Sunday, January 29, 2006

It's Not Good

I was hoping to leave the bio-chemical terrorism seminar with some inside information. I was hoping to share some good news about the progress that has been made over the last few years. But, from a healthcare standpoint, it's not good. It's actually really disturbing and if I get into it, I won't sleep tonight.

I can't really say that I learned anything new other than the fact that there's evidence of bio-chemical warfare dating back to 2000 BC! Which means that people have been trying to kill other people with chemicals for a really long time. I don't consider myself an optimist, pessimist or even a fatalist. I happen to jive with the realists. Most experts say that it's not a matter of's a matter of when, and where. And I believe that to be true. I believe that to be the reality of the world that we live in.

I really hope that I am not working in the ER when it happens.

But, if I am working, I am now trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of a bio-chemical attack. I'll even know what to do, but I learned that there are not enough meds to go around. I learned that nearby hospitals do have protective gear for healthcare workers, but when today's speaker visited the local hospital, the healthcare staff couldn't find them!

Like I said, it's not good. And I'm starting to get into it...and it's late and I need to sleep so I can learn how to practice medicine tomorrow. Perhaps when I complete this program and walk away with my Master's in Public Health...I'll be able to work on a solution. But, for right now, I'm saying a prayer, then pulling the wool over my eyes and going to sleep.

That's the best I can do...for now.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Sunday School

Sunday School has an entirely different meaning for me now. Tomorrow kicks off the Sunday School experience with a 7 hour seminar on Bio-chemical Terrorism!

Nothing like a relaxing, peaceful, harmonious Sunday to start your week off right.

Friday, January 27, 2006

"There's No Crying in PA School"

The title of this post is a direct quote from the director of our program. Dr. P waivers between nuturing us and terrifying us! He had told us in the beginning of the year that he was trying to change his approach towards students in response to negative criticism he has gotten in the past. I give him credit for acknowledging this criticism and attempting to change his ways.

"There's No Crying PA School" is in response to previous students' complaints about material on exams. Students have complained that during the 2nd and 3rd semester information that is presented by one instructor is often tested by another instructor in a different course. Basically, we're responsible for everything that is being taught to us at all times! Sounds like a reasonable request, but when you have 11 subjects being taught in one's a bit much. So, we were warned NOT to approach the admin or the instuctors about this! And if we end up crying to him in his office, he will kick us out!

So, I'll save my crying for this blog!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Natural Glow

So I bought this Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer (Jergens) that is designed to..."create a healthy, summer glow all year long...just by moisturizing!" Sounds enticing, eh?

Well, it smells like cat pee! It's terrible. I walked into my sister's room and her response was, "UGH!"

Just thought I'd share that with you because it's distracting me from studying! (I can always find an excuse NOT to study!)

Ironically, I'm not studying for any PA school exam. I'm studying for a Personal Training/Health Fitness Instructor exam. My original personal training certification is about to expire, so I thought I'd upgrade by taking the next level of certification offered by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Well, if I wasn't in PA school, there's no way I'd pass this exam by just reading the books.

I was originally scheduled to take the exam tomorrow. But because of a computer error at the facility, I had to reschedule it for next week. The administrator apologized a few times, but I took it as a sign in my favor. I definitely need the extra week to study!

The personal training industry has really responded to the needs of our society. Standards and pre-requisites have been improved and there's a strong movement to have trainers pass a national certification exam. I expect this to happen within the next few years. Clients have come to me with all sorts of injuries, diseases, bariatric procedures (lap band) which had me scrambling to the internet to understand. My experiences training definitely propelled me towards this path.

I want to continue training for as long as possible. But, I know my time is limited. I have ideas for the future and I'd love to work in an environment where I'd be able to incorporate both medicine and exercise.

Here's my dream: a patient comes to me with hypertension. I'll be able to take the history, conduct a physical, order labs, diagnose, prescribe meds and counsel. And then walk them through a magic door that leads to a gym! I'd put my sneakers on and then counsel them on nutrition and create an exercise prescription complete with demonstration.

And then the alarm goes off and reality sets back in. I will only have between 7-15 minutes to accomplish all of the above! Such is the state of healthcare. It ain't pretty. But that's why personal training is bumping up their game!

I wonder if health insurance will one day cover the price of training sessions?


I was asked to be the Godmother of my cousin Keith's first baby tonight!!!! The baby is due in a few weeks and I had no idea I was going to be blessed with a Godson this year. So now when I'm out with my married Mommy friends, I can whip out a photo and say, "This is my Godson!" ;) Cool, eh?

So, now I am extra motivated for my Pediatrics class. The Doc teaching our class is awesome. It takes a special person to stay in Pediatrics for 25 years!!!! Especially when babies are supposed to cry up to 3 hours a day! The Doc emphasizes that although babies are small, we aren't going to break them when we examine them. In fact, the hardest part about examining a baby is dealing with the new parent!

Ok, back to the books....the babies are on their way!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Discouraging Article

While I was driving to school, I heard on the radio that today is considered the most depressing day of the year. They blamed it on the cold weather, lack of sunlight and the fact that holiday bills are now past-due!

None of that stuff bothered me today, until I read this article!

click here: Young earners face new financial challenges

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Random Thoughts

Semester two is starting off real slow. We're apparently tackling 23 credits this semester. The average college student carries 12 credits a the next four months promise to be action packed!

We still haven't gotten back our grades from last semester. I think it's a deliberate attempt to finally drive home the point that "grades don't matter!" You hear this over and over and over in PA school...yet, when those grades are posted, there's a mad rush to the bulletin board! Two more students were dropped from the program, bringing that total to NINE. So, our class is down to 51.

Since our class size has decreased, our home base classroom has been changed. We have moved out of the lecture center and into a smaller room with cushy seats and long tables (2 students per table)! We no longer have to cram our adult bodies into the elementary sized desk/chair (torture chamber) contraptions!

I'm liking the change because I am no longer surrounded by the same people. Last semester I was completely surrounded by women. This is not a put-down to these women, I am friends with all of them...but I was surrounded by too much estrogen. You know it's time to move your seat when your menstrual cycles become in sync!! (damn pheromones!)

I find it interesting that the first seat you take usually winds up being the seat you are stuck in for the rest of the semester! It seems to be a universal phenomenom! Nobody changes seats. It's the weirdest thing. Well, this time around, we didn't know we'd be staying in this room. I took a random seat and this time around I've got 4 guys in front of me, 3 guys next to me and 2 behind me (that's more than half the number of guys in our class!!). My same girlfriends are in the vicinity, so I can still chat with them, but I don't feel like I'm going to drown in estrogen anymore.

Once again, there are more girls than boys in our program.

34 girls
17 boys

And the boys are young. Most hover around the 25 y/o point. There are 3 guys in their 30's and two of them are married. It's awesome to be surrounded by so many smart, intelligent, kick-ass women...but c'mon, whatever happened to equal rights? Where are the men???

So to those of you that assured me I was going to meet "someone" in PA school, what program were you talking about?!?!??! haha I'm just kidding...the boys in my class are great. And I do NOT recommend dating your classmates. It's just trouble waiting to happen.

Think about it. When was the last time you were in the same room with the same people day after day, after day after day? Studying the same subjects, with the same teachers, same exam schedules, same homework, same food options, and even the same bathroom breaks? Keep thinking....the last time you were in this situation, was in ELEMENTARY SCHOOL! But, at least there was time for recess back then!

However, we do have a ping pong table in the lounge area. The problem is the boys are ALWAYS hogging the table. Until today, when I was invited to play ping pong with the boys. Although I was wearing heals...I gave them a run for their money.

So to answer the emails I'm getting about the possibility of dating while in, "does ping pong count?" Seriously, when you're in over your head with studying, exams, deadlines, is the last thing on your mind.

Every PA and every PA student I consulted with before venturing on this path made it clear...

"You will NOT have a life for the next 2 years!"
"You will live, eat, breathe medicine for the next 2 years!"
"Every relationship in your life will suffer, whether it be friends, family or a romantic partner!"

Sounds like fun, eh? The first two statements actually came from the PA that I shadowed. The last statement came from one of the schools that I applied to. Needless to say, I didn't want to go to that school, mostly because a school that uses fear tactics at an open house is not where I wanted to be. But, there is some truth to that statement. If there is discord between you and anyone else in your life, if you don't settle it before PA school, the drama will expound exponentially and be a major distraction. And there is no time for outside distractions.

You need to surround yourself with people that you know will be there for you, no matter what. Figure out who those people are, thank them in advance (and then apologize in advance for not being able to reciprocate) and let go of the others.

Let go of the others!

Trust me.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Quick Update

Real quick update:

1. My friend was at the airport! I had an awesome vacation in Florida!
2. School started today.
3. Stress levels went through the roof within 15 minutes of the new semester *see below
4. Our Pediatrics MD instructor is awesome, he wore a Big Bird tie!
5. Cardiology class made me realize that I did, indeed, learn a lot last semester!
6. I'm a lucky girl *see below

*The Director of the Program addressed our class and congratulated us for surviving first semester. But then he tried his usual scare tactics to motivate us and I now find that amusing. Fear doesn't motivate me...I am motivated by the opportunities that abound when I do succeed. Big difference.

Then he told us that starting TOMORROW we will start our History and Physical (H&P) rotations in the hospitals. At that moment, everyone sat up straight in their chair and cocked their heads to the side, like a pack of dogs reacting to a high pitched sound, "WHAT?"

Before the break we were told that we would start taking patient histories and conducting physicals on "real, live" patients in local hospitals at some point during semester 2. But, we were NOT told that it would be the week that we returned from break!

I couldn't help but laugh. If this situation would have occurred a few weeks ago, I definitely would have been crying. But, now that I've had some rest and the opportunity to look at the Big Picture again...laughter sprang forth. Needless to say, my stomach was still in knots and my heart was beating wildly.

The director explained that 12 of the 53 (we did lose 7 people) would have to report to their assigned hospital at 9am prepared to conduct a full H&P. The good thing about being in such a large group is that after a few weeks you know you can rely on a certain handful of people to react the way that you are feeling (visibly freak out) and to ask the the dumb question that you would NEVER ever dare to ask. And that's exactly what happened next.

The director addressed every freak out and dumb question and kept us in suspense for a good 20 minutes before handing out the student list with assignment dates and locations. As the papers migrated toward the back of the classroom you could watch the reactions of every student...students either exhaled and smiled or inhaled and contracted every single muscle in their body. There was no in-between.

I exhaled and smiled.

I start my H&P rotations in 3 I have time to practice. I am fully aware that I lucked out this time around. Don't get me wrong, I can't wait to start working with patients! But, I would like to unpack my suitcase first and dust off my notes from last semester.

All of this stressful drama preceded 6 hours of peds and cardiology. By the end of the day, it felt as though we never had a break.

Welcome Back to PA School!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Always an Adventure...

So I decided to treat myself to a relaxing 4-day retreat to West Palm Beach, Florida. On Christmas Day I drove past the house of an old high school friend. She had moved to Florida some years ago and I hadn't seen her in about 5 years.

Well, she was standing in the street that day and told me to come down to visit her anytime. So, on Tuesday I decided it was time! I spoke with her twice, once before and after I booked my flight. She had to go out of town for a few days and told me to call her the day before I left.

Well, today is the day before I leave. I called her and her phone is OUT OF SERVICE. It is now 1:15 AM and my flight leaves in exactly 9 hours. And her phone is still OUT OF SERVICE. Her parents are in California. I don't know her address or the name of the restaurant that she works at. The only thing I do know is that my friend is the definition of a "Wild Child". She flies by the seat of her pants and that is what makes her awesome! She most likely will be at the airport, but so far, the start of this "relaxing 4-day retreat" is anything but relaxing!

I am writing this from Bogota Latin Bistro, Brooklyn. I worked tonight and have plans to spend the night here since it's close to the airport. My co-workers seem to think that I will meet a hot guy on the plane, who has a condo on the beach, and everything will turn out alright! ;)

Having traveled alone on numerous occasions in foreign countries, most notably, crossing the Thai-Malaysian border on myself...I know I can take care of myself in sunny Florida. But, I was kind of enjoying this no-stress week and expected it would carry me through the next 4 days! School starts again Wednesday afternoon and I return from my trip Tuesday night.

On the bright side, it sure does make for a good story!!!

Wish me luck!!!

(or for that hot guy, with a condo on the beach, to be seated next to me on the plane!)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

News Flash

According to our class president, "Seven people will not be returning for semester 2."

I had no idea we'd lose that many.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

George & Omar "Live"

I should start charging these guys!

Click on this link...then click on the fourth box in the top row...the hot guys in the orange (cyprus) and gray (brooklyn) shirt!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


The time between Thanksgiving and New Year's is a complete blur. I really don't have a strong grasp on the fact that it's January 2006. I didn't have the time to reflect on much of anything, except that my main source of exercise came from unwrapping hershey kisses and spinning around in circles on my desk chair for the last month. Since the insanity of final exams has ended, there are things that I've been meaning to write about...

On Christmas Day, I opened a box presented to me by my Aunt Ruth. It looked like a regular shirt box, but the box felt way too heavy to be shirt or a sweater. My cousin Elizabeth was sitting next to me at the time and she whispered, "Don't worry, we'll explain!"

I'll admit, I was a little concerned! Inside of the box was a book and on the cover of the book was a plastinated man holding his skin! ( Under normal circumstances, that kind of gift would likely cause a lot of distress to the receiver...but not me! I started laughing because I knew exactly what it meant. Elizabeth started giggling and said, "We're going to Philly to see the exhibit...we're going to see dead people!!!!"

Remember when you were 5 years old and you got a present from Santa that made you feel all special inside, like the infamous Easy Bake Oven, Light Brite, Hotwheels, Cabbage Patch Kids? (I'm totally dating myself!) The kind of gift that really made you believe in the first place??? Well, that is the feeling that I got.

And the trip was awesome. Uncle Terry, Aunt Ruth, and cousins Wyatt and Elizabeth escorted me to Philly to witness one artist's creative expression of the most fascinating piece of work known to man: the human body.

In my opinion, in order to get through PA school without losing your mind, you need a solid support system. And although I am a single gal (another necesity in my opinion!)...I have a wonderful supportive family: nana, mom & dad, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins...many, many, awesome cousins! All have offered words of encouragement along the way and they are all greatly appreciated. Thank you.

While on the topic of family, I've realized that I also have a second family and home in Brooklyn. I never could have imagined that I'd be hostessing in my best friend's restaurant while in PA school. It has provided me with the opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and flirt with the cutie patooties in the kitchen. In essence it has allowed me to keep my sanity as well as support my cafe latte addiction (I'll probably be asking for double shots of espresso next semester). But, if I wind up moving to Mexico after graduation...Omar and George are to blame!!!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 08, 2006


I'm starting to believe that the psychics at MSN are legit!! Or, someone at MSN is reading my blog and personalizing my horoscope!

Here's to all the Virgos...

After the emotional havoc you went through over the last few weeks, the period beginning today will be quite soothing. You can take advantage of these smoother, calmer waters to rediscover inner emotional harmony and improve the balance of your energy flows. Moreover, t-rex, if your physical health is not quite up to snuff, the weeks ahead should give you a chance to rest and recuperate.

We finally got our January schedule Friday morning and it looks as though it's going to be a pretty quiet month. Although, I know by the end of the first week, the rest of the month will be full of classes....and two months from now the heat will be back on.

After a good night sleep, a fun morning at the gym, and a night out in Brooklyn, I've got my wits about me again. And I'm excited for the drama that is destined to unfold over the next few months. As it is, it's hard for me to believe that 9 months from now I will be starting my first rotation!

9 months from now...WOW!

Friday, January 06, 2006

I Crossed the Finish Line!!!

I know I stated that I planned on finishing this "race" with my fists pumping in the air with jubilee....well, it was more like I crawled across the finish line, and several hours later, I still don't have the energy to fully appreciate what I just accomplished.

It was a rough week. I felt like I was filming a re-make of the movie, "Groundhog's Day". Everyday felt like the same day. The only thing that changed was the subject matter on the exam. My sleeping pattern got extremely messed up early in the week. It all started New Year's Day when I didn't get to bed until 4am. It was the most sober New Year's Eve I've ever experienced (as one customer put it, "I was the hostess with the mostest" at Bogota!)...but staying up late caused me to feel like I was hungover the next day! But, I hit the books and battled through it while everyone else I knew was relaxing and enjoying a restful start to the new year.

I had planned on falling asleep early Sunday night...but the last time I looked at the clock, it was 4am. And unfortunately, that pattern continued every single night, until last night when I got to bed at a more reasonable hour, 2am! Exams started at 10am everyday. So, I was at school by 9am for some last minute studying. After the exam, I'd take a 90 minute nap, eat, and then study for the rest of the evening which eventually turned into early morning.

For those that are heading to PA school and wondering what it takes to make it through (well, I can only comment on semester one!)...this is it. No matter how smart you are, or how high your pre-requisite GPA was, you will study MORE than you ever thought was possible. I've never EVER (emphasis on EVER) had to study all day for anything. NEVER, EVER, EVER. I have been an A-/B+ student my entire life...and although I seem to be in that range (at this moment in time)'s taken a hell of a lot more time and effort. A hell of a lot more time and effort!!!

Physiology and Biochemistry presented the most challenging exams simply because the nature of the material is extremely challenging. That wasn't true for most of the 6 other classes. The issue with the other classes was that it was an extreme amount of information crammed into 2 exams for the entire semester. That meant that EACH exam was worth 50% of your grade! Hence, the reason for the low-grade anxiety that pulsed through my veins at 3am every morning!!!

After today's exam, I went to lunch with some of my friends from class. And although we're happy that we finished first semester, you couldn't tell. Today's exam was (excuse the language) a total ball buster. I know a lot of people were counting on doing well (since the first exam was relatively easy) to boost their GPA. You need a 2.7 to stay in the program...and those that were borderline did not get a reprieve this week. It is possible to pass every class with a C and still get booted out of the program! Needless to say, not everyone will be coming back.

I took a nap when I got home and then rewarded myself with a two hour "binge" at the gym. That helped me to feel more like "me" again and not some kind of studying machine. My "Bogota Boys" invited me in to Brooklyn for some celebratory drinks ( also brought me closer to realizing what I have accomplished...but I'm going to postpone all celebratory activities until tomorrow.

I feel tired. I look tired. I am tired.

T-rex needs to sleep.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Imagine a World Without Hate?

We impeached a president because he lied about cheating on his wife.

What about the guy who lied about "Weapons of Mass Destruction?"

"As of Friday, Jan. 6, 2006, at least 2,194 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,720 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers. The figures include five military civilians."
A suicide bomber struck a funeral for a Shiite politician's nephew Wednesday, killing at least 32 mourners, wounding dozens and splattering tombstones with blood — part of a surge of violence as Iraqi leaders try to form a coalition government.

The bomber struck as more than 100 mourners chanted a ritual Islamic prayer, "There is no god but God." They were at the cemetery to bury a 14-year-old boy a day after he was killed in a failed assassination attempt on his uncle, Ahmed al-Bakka, the director of the local hospital.

"We were walking in the funeral procession when a strange person joined the crowd," said Amer Khazim, 37. "Suddenly, there was a strong sound and we were turned upside down . ... I saw many legs and hands flying all over the place."


Monday, January 02, 2006

Bird Flu

I guess this guy hasn't heard of the impending Bird Flu pandemic!?!?!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Final Approach

This is the first time that I've ever experienced having final exams the week after the holiday break. I've been thinking about it and this is what I've come up with...

Imagine you are running the NYC Marathon (26.2 miles) and you know that the last mile of the run is uphill. So you mentally prepare yourself throughout the race in order to give yourself the best chance of getting up that hill and finishing the grueling race.

Well, imagine at mile 25 the director of the marathon temporarily closed off the road leading to the final stretch of the marathon. He sat you down, gave you a beer and hot sandwich. You were reunited with your loved ones and perhaps a massage was thrown into the mix.

A few hours later, the director re-opened the road leading to the final stretch of the marathon. And there you are, amongst the other runners, and you look at each other and realize you've lost the rhythm and flow you had at the beginning of the race. You've had a taste of the easy life again and think, "Why am I doing this to myself when I'm so much more comfortable lounging around amongst family and friends?"

Well....that's exactly how it feels right about now.

There are 4 final exams this week.

Tuesday: Physiology
Wednesday: Biochemistry
Thursday: Microbiology
Friday: Physical Diagnosis

All semester long, physiology presented the most challenging exam, with biochemistry a close second. So, I wasn't surprised when the administrators decided to schedule the two toughest exams back to back. I guess having a week off for the holidays was considered special they're back to the cruel and unusual tactics!

The good news is that one week from now semester #1 will be over. And I will be on a REAL vacation. I don't have plans to go anywhere, but unlike this past week I won't have any "I should be studying" stress lingering in my mind. I felt like I was carrying a weight on my shoulders all week...

So, here I am, trying to get myself back into the race. I'm slowly morphing back to my pre-holiday studying mode. I've got the necessities: comfy sweats, caffeinated tea, and hershey kisses. I'm back in my studying stance: slumped over my desk with my butt firmly planted in my superduper cushioned chair (necessity!!). Classical music playing in the background interspersed with snippets of physiology lectures (digital recorders are a lifesaver). And I'm starting to feel that my brain is slowly warming up as I rapidly approach the final ascent to the finish line.

I'm hoping to finish the first leg of this PA student academic adventure the same way I finished the NYC marathon in 2001: Standing on my own two feet...with my arms raised up over my head, fists pumping in the air, with a huge smile clumsily plastered across my exhausted face.

(Visualization exercises increase performance success!!! And anything helps at this stage of the game!)

I almost forgot the most important factor that keeps even the most experienced marathoner and friends (even strangers) cheering from the sidelines!!! I am truly grateful for the ample supply of support from my family and friends.

And before I put my blinders back on...

Thank has truly been a team effort!