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25 July 2009

Stuff happens

This past week brought home just how far away I am. My grandpa John passed away on Tuesday morning. I knew very well that having older relatives die while I am over here was a distinct probablility. But it's still horrid when it happens. John was a "step-grandad", as my Grandma Klassen remarried after my grandpa passed away. He was a gentle, content man, stubborn to the core (isn't that a prerequisite for being Mennonite?), and loved a good game of Rook or Tile Rummy and dessert in any form it showed up. He had one of the greenest thumbs I've ever seen. He even put up with the crazy Klassen clan that came with marrying my Grandma, and was grandpa to my generation of kids for 21 years. He hadn't been well since Easter, and slowly just ....deccelerated until he stopped. I'll miss him.
I feel like I can't be there for my dad and grandma. I feel pretty helpless- at least there's the Vonage and email. The funeral is this Friday, and Rob will be attending.
Medicine marches on- we are starting to transition from repro block to cancer, this week we have the case of a potential prostate cancer. Turns out the fellow just had benign hyperplasia. Fortunately, we won't have to learn how to do a digital rectal exam until next year.....
Other bum- related news: I am currently part of an experiment to see how best to train future colonoscopists.
“the hard way”Fun with fake colons!
So I am practicing threading a scope up a dummy's anus. The experiment runs for 9 weeks. I can definitely say I have new respect for a good gastroenterologist. The point of the study is this: state of Queensland is attempting to impliment a massive colorectal screening program, and thus will need a lot more qualified people to do the scoping. They want to see how they can provide these people in the best/fastest way possible. So they are attempting to see how untrained monkeys (1st year med students) do with the learning process. It IS kind of fun, and I can now say all those hours Julie and I spent playing Nintendo as kids is not wasted. First question everyone asks is: "Do you do it on real people?" No. "Do you have to have it done to you?" No. It's a training model with a rubber "colon" which has been lubricated to act and look like the real thing. The photo below give an idea of what I see on the screen:
I have now been matched up with a mentor through the Australian Medical Association (AMA), with Dr. Chris Davis, who also happens to be the former president of the AMA. Handy. He has invited me to sit in on his clinic at the Prince Charles Hospital. So that seems like a positive thing already. It's nice to know that I'm not just student #21381289, or just a cash cow to the finance office. Well, back to Robbins (my pathology textbook). Have a great week, folks!

18 July 2009

July, the depths of winter (in Australia)

I am on the other side of crazy-time at the moment. I just finished a major assignment and did a critical-pass evaluation (i.e. you don't pass this, you don't pass the year. No Pressure...), and I 'm trying to catch up from the week- long convention I attended. So I am having a slightly more relaxed weekend. Still studying, just with less intensity.
The convention was the Australian Medical Student Association convention, the 50th anniversary, and in Brisbane this year, which made it convenient! We had a great line up of speakers for the academic program, including the authors of two different textbooks used all over the world. The photo is of me and Vinay Kumar, the author of Robbins Pathology.
img_0939small.JPGWe also heard from Lincoln Hall (who died on Everest and survived to tell the tale...weird), leaders in stem cell research, and Ian Frazer, the guy who developed Gardasil vaccine against cervical cancer caused by HPV. The social evenings were very alcohol fuelled (the Aussies can be very enthusiastic drinkers) and they all had a costume theme (another thing about the Aussies- they LOVE dressing up). I only went to the first and last nights. The last night was a gala ball at Movieworld, a cousin to Universal Studios theme park. They let us on all the freaky rides in our fancy get-ups, but stipulated only one drink per hour if you wanted to ride all the vomit inducing contraptions. Probably wise. It was a good time, and one of the good things was that I had to stay sober as a judge because I was driving....I can't think of a better excuse! The pics are on my Facebook, if you want the pictoral gory details.
In some ways I am glad Rob isn't around right at the moment. During each block, something related has happened to each of my friends (not just medical school syndrome, where you think you have what you're studying) During respiratory block, I had a raging chest infection. L's mom had a heart attack during cardio block. Another friend acquired an ascending bladder infection during urinary. So all us girls are nervous during reproduction block. Fortunately I had postive proof of infertility after Rob left. HAHA!! It's not gonna be meeeeeee!!!!!
Anyway, other than that, life's not too exciting..... reading and studying.... playing with knees and shoulders. My favourite(not) test so far is the "Apprehension test" where your hand manipulation threatens to dislocate a knee or shoulder, and you watch for the patient's reaction-- Cheez! Can you think of a meaner thing to do???? (Speaking as a 3 time knee dislocator!!)
Well, Anatomy beckons.....

07 July 2009

More “great” news from Australian Immigration

Got some news from the Australian Immigration department and I quote
"Based on current application rates for Groups 1-3, it is unlikely at this stage that applications which fall in Groups 1-3 will be exhausted in the 2009-10 Migration Program year and processing of Groups 4 and 5 will be delayed until this has occurred."

I am in Group 4, hurray for me.

Barb & I are looking into alternate ways of me getting there.  I might be able to get state sponsorship(Group 2), but that is a bit of a long shot.  I might also be able to go under Barb's student visa and then get a bridging visa that would allow me to work until I get my permanent visa.   The working on the government website is a bit unclear exactly how that works.

This is becoming very frustrating.  It's been a whole year since I applied and the Australian government keeps retroactively changing the rules.  I still have no idea when I'm actually moving there.  It would be really nice to actually live in thesame country as my wife.

Read all the full Immigration letter.

03 July 2009

Back to work (wht-chhhhhh..whip noise)

Rob has been back to his first day of work, and I have been in classes again since Monday. It's entirely amazing how fast information leaks out the back of my mind when I'm not continually stuffing it in the front. It's depressing actually. My exam turned out satisfactory, and I ended up ahead of the cohort by about 10%. So that's a relief. We have moved on from kidneys and the joys they bring, on to reproductive block. Starting way back with good ol' DNA. One. more. time. At least I can remember my cell cycle and how mitosis/meiosis works. So I've been reading up on the wilder stuff like Robinsonian translocations and chromosomes that get confused and become rings instead of linear. Crazy. And crazier yet is that your chromosomes can be really messed up ,and you can look and act normal. Or you can have the tiniest deletion, and be horribly disfigured or not even make it to birth. Wow.
Rob and I parted ways in Auckland on Sunday night, and I only cried a little on the plane. Having him around was wonderful, but makes it hurt a little more to let go again. On Wednesday I had a little crisis over it, which involved a little too much chocolate ice cream: heartaches hurt less when you have an accompanying stomacheache. My hips remain unappreciative.
The Immigration folks in Adelaide have sent Rob a note to let him know that his application is on hold INDEFINITELY. This is due to the current economic situation. They will only be processing state and employer sponsored- and while Rob met with some enthusiastic potential employers while he was here, none of the companies have a policy of sponsorship. Rob is too old for a working holiday visa, so we are a bit stuck. I have met with the local Senator's aide for our area, and he bothered to listen to the whole story, and will be looking into this for us. Cross your fingers, people. 'Cuz otherwise this may take YEARS.
Brisbane is lovely this time of year, with daytime highs of 21-25 oC, and nightime temps of 10ish. However, no central heating means 10 degrees outside= 12 degrees inside. Thus, I have a new favorite invention: the electric blanket. It fits on the bed like a sheet, and you turn it on about 20 minutes before going to bed. So toasty! My icicle toes are loving it. This inovation proved itself most brilliantly while we were in Waitomo, NZ. It actually froze that night- but the bed was wonderfully warm. Now they just need an electric nose warmer.