Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Life in PA School

And that about sums it up. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

My Semita Vitae, My Business

I have decided that a renaming of the vagina is in order. As I have been studying (and studying and studying) anatomy I have noticed that there are several structures in the human body that have a derivative of the word "vagina" in them, most notably the "tunica vaginalis" (I mean, aside from the actual vagina, obviously). Which of course got me to pondering on the etymology of the word vagina. So being the awesome procrastinator that I am, I decided to look up its meaning. Turns out "vagina" is Latin for...sheath.

Cue exasperated sigh of disappointment. Yeah, sheath. As in, a place to hold your sword. (When you're not using it for real work, I guess?) What the hell Latin dudes of old?! Is that all women were to you- glorified sword holders? How do you say "lame" in Latin?

So rather than take my lot in life and have my anatomy named according to its relationship to the male of the species, I have decided to overrule centuries of tradition and medical education and rename the vagina.

From henceforth, it shall be known as the Semita Vitae, or Semita for short. And what, you might ask, is the meaning of Semita Vitae? It happens to be Latin for "Path of Life", or just "Pathway" when you shorten it.

I personally think this name is much more descriptive and less male-centric than "sheath" any day. You may or may not walk on that path, and children may or may not be born from it, but it is a path unique to every woman, and much more than just some dude's sword holder.

Cue triumphant music and cheers.

No? Okay, well I guess it's back to studying for me then....

On a final note, the Latin word for Penis actually means tail, not sword. So their own naming system didn't even make sense to begin with, unless I am missing something really important about tails...

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Cardiomegaly (Non-Pathological)

I recently learned that this was my friend Skyler's motto:

"I live my life with one motto. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated and never judge anyone unless you've lived their life. I have a huge-ass heart and I love people. I love making them smile. Because life is way too short."

I say I learned this was his motto but really anyone who knew Skyler could see it was by the way he lived it. He loved and accepted everybody he met unconditionally. He was always that way growing up, but I feel like he emulated it even more in the past 5 or 6 years. I don't know for sure but I think this is because he learned to stop judging himself. Which sounds like an easy task, until I stop to think about all the time that I spend worried about what other people think of me.

The truth is that I am far more judgmental of me than anyone else. And that might not be a big deal, except that it in turn affects the way I interact with other people. I'm afraid they will judge me, so instead of giving them the chance I stay quiet and reserved, so they won't have much to go off. But even that plan backfires because then I look like a stuck up snob who won't open up to others.

Sometimes I feel like I have spent all my life trying to play by the rules, cross all the "t"s and dot all the "i"s, all the while missing the entire point behind the "rules". The rules are there to help you play the game, but they are NOT the game. The game is the thing. The game is messy and fun and mistakes are made and points are gained or lost and sometimes you win and sometimes you get hurt. But if you are so focused on the rules you miss the point and the excitement and vitality of the game.

I don't know if that makes any sense. I'm not a sports person so the metaphor is probably off. But I guess what I want to say is that I hope that I can someday be the person that Skyler managed to become so early in life. I hope to get better at opening my heart to others, because when I leave this world I want to leave a huge-ass heart behind. Just like Skyler did. My life is blessed for having known him.

You were right Skyler, life is too short. It was way too short for you and everyone who knew and loved you is now painfully aware of that. You will always be missed. But every time I miss you, I will also smile, because the memory of your example will help me to grow my heart a little bit more. I hope that when I see you again I will have a heart as huge-assed as yours. I love you always, my creek-tubing, wahoo-flipping, 2-am-visiting, cinnamon bear in a red speedo :)


Monday, December 22, 2014

A Short History of Connecticut

Connecticut is a state in the United States of America.

It is home to a higher education institution called Quinnipiac University

Quinnipiac University has a Physician Assistant Program

The PA program has accepted me into their class of 2017!

(I have no idea who this little girl is but she is super cute)


Also slightly terrified, shocked, amazed, dumbfounded and relieved. Is there one word for all of that? : )

I imagine that once I get to Connecticut (my classes start May 18th) I will have loads more history and interesting things to tell you about it. But for now this is, to me, the most important information about it.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Highs and Lows

It turns out apathy and depression look an awful lot alike. So the fact that the phrase "no me nace" was suddenly resonating with me last time I posted makes a lot more sense.

I'm doing much better now. Once I realized what the problem was I was able to visit with my doctor, make some adjustments, and get back to being (somewhat) productive, and much more enthused about life in general.

I've never written about having depression, for a lot of reasons. First and foremost is because I have tried not to make it the defining feature of my life. I think I have succeeded in this overall, because I find that when I do tell people they tend to be somewhat surprised. I'm taking that as a good sign, not that I am doing a good job of hiding it, but that I am living a productive, happy life in spite of depression. That's my goal anyway.

I also haven't written about it because I feel like depression is a different experience for everyone. So my experience of depression may not be true for someone else who has it. That makes it hard to generalize.

The way I have come to see it is that everyone gets out of bed in the morning on the same level. Lets say level 5 on a 1-10 scale. Whether they go up or down from there is really their own decision. They can make it a level 9 day if they want to or they can take the opposite tack and make it a miserable level 2 day. For someone who has depression, they don't have the luxury of waking up at level 5. Most days, they wake up at level 3, or lower. So to get to a level 8 day takes much more work. When that continues day in and day out it gets to be so exhausting that you're lucky if you even make it to level 5 most days. And that gets even more exhausting, and the cycle continues until eventually you don't even want to get out of bed at all. Screw the levels, I'm exhausted from all this climbing!

For me, that is where medication comes in. Taking a pill allows me to wake up at level 5. It puts me on the same playing field as most everyone else. And ultimately, just like everyone else, I am responsible for whether I go up or down that day.

And lets be honest, some days I (and you too!) choose to go down. That's ok. Bad things happen and we get grumpy and we want to sit and wallow in our own misery for a bit. The difference is at that point I can't blame it on my depression. Because I know full well that I chose to go down to the pits of despair. I didn't wake up there. So eventually I will put on my big girl panties, take responsibility for myself, and climb back up to where I need to be.

That's what makes sense to me anyway. I don't know if that view works for everyone, but what it does for me is make allowances for a legitimate illness without letting that illness control my life or define who I am. It allows me to scale mountains that depression would have me believe are impossible for me.

And speaking of mountains, I crossed one off my List of Possibilities just a few weeks ago.

I hiked Timpanogos!!

(This is the view of what the very top looks like from the back side.)

My roommates and I all have birthdays that fall within one month of each other so we decided to celebrate them by doing something that all of us have always wanted to do but never had the chance to before. 

Man we were stupid : ) We should have gone out to dinner, or had a spa day, but instead we woke up before the crack of dawn and spent all day scaling a mountain, with no prior experience, carrying way too much stuff, and going about as slow as possible without moving backwards. 

But it was worth it.

These are some of the views from the top.

Looking toward Deer Creek Reservoir and Heber Valley.

 Utah Lake and surrounding valley.

As it turns out, it was kind of a monumental hike for all 3 of us. Each of us had been facing some challenges: depression, discouragement, not succeeding in our endeavors and other general disappointments. As cheesy as it sounds, scaling the mountain taught each of us lessons that we needed to learn. 

Me, Katie and Karen

I won't go into the cheesy lessons. You kind of had to be there. But suffice it to say that at the end of the day, I was there and I was happy I made it. 

That's my name. 3rd from the bottom. (Notice the age: 30! aaahhhh!)

I forgot to take a picture of myself at the very top so here is a picture of the shack at the top taken from my phone, to prove I was there : )

All in all it has been an eventful summer and fall, with unexpected highs and lows. I am glad to have moved back toward the higher end. Or at least toward more balance. And as much as I know that my life might have been easier if depression had never entered it, I also know that I will always be grateful for the lessons it has taught me. As much as I have tried over the years to not let it define me I can't deny that it has shaped me. And I am not sorry for the person I have become. 

I hope that each of you are having success in learning lessons in cheesy ways. If you ever need a friend to hike a proverbial mountain with, I'm there for you. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Como Se Dice Apathy?

So I previously mentioned that I was going to expound to you the beauty of the Spanish phrase No me nace (Pronounced No May NAW Say, roughly). This has turned out to be more than a bit ironic because the phrase roughly translates to "I don't want to." And that is pretty much how I feel about everything lately. 

I need to reapply to PA school but I don’t want to (I managed to get an interview this last application cycle, but ultimately didn't get in). I need to write those blog posts I said I would write, but I don't want to. I need to make some positive changes in my life, but I don't want to. Blah.

The thing about the phrase no me nace is that while it translates as “I don't want to” it is actually much more poetic and full in its original language. A more literal translation would be "It is not born of me", as if desire was a budding life form that required a human incubator to come into existence. In that sense, no me nace is a more powerful descriptor than a simple I don't want to. 

I'm not quite sure how to feel about that, considering that no me nace has become the chief refrain of my life lately. I think I would be more worried about it if I was feeling really depressed or sad or something. But except for that slightly worrying and atypical lack of desire within me, I think I am doing ok. I just apparently have become quite dispassionate about everything. Is that normal?

Then again, I did manage to write a blog post. I guess I’ll take that as a good sign : )

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Elephants Must Have Large Homes

Have you ever heard of a Memory Palace? If not, don't worry. You'll probably hear about it again soon. That's thanks to the Bader-Meinhoff effect. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

The idea of a Memory Palace has its start in the ancient Greek poet Simonides. The short version of the story is that Simonides was reciting his poetry at a big shin-dig of some important people of the time and he fortuitously stepped outside for a bit right as a huge earthquake struck. The earthquake toppled the building, killing everybody inside. With the bodies being so badly mangled, they weren't sure how they were going to be able to identify anyone. Fortunately, Simonides was able to solve this problem by picturing in his mind where everybody had been sitting. Thus, all the bodies were identified and a new memory device was realized.

By attaching the memory of the people to a physical location, Simonides inadvertently created the concept of a Memory Palace. Usually when we remember something we do so by repetition (saying that phone number over and over until you can write it down, assuming you don’t have a pen or cell phone handy) or mnemonic devices ("If red touches black, you're ok jack, If red touches yellow, you're a dead fellow" to remember how to distinguish the coloring of a coral snake from that of a king snake, the former of which is venomous. I evidently expected coral snakes to be a much bigger problem in my life than they have thus far, since I instantly committed this mnemonic to memory the first time I heard it. Now that I think about it, a far easier and more practical mnemonic would have been "don't touch snakes in the wild." Problem solved, no rhymes needed. But then I would have to put more important information in its place and that just isn’t practical :)

Anyway, back to Simonides’ inadvertent discovery of the memory palace. Instead of remembering information in the ways listed above, with a memory palace you attach memories to visual concepts. So for example, if you want to remember all of the cranial nerves you would first imagine a palace in your mind (or house as the case may be). Then you would place that cranial nerve in a specific location in that house.  So for me the Vagus nerve (which in my imagination is a grey stringy nerve wearing a white Elvis suit ) would be placed in the kitchen because it is responsible for innervating certain organs in your gut, which is where food goes.  Then, when you need to remember the nerves it is just a matter of walking through your memory palace and seeing what you put in each room or area.

I think it is a fascinating concept and I am working on putting it in to practice in certain ways in my life. It is actually a bit more complicated than outlined above, because some concepts are hard to visualize. For example, if you wanted to remember a bunch of the digits of pi you would first have to come up with a way of visualizing a number. There are workarounds for this but it is a bit time consuming in the beginning.

The concept of memory palaces is interesting in and of itself, but I actually bring it up because of another phenomenon that it highlights. You see, I was recently watching an episode of Sherlock (which is a fantastic show except for the fact that there are only three seasons with three episodes each and I have already gone through all of them on a Netflix binge : ( Also, the fourth season isn’t coming out for another two years because the stars of the show shot to fame after Sherlock first aired and now they are busy making movies about Hobbits and winning Oscars. Sigh, first world problems…)

Anyway, Sherlock himself uses a memory palace to house his vast collection of knowledge and recall seemingly minute details of things. When I was watching the episode in which they first mentioned this I had a vague sense of Déjà vu because they were treating the concept as a new one, but I had heard of memory palaces before. In fact, I read a book about them not long ago called Moonwalking With Einstein.  It’s a pretty good book if you are interested.

I’ve had this experience before of learning about a concept or an idea that I have never heard before and then inexplicably hearing about it again shortly thereafter. Apparently there is a name for it: The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.

The Phenomenon takes its name from a movie called the Baader-Meinhof Complex, which is based on the true story of a West German militant/terrorist group that was active in the late 1960s.  You can click here for more information on the movie, but the plot line is actually unimportant to the concept of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, which is basically the experience I described above about memory palaces.  A person learns something new (like memory palaces, or coral snake stripe patterns) and then shortly thereafter comes across it again (while watching an episode of Sherlock or reading an article about camouflage.)

It’s not really that the information is coming up more often than it would ordinarily. The concept of memory palaces has been around for ages after all. It’s that your mind is really good at finding patterns, so that when you hear about memory palaces twice in a short amount of time your mind tells you that it is more than just a coincidence, even though it’s really not.  

I do think that in the case of memory palaces there is something more going on than just the coincidence of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. It seems to be becoming more common knowledge than just a random fact to share at the water cooler, and more like a permanent fixture in society’s collective consciousness. I can’t really explain it better than that but it does get me interested in the idea of how knowledge spreads. Now there’s an interesting topic (since I have likely bored you to death with this post already. Kudos to you for making it this far).

Oh, I forgot to mention how the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon got its name:  It was coined by a guy who heard about the Baader-Meinhof Complex (the movie) twice in a 24 hour period and experienced that same weird sense of déjà vu.

Anyway, to recap what we have learned from this post: 1. Start watching Sherlock (I need someone to analyze it with me!) 2. Don’t touch wild animals 3. I am the queen of useless information (seriously, now I know all of this information on the Baader-Meinhoff Phenomenon, on top of other useless information I have stored through the years (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species…Sleepy, Happy, Dopey, Grumpy, Sneezey, Bashful, Doc…Ice-cream sales go up in the winter… the heart of a giraffe weighs 25 pounds….seriously, this list goes on and on) but do I know any more about Biochemistry, which I should have been studying? No. Queen of self-defeating behavior at least.) 4. You are probably going to hear about something from this post in the next few days or weeks. Now you know why. Assuming the contents of this post are now safely stored away in your memory palace : )

PS- As a reminder to myself, here are some other things I ought to tell you about in upcoming posts: The beauty of the Spanish phrase No Me Nace, the awesomeness of moon cups, an item in Spain on my List of Possibilities, and why the Everglades are probably glad that Americans eat cows. Oh, and maybe a brief update on my life and goals, brief being the operative word.  Happy best day of the year!