Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Yes, I am geeking out over this...

I started taking classes recently at Local University which happens to have a medical school attached. And a hospital. So I am on my way to lunch, starving, and notice there is an ambulance just chilling on this little hill. Now, I know what this hill is and promptly rush to get the quickest food I can find and get back outside.

So I just missed the first one landing...

but much to my surprise, a second one landed!

Here they are together with the ambulance for the second one. This totally made my day.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Handover

Now, for the latest issue of the Handover!

The latest edition is on Downtime.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Down Time

I am a volunteer EMT, giving me the reverse of many. To me, the ambulance is where I go when I need a break from lab and school. Running call is a nice practical break from all my theory. Seeing patients reminds me that not everyone will be as hard to deal with as a squirming mouse.

Yes that is right, a mouse.

I am a research scientist whose focus ranges from pediatric graft versus host disease to immunotherapy for solid tumors. Simplified, I work to cure cancer.

In fact, I have miracle mice.

I cured cancer.

A highly aggressive, clinically relevant, pediatric solid tumor.

Okay, it was only in mice, but it was with limited distress to the mice who had very large, typically incurable by chemo sized tumors. I swore this new drug wasn't going to work, swore that the tumors were too big, swore that I should just give the mice a break and sacrifice them before the experiment was up.

But science and mother nature (and my boss) proved me wrong. While I didn't cure all the mice, I made a very nice dent in what would have otherwise been a death sentence. Over half of my experimental group are alive and currently tumor free. No surgery. No chemo drugs. No hair loss. No damage to the immune system.

In fact, it was their own immune system, with a little help, that cured these mice. All I gave was a drug that makes the immune system a better immune system, breaking the tolerance that many tumors create in a host to protect themselves from the immune system. Breaking that tolerance is hard as the body doesn't like kill off 'self' cells. But it work and better yet, it may even be repeatable.

So yes, I am a science geek and love research almost as much as love my clinical interactions with patients on the unit. I believe that a strong foundation in science, in understand research as the basis for why medicine works and advances is key to being a good clinician. Sure, I am not research emergency medicine and maybe I won't always be research when I reach my goal, but I know that it will help me understand. And hey, in the mean time, I may have just put this drug in the 'to be developed for clinical trials' box. Who ever said research can't save lives :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Its a very sad day...

Medic999 is closing shop.

Please, go read.

Friday, June 4, 2010



Three calls back to back. It’s only the start of our shift. And there was a pediatric patient. They always drain me emotionally, even if they are okay the entire time in my care.


0500 cardiac arrest call. I end up bagging the patient till the medic unit arrives on scene. The sun rises as we leave the scene.


Filling out application after application to master’s programs. I need to go back to school. I realize this. But I hate writing personal statements. And in some ways it is still admitting defeat and having to deal with realities of screwing up in college. At least I am waitlisted, at least there might be a sense of hope.


There is an ever growing pile of laundry to do. Dirty to wash so I have pants. Clean to fold so I have somewhere to sleep. We are not even going to into how much I need to clean my desk off.


Treating mice every single day with oral drugs. For two weeks straight. Three weeks straight. Four weeks straight. On weekends too. Measuring tumors. Trying to finish experiments up. Trying to get everything done and leaving every day thinking I should have done more.


My brain just wants to shut off and zone out to a book or TV. The sofa is at least a horizontal surface. I wake at 0300, all the lights still on, still dressed in what I wore to work, and all I can do is turn off the lights before curling back up on the sofa and sleeping.


Medical school applications need to be started. Again. Maybe I will have a glimmer of hope this year. Maybe I will finally at least get an interview.


House fire. No one is hurt. We check vitals signs and make sure no one is over heating. And we pack hose. Lots of hose. Its actually rather fun. But I am also the smallest person on scene and am seriously lacking upper body strength. I’ll but sore but I will have had a good time.


Four calls, two back to back and the rest close enough together that sleep is questionable. They are all good calls. They all teach me something. The medic that hops on twice teaches me too. But I have to go to work in the morning and the last call gets me back into the station just at shift change.