Blogger Men Tell All: November

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ken, in his usual state of being covered in cats
Hello, party people! (I'm going to blame my post-exam brain for saying that. Just go with it.) It's time again for Ken to grace the blog with his presence as part of a monthly series hosted by Becca called, "Blogger Men Tell All". Here we go!

1. What food do you look forward to most at Thanksgiving dinner?

Stuffing has always been my favorite Thanksgiving food, even if it just comes from a box. Nana used to make hers with red wine. Nothing else comes close.  The Toback sweet potato soufflé is a super close second.
Wife's note: That soufflé is totally amazing, if I do say so myself.

2. Do you ever go shopping on Black Friday?

I've never gone for any of the big sales. I did stand in front of an Old Navy for a few hours once on Thanksgiving night/early Black Fridaymorning.  They were giving away copies of Lego Rock Band when you bought a pair of jeans. The line didn't get long until right before the store opened and the jeans ended up shrinking but the game was good. Once was enough.

3. What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

I pretty much enjoy all the things you're supposed to enjoy about Thanksgiving: spending time with family, helping cook the food, watching whatever football teams happen to be footballing that day (go Eagles?)

4. Do you travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, or do you stay close to home?

I go wherever the food is, which usually requires at least a little traveling. Last year was local but this year there's two Thanksgivings in two different states.

5. What are you most thankful for this year?

I'm thankful for having an awesome wife, awesome friends, a great house, a job I really enjoy most days, three cool cats, and a hot tub. And Smash Bros. And Dave Grohl's beard.


So there you have it. I'm planning to do a little Thanksgiving post on Friday, but right now, I am ridiculously thankful that all of my exams for this block are finished, and that in 24 days, I will be 1/8 doctor. Craziness.

Today we had our anatomy practical, which was on all the stuff located between your clavicles and your diaphragm. For all the non-medical readers, an anatomy practical is an exam where any of the structures in the body that we had recently dissected (for this block, anything in the thorax) are tagged by our professors, and we have to go around and identify everything. 40 of the tags today were in our cadavers, and 10 of them were on various bones (not from our cadavers, but still human) around the room. The coolest part about the thorax was definitely the heart. It's so intricate, and there are so many things going on in every part that it's kind of wild that the thing works at all. While hearts are pretty cool, I'm really sure that I have no desire to do cardiology, and my desire to never enter an OR unless I absolutely must (like when I'm on rotations) was entirely reaffirmed. Lungs are also pretty cool, and feel like wet Nerf balls, basically, but all of the cool physiological stuff that lungs do (like... getting oxygen into your blood) happens waaaaaay down inside them in structures we can't see unless we use a microscope. Anyway, I think the practical went pretty well, so I think it will definitely help what is sure to be my suck-tastic grade on the written portion. (Apparently, this is the norm. No one does well on the written portion and everyone rocks the practical, so "no one fails anatomy." I'll take it.) 

From the exams that we took on Tuesday, I found out that I passed biochem (thanks to my 100% on the genetics portion... thank you, gods of genetics), and as such, am still passing the course for the semester. In fact, I can get a 54 on the last exam and still pass. Not that I plan on getting a 54 but... nice to know I'm basically grade-locked in passing-ville. (What kind of sucks is that even if I got a 100%, which would never happen, I'd still only be Passing, not High Passing, but whatever, P's get degrees, amiright?) The other exam was our cardiac physio exam, which was rough. I think I passed.... I really hope that I passed. The good news (?) is that if I failed, the class runs for the rest of the year. This is only our second test, so I have plenty of time to bring up my grade. But seriously, I hope I passed.

Anyway, that's all over and I'm really glad because this block was really hard on my body. I kid you not, I pinched a nerve in my neck while studying over the weekend that caused me to not be able to turn my head. Fortunately, I go to an osteopathic school, so I had any number of people willing and able to work on my cervical spine and try to fix it. After a few treatments and basically spooning with my heating pad for 3 days, I could kind of move... but then I got a migraine on Monday that is just now going away. Let me tell you, studying when the room spins every time you move your head is really not ideal.

So, as you can imagine, the next four days will be dedicated to using my brain for as little as humanly possible. Tomorrow, Ken, Levi, my mom, and I are taking the train to Long Island to have dinner at Lynn's (Ken's sister), along with Ken's mother and Lynn's boyfriend, who are driving in from Kentucky tonight/early tomorrow morning. My exciting plans for Friday include avoiding any and all retail environments, cleaning the house, knitting, and catching up on the last 2.5 weeks of television that I haven't seen because I was either studying, asleep, or wishing I was asleep. On Saturday, Ken and I are driving to my Aunt Kathy and Uncle Jack's house in Maryland for "Thanksgiving". My mom and Levi are going as well, and my Uncle Don, Aunt Laura, and cousin Garrett are in from California, which is really great. We don't get to see them very often because they live so far away, so I'm always glad when we get to steal them for a holiday! Sunday, we'll be relaxing and I'll be trying to get myself psyched for one block for this semester. Apparently, there is so much to learn about the cardiovascular system that we need two blocks in which to do it. This final block for the fall semester is the second half of cardiac physio, cardiolymphatic histology, cardiolymphatic microbiology, and our final chunk of biochem and genetics, which has nothing to do with the cardiovascular system. We also have our Osteopathic Principles and Practice written final and practical exam in there. Basically, it's going to be a crazy 3 weeks until the semester wraps up. WHEE.

I'm just not going to think about that now. That is a problem for future Alison. For now, I just have to worry about baking, eating, sleeping, hanging out with Ken, and playing with the cats, which is exactly how I like it.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. 

- A

The State of the Med Student

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's Wednesday, which used to mean Hump Day Confessions, but Kathy gently laid that link-up to rest, so here we are. I'm remarkably well-slept, given that I went to bed at 12:30 and woke up at 6:30. I should have gotten out of bed when I woke up, but I realized that class started at 10 instead of 8, so... I went back to sleep. I did, however, go downstairs to reset the coffee pot from its 7:15 start time to it's new start time of 8:30 (because priorities). Then I went back to sleep and it was glorious. Gersh and Sinatra came to visit me, and after briefly trying to wrestle on my face, they settled down and snuggled. 

We are 6 days from our Cardio I Block exam and I'm in triage mode. I'm also slowly descending into pre-exam madness, so here's the state of the med student:

Random sheep emoji that I sent to a classmate

High-fiving over our mutual screwed-ness

Ken, looking at my notes: That chart gives me hives.
Me: Hives were on my first micro exam. We can't talk about hives for this exam.
Ken: Oh. Well, that chart gives me... high cholesterol?

Me: Whenever I read, "free cholesterol," I think of little blobs of fat holding signs, yelling, "Free cholesterol! End cholesterol enslavement now! We've been wrongly imprisoned! No taxation without representation!"
Ken: Wait, what?
Me: Yeah, I guess that last one didn't make much sense.

Sarah: Well, I'll let you get back to your studying.
Me: Oh yeah, it's so much fun.
Sarah: Totally fun, except you really just want it to end.
Me: So much fun, except that you really just want it to end.

And sometimes, I forget what I'm taking notes on and this happens:

Then, there was this:

An oldie, but a goodie. Torsades is my favorite, but Vfib is kind of how I feel right now.

And this:

And yes, Wenckeback is a legitimate rhythm.

There are plenty of silly, medical videos on YouTube, and some of them are even helpful! So essentially, the state of the med student is... crazy-stressed, slightly delusional, overtired, and under-caffeinated. If you have a med student in your life, give them a hug. But then wash your hands.

- A

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...

Monday, November 17, 2014

I would talk about my weekend, but it pretty much just included a ton of studying (but somehow, still not enough), too much coffee (if there is such a thing), and not enough sleep. See also: Med school, 2 weekends before a block exam. Fun, except not fun at all.

What is fun though, is that I woke up to find out that I was nominated for a blogger award by Lulu! What a lovely way to wake up on a rainy, cold, Monday morning, right? According to her blog, the rules are as follows:

- Thank the person who nominated you for the award
- Add the One Lovely Blog and Versatile Blogger logos to your post
- Share 7 facts about yourself
- Nominate 15 bloggers to admire and inform the nominees by commenting on their blog

So, since I have nothing else to talk about this morning, I figured I would do this. 

1, I've been blogging since I was 16! I originally had an OpenDiary, but then Open Diary ate my blog, so I started a Live Journal. I wrote there for a few years, but finally started Simply A on October 21, 2012. Oh hey, my blog just turned 2 last month. Who knew? Happy birthday, blog.

2. I am in med school and most of the time, it's totally awesome. Most of the time, it also totally sucks. Just go with it. I am 99% sure that I want to do my residency in pediatrics and then complete a fellowship in a sub-specialty, but I don't know which one yet. Some of my current thoughts are pediatric oncology, pediatric rheumatology, and pediatric emergency medicine.

3. I don't believe that astrology is anything but entertainment, except for when Mercury is retrograde. That's my excuse for when shit goes sideways, anyway. Fortunately, Mercury won't be turning retrograde until January 21st, so until then, we have to find a different excuse for the weirdness.

4. I've always had allergies, but I wasn't allergic to any foods until I was in college. Now, in additional to being allergic to trees, grass, ragweed, dust, pollen, and cats, I am allergic to tree nuts (which, thank God doesn't include peanuts, which are legumes), shellfish, avocados, and have oral allergies to a bunch of fresh fruits and vegetables. Life without guacamole is sad.

5. I only learned how to apply eyeliner last year, and I prefer liquid pen eyeliner than pencil because apparently, I am a spaz and need adult supervision at all times.

6. I didn't drink coffee until grad school, and that was only froofy espresso drinks. I still love my froofy espresso drinks, but most days, it's regular coffee with cream and sugar. I also don't really need coffee to function in the mornings, I just really like it. The ritual of making coffee, getting my travel mug, and sipping a hot beverage just makes me happy. Also, med school requires caffeine, no two ways about it. 

7. I have small feet... I wear a size 5 or 5.5 shoe. Sometimes, I can wear children's shoes. I am not really obsessed with having 423 pairs of shoes or something, but when I find shoes that I like that are in my size, it's really hard not to buy them. But I'm also really picky about shoes, so I don't buy shoes very frequently. PS - If you have any recommendations for good, online, shoe shopping, leave 'em in the comments!

And I am nominating 3 people, because I do not have time to nominate 15 people. Sorry!

1. Just the Elevator Pitch
2. I'm Your Katie Qué

So that's that! Now I'm off to study for the next 900 hours of my life, and by 900, I mean 184, because that's approximately how many hours are left until our exam.

Happy Monday... it's almost over!

- A

Late Night Link-Up

Friday, November 14, 2014

So, it's almost 10 pm which means approximately 3 people will probably read this today, but whatever. YOLO. Or something.

Okay, I promise to never say YOLO ever again. Can we still be friends? Cool.

My life is totally being absorbed by the anatomy of the thorax/embryology/the nervous system/cardiac physiology/genetics/lipid metabolism, so as soon as I'm finished this mini-post, I'm going to go listen to 93 anatomy lectures until I can no longer keep my eyes open. My Friday nights are AWESOME, you guys.

ANYWAY, I remembered to link-up with Chrystina today for One Down, One Up, so, here we go!


One Down
My one down this week was how ridiculously far behind I am with my studying. I feel like I am never going to catch up, which isn't awesome and not really an option, so the next 11 days are going to be absolutely miserable as I try to cram a million things into my brain. WHEE. As such, my plans for the weekend include... studying, going to a tutoring session, studying, and... studying. Also, spending more time with dead bodies than any normal person should. Go team med school. Trying to remember that even when it sucks, being here is awesome... but this block is sapping my will to live.

One Up
On the up side, I'm starting to really gel with some of my classmates now. I studied for a few hours on Wednesday with a classmate until we bailed to eat dinner at Panera, and then again on Thursday until the Starbucks kicked us out at 9:30. (Why isn't Starbucks open later? Seriously.) It's nice to feel like I might actually make some friends on this wild and crazy adventure. I mean, it's kind of hard not to bond when for at least a couple hours a week, you're physically touching so many of your classmates in OMM lab, or when you're up to your elbows in cadaver, right? Right.

And so, here ends my late entry of randomness. Head over to Chrystina's blog to read about other people's weeks, and have a good weekend!

- A

Awards I Should Receive

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sometimes, just getting out of bed feels like the hardest thing in the world, especially now that it's starting to get colder and darker. I basically just want to hibernate all the time. I know that part of that is from my depression not being super well-controlled right now, but even when I'm feeling at my best, sometimes, life is hard. (Thanks, Captain Conspicuous!) Because of that, I think we should be handing out awards.

Congratulations on Not Punching That Stupid Person
True life, sometimes, I want to punch people. Don't we all? More true life? I've never punched anyone. Ever. This might be because I am not entirely sure I would know how to punch someone, but also because, as my wise friend Pam says, "Degrees, not felonies." Sometimes, it's really difficult to not punch someone. For example, when someone is lazy and doesn't take personal responsibility for anything, the fact that I am not punching them in the face is a goddamn miracle. We should be positively reinforcing people for not assaulting others in public.

Best Performance of Feigned Interest in Front of the In-laws*
Don't get me wrong; most of my in-laws are great, or at the very least, tolerable in small doses (some require very small doses). However, sometimes, you just don't care about what they're talking about or don't feel like explaining for the 93rd time, why I don't celebrate Christmas or what I'm doing in med school. However, because I want them to think that Ken married a nice person and because it's the socially appropriate thing to do, I have to fake it. So yes, please tell me about that time you had an inspection at work, or talk to me about poker for 93 years. Tell me all about your friend's gall stones or why you hate your new phone. I can handle it.

*Also appropriate for coworkers, people on airplanes, classmates, or friends of friends

Good Job Extricating Yourself from the Confines of Your Blankets Today
I live in NJ. It gets cold here. It's now getting dark at like, 5 pm. Soon, it will be snowing. Getting out of bed is ridiculous. Since we can't call out "snuggled" to work, and eventually, I have to go to school, we should congratulate those of us who left the comfort of our beds to interact with humanity. We even put on pants (usually)!

Congrats on Keeping Your Cool While Explaining Technology to Your Mom
It's happened to all of us. The phone rings and your mom (or some older relative) is on the other end, asking how to get "the Google" to work, or wondering how they made their Word document 900% bigger than they wanted it. The best is when they're asking something extremely specific to their machine and you have no idea what they're even looking at. Bonus points given if you're more than 50 miles away at the time. If you can stay on the phone and explain to them how to fix the problem, or even if you have to politely remove yourself from the conversation by saying that maybe a neighbor could help them, or suggest that the Geek Squad at Best Buy might be able to assist them, good for you. Basically, if you can keep your brain from melting out of your ears or from slamming your head into the closest wall, you get this award.

Other things for which we should get awards:

- Not eating out for a whole week
- Remembering to put the trash out before the garbage truck rolls by your house
- Putting on real pants to run errands
- Wearing a bra for more than 8 hours
- Staying on hold with your health insurance company
- Not setting Comcast on fire
- Staying awake during a 7 am meeting
- Taking vitamins every day
- Flossing

What about you? Why should we give you an award? What awards do you think we should give out to other people?

- A

You Say Crazy Cat Lady Like It's a Bad Thing

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's not a secret; I am totally, completely, 100% obsessed with my cats. With all cats, really, but my cats are clearly the best, so you'll just have to deal with that. In case you're new around these parts, here are my fur-children:

Name: Gershwin
Nicknames: Gersh, Gershy, The G-Man, Buddy
Age: 14 years young
Weight: 12 lbs (formerly a 23 lb chunker, but a diet and thyroid issues have him slimmed down)
Likes: Snuggles, shoelaces, freeze dried chicken, Lysine treats, wet food, watching birds and squirrels
Dislikes: Liquid antibiotics, being tackled by Sinatra, when Mom won't let him on the counters
Natural Habitat: Cat bed, human bed, end of the couch cushion, closet, inexplicably in the bathroom
Catch Phrase: "I'm giant and orange, but I think I'm a 2 lb kitten. Rub my belly?"

Name: Luna
Nicknames: Looney, Looney Tooney, Luna Tuna, Lunaface, Miss Face, The Face, Little Girl
Age: 6 (but she's an old soul)
Weight: 16 lbs (she's the densest cat ever)
Likes: Laying on Ken, hiding, sleeping in sunbeams, sleeping as close to you as humanly possible
Dislikes: New people, the kitten, loud noises, change, the vacuum, being picked up
Natural Habitat: Under the kitchen table, under the bed, in any sunbeam she can find
Catch Phrase: "Nothing is okay, nothing will ever be okay!"

Name: Sinatra
Nicknames: Little Man, The Kraken
Age: 5 months
Weight: 4 lbs
Likes: Chasing anything that moves, tackling Gershwin, sleeping under chins, eating, playing with water
Dislikes: Being hissed at, not being allowed on the table, not being allowed to eat people food
Natural Habitat: All over the damn house, wherever you don't want him to be, under a chin
Catch Phrase: "WHEE!"

They're all rescues and all three have very distinct personalities. For example, Gershwin is currently lounging next to Ken, Luna is hiding upstairs in the cat bed in the hallway, and Sinatra has been chasing a wrapper from a lysine treat for the last 20 minutes. Welcome to Monday night in my home. As I was sitting here tonight, I found myself thinking of the crazy things I've said to the cats and thought I'd share a selection of them with you.

1. Why are you eating that paper?
2. No, you can't lay on my face.
3. Sorry cat, you're just going to have to accept that this isn't happening right now.
4. Get off. No, seriously. OFF.
5. Get down from there! You know better!
6. What the hell are you even doing up there?
7. Where did you find this? What even is this?
8. No, you can't climb in the oven.
9. Where's your sister/brother?
10. For the love of God, calm down, I'm trying to help you here.
11. Didn't we have this conversation?
12. Are you even listening to me right now?
13. Why do you need to be right there?
14. Well, that's what you get for running under my foot.
15. No. No. No. No. No. No. Fine.

It's a good thing they're cute, right? I wouldn't trade my fur-babies for the world, and honestly, if I didn't have a husband, I'd be a crazy cat lady for sure and would adopt ALL THE KITTENS! For more pictures of my cats (and other things, but I'm just being honest, it's mostly cats) follow me on Instagram and make sure you like the Facebook page or follow me on Twitter so you're always the first to know when there's an update (about cats, or otherwise!)

And before I go, there are only a few things I love as much as I love cats, and one of those things is birthdays. Another one of those things is blogging. Let's combine the two and celebrate Becca's birthday this month with a giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The give-away runs until next Monday, so make sure you enter! Wouldn't it be nice to have some extra cash for the holidays? (Or you know, you could adopt a kitten or two!)

- A

Testing... Testing...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

... is this thing on?

Hi. I'm back. After the exam almost 2 weeks ago, I essentially fell off the face of the planet. I literally, (and I mean literally, not that stupid and incorrect OED definition that's been added because apparently as a society, we can't help but mangle our language) averaged 15 hours of sleep per day. I am fully convinced that after exams, one can have an "exam hangover". Mine just happened to last for almost a week.

The good news is that our anatomy lectures are all recorded and so we don't have to go to class (because there actually is no class there, just the recorded lectures), so I didn't have many lectures to go to at all, and the ones I theoretically should have attended I... didn't. Whoops. This week has been better with regards to lecture attendance though, so there's that.

I don't have much to report in the way of "things I did when I wasn't here," because most of my activities involved me being asleep. I did buy a new rug for our dining room:

The room is starting to look more... room-like, but I am still not in love with the set-up. Unfortunately, there isn't much I can do with it since the room is the shape it is, but I'm working on it. Once the piano is in there, actually where the big, orange, cat currently is in that photo, I'm sure I'll feel better. At least, I hope that I'll feel better. Otherwise, I don't know what I'm going to do.

Oh, and it was Halloween. We had about 50 kids trick-or-treat at our house, and we only had 2 Elsa's! We had a few Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (boys and girls, rock on) and quite a few ninjas, oddly enough. We also had a tiny Hulk try to come in the house and pet Gershwin, which was so adorable I almost burst. We also had this guy show up:

And no, I didn't give him any candy because chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Also on Halloween, I dissected a cadaver, which I think is the most appropriate way I've ever spent a Halloween. Our cadaver is a 91 year old lady who we named Trudy, and she has great lungs. In all seriousness, though, as much as I can't stand dissecting things because I find it boring and not a helpful learning experience, I truly appreciate the gift our cadavers give us as students. So thank you, "Trudy," wherever you are. Because of you, I will be a better physician. (And way to take care of those lungs.)

I also learned the important reason I set the coffee pot to brew the night before, because otherwise I have to operate my coffee pot before having had coffee, and then this happens:

Yes, friends. I forgot to put the coffee in my coffee pot before brewing said coffee. Whoops. Fortunately, I had time to brew a real pot before class, otherwise I may have committed a felony. Semi-related, I learned that Sinatra is alternately afraid of and intrigued by our coffee pot. This is what making coffee with a kitten in the house is like:
He knows he isn't supposed to be on the counter, and in fact, the next thing after snapping this photos was to spritz him with that purple spray bottle sitting behind him, but he kept getting back up there to investigate. He kept trying to stalk it, but then it would hiss or bubble, and he'd get scared and back off. My kitten is cute, but he isn't that bright.

Did I do anything else exciting? Not really. Went to class, slept a lot, dissected a cadaver... you know, run-of-the-mill stuff. This weekend should be fun because my dad is coming to visit from FL, and I haven't seen him since the last time he was here, which was over the summer. We're probably going to check out this exhibit at The Franklin Institute (because we're a bunch of nerds), watch a lot of football (during which I will knit and be confused), take in a movie, and eat a lot of delicious food. Tomorrow though, before the fun commences, I will be cramming anatomy into my brain like it's my job, which I guess it kind of is at this point. #medstudentlife

OH! And one more thing! I met Anna Nalick!


I went to World Cafe Live on Tuesday night for her concert with a few friends, and afterwards, she hung around to sign things and meet people. She is the sweetest, and I'm so glad that she's back on the music scene. Her next album should be out sometime in 2015, and I am STOKED. It was 8 years ago that Jenn, Brian, and I met while in line at our first Anna Nalick concert, back when the House of Blues in Atlantic City still existed.

Team Nalick, then and now!

And on that note, I'm off to go feed the parking meter (so my car doesn't get towed again) and then study until my appointment later this afternoon. Then... more studying. Thanks for checking in, and I swear, more interesting, amusing, and perhaps even useful things will be around this space soon! In the mean time, head over to Becca's blog to check out my guest post on how I ditched cable and how I'm surviving.

Have a lovely Thursday, y'all.

- A

Designed By Graciously Designed.