Saturday, March 31, 2012

Taking stock.

I've got friends coming over today for a barbecue cookout/pool party. I''m puttering around, doing last minute cleaning, grill food prep, etc. and in a good mood overall. I love those quiet moments where you're absorbed in your own head, thinking about all that's good in your life and how much you appreciate it.

Eight years ago I was 20 and waiting tables at a Mexican food chain restaurant after failing out of college and secretly in love with my best friend. If you'd have told me then that in eight years I'd be married to that friend, living in a villa on an island in the Caribbean, and studying to be a doctor, I'd probably have rolled my eyes and said, "If only!"

All is good right now. Give me a week for stress over finals to kick in and I'll probably feel differently.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Treyvon Martin.

I've been thinking about this so much that I figure I should maybe talk it out a little. I'm not going to go into the backstory because if by now if you haven't heard about this, there's plenty of info available to you a simple Google search away.

About, oh, five years ago, I was dating my now husband. I finished up doing laundry at his place one night and we headed back to my apartment. As he was pulling out of his apartment complex, he accidentally cut a woman off. I was ahead of him in my car and saw it happen in my rearview mirror. No collision occurred and I figured all was done and over with. The car then proceeded to follow us for a long period of time, staying close on Don's bumper. He called my cell phone to ask if I'd noticed and I told him I had and to follow me, because I was going to take a long, convoluted way home to make sure that this person was indeed following us. They were.

We pulled into my apartment complex parking lot on edge, apprehensive and scared. We had no clue who this person was. It could have been an intoxicated, angry frat boy with a baseball bat or worse, a gun. We went up to my apartment but Don became agitated because his car was sitting in the parking lot, unguarded, and the person who followed us home might take out their anger by slashing his tires or busting out his windshield. I asked him not to go back outside and to call the cops instead. He, being a typical, idiotic, testosterone-jacked male decided to go out and deal with it himself. I grabbed a pocket knife off of my dresser and followed just 30 seconds behind him and when I arrived outside I saw my boyfriend with his hands behind his head being frisked by a cop while another one stood nearby with his hand on his gun. My heart stopped. I had the presence of mind to put the pocket knife in my car and then walked over to ask what was going on.

"Ma'am, stay back!" the female cop frisking my boyfriend snapped at me.

"He's my boyfriend. What is going on?" I asked.

Don answered instead of the cops. He had spotted a police car cruising by and ran to get their attention to inform them that we'd been followed home by a stranger. The car had stopped and two officers got out of the car with the implicit threat of drawing their weapons and told him to get his hands behind his head. Don had been trying to get help. Instead he was being threatened with deadly force.

Turns out the person who followed us home was a woman who assumed Don was drunk when he cut her off and followed us home despite being told by dispatch not to do so. I know exactly what it's like to be followed home by a strange vehicle. How irrational you can get (hello? I took a freaking knife out to confront an unknown assailant). You aren't thinking clearly because you're scared.

My husband and I are white. We don't have to deal with profiling or being considered suspicious simply because of the color of our skin or the way we dress. We had a tiny taste that day of the police brutality that African Americans face every day. It was terrifying and left us feeling bitter, powerless and angry. No, I don't trust the police as much as I used to.

I don't blame Treyvon Martin one bit if he did attack George Zimmerman. He was followed, stalked and confronted with a deadly weapon. As a black man, I have no doubt he knew exactly how that scenario was going to play out and he did what he could to protect himself. There's a lot more I want to say about how police are handling the case, but other people have said it better.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


I got my third perfect exam score yesterday in Pathology II! I came very close in Epidemiology, as well. I only missed one question on that exam. So as things stand right now I'm heading into finals really strong with three As, one B+ and one B. I'm feeling really good about everything and as long as I don't let the next two weeks go to shit and actually spend the time reviewing old material and keeping up with the new, finals won't be the panic-inducing nightmare that they were last semester.

Today I went to the beach this morning, spent the early afternoon cleaning and doing laundry and now I'm going to settle down for the rest of the night with my Pharm II notes to do some review. I find that I study so much better when my house is in order. I cannot focus when my apartment is a mess or the dishes are piling up. It's like a corner of my brain is intrinsically tied to my apartment and a tiny voice is screaming, "Clean me!"

In recent news, my friend Jenn offered me a guest spot on her blog, Blag Hag. I wrote a post about using skepticism and science-based medicine to evaluate behavior research and training methods. You can read it here.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Research funsies.

I don't know if I've mentioned this or not, but one of my favorite professors at Ross is doing research on artificial reef supplements. I was on her the moment I found out about it that as soon as she put it into motion I wanted in! I get to dive twice a month at one of the "AR" sites and document anything I see utilizing the supplements. I don't want to go into more detail than that (what the ARs are made of, how many there are, etc.) because I don't want to upset Dr. Grigg. Researchers don't like details about their studies getting out before hopefully publishing their findings in a journal.

This semester we finally got started and so far everything is going great. I'm getting stronger in my fish ID skills and soon I'll be able to go out and conduct surveys at our dive sites myself without a PI present to assist me. I'm thoroughly enjoying the research and actually have a real sense of pride in my growing knowledge of reef life. Before when I snorkeled I would just admire all of the pretty fish, but now I can identify most of them, and which are immature forms and which are adults (this is actually REALLY hard, as sometimes the juveniles look nothing like the adults - take stoplight parrotfish for example: juvenile vs. adult). It's actually really satisfying.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

One kitten left.

Jackson went to his new home yesterday. That just leaves MJ left with me, and Mama of course but she isn't going anywhere. She's also not terribly fond of the kittens, probably because they're 5 months old and a little too big for her to recognize them as kittens. She's settled down now that it's just her and MJ but she still won't play with him yet. I'm hoping she'll get over her bitchy self soon because he's really missing his brother.

The guests who stay at the villa where I live are typically middle-aged, well off couples who are quiet, considerate and friendly. The four people staying at the villa this week are the complete opposite. They're all in their early to mid-twenties from what I can tell, loud, obnoxious and completely inconsiderate of everyone around them. They scream - and I mean that literally, they don't shout or yell, they SCREAM - incoherently at 1am. They've barely acknowledged me the couple of times we've run into each other while I'm doing laundry or walking to my car. They've rented the main house and the guest house, which is above my apartment, and are constantly slamming doors and dropping what sounds like bowling balls on the floor.

I really hope they're only staying for a week. I have never in my life met anyone so completely oblivious and uncaring about other people before.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Okay, so first things first - I got a C on my MOD exam the other day. Which means straight A's is no longer possible for me this semester. I still have a B in the class, but an A is 1 point out of reach. It's my fault, I procrastinated and didn't study enough. It's okay. I'm still doing remarkably well this semester.

Right now I'm studying for my Clin Path exam next Thursday. Like I've mentioned before, this class is the first one where we actually start doing medicine. Right now we're studying cytology and biochemistry profiles. The previous exam was hematology. This class is teaching us how to take signalment, patient history and clinical pathology and put them together to reach a diagnosis.

So when I came to a clinical case in the notes with a signalment of an 8-year-old male German Shepherd with a history of acute weakness and lethargy and pale mucous membranes, alarm bells started going off in my head. That's the classic presentation for hemangiosarcoma. The next slide confirmed my preliminary diagnosis with a blood smear showing acanthocytes, a diagnostically characteristic red blood cell change in hemangiosarcoma patients. The next slide showed macrophages that had phagocytized RBCs in an aspirate from the abdominal cavity (meaning that the fluid in the abdomen contained a lot of blood). The next slide showed neoplastic spindle cells from an imprint of the liver (a common site of hemangiosarcoma).

Basically by this point I'm just grinning like an idiot, because for the first time I feel like I'm actually doing my job. I'm putting the clues together and reaching a diagnosis BEFORE being told what it is. I almost cried when I read the summary with a confirmed diagnosis of hepatic hemangiosarcoma. Yes, I'm that lame. I almost cried over my notes because I was so happy that I knew something.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Still going.

Yesterday we spent an entire day at the beach with a cooler full of beer, rum and bottled water. I got drunk and sunburnt and had a great time.

This morning two of the kittens were adopted! Annie and Jackson both found homes. MJ is the only one left, which is a relief. I love kittens but they're a lot of work. One is much more easy to handle than three, and MJ is a total sweetheart. He loves to cuddle and he has the loudest purr.

Friday, March 2, 2012

New kittens!

PAWS went from not contacting me for months to needing a foster for three 5-month-old kittens. Of course I said yes! I emailed the feline coordinator last night to let her know that I thought I'd felt a hernia when holding one of them earlier and that I wanted to get him looked at by a vet at the adoption event on Saturday. She emailed back and said certainly, and also asked if I'd noticed any scabs on them. I said I had but I assumed they were from scratching at parasites. She told me that they were actually from a dog attack. Poor things!

They came to me with the names MJ, Stripey and something that I can't remember. I thought MJ was cute so I renamed the other two with names keeping in the King of Pop theme. The girl became Annie and the other boy became Jackson (Jax for short). They're super adorable and playful and Annie and MJ are both purr machines. Annie is the real cuddler of the group. Jax is very independent and confident. Annie slept on my legs last night and was in my face purring and cheek-rubbing the moment I woke up this morning.

Jackson is absolutely beautiful. He looks like a ragdoll, only less fluffy.

MJ on the left, Annie on the right.

Annie is a total cuddlebug.

MJ and Jackson.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A well deserved break.

I got an A on my Pharm II midterm. I'm still in shock. My two study partners who have been taking part in the weekly study sessions with me got a B+ and a B, so we're very proud of the work we've done. Two of my friends failed the exam. That's a problem with a class that only has two exams, worth 40% and 60% of your grade, respectively.

Tomorrow not a single book shall be cracked nor a Powerpoint opened. We have a whole day off for midsemester break and my friends and I will be taking over Shipwreck beach with coolers full of rum, beer and snacks. I plan on drinking heavily and sleeping in the sand.