I’m Feeling “Up”

Sept 8 – 14th, 2014


Gosh, we experienced what excellent lecturing is like for the first time. Case is a great school for giving you time for independent study (generally 8-12 schedule). IQ curriculum is also a really great way to learn. However, the lectures have been so-so, if I may be completely honest. But, the past week and half of block 2 (hormones, pregnancy, diabetes etc) has been very good! Endocrinology is really fascinating and nothing (well other things too) gets you excited about medicine like a fantastic lecture.

The division chief of the department of clinical and molecular endocrinology taught us about the pituitary gland. In the past, this gland that is responsible for the secretion of a bunch of hormones THAT ARE REALLY IMPORTANT was less than exciting to me. I knew it was the “master gland” but how it was taught was just okay. Not with Dr. Arafah.

He was engaging but also developed a thoughtful lecture that really helped us learn. He asked us questions we could *actually* reason through and answer. We could use the content within the lectures to respond to his questions! Active learning! Who knew it was possible? He used his powerpoint slides effectively. DID NOT READ OFF OF THEM OR GO TOO FAST. Used historical figures like JFK’s tan and Addison’s disease, contextualizing the science within the world we live in.

If I could, I would write and ode to his lecture on the master gland. You know…I can and perhaps I will one day. I have not really considered being an endocrinologist before, but his lecture was so good, it made me want to be like him. And I hope to be—an expert, an effective communicator, and a lover of both the science and art of medicine.

TUESDAY: Kids and Sex and Changing in the Hallway

During FCM (Foundations of Clinical Medicine more about it here), we had a seminar on how to ask adolescents about their growth, development and sexual health. As a person seriously considering pediatrics, I thought this seminar would be quite useful, and I am sure it was to some degree, but it just made me realize again how awkward it is to ask people about these things—especially kids. Thankfully, we did not practice with real children, but it was surely an exercise even practicing with each other.

Before anatomy, which strangely follows FCM, we all have to change into scrubs. Now, I really appreciate the human body and its mysteries and complexities, but I am just not sure how I feel about my classmates getting naked in the hallway. It doesn’t seem really professional (like people are stripping), but at the same time, it is entirely practical. Walking down the hallway before anatomy, I am not really sure where to look! Maybe I’m just awkward, but I think it’s bizarre. If I were interviewing at Case (and thank goodness I did not come on a Tuesday), I would have either been very impressed, confused, or mortified with this practice.

Then again, I’m going to be a doctor, and need to get used to this. But honestly, nakedness inherently doesn’t bother me. It’s all about where and when…

Do I change in the hallway? No.

The bathroom area for me. Seeing my body requires an intense round of interviews and is highly selective. Will this perspective change? Time will tell and I’ll keep you posted. No shade whatsoever to the people who change in the hallway. I know like 50% of you and think you’re cool. Alright done.

WEDNESDAY: Miracles in Medicine

I loooove listening to fantastic patient stories. Wednesday’s was incredible. A woman with polycystic ovarian syndrome. This “syndrome” which is medical speak for “lots of causes and we don’t get it” makes it hard for the eggs in a woman’s ovaries to properly develop and ovulate out of the ovary—making fertility an issue. This woman also has a very aggressive form of endometriosis. Endometriosis, is a condition where the inner most lining of the uterus (endometrium) starts to appear in ectopic locations (places besides the endometrium). It could be on the intestines, the fallopian tubes or even in the brain!! Thank God, it wasn’t the brain for her, but it is very challenging and also makes having children an issue.

She told us a long and very detailed story about her health problems as well as the long period her husband her tried to get pregnant. The whole while, I would think she almost declare that that in vitro fertilizationtreatment worked, but after several attempts, they all failed. I began to give up hope.

I’m 22 years old, single, and have no kids. Although my fertility is something I think of from time to time, it is not in my constant thoughts. I value it, but I think people seldom value their reproductive potential until they have a child or realize they may not be able to have one. Listening to her story, was an excellent way for me to reflect on the role of children in our lives. They can be our greatest successes and joys. I could feel the despair and joy in her narrative, and it humbled me because although I don’t have PCS or endometriosis, you never know what the future may hold. And, I need to be thankful for the health that I have.

MIRACLE (noun): a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.

Additionally, miracles can happen in medicine! With PCS and only ONE ovary left and passed the age of 35, many would just discount her ability to bare children. But she did! Amazing! For some mysterious reason IVF an number of times failed for her, but she was able to naturally have two kids?


Head and neck exam! Say, “ahh.” I practiced with standard patient! It went terrifically well. I just need to make sure to avoid medical jargon. Apparently, “goiter” and “thyroid” are too technical?! I was trying to sound normal, but I have to keep this in mind.

FRIDAY: Carving out a Path! 

This happened a bit on Wednesday, but I was able to meet up with the clinical director of the sickle cell anemia center at Rainbow Babies.  I really care about Sickle Cell disease. I could see myself dedicating my life to researching it. Close members of my family and friends have the disease, I’m a carrier, and I did my undergraduate research in a hem/onc lab (studying erythropoieis in mice). Nonetheless, I have not learned much about SCD from a clinical perspective so I decided to talk with Dr. Piccone.

She was soooo coool and sooo inspiring, and has gotten me to think about “med-peds” (doctors who follow their patients from childhood to adulthood). This field, especially as a pediatric hematologist, would be really cool, because I could follow patients with SCD into adulthood. For many reasons, there is a shortage of physicians who do this. And those with SCD as adults lack many of the support systems they had as children (if they had any).

So she is going to let me shadow her, make me shadow an adult hematologist, and let me work in one of their studies! Talk about awesome! I am not 100% sure, but I feel very called to working in this field, I am excited to see how this experience will unfold.

On Friday, I found out I’ll be working on an MRI study which investigates the correlation between SCD and renal failure. This will be clinical research which may be a pleasant change after working at a bench for 3 years.

Additionally, I was voted Diversity representative by my class (I was the only won who won so hold your applause), and was accepted to the Urban Health Pathway. UHP is a pathway for students interested in…URBAN HEALTH. I get to develop a research project, and I wonder and hope that I can bring my work with Dr. Piccone and combine it someway with the UHP.

Later that day, I went to the Cleveland Museum of Art again! Here are some pics! This time, I saw a lot of famous works with Aaida, Malik, Heba and Sharif!


Water Lilies By Monet


Some Dali


Andy Warhol


Doesn’t this look like Ron Howard?


Aaida diagnoses the subject with Graves Disease. #exopthalmos

We saw so much good stuff, but there is still even more to explore. Can’t wait!

Afterwards, we went to Piccadilly. It is a ice cream place where you can customize your ice cream and have it made right in front of you with liquid nitrogen!


Liquid Nitrogen ICE CREAM!


This WAS coffee ice cream

My verdict: a tad pricey. The ice cream is good but you are paying more for the novelty than the taste. I think I liked Mitchell’s Ice Cream a bit more. It was also more bang for my buck.

SATURDAY: Teddy Bear Day at the Zoo!

Short story: Cleveland MetroParks Zoo was where I had my FIRST field trip in kindergarden. My mom came with to chaperone (pretty sure the only time). My entire family returned their a few times after that. So you can imagine my elation when I was able to return back to a place I used to love!

University Hospitals’ Rainbow Babies Children’s Hospital had an event called, “Teddy Bear Day” where kids and their families could come to the zoo for free. Kids would bring their teddy bear, make a first aid kit, a “stethoscope” (arts and crafts, hollah!), get kiddie tattoos, face paint and more from…yes, MEDICAL STUDENTS! It was great to see the student I attend class with turn into really goofy people around kids. It was a 4 hour long event, but honestly, the time went by moderately quickly.

Gotta love those kids.

Note to self: most kids HATE surgical masks and bouffant caps. Don’t wear them.

Shots from the day at the zoo:




This thing was kind of creepy


Modeling the bouffant caps and “stethoscopes”

After this, I went home, made ramen, and took a 5 hour nap. Yes, 5 hours.

I had a Tommy’s milkshake for dinner (considered the appropriateness of my health choices) and studied.

SUNDAY: Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

I had a great week, but I want to remind you that not everything is sunshine and Care Bears. Sometimes, blogs give off inaccurate perceptions of our lives. I have ups and downs like everyone else, and although this autobiographical exercise is true (I’m not making this ish up), it is not the full experience of my life (thankfully). If you are feeling down, this may be encouraging.

On Sunday, I heard a sermon about one of the verses from “the Sermon on the Mount.” This is the longest and most detailed recorded sermon Jesus gave. It is quite famous. You know that phrase, “Judge not lest you be judged”? It comes from this passage. Any who, Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

To mourn means to lose something you know what it means to have. A friend, an experience, anything of great value to you. It is when something dies (literally and maybe even figuratively). To mourn is to recognize that not all of the world is as it should be. To know, perhaps, that you are not as you should be. But how does this lead to “blessedness?” For me, God is a source of comfort as well as the people he places in my life. And as we grieve something we have lost, we become something different from what we once were. I believe that God is working to redeem and restore this broken world we live in, and people are often agent of the world’s destruction and repair. But in order to work towards a better world, we have to see how it is really messed up, mourn it, and look for hope and a way to better it. This can be an incredible blessing, and I’ll talk about mourning and hope in my next post. Today, I heard from families with kids with Downs Syndrome, and they were incredibly inspiring.

So if you are despairing, take these feelings and run to a place of comfort. Real comfort. Things can be better. This whole arc of my post may seem glum, but I really feel the need to share this.

Blogs aren’t everything and not everything can be in a blog. Life is rich and full of wonder, joy and despair! May we experience it with grace!

That’s a wrap!

Medical school Medicine pituitary gland lecture good teachingart science kids sex nakedness pediatrics endocrinology miraclespolycystic ovarian syndrome endometriosis fertility babies careers sickle cell disease diversity urban health cleveland museum of art monet salvador daliAndy Warhol Ron Howard Exopthalmos graves disease picadilly ice cream


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