Archive | April, 2012

What do you do with the pieces of a broken heart?

18 Apr

Another morning in the library with the Caribbean Sea on 3 sides.  A favourite place to study.

Sitting beside Frond, he gchats me this link.  So sweet.  A good day.

Dr. cures hangovers in Las Vegas

13 Apr

One of my friends in a different medical school back home told me how students would hook themselves up to IVs after a night out partying.  Sounded pretty shady to me.

I guess it’s not so uncommon though.  In fact, one doctor has made a business out of it.  His company drives a bus up and down the Las Vegas strip, offering hangover cures in 45 minutes.  Clients are hooked up to an IV, offered iPads and coffee while they rest on the bus’ bunkbeds.  There’s the Redemption package (basics), and the Salvation package (plus some vitamins).  They also sell t-shirts.  There’s “Now If I could Just Find Herpes Heaven” and “I Feel Like Jesus on Easter Morning”.

Hangover heaven.

93-year old powerhouse

12 Apr

From The Lancet, original article here.

Bringing women to the forefront of science and medicine

At the beginning of her research career, Okamoto was fortunate enough to work with a male neurophysiologist who understood the challenges women faced, and created many more opportunities for them than were otherwise available at the time. But Okamoto spoke about the long hours she put in the laboratory compared with her male counterparts, and when she moved to Keio University in Shinanomachi in Tokyo, things became even more difficult. One time, she and a female colleague were asked to leave a paediatric conference and were told that research was not a job for women. Okamoto recalled being ridiculed when she presented her research for the first time. “People said unkindly that they wondered if I was going to dance for them!” She experienced further hardship when she became a mother. For example, there were no daycare options on campus so she had to keep the baby in the laboratory with her while she worked.
After the second Sino-Japanese war, her research group began working on blood, specifically on antiplasmins. Her aspiration was to work on something that would benefit humanity globally. Half a century later, the fruits of her scientific labour are turning into benefit for patients. Not only is the real public health impact of tranexamic acid in bleeding becoming apparent, but even more gratifying for Okamoto, it is now being trialled in the WOMAN trial as a treatment for postpartum haemorrhage, which kills about 100 000 women every year mainly in low-income and middle-income countries.
Okamoto’s story is indeed an extraordinary one. But how have opportunities for women to fulfil their potential in careers in science and medicine improved today? In the past few decades there have been dramatic gains in the proportion of women in scientific and medical professions. But studies have shown that not enough women progress to more senior positions, and they are under-represented at the top levels of academia. The last European Commission’s SHE (statistics and indicators on Gender Equality in Science) figures in 2009 showed that in the 27 countries making up the European Union, 59% of university graduates are females but only 18% of full professors are women. Furthermore, only 9% of universities have a woman at the top of the organisation. Failing to take advantage of half the population is believed to be damaging universities.
Similarly in medicine, a recent survey by The Times newspaper found that despite 42% of British doctors being women, less than a quarter of clinical academics and only 14% of clinical professors are women. Worse still, some university-based medical schools have no tenured female professors in their research departments. A welcome proposal to correct this appalling gender imbalance is that future funding to support medical research will only be allocated to those places that show a sizable achievement towards gender equality according to the Athena SWAN Charter. But achieving this goal should not simply be about stamping out traditional forms of discrimination that bias against women in academia, it should also be an opportunity to recognise what women can do for science and medicine. Research has shown teams solve problems and function better when they are gender-diverse. Women can bring different perspectives to research, which can lead to alternative and possibly better outcomes.
My small group this year, with whom I do all my tutorial work in pharm, pathophys, for hospital visits,- was made up of all guys except one – me.  The dynamic was certainly different from what I was used to, and I struggled with it internally in the beginning.  Still, it was interesting to see the flip-side, of how different the group can be when it’s male-dominated.  More competitive, less collaborative, and you had to really jump in there and step in before anyone else did or you could easily be left behind or overlooked.
Being the only female in my group did get a lot of comments from preceptors though, ranging from running the show, to keeping the guys in line, to being safe and protected by all those men.

Psych! week

11 Apr

It’s Psychiatry week in Pathophysiology.

In honour of this week of self-analysis and labeling everyone you know with a psychiatric condition, here is nice gem from my prof:

It’s SPEAK.  It’s what he counsels his patients with depression to do.

S – Schedule daily (this is important)

P – Pleasant activities (we really don’t get enough)

E – Exercise (get that blood flowin’!)

A – Assertiveness (express those emotions and feelings!)

K – Kind thoughts (kindness starts with being kind to yourself).

He said that med students especially need to look after themselves.  I’m not sure about especially, but looking around at students, there is a definite tend to letting yourself go – physically, emotionally, creatively, and socially (myself included).  On the one hand I feel one-dimensional if I spend my days only studying.  On the other hand if I don’t spend all my time studying I feel behind and like I am not living up to my potential.

In the end, it’s this: we are living now, not just working and preparing for the future – future career, future location, future life.  We keep ourselves going by focusing on our goals but it’s still worth living a good life now.  Besides, it’s only going to get harder to figure this balance out; may as well figure it out now.


P.S.  I’m cyclothymic.

I knew all along

11 Apr

But I didn’t want to believe it.

The signs were there.  I stepped over it every day, pretending it wasn’t there.  I  even caught a glimpse once in a while, thought I saw something fly up at me; but I just ran my hands over my pants and still I chose to ignore it.

Until.  I run my blue highlighter dry.  While writing notes for Pharm, where blue means a drug, this won’t do.  My now useless highlighter barrel does not fit in my life anymore, and in line with my clawing toward a more organized, structured life, I go to throw it out in the kitchen bin under the sink.  I open the cupboard door and there it is.  It flashes by.  I can’t ignore it anymore.  A cockroach running across the top of the bin.

I shriek.  I slam shut the door.  I back away.  I don’t throw out the dried highlighter. It’s on my desk.

Right outside my door, just down the steps.  For days.  Dead, on it’s back.  A cockroach.  Surrounded by what can only be tiny cockroach babies, one of which I believe flew up at me as I skipped over it with my dirty laundry bag.

In other news: I hate you mosquito, get out of my room and out of my life.

Weekend in Review

10 Apr

Dropped off by a Grenadian Christian, sharing the good word. But there is something unsettling about how aryan Jesus is, even in the Caribbean.

From Mr.Chipotle. Just when you thought his burritos couldn't get any better.

Exclamations from the Easter Bazaar.

Ashley Judd’s response to people’s response to her face’s response to medication.

9 Apr

Media outlets talked a lot about Ashley Judd’s face, saying it was puffier.  They had plastic surgeons talk about what procedures she probably had.  It turns out she had been sick and was taking corticosteroids for a long time (immunosuppressants), developing the typical “moon face”.

Here is her response to all the hullaballoo.  It is great.

Best quote:

That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient. Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.

Amanda Beard and lessons for young women?

9 Apr

So says this article.

Amanda Beard was my swimming hero growing up.  For as long as I was in swimming, she was the top of my best event.  What she went through with isn’t completely unheard of in swimming, but it’s just so surprising to be reminded that it can happen to anyone, even if you’re at the top.

I don’t normally like to read comments sections, but (trigger warning in the link) Jezebel’s article on Amanda Beard‘s book has some interesting comments, from trigger warnings to the nature of swimming and how the timing of swim careers with body’s natural development make for a complicated relationship with the sport.  I’m reminded of my mom’s genuine concern with my “compulsion” to swim and make it to practice, of my shared laments that “normal people” just don’t seem to understand it’s more than a sport.  Looking back now, after some time away from it, I still remember how emotional it is, but I’m still not sure what to make of it all – whether it was  completely justified or not.  I learned a lot of lessons and my character is largely shaped by the whole experience, but still I’m not sure if I would put my own kids through the same.

Levera beach and two mother turtles.

8 Apr




On the full moon, a bus of us went 2 hours up to the north point of the island, to Levera Beach.  Under red lights we watched a leatherback turtle carefully dig out a hole with her hind flippers and in a trance, she laid 100 eggs, yolk and yolkless.  She covered them up with sand, and whipped sand back behind her with her front flippers.  Exhausting, she rested once in a while.  Sand whipped at our ankles as she adjusted position again and again.  Swinging her hind flippers side to side, then stamping down on the sand with them.  Again and again.

Further down the beach another turtle had finished her camouflage.  She flopped and slid slowly and awkwardly forward in the sand, making a large arc toward us, then past us toward the water.  She rested.  She continued, and the waves lapped up onto her.  They hit her face and flew up around her.  She continued to head home toward the water and the moonlight shining off the waves.  The waves flew at her again and again, and she must have known she was almost there.  Finally the beach bottom gave way and she was floating.  We saw the top of  her leathery shell bob at the surface, and another wave crashed over her.  She slid peacefully through the wave, smooth and graceful, then she was gone.

Maybe we’ll see her again in West Africa, maybe in Newfoundland.


Exam week

5 Apr

Another exam week over!  Now on to the 4-day weekend!

How I feel:

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