Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Rotation Update

So here is the deal: I am trying to figure out where I want to go in August.

Back a few months ago, we had class meetings telling us the "plan" for 3rd year. At that time, they told us that the start date was September 3. We were also told that we had the option of starting August 6 if we wanted to get ahead of the game. Some people thought they would do that (like me) and others thought they would just start at the regular start time.

Since then, we learned that 1) if you don't start on the "optional" August 6 time, you will lose 4 weeks of vacation time 2) we can only do a primary care rotation during that time 3) we should not plan on getting a rotation in Des Moines because they will be taken by 4th year students and 4) we shouldn't even think about doing OB because there won't be any spots. Interesting.

So we had a class meeting on Tuesday where this information was explained to us. Basically, if I don't want to lose 4 weeks of vacation time (and be able to use it during my 4th year) I'm going to have to do some junk rotation in some po-dunk place. That is probably such a horrible way to look at it......because there are some really great rotations that are available. However, I got the impression of, "Good luck....they probably won't be available."

I emailed my coordinator today about the possibility of doing a month rotation in St. Louis, which was listed as a potential site. I found out that we won't know if there are spots left there until I submit my request to go there. A few minutes later I received ANOTHER email telling me that, "Nope that is wrong. If you aren't going there for your hospital {which I'm not}, you can't go there for a rotation."


I'll keep you all updated as the drama continues.....
But PLEASE....cross your fingers for a GOOD SPOT!!!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Tales of the Morgue

I have had an overwhelming response about a previous Autopsy Blog that I as a treat for my loyal followers, I've decided to start a recurring post called "Tales of the Morgue". Just like those crazy TV shows, "All names and places have been changed to protect the innocent".

Quite a while ago, I had a case of an older woman who had died alone in her apartment.....who luckily, was found after a short time. (I seem to be a magnet for majorly decomposed bodies when I am on-call.......I'll break you in before I start telling of THOSE stories....) Anyways, there was some question as to whether it was suicide or accidental drug autopsy was definitely in order since the death was unattended and the cause unknown.

She was a frail appearing women.....looked like a drug-addict to me. Thin skin, lesions all over the body....bruises, nasty teeth, horrible hygiene. Pretty gross.

Before the case starts, we always do an external exam. The doctor takes pictures of how the body is presented to us and documents anything unusual or abnormal on the outside of the body. Part of the external exam is looking into the eyes, nose, mouth, etc. The doctor wants to know what color eyes they have, what shape their teeth are in.....and so on.

In this instance, nothing seemed abnormal about the eyes or nose. But, when we got to the mouth, we noticed something in there. One of the doctors reached in and pulled out this little looked like a little birth control patch......or patch someone would have for pain.

Immediately, the doctor says, "This is a pain patch. She's been chewing on a pain patch!" WHAT???? Yes...apparently, this is a new trend.......even for older women. She had had back pain and was getting a patch to use (which I have since learned is about 100 times more powerful than morphine!!!). Instead of using the normal, popular drugs that people use (like cocaine, ephedrine, heroine), others have found that chewing on pain patches can give them quite the high. This woman had been chewing on pain patches.........and it cost her life.

I'm not quite sure whether this was ruled a suicide or accidental overdose........but it still sticks out in my mind. Some people come up with some really weird things to mask what is REALLY going on....


Sunday, January 21, 2007


I sat back quietly when people starting posting blogs about Panera. I let people have their opinion....threw in my own opinion when I felt it necessary....

But it has gotten to the point where I feel like I have to go into "Protection Mode" for the place I love and call "my library."

I love Panera. The employees are great, the food is great, the atmosphere is great. Sure, there is the occasional time that the line is out the door and only one register is open....but that doesn't happen too much. More often than not, the employee is waiting with my big glass (for iced tea) before I have gotten up to the counter. They all know my name...all know I am in medical school...and all are VERY nice.

I am willing to sit back while people voice their opinions. I understand that blogs are public emails. But enough is enough.

When I read a blog that calls the employees (who are now people that I consider my friends) WUHOTs, that has taken it too far. WUHOT stands for "Walks Upright, Has Opposable Thumbs". Some of the employees work there to make ends meet. They are high school students working while taking classes. They are moms and dads taking care of their kids.

You can dislike the food, or service, or music...whatever. There are places and restaurants I don't really care for either. But don't bad-mouth the employees....

They are my friends.

Something must be wrong...I'm being PRODUCTIVE!

No serious. I really am being productive.

I managed to get myself out of bed this morning at 9am. That's right....on the WEEKEND! My only opportunity to sleep in!!! (Okay, who am I kidding? I sleep in all the time! I feel like I have the "Med Student Syndrome" where I convince myself I am suffering from all sorts of problems. I always feel weak and fatigued in the can't be that I am lazy. I think I have anemia. Which, I've learned is only a SYMPTOM...NOT a diagnosis. So, really, I probably have Iron Deficiency Anemia. But NOT laziness.)

After showering, I headed to the library. (Not the typical library one might "library" is Panera.) I was so dead-set on getting to my library that I braved the nasty weather hitting Iowa and started my trek there. I swerved out of my condos, slid getting onto the main road, and got myself stuck in the snow for 5 minutes at the entrance of Panera. However, after spinning my tires for a while and speaking some choice words in my head, I remembered the little "gas then brake" trick once learned in Drivers Ed. I wiggled my way out of the snow drift, parked my little blue bug, got my huge glass of iced tea....and have been productive ever since!

I finished all of last week's lectures (there's a first time for everything...) and finished writing some board review questions for my study partners. I got a chance to check all my email accounts and read all the announcements on my school portal.

I decided I had to waste a little time (hence, this blog) but now I've got to get back to work. I have two tests this week......Wednesday is Infectious Disease....Friday is Endocrine. And then??? My boyfriend comes to town!!! That will be a nice reward for a hard week of studying!

You all have a GREAT week!!! Wish me luck on these tests!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Rotation Nightmare

I've just spent the past hour and a half looking up rotation sites and I am no closer to figuring out where I want to go than I was an hour and a half ago. I am getting to the point where I just feel overwhelmed with the amount of options I have.....yet, the lack of options I want. Does that make sense?

Let me try to explain a little bit about how my third year is arranged:

1. It is divided into 3 blocks...Sep-Dec, Jan-April, May-Aug.

2. We have to spend 1 of those blocks in a core hospital...I will be at Broadlawns Hospital in Des Moines during the 3rd block.....May-August.

3. We have to spend 1/2 of another block in a core family practice clinic...I will be in Webster City during the first 1/2 of the 2nd Block.......Jan-Feb

4. The rest of the time is spent in electives.....OB/Gyn, Peds, Pysch, Primary Care......with a couple other choices of my liking.

So basically, I have to figure out what I am doing during Sep-Dec and Mar-April.

Back to my opening statement about being overwhelmed with my options yet lack of options I want: I feel like every rotation type I look up, there are tons of locations....but nowhere I really want to go. Or, I find a place I want to go and they are not accepting students. It is quite frustrating.

The other thing that is frustrating is the lack of guidance I receive. I have felt VERY pleased with my school and am VERY happy to be where I am....however, any time a question is brought up about rotations, no one seems to give a straight answer. That, or they give answers that aren't correct. I wish I had someone who was able to sit down with me, just me, and help steer me in the right direction. I don't know if I am supposed to find a rotation in a place where I want to do residency....heck, I don't even know how to find residencies! As far as I'm concerned, that is 2 1/2 years away! To be honest, I don't even know what kind of doctor I want to be!!! How am I supposed to arrange my schedule to "get my foot in the door" when I don't even know what door I want to go through???

Man oh man....I can't wait to get this stuff all figured out!!! This is a nightmare!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Rally Against Cancer

I decided it was time to write a quick blog about a benefit I have had the privilege of being involved with for the past 6 years.....

I guess I should first give a little history of the event and tell how I became involved with such a great cause. Ten years ago this January, my grandmother died of endometrial cancer. It was a tough time for my family...we had always been very close...but that truly defined and made us the family we are today.

My Aunt Michelle got involved with a cancer benefit down in St. Louis soon afterwards...and I think it did her heart good to know she was helping raise money to combat such a horrible illness. When my mom began looking for a similar cause to become involved with, there was nothing in the Des Moines area to meet her needs. My grandmother had been treated at the John Stoddard Cancer Center at Iowa Methodist Medical Center here in Des Moines...and my mom decided that if she couldn't find a benefit, she would start one.

She contacted the hospital and everyone ran with the idea. This year will now celebrate 6 years!!! The Rally Against Cancer has now become a premiere event for the hospital...helping to raise money for the patients and families of the John Stoddard Cancer Center. Money raised has helped purchase recliners for every room, Internet accessible computers for any patient to use, and fish tanks in the waiting rooms. Money has also been contributed to the center's Stereotactic Radiation equipment and the BRAND NEW PATIENT CARE COORDINATOR position at the hospital!!! To date, the benefit has netted nearly $500,000....with $180,000 being raised just last year!

It has done my heart good being able to work with my parents and the countless others who make this benefit possible. And the good news is that YOU CAN HELP TOO!!! This year's event is on January 27.....check out ticket information at the John Stoddard Website!!!!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Look what I found!!!! TIME!

Well, well, well...look who's BAAAACCCKKK!!

Some might think that I would start out the semester fresh and ready to go!! After 1 1/2 weeks break, I should be ready to get back to the books.

I'm NOT.

My intent this morning was to wake up and start going through the lectures that I chose not to attend. Instead, I slept in until 8:45....took an extra long shower.....went to Panera at 10:00 where I found my mom with a couple of her friends.....hung out with them until they left......checked emails for quite a while.......came back and ate lunch......then FINALLY went to class at 1:00. Basically, I didn't do ANYTHING that I planned on. Great way to start the semester, Brooke!

My day got a little better as it progressed though.......I managed to make a grocery list during the 1:00 lecture. I also made up a big "To Do TODAY" list. I finished everything on the list except for 1 thing!!! Back on track!!!! I was able to go to the grocery store, put my bills and Thank You cards in the mail, make dinner for my family, check my email again, wash the dishes, and fold laundry. The only thing I didn't accomplish on THAT list was going through my lectures that I missed today. Folding clothes was much more important at the time. So was watching Dr. 90210 on BRAVO. I thought it would be a good educational experience...I have thought of becoming a plastic surgeon.

All in all, I DID manage to get through 1 of the 4 lectures I missed. It was BORING though! I thought I would write a blog instead of the other 3. I can do those tomorrow.

By the way....the picture in this blog is supposed to represent the new class we started today....INFECTIOUS DISEASE. I'm not sure about it yet (I didn't do those lectures) but it sure didn't look like fun when I skimmed through the handouts. Who wants to memorize a whole bunch of pathogens again??? Not me. But apparently I need to know them.......

We also started our ENDOCRINE course today. Not really my cup of tea. Oh well....I'll give it a couple more lectures before I judge. Nevermind. I don't like this class either. But I guess to be a good doctor, I've got to understand it all!!!

Have a wonderful night. I'm about to accomplish the last item of my TO DO list............ watch another episode of 24!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

It's Been a While!

Just a quick post to let my loyal followers know that I haven't forgotten this blog!!!

I have just been enjoying my break from school WAY TOO MUCH!!! Unfortunately, I get back to the books tomorrow morning. I just found out that I am 26 tests away from starting rotations.....ACTUALLY, 27 if you include the Board exam in May. Man oh man....LOTS of studying is about to begin!

In other news: My boyfriend, Brandon, was in town this past week from Tennessee and we had a GREAT time! Most of the time was spent either at Panera, watching football, or becoming addicted to the show "24". It was nice to be around him again.....and I am anxious to see him again when he comes up for the Rally Against Cancer on January 27.

I will update you all more once I get back into the swing of things!!!