Sunday, October 03, 2004

so, i had planned to do a better job than this, but frankly school has been taking up all of my time. and our internet was down for A WEEK (fucking comcast bastards), which didn't help either.

the highlights thus far:

1. first exam is DONE! it was mostly multiple choice, tra-la, tra-la. i got that very important P is for pass, and actually did rather well, numbers-wise. let's hope i can keep up in that vein so the powers that be will want to give me a scholarship again...

2. went to my clinical site for the first time last tuesday. one of the nicest parts of the program here is that they throw you into working with patients a month after you start school--you work with a primary care doc once a week, and continue working with the same person for three to four years. awwwwwwesome. i can't imagine how they did it (do it?) when students didn't get to see patients until their 3rd year...yikes.

my doc is nice and young enough to remember what being in school is like, which is a very good thing. she's a family practitioner working in a small but busy practice in a gorgeous little seaside town (with a lot of money, causing the demographics to be a bit...weird). the office staff is also sweet--i won them over by bringing in a pumpkin bread that was half devoured by the time i left! it felt surprisingly natural to be there. part of it was the familiarity of being in a medical office b/c of me dad. but i was really surprised by how comfortable i felt talking to people about their medical problems. okay, the ONE person i talked to. whatever...

and then i went to the beach!

3. cadavers. we met them on friday. my group's is a really beautiful older gentleman, thin but relatively muscular. these are good qualities in a cadaver, i am told.

this is where med school really diverges from any other educational experience you're likely to get. it's what people wonder about most--"oh, you're in medical school? how's anatomy? what's it like?" and then usually, "oooh, i don't know if i could do that." it's bizarre. you get a dead human body and are expected to take it apart. it goes against so so so much cultural conditioning...and at the same time, they're dead, this is what they wanted when alive (all our bodies were specifically donated to the medical school for this purpose), and it is the best possible way to learn anatomy. i have no doubt that it will be an extraordinary learning experience.

that said, i cried when i cut into him.

i was okay until that point. i'd seen cadavers before, in various stages of dissection--strange, but not a big deal. i helped the others wrap his hands and feet and head to protect them (and to mask his humanity?). i looked at the incisions where they pumped in embalming fluid and drew out the blood. all fine. then somehow i ended up with the scalpel in my hand and was asked to make the first cut. from the bony notch at the base of the neck to the bottom of the sternum. my hands were steady and the cut was straight and clean. i handed the scalpel to another woman in my group to do the next one, and then i got dizzy, sat down, and cried at the enormity of the gift this man and his family had given us, and at the strangeness of what i'd just done.

thank you, whoever you are. thank you.


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