Sunday, November 27, 2005

T-Rex is NOT for Sale!!!!!

My letter to the editor of Newsday:

I am writing to point out a grammatical error in the article, "Serving in Africa" (,0,7654133.story). The article mistakenly refers to Karin Landmann as a physician's assistant. Physician's assistant implies ownership by a physician and is misleading.

According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants..."the relationship between a PA and the supervising physician is one of mutual trust and respect. Within the physician-PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. The physician and PA practice as members of a medical team."

Thank you for taking the time to consider this correction. I look forward to future articles highlighting the exemplary work of physician assistants in Newsday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy TURKEY Day!

Ok, I know this is the absolute LAST thing that you want to hear the night before Turkey Day...but I feel the responsibility of passing along some information from my microbiology professor. Prof M. is in his mid-70's and is hell bent on persuading the die-hard sushi eating students in my class that it's the stupidest thing you could do. He makes some valid points but my love for sushi and my experiences eating it in Japan will not dissuade me.

However, today he told us to NEVER EVER stuff your turkey!! I had never even thought that could be dangerous. But, as it turns out, if you stuff the bird, the stuffing inside of the turkey will never reach the same temperature as the rest of the bird. What does that mean? That means that the harmful bacteria inside of the bird, let's use SALMONELLA as an example, escapes the wrath of the hot bird by jumping ship to the stuffing! You take the stuffing out of the bird and then the little buggers jump into your GI tract! Fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps...and nobody likes ulcerated intestines on Thanksgiving.

I know what you're thinking...I've been cooking my bird with the stuffing inside for years and I've never gotten sick. Well, the class pounced on the professor with the same question. His response, "I don't have an answer why some people get sick and others don't, but I bet you that if you do get'll never stuff your bird again! So why chance it?"

So, I shared this info with my mother and she appreciated it, so much so that she will not be stuffing the bird tomorrow. The rest of the family??? Well, I may take some heat for this one!

Hey, once you can never NOT know! But...I will never stop eating sushi!!!


"The world has other plans for you..."

That is what my father said to me today while I was in the kitchen trying to bake a cake. I thought for sure the oven light wasn't working, turns out I was pressing the wrong button.

Yes, some days baking a cake is beyond my scope of expertise. A couple of years ago, it was biscuits. I had ONE job for the entire Thanksgiving meal...and I blew it! Well, my cousin Jimmy is partly to blame since I had asked him to remind me that the biscuits were cooking!!! Granted, he is 17 years younger than I am...but it was technically a joint effort!

I have the best intentions, but when I put something in the oven, stove, or crock pot for that matter...I forget about it. The timer will even go off and I somehow don't hear it. Or I'll forget to include a necessary ingredient like eggs for brownies. Thankfully, I don't need to cook anything to become a PA. And I'm lucky to have such a forgiving family, although my Dad usually refuses to eat anything that I cook albeit I tend to cook healthy stuff that doesn't have much taste!

So, I'm grateful, as is my family, that the "world has other plans for me..."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Moment of Silence

Some things are just not supposed to happen at Disneyland. I often refer to my gym as Disneyland. I have been employed as a personal trainer for the last two years and a member for three years prior. It's not your typical run of the mill, musclehead franchise. It's a family type environment and the vast majority of patrons and staff (including the owner) are females. Whenever I walk through the doors of the gym, all of my worries are washed away. It's a beautiful thing.

But, last week one of our staff members died from a rare strain of bacterial meningitis. She was vaccinated against meningitis, but it turns out that the vaccines are only 70% effective against most of the strains. She was 19 years old and away at college (upstate NY). She worked at the front desk during breaks and her mother is employed as a personal trainer. Both mother and daughter inspired many members and staff with their love and passion for health and fitness. Her death has rocked our gym "family".

I spent Sunday afternoon waiting 90 minutes to get inside of the funeral home. It was one of the most emotional wakes I've ever been to. Seeing others in pain is never a pleasant experience...especially when a mother has lost her teenage daughter and the majority of mourners are under the age of 20. Please include the Boyle family in your prayers this holiday season.,0,5653278.story

Unfortunately, the bad news doesn't end there. A few days prior, I came across one of my former clients in the lockeroom. She is 21 years old and looked really sad. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me that her 22 year old cousin was killed in Iraq. I had read the article in the newspaper the day before, but had no idea it was her cousin. Take a look at the article below and you'll understand why I remembered it. When I reached out to give her a hug, she exploded into tears in my arms.

Like I said, stuff like this is NOT supposed to happen at Disneyland.,0,1087760.story

Friday, November 18, 2005

Welcome to Brooklyn!

I studied till 3am, then woke up at 7 and studied till 8. Exam from 9-10:30am. Came home and napped till noon. Now I'm off to Bklyn to be the "hostess with the mostest" at Bogota. It seemed like a good idea in the beginning of the week...but now I'm exhausted, both mentally and physically.

I know I passed Biochem today and going to Bogota is like a reward. Bogota is like my home away from home, where my family and friends are always happy to see me. Once I hit the streets of Brooklyn, I am no longer a PA student...that identity goes straight out the window...I'm just like everyone else, meeting new people, listening to their stories and observing others on their journey...just trying to get by. The focus is not on me. I can sit back and enjoy life for a while. And not have to worry about the intricacies of the Kreb Cycle! Topping the night off with bandeja paisa, a coconut mojito and Zorro accompanying me to my cathartic in and of itself.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


It's 10pm...and I just spontaneously threw down my highlighter and screamed. I didn't scream too loud...just loud enough to get the aggravation idling my chi out. What does that mean exactly? I really don't know....I only know that I have a biochem exam 11 hours from now and I somehow have to fit in at least 4 hours of sleep...and I feel like I need at least 12 more hours to study.

Whatever. This material isn't extremely difficult, it's just presented in an awkward way (my opinion, of course). I would appreciate it if this professor would take into consideration that we have 7 other classes to worry about...and that she should present the material in a more matter of fact way. But, she doesn't...

Ok, I feel better now. I need another cup of tea, then I'll search for the highlighter that disappeared when I spontaneously combusted...and then I'll get back to it.

Oh yeah, I've gone through 3 highlighters already. I don't think I've ever used up a single highlighter before in my entire life! And index cards? Forget about it...I should buy stock in an index card company with my student loan money! haha

It never really just NEVER ends!

Can you tell I'm delirious??

Friday, November 11, 2005

IT'S OVER (for now)!

Hell week #1 is finally OVER! 6 exams in 6 days...brutal. I averaged between 5-6 hours of sleep each night and there was no other way to get it all done. Some people go to bed early and wake up at 4am to study, and others (including yours truly), take a nap after school, then stay up until 2 or 3am. Then wake up an hour early to review in the school parking lot/library.

That strategy worked for I'll be sticking to it. As the week progressed, more and more people started coughing and sniffling, a couple of people vomited due to nerves and lack of sleep, and others spontaneously combusted into tears.

But, we got through it. I say we because when one person goes down...there are others to help pick them back up. It's happening key to getting through this is being able to put aside your "real" life and dive head first into this bizarre world called "PA school" or as the Dean describes it..."Accelerated Medical BOOT CAMP!"

I managed to get through relatively unscathed, the laughter, smiles, and comraderie of my classmates carried me through, and now I can exhale! (till Monday)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Waiting to Exhale

We got our physio grades back today. Same drama unfolded as last time. Walking up to the podium, one by one, to receive our graded exams. I wasn't as anxious as last time because anxiety takes up too much energy...and I still have 3 more exams to go so I don't have any extra energy to spare. But, my heart still felt like it was about to burst through my chest although I kept telling myself, "this is absolutely ridiculous "self"...knock it off!"

The prof called my name, I took a deep breathe in, looked at my paper and I saw that I PASSED (barely, but passed none-the-less!) I exhaled...but not fully...that won't happen until Friday afternoon...when this week from Hell finally ends.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Misery Loves Company

I may have failed my first exam in years. Physiology was a killer. Five minutes into the exam I wanted to hand it back to the professor...blank! It was that terrible. I knew the material and I don't know what I could have done to be better prepared because I just didn't know how to answer his questions. And that hasn't happened to me in a long time.

Luckily, I'm not the only one. Although for 2 hours, I felt like I was the only one pulling my hair out. Afterwards, everyone walked around with puzzled looks on their faces saying, "I think I failed." This is a group of people that is not used to failing.

It almost feels as though the exam was made more difficult for a reason. Perhaps because not enough people failed the first exam as was predicted by the prof. Perhaps because they keep saying that our class is the smartest class in years. Perhaps...the excuses are endless and at this point it doesn't matter. It's over.

We'll find out tomorrow if we did, indeed, fail. There's not enough time to get worked up over one test...besides I aced the physical diagnosis test that was given before physiology. And I have to start studying for the 3 other exams this week.

You win some, you lose some.

3 down...3 more to go...then I can sleep.


PA school has been described as running a marathon, in hell, with no shoes on.

Well, I ran the NYC marathon 4 years ago TODAY and it was an abnormally HOT day (like today)...but, I did have shoes on. 4 years later, I'm just as exhausted...instead of running for 5 hours....I studied three times longer...

What? 15 hours?

Yup, 15 hours in one for the weekend: 35 hours (typical work week sans lunch)


So, I'm going to revise the above description of PA school...and say that it's similar to completing an IronMan competition (100+ miles)...and at that distance, temperature and footwear don't even register. You're in for the long haul...and the only way out is to keep your eyes on the finish line and KEEP ON RUNNING!

Time for sleep...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Not Fun

I'm not having fun. Too much information, not enough time. I can't even brain feels like it's going to explode. Tomorrow is Physical Diagnosis, so I have to "perform". One hour later is the physiology exam (heart). Each requires different types of energies...and I'm exhausted already.

So much for Sunday being a day of rest.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Sooooo COOL!!!

Writing this blog has been a good way for me to keep in touch with the friends that I've made all around the world. However, sometimes it is not easy for them to understand everything that I write in English. But, I think I may have found a solution:

So, hypothetically speaking, if I wanted someone from Mexico to be able to understand what I'm writing, all they have to do is scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on the Spanish flag. Another window opens up on their computer and my blog is magically translated into Spanish. If my Japanese friends wanted a translation, they would click on the Japanese flag and my blog magically appears in kanji! It's really cool...give it a try! Scroll down to the bottom of this page and pick a country!

1 down...5 more to go

Microbiology: DONE

Physiology Exam & Physical Diagnosis Lab Exam: Monday
Anatomy Lecture Exam & Cadaver Lab Exam: Thursday
Pharmacology Exam: Friday

To those that are working on their pre-requisites now, if a school recommends that you take a certain class (ie. Microbiology), you should take that class before the program starts. If I hadn't taken Microbio last Spring, today's exam would have put me in a really bad mood.

Moral of the story...if you can take the recommended'll make your life a little bit easier.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


This is a post to my family and friends...

I apologize in advance for being a sleep deprived, cranky, hypersensitive, SOB...symptoms will subside in approximately 8 days. However, symptoms are likely to reappear one week later when the next wave of exams begin.

Treatment? Chocolate, hugs, and exercise.

When all else wine, tequila, beer!

Thank you for your cooperation.

T-rex ;)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


On Monday morning, before physical diagnosis lab, I took advantage of the flu vaccine that was being offered to the students. I have no problem with needles except for when they're coming at me!! I have no problem with blood...unless it's my own blood. So, I really wasn't too thrilled by the experience.

After that, I was informed that my physical diagnosis instructor had an emergency. So, my group merged with another group. And we were observing a nasal/sinus exam. Well, the instructor asked for a volunteer to practice being the PA. Nobody volunteered and guess who she picked? Yup, lucky me. I wanted to crawl under the table and hide. I don't like being thrown into positions without being fully prepared.

It was Monday morning, I just survived an inoculation of the flu vaccine, I had never met this particular instructor before, and the secretary didn't give us the notes for us to review over the weekend (as promised!). So,I had absolutely NO idea what I was doing. And, I wasn't happy about it. Yes, the instructor did demonstrate the exam moments before she called on me...but, it was Monday morning and I was still thinking about the fun I had at Bogota over the weekend! And I rarely learn things on the first try...I'm one of those people that has to read things over and over and over again until I finally get it. So, the last thing I wanted to do that morning was stand in front of 20 of my peers and look like a moron.

But, I stood up and walked over to the table. One of my peers was the patient and he was just as surprised as I was when he was selected. So, in his defense...he didn't have the chance to BLOW HIS NOSE before the exam. Yes, remember that point! And of course he is one of the few students that I haven't formally met in class. Which made the experience even more awkward!

So, I'm nervous and trying not to sweat. Ever since I was in elementary school, if the teacher called on me, I'd turn bright red and sweat...for no apparent reason...even if I knew the answer the same reaction would occur. And, even though I'm 29...I still have to make a conscious effort NOT to turn red and sweat!

So, I'm trying not to turn red, trying not to sweat, trying not to let everyone see that my hand was shaking and I started to do the exam. I'm palpating this guy's nose and sinuses while announcing the structures. The sinuses were easy, but we never got the handout on the anatomy of the nose. So, the instructor walked me through it...and I was familiar with most of it until she said, "Ala Nasi". And I thought "Ala What?" It sounded like a dish from my favorite Indian restaurant! She seriously had to repeat herself several times before I just accepted the fact that I had no idea what she was saying! And, for the record, your "Ala Nasi" are the two semicircular bumps around the openings of your nose! Nobody else in our group chimed in, so I'm going to assume they didn't know that either!

So, there I was...palpating his nose, trying to make it look like I knew what I was doing and when I made eye contact with the "patient", I almost started laughing because he looked just as uncomfortable as I did! But, instead of laughing, I tilted his head back and shoved the opthalmoscope up his nose....I took a look and saw the biggest booger EVER trapped in his HAIRY nose!!! I almost lost it! And then I hear the instructor ask me if I noticed his DEVIATED SEPTUM?

"What deviated septum, all I'm seeing is a huge booger!" But, of course I couldn't say that.

So, I took a deep breathe and told the deviant voice inside of my head to "quit it"! And, I switched to the left nostril and hoped for a better environment. But, to my horror, the left nostril had even more boogers than the right nostril! I tried my best to mask any expression on my face while describing the inside of his nose as intelligently as possible.

After I finished the exam, the "patient" came over and explained that he had a cold and apologized for whatever I saw up there! I was finally able to let out a good, hearty giggle! But what do you think happened to me a few hours later? I was sitting in class and my girlfriend looked at me and whispered, "You have something by your nose!" guessed it....a booger!