Work hard, play… some

October 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

It’s a partly sunny Sunday morning – a perfect day for studying microbiology and immunology! I’m trying to convince myself… Midterms start the week after next and I have been spending all of my time studying pathology and pathophysiology. The department we are in for patho (our year is split between two) does not have midterms and our pathophysiology midterm will take place in week 8.

As I’m writing this, the Balatonman Triatholon is going on outside. Our apartment location makes it so easy to feel like we’re a part of the city.


This week went by way too fast, just like all the others. My week load is so heavy that the weekend is here before I even know it. I still haven’t figured out the best way to balance everything and I am really going to need to work on it if I want to avoid burning out. Skjalg suggested that I implement a “no studying after 22:00” rule, no matter what. I’m thinking about giving it a try because it might push me to be more efficient and will then leave me some time to sleep. My “will power” (hard to find the right word/phrase) is like a separate entity within me and it does not regard sleep as a priority in any way. This means that if there is something, anything, that needs to be done and it is time for bed, bed loses. So, here goes my first shot at a week of nothing past 22:00.

Though this week went by fast, there were a lot of things that made it stand out.  On Tuesday, Skjalg and I were left alone to interview and examine a patient in Internal Medicine. For this class, we have two lectures and two practicals a week. In the practicals, we are together with a doctor in groups of anywhere from 3-9 people. For every practical, we meet the doctor in his ward and he takes us to see some of his patients. From the stories I’ve heard, it seems like these practicals vary greatly depending on the doctor you have been assigned to. Some groups focused on theory for the first weeks and are just starting to see patients, others have not even had regular practicals, while others still, simply look on as the doctor speaks and examines the patients. Ours expects us to communicate with the patient in Hungarian and translate what we think they have said when they respond. In the first couple weeks, he would tell us what to say to the patient and then translate his/her response.

On Tuesday, we were split into 3 groups of 2-3 students, each of which was assigned to a patient. Skjalg and I were together and had to take the patient’s history and ask him questions about his urine, stool, appetite, weight gain/weight loss, allergies and medications. Then, we had to examine him. This included asking him to remove his shirt and sit-up/lie down depending on what we were examining. So far, we’ve learned how to take proper pulse and blood pressure measurements, palpation (using hands to examine body parts), percussion (analyzing sizes of organs based on the sounds produced by tapping with our fingers) and auscultation (listening with stethoscope) of the heart, lungs and bowels. After having been alone with the patient for almost 45 minutes, the doctor returned and asked us to give him details of the patient’s history, diagnosis and our findings from our physical examination of him. There is still so much more that we need to learn, but it is finally feeling like we are, ever slowly, becoming doctors. We even have to wear doctors coats and stethoscopes to our lessons!

In Thursday’s microbiology class, we got to see the culture of bacteria we had collected at the previous week’s class. I’d heard about the culture preparations from my friend Mads, who has the same lesson on the day before ours, so before leaving home that morning, I’d washed my hands and used antibacterial gel. On the way to class, I proceeded to touch everything I could: escalator handrail, metal bars and handles on the metro and door handles. For my second sample, I did a sample of my iPad and one from under my fingernails (our teacher told us it is especially gross under there – note to those of you who bite your nails!).

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On the right is before washing my hands (after touching everything on the metro) and on the left is after washing my hands with soap and water and using antibacterial gel.

After microbiology, we had autopsy practice in pathology. Our cases are usually in the age range of 70-90, but this one hit a lot closer to home: an 18 year-old female who had died from cancer only the day before. I can’t really describe the affect it had on me, other than to say that it gave be such an acute awareness of time, how fleeting life is and how lucky we are to be alive. That night, I thought a lot about the life I have lived these past 9 years and how every day should really be appreciated one at a time.

Last night we had cocktails and dinner with Skjalg’s former groupmates and their former anatomy professor. For the first two years, we are confined to a specific group and have all of our classes together with those people. Skjalg was a bartender for 7 years before starting medical school and wanted to have people over for drinks before heading to dinner at Iguana. It was a really, really great night and I hope that we get the chance to do it again soon. I take for granted how talented Skjalg is at making drinks!


We finally hung up some of the drink series pieces I did a few years ago. There is one more somewhere in the apartment of a drink Skjalg invented that won a couple of contests – just need to find it!

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