Spring Forward

March 30, 2014 § 4 Comments

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning and I am up and at ’em! Since my last post, things have been quite hectic. After the anatomy midterm on the 17th we jumped straight into cramming for our weekly physiology tests. That week in physiology we were tested on the adrenal gland and calcium metabolism. We’ve just finished up the endocrinology series and are now starting neurophysiology. By the that Thursday night, we were already exhausted – but we had to keep going! Monday the 24th was our biochemistry midterm covering the following topics:

  • Na+,K+ ATP-ase I. The permeability of cell membranes, P-type ATP-ase. Structure of Na, K-ATP-ase
  • Na+,K+ ATP-ase II. Na, K-ATP-ase isoforms. Regulation. Secondary active transports. Na-H exchange
  • Chemical neurotransmission. Cholinergic neurotransmission. Biosynthesis of acetylcholine, receptors, acetylcholine esterase. Molecular mechanism of exocytosis
  • Noradrenergic neurotransmission. Biosynthesis and metabolism of norepinephrine. Synaptic uptake
  • Molecular mechanisms of adrenergic, dopaminergic and serotoninergic neurotransmission
  • NO: Regulatory role of NO. Nitric oxide synthase. Guanylate cyclase. Molecular effects of nitric oxide
  • Glutamatergic neurotransmission. Synthesis, transporters, receptors. Biochemistry of Parkinson disease
  • GABAergic neurotransmission
  • General properties of ion channels. Methods for studying ion channels.
  • Structure of the K+ channels. Methods for studying ion channels. The molecular mechanism of gating and permeation.
  • Biotransformation I
  • Biotransformation I

Rest then? Nope! Luckily, the exam took place at 19:10 in the evening, so we didn’t have to feel guilty about taking the rest of the night off afterwards. The hours before the exam were spent at the library. We were bad and skipped anatomy so that we could be at the library from 9:00 in the morning until just before the exam. After the exam, we went for drinks and dinner at Tiki Bar. It was nice to sneak in a little break, even if we did have to cut it short so that we could get up early for school the next day.

From Tuesday we were on it for cramming for that week’s physio tests. Our seminar test covered the pancreas and whole body metabolism and the lab test covered the glucose tolerance test, which can be used to diagnose diabetes. Three students had to fast for the test and at the beginning of the lab consumed 75g of glucose dissolved in 250-300ml of water. We then measured their blood glucose level over the course of two hours.

By the end of Thursday night, I was completely beat. In addition to the exhaustion I felt after cramming for the recent exams, I somehow caught a cold. It full-on attacked me while we were studying Wednesday night (Skjalg too!). It was so hard to push through to Thursday night but somehow I did it. I took Friday off and Jannie came over and we watched Grey’s Anatomy and played playstation.

Yesterday was also a little bit of an easy day. I spent the morning organizing my study plan for the next month or so. Finals period is RACING towards us and I want to conquer the anxiety as much as I can before it settles in for good. My plan is ambitious, but I think that laying it out the way I did will help keep me accountable for what I am to do that day. So far I’ve worked in both lab exams, physio and biochem, the next anatomy and biochem midterms (which are going to be on the same day!) and a bit for physio. There is still a lot I am going to need to add….it will be interesting to see how it changes with time. I’m planning on doing the physio competition at the end of the semester. It is during the last week of school and covers all of the material we’ve learned in physio. If you pass it, you are exempt from the final exam – so it is well worth it!


And here is my plan for this weekend. I managed to do everything except the last two anatomy topics, so those will be moved to today.


Second to Last Anatomy Midterm: Check!!

March 17, 2014 § 2 Comments

This morning we had the first of the two anatomy midterms we will have this semester. As I’ve mentioned before, anatomy has been a bit of a trouble child this semester. It is only 3 credits (so we only have 1 practical and 1 lecture a week) and yet it demands so much. At this point, we have covered everything and this should all be review…but it’s not that easy. I don’t even know how to describe just how much we need to know.

We’ve been covering anatomy superficially these past weeks and after Thursday’s physiology tests, we were ready to go hardcore anatomy. Between Friday afternoon and early Monday morning, we studied for a total of 37 hours. For this exam, Skjalg, Jannie and I decided to go through the material together. It made for a fun weekend, albeit slightly stressful. We presented topics on the giant white board, made up funny ways to remember things and peppered each other with spontaneous quizzes. In my post-midterm bliss (aka pure exhaustion) it’s hard for me to recall the horrible anxiety that slowly took root over the weekend. For that, I’m thankful.

2014-03-17 18.36.10

Anatomy midterms are done orally and in front of the other members of our group. We have a small room (enough for maybe 20 people comfortably) with three long metal cadaver tables in the center and large metal cases for the specimens along the walls. There is usually 1 examiner in the beginning and then others will pop in during. They usually start at the bottom of the class list, which means I am the first to be called up. Sometimes, the examiners will examine several students at a time, but it really varies. Those that are being examined are assigned a spot/region at one of the specimens or asked to make a drawing on the chalkboard. Some examiners begin asking questions right away, whereas other give you a region to focus on and then give you time to collect your thoughts before they start.

This morning, we piled into the corridor outside the dissection wing as we have many, many times before. I spotted a certain professor outside our room and my stomach dropped a little when I realized he was probably going to be our examiner. Little stories I’d heard about his exams began to creep forward into my consciousness. I halfway accepted my fate and pushed the thoughts away as I slid on my lab coat. He came in and told me to prepare the specimens. As I was laying out the last one, my name was called. No time to let the nerves build up.

My first task: draw a frontal section of the larynx. This was something I had not practiced drawing this weekend. I looked it over for a moment in a textbook, but didn’t expect that we would get asked it on our exam. Luckily, I was able to piece it together. I was left there for about 10 minutes while the original examiner and another examined other students. In the time that I was up there, I think one or two failed and one passed with a 3. Intimidating to say the least.


Soon it was time to be examined on my drawing. I made some small errors in the drawing, but they were easily remedied. I was asked:

  • vestibular ligament
  • quadrangular membrane
  • aryepiglottic fold (what is the superior border of the quadrangular ligament?)
  • thyroid cartilage
  • cricoid cartilage
  • triangular ligament (what is the vocal ligament the border of?)
  • transverse and oblique arytenoid muscles (which muscles bring the two arytenoid muscles together?)
  • epithelium types of the different parts of the cavity
  • internal branch of the superior laryngeal nerve, direct branch of the vagus nerve (innervation of the mucosa superior to the vocal folds)
  • inferior laryngeal nerve, the terminal branch of the recurrent laryngeal nerve, of the vagus nerve

That’s all I can remember of that part for now. I was then asked to look at a specimen similar to this (of course, mine was a real cadaver 😉 ) and it was still attached to the torso:



I was asked (at least what I can remember):

  • anterior belly of the digastric and innervation
  • posterior belly of the digastric and innervation
  • inferior alveolar nerve, origin and fibers
  • lingual nerve, origin and fibers
  • innervation of the mucosa of the tongue
  • innervation of the mucosa of the epiglottis at the extreme posterior of the tongue
  • thyroid gland and blood supply, including origin of those arteries
  • middle trunk of the brachial plexus
  • anterior scalene muscle
  • sternocleidomastoid muscle and innervation

Then he took me to a specimen that showed the sagittal section of the skull with the exits of the cranial nerves:



  • hypoglossal nerve
  • Dorello’s canal
  • abducens nerve
  • cavernous sinus – contents and location of the contents in the sinus

Despite a few little bumps, I made it out with a 4.5. I’m still in disbelief. Of all the scenarios I had imagined about the exam, this was not one of them. I’m not complaining either 🙂

After I got my mark, I was allowed to leave. Though Jannie had started after me, she was done about 5 minutes before I was. We met outside and then headed straight for the library. Why? Well, there is no time to rest in second year! Even after the heavy studying we did this weekend we have to keep going. On Thursday we have yet another round of physio tests (we have two every week, one covering lecture topics and one covering our lab that day). Can we rest then? Nope. Monday is our first midterm in biochemistry, covering neurotransmitters and their synthesis, transmission, etc., and fun topics like biotransformation. Then, the cramming begins yet again for next Thursday’s physio tests. It’s never-ending!

It’s almost 23:00 and this tired little med student is off to bed!

Budapest is Beautiful

March 9, 2014 § 6 Comments

The sun is giving us quite a show today. Even after a such a rainy Friday, there is hardly any evidence of it left.

Rainy night

Rainy Friday night on the way home from the library

I gave myself the morning to sleep in. At least that was my original plan. At 7:00, my eyes opened, my brain jumped into action and I lost all hope of a long, lazy morning in bed. After weighing all my options, I decided that I would start by going for a walk. I sat down to have some tea and ended up staying there until 9:00 working on a project for school. I’m a bit neurotic when it comes to starting my day. If I haven’t gotten my day started by noon, I get antsy. I wasn’t going to let this get the best of me today!

As I was tying my shoes, Skjalg came out and told me he was proud of me. When I asked him why, he said, “I know you. You think the whole day is gone and yet you’re still going.”. It’s strange to have someone know you so well 🙂 So, studying was pushed until later and I enjoyed a beautiful Budapest morning instead.


I stopped in at Culinaris, a specialty, import food market, for some Saturday morning goodies. I picked out some fresh rye bread, a perfectly ripe avocado, black rice and vanilla bean tea. Simple, yet satisfying.

Culinaris GoodiesAs I was passing through the area surrounding parliament, I noticed a series of busts displayed along the length of the building. I’ve seen them before, but never given them much thought. Today, I decided to take a closer look. I picked one, snapped a photo and then planned to look up the man behind the bust.

Dr. Elek Woynárovich was a hydrobiologist who worked in the World Food and Agriculture Organization’s fisheries branch. He was a Zoology professor and head of the department at Lajos Kossuth University and went on to be the vice-rector president. In 1968, he started his work as an international hydrobiologist. He directed the development of fish farming in Nepal for 6 years and then went to Venezuela for 3 and a half years, where he helped established the framework of fish farming. He retired in 1977 but then went on to work as an expert in the FAO – Madagascar, Iran, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Tanzania, Central African Republic, Zambia. He also worked in Iraq, Egypt, Nigeria, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil.

Talk about traveling! Must have been so interesting to work in so many different countries.

Later in the evening, Skjalg and I headed out for another walk. Then it was home to relax and get a little studying in. What did Skjalg do when we got home? He sutured the couch! Our apartment came with this giant leather couch, which is perfect except for two tears. We cover them both up with blankets, but Skjalg apparently felt like that wasn’t enough.

Night walkpark dusk


The pressure of planning

March 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

The past half hour of my life has gone to trying to figuring out how I am going to study for the next two/three weeks. My plan to put plenty of time into anatomy hasn’t really gone as I’d hoped. Exhibit A:

TimeSheetI do spend a little part of every day working on Charlotte and my anatomy fact project and I’d like to think that helps a lot… Still, anatomy is not getting nearly as much time as it should. So, I need to be more proactive! In order to step up my game, I am going to try to review the physio lectures on the same day as the lecture. One thing I’ve changed this semester – something that I highly recommend to everyone – is recording the lectures. I know many people have done it before, but I never saw the benefit until I started with it. For physio this semester, I am recording the lectures and taking short notes and then I watch the recordings and take my time getting all the points down. This can take a lot of time…usually about 20 hours a week. But, it’s worth it! The test results prove it 😉

In 13 days we will have our first anatomy midterm of this semester. It covers anatomy of the head and neck, though it leaves out the brain (seeing as we had almost an entire semester on it, it makes sense). The week after that, we have our first biochemistry midterm. Poor biochem has fallen by the wayside again. I tried spending a few hours on reviewing biochem lectures last Friday, but I just couldn’t get into a groove. It’s hard to do when the pressures of physio and anatomy are so great. Hopefully my drive will kick in closer to the midterm.



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