Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gross Anatomy

Warning: This post may is written in a considerably more serious and somber tone than our usual posts, however, after my first day in the Gross Anatomy laboratory, I have some thoughts about the experience that I would like to share. If you are squeamish, you might want to skip this posting.

Part of the Dental School’s curriculum includes a complete study of the human anatomy with the use of a cadaver. The school and the state both have strict guidelines and laws regarding the proper use and respect of these donated bodies. While all students experience some reticence in beginning dissection of a human body, some have an easier time acclimating to the situation than others. When the doors of the dissecting table were opened today and the bodies were exposed, several of my classmates were moved to tears at the thought of using the deceased for our study.

For my part, I was not moved to tears at that moment, but instead was thrown into introspection about the body, life, learning, and death.

Above the door to the anatomy labs is a latin phrase—Mortui Vivos Docent—“Let the dead teach the living.” As you enter through that portal, the weightiness of the impending events decent upon you. The thought of cutting into a human body brings shudders to some, nausea to others, and at the very least, resistance. Why do we hesitate? We are scientific people. We know that once the body has died it does not feel the pain of scalpels or feel the embarrassment of nakedness in front of others, but we still find ourselves flinching with the introduction of the knife into the skin, and ashamed at the sight of the uncovered body.

Some of my next thoughts were about the ugliness of death. Some have described the actual “passing” of a person’s spirit as a peaceful release of life, and I certainly hope that it is as they say. But be that as it may, the retreating echos of death’s visit include rigor that contorts and distorts the face into an uncharacteristic mask. The intestines spill the contents of its tract. The body begins to decompose almost immediately without the constant input of nutrients it gets while the person is alive. This macabre scene is enough to make anyone fear death, and on some level I believe we all do, but the horror soon turns into peace when we remember that death is simply an ugly stage in a journey to a better place. It is then, once you have thought of all the horrors of death, that the true emotion of the words from 1 Corinthians take flight: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” And the words from John Donne’s Death Be Not Proud ring so comforting: Death be not proud, though some have called thee / Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so, / For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow, / Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

I have a new respect for these people who donated their bodies to science. I had always considered it a noble action, but now I consider it an action of pure humility and quiet service. These cadavers, our silent teachers, submissively give up their bodies to us so that they might continue to change this world for the better by transforming fumbling hands and unmolded brains into the sharp and quick minds that have the skills to save lives. They lie in their tanks with still hearts, teaching doctors to carefully listen to heartbeats, lest they stop. They lie in their tanks with unseeing eyes, teaching students how to see anomalies in the human form. They lie in their tanks in peace, helping all of us to bring peace and healing to each patient we see.

Mortui Vivos Docent, indeed. We are ready to learn.


Monday, July 28, 2008

The First Day of School (For the 18th time)

Good evening all-

Today was my 18th "first day of school," but this time was different than all those other ones. For the first time ever, I had to actually do homework after my first day of classes. And not just a little homework, but more homework than any of the men of Sub-T 16 have ever done (combined).

So it is with great sadness that I must bid farewell to my former life: that of ESPN, cold leftover pizza, college roommates, intramural football games with 600+ in attendance, Sing Song, Welcome Week and Passport, midnight food runs to Whataburger, and all-night (on a school night) movie-watching parties.

From now on, I'm on the straight and narrow: class, homework, dinner, homework, bathroom break, homework, cup(s) of coffee, homework, another bathroom break (from the coffee), homework, kiss from lauren, homework, answer Tommy's 15th text, homework, and finally bedtime (with dreams of homework). I don't know how so many med students before me have managed to do all this and remain sane, but I will try my best to follow suit. If George Clooney and Anthony Edwards can do it, then surely so can I.

In other news, Lauren is in the other room finishing her 45-minute homework assignment...that she started 2 hours ago. I bet she's enjoying that...

Well, I'd better get back to ESPN...I mean, homework.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dearly Beloved

We were gathered in Dallas this weekend to celebrate the marriage of Jesse Eyer and Jenny (Hutcheson) Eyer. It was so wonderful to see all of our "old" friends from college and catch up. Jenny was a beautiful (albeit nervous!) bride, and Jesse played the part of excited groom with ease. Like with all weddings, the bridal suite was full of girls putting on each other's make up and curling each other's hair before the ceremony, while the groom's suite was full of young men in tuxedos spitting grapes at each other.

The service was an emotional time for bride, groom, and their families, but also for me as I looked across the stage at the man who I married just a few short months ago. I vividly remember that lovely day in March when we promised to love each other forever, and I had to fight back tears when I heard Jenny and Jesse recite those same vows that Jeffrey and I recited, and that our parents said, and that our grandparents vowed. The words are simple, the words are few, but their power is undeniable. Those sacred vows have bound together millions of hearts throughout history, and part of their magic is simply the fact that they are ancient and wise.

The words of the vows are not flashy, they do not promise anything incredible, but they ask of you such honorable things. They do not ask you to give up your family, but to create a new one. They do not ask you to lose you identity, but to become a better version of yourself. They do not ask you to like each other every second of every day, but they do ask you to love each other from this day forward--to care for the other in sickness and in health--to stand beside each other in good time and in bad--and to live every day together until death parts.

I wish the best to Jenny and Jesse, and hope that their first months together as husband and wife are as wonderful as ours have been.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Update on life

Well, I'm sitting on the couch eating cookie dough and watching TLC. No, wait, that's Lauren.

I got my new computer today, and then I had to sit through three hours of "this is how you turn your computer on" and "this is called the 'in-ter-net.'" Man, was it fun... The only good part was when I realized how much the computer guy giving the lecture looks like "Viper" from Top Gun (and also Larry Henderson).

We had a tornado come through town today, bringing with it enough rain to re-flood New Orleans. And since the apartment people have still not fixed our leaky roof, our mantle was again soaked with rain water, which is bad because that means Lauren will have to wash and dry the cloth mantle covering.

We leave tomorrow for (Jesse and) Jenny's wedding, so we'll try to update you throughout the weekend on how all that's going. I hope Jesse doesn't say the wrong name at the altar - that would be embarrassing.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My First Post

Hello everyone. This is Jeffrey, and this will be my first posting.

I just felt the need to describe to you all how my first year of medical school will be:
44.5 credit hours of school work
790 contact hours of school
37 weeks of school
over 2,000,000 (that's 2 million) minutes of lecture and lab instruction

This is definitely not ACU anymore.

From what I've heard from my peer advisers and the Burges, the work in and of itself is not that much harder than undergrad work. The difference is the pace at which the material is presented. So in other words, if I spent a semester learning stuff at ACU, I will probably learn all that (and much more) in 4 weeks in medical school, have a test, and then start all over for another 4-6 week session.

I think I'm gonna love it though.

More to come, I'm sure.

P.S. Sorry if my grammar and sentence structure were incorrect...I don't have Lauren or Mama Jenny here to correct me!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Type A People

Wanna know the difference between type A people and type B people?

When type B people (normal people) look at an orientation schedule and see that there is a session scheduled from 8:00 am to 10:00 am on a Monday morning, but that there is no assigned speaker or meeting room, they assume that the scheduling was a mistake and sleep in until 10:00 am when there is a scheduled meeting room and speaker.

When type A people (strange people, dental students) look at an orientation schedule and see that there is a session scheduled from 8 to 10 am on a Monday morning with no meeting room or speaker, they assume that this invisible lecture could possibly be the most important of the semester. They will follow each other like lemmings to the lecture hall most likely to have a speaker waiting for them and wait...for twenty minutes...before calling to see if perhaps there was a mistake....

And finding out that there was a mistake.

Yes, that was my entire class of 98 direction-following-people-pleasing dental students this morning. We waited for almost a half-hour for an orientation session that would never begin. Bless our little hearts!

Jeffrey started his orientation today and is enjoying the boredom that it entails. But our days of boredom will soon be gone like the wind (and our loan money!), and the classes will begin in earnest. I have heard the change in pace is somewhat like the zero-to-sixty acceleration of the Mr. Freeze ride at Six Flags.

Ladies and gentlemen, buckle your seatbelts!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Here's our apartment! It's really pretty, but you can't tell much from these pictures...guess you'll have to come and visit us.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Back to school

School is officially back in session for me. Yesterday I started out once again as a nervous and confused freshman student for the third time in my life. My first time as a freshman was at a small high school where I knew mostly all of the students in my class. The second time I was a freshman was at a college in my hometown where my dad was a professor and my entire family was fifteen minutes away. This time, though, my first day as a freshman dental student was completely different.

I live in a new town, in a new apartment, and go to a new school where I only knew one person in my class from undergraduate studies. As they say, though, some things never change. I got lost inside the building on the first day (and the second). I met lots of new people and forgot most of their names within seconds of shaking their hands. I endured at least 15 awkward conversation pauses while I desperately tried to think of a follow up question to, "Hey, where are you from?"
All things considered, starting over is always fun, I think. You get the chance to reinvent yourself on a clean slate with a new group of people.

The only real stress on the first day came when we were told to inventory our lab instruments. The lab staff handed us a four-page inventory list of items we were to check off once we established that they were in our drawers. The only problem was that none of us knew the names of the dental instruments yet. So it went like this:

Lab staff: Do you have a PQS 37R?
Me: I don't know. What is that?
Lab staff: It's this one in place 4 with the black band. Make sure to note if it is bent or damaged.
Me: Aren't they all bent? How do we know which ones are bent where they're supposed to be?
Lab staff: That one's fine. But you'll be charged at the end of the year for any that are bent.
Me: But...aren't they all bent?
Lab staff: Do you have a Gracey curette?
Me: I don't know. What is that?
Lab staff: (with a sigh) It's the one in position 7 on your perio tray.
Me: What's a perio tray?
Lab staff: You're an idiot.
Me: Yup.

Ok, so maybe there was slight exaggeration in that rendition, but it's definitely how it felt from my end! It was like being in a Dr. Suess book without any of the explanations of the strange words--"Why, yes, you have a doodlehopper/and a wick-wump mumper, too! You should always keep the mimsy clean/ wipe it with the ziggaloo."

Somehow we all made it through this confusical Suessical torture and day two was much better. We received our laptops (after paying a hefty fee for all its components and accessories) and received some orientation notes on how to use them. It's been a crazy couple of days, but good. I've made lots of new friends and I'm looking forward to getting to know them better...but not so much looking forward to the hard nights of studying that lie ahead. I mean, we have to actually learn the names of all those instruments soon!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What's the deal?

I went to the eye doctor yesterday to get an eye exam for school, and I was reminded of a weird habit that we (mankind) all seem to have. When I told the eye doctor that I was getting the exam for dental school, he said, "Congratulations! You're in for four years of *&-%." He went on to repeat the previous vulgar phrase about five times while I was in the chair, as well as to tell several horror stories of how hard optometry school was for him and how hard dental school is going to be for me. First of all, I was amazed that a doctor would use language like that in a professional setting, but also surprised that he would say so many negative things to me--a person about to endure the four years of...um..."suffering." Then I remembered about the wedding talk. A few months ago when I was planning our wedding, anytime I told people what I was doing, they would tell me a story about how horrible their wedding was, or some disaster that happened at their friend's wedding, or how their mother-in-law called the police to complain about the noise from their own reception (true story). This habit of passing along horror stories is like an epidemic! I've even caught myself doing this from time to time, but you know what--it's time to stop. Stop the negativity, stop passing along the horror stories to people who are already horrified about the upcoming event, stop the hate. America, it's time to get on track. Fight the urge to tell your worst--just say, "Congratulations," and leave it at that. And only YOU can prevent forest fires, too. Haha.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore...

Well, I knew there would be tests of character in this new chapter of my life, but to be honest--I didn't think the tests would start so soon. An email was sent out to our entire class about a "Reference Archive" that is being sold for $125. The "RA" includes practice tests, notes from classes, and other helpful resources for first-year students. The email mentioned the fact that this RA is known to the teachers, but that we shouldn't tout the fact that we had one. I thought that price was a little steep, so I facebooked a friend who is already in school there to ask him about it. He told me that the RA is actually a collection of materials gathered both illegally and legally and compiled to help students (essentially) cheat in their first year on some of their harder classes. Certain teachers apparently don't change their tests from year to year, so students can just pass along the answers to the next class...for a price. My friend said that he was one student out of four who found the use of this RA unethical. The other 94 students used it all year.

My thoughts on the matter went as follows:

If teachers know about this, why aren't they putting a stop to it? Or at least changing their tests from year to year...

I guess I shouldn't use the RA...

I kind of want to use the RA...especially since pretty much everyone will be using one, and if I don't I'll probably not make as good of grades as they do...

Final thought--(in whiny voice)--It's not fair...too hard!

Anyway, on a much lighter note, Jeffrey provided me with much humor today when he attempted to fix some cables from our TV and instead bumped his back on the corner of the mantle. Shortly after his "Ouch-that-hurt" dance, he went over to measure something near the china hutch and banged his head on the top of it. It was like watching a scene from The Three Stooges...except there was just the one. Don't worry, though, the little booger only got a bruise and a headache. And once I finished giggling, I went and got him some Advil.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Bienvenidos a SAN ANTONIO!

We made it to San Antonio on July 1st and checked into our apartment. I had moved before from my parents' house to a dorm room and from a dorm room to a "college house," but none of those relocations could compare with the massive manpower it took to move all of our stuff here. It took my entire family, Jeffrey's entire family, several of my brother's friends, and a number of small miracles to create the three dimensional puzzle of stuff that would fill the 17 foot U-Haul truck, two truck beds, and the back of a suburban. Three hours, forty-five minutes, and several hundred thousand dollars-worth of gas later, we arrived at our new home--a two bedroom, two bath apartment in San Antonio, Texas. Fortunately for me, I was the brains of the operation and got to spend the rest of the time in the apartment with my mom arranging the furniture, while the brawn (Jeffrey, my brother, my dad, and company) lamented the fact that we had chosen an apartment on the third floor. The U-Haul unloading finished right as it began to rain that day, and we all began to kid my mom because she had told us for weeks not to even bring sweaters and coats to San Antonio because "It's always so hot there." A little under a week later, we have unpacked the last box, arranged our furniture, hung curtains, shed a few tears for the family and friends we miss, and laughed again with mom because it's rained every single day we've been here.