February 27, 2013 § 4 Comments
The first midterm of the second semester lies in our fresh tracks and I am still buzzing from adrenaline, lack of sleep and too much caffeine. I had planned on getting a good night’s sleep before this one, but I ended up staying up until 2:30 a.m. practicing drawings and flipping through flashcards about the development. Skjalg stayed up with me for most of the night and headed to bed an hour or so before me. Until then, we quizzed each other and practiced presenting the drawings on the giant whiteboard Skjalg got from his group for his birthday in December.
For the first part of my midterm, I was asked to draw the development of the interatrial septum, describe its function in the fetal stage and then what happens to it after the baby is born. I was asked questions about the mechanisms behind its closure (first breath – building pressure in the lungs – higher pressure in systemic circulation). I was really, really happy that I was asked this drawing. It was a drawing that I understood well enough to draw in different ways/from different angles and would therefore be in a much better position to answer any questions they had. In my first anatomy midterm last semester, I was asked to draw the facial canal and he didn’t like the way I was drawing it, so I had to redraw it using a three-dimensional diagram that he sketched on the board. Its something that’s easy enough to do when you understand it, but horribly unnerving when you don’t.
After my drawing was approved, I moved on to the heart specimens. At this point, I switched from being examined by the TA (a third year student) to the head examiner. The examiner has a reputation for being really tough, but fair, so I was more or less neutral in my preconception of him. Using several different specimens (two loose hearts, two cross-sections and one specimen containing the entire organ system) I was asked to identify the following structures:
- ascending aorta
- coronary sulcus
- right coronary artery
- terminal sulcus
- right atrium
- right auricle
- pectinate muscles
- approximate location of the SA node and the landmark structures
- crista terminalis
- coronary sinus – including it’s development and which veins empty into it
- anterior interventricular artery
- great cardiac vein
- diagonal branch of the anterior interventricular artery
- identify a cross section as the fibrous ring of the heart
- left and right fibrous trigones
- ostium of the aorta
- posterior, left and right cusps of the semilunar valve of the aorta
- pulmonary trunk
- anterior, left and right cusps of the semilunar valve of the pulmonary trunk
- hiatus for the bundle of His
- conus tendon
That’s all I can remember for now…All in all, my exam took – what felt like – less than 4 or 5 minutes. The most time-consuming portion was the drawing, though that wasn’t as bad because I asked if I could explain it as I drew it. When I was done, it was like I had no memory of the last 12 hours. There was so much stress leading up to that point and it was over in just a few minutes.
I was the last person to be examined, so I was left in the room with the examiners and one other group mate while everyone else was excused. Being the last person is possibly the most stressful (since you are sitting there for an hour watching everyone), but this time it was really nice. There is a lot less pressure when you don’t have your whole group witnessing your exam. I ended up with a 4/5 – so I am one satisfied girl. The exam was much easier than I anticipated, so the only thing I am a little bummed about is that I could have passed without staying up all night last night.
The next one up is biochemistry on Tuesday. I have been staying on top of my topic list for that class, but am behind on the structures – a total of 64 that we need to be able to duplicate on the exam. Our Medical Professionalism lecture today was cancelled, so we gained 2 hours. Time might be more precious than gold to medical students.
We all have our different “midterm day” rituals. Some went out for beer and cheesecake, others straight to the bar, some home to relax for the rest of the day and others either home to study or prepare for classes they have later today. While I would love to just check out and watch movies and sleep, I am going to force myself to be productive and maybe head to bed early.
I’ve been compiling a little list of tasks I
need want to have completed by the end of the day. A little overambitious, but I guess that’s my vice. None of them really have to be done by tomorrow, but I know that getting them done today will make the coming days much easier to handle. If I learned anything from last semester, its that I need to keep a strong pace during the semester and not let anything fall by the wayside.
Now, for my favorite post-exam ritual: closing all the tabs, windows, files, etc that I no longer need open. Skjalg says I am a tab-hoarder (because I never close my tabs when I am studying).
February 17, 2013 § Leave a comment
I wish I had the same feeling about Sunday as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. For me it is more of a home run chance to catch up on any tasks remaining from the week. It is the last opportunity to press forward before more information is piled on to our already burdened shoulders. My Sunday is more a temporary plastic binding of an unorganized mass of rough drafts than a golden clasp on an ordered volume.
I slept in this morning, something that I regret today but will appreciate later this week. The first thing I did was make a list of things I want to do vs. things I need to do today. For example, I need to finish my physics lab report and pre-lab for tomorrow’s lab period, but I want to study more about the heart. My mistake last Sunday was spending too much time on wants and leaving the needs until late at night, when I was forced to do them.
It’s a cold day and the gloomy lighting and calm music tracks of my current 8tracks playlist are making me quite sentimental. It is so easy to get caught up in the now, to define the hours and days by a series of tasks. Sometimes a whole week goes by and I realize that I haven’t done anything pertaining to my life outside of school. It’s so easy to forget that you aren’t just “med student #213”.
I miss my family and am so thankful that modern technology allows for such facilitated methods of communication. We were lucky enough to coordinate a Skype call when Christian was visiting last weekend (sorry about the blurry quality, I am an unsuccessful picture-sneaker).
If all goes well, we will make our way over for a visit to the states at the end of the summer. It will be so nice to just be with family. It is very often the simplicity of presence that satisfies most 🙂
Back to my task list I go!
February 17, 2013 § 1 Comment
Hello from the comforts of my bed! It is almost midnight on Saturday night and I am settling in after a long day of studying the embryological development of the heart (which is much less exciting than it sounds). I’m not as far as I would like to be in my weekend study plan, but am more or less satisfied with what I have done. Skjalg has a hand in that. There have been so many times that I have come to him in a state of defeat and moaned about how that past 5 or so hours I spent studying were a waste of time. He always finds some way to console me and convince me that nothing was in vain. He once told me something that I find I repeat to myself quite often: “if you have learned at least one thing that you didn’t know before, then it was worth it”.
Our first midterm in a little over a week away. Once that one is over, it will just be midterm after midterm after midterm until the end of the semester. On Wednesday my friend and groupmate, Jannie, and I went to the Central Market to pick up pig hearts to dissect at home. While pig hearts aren’t exactly the same as human hearts, they are very, very similar – and we need all the practice we can get! I wish there were more opportunities to spend time with the specimens at school. They open up consultations before midterms and exams, but it is almost impossible to get anywhere near the specimens. There are 4 small rooms for all the 1st years – about 600 students. The odds are not in your favor there…
The next day was Valentine’s day and Skjalg and I hadn’t planned to do anything special. We’re finding out that, as med students, special occasions and holidays are always going to be lower on the priority list than school and studying. After our biochemistry lecture, I headed off to first aid with my group while he headed home. It was wet and overcast and we got lost on the way to the building where our class was to be held. There are only 6 of us taking it, since everyone else is exempt. It’s an interesting class, but frustrating because it takes almost 40 minutes to get there from the main building.
By the time I got home, I was pretty miserable. I was feeling the weight of the week on my shoulders and trudging around in the rain for an hour was not the most ideal way to spend the afternoon. Skjalg met me at the door and took off my coat. He acted totally normal as he led me to the bedroom. When I opened the door, I was completely transported. The room was glowing with candles in every corner and a stash of Valentine’s goodies were carefully placed on the bed: a card from Skjalg, red roses, chocolates, champagne with gold flakes and sushi.
For the first time since since school started, we took time off. The rest of the afternoon, evening and night were spent picnicking in bed, while drinking champagne, chatting about our lives together and watching Monday Mornings and Patch Adams.
February 11, 2013 § 3 Comments
I’ll warn you now that this post really has nothing to do with the common saying I chose as its title. I’m sitting and watching a video on sound in preparation for my biophysics lecture tomorrow and just wanted to give “sound” a little shout out. At the moment, I am covering a section on “piezoelectricity – piezoelectric and inverse piezoelectric effect, electrostriction, and magnetostriction”. Hence, my being here.
It’s been almost a week since my last post. I don’t have a set “blog” day, but I try to post a couple times a week. I just came across a cache of photos spanning the past three years of my life so I am currently very thankful for documented memories – and this blog is a big one! I have a half written post from last week that I will post soon enough. Hopefully you won’t mind the backdate.
Here is one of my favorite photos of Skjalg and I, from when he took me up to his hometown in Northern Norway for my birthday. He and I had been dating for only a couple months and I had just turned 22.
Otherwise things here are going well. Skjalg and I are studying non-stop, trying to stay ahead of the rush of information. Christian came up to visit for the weekend and joined us for a two-day study marathon. I feel so lucky that we are only a train ride away from each other. It is really interesting to hear about the differences between the schools and compare our materials (C is at University of Pécs). I’d like to say that we did something exciting this weekend, but it was literally just studying from when we woke up until we went to bed. There were of course some breaks to catch up or work on some inside jokes.
Spring has been pushed back quite a bit and the city has been blanketed with a fresh coat of snow. It really is beautiful when everything is covered with fresh, white powder, especially when compared to the brown, grey mess that’s left behind in the days following.
Alright, break time is over! Back to piezoelectricity I go…