Monday, September 3, 2012

Coming up for air

Sorry for the lack of anything resembling a post here, I am neck deep in classes and trying to write/finish a first author research paper. Oh and keep the apartment clean (dishes are a war of attrition, I am currently winning this round).

Yes, I may be insane.

More to come.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Great Moments In Lab

More like great mishaps in lab.

So lets start with last week, where our microscope decided to kill its bulb. Not the end of the world, we have extra bulbs, right? Yes, with a caveat of course. The bulb is in my PI's office, who is on vacation for another week. Greeeeat. Oh and did I mention I have no idea where the bulb even is in this microscope? And that we need it to look at our plates daily? And that the next nearest one is at least one building over?

Thankfully, after much fighting (gentle mind you) with the scope, I found the lightbulb and got the housing around it off. I then was desperate enough to try the bag of 'used' bulbs. 90% were in fact used, however there was one that worked! I cannot tell you how happy this made me.

Next moment of pure brilliance (please read much sarcasm into this statement). I tried to make 1g/mL of BSA in PBS. Instead I made snot. I seriously cannot describe the consistency any other way. And not runny snot, but the seriously thick goopy stuff. Okay, so lets bump the starting concentration down to 100mg/mL of BSA. Much better. Now we dissolve in PBS and really well in RIPA buffer. But the special extraction buffer? Yeah, I somehow dissolved my BSA partially in this water based buffer, walked away with it on the shaker to finish dissolving while having lunch, and came back to a gelatinous solid. And I do mean solid. Even my PI was like, well thats weird, what was in this buffer again? We think we somehow accidentally cooked the BSA with some chemical reaction in the buffer (we are thinking it may have been the beta mercaptoethanol). Needless to say, we just scrapped using that buffer in our Bradford assay as a standard.

And then to finish off the day, I am going through my old notes to figure out what experiments I still have in limbo and I realize, I used the wrong control reagent on a whole experiment. Face, say hi to palm. Thankfully I hadn't done the qRT-PCR (I the big expensive reaction part) on it yet, but it does mean I have to do it all over again. My PI did point out that I now have a nice bank of RNA for controls when I need it. Still does not make me super happy. Oiy.

Thankfully, this is an atypically high mishap week.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Reasons why breakfast (and lunch) are important

So I know I am someone who needs to eat fairly regularly, or at least with lots of calories. And drinking water is never my strong suit. Thus it was totally awesome when, in the middle of explaining a bisected head to a group of students I suddenly feel super hot and on my way to light headedness.

So not awesome.

Been here before though last time I think it was because I was standing for too long. This time, I am voting not drinking enough and thinking a few cookies, some fruit, and some almonds was a brilliant idea for breakfast. NOT!

Must eat better -.-

Friday, July 6, 2012

Guess what I did today!

This actually went really well! Bonus points to anyone who can tell me what this 'event' was!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The heavens aligned, and then decided to giggle

So I was historically crying this morning. In a good way.

I got accepted!

Four years of trying and going back for a masters and it finally happened! I am accepted into medical school! I seriously cannot believe this happened!

For anyone ever struggling towards their dream all I have to say is keep trying, if you work hard it will happen.

And then I went to work to try and finish a western blog while being super excited. I put the ECL devloping chemical on and then forgot to add the film for this 10 minute incubation.

Whoops :)

I'm in!!!!!!!!

Friday, June 15, 2012


Nope, not dead yet.

Just really stressed and as much as I want to vent here, well I don't want to sound like I am complaining about everything because in truth thats what I sound like to myself some days.

Pretty much lab is insanely crazy but there may be a first author paper by August (yay!)

Summer job is eating my life and I hate my boss, but everyone else is really nice to work with.

I am waitlisted. Again. At the same school. Needless to say, this does not do much for my mood. Yes, I have written update letters (I actually found out I was waitlisted in April, but yeah, thats how badly its killed my mood. I really don't want to have to go another round of applications because its depressing to say the least). I am really crossing my fingers on this because I really want to get my life boogying by now. Plus it means I also may have a shot at an MD/PhD, which never had even crossed my mind until recently because my PI is pretty much trying to make me a graduate student (and I am kind of enjoying it).

And my roommate is moving at the end of July. I am sad to see her go, but its awesome because she got accepted into an amazing PhD program in a near by city. She totally deserves it. But I will miss her.

And I am not even going into firehouse politics, other than to say I want to bang my head against a wall at the ridiculousness.

Med school? Please?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Night of Nosebleeds

Everything you are about to read happened after midnight.

It was a rather cold and rainy night, you know, the ones where you of course get a call in the worst location possible.

First up was a little old man and his wife, cute couple, had just come back from a late dinner with the kids when they realized they needed us. Or rather, he needed us. My partner and I schlepped up several flights before the wife let us in and led us back to the rear bathroom. There, standing over a new very red sink was a little old man with his nose poring blood.

And I mean poring. The white sink was nearly invisible under the blood, a trash can had also been graced with blood, and the towel held to the man's face was swiftly doing nothing. Upon seeing the scene I turned to my partner with that look of 'We are going and we are going now.'

A quick packaging, a set of vitals, and another towel later we are on the road. The poor guy said that something similar had happened two night ago but the bleeding had stopped on its own just as spontaneously as it had started. Unfortunately this time it would require a trip to the hospital. I felt a bit bad as I hung out as far behind his head as the bench seat would allow but whenever he spoke I could see the blood droplets leaving his mouth. Did I mention he was coughing up clots too?

Thankfully a quick trip to the hospital and a combination of cautery and packing, the nosebleed finally stopped. And here I thought the dispatch of 'nosebleed' was going to be bogus.

Sped forward to the wee hours of the morning just before the sun rises. Dispatched for a second nosebleed. As we rolled up to this one I refused to believe we would get two real serious nosebleed calls in one night.

I was wrong. Blood droplets were strewn across the house as another poor man pinched his nose in a desperate attempted to get it to stop bleeding. It had started that evening but seemed to stop enough for him to sleep. Well now there was blood everywhere so clearly that was a false alarm. While not as serious as the first, it was another trip to the hospital to figure things out.

This poor man had the added complication of having face-planted in a parking garage a few days early, breaking his nose and looking like he had been in serious fight. It was unknown if the nosebleed was from the previously broken nose or something new.

I may never dismiss a nosebleed call again.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Of Lab and Cookies

P.I. : "You made these with butter?!"

EMT GFP: "Of course! What else would you use?"

Seriously, if you are going to make cookies, why would you NOT use butter.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


It feels so good.

Damnit, this means I have to get my act together more. :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Death and Dying

Lab has been insane. All I have to say is finding funding is not pleasant in this economy and has created far more stress than necessary. This stress should be directed towards papers, not grants!

Anyways, my crew and I have had a string of patient deaths, though not the we couldn't save them deaths. No more it was the elderly reaching the end of their time deaths. A DNR, a should have been DNR that the family was going to get the paperwork done the next day but relative decided tonight was the night, and elderly (105!!!) just not doing well and probably reaching the end of his time. Now, I could rant all day about hospice and the lack of planning in this country, but I will refrain for that for now.

Instead, and what I found very interesting, was that I had a new probie who was terrified of death and dying. Now maybe this is just something that I processed early on as a child and accepted (and no, I did not have my parents/grandparents die young), maybe its because I always have known I want to go into medicine, in the end it really doesn't matter but death and dying is something I am comfortable with in the field. Yes, I do get a bit nervous making the call, but for BLS, you have to be really dead or have a DNR to call it and thankfully those are the situations I encountered. Nerve wracking sure, but pretty clear cut. And yet this normal process really disturbed by probie. Perhaps I am the odd one finding his reaction odd but perhaps it was also his first dead person.

My crew chief and I asked her if she wanted to talk about it and she staunchly replied with a "no". Well, that makes us helping you deal with it all the harder.

The same thing happened when we had a "code" that was really a "well we were going to hospice tomorrow morning and we know she wants to die but no, we don't have any paperwork. Whats a DNR?" Thankfully the medic go medical clearance to stop the code but again, my probie didn't want to talk about, though we could tell she did not like dealing with the situation at all.

We all deal with death in different ways, but in EMS and medicine it is something that is there every day (sometimes in frequent stretches). We HAVE to deal with it. Its our job. Now if only I can crack the death nut with my probie and at least get her talking instead of bottling it up. If she wants to do this long term, this is something she has to deal with.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Funk

I have been hit with it. And hard. I dislike fevers and have had one for a few days now along with copious amounts of sinus clogging annoyance. Everyone else has allergies and I have the cold that will not back down.

Well at least its not the flu.

Excuse me while I go yell at my immune system to get itself back in gear... posts will resume soon.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I made baby heart cells!

And not baby as in I'm pregnant by any means, I made heart cells in a dish! Mouse heart cells! And they beat! I am calling them "baby" after the discussion with my PI over how these cardiomyocytes (ie baby heart cells) are not mature while the ones we have beating in our bodies are matures (and use a different system to beat than my baby heart cells).

Needless to say, cool way to end a week!

In other random news, due to my ambiguous status at local university, I have taken to introducing myself as "PI's student" for lack of any other way to describe myself seeing as I am a) not a med student there or b) a PhD student and thus lack a true status.

Anyways, more on life soon, I promise an EMS post!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Trying not to be nervous

With an upcoming interview I have been trying to calm my nerves with reading and as such as finally finished this book:

Can't say it helped with the nerves but it did strike my brain thinking again.

I remember being in high school, when we were still working out way through the Human Genome Project and my biology teaching was explaining what we knew about cancer then. I don't even remember what she was talking about but I am assuming it was oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes because I remember a question I asked. The Q & A went something like this:

Young EMT GFP: So if we know what genes go wrong in cancer, why can't we fix them or take them out and replace them with new ones?

Biology Teacher: I don't know, but I bet you will find that out someday.

I look back on that question now and realize what a profound question about cancer I managed to ask. I have no idea how I even put the pieces together but they are still questions we struggle with today in terms of cancer research. Granted, the questions are inevitably far more complex that what I asked in high school but while there will be no "magic bullet" cute for cancer, perhaps we can piece together smaller simpler answers that will help chip away at the beast.

There was a line in the last few chapters that described one scientist's way of looking a cancer as a function of his initial training. It rang true for me because my first job post undergrad was working in a research lab. It was an amazing experience but looking back, what I realize it did for me was take me from a budding molecular biologist who know scattered bits about a cells and gave me a system to think about.

My system became immunology and even now, years later working in a developmental lab, I can't help look at my work through the lens of the immune system. It has given me a lens to look a problems, work through them, learn from them. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it hinders, but I am learning to make it mine. Perhaps my next lens will be developmental or even stem cells. I will have to see where research takes me.

Though that of in itself is something I have been thinking about lately. I want nothing more than to get into med school. All of biological science makes more sense to me when observed through the lens of organ systems and body. Its all connected and seeing that picture makes me want to learn its details more. If there is anything my master's program taught me, this was it. But now its coming in direct contact with what I know I can do well, research.

I know many people can happily marry research and medicine, but until now I have always thought about it esoterically, as some far off future that I don't have to think about yet. A thought so far from the truth. What research I do now will build what I do in the future. I can use my research now as a spring board to future research, future jobs.

My P.I. has started to lay out paper ideas, paper ideas that can advanced basic science knowledge while working towards curing diseases. My mind has been running non-stop as to how to get these experiments going, I want them to be perfect, so that they have a real chance at working. Not because I want the papers, but because I hope someday it pans out and that a cure or at least a lasting treatment can be found. I want to see the faces of patients light up when they hear they are treated. No more drugs, no more tests, no more fearing for their life.

This, this is why I want to be a doctor, to fix people so that they may have a better life.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

6 Signs You Have Been at the Firehouse Too Long

1. You expect all vehicles (marked or not) with back up lights to also have back up alarms

2. You think the smell of a diesel engine/exhaust isn't that bad (bonus points if you have started to enjoy it)

3. You wake up in the middle of the night because the overhead radio had a neighboring station's prealert tones go off (just in case you are running a call with them)

4. You can't go to sleep without the hum of the exhaust system in the background

5. You can't wake up unless you hear the screech and chirp of SCBAs being tested at shift change.

6. You know where the secrete stash of the good coffee creamer is kept (bonus points if you don't even like coffee)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Scheduling Fail

Yeah.... I scheduled my medical school interview so it wouldn't be on a day that I taught.

Unfortunately I failed to check what I was doing in class that week. Review lectures AND giving an exam that week.

Guess who is using the weekend prior to write the exam in full instead of that Monday (while not on the calendar, Monday is an in lab day all day)!

I still think its better to have my interview earlier rather than later so busy week it is!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Is due to me trying not to freak out over the interview I have in two weeks. After spending so many times getting so close to medical school (okay once, last cycle) and not getting in, I HAVE to do well or I may well explode.

I want this more than anything and I can almost taste it.

So I must go fight off my demons (oh how you still try to haunt me), remember all the details of the research I have done, and polish up on selling myself humbly.

The US seriously need more medical schools and a more logical system into why people get into them.

Hopefully there will be at least one EMS story by the end of the week (I have so many back logged that just need a good typing!)

Also, any interview types are happily accepted.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

This has been stuck in my head all weekend...

This makes me laugh because its so close to the truth! A never ending string of studying! This was also very close to what my master's program was like. We were med students light, only not that light.

Friday, January 27, 2012


One of my my recent blog-to-read finds has been A Cartoon Guide to Becoming a Doctor by Dr. Fizzy. It has been hilarious and gives me much to look forward to when I finally get into medical school!

Even better, she has a book! So check out both and have a good laugh! Purchase a book too!

Friday, January 20, 2012

But I still haven't found what I am looking for...

Love U2, love that song, and it so aptly applies to my day! I naively assumed that since the antibody list said my antibody of interest was in the red box in the -20 that I would find it there. Sooooooooo has not happened yet. I froze my fingers going through enough red boxes for an army and still can't find the darn antibody! So much for proper antibody organization. I may have to let some OCD go and get the best of me and reorganize all the antibody boxes.

In other news, my new set of students for this semester are making me really excited about teaching! I have doubled my class size (16!) which for me is huge and they all seem really engaged. I was particularly proud of two moments in the first two days that I have been teaching them this semester. First, I already have several students asking if I will teach the second half of this class (which I taught last semester) over the summer! Always a good way to start! Second, I was on a clinical tangent over how it can be really bad not to have pain receptors in your skin (CIPA, as found here) but could not remember the name of the disease at all. Suddenly, one of the students in the back of the room who had been looking incredibly bored perks up her head and raises her hand, asking if the disease started with a 'C'. I answered honestly with the fact that I could not remember but by the end of our break that day she came up to me with a huge grin saying that she looked it up and it did start with a 'C' and was called CIPA.

Moments like the second, where I take a student who seemed bored and not interested and manage to pull them into being interest, particularly by a clinical correlate of all things, make me enjoying teaching more than I ever thought I could!

In medical school applications news, I have been rejected by two school, invited for an interview by one (the at the top of my list at that!), and spammed the rest with update letter. I got this email back and it made me smile.

"Dear EMT GFP,
Thank you for your email and your update.  The format is perfect!  We will place an electronic copy  of your attachment with your file.
We appreciate your continued interest in the School of Medicine.


I love it when I can make someone's day by correct formatting! It may also speak to the number of times I have gone through this darn application process!

Sadly, the EMS front has been fairly quiet.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to procrastinate productively

A) Study for the class that you are taking this semester (because what else do you do when you aren't in medical school yet? take more classes!)

B) Do/study for the classes for EMT-B recert

Yeah, I am putting off the fact that I need to help clean the lab and play with my cells today. And that I need to revamp my lectures for this semester. Just not feeling it yet...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

In the End

She stood waiting for us at the door, quiet and composed though visibly in pain. We had been here once before, for a fall that ended up with a trip to the E.R. thanks to the chemo he was going through. She greeted us and took us to the bedroom, neatly kept just like the rest of the house.

He was lying in the bed, silent and still, on that snowy day. We had of course brought the works into the house but I knew the moment I saw her we wouldn't need any of it. He looked so frail on the bed, blankets piled up to keep him warm, frailer than when we had seen him several months ago for that fall.

The cancer had not been kind to him. He had lost his battle and we were left comforting his wife.

She was stoic, having cared for him at home this entire time, refusing to let him be in the hospital unless absolutely necessary. She had known that it was coming but that didn't lessen the blow.

"I had just closed my eyes. I didn't mean to take that nap."

I thought to myself that her nap was probably exactly why he had chosen that moment to go. You could see the love the two had throughout the house, I had seen it during our call here for the fall. He didn't want to burden his wife with his illness and yet she had refused to let anyone else care for him. He had to have been grateful for that, perhaps wanting to spare her the last pain of watching him die in front of her.

We left only once we were sure she would be okay. Sadly, it would not be a merry Christmas Day for her.

Friday, January 6, 2012

When your PI...

Tells you to do something, its probably for a good reason.

Like the fact that antibodies really do need to be at the correct pH. So when he says you need to check the pH BEFORE you start the blotting, its not just to make you do another step, its so that you both don't have the headache of checking it later.

Lesson learned. There is a reason (9 times out of 10) why you PI wants you to do something a very specific way.