Friday, October 24, 2008

Hey all! I know it has been a bit since you heard from me, and for once, it's not because I am a huge slacker. I AM a huge slacker still, but I really haven't had much newsworthy to post. I am just following along the med school groove: go to class in the mornings and sometimes the afternoons, study, go home and play with Buttercup, hang out with Alex for two seconds, sleep, and repeat (with an exam thrown in every other week). I have a feeling that is going to change a lot in the next few weeks with my new clinical class starting and Gross Anatomy around the corner!

I am really looking forward to my service learning project. I am going to be learning a brief intervention technique to screen trauma patients for alcohol abuse at the Washington Hospital Center (the largest hospital in DC) and then using it to screen actual patients! I get to go around the hospital in scrubs, instead of sticking out like a sore thumb in my short white coat, get to "play with some electronic shit" (my advisor's words, not mine), and hopefully even get a publication out of the whole thing. Bottom line, I think it's going to be awesome!

Second exciting thing is that I am almost done with the biochem modules :) The saved the "best" for last with the genetics (oh, I'm sorry, the Development, Molecular and Human Genetics) module and it is really difficult for me to know what to study for Monday's upcoming exam. Happily, it's a lot of clinically relevant techniques, abnormalities, etc., so it's a lot more interesting than learning about homologous recombination double strand break repair, but because it is illustrated best by examples of diseases, I am having some trouble studying for it. We'll see. I cannot wait until Cardio-Pulmonary (and Gross) starts the first week of November :)

Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Wedding!

I totally stole this photo from Lindsey's facebook album cuz I somehow forgot my camera in the rush to get out the door on Friday morning and I haven't got pictures from the girls yet! These are the awesome sweatshirts Nicole stitched for us (they are so flawless, I can't believe how crafty she is!).

I'm just going to quit the initial apology before every blog (I guess this is the last one) since it's going to be a while before I become conscientious about blogging again. It seems like I have had crazy (but usually fun, although exams are certainly exempted from this designation) things going ever since Alex moved out here and I just have not managed to juggle all of those and being a regular blogger...yet. Patience, people.

That said, I wanted to finally tell those of you who hadn't heard about it yet how much fun Grant and Nicole's wedding was (be sure to click on that link to check out the photographer's blog and her absolutely gorgeous pictures of the day in question)! It was a pretty hectic weekend, with all of Friday and all of Sunday pretty much devoted to bi-coastal travel. The Saturday in between was fantastic though, so it totally made up for all the length and lethargy of the rest of the time!

Friday was the night of the rehearsal dinner and it was still fun despite my jet lag and the fact that Oregon is a lot colder this time of year than DC. I got to finally meet the other out of town bridesmaid, Jess, who is super nice and sweet by the way, as well as see Teresa, a friend of ours that Nicole and I have known since we were 13! The other bridesmaids, Lindsey (she is such a sweetie, I wish we had the chance to get to know each other better :) and Janelle (who I have actually known for a super long time, we played sports together in high school...hurdler pride!), are super fun too, so it was great getting to hang out with them. Janelle is also the proud owner of a golden retriever, Jack, who is about a month older than Miss Buttercup, so we swapped stories and commiserated about the ups and downs of our furry friends.

After being awake for about 22 hours on Friday (we started at 3:30 in the morning here and didn't get to sleep until after 11 on the west coast), I woke up on Saturday morning, some time after 7, feeling energized and so excited to help with getting the ceremony and reception set up. I had been teased by little bits and pieces of Nicole's vision for the big day and I knew she had put a tremendous amount of effort into making most of the stuff by hand, so I was more than ready to see it all come together! After a much needed coffee boost, courtesy of Starbucks, we headed over to Maureen's (Nicole's mom) rental house to pick up and transport all of the stuff. It was basically a whole garage worth of dishes, table runners, candles, tree stumps, etc. etc., but between the entire bridal party and our dates, plus some of Nicole's fam, we got several cars loaded up and headed out to Aspen Hall in no time.

Getting everything in its proper place went swimmingly, thanks to our numbers and Nicole's organization skills (way to rock those diagrams!) and before I knew it, be were leaving the hall to go get ready for the wedding. It was a little cold waiting outside for the posed photos and during the ceremony, but the important thing was that it was dry :) The ceremony was definitely the coolest one I have ever experienced, and not just because this is the first wedding where I really knew the people getting married. The former head of the human physiology department at U of O, Dr. Klug, officiated the ceremony and since both Grant and Nicole had been in the dept., he knew the two of them so well and made the ceremony very personal. Plus, he was just a funny guy! Nicole and Grant's vows were amazing, as I alluded to in my last blog. I have never thought about writing my own vows- I always thought it would be too personal to say them in front of all my family and friends, and I was never sure I would be able to find the right words to accurately convey how I feel about the man I'm about to marry- but now that I have heard it done well, I have to say it sounds more appealing now.

Onto the reception! It was just a giant party, basically. I got to spend some time with my high school friends, Jill and Katie, who made the trek down from Portland for the big day (there's a really cute B/W pic of Jill on the photographer's blog, by the way). They had Pizzicato cater (delicious!!) and shortly after dinner, it was onto the dance floor! Alex and I had never really danced together before (hard to believe when we have been dating for over two years, but we have never been out dancing or really to very many parties together), but we had SO much fun! We were so busy cutting a rug that we somehow missed wedding cake (which made me sad when I realized it the next day)! After that, Jess and Jon gave us a ride back to the house so we could take a short nap and get up at four to start the trek back to DC. I was bummed that we missed the after party at McMenamins and the send-off brunch on Sunday afternoon, but I was so glad we made it to the main event :) In Portland, my sister, Katie, met us at the airport, so we could hang out for a little bit during our layover. Strangely enough, we ran into Nicole's aunt and uncle- they had left the wedding right after the ceremony to drive back up to Portland because John (her uncle, obviously) was catching a flight to Africa that morning! Small world that we happened to cross paths in PDX, right? When we made it back home, we had a little time to unpack, greet our pup (thanks again for looking after her, Catherine!), and get some sleep before work and school (make that an exam!) began bright and early the next morning.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Well, I'm ridiculous. There's no way around that. I think the last time I wrote, I had just finished my first module. Now I'm about halfway through the second, which has presented new challenges, many of which I think are here to stay because they are just a fact of life when it comes to med school. However, I have adapted and I feel confident that with frequent adjustments based on determining what is effective and what is not, I will be able to continue being successful. One of those obstacles wasn't much of an obstacle at all: it was the fear of knowing I wouldn't be able to study over this past weekend because I went to Oregon for Nicole and Grant's wedding (congratulations, kids!...and more on that later) and that proved to be an incredible motivator. So if anyone wants me to be in a wedding or has some other sort of all weekend-long plans (oh, and wants to pay for me to get there since I am broke as a joke!), bring it on because it forced me to be a dilligent studier (student?!) these past two weeks! Many of the study habits I picked up out of this fear of being ill-prepared come September 19 (the day we flew out of DC), like reading last year's MNTS notes on the bus to class and writing out notecards, I think I will end up retaining because they were just good ideas. It's just that now it's possible for me to be doing this blog entry at the moment because I have de-emphasized the study-like-a-lunatic-in-the-afternoons aspect.

Earlier I used the word success and I just thought I'd take a moment to reflect on how that word has now become a sort of relative term for me. For those of you who don't know (and I promise you, I ain't bragging, I'm just trying to provide a framework), I was one of my high school's valedictorians and I played three sports for most of my high school career as well. Then college came along and while it took me a while to adjust to the new challenges it presented, I was eventually able to make those improvements and continue to be successful academicallly (I graduated with honors) as well as balance extracurricular activities and a part-time job in a lab. Before I got to med school, I envisioned things progressing in much the same way because until now, that's what I have always done. I quickly realized, however, that if I were to hold myself to that same standard of getting one of the best grades in the class, I would be entering into a group with which I have no desire to belong.

Oh, the gunners. If you're unfamiliar with that term, a "gunner" in med school is one of those crazies willing to devote their ENTIRE waking lives to getting those few extra questions (seriously, like two or three!) right on the exam that separates the high passers (which does not even appear on your transcript, I might add!) and honors from the passers. Because unlike in college (or at least the university I went to), getting a 93% on an exam does not even grant you high pass (A- to B+ range) privileges when the average is an 88%. My friend Liz joked a few weeks ago that they should put a disclaimer on her transcript indicating that "pass" actually means that she got >85% of the exam questions right and I could not agree more. In college, if 8 people in a class earned an A, they got As. If everyone in the class got an A (which did not happen, I can assure you!), everyone got an A. I knew med school classes would be graded on a curve, but I did not anticipate just how much I would miss the grading scale I grew up with!

To make a long story longer, my point in bringing all of this up is that I will now be defining success a little differently than I have previously in my life. For me, I will continue to strive to correctly answer 90% or greater of the questions posed to me on an exam. The grade I get (which will most likely be one of those "mediocre" passes), does not really matter. I don't feel the need to honor or even high pass all of my classes and if that means not being the world's youngest neurosurgeon to become chief of surgery, I'm okay with that (I don't even want to be a neurosurgeon anyway). I am confident that I will be able to do what I want in medicine if I stick to that. So, that's Patty's new philosophy on how to succeed in medical school while still hopefully making plenty of room in her schedule to spend time with a boyfriend who makes her very happy, to take care of a puppy who borders on driving her completely nuts (though in a very adorable way), to keep in touch with all of her friends and family, both near and extremely far away, and to occasionally eschew studying the weekend before an exam to be there when one of her friends leaves single life and takes up a new one with a man who makes her very happy (and both of whom write such wonderful vows, it makes you [want to] cry).

I have put off studying the urea cycle for too long now, I'm afraid, so you'll all have to wait in suspense to hear how it was in Bend!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hello Weekend!

Well, I made it. One module down, nine to go (until first year is over, that is). I don't really feel super great about the exam, but I also doubt that I failed it ("failing" at Georgetown is getting a score more than two standard deviations below the mean or 60%, whichever is higher). I could be wrong though- the average of the last exam was an A- (with a SD of about 4). That means that if you got a B-, technically you failed, but our course director assured us that no one who answers 80% of the questions correctly on an exam will fail the course. I highly doubt that the average will be anywhere near that high on this exam, considering that everyone I talked to before was feeling nervous about the material and most people I talked to afterward felt about as confident as I did (which is to say, not very).

In addition to putting that module behind me (and enjoying the evaluation of each of the lecturers I had probably more than I should!), I have been relishing this completely free weekend, a rare situation in med school. Yesterday, God came down in rain/flooding form, so Alex and I went on a cleaning spree and the house looks fantastic! After that, we braved the rain to take care of some grocery shopping and then enjoyed some relaxing down time (complete with nap!) before heading over to my friend Jon's house for stir fry/game night. We only played Apples to Apples because it was kind of a large group (which is very fun in and of itself, but the game night portion of the evening was definitely downplayed), but the food was delicious and it was nice chitchatting and getting to know some of my classmates a bit more. Plus, Alex and I have had very few opportunities to go do things with a big group and I have to say I enjoyed showing him off!

Today we slept in and had a relaxing brunch (our old standby of Crescent rolls and five-minute eggs...always so good!). In a bit, we're going to head to the beach (which will hopefully go a lot more smoothly this time) and Alex has a work dinner in the evening where I'm going to meet at least one of his labmates, another postdoc named Michelle, so hopefully that will be fun.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I'm Sorry!

I'm not sure if anyone out there is still reading this blog of mine since the comment situation, which already was not awesome (FYI: not awesome is a phrase of mine and the two words should always be considered together...otherwise it just sounds like I am using poor English, which would be unacceptable), has become pretty much nonexistent, but I am still alive and well! Further apologies to those of you out there whose emails I haven't yet answered and whose phone calls I have yet to return- I have not forgotten about you! I have simply had my first real brush with a poorly organized lecturer and it could not have come at a more inconvenient time. Last week was pretty crazy getting ready for Alex's move and Tricia and Justin's brief visit. Add in some relationship drama, a dog, my first Starfarer experience, a restaurant that doesn't indicate on its website that it's closed for the holiday weekend, a trip to Ikea, four consecutive loads of laundry, wandering around Annapolis trying to find a beach, locking the keys in the trunk of the car, trying to have your boyfriend pose as your dad on the phone (related to AAA and the last item on the list), God knows what else, and trying to teach yourself all the material you covered in a week (which was a lot more than we have covered in previous weeks, let me tell you!) and you have a lack of blogging on my part.

The good news is that there is light at the end of the tunnel: the exam is on Friday and it marks the end of the first module as well. The bad news is that the exam is on Friday and I still need to do a lot of studying until then. Let this be a lesson to me: I really should try to pre-read lecture notes so that I come to class with a vague idea of what the professor is trying to communicate and clarify any questions the day of the lecture so that I don't have a scary cloud of unknown concepts floating above my head...I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Not much new to report, but I thought I'd add an update anyway. I can't believe my first exam is on Monday- I just started school! There is a fair amount of material that we've gone over, though (pretty equivalent to what I did in one quarter of biochem), so it's probably better in terms of avoiding information overload. Chelly and I have a lil study plan semi-worked out, so hopefully it serves us well.

Since I last wrote, I have:

* (Finally) found the route to school I think I'm going to use. Instead of a series of shorter bus/metro rides that lead to an overall shorter time in transit, I have opted for one bus that takes me directly to school, even though it takes longer and can run late in the morning. It is a lot cheaper, plus it gives me time to go over my notes and I don't even notice the length of my commute. In the words of Ross, "I've been given the gift of time!"

* Had people over to the new house for the first time. Catherine, Katie, and Chelly came over for a dinner of mini burgers with hummus and couscous salad, which was pretty tasty if I do say so myself. It would not have been nearly as good, however, if it wasn't for the excellent wine provided by Catherine or the delicious dessert Chelly made (hers was much prettier than the one in the picture!). After that, we watched Across the Universe, which was soooo good, especially if you are a Beatles fan. I never knew I could like musicals, but I guess it's possible if you really love the music! I was pretty much hooked from the opening, when the main character, Jude, starts singing, "Girl" ("is there anybody going to listen to my story...").

* Had the pleasure of helping Buttercup through kind of a rough week. She got stung by some sort of insect and her snout and the skin around her eyes starting swelling up on Monday, but luckily a lil Benadryl sorted her out. Then today I came home from school to a very pungent, unpleasant odor. It seems when I had been less attentive than clearly (now, that is) I should have been in the backyard either yesterday evening or this morning, during which time she inhaled a large quantity of grass and other plant materials, which needless to say did not sit well with her digestive tract. That was a fun mess to clean up. The silver lining is that she has been pretty subdued and "snugglish," as Alex would say. Hopefully that is the last of the problems she's going to be having for a while. Poor thing!

* Discovered the cutest Italian cafe a few blocks from where I live! The food (at least the grilled ham & swiss ciabatta sandwich with tomato spread I enjoyed) was so delicious and it seems like such a nice place to study. I can definitely see myself succumbing to the temptation of all the baked goods on display as well!

* Had my first bad lectures. The first three professors were so good, they set the bar pretty high and gave me (false) reassurance that all of them would be as good. It was pretty painful, mainly because I was used to the other professors interacting with the material and the class a lot more. Word on the street from Chelly's big sib is that the last two lecturers for this class are good, which is a relief, especially since I really like action potentials and I wouldn't want someone ruining them for me (like I had cell junctions and kinesin/dynein ruined).

* Booked my tickets to Nicole and Grant's wedding- finally!

* Gone to the hospital and observed a classmate of mine interview a real life patient! Her story was so inspirational and she had such a positive attitude toward the management of her illness- I wish every patient would have some of her in them :)

Well, I think that gives you a good idea of what I've been up to! Wish me luck with my studying and on the exam!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Survived My First Week :)

Of course I did. That would be pretty sad if I quit so early in the game, but I suppose the occasional person does freak out once school starts and decides s/he has bitten off more than can be chewed. But not only did I survive, I really enjoyed myself. I knew that I was anxious to get back in the classroom, but I could not truly appreciate how much I missed being in school until classes actually started. It's been nice because my first science class, MCP (Molecular and Cellular Physiology), is mainly covering concepts I already learned in undergrad biochem and cell phys (thanks Drs. Minderhout, Loertscher, and Bourns!). That has been a really nice transition to the faster pace of med school classes and fortunately should continue to the next class MST (Metabolism and Signal Transduction) because it's more biochem and cell phys for the most part. I am also really enjoying my clinical class, PPB (Physicians, Patients, and Behavior), because for one afternoon each week, we get to don our white coats, adhere to the strict dress code in the hospital, and take turns interviewing actual patients about their time in the hospital and how it's affected their lives and families (!). I have also (hopefully) found a study group as well. Several girls (and Duncan) I was sitting with at lunch on Friday expressed a desire to get together to go over material, which was super exciting for me, because I absolutely thrive in the group setting. So today I am going over the class notes and those provided by the student note-taking service by myself and we are all meeting up this afternoon for our first session. Yay!

In other news, I did still manage to have fun this weekend. Catherine invited me to go to the Counting Crows concert (also with Maroon 5 and Sara Bareilles) yesterday, which was at the Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, VA. We got there a little early and prefunked with some well-mixed drinks made by Catherine (the margaritas) and Pamela (the cosmos). I even got talked into taking a shot of tequila and those are not as bad as I remember them...interesting. I provided some munchies, which included some brie with french bread (fancy, I know). We were stuck in the will call line and missed most of Sara Bareilles' literally 15 minute set, including "Love Song," which was pretty sad, and Adam Duritz was wasted and messed up "Mr. Jones," which was extremely disappointing, but even with the negatives, it was a really fun night and a really cool venue to check out a concert. He did manage to pull it together for the last couple of songs, including "Hanging Around," and Maroon 5, who I have seen in concert before, always puts on an awesome show and did not disappoint. They even freestyled a little and played some "I Don't Want to Fall in Love," by Chris Issak. The weather was absolutely perfect as well and it was so fun getting to spend some QT with Katie, Catherine, and Pamela, who I met for the first time last night and is yet another Michigander I have encountered in the two weeks I've been here.