Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustaving it up

Whew-ee, what a day! I'm still here in New Orleans, waiting out the storm in Algiers Point. I debated with myself all yesterday and today, but I decided not to evacuate. Andrew has to stay to report on the storm for the paper, and I just can't imagine taking off and not being here when he finally gets to come home, whenever that may be. He took off around 3 in the afternoon today and headed to the Plaquemines Parish emergency op center in Belle Chasse. Normally it's only a 15 minute drive or so, and on the same side of the river, but everbody's almost positive that it's going to flood by the end of this. So I guess he'll be home when the water goes down, unless we get lucky and the storm surge stays low.

Here's a picture of my poor boarded up house! No porch swing, no plants, no windows. So depressing! But I feel pretty well bolted in at the moment. After Andrew left I sat on the porch for a while and chatted with the strange procession of passersby. My next door neighbor is this great ex-bouncer named Todd, who has a gun just in case (and knows how to use it). Down a few doors the other direction is an LSU cop who's staying. Three NOPD officers were using the house across the street as a rest house, so they hung out and chatted while they waited to go to work. They also promised to swing by a few times tonight, which was greatly appreciated.

It's a pretty strange sight on the street. The neighborhood feels like a ghost town, and the national guard has a humvee and a couple of armed troops on foot patrolling the streets. As strange as it is to see them rolling around, it is comforting. This afternoon, they stopped and asked me how to get to the coffee shop. They also promised to keep an eye on our street (being a little blonde girl with boobs really comes in handy sometimes).

I had dinner at Skip and Maria's--DELICIOUS beer can chicken and rice. If you haven't heard of beer can chicken, google it or holler and I'll rave about it. Best thing ever! We sat on the porch and watched the first squall roll in, and I decided it was time to head home. Unfortunately, just as I was walking out the door, the national guard rolled by and made sure we remembered the curfew (can't be out after dark or they throw you in Angola--seriously), so I waited until they moved a few blocks down and then took off. Not the smartest idea--I think they saw my headlights and I ended up having to race them home. I seriously felt like I was running from the cops. At one point I had to hide and turn off my engine! Crazy.

But the good news is that the storm isn't looking as bad as they though. It's also moving quickly, which means that will hopefully get over us quickly. But we're in for quite a bit of rain and wind, which means that the power will probably go out at some point. I'll try to post tomorrow, and until then, nighty night!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Laughter is the best medicine

(thanks sugarsheet. always a laugh.) They don't even fit!

Study break #23

Wow, can I tell you how much I DON'T feel like studying today?
(I would link to the source, but it's a bible study site. Boo.)

Yeah, that much. I've been through five biochem lectures already today. I know that sounds pretty good, but they were the first easy five, and it's already four pm. I just got back from the grocery store--stocking up for the Big Storm. It was a big of a mad house. They were letting people in a few at a time, so it took even longer than necessary. But I got the essentials: canned food, diet soda, tonic water (for G&Ts), toilet paper, cat food. Cat food for my two strays that I will invite inside for the storm. I'm hoping that it doesn't get so bad that Andrew and I have to resort to eating cat food (and/or the cats).

Man, they're really hyping up this storm! I'm thinking of putting off the studying a wee bit longer to walk over to the levees. Give them a good talking to about keeping it together, staying strong for the 'hood, etc. Also to try to eyeball how much higher the Mississippi is than the level of the houses.
Ok, one more lecture, then another break. Stay tuned, kids.

Friday, August 29, 2008


(hand soap photo via geekologie)

Class today was so very tedious. Hand dissections. Do you have any idea how many teeny tiny little muscles and tendons there are in a hand? And how hard it is to skin fingers when they're totally stiff and won't straighten out? Hard. Really really hard.

Anyway, today's med school blog entry is dedicated to the hand. Hands hands hands. Our professors really like to talk about hands, and who can blame them? They separate us from apes! Well, not the hand itself, but certainly what we do with them.

Dr. Kirshbom gave our lecture this morning. I don't think I've talked about our professors at all, but Dr. Kirshbom is fabulous. He's short, bespectacled, and always friendly (although when we ask a question during lecture, his usual response is "I don't know, it's in your textbook. Look it up!"). Anyway, great guy. Before class started, I said good morning (this is a lesson about what brown nosing will get you) and he made a bee line to my seat, saying "I need a volunteer with very pale skin!"

Thanks Dr. Kirshbom.

More about my forced volunteerism in a moment. He began lecture by playing a clip of Van Cliburn, "The Texan who Conquered Russia", at the piano competition in Moscow:

Absolutely beautiful (especially in a big, echoing lecture hall), and a perfect example of how unbelievable our hands are. All of those tiny, infuriating muscles add up to the most dexterous little tools that nature's ever created.

Anyway, that was certainly the highlight of a lecture that otherwise depressed us with a preview of our looming dissection. At one point I came up on stage so that Dr. K could demonstrate what happens when you cut off the radial and ulnar arteries at the wrist and then let them go--pretty cool actually. As soon as you release them, the white hand turns bright red again. I got a lot of praise for the important part I played in lecture, and I'm so glad that my pasty complexion could add to the learning of my peers.

I tried to find excellent hand dissection photos to help you share in my frustration of the day, and while this one doesn't really capture that emotion, it is a very nice dissection:

I also found lots of other totally bizarre hand pictures, such as this box of synthetic hand props:

(via inside view from ireland, full of other bizarre things)

Also, a funny article about JK Rowling's boobs.

So I suppose I'm off. I've been studying biochem for a while, and even though I've only gotten through two lectures, I'm beat. Later kids!

Touching Boobs

One of my favorite topics, hands down (he he...). Brought to you by the guys who worked for the guys who brought you such classics as Anchorman and Knocked Up, a new movie about the subtle art of dating and, of course, gettin' handsy. Check it out here!

(via joanna goddard's new glamour blog, smitten! very cute shtuff about relationships, sex, etc.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Wow! I can't believe it's been two weeks (more, really) since I posted last. Let me tell you, it's been a bit busy around Casa Kelsey, and it's only going to get busier.

There are a few reasons for my lack of posts recently. First, med school is eating my life. Second, med school is LITERALLY EATING MY LIFE! Third, Laurel visited for a bit more than a week, and as she is one of the three (ok, two) regular readers of this little blog, I thought it would be a bit silly to write about her stay while she was sitting right next to me.

Four, and most importantly:
Hurricane, anyone? You know, it has been a bit dry down here, and I've been saying for days that my plants could use a little rain. And really, a few more days off of school would be quite welcome right about now. About time for a few rainy study days, wouldn't you agree?

But in all seriousness kids, this blog might just get a little more interesting right around Monday midday. Or even more silent than normal. Tulane is closing classes and putting out an evac notice until next Thursday. They have lots emergency procedures, all of which work very well--they had a practice run a few years ago, you see.
(check it--via steveschaaf)

So I'm buckling down for my very first hurricane. I'm staying, dammit, at least until I absolutely have to leave. Andrew's going to be covering the thang for the paper, and what kind of gal would I be if I didn't stick around with him? Worse comes to worse, I'll drive to Dallas and stay with family.

Anyway, I'm off to bed. More hurricane updates soon, I promise. At least as long as the power holds out. Nighty night!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Body paint

The lovely Laurel alerted me to this awesome body artist today! His name is Guido Daniele, and he paints the most amazing things on people's bodies. The hands might be the most striking, because the animals that he paints are so realistic, and he uses that shape of the hand to really bring them to life.

But I really like a lot of his other work too. Check out this and this.

How strange and wonderful!

Breaking bones

Hey kids! Lab number three today, and it was a bit different than the first two. We did the vertebral column and spinal cord, which meant bone saws and chisels! No muscle isolations today--lots of hacking and scraping. After removing all of the erector spinae muscles down the middle of the back, we scrapped off the rest of the soft tissue and went at it with the power bone saw. We cut through the laminae of the vertebrae and used a chisel and hammer to lift away the top, leaving the spinal cord exposed. Totally cool. This is what I wish our dissection looked like:

Ours was reddish brown, a bit more hacked-away-at, and our veins and arteries weren't injected with dye (although that would be totally awesome). Other than that, pretty similar. We then split open the spinal cord and identified all of the fun stuff in there.

[By the way, the image above is from Stanford School of Medicine's awesome Basset Collection, samples of which are now available on flickr. It's a collection of photos of a serial dissection of the human body, created and photographed by a Stanford faculty member (along with a talented photographer) from 1948-1962. The collection is owned by Stanford, and they've been working with eHuman to digitalize all of the images and make them available to the public. How awesome is that?]

Anyway, it was a totally fun, albeit messy, lab. My friend Kathleen got sprayed in the face (read: mouth) with cadaveric material--that's no good, kids. No good at all.

Hope everyone else had an interesting day! Bath time for me.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Yay! More textbooks!

Hey all. Laying here on the bed with the two cats, who are cleaning each other in a pretty adorable way. It's pouring outside and it looks like it's going to be a pretty wet week, which means it will stay nice and cool!

Another anatomy lab today--more back and the suboccipital triangle. Man, the most important thing I learned today was that I need to buy Rohen's anatomy atlas, which has the most awesome pictures. Most people get Netter's, which is recommended, but all of the pictures look like this:
Helpful, but are your insides all color coded? No, mine aren't either. More importantly, neither are the insides of my cadaver. They look much more like Rohen's pictures:
Much better for practicals.

Anyway, that's my big lesson for the day. I'm off to study embryology. Later gators.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sausage chair

In honor of the delicious Louisiana sausages that Andrew and I are about to grill up for dinner, I thought I'd share with you this awesome tube-cushion-chair-thang. It's called a Buldang, and it's basically just a 30 ft cloth intestine that you can arrange into any sittable shape that you'd like! Observe:
If only I had the $2380 to drop!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

My new tub

I've decided that I need to do all of my post-anatomy lab soaks in one of these Kasch bathtubs.

Aren't they fantastic? The overflow water falls back into the tub by way of the waterfall. Plenty of room on the sides for candles, a book, a nice glass of wine, a scantily clad masseuse (Andrew) to rub your shoulders...

(pictures via)

Possibly not the best investment at this point in my life (especially since I'm renting), but definitely something to file away for the future.

Green desk

This desk is totally awesome--doesn't it look like the perfect desk to keep all of my medical school crap in? I think it's from some shop in New York, but I saw it on abby goes design scouting. Do you think they'll sell it and ship it for less than $75? Yeah, me neither.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Chicken Marsala

By the way kiddies, I forgot to tell you that I made this the other night:

It's Alex's chicken and mushroom marsala, from Smitten Kitchen, and it was AMAZING (PS--her picture, not mine). Amazing! And really easy, too. Seriously, the mushrooms were so buttery and marsala-y, and the chicken was so moist, I just about died (Andrew too). I wasn't a big fan of the parsley on top, but I tend to shy away from parsley in general. Seriously guys, you've gotta try it. Deb's recipes are all fantastic--she's an amazing cook, and she takes beautiful food pictures. Check out the mac and die for.

Gross 1

Hey kids. First day of gross anatomy lab, and I. Smell. Disgusting.

Everybody tries to make you nervous before your first lab: you're going to repel everyone around you! The smell clings to places that you didn't even think were exposed! Don't get latex gloves, because the formaldehyde eats right through! You're never going to want to eat meat again!

It's easy to convince yourself that they're just screwing with you, because those of us who have never taken an anatomy lab before have, for the most part, only seen dead bodies on TV (or at our med school interview, if we were lucky enough to catch one on our tour). But as it turns out, every bit of the above is true. The cadavers that we work with don't look like the ones on TV, which are usually some version of this:

They look somewhat different. Old, for one. Young, virile folks who die in their prime usually haven't thought about whether or not they want to donate their bodies to science, so our cadavers are elderly, for the most part. And there's certainly no standardization, because you can't be choosy with medical cadavers--it's not like you can go to the body store and pick out a new one. Black, white, skinny, obese, healthy, sick--the spectrum. Also, they're in various states of decomposition, because the cadavers might be two months or two years old, and properly or improperly embalmed.

Our cadaver (six students per table) is an older man, and it seems like he spent a lot of time laying on his back before and after he died--bruises, sloughing skin. Luckily he was pretty thin, which makes it easier to get to the muscles, but he's also a bit decomposed, which causes things to take on the same grayish, yellowish sheen.

We were all excited as we stood next to our humidors during the prelab. We knew that we were going to open them up in about five minutes, cut open the big plastic bag, and meet our cadavers for the first time. We were jittery and nervous and already a little queasy, but these were all excited reactions. And opening the bag was scary, because the body is of course not how you imagined it. How can you imagine who you're going to see? Today was superficial and intermediate back, which is the most basic part of anatomy lab (they like to start us slow, thank goodness). Even so, my brain feels like it's bursting (although that might be from the two and a half hours of embryology and biochem after lunch).

Speaking of lunch, there's a strange thing that happens when you're dissecting an embalmed body. For the first hour and a half, most of us felt like eating anything for the rest of the day was completely out of the question. It's not that the bodies smell overpoweringly like decay or anything too organic (although our cadaver had a sebaceous cyst that smelled...horrifying), but all of the formaldehyde and other chemicals turn your stomach a little. Then, even before you would normally get hungry for lunch, your stomach decides that it's time to eat. It's the same feeling as when you smell something really tasty and it makes you ravenous--something about the smell of the body and chemicals causes the same hungry reaction. But in this case your mind is so repelled by the thought of food that it's hard to reconcile your famished stomach.

After lab, we got changed and moderately cleaned up and headed over to the activities fair for some free pizza. We're always getting free lunches around here, but they unfortunately don't spring for anything healthier than pizza. Not that I'm complaining. Although the grease and cheese that the pepperoni was swimming in just made me think of...well, you know. I signed up for four or five interesting looking clubs (mostly because I feel guilty taking their candy if I don't sign their list).

Now remember kids, because it's true: formaldehyde DOES go right through latex! I figured the rumors were true, but I just couldn't bring myself to pay 35 clams for a box of nitrile gloves (although, really, it's a drop in the bucket). So now, even after double gloving, even after a cumulative ten minutes of hand washing with heavy duty soap, my poor hands smell like body grease.

Even though it's ninety degrees outside, I'm headed for this:

(via alice j-t)

I cranked up the AC to make it nice and cool in here, and I'm off to soak away my stench. Sorry this was such a long one, but it was a big day!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pretty purple

How gorgeous is Danielle de Lange’s balcony full of flowers? From The Style Files, her lovely blog about design and style in general. She has great taste and is always posting new and beautiful things (Lo, you should check out this and this for some interior inspiration).

Hm, let me try to bring this around to something medical school related....nope, can't do it. But wouldn't you be able to relax and study a little better if your balcony looked like that?


Whew-ee! I can tell already that this is going to be a highlight blog, rather than a complete rundown kind of blog. Today was only registration and anatomy orientation, and I'm already exhausted! I can't imagine what my post-writing energy level will be like after classes actually start.

Check it out! After yesterday's ceremony, I have my very own white coat!

Of course, it's huge on me (notice the cuffed sleeves), even though it's a small, but I love it all the same. Notice the classy pin on the collar. Pretty sweet, huh?

Andrew couldn't come to the actually white coat ceremony (silly job), but he stopped in for lunch. He also way made up for not being able to be there by coming home with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a bottle of champagne! I'm one lucky gal.

And today was registration--taking care of all of those pesky business details that we need to get out of the way before actually starting classes (plus they threw in two more free meals--watch out Tulane, we could get used to this). Pretty standard stuff--TB tests, registration forms, ID cards, etc. And then anatomy orientation, which meant checking out microscopes and making sure our slide boxes were all in order. We also scoped out our anatomy labs, which was pretty exciting. Four or five stainless steel, body-sized locker tables (kind of like this) sit in the middle of each lab, and six students are assigned to each table. Even though we didn't get to open our tables and meet our cadavers, it was kind of ominous knowing that they were probably already in there waiting for us. Friday's our first lab!

I'm hoping that my books start arriving tomorrow, because I'm itching to start studying. Isn't that funny? I guess that tells me that I'm doing the right thing with this whole silly med school business.

In other news, it's Taco Tuesday! Woohoo!!!
(via jslander, whose food photos make me want to lick the screen)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Family BBQ

I just got home from the family barbecue over at City Park, and it was tons of fun. They had it at the Peristyle, which is a big structure with stone columns and a roof. Very beautiful and a great place for a bbq, although my God, I felt like I was going to melt. We could've done with some giant a/c units, or a few well-placed misters. Or a slip n' slide.

Lots and lots of people, once again. (Oh, forgot to mention the party over at Tropical Isle last night. It was about what you'd expect--tons of people, fake palm trees, loud music, and lots of hand grenades [which I think are BLECH]). But this time I was actually able to sit around and talk to some of them, which was a nice change. I met a fellow T1 named Greg and sat with his family, which included his wife Katherine, mother, and younger brother Ross. Good people! The food was some super tasty bbq and coleslaw.

Ok, names to remember for today:

Greg (blond, from Atlanta, very nice)
Katherine (wife of Greg, Penn State, also very nice)
William (big talker)
Mathew (UCLA, met at orientation)

4 more down, 170 to go!

Andrew and I went to City Park not long after we got down to New Orleans and had a picnic, but we didn't really explore the southern end. I was pleasantly surprised at how much stuff there was going on! There's a sculpture garden, botanic garden, softball stadium, even a little train that you can hop on. Beautiful!
The little girl above was pulling fish from the water like it was going out of style! I couldn't believe it. They were tiny little things--Texas pole fish? I'm pretty sure I just pulled that out of my ass, but she definitely mentioned Texas. Apparently nightcrawlers are the key.
These kids were fishing too, although I think they needed some tips from the expert in the red shirt. Seeing all of the kids fishing made me want to grab a pole and sit down next to them.

Tomorrow's the white coat ceremony at the Hilton--what in the world shall I wear? Time to go vegetate.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


I know that this is primarily a blog about med school and my experiences as a know-nothing beginning med student, but what is school without distraction? So I expect there will be plenty of entries about other important things, like movies, shopping, and New Orleans adventures!

That being said, Andrew and I just got back from seeing The Dark Knight! It was just as good as everyone says it is. Heath Ledger was excellent as the Joker--a perfectly evil, disturbing sociopath.Plus, Batman had this totally sweet bike.
As awesome and exciting as all of the special effects were, does anyone else feel nostalgic for the Tim Burton days of Batman?
Everything was so whimsically dark, like all of Tim Burton's movies. Gotham City was unmistakably unlike any other city you've ever seen, whereas today's Gotham could be Manhattan. Today's Batman movies tend toward your typical action scenes and crime movies, which I think is kind of unfortunate. Although Christopher Nolan definitely does a great job with Batman himself--he really captures the complexity of his character.

Anyway, kudos to Burton for always keeping things twisted and comic booky. In tribute, we netflixed Batman and are probably going to watch it tonight. Go to the movies, kids!

Rainy day

(via parvati the witch)

So.....I decided not to go tubing this morning. Apparently it's an annual trip--the T2 orientation group takes the new T1s (whoever wants to go) tubing on the Bogue Chitto. Sounds like lots of fun, but I was feeling pretty indecisive about it for a few reasons. I had gone to bed planning to go, but when I woke up, it was POURING. Now, they had a rain-or-shine policy, and it probably would've cleared up later in the day, but the thunder and lightning all night tipped me over the edge. I think that I would've felt a little like this guy. My justification: I get cold, like, super easy; I'm going to see all of these kids tonight at the orientation party; now I can eat a big breakfast and go watch the new Batman movie. I'm still waffling about whether or not I made the right decision, but in the end, this is another one of those not-such-a-big-deal situations and I just need to get over things. I'll organize my own damn tubing trip. When it's sunny.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Book nightmare.

Well, nightmare might be a bit of an exaggeration. But damn, why do they have to be so GD expensive?

Order summary

Items: 8

Subjects covered: 4

"Must-haves" purchased: 5/5

"Recommendeds" purchased: 3/8

"Going the Distances" purchased: A big fat 0/10. Although now I'm wishing that I'd bought the damn anatomy flashcards.


You know, to be honest, I guess it could've been worse. A lot worse. It's not like I'm a complete over achiever or anything. Although add all of this to the $200 I'm probably going to shell out to get the damn note set, and it's quite a pretty penny. So much for my new tan bag.

Orientation: check!

Hi all! I just got home from orientation, and woo-ee! So much information, and so many faces--we'll see if I can write anything intelligible about the day.

I was so nervous walking towards the Poydras building this morning. I kept fixing my hair and adjusting my shirt, wondering if what I'd worn (dark jeans and a nice shirt) was appropriate. But as I passed my reflection in the cafe window next door, I had this image of doing the same thing in the same window right before my interview last year. And then I thought, Jeez, this is the easy part! I was so nervous that morning that I thought I might throw up, but here I am, an official med student. Piece of cake.

After waiting in line to get a t-shirt and welcome packet, I headed straight for the breakfast table (hey, I'd only had a banana and a cup of coffee so far! lay off). After eating a piece of melon, I decided that I might throw up after all, and decided to stick to more coffee. Stupid nerves. I was glad that I'd decided not to pre-order the set of first year notes (200 clams for something I wasn't sure I'd need? No thank you), because everyone was forced to carry around 30 lbs of binders all day. Haha, suckas.

I sat by Kathleen and Mathew, probably the only two people whose names I remember from the whole day--but 2 out of 177 isn't so bad, right? We listened to a few hours of presentations from faculty and students--pretty typical fare. Dean Sachs gave an interesting presentation about Tulane, New Orleans, and healthcare in general, and then the other notables were introduced and chatted for a while. All very interesting. Dr. Chad Miller (young resident doc at Tulane) then gave us his welcome speech--I felt like he'd watched too many episodes of Scrubs and ER. Maybe I'm just jaded (already?), but his cliches and tear-jerking what-if stories were a bit over the top. He reminded me of this guy:
But he was very well-groomed.

So after a "let's have some fun and stop with the boring lectures!" presentation by our cheerful T2 orientation team, we headed over to the brand-new-to-Tulane Murphy building for a much-anticipated lunch.
I know what you're thinking, and you're right, Tulane DOES like it's shiny buildings. The Murphy building was just donated to Tulane by the Murphy Oil Corp, which is a pretty sweet deal for the university. Apparently the oil guys really liked their luxuries, so they had the parking garage air conditioned and installed a private elevator that led to the executive offices (gotta avoid the little people). Unfortunately, Tulane has removed these features. But they did install a gym for the students, including a sauna! Good compromise, I suppose.

Lunch was good, conversation was good. Walked with Kathleen back to the parking garage and also met a girl from San Francisco (Dana? Diana?). As I was driving home (got on the wrong on ramp and started heading toward Baton Rouge), it started POURING--like, the kind where your wipers are on full blast and you still have to go 30 mph on the freeway to see anything at all. On the short sprint across the street once I got home, it was like I'd just stepped out of the shower. But now I'm home and dry and just relaxing with the kitties.

And to buy textbooks!