Experiences of a med student with an incurable travel bug.

Bacterial Soap

Usually the goal of washing your hands is to get the germs off, but now you can buy soap that’s full of the little nasties!

Ok, well, it’s actually just made to look like cultures of some of today’s most popular infectious bugs, including Candida albicans, E. coli, and Salmonella. The perfect gift for your neighborhood med student who just wrote an exam on dozens of these buggers.**

Who wouldn’t want to wash their hands with a glow-in-the-dark rendition of Legionella, one of the bajillion causes of pneumonia?

Brought to you by Etsy.

**Or not. I actually think most of us would not be all that amused by your cleverness in reminding us of all the thousands of reasons we should all be dead. (Really. This stuff is EVERYWHERE, I can’t believe anyone even survives the trip through the birth canal, let alone every day in the environment.)


Bathroom Study Fail

Finals are now upon us, which inevitably leads to some strange behavior as everyone settles into their own panic mode.

…to each their own, I guess. I had to surrender my facebook password to a friend on the other side of the state so that I could quit stalking and start studying, so I’m in no position to judge.

Assert Your Rights

And now, for those of you who may not be thrilled about posing for the Miss TSA Calendar during your holiday travels, here’s a way to really make a statement:

Introducing 4th Amendment Wear, a way for you to “assert your rights without saying a word” and “let them know they’re spying on the privates of a private citizen.” Available in t-shirts, socks, and underwear to ensure you get your point across. There are even styles for the kiddos!

Many of the styles are already sold out, so you’d better pre-order soon if you’re hoping to make a statement during your upcoming travels.

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.