Thursday, May 20, 2010

Closing Shop

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I am closing this one and starting a new one. There have been a lot of changes in my life, and I feel the need to start fresh. You can read more over at

Friday, January 22, 2010

I'm tired...

I hate Fridays. And.... I love Fridays. Of course, Friday signals that start of the weekend where I know I'm going to get some sort of rest, but Friday also means coming home (which is good) and realizing I'm going to have to leave again in a short amount of time (the bad part).

I got home today around 4:30, unpacked my stuff, and laid on the bed while Joe was cooking dinner. And then it hit me - in 48 hours I'll be walking out the door again. When I signed up for med school, I knew it would be hard, but I had no idea the hardest part would be the emotional taxation. Being apart from my home and Joe every week takes away part of me that, I think, would allow me to relax a little more. Medical school is stressful alone, and add being away from your spouse all week and the stress compounds. Not to mention working full-time, and I often feel like I'm going crazy.

I find myself counting the days until my last exam of M1....

And make it my mantra that I only have ___ more days left.

For you pre-meds out there that stumble upon my blog, medical school is hard. There's stress, anxiety, the feeling of helplessness, being overwhelmed, like it will never end. Eventually, it does, but when you do the happy dance of excitement that you got in, remember that on the first day of class, your life dies. You no longer have free time for your friends and family. You get the signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation. You learn to appreciate coffee, black, and strong. You look forward to federal and university holidays and weekends, not for rest or relaxation, but because you have extra time to cram all the material into your head.

"They" say it gets better, that first year (and second year somewhat) are the worst for academic-induced sleep/life-deprivation. Having had a clinical rehab career for 10 years, and watching my mother go through med school, I know this to be true. I know it gets better, and that any night on call in any rotation beats cramming for exam after exam as an M1. However, I'm stuck as an M1 right now and really wanting it to end. I want to live in one house. I want to wake up every morning next to my husband. I want to come home every evening to my husband and my house. I'm tired of a futon as a makeshift bed. I'm tired of spending more time with roommates than my husband. I'm tired of trying to juggle work, school, and study. I'm tired, tired, tired!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A new semester...

The Spring 2010 semester is here. My agenda is as follows:

Behavioral Science

Now, I'm quite stoked about the first three courses. The latter, however, as a conservative, deeply disappoints me from the start. Our semester has begun with a review of health care policy, aka "why you students should just accept the government health care plan". Our lectures are by a man who holds a Ph.D., but, with a straight face spouts off the liberal talking points that have been debunked time and time again.

46 million Americans uninsured? No......

The U.S. has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the developed world. Not necessarily...

The uninsured can't afford to buy health insurance. Not according to this book...

Mercifully, these were the overt themes of the lecture, assumingly because we only had a 50-minute time frame for lecture, with some minor topics including the lecturer praising HMOs as the best way of controlling costs.

There were a few comments the lecturer made that I agree with, including the idea that if patients and physicians want more autonomy in their care, then costs will be higher than if the gov't decides on care and rationing of care. The rest of the semester that deals with health care policy will also touch on ethical topics such as sanctity of life, autonomy, health care rationing, alleged "access", and many more.

Fortunately, much of the semester is an introduction to psychiatry for 2nd year, so the health care policy lectures will be sporadic. What really irritates me the most is the idea that I'm taking out student loans at $50,000 a year to have professors use their political persuasion to lecture me. This lecture was not objective, there were no alternative views addressed, the statistics and studies that use them were false (have been debunked), and the lecturer made vague derogatory references to the political persuasion I belong to. I am not a Republican, or "big R" Republican, but a republican - "little r" republican (credit to Mike Church for the "little r" term). A hybrid of libertarian, constitutional, and republican conservative ideals. Conservative being key.

I took the opportunity to email a widely known physician activist against gov't-run health care for advice on how to handle this course. Given the nature of my home institution and the air of liberalism in the instructor, the best advice I was given was to keep my head down, regurgitate for the exam, and keep my conservative ideals in check for my future practice. And unfortunately, that's what I'm going to do. I highly doubt my university, the same university that employs Bill Ayers, btw, will actually concede to giving equal time to conservative options for healthcare in this case. In the end, though, I will have no excuse not to be armed with knowledge of the ideas the left wants to implement, and how I can do my best to implement my "little r" republicanism in the face of this.

I'm sure I will comment more on this course as the semester moves on. The rest of my courses though are great. I do enjoy my professors and appreciate that they give us a strict scientific education without much bias. Of course, there's always some element of bias in one's own field, but they do well to keep it to a minimum. No political themes, (save one immunology professor last year), no ethical or moral quandries to worry about. The material alone is hard enough without having to to bring emotion into play! Even our genetics professor was fairly balanced when discussing stem cells and other controversial medical issues.

Being a conservative, and a Christian one at that, I still feel it's important to be armed with all the information present in medicine today. I need to learn what embryonic stem cells are, and what they're used for. I just don't want my professors making qualitative statements about these topics based on their personal opinions. Just give me the facts and let me decide. Yes, abortions exist, and I want to know what the procedure is in an anatomical, physiological, and surgical sense. Some states allow physician-assisted suicide now. I want to know how it's performed in a biochemical and physiological sense. Do NOT tell me it's my "duty" to perform them though, just because you approve of them.

And so far, with exception to my new Behavioral Sciences course, it's been fairly benign. Now, for topics!

Biochem started the semester off with a lecture on blood clotting and thrombosis. Our current lecturer is incredibly thorough, too.

Physiology started out with the GI system. So I guess I'm learning how to deal with other people's shit right now (<--- comic relief portion of the post). Seriously, though, the GI system is considered one of the nasty, undesirable topics, but there's a lot of interesting things happening with our nervous systems and hormones that allow our bodies to keep on going.

Neuroscience seems to strike fear into the hearts of my classmates, but I think this will be the sleeper course that I come to love. Anatomy was also that way for me. Neuro is starting smoothly, mostly because my original career and degrees required a significant amount of knowledge of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. Learning lower extremity sensory and motor movements will be challenging, but I'm hoping the rest will be a more in-depth review. I'm really looking forward to the lab - I really enjoyed my neuroscience lab when working on a doctorate degree years ago (of which I left to study medicine).

Monday, January 04, 2010

Quotes from Fern's Bible....

I found a program to the funeral of an old Mennonite woman I cared for when working in Arthur. The following are quotes taken from her Bible:

"Quotes from Fern's Bible"

  • There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit.
  • Worship is gathering to praise God, listening for Him to speak; through music, scripture or prayer; God may speak through a person or what we read. If we listen carefully, we will hear God.
  • There will be more power in the pulpit when there is more praise from the pew.
  • If the going is really easy - beware! You may be going downhill.
  • Do you believe the Bible? We believe that part of the Bible that we put into practice.
  • True wisdom starts with a heart full of truth, not a head full of facts.
  • Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer except that which lies outside the will of God.
  • Heaven's delights will far outweigh earth's difficulties.
  • Fear God and you'll have nothing else to fear.
  • There are none so good that they can save themselves, none so bad that God cannot save them.
  • The man who continues pulling on the oars doesn't have much time to rock the boat.
  • You don't need to know where you are going provided you know who you are following.
  • The church must preach or perish, teach or tarnish, evangelize or fossilize.
  • Conversation to Christ makes useful saints out of useless sinners.
  • A well-read Bible means a well-fed soul.
  • We are saved by God's mercy, not by our merit; by Christ's dying, not our doing.
  • The church is like a bank - what you put into it causes your interest to grow.
  • God often uses unique methods to perform mighty miracles.
  • A small step of obedience is a giant step to blessing.
  • Don't let yesterday's failures bankrupt tomorrow's efforts.
  • You cannot repent too soon because you do not know how soon it will be too late.
  • Sometimes we are so busy adding up troubles that we don't have time to count our blessings.
  • It is good to follow the pastor when the pastor follows the Master.
  • Plan as if Christ's return were years away, but be ready as if it were today.
  • When criticizing don't forget God is listening.
I've wanted to put these in print for a while now. I never knew this woman when she was full of life. I only knew her as her mind left her, an island to herself in a sea of men. The quotes she left behind tell me her faith was great. She lived to be 91 years old, and the purpose of her life lives on.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

End of the Year Update...

Seems like I'm only getting to this blog quarterly. It's been a busy year! Finished final exams last week and managed to pass all my classes! I had a grade high enough for honors in Genetics going into the final exam, but my Respiratory Physiology exam was the same day, and I just didn't have the time to study for both, given my exam schedule. So, I ended up only glancing at the Genetics material to get through Physiology. I ended up not doing very well on both exams, but had I not done that, I would have failed Physiology, so it worked out ok. I just didn't get my honors. Overall, I think I'm somewhere in the middle of my class, or at least that's where I've been on the exam histograms (except for my Genetics and Physio finals). And that's just fine with me right now.

Now that exams have ended we're gearing up for Christmas. This year we are spending it with the Hedlunds since we were with the Carrs last year. With some time off in between classes we are also going to clean out our basement (we've accumulated so much STUFF) and put a plan together for redo-ing the master and guest bedroom and master bath. We would like to sell our house soon because come 2nd year of medical school, I won't be able to work and money could be tight for making the mortgage and bills work. Once the snow clears we also need a new roof, and that should be the last of the necessary improvements to sell the house.

The snow season has started - we currently have a couple inches on the ground, and Joe is really getting a kick out of his new truck and the 4 wheel drive. Something tells me it's going to be a really white Christmas this year!

Not much else to say right now... I'm undergoing decompression after such a stressful 4 months. Perhaps after Christmas or the New Year I will write more.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Birthday week....

Joe turned 40 this past weekend!!! Woo! Had a nice party here for him with family and friends and a LOT of food and HOT weather. It was exhausting, though. I will post pictures when I get them loaded.

Last Wednesday I decided to quit my job. The company I worked for just crossed a few lines and I'd had it. I was working in several nursing homes, but at one in particular the nursing staff just couldn't get it together. Therapy orders would sit for weeks before being called in to the doctor and implemented and people I would refer for swallowing tests at the hospital were not able to get them done because of the lax in calling in orders. Communication around the home was ridiculous - I would make a diet change and nursing would get pissed if I directly told dietary. The Director of Nursing was worthless, IMO. She was afraid of confrontation, and when I came to her with my issues, she was upset because I was "mean" and "yelling" at her. WTF? It's mean and yelling when I ask you to do your job?

I took my concerns to my regional director, who came in and met with the DON, and then did.... nothing. Didn't have my back for the behavior of the nursing staff toward therapy and the obvious JCAHO violations in letting orders sit for so long. IMO, the guy had no spine and just wanted to keep the peace. Unfortunately, when a nursing staff crosses the line to involve patient care, you can't just "keep the peace". So that irritated me this past month. THEN, looking at my pay stub for the 7/1-7/15 pay period, I noticed I was missing about an hour and a half of travel time. Looking at my copy of my original travel log and my paycheck, I knew something wasn't right. I called the company's billing department and found out my regional manager, the same spinless guy from before, had made changes to my travel log without my permission or even talking to me. Talk about fraud!!!! I called his supervisor and she said she'd look into it. This was last Monday, and I still haven't heard back from her.

So last Wednesday, I stopped at the post office before heading to work because my company sent my nametag and the post office was holding it. I went to pick it up, and I had to pay for the postage. Seriously. My company couldn't even send me a nametag without taking money from me. At that point, I'd had enough. I'm a PRN employee and I didn't need to give a notice at all. So I walked into work on Wednesday and told them that would be my last day. The End.

My regional manager kept calling me, leaving messages about being concerned that I quit, that he had no idea I was going to quit, and how would he find coverage? I never called him back. I felt no obligation. I let my facility rehab directors know and tied up loose ends with nursing staffs for those patients I had on therapy and finished out my day. There was no reason to call the regional director, especially since he was the one who took pay from me and it still hadn't been resolved. Not my problem anymore.

So, this week I'm on "vacation" at home in Sandwich and working on the office. So far, the walls are spackled, the trim is down, and the next step is to paint (tomorrow). After that, we can put flooring down and new trim up. It's coming along!

Friday, July 24, 2009

July 2009

Life seems to happen in spurts! There are days I have tons of time, then I go months in 5th gear without taking a breath!

School starts up again in 3 weeks - 3 WEEKS!!!!!!!!! I'm finishing phase 2 of my first year of med school and I'm so ready to get going! I know my time will be that much more limited and I will be that much more stressed, but I will also be that much more close to moving back HOME.

The first year of med school was definitely a challenge and a journey. After deciding to split my first year in two (hooray free time!), I also battled an abscessed molar from a shoddy dentist, my husband getting laid off for 9 weeks, and my father having cardiac issues and stents/pacemaker placed. I also took a part-time (that turned into full-time) job as a speech therapist in a group of nursing homes. And now I'm ready to finish out my M1 year.

This year's courses include Biochemistry, Embryology, Genetics, Physiology, Behavioral Science, and Neuroscience. Only 1 lab - Neuroscience (spring).

Outside of work and school, this summer we've been able to get the yard landscaped, the deck stained and we're currently in the middle of remodeling the office/3rd bedroom. We've got a few more things to do: paint trim on the house and garage, plant a few plants, and give the inside a good cleaning. That leaves the other 2 bedrooms and the basement to sift through for Fall/Winter/Spring projects.

Current events have been quite stressful, from happenings in my own circle of friends to what's happening with our country. It's no secret that I loathe our current administration and it's really frustrating to want to go into a specialty that our president continues to demonize and has no provisions to protect. It's also a bit frustrating to live with people (at school) who adore what I think is vile and try to keep a happy face. I don't begrudge anyone their opinion (we are still a free country for the time being), but I don't have to be happy about it. I am relieved that we find middle ground in some of the basic joys in life, like shopping, food, some TV, and the neighborhood kids. And reluctantly, I admit I am thankful for exposure to another POV I otherwise wouldn't experience.

As far as current events more close to home, one of my best friends is going through a divorce and it's been hard, no bones about it. Joe and I always thought they were the "perfect" couple - you know how it goes. But things are not always as they seem and I respect that. My friend initiated the divorce and I feel awful that she's now treated as a pariah amongst those closest to her. I don't know why society feels that someone who initiates a divorce automatically gives up all rights to all things in a marriage. Sometimes they just don't work and it takes real balls to own up to it. It pains me to see her hurt and it's even more hard that I'm at an extremely busy part in my life and can't be with her more to help her. I just don't feel like my "spirit" is enough and am beginning to feel like a jerk of a friend :( But I'm trying as best I can.

Lastly, I've also been somewhat successful in working on getting my body in a healthy state. I've lost about 2 inches at each measurement point and I'm guessing 15-20 pounds (?) since the start of summer. I didn't really get serious about things until about after Memorial Day, but I've gotten in an eating plan routine and I'm working on my exercise routine. I've also been training myself to be an early riser so I can work out before classes this year, or at least try. I still have what seems a long way to go, but at least I'm getting results! The next thing I *really* need to work on is my weekend food intake. I'm excellent during the week, but the weekend slows me down. It's hard living in 2 cities and coming/going between 2 homes. But, as I've said with the rest of the stuff, I can do it.

All right, done with the update. Hope to post a little more consistently soon!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Second French Revolution

This young man from Harvard is quite wise...

The Second French Revolution

Every old ideological conflict eventually becomes new again. So it is with today's battle between the forces of socialism, called “fairness” by its advocates, and the forces of capitalism, labeled “liberty” by its supporters. What we are witnessing is an ancient struggle between those who believe in the rights of the individual and those who believe in a sort of “general will.” Those of conservative bent ardently hope for a second American Revolution; those of the left wish desperately for a second French Revolution.

This is not mere rhetoric. Look at the history of the first American Revolution, and you will see the fundamental principles that animate Rush Limbaugh; look at the history of the first French Revolution, and you will see the spirit that animates President Barack Obama.

John Adams' Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, ratified in 1780, provides the basic framework for American governing philosophy: “All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.” The purpose of the government is to secure these rights.

By contrast, France's 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man is an ode to the collective. “The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation,” it states. “Law is the expression of the general will.” The purpose of the government is to make laws benefiting society, not to restrict itself from encroachment upon the rights of the individual.

This philosophical distinction has dramatically different ramifications. The American Revolution was followed by peaceful governance because it granted power — and responsibility — to the individual. It did not excoriate the upper class for its wealth, nor the poorer class for its plight; wealth and poverty were not seen as the result of societal shortcomings. Dramatic social leveling would have been superfluous, in this view.

The French Revolution, by contrast, was bloody and tyrannical. The lead advocate for the rights of man was Robespierre, to whom the individual meant little. He pushed for King Louis XVI's execution on the basis that the collective good required his death; he hunted the nobles with the explanation, “To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is cruelty.” This revolution stated that man's equality trumped his liberty.

The same arguments echo through the ages.And so today we have Obama excoriating those on Wall Street with the fervor of a Danton, slandering those in the financial industry as “shameful,” “outrageous,” and “greedy.” It is no wonder AIG executives are relegated to their homes, intimidated by liberal thugs who send death threats reading: “Get the bonus, we will get your children,” “All you mother——ers should be shot,” “We will hunt you down … We will hunt your children and we will hunt your conscience,” “All the executives and their families should be executed with piano wire around their necks.” It is no wonder that in France, 45 percent of the population approve of kidnapping business executives and threatening them to prevent layoffs.

Obama's recent trip to London highlighted the capitulation of American ideals to French ones — only the leading expositors of French Revolution ideals are now British. Not once were individual rights mentioned. But British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Obama spoke repeatedly of the need for fairness. The current economic crisis, said Brown days before Obama arrived, “should be used as an opportunity to move towards a fairer and more equal world order.”

The constant emphasis on fairness and dearth of discussion about individual liberty bodes ill not only for the pitiable fellows over at AIG (and their children), but for our society more broadly. When America is lathered into tarring-and-feathering mode not because our individual rights have been violated, but because our politicians have told us that “things just aren't fair,” we're entering French Revolution territory.

While the French Revolution was partially justified by monarchy and aristocracy, a Second French Revolution is wholly unjustified: it tears down those who succeed through work rather than by dint of birth. A Second French Revolution replaces a purported aristocracy — the achievers — with a true aristocracy of government administrators.

The American Founding Fathers would have been ashamed and appalled. Most of all, they would have been frightened for the future of our country. The supremacy of the “general will” over individual rights, Adams stated, would bring “horrible ravages.” He was right. He is still right. If we are to have a second revolution, let it be American, not French.

Ben Shapiro, 25, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Busy Bee...

Life has been quite comfortable. My husband and I have been living apart as a result of my education, but he'd been working hard and I had been working hard at the classes I'm in and enjoying the reduced schedule that decompression offered.

And then the economy's iron hammer came down on 2/20/09 when my husband was laid off. His company couldn't afford to keep him on staff (as well as 2 others) and they gave him the proverbial "pink slip". So here we are, almost 4 weeks later. The job market has been a joke for him - who knew mechanic positions were that hard to find??? Of about the gajillion places my husband doled his resume out to, a few had openings, but were in the process of being filled. One showed great interest, but was an hour to an hour-fifteen away from home. One way. And didn't pay well enough to afford the drive every day as well as domestic expenses (which are our mortgage and utilities and groceries - no credit card or car mortgage payments!).

The day my husband was laid off - 2/20/09, I started making calls in the Champaign area to go back to work as a speech-language pathologist, and fortunately, I've been able to make enough of a caseload that we can stay afloat - that is, if the State of Illinois pays me in a timely fashion. Of course, that's a gamble with this ill-run state!

In the meantime, my free time has now dwindled back to nil. Boo! But, it's okay for now. It's necessary that I work, and fortunately, playing with 2-year-olds all afternoon and writing a few notes and making a few copies for parents isn't as intellectually challenging as studying for my med school classes (as my schedule was before I decompressed). In fact, I suppose it was blind foresight that I decided to decompress. Who knew that I'd need all this extra time!!!

Anyway, since my husband has been having such terrible luck with finding a job, we have discussed the option of him going back to school, and this may be the option he goes with. Since his formal mechanic education has been by way of a technical degree and on-the-job training, he will have to start from scratch, like a true freshman (sorry honey!). Luckily for him, the general education courses that make up the first 2 years of college education are now offered ONLINE! This is a luxury that I didn't have when I was an undergraduate college student in the mid-90's. So, he can pursue a different career avenue (he's thinking teaching) and be afforded student loans for living purposes, as well as continue to look for a job.

Joe volunteers his MWF afternoons to coach high school rugby, and I'm thankful that he at least has this going on at this time. It's his own personal therapy to be able to get out and teach kids his favorite sport. And, thank goodness the weather is getting warmer. He's also been able to ride his bike a couple of days for some super-therapeutic intervention!

At this point, I think the plan is for Joe to go do his admissions testing at the college (for freshman class placement in english, math, etc.) and then enroll him for summer. It may take 3-4 years for him to complete his degree, but who cares!!!!! Teaching, if that's what he wants, is a pretty solid career choice and more stable economically anyway. Plus, I suppose it's another avenue for coaching as well.

My spirits are a bit higher than they were one month ago, but there is still a long road ahead.