my Bubba (see below) and another cadaver we affectionately call Saggy Barbara…don’t ask.  That’s right folks, tonight was brain night in the anatomy lab.  The night started off like any other as my classmates and I made our way to the basement of Medical Tower North, giggling nervously to disguise the terror that we were actually feeling as we approached the dissection lab. 
When we arrived we were greeted by the man who would be doing the grunt work of removing the brains from the skulls for us.  This man, who was introduced to us as Jason, had a large beard, two pierced ears, and one of the most serious Southern drawls I have ever heard.  Not exactly what I pictured when Dr. Ohde described him as The Brain Expert.  Prior to the extraction of the brains, Dr. Ohde asked Jason to tell us a little bit about his background.  Maybe he should have first mentioned that some of us were a little squeamish and weren’t exactly thrilled to be talking about, much less working with, dead bodies.  Jason didn’t even begin to tiptoe around our apprehension as he described The Body Farm at the University of Tennessee where he received his education.
Apparently, The Body Farm in Knoxville, TN is a 40-acre property that is devoted to the study of body decomposition and is the primary training ground for FBI forensics.  Jason explained that not all individuals who donate their bodies to science are as lucky as my friend Bubba.  Some are thrown in rivers or trunks of cars (yes he actually said this) so that scientists can learn about the decomposition of the body.  And wanna know where they store these bodies before they bring them to The Body Farm?  Well, in a storage room located 30 feet below the turf of the UT football field of course!  Needless to say this was not exactly the way we wanted to start of the night.  Though I am certainly grateful that there are people who devote their lives to this type of work, I will never be one of them and don’t really have the burning desire to hang out with one of them either.
As for the actual dissection, I will spare you the details but basically it involved handsaws, hammers, and hair.  I spent the majority of his demonstration looking just beyond the cadaver itself and crossing my eyes – a trick I have perfected to make it look like I am watching intently while insuring that I am not “that girl” who has to wait in the hall until its over. 
At the end of the night I stood in the center of the room with my classmates as we passed around a real, human brain.  It was a pretty surreal experience to be holding something so incredibly intricate and sophisticated that not even the most advanced computers can rival its power.  Don’t get me wrong, it was completely disgusting and as brain juice dripped down onto my Chuck Taylors I was perfectly happy to pass it on to the person next to me.  But for that short moment I was holding a human brain in my hands and that was pretty awesome.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Nashville Neighborhoods

            One of the things that I love about Nashville is its lack of a real city center.  This might sound strange, and it was actually one of the things I didn’t like when I first got here, but it really makes for a different kind of city.  Rather than having a downtown hub that is dirty, crowded, and the only place to go for good restaurants, shops, and bars, Nashville has little pockets of wonderful-ness spread throughout the city.  Each one has its own character and personality and becomes the hangout for the neighborhood locals rather than the tourists, who DO head downtown for the honky tonk.  Don’t get me wrong, the honky tonk scene is fun every now and then but there are only so many nights that can be spent at Coyote Ugly, Wild Horse Saloon, and Paradise Park (a trailer park themed bar complete with an astro-turf floor).  Like many who live here in Nashvegas, I think of these places as the ones where you bring your out-of-town friends.  On a regular basis, though, I prefer to explore the multitude of neighborhood haunts.
            One of these little treasures is Edgehill Village.  Nestled between my neighborhood and the projects, Edgehill Village is a small strip of shops, restaurants, and art galleries each with its own personality and interesting curb appeal.  Though my girlfriends and I were there in the evening and couldn’t really get the full effect, I imagine that it is even more inviting in the daylight.  Our destination that night was a Mexican restaurant called Taco Mamacita where we would celebrate a friend’s birthday and engagement.  

            Originally based out of Knoxville, Taco Mamacita has a funky, eclectic vibe and is famous for over a dozen different kinds of tacos.  My favorite part of the restaurant was the d├ęcor which included a variety of different colored front doors that hung from the ceiling…well that and the Sangria of course!  I tried the California taco and Mexican street corn.  Both were delicious, but a little spicy for my taste.  As for right now, its’ about time to start making a bazillion anatomy flashcards for my exam this week so I’m off to Fido (the local coffee shop in MY neighborhood) for a chocolate croissant and a cup of coffee the size of my head!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

They Can't Make This Stuff Up...

            Yesterday I was able to finally take my new scrubs for a spin.  I walked to the Children’s Hospital alongside of a handful of doctors and nurses who live in my neighborhood feeling calm and collected.  I waltzed into the radiology department feeling sure that I could handle whatever types of patients my supervisor and I would be seeing that day.  Boy was I wrong!  It was a whirlwind of a day and I encountered things that I never imagined in a period of only 7 hours.  The Speech-Language Pathologists at Vanderbilt Children’s typically start their days off with video swallow studies.  These are basically like really incredible video x-rays that allow the SLPs to watch how a baby or child swallows in order to examine oral structures, determine problems, and recommend appropriate feeding options for the child and their family.  Our first three patients included a 15lb 3-year-old with prenatal cocaine exposure, a 5-month-old with suspected non-accidental head trauma with police investigation pending, and a preemie with congenital heart disease.  Needless to say, my head was spinning and I was frantically taking notes like an idiot in order to keep track of everything that was going on.  And despite the dire situations that these little ones were in, VCH is a pretty amazing place and it was clear that they were in great hands.

Vanderbilt Children's Hospital

           After finishing the swallow studies my supervisor and I headed upstairs to do “rounds” on the different critical care floors.  I like saying “rounds.”  Makes it seem like I am doing something really important…instead of scurrying around after my brilliant supervisor as she spouts off a million different acronyms and scientific terms that I jot down so I can Wikipedia them later and act like I knew them all along!  Fake it till you make it...isn’t that how the saying goes?! 
In the pediatric critical care wing our first stop was to check in on a 5-year-old who had been in a car accident and was thrown through the windshield just three days ago.  We were to do a cognitive evaluation with him to determine whether we could recommend to his neurologist that he be discharged.  Funny thing is, most normal 5-year-old boys don’t want to answer all of your questions, rattle off as many zoo animals as they can in a minute, or repeat a series of numbers backwards.  And this child was no exception.  After being poked and prodded by scary doctors all morning he was having none of it.  But after a little coxing and name-dropping some of my personal friends Dora, Thomas, and The Backyardigans he let me play a game with him, told me about his lizard, Spike, and even answered some of my supervisor’s questions.  After leaving this little man’s room I made a passing comment to my supervisor about how incredible it is to see the resilience of such young children.  To which she responded, “Yeah it’s amazing.  He’s looking much better than Dad who ended up with the turn signal lodged in his skull.”  Wait WHAT?!  The father ended up with the BLINKER lodged in his skull?!  Not ok.  Turns out Dad went in for surgery after the accident to repair his broken jaw and remove pieces of metal from his face and the surgeons discovered that the turn signal had broken off and pierced right through his head.  Guess ER really doesn’t make all this stuff up!  The rest of the day went relatively well and I got to see a bunch of interesting patients.  I managed to keep my breakfast down and only got on the wrong elevator twice.  Overall, I’d say not too shabby for the first day!  

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Putting It Out Into the Universe

The other day during my harrowing trip to the Opry Mills Mall, I treated myself to a new pair of sneakers as a little inspiration for my training for the Country Music Half Marathon.  Seems a little silly, I know, to be rewarding myself before any running has actually occurred and there is still plenty of time for me to back out of this overzealous endeavor.  However, I feel that if I do start to waver in my determination I already have a successful guilt trip waiting in the wings if I need a little boost to get going again.  Serious training might not start until a few weeks from now because the half marathon is not until April 24th but hey, I’m gonna need all of the time I can get.  But as my mom says, I am “putting it out into the universe” that I am going to complete this half-marathon.  No turning back now!

Monday, January 18, 2010

We Survived!...barely

So we did it!  Made it through our first cadaver experience (relatively) unscathed.  Though I can’t say that I didn’t have my doubts.  When our professor opened the door to that creepy basement room there was a collective gasp and we each began to tentatively inch our way toward the sheet-covered bodies.  Side note: When I say sheet, picture a thin, white. plastic tablecloth.  Just enough to disguise the details of the body but not nearly enough to keep me from seeing that my cadaver was akin to the likes of a jolly old grandfather (complete with bowl-full-o-jelly belly) who was likely named Bubba, judging by his multiple tattoos.  Oh and did I mention he still had a colostomy bag attached to his body?!  You think I’m kidding.  He was 69 years old when he died of Cardiopulmonary Disease but I prefer to picture him looking like this:

After getting over the initial shell-shock, Dr. Ohde informed us that we would be spending today’s lab cutting and pulling the skin away from the body of our cadavers.  Yes, it was just as disgusting as it sounds. 
But amidst our shrieking, gasping, and the occasional gagging, our dear Dr. Ohde made sure that we remembered just why we were spending our evening with Bubba and his friends.  He explained to us that we should not be afraid or grossed out by the bodies but rather we should think of them as four more teachers with us in the room.  These people were not morbid individuals who liked the thought of having their bodies poked and proded long after they had moved on, but they understood the value of this first hand experience.  They had given us a gift.  The gift of their bodies to be used as vessels for our further understanding of the incredible systems and structures that make up the human form.  And though Dr. Ohde didn’t actually take his sermon this far, his words did get me thinking about the individuals who had donated their bodies.  It got me thinking about how maybe Bubba had a better grasp than I do, of the fact that though our bodies are incredible, fine-tuned machines, they are really just a shell.  So what better way to put them to use then as instruments for teaching others after the body’s original inhabitant has moved on to bigger and better things.  Though I may have a long way to go when it comes to wrapping my head around this whole concept, tonight’s class definitely gave me some things to ponder…besides whether or not I will ever be able to eat a cheeseburger again.
So all in all, I guess it wasn’t as bad as I had expected.  Bubba and I got to know each other and he’s not quite as scary anymore.  But don’t think for a second that I didn’t come home and stand in a scalding hot shower, disinfect my clothes, skip dinner, and snuggle up on the couch with my DVR of The Bachelor in an attempt to get the smell and the sight of big Bubba off of my body and out of my head.  That is until next Monday…when we tackle the brain!  EEK!

Test of a Strong Stomach

Today our anatomy class starts the dissection portion of the lab.  From what I have been told, the dissection takes place in a dark basement with no windows…very Frankenstein-esque.  And did I mention that these are real human cadavers we are dissecting?  NO, we’re not talking cats or pigs but humans.  So needless to say I am a little apprehensive.   Though I tend to think of myself as somewhat of a badass when it comes to my strong stomach and lack of fear of all things medical, the idea of having Vicks Vaporub smeared across my upper lip to combat the stench of a dead body lying in front of me does make me a tad queezy.  We have been instructed to wear normal clothes but our professor suggested that we wear old tennis shoes.  When asked why we should be concerned about our shoes we were told that things tend to…well….”splatter.”  SICK.  Some of the girls in the class have been plotting the ways in which they could successfully get out of the dissection for weeks…I’ll get back to you with the over-under on fainters after tonight’s class.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

In Search of Scrubs

Tuesday morning I will start my second clinic rotation in the Children’s Hospital.  I am really excited for the fast paced environment and the range of different patients I will get to see.  And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little excited about the prospect of getting to wear scrubs everyday and working in close proximity to my very own McDreamy.  Obtaining these scrubs, however, made for an interesting afternoon.  The first place I attempted to go to was a uniform and equipment store right by the hospital that I chose by clicking on the first place that popped up on google.  Turns out this is not the most effective strategy.  When I plugged the address into my GPS I was lead to what looked like an abandoned warehouse in a neighborhood that would surely prompt my mother’s instruction “lock your doors and don’t make eye contact!”  Strike one.  I tried one more specialty store only to be shut down once again because they are closed on Sundays. 
Thats the thing about living in the south.  Generally, life is lived at a slower pace and this is especially evident on Sundays.  I was once told that if Tennessee is the heart of the Bible Belt, then Nashville is the buckle.  Therefore there is a church on every corner and these are the only establishments open on Sundays with the exception of gas stations….and The Opry Mills Mall.  Just typing those words makes me feel a little ill.  The Opry Mills Mall on a rainy Sunday afternoon is basically my worst nightmare.  It is filled to the brim with angsty tweens, screaming children, and pregnant teens.  It is also the kind of mall that serves as an all day destination for many, complete with glow in the dark mini golf, a giant carousal, and an IMAX movie theater.  In a way it almost reminds me of a casino where they pump the building with too much oxygen and block out all natural light so when you emerge you feel a little loopy and have no idea what time it is.  But alas, it is the home of The Scrub Shop, and therefore, my seemingly last resort in the search for my Grey’s Anatomy style scrubs.  But it was worth it because after what seemed like an eternity I emerged with a very cute pair of scrubs and only a minor migraine.