Friday, April 30, 2010

Aaaaaand We're Done.

See ya dissection shoes...notice the biohazard trash bag...ick.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Love My Roommate

What I came home to after 18276498127 hours of studying last night :-)

Coyotes on the Nashville?

            You read that correctly.  The big news in Nashville over the past few weeks...coyotes.  ON THE LOOSE.  EATING PEOPLE'S DOGS.  I'm not okay with this.  Though I know that I am in a different region of the country and the wildlife is supposed to be different (aka the rabid squirrels that live on my building and literally lounge on my front stoop) but coyotes?  I see no desert here, ladies and gentlemen.  But despite the fact that they seem very much out of place, the coyotes are apparently quite a problem in this city.  There is even a website devoted to helping coyotes and humans coexist in Nashville.  You think I'm joking but check it out.  And it case you might be wondering how to handle the coyote presence in your own town I have included some helpful tips from the Nashville local news:
  • Don't feed coyotes (duh).
  • Secure garbage container lids.
  • Feed pets indoors.
  • Don't leave children outside when coyotes are around (also duh).
  • Trim shrubbery to remove coyote hide outs (I think this one is funny).
  • Install fencing that is at least 6 feet tall and 6 inches below ground level (yeah okay...I'll get right on that).
This picture actually terrifies me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bubba...It's Been Real

            We thought this day would never come.  Anatomy lab is finally over!!  I know you're all devastated that you won't be hearing all of the gory details anymore.  But to be honest, I think the end of the semester came just in time.  You see, despite the fact that he is huge and always full of surprises, Bubba actually contained a lot of great representations of anatomical structures (according to Dr. Ohde).  As a result, pretty much every inch of him has been cut, poked, and prodded...not to mention the fact that he is starting to smell a little funky.  So last night we said our goodbyes to our four "teachers."  Though we were clearly delirious after a 13 hour day during finals week (see photos below) we did take a moment to silently express how grateful we were to the individuals who donated their bodies so that we could learn all about the human form and someday better serve our patients because of it.  Though I was certainly not sad to throw away my dissection shoes and the Vick's vapor rub forever, it actually was a really incredible experience.  And to give you a better idea of what life is like in the dissection dungeon I've included some pictures.
Dr. Ohde's Anatomy Lab 2010

Marie's not so sure about the whole face dissection thing...

So we had a little fun with George...

Did I mention we were delirious?

Sweet Dr. Ohde and his scalpel :-)


Monday, April 26, 2010

How was your weekend?

            Well it was a crazy weather weekend here in the Bible Belt.  As you may have heard, there were strong storms and over 25 tornados that touched down from South Carolina to Tennessee to Mississippi (literally just had to say the little rhyme out loud to remember how to spell that state).  And while the rain was coming down in buckets and the wind was gusting at unnerving miles per hour, I was spending the weekend doing tons of fun Nashville things with my parents who were in town for a visit!  Nope…the rain didn’t put a damper on our plans!  And my mom and I were actually kind of excited when we heard the warnings about rough weather.  You see when we came to Nashville just last year to scope out the city and find a place for me to live we were greeted with similar weather.  Except that time we heard the sirens.  Yep…in this part of the country tornado sirens are not uncommon and they are freaking loud.  And scary when you’ve never heard them before.  And even scarier when the people on the radio are frantically telling you to “get to your safe place!” and you’ve just checked out of your hotel and therefore, don’t have an interior basement bathtub with a mattress to pull over your head or really any “safe place” at all.  But this time we knew the drill (and my house comes complete with a basement bathtub just for the occasion), so we kind of wanted to hear the sirens to prove to my Dad that they do exist.  No such luck.
The payoff after the big storm hit Nashvegas

But, we braved the storm and successfully stuffed our faces with biscuits at the Loveless Café, got some shelter from the rain and a taste of the tropics at the Opryland Hotel, got a little tipsy (ahem…Mom J) at the Yazoo Brewery, cozied up for a late afternoon movie (well…Dad took a nap), and ate a delicious dinner at the Germantown Café complete with a spectacular view of the city.  And that was just Saturday!  On Sunday we woke to gorgeous blue skies and temperatures in the low 70’s.  Pretty much perfect after the sudden hurricane/tornado/flash flood from the day before!  Hope y’all had a great weekend and managed to stay dry!
Loveless Cafe

Uh-may-zing biscuits at the Loveless...pretty sure I ate about 10.

Inside the Opryland Hotel

Tasting and tour at the Yazoo Brewery in The Gulch!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cochlear Implant Activation

Yesterday was a first for me. I got to observe the activation of a cochlear implant! Doesn’t sound very cool, I’m sure, especially to those of you who don’t really know what a cochlear implant is or what it does. But I assure you, seeing one of these devices activated for the first time is pretty amazing. A cochlear implant is a device that stimulates the cochlea via an electrode array that allows an individual with little to no hearing function to be able to process sound. Prior to the widespread use of the cochlear implant, these individuals may have been fitted with hearing aids (from which they likely received little to no benefit) or learned American Sign Language and became part of the deaf community. It is WAY more complicated than that but it’s finals week and my brain isn’t totally functioning…and I’m guessing y’all out in blog land don’t really care about the technical details. Anyway…the sound that individuals “hear” through the cochlear implant is far from the normal sound that you and I hear, in fact it is relatively garbled and sounds somewhat robotic; however, it is sound none the less and the brain is able to process and make sense of it.

            These days, kids are receiving cochlear implants earlier and earlier due to required infant hearing screenings and a growing understanding of just how crucial early access to sound is to a child’s speech and language development. As a result, many students in the Mama Lere Hearing School, where I have been working this semester, have either unilateral or bilateral cochlear implants. Typically, these children are identified with a hearing loss, are surgically implanted with a cochlear implant, and a few weeks later are “turned on.” You see, the cochlear implant is not turned on or activated until a few weeks following surgery. This is to allow the incision site to heal and the implant to “settle.” Then comes the fun part. The implant is turned on and the child (or adult) can hear sound! For many of these patients this is the first time they have had access to sound in one or both ears.
            So yesterday one of the clients I have been seeing this semester was “turned on.” This little girl, only 6 years old, has worn a hearing aid in her left ear for years but has never heard a sound in her right ear. I will call her “Little A”…gossip girl style. Because her activation was approaching, this little one’s teacher had been getting her pumped up for the big day and she was very excited. Some children are scared of the process but because so many of the children at the MLHS have implants they are used to seeing their friends with them and the students think it is pretty cool to have a CI (which, by the way, comes complete with a decorative cover that the child picks out…the ones in the MLHS range from zebra print to pink flowers to camoflague!).

            Anyway…back to the activation. So this sweet little 6 year old and her family arrived at the appointment excited and ready for some right ear hearing action but braced for the possibility that Little A may not like what she hears. Implant activation can be traumatic for some young children and its not uncommon to see some tears when the device is first turned on. After showing Little A how the implant works by fitting pretend implants onto a fuzzy koala bear, her own implants were turned on.

            Instead of bursting into tears, Little A nonchalantly said, “Oh! I hear that!” Not exactly the drama I was expecting. But the really cool part came a few minutes later. Little A’s baby brother had fallen asleep in his mom’s arms during the appointment and had begun snoring. When no one was looking, Little A turned to her right, looked at her brother, and laughed at his snoring. Almost immediately, Little A’s mother was in tears. This little, insignificant moment meant the world to Little A’s mother. As she explained to us, Little A has never turned to a sound on her right. Because she had never heard on this side, she would always turn all the way around to her left to find the source of sound. Additionally, she would never have heard the soft snoring of her little brother on her right side. That was until she had received the implant. If she couldn’t hear that snoring…imagine what else she was missing out on! Little A was so proud of herself and was beaming ear to ear when she left the office with her koala bear and her brand new purple CIs. Though adjusting to her implant will certainly take time, I am so excited to see how Little A grows and develops with her new, working “ear"!
Below is a video of another child's cochlear implant activation. Though this is not Little A, this child's activation will give you an idea of what it is like!

P.S. I'm sorry that was the world's longest blog post.  But for those of you who made it this far...thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wrapping Things Up

            The end of semester wrap-up has begun and today is my last day to work with the little ones at the Mama Lere Hearing School.  I am sad to be leaving, especially because these kids are pretty much hilarious and provide me with great material for blogging J  But I am excited for a month off and a new clinic placement in just a few weeks.  And don’t worry, I still plan to volunteer in the school at least once a week so I will get plenty of face time with my main man “Wajuh.”  Once thing I won’t miss about the Mama Lere kids though, is the ‘tude that sometimes surfaces when they decide that I am not their real SLP and they don’t really have to pay attention to me.  Not cool.
            Just last week I was working with one kindergartener on regular and irregular past tense verb forms.  We were playing “past tense verb charades” which, I think, is a pretty darn fun way to learn your past tense verbs.  Girlfriend thought so too.  Well…that was until the game was over and it was time to move on to a book activity at the table.  It’s like my (not so) little brother who used to cry when my mom picked him up from a birthday party.  She would ask him how the party was and Scott would reply, “It was awful.”  “Why?!” my mom would ask.  “Because its over!”  So yeah…my little friend was not so please with me when I ended the game and as a result, she decided to put her head on the table and refuse to speak or look at me…or even acknowledge that I was alive for that matter.  I tried every trick up my sleeve and when nothing seemed to work I finally decided I would begin reading the book regardless of whether or not she was paying attention.  The book was called Loose Tooth (targeting the final /th/ sound).  And as luck would have it, this pouty little kindergartener had two missing front teeth.  THANK YOU GOD.  Her head instantly popped off the table and she was once again engaged in therapy.  Crisis averted.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Heart Dissection

            I have to apologize for not writing in almost a week.  But honestly, my life hasn’t been all that exciting recently.  So, yeah, I watched a dissection of a human heart last week but still.  Just kidding.  The heart dissection was absolutely amazing.  A retired cardiothroasic surgeon was our guest in the anatomy lab, affectionately known as the dungeon due to it’s lack of windows, ventilation, and the overwhelming stench of formaldehyde and dead bodies.  This surgeon had practiced for many years and then retired to teach biology at Hillsboro High School here in Nashville.  He now is employed as a full time grandfather.  But don’t think that a few years out of the OR have made Dr. Tye Finch at all rusty.  In fact, this man is nothing short of brilliant.  He explained to us the inner workings of the human heart in great detail, yet made the information understandable and not so intimidating.  Because honestly, having a human heart on the table in front of you is pretty intimidating.  Just like my experience with the brain at the beginning of the semester I was struck by the power and sheer complexity of the organ that was sitting in front of me. 

            Dr. Finch sat for almost an hour as we drilled him with questions about pacemakers, hypoplastic hearts, and our grandfathers’ triple bypasses.  He was patient and explained everything in a way in which we could understand.  And he was funny!  He provided us with tricks to remember the direction of blood flow through the chambers of the heart and reminded us that, “if you are an atrium you better not get carried away!”  Oh, anatomy jokes.  I’m a huge dork.  Dr. Finch also showed us the way in which bicuspid and tricuspid valves work by having us cup our hands and put them up to his to form the “leaflets” of the valves.  Putting my little gloved hand up to Dr. Finch’s hands that have spent years putting someone’s loved one’s heart back together, made me grateful that there are people smart enough and dedicated enough to put up with 4 years of medical school (gulp) and hours of practice to operate on our most precious organ.

Monday, April 12, 2010

God Bless Tennessee

            When my three siblings and I were growing up we, like all young children, often heard tails of our parents’ upbringing.  How simple their lives were.  How different the times were.  Blah, blah, blah we get it.  But there are a few stories that have stuck in my mind over the years.  For instance, the one about little Johnny Ball who was caught by a neighbor as he was ‘discretely’ relieving himself behind a too-skinny tree in the front yard, (likely experiencing the whole ostrich with his head in the sand phenomenon…if I can’t see them, they definitely can’t see me!).  Mama Ball also enjoys telling the one about how she was known as the best kisser in her high school.  The story comes complete with a tour of her favorite kissing corners at Page High School (no, this is not a joke). 
But the story I remember the most about my mom’s childhood would have to be the one where she and the other students on her bus convinced their driver to stop at a convenience store every day on the way home from school so that she could buy herself an RC Cola and a Moon Pie.  See, as my mom tells it she lived out in the coun’ry (a.k.a. a gorgeous house on a golf course that was just a little off the beaten path J) and there is nothing like the combination of an RC Cola and a Moon Pie to put on smile on a Southern Belle’s face.  In fact, she loves the RC/MP combo so much that I had to buy her a box of moon pies and hand deliver them on my last trip home…since, for some crazy reason, Genuardi’s doesn’t sell this delicacy.

            Now we always thought the combination of an RC Cola and a moon pie was a little strange, not to mention somewhat nauseating if eaten every day after school.  But, our mom insisted that the pairing of the RC and the Moon Pie was second to none.  So you could imagine the frantic phone call my sweet mama received when I discovered that on June 21st, 2010, my new home state of Tennessee will be hosting the 16th Annual RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival!  That’s right.  A whole festival dedicated to that favorite after school snack, complete with watermelon spitting and pig calling contests and the cutting of the world’s largest moon pie.  I seriously can’t make this stuff up.

            So apparently, my mom was not the only one who saw the value in this unexpected culinary combination.  And as a result she has informed me that she will be “hitching up her tractor” and meeting me in Bell Buckle, TN to experience this heaven-on-earth for herself.  And just to prove to you that this celebration is legit, I will leave you with a little blurb and some pictures found on the website for the one and only RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival…

"RC and Moon Pie have always gone together in Southern tradition like pinto beans and cornbread or biscuits and gravy. No one is completely sure how these two products became so eternally linked, although local legend has it that it was started by farmers who only came to town seasonally to buy supplies and sell crops. The RC Cola, being the largest and cheapest soda, and the Moon Pie, being the largest and cheapest snack, were the treats of choice for poor farmers looking for a bargain." (Nashville Examiner Online 2009)
Just some people professing their love for the RC Cola and the Moon Pie

Pig calling contest

Saturday, April 10, 2010

And the Countdown Begins

That’s right people.  Three more weeks and I will officially have one year left of grad school.  It is crazy how fast this year has flown but at the same time I feel like I have been here for a lifetime considering how much I have learned and how much more I know now than I did last August.  Though I still have a LONG way to go and I cannot imagine diagnosing and treating my own clients in just a year, I feel confident that I will be well prepared when I finally graduate.
As for right now though, (because remember I’m trying that whole “living in the moment” thing), I am spending a gorgeous Saturday up to my elbows in lesson plans and ironing out the details for Toddler Group on Monday, which I will be running on my own!  My supervisor will be there with me but I am responsible for planning the target vocabulary for the four-week unit as well as the books, songs, and language/audition activities.  You might think that planning for two two-year-olds would be a piece of cake.  But let’s not forget the old terrible twos.  Add to that the fact that these little ones have recently received their cochlear implants and are VERY new listeners.  As a result, the strategy of “I will count to three and then I will help you…” is used quite often.  All of that means that there is a lot more to take into consideration when planning for these rug rats.
Right now I am thinking a Mother’s Day theme (as the units last for a month…putting us right on track to celebrate the mommies at the end of the unit).  Targets will include family vocabulary and daily routines.  Expressions targeted will include ‘surprise!’, ‘I love you,’ and ‘wake up!’  Once again…don’t be jealous…my life is seriously thrilling right now J

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Weekend Review

So I am officially back into school mode after a crazy fun weekend in DC.  And I am sorry to say that the closet has still not recovered, the bag is still not unpacked, and the laundry is getting just plain ridiculous.  BUT, it was worth it.  And I had an anatomy exam this morning, which clearly means that I am exempt from all things domestic/orderly for at least another 24 hours while I recover, right?  I had such a great weekend with family and best friends, celebrating Easter with summer-like temperatures and more cherry blossoms then I have ever seen.  
I arrived in our nation’s capital on Thursday night and was picked up by my sweet sister who had just gotten home from a whirlwind trip of her own to Atlanta.  She literally hopped off of a plane at Reagan and raced over to get me at BWI.  Needless to say, after nearly 3 hours of traffic we arrived at her adorable apartment in Woodley Park in desperate need of dinner and drinks.  We headed to The Diner in Adam’s Morgan and gorged on giant salads, macaroni and cheese, and lots of wine. 
On Friday, Mom and Scott arrived in the city and we spent an afternoon enjoying the sunshine.  Our first stop was lunch on the roof deck at Lauriol Plaza (complete with strawberry daiquiris duh!).  Next we ventured out to the Mall to check out the cherry blossoms and do some sight seeing.  I think Katie was a little embarrassed, being that she is a DC local, that Mom was really getting the full Washington Monument experience!  After a long, crowded metro ride home (due to the excess amounts of cherry blossom-seeking tourists), we met up with Dad for a little summer time happy hour on Katie’s roof deck.

           Friday night was spent with some of my favorite Demon Deacons in Georgetown…we got drinks in the very same booth where JKF proposed to Jackie O!  Just one thing on my growing list of reasons why I love this city.  On Saturday the Ball clan (minus Andy…we missed you so much!) hit up the Newseum and the National’s/Red Sox game.  So fun!

On Sunday, we celebrated Easter with lots of family in both DC and Maryland.  Prior to our arriving in DC, Katie had done some planning as to how we would be spending our weekend.  Overall, I thought her itinerary was fabulous…that was until I heard that she was suggesting we attend a sunrise church service at the Lincoln Memorial.  If by sunrise she meant 10am, I was all in…but no.  She meant sunrise as in meeting the fam at the metro at 5:45am to head to the service.  Oh, heck no.  Not exactly what I’d had in mind especially since I had just gotten home from the bars in Glover Park 3 hours earlier.  But in the end, it was all worth it.  Though I was less than thrilled when Mama Ball delivered my 5:30am wake up call, and didn’t buy my argument that even Jesus wasn’t up at that hour, the service was absolutely beautiful.  It was pretty amazing to see how many people turned out for a service that was that stinking early!  And to watch the sunrise over the Washington Monument was something that I will not soon forget!

P.S.  Anyone have suggestions for getting a Duggar-sized family of ants out of your kitchen?  Turns out they decided that since I was gone for the weekend it would be a great time for them to move in.  Yuck!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Stress = A Big Mess

When my life gets crazy and school has me overly stressed I tend to freeze rather than get going.  Like I’ve said, I’m a worrier, so when I am busy fretting, other things in my life tend to fall by the wayside.  Things that are important but not crucial…so I guess I can get away with slipping for a little while.  One of those things that I tend to let get away from me is laundry.  Between my scrubs, clinic clothes, running clothes, and regular clothes I create a lot of laundry.  And unlike my normal self, which is usually relatively organized and neat, stressed me is kind of a train wreck.  So my way of tackling my motor speech exam, excessive amounts of clinic lesson planning, and upcoming trip to DC this week was this…
Okay, so this isn't my actual closet and these aren't my actual clothes but the thought of literally airing my dirty laundry on the internet for all to see kind of creeped me out...but you get the idea...

That’s right.  For some reason I felt it was too difficult to drop my clothes into the laundry basket a few feet away and instead dropped them into a massive pile inside my closet.  I guess I feel that if the mess is contained inside the closet it is not really a mess?  Though I absolutely adore my walk-in and it is pretty much my favorite place in the entire apartment (when I first moved in I actually sat inside it with the door closed for a few minutes just to marvel at the fact that I could actually see all of my shoes!), it tends to become a bottomless pit of clothing during busy times of the semester.
                Though the thought of leaving this mess here over the weekend and having to come home and deal with it on Sunday night after my mini-DC vacay makes me a little sick to my stomach, the thought of cleaning it up right this minute is even worse.  SO…here it will sit until I return hopefully rejuvenated and full of energy that will be put towards reorganizing my life.  Just in time for finals!