Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Today we were in the hospital all day again. I really enjoy it, it's so nice to be out of lecture halls and actually doing something. For the most part I've learned a ton from actually seeing the things I've been reading about for the past two years. I do have to admit though, that some of the stuff bores me to tears. Ultrasounds for example. The doctor in charge of us lost me at: "and this is the heart."

How in the world can you see what everything is? It just looks like a bunch of black and white, mildly formed fuzz. Meanwhile, the doctor is just spitting out random facts about the pictures on the screen and pointing at various formations: "this is the left ventricle as seen from the epigastric area."


Will I one day be able to read these stupid things as well as them? Because right now it's not looking very promising.

Of course right now, nothing is looking very promising. At the rate I'm going the only thing I'll be specializing in is unemployment. I feel so stupid, like I can't get even the simple stuff. It's getting frustrating to study for weeks only to have everything totally go to waste when it's time to take the test. I feel like I don't know anything even after I study hard- and apparently I don't.  

Maybe I should start skipping class like everyone else to prep for exams.

Back to studying, I guess. Let's see how many hours I can waste on the next test.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Internal Med: Week Two

I think we've covered all the basics for taking a history and doing a physical exam- finally.

After failing to progress through the goals of the course with actual patients (we've run out of volunteers I think) the last few days the doctors in charge have resorted to having us use each other to practice on. The guys in the class have all been used to demonstrate chest and abdominal exams. Which is kind of weird, because it's one thing to have to palpate, percuss, and auscultate some stranger, but it's kind of strange to do it on someone you know! Today we paired off and practiced head and neck exams. Again it was weird. And of course everyone was really worried about themselves. Med students make the best hypochondriacs.

"What do you mean I have a lump?... Where?....What do you think it is?... You know I've had this slight cough for a while...."

After talking with one of the Doctors in charge of our group, I found out that he was one of the first students to come to school here for the English four year program. He actually had the same professor we all had for pathology and my classmates and him were swapping stories. Back when he had the professor, they had to not only pass a written exam, but an oral exam as well- which was held at the professors house. And I thought we had it rough. At least we know there's hope for us after all!!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Internal Med: Day 1

In case you couldn't tell, I'm the one on the end! 


It's so awesome to be out of the normal drone and groan of lectures and classes. Yeah we still have lectures, but we do get to see patients! And that is more than enough to keep me happy. 

Our class is broken up into groups of about six people in each group and distributed to various departments to be taught the basics. The Doctors from my department are really great, they speak excellent English (which is a nice change) and they are teaching us so many new things (also a change). 

Unfortunately, because of a bacterial outbreak in the ward, there are not any patients, because they had to close down for cleaning. But, we've been kidnapping patients from other departments and harassing them accordingly. 

It's really strange here. Back home I assume that in most cases we would go to the patients room to examine them. Here the patient comes to us. All six of us plus our two professors are seated around a large table and the patient comes in and either sits at a small bed on the side of the room or on a chair near the front by the Doctors. Once they come in, the selected classmate goes up to them, introduces themselves and begins trying to take a history- while the rest of us sit there like idiots. The major issue here is none of us really speak enough Polish to have a conversation about anything apart from ordering food at McDonald's, so one of the Doctors has to translate and inevitably things get left out. 

I imagine this is equally as awkward for the patient. There are eight of us and one of them. We also can't understand anything they're saying, and they can't understand anything we're saying. So slowly we get their symptoms with the doctor stopping every now and then to interject his two cents about a variety of issues: what sort of questions we should ask, how we should phrase certain things, disease specifics, etc... Meanwhile the patient is sitting there, probably bored out of their mind while we're talking about them and all the horrible diseases they might have with them totally oblivious. 

It also has to be strange for the patients to talk about some things with such a large audience. We ask them everything from bowel movements to sexual activity- that's something I'm sure most people want to discuss with a group of 20 somethings.

It gets really interesting when no one has a question for the patient. One of the doctors has to lead us on and sometimes we end up sounding like real idiots. For example: 

Doctor: And what other symptoms can you question him about related to his diabetes?
Doctor: What is he wearing?
Student: Uh...A red shirt.
Doctor: *shakes head* GLASSES

Yep- we're going to be doctors one day! 

And then of course there's the whole physical exam bit, which none of us have any real experience in. So needing to practice we all have to try everything. So there are six of us practicing auscultations and abdominal palpations on one poor unsuspecting patient, who has already been in the room with us for about two hours while we attempted to take a sufficient history. We had one woman there so long she was on her phone texting people while we all palpated her. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

I am an Adult

Today, when I was getting ready to go to the lab for some extra study time, it hit me. I live in Poland alone. I'm going to medical school. One day two years from now I'm going to be a doctor, and people are going to come to me for their life and death problems. That's scary.

It's scary because I don't think of myself as an adult. But, I don't think of myself as a kid anymore either.
I don't know what I am. I make my own decisions, I have my own apartment, my own bills, my own dog, but I don't feel like I think an adult should. I feel like I'm pretending to be grown up, when really I'm just the same old immature person who enjoys watching Disney movies.

I think this all came up because next week is my birthday. My 23rd birthday. I'm not even that old. But, old enough I guess to be thinking like this. I mean, there are people my age all over who aren't even grown up enough to cook themselves dinner at night or make a budget for the month - they just want to have fun, that's all they can see in their future.

Don't get me wrong, I want to have fun too, but I feel like I can't. I feel like I have to keep trying to become who I'm supposed to be. For goodness sake I still have a self imposed bedtime, I don't drink, I don't party, I don't dance, I don't do anything remotely age appropriate. Why do I have this stupid obsession with acting like an adult?!? Why do I have to grow up faster than everyone else? Why can't I just stick my heels in the sand and let time drag me slowly through the threshold of adulthood?

Because that's not me.

I'm not ready to be an adult yet, but I think I am. It's a strange place. So until I get the hang of it, I guess I'll just keep pretending I know what I'm doing until one day I wake up and it's not an act anymore, and  I really am "grown up."


Friday, April 5, 2013

Grandma Does Poland

I have a confession: whenever I leave my grandparent's house I cry like a baby for at least 10 minutes while driving away. When my Grandmother left my house this morning in the taxi, it wasn't any different. I was choked up still fifteen minutes later when I entered my pharmacology seminar on aminoglycosides. But it was really a great visit!!!

She got in about two weeks ago, just after I passed my second to last retake for patho; perfect timing! I made dinner for us that first night and she got settled in and reacquainted with Copper. She also brought tons of goodies from back home: Shake n' Bake, Grandma Utz chips, Girl Scout Cookies, Cadbury Eggs...  

The next day I took her on a tour of the town, despite the fact that it was COLD. We started with the town square and then headed to the churches in the vicinity, we saw the remnants of the synagogue which was turned into a swimming pool by the Nazi's, and then I took her to the most important Polish experience- perogi's. I don't mean those terrible boiled things, I'm talking about huge, baked ones, stuffed full of veggies and meats. Delicious. We spent about two hours in the restaurant warming up and enjoying our tea, before heading back out. 

The third day she was here I sent Copper to the kennel and the two of us headed to Krakow. It's about a seven hour train ride to Krakow, but it went pretty quick. I spent most of the time studying for the next round of patho misery while Grandma trudged through "Sense and Sensibility." (I think she only got through about 10 pages, it is really a terribly boring book- I know because I read a few pages out loud on the way back; while doing all the voices. haha).
We got to Krakow pretty late and got dinner. The next day I had scheduled a tour so that Grandma could see the Auswitch concentration camp. I've done the tour once before- and I have to say it is easily one of the most depressing places I have ever seen. After that we had a look around Krakow, mainly in the area of the main square, because once again it was COLD. 

The day after that we woke up to about 6 inches of snow. Luckily our tour that day was 'inside' or at least underground in the Wieliczka Salt Mine. This tour was much more uplifting and all the carvings and expansive rooms that the miners did were really cool to see. But I'll tell you what, I'm in pretty good shape and my shins were shaking pretty good after walking down 50+ flights of stairs! At the end of the day we went to the Kazimierz area which is the Jewish District. Unfortunately I got us lost so we ended up a little cold and more walked than anticipated.
Wieliczka Mine
Wieliczka Mine
We took the train home the day before Easter, and found all of the grocery stores very much closed (it was only 4pm on Saturday- we thought they'd be open till 5 at least!). So we had to hurry and buy some things at a mini mart to hold us until Tuesday when everything opened back up. This part of the trip was pretty boring. I had a test on Wednesday (which by the way I passed!) so I spend almost three days straight studying. We watched a few movies and went to the mall in the days after the test. 

And then today- Friday, the taxi came and took her bags. And she was gone. Hopefully she made it to the airport and is in the sky on her way back home! I hope she comes back soon!!!