Thursday, June 27, 2013


I've been preparing for my anatomy remediation exam these past couple of weeks. The material was actually easier (less boring) this time around because I was able to put it in physiologic context.  It still sucked having to memorize random useless shit:  "the plantaris m. is a vestigial structure" "septum transverserum becomes the liver and diaphram"

Is it necessary to use limited neural connections on these things?  I do understand the importance of having a strong anatomy foundation -like knowing the arcuate line- it would be disastrous to sew up the wrong layers- they showed us the photographs. But foundations are usually made of large bricks/slabs and mortar not itty-bitty pebbles. Jeez.

I met with the course director on Monday.  I had described him before as being funny, over-the-top and somewhat misogynistic ( I use that term carefully w/ the updated 2012 definition: entrenched prejudices against women.  I don't think he hates us).  He obviously had his favorites among the male students, rarely called on women and his anatomical examples were always skewed to more represent the masculine anatomy.

During our meeting though, he was really gentle, helpful and understanding. I had gone in with shaking knees and an underlying deep mortification with being in this situation (never again!)  but he put me at ease.  He made me feel as if this wasn't a great deal and even shared stories of his own graduate school struggles with failing a course.  He asked me how the other courses had gone and nodded knowingly when I confessed that I had a much easier time with physiology and immunology.  "You have an analytical mind" he told me. He even confessed that he was the same, liking concepts more than memorization and how ironic it was that he ended up an anatomy professor.

He then flipped open a manila file, riffled through the pages and began rattling off advice:

Know the anastomoses around the stomach
Know the course of the gonadal vessels
Understand straddle injuries, the cremasteric reflex, portal varices, I 8 10 eggs AT 12, water under the bridge, this is going to be leg and pelvis heavy, 2 radiology questions- think Dr. Y (I knew this meant one was an abdominal ultrasound), 6 cardiac, 2 lung, an adrenal, the unhappy triad, exceptions to para/sympathetic....

Realizing that he was looking at the exam questions, I started scribbling notes trying to keep up with his rapid fire proclamations then went home and studied specifics.

I sat for the exam this morning and he had been right: it was very leg and pelvis heavy. It was also foot heavy and neck heavy. I didn't do very well on it but I passed.

When I was notified about my medical school acceptance, the joy I felt far outweighed the relief. That was a great feeling. Because the powers that determine who gets invited for interview/acceptance are behind closed doors with ambiguous criteria (beyond grades/MCAT), it didn't feel like an anticipated failure, my fear of being denied. So the joy at hearing the "we want you" was pretty pure.

The joy I felt today having heard (read- I was notified via email) that I passed was pretty gritty. My fear of failure far outweighed the anticipation of the news. There has been times that life has been pretty tough: deciding to take both parents off life support (different times), grieving, recovering from an abusive relationship, feeling unlovable, getting laid off, the stress of living in a house I couldn't afford... etc etc. 

I'm pretty familiar with the grit life throws at you like rice at a wedding.  Today though, today, I felt a gritty joy. And it was fucking awesome.



  1. Huge congrats! Hope you get a chance to celebrate.

  2. Congratulations to you. I start Anatomy, Physiology and Immunology in a week's time so will be re-reading this post in a few weeks.

    In the meantime, I hope your celebrations are sweet.

  3. scary your going to be a doctor. i want a doctor who cares to now everything about the body. who wants a fat doctor who cant even pass a basic class in school? how can i trust that you wont fail me?

  4. Yaay! Congrats!

    Let us talk about getting over an abusive relationship. Hell... Let us co-author a big book on it. :-D

    I know you will ignore the anon comment above but just reinforcing it. ;-)

  5. Thanks everyone for the support! With the anatomy fiasco behind, I'm thrilled about the upcoming year and what we're going to conquer in it! I'm hoping that I have much more upbeat stories for the blog :D