Saturday, March 26, 2011


Yesterday was interesting. We began with an intro to neuroradiology from Dr. McCord, which was awesome as usual. We learned about MRIs and CT scans, how to read them and differentiate between different types, as well as the effects of radiation. This was followed by two lectures from a psychiatrist, covering acute and chronic alcohol toxicity. These were interesting and fun as the lecturer was very energetic and enthusiastic.

In the afternoon, we had a surgical skills seminar. We began by learning sterile technique, including how to scrub & dry your hands/arms, enter the operating room, get gloves on, and work around sterile areas. This was followed by a session on how to make different kinds of sutures. We had a competition to see who made the neatest/strongest sutures, and my stitches won the best in the session. Whoop!

All of today was spent studying nonstop for the impeding firestorm on Monday. This is going to be rough.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Tuesday began with a lecture on pain management, followed by a lecture on painkillers of the NSAID variety: Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin...). Afterwards, we had a lab on identifying sensory pathways from the anterior 2/3 of the head (on brainstem slides).

Wednesday morning we went over a different class of painkillers, the opiates & opioids (morphine, codeine, heroin, etc...). In the afternoon, we first covered the management of chronic pain, and differentiating between patients who are truly in pain and those exhibiting drug-seeking behavior. Following this lecture, we went over the corticospinal tract, which provides most of the motor function to our body from the neck down.

As for today, we begin by studying the corticobulbar tract, which provides the motor function to our head, including the face, eyes, and jaw. This was followed by a lecture on spinal reflexes and muscle tone, which basically explained why we use reflex hammers and how we are able to sit upright and stand still. In the afternoon, we had a lab over yesterday's corticospinal tract lecture (it seems all the labs are looking at the same slides of brainstem sections). With the test rapidly approaching on Monday, I'll be doing a lot of studying this weekend....

Monday, March 21, 2011

Easy Tonight

Well, Colorado was amazing. I had never been skiing before, and it was an incredible feeling. We stayed in a tiny motel at the base of the mountain called the Pinewood Inn, in the town of Pagosa Springs. We drove ~30 minutes every morning up the mountain to Wolf Creek Lodge, where we also either had lunch or took our own. Breakfast and dinner were usually experiments around town, and it was great just hanging out and not thinking about school at all.

This week is off to a leisurely start, as we only had a lab over the sensory pathways from the body, and a lecture over how to approach neurological lesion questions on an exam. The rest of the week is not very dense, but learning all of these slides will take some time... back to work.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Leaving Song

Wednesday was rather brief, as we only had one lecture and a lab. The lecture covered basic concepts of drugs affecting the Central Nervous System, as well concepts of drug dependance. In the lab, we looked at dozens of slides of the brain stem and spinal cord. This was a bitch, as we have to be able to identify precisely what level of brainstem or spinal cord we are looking at just from its general appearance. We also have to be able to identify indistinct "nuclei" and "tracts" which are basically faint light or dark spots in the slide section. We have to be able to figure out how these areas correlate with the various sensory and motor pathways we will be learning in coming weeks, as well as the effects of lesioning said pathways.

Yesterday we went over vascular disorders of the brain (strokes, aneurysms, hemorrhages, etc.), followed by 3 lectures on local anesthesia, migraine therapy, and the sensory pathways of pain and temperature for the body and posterior 1/3 of the head. In the afternoon, we had an incredibly tedious and poorly organized lecture on genetic diseases of the CNS. Not fun.

Today, we had an introductory lecture to neurology, which mainly consists of diagnosing diseases of the nervous system based on the presenting symptoms. This was followed by a lab where we examined blood supply and cerebrospinal fluid circulation in the brain. In the afternoon we went over protein folding diseases involving prions (ie Mad Cow Disease), followed by the pathways that transmit all sensation from the anterior 2/3s of the head.

Now that the first week is over, it is time to pack and head to Dallas, where I will spend the night at Steve's place before starting the road trip to Dallas. No laptop = no updates until my return.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Past and Pending

As you may have noticed, I have been incredibly busy of late and haven't had time to update my blog. I just began my neuroscience block, so I am going to jump straight into entries concerning neuro, and will retroactively add entries for what was left of my intro to disease block. It is kind of strange because we have our first week of neuro, immediately followed by spring break, after which we continue where we left off and then have our first test. I am going skiing in Colorado with my friend Steve and his brother for spring break, and I am pumped.

First things first. Yesterday we began the neuroscience block, and we kicked it off with a lecture on blood supply to the brain, followed by a lecture on ventricles of the brain and circulation of cerebrospinal fluid. We then had our introductory neuro lab in which we examined gross external features of the human brain. We have 2 "brain buckets": the first contains a whole brain, as well as a half brain (left or right). The second contains two sliced brains, the first sliced many times horizontally, and the second sliced many times sagitally (vertical, lengthwise). Overall an entertaining lab, and future labs should prove to be interesting.

Today, we had 4 lectures covering various topics. The first was over neurotransmitters and receptors, followed by basic neural mechanisms and neural circuitry. We then had a lecture on neurotransmission physiology at the neuromuscular junction. The final lecture was the first of what will be the bread and butter of neuroscience: neural pathways. The first pathway we went over was the dorsal column pathway, which transmits discriminative touch, pressure, vibration, and proprioception signals from the body and posterior 1/3 of the head, up to the sensory cortex of the brain.

Although the biochem stuff really blows, the pathways and anatomy are very interesting and this block should prove much less tedious than intro to disease. More updates coming soon.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Waiting for the Night

Well, the test actually went rather well. I was expecting to be crushed by this exam, as even after studying for 3 days straight, nearly 18 hours a day, I did not feel fully prepared. However, the questions were much more basic than anyone expected, and I actually feel that I may have managed to pull off an A. We shall see.... apparently our next test is going to cover FORTY-FIVE LECTURES! Also 3 labs. I thought it was hard enough to get through the 26 lectures that were covered on this exam, I can't imagine learning 45 in 3 weeks. Thankfully none of these exams are cumulative like they were last semester, although that doesn't provide much of a reprieve. The class is visiting Northgate tonight, so at least I can stop thinking about all of this for a few hours....

Friday, January 21, 2011

Swallowed in the Sea

Even with a 3-day weekend (due to MLK day), getting caught up has proven impossible for most of our class. The lectures are so long and detailed that we don't know where to begin. Thankfully there was only one lecture on Tuesday, which dealt with how microbes are able to build resistance to antibiotics. In the afternoon we had our first humanities session with Dr. X, which was very interesting and had to do with how commercials affect a patient's mindset. Wednesday in clinical skills we learned how to test for hearing loss, as well examine the eardrums, nose, and throat with our otoscopes. We then had a double lecture over autoimmune diseases, which was pretty cool, except the professor tried to cram 60 pages of notes into this lecture. Way too much material to pull only 6 exam questions from.

Thursday, we had a pediatrics lecture over the health maintenance of school-aged children and adolescents. This was followed by our 3rd 2-hour POPS session, this time on lupus. We then had a review of all the pediatrics lectures we have had over the past 3 weeks. Friday, we had a biochem lecture which went into the chemistry of autoimmune diseases... it was pretty painful. We ended the week with a series of case studies concerning various immune reactions and autoimmune disorders. I've already forgotten the material from the first week, so I will have to review that before going on and studying the newer lectures. I have a feeling that there will be very little sleep this weekend.