Experiences of a med student with an incurable travel bug.

Archive for November, 2010

Miss TSA Calendar 2011

Looking for a gift for that hard-to-shop-for dude or radiologist on your list? Look no further than the official Miss TSA Calendar 2011, the most revealing pinup calendar since Playboy hit the market!

Some people want to jump her bones, but I can see right through her.

Thanks to advertolog and EIZO for such a fine product.


The Editors

For anyone who hasn’t heard, I found out who we have to thank for the Pope’s recent condom condonation:

Great work, guys! Keep it up, you’ve certainly got your work cut out for you!

Personal Statement Mad Libs

For the benefit of all of my friends currently applying to med school, and for the amusement of all those who already suffered through the process — Personal Statement Mad Libs!

Thanks and credit goes out to Cartoon Doc for this incredible resource.

Condoms are OK!

…at least to stop the spread of AIDS, according to the Pope. In any other situation they’re still prohibited.


Well, it’s a start. This a huge improvement from last year when he declared that “condom use did not help prevent the spread of AIDS, only abstinence and fidelity did” — a scientifically disproven fact, by the way. Condom use can, in fact, significantly reduce the spread of HIV infection, which can develop into AIDS, in both men and women. (“A critical look on condoms,” Kigbu and Nyango, Niger J Med 2009, Oct-Dec; 18(4):354-9)

Cholera Sucks

Today’s lectures explored the variety of nasty little bacteria that are infamous for their ability to ravage the intestinal tract. Diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid fever, plain old food poisoning, and my personal favorite — cholera.

My avid fans (all two of you) may remember that I got really sick in Laos while traveling this summer. Looking back on that post I realize how much I downplayed my illness, mostly to prevent panic of those back home. Now that everyone knows I made it home safe and healthy, I’ll divulge the dirty details from that experience in a bit. (Those of you not morbidly amused by disgusting things may want to skip the descriptions.)

Anyway, as we watched and listened to the “bug parade”, as our prof called it, of all the little nasties that make you sick to your stomach, I was trying to guess which one made me sick in Laos. The standard traveler’s diarrhea caused by E. coli is statistically most likely, but it didn’t adequately fit my symptoms. Nor did dysentery or typhoid fever.

You know what did fit? Exactly? The same disease that’s currently wreaking havoc in Haiti — CHOLERA. (For those who, for some reason, don’t trust wiki, feel free to peruse the WHO or the CDC websites.) Contaminated food or water? Check. Infection resistant to antibiotics? Check. Expelling liters upon liters of clear fluid from both ends for days? Check.

Told you it was gross.

I’m really lucky that I didn’t land in the hospital needing IV hydration, though for a while it seemed like an inevitable eventuality. I tried to force and keep bottled water down, but that was a major fail. Instead, I forced soda and powdered Tang (which I initially mocked my travel buddy for buying two countries earlier because it looked disgusting, but the electrolytes saved my butt) down my throat to get some hydration, glucose, and electrolytes back in me, and fortunately that got me through.

It started to clear up after about three days, whether on its own or in part due to the cocktail of ciprofloxacin, azithromycin, pepto bismol, and immodium and tums I’d been ingesting* I’ll never know. I’m just glad — and lucky — that my immune system kicked it before the cholera kicked me.

*Don’t try this at home.


A gem from small groups:

Dr. Bagels: “Yes, did you have a question?”

Mr. Friendly: “Oh, no, I was just waving ‘hi’ to Dr. Histo.”

Dr. Bagels: “Well, you guys might not know much medicine but you’ve got good social skills!”

Danger: Not-So-Sharp Objects

We have an awful lot of required groups this block; luckily I have the best prof for my small group leader. Yeah, sure, he’s been teaching and practicing for 30 years. I suppose he’s also pretty renowned in his field. But what makes him the best is that he brings bagels! That’s right, he supplies bagels for all 35 of us every time we meet. At first I assumed this was bribery to get us to attend, but someone let it slip that that we’re actually required to be there, so that can’t be it. (I suspect he already knew this considering he oversees the chaotic electronic-clicker-check-in-fiasco each day, but hey, maybe he thinks that battling technology is just a fun way to spend 20 minutes.) Maybe he’s just a genuinely nice, generous person.

Or maybe he knows that being locked in a room with 35 cranky med students for three hours would be torture and he brings the bagels as a peace offering. If that’s the case, it’s working.

Unfortunately, the bagels do not come sliced, so our prof entrusts us with plastic knives to slice the bagels. We’re all future doctors, this should be no problem, right?

…wrong. I was just so excited for my blueberry bagel this morning that I got a little overzealous with the slicing and sawed straight through the bagel into my hand — with a plastic knife.

Future doctor, people. I’m going to be wielding a scalpel one day. Don’t worry, though — I’ll leave the bagels out of the OR.

To my classmates: I pretended that nothing happened, but if the prof did notice and we’re stuck with spreading cream cheese with our fingers next week, I apologize.

Doctor Mom

I think it’s generally accepted that people can be a bit crazy when it comes to their own kids. This is especially true when they’re still tiny humanoids who can’t actually tell you what’s wrong and instead just cry and do their best to make everyone around them unhappy, too. I get it, the center of your universe is in distress, and that puts stress on everyone else. Luckily, doctors are trained to interpret the mysterious ways of the tiny humans and determine a diagnosis. Logic would imply that a physician should therefore be able to rationally decipher the situation when their own miniatures get sick, right? hah. logic.

Today in clinic I saw a 12 month old physician’s daughter for “persistent rhinorrhea, wheezing, intermittent emesis, and coughing.”

Translation: “continued runny nose, odd breath sounds, occasional vomiting, and coughing.” These symptoms had been going on for 10 days and were also accompanied by one other important symptom: sneezing!

Survey says: your kid has the common cold!

Patient’s mom continued to fire questions at the doc challenging the diagnosis, which the doc patiently answered: “No, this is not metabolic…No, this is not an allergy… No, she does not need steroids… No, cow’s milk is not a problem… No, you are not missing a rare disease. No, there is not something more serious going on… Is there something specific you’re concerned about?”

Manic momma: “No…Just…I keep thinking I’m missing something huge, something rare!”

Doc: “No, your child is fine, you’re not missing anything rare. She just has the common cold. She will be fine.”

BOTH of this girl’s parents are PHYSICIANS. One is actually a pulmonologist — a LUNG doctor. A specialty that requires one to differentiate between things like a cold and pneumonia every.single.day.

Apparently having kids makes even the smartest people…crazy.