Friday, September 2, 2016

My Life Since May

So I haven't set aside much time lately to write about what has happened since May.  Olive was sick with a stomach flu today so I took the day off to watch her. She is now napping so I decided to take a therapeutic time out and reflect on the past few months. I will summarize it as fast as I can.

In May I got out of school and began studying for my USMLE Step 1 and Comlex Level 1. I kicked Hailey and Olive out of the house and told them to go to Utah for about 5 weeks so I could focus on studying, not really, but they did go to Utah so I could study. It payed off as I was able to dedicate about 12-15 hours a day just to board studying. I took my Comlex, which is the DO board exam, first on June 13. Then I took the USMLE, the MD exam, on June 22. 
After taking the exams Hailey, Olive and I took off for Lincoln City, OR to spend some relaxing time on the Oregon coast. We stopped off in Tilamook and saw the cheese factory, then drove down the coastal highway. It was an amazing trip full of exploration of new places, a few risky hikes, and a lot of good food and shopping(see Facebook for pics). After about six weeks I got my scores back and scored really really really well on my Comlex and I did just really well on my USMLE. I was way happy with the scores and so grateful for Hailey and her family for giving me the time to be able to study for that.

I started my first rotation on July 11th. I started out in Family Medicine. I was in a privately owned family medicine clinic for six weeks in Richland, WA.  The experience was amazing.  The practice was partly a concierge medical practice, meaning that many of the patients payed a yearly "membership fee" to receive same day appointments, 24 hour access to their doctor, 30 minute appointments, free yearly labs, and 90 minute comprehensive physicals. It was an interesting business model that has formed recently because of how messed up our health care system is right now. Insurance companies are really pushing the quantity over quality bit. I think the hardest thing about medicine right now for me is understanding that I am not really in full control of what I can and cannot do with the health of my patients. Insurance governs so much of what we can do for patients. For example, if I want to give my patient the best treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, then I must first start out giving patients the cheaper medicine first that has been proven to have horrible side effects. The patient must then have documented side effects for the insurance to justify switching to the more expensive and effective RA drugs. I understand the reason behind insurance, but I still feel a good fair amount of people are getting ripped off by such a complex system. Anyways, I think a decent amount of doctors are switching to concierge medicine because it's easier on the doctor and the patients. On days where we did not have concierge medical patients we were seeing 4 patients an hour. Now that doesn't seem like much as far as a patient load, but that means each patient only gets 15 minutes from start to finish once they enter the doctors office.  The doctors office has to address the chief complaint of the patient, take vitals, review medications, review recent consults from specialists, obtain a thorough history from the patient, update any changes to the medical record, and then the doctor comes in and has about 5 or less minutes to complete a physical, answer questions(which usually bring up even more medical issues), and educate the patient on often very complicated issues.  When I was assigned certain patients to examine, I really struggled and was frustrated when I realized how short my time with patients is. I still struggle with it because I feel patients deserve more; however, I cannot  and will not be able to give them more time without losing my ability to pay for my student loans and provide a living for myself. The reimbursement from insurance just stinks.

Here are my pros and cons of family medicine: 
Pros: Flexible hours, see a wide variety of patients from babies to kids to adults, I can have some family time, own my business, ability to take on PAs and possibly earn more money, lower stress(relatively speaking), develop wide variety of skills, change the lives of many patients(because we have to see so many), front line of prevention, influential in the community
Cons: Not enough time with patients, deal with lots of chronic illness that patients often times never change(diabetes, HTN, Hyperlipidemia), lower paying(compared to other specialties), always feeling like the middle man(takes a lot of time to get paper work/results from specialists and the communication network with medical records sucks!)

So I just started my Internal Medicine in-patient hospital rotation. In a nutshell, I am with doctors, called hospitalists, who admit patients to the hospital from the ER or post surgery and take care of their medical needs and decide when they are to be discharged.  This is my second week and I love it.  Probably just as much as I love family medicine. We get to see hundreds of interesting illnesses and complicated patients. Our patient load now consists of a patient with pulmonary hypertension, a morbidly obese patient with COPD, a patient with recent fall and brain bleed, a patient with an infected cardiac pacemaker, and a patient with dementia and a possible herpes infection in the brain. So the variety of the illnesses of the patients is crazy, and I have realized how little I actually know. When my attending(boss) physician asks me, "what is your plan with this patient?" I usually just say, "I don't know." Then just look at him like a deer caught in the headlights.  Don't get me wrong on some patients I know what to do, but its hard to know how to do it, who to call, what to order, what to dose, which medication is safest, where to discharge the patient, and the list of things to do goes on and on. The main goal of my education in my 3rd year of medicine is to really discover why the patient is sick, develop physical exam skills, and to come up with basic diagnosis skills and plans. My 4th year and my residency are more focused on developing the specific care plans for my patients which tends to be the hardest part because that involves the most critical thinking and depends on experience gained through seeing hundreds to thousands of patients.  

Pros and Cons of Internal Medicine
Pros: Work in hopsital(depends), payed a salary, high demand, payed insurance, payed retirement, variety of patients, time with family, can be in a private practice outside hospital, develop a wide variety of diagnostic skills
Cons: Work in hospital(depends), long hours(usually 12 hours shifts or longer), work mainly with adults and no pediatrics, more difficult to own a practice as PAs aren't used as much in internal medicine, not as hands on as family medicine(depending)

Anyways thanks for reading about my journey.

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Brief Explanation of the Journey

So currently I am finished with my second year of medical school and I am halfway done until I graduate. I am taking this time to explain the journey of becoming a physician so that people understand and don't get confused when I explain the terminology. I will start start from year one!

Year 1of Medical School (book work)
1. Review and learn about all the basic sciences and how they relate to the human body
2. Subjects include biochemistry, genetics, pharmacology, epidemiology, anatomy, physiology

Year 2 of Medical School (more book work)
1. Learn about each human body system and everything that can go wrong and everything we do to treat the problems
2. Body systems are categorized as Cardiovascular System, Pulmonary System, Endocrine System, Musculoskeletal System, Nervous System, etc

Summer between Year 2 and Year 3 
Students take their 1st Boards. This is where I am at now.  Now to make things a little more complicated there are two different tests I can take.  The test that all Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine aka DOs are required to take is called the COMLEX Level 1.  This COMLEX Level 1 exam is 400 questions long and is a nine hour test.  Why is the COMLEX important? My future residency program will judge my competitiveness and future based on this score. Now if I want to pursue a residency that does not accept the COMLEX Level 1 exam, then I have to take another exam called the USMLE Step 1. This exam is required for any Doctor of Allopathic Medicine aka MDs to take, but is optional for any DOs, like myself, to take.  The benefits of taking both the COMLEX and USMLE will basically open my options to apply for more residencies in the United States. Especially residencies on the West Coast as many of the residencies prefer USMLE over COMLEX for political reasons.  I will be taking both these exams in June.  So far for studying I have done about 5,000 practice questions and countless hours of board review that are about to drive me crazy, but I love it. That's why I sent out those crazy movie I guess. Work, work, work, work, work!

Year 3 of Medical School (clinical work)
This year is called Rotations....not Residency. I repeat, the third year of medical school is called ROTATIONS.  This year is still guided under the supervision of my medical school PNWU. I have not received a degree yet.  What are rotations? Each medical student is pared one on one with a physician in a core speciality of medicine for about 6-8 weeks. The physician who teaches during a rotation takes each student under his/her wing and teaches students medical procedures, lets student examine patients, helps students develop clinical knowledge and basically apply book knowledge to the real world. Then the student moves on to another physician for 6-8 weeks. Then to another physician and then another. The medical student does this for the entire 3rd year. The core specialties include family medicine, pediatrics, surgery, women's health, emergency medicine, internal medicine, and psychiatry. I just want to repeat once again that third year is not residency, it's called rotations. Haha.  The most important part of 3rd year rotations is finding a field in medicine that I am passionate in and want to pursue as a physician. My top 4 now are Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and OB/GYN.  Not really sure what real medicine is like in these fields and how they are going to change in the future so I am keeping my options open.

Summer of year 3
This is where students take COMLEX Level 2 and the PE. Level 2 is a multiple choice exam and the PE is a day full of fake patients that test the knowledge and clinical skills the student has developed during his/her third year. The PE exam is not very fun as students have to take the exam in Philadelphia and the exam is pretty stressful.

Year 4 of Medical School (more clinical work)
This is the main preparation year for residency.  Each student by now has an idea what he/she want to do in medicine so now it's time to find a residency in that field. So each student sends out applications to different residencies in order to do what is called an AUDITION ROTATION.  This involves going to the residency and rotating with the doctors(faculty) and residents(students) in that residency. At the end of the audition rotation the student gets an interview with those uncharge of the residency and they treat it kind of like a job interview, but for residency. These auditions vary in length, but hopefully at the end of the audition the faculty and residents want you in their program and will be looking for you name when you submit your application for residency. Audition rotations are expensive and time consuming. Student's have to travel out of state and live out of state for weeks at a time for these rotations. I am not looking forward to these, but hope I can find one that I love.

Graduation from Medical School (get a degree)
After 4 years of medical school students graduate with a degree. Mine will be a Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine.  For Allopathic medical students, it is a Doctorate in Medicine. Both are equal as far as scope of practice, our training mainly varies depending on our residency and wether or no we incorporate osteopathic philosophy and treatments in our practice. If doctors tell you that they are not equal then they are full of prideful crap because a good chunk of my professors who gave me my critical education were MDs and not DOs. So the education and training is basically what we make it. So now that a medical student is no longer a student and has a degree they go off to residency.

Summer after Year 4
Students take the final part of COMLEX called COMLEX Level 3.

The Match
A giant complicated system exists that is design to match each student to a residency.  Each students submits his or her application to this system called The National Residency Matching Program. This program has algorithms and formulas that are designed to match students in one of the residencies they have chosen based on scores, letters of recommendation, experience, etc. Students will usually pick 3-10 residencies they want to be in and hopefully they match to one of those residencies or they are stuck in limbo for year.

Residency (our first job...kinda)
This is the time a doctor becomes a real doctor and not a student.  Residents are actually payed during residency. The salaries on average are about $40,000-$60,000 a year depending. Each resident sees his/her own patients and for the first year is under the close supervision of another physician. During this first year residents can't prescribed medications without an attending physician's approval. After the first year in most programs, residents can then legally prescribe meds and are not under as close as supervision as the first year. As far as the length of residencies, if a residency includes surgery, these residencies are 4 or more years long. Family medicine, pediatrics, and internal medicine residencies are each 3 years long. After those three years, internal medicine and pediatric residents can choose to further specialize in another fields which often requires another 3-4 years of training.  Just a side note. Not all hospitals have residencies.  Residencies are national funded training programs for doctors.  A branch of Medicare pays for a majority of the funding of residencies so establishing new residency require a lot of hoop jumping and red tape cutting if you know what I mean. Residencies also have political struggles and biases when it comes to which medical school students they allow into their programs. After residency training residents take their final specialty boards and are real doctors.

Finally a real doctor!!!! Money in the bank!!!!

Hopefully everyone can get a feel of what the journey is like. I feel it stinks and is too long and complicated. In the end it will be worth it. I just can't wait for the day when I finally am on my own and can focus on my patients and care for them the way they want.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Aren't we all demented in some way? What really is dementia?

Aren't we all demented in some way, shape, or form? Now that my first Renal System exam is done, I have found some "free time" to learn something I have been wanting to investigate for some time now.  My goal of this post is to educate myself and to hopefully educate my family members about the syndrome and disease that has now taken a grandparent on both sides of my family.
What does the word dementia mean? Dementia is defined as an acquired syndrome of deterioration in cognitive abilities that impairs performance of daily living activities. From latin the meaning of dementia means to be out of one's mind. So family and friends, when you  say that my "_______ has dementia." You are saying that your loved one has declined in their mental capabilities and cannot perform simple everyday tasks. Dementia is basically a very large umbrella term and includes so many diseases that involve the mind that I am only going to focus on one and name a few others you may have heard of. Dementia is a syndrome, not a diagnosed disease.  A syndrome is more of a description of a group of signs and symptoms. A disease is a diagnosed impairment of health or a condition of abnormal functioning. They sound similar, but are not. The most famous disease that falls under the syndrome dementia is Alzheimer's Disease. It is pronounced, "Alls-Hi-Mers" not Altimers or old-timers. Haha. Just to make that clear. Saying words right I swear is half the battle of medical school. Other diseases that fall under the dementia umbrella are Huntingtons Disease, Lewy-Body Dementia, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Cortical Base Degeneration, Vascular Dementia, and numerous others.

So all dementia type diseases  are based off of the parts of the brain they affect and the chemical signal malfunction that causes the disease. The human brain uses chemical signals, called neurotransmitters,  to communicate information along nerves.  These neurotransmitters are designed to control movement, make memories, modify behavior, control mood, and numerous other functions. Many chemicals have multiple functions. It not very cut and dry what each signal does and does not do. Neurologists have been piecing together the function of these chemicals in our brain and are making drugs that mimic these chemical signals or create higher amounts of neurotransmitters in our bodies. What you need to understand is that we really only know what these neurotransmitters do because when a person has a deficit in these neurotransmitters they do not function "normally."

If I haven't bored you guys yet just hang on. I am getting to the stuff that you can learn to teach your friends so you can humiliate them and make them look stupid in public when they act like they know what they are talking about, but they don't. Haha. Just playing, be nice! I am going to focus on Alzheimer's disease because I feel it is more important to know what that is so you don't confuse it with other terminology. I will organize the main points I feel are important into bullets.  I like to organize and see my information placed in bullets when I study as it keeps my thoughts organized. Disclaimer: What I say is not perfect nor is 100% accurate. Most things are just too complicated to explain in a blog post. So I dumbed it down and generalized a few things.  Don't go looking things up and being like, "well Glen actually...." I will seriously hunt you down and possibly slap you. JK.  After these points I will put up a few pictures that will help you visualize what I may be talking about.

  • Alzheimer's Disease
    • Where does it affect the brain?
      • Medial Temporal Lobe
        • The medial temporal lobe, the medial portion of your temporal lobe, is located close to the middle of your brain. The temporal lobes are on the side parts of your brain. So if you slap your hand on the side of your head you are hitting your temporal lobe. In order to reach the medial temporal lobe you would have to take a pencil and put it in your nose and shove it at an angle of about 45 degrees vertical to hit your medial temporal lobe. Don't do that!!!! Sorry to be graphic.
    • What does the Medial Temporal Lobe do?
      • The Medial Temporal Lobe is in charge of memory storage, formation, and recall. Specifically the medial temporal lobe contains a structure called the hippocampus. This little structure is what forms memories. It is a loop of neurons/nerves that send signals around in a little circle that repeats itself over and over again. While the hippocampus runs in circles, your brain makes decisions on what part of the repeating loop it wants send up to your the rest of your brain to remember. So when you are trying to memorize something, for example the word, "Acetocholine" your hippocampus basically runs around in circles telling your brain that this word is important to remember. The more you say and see the word "Acetocholine" the more times the word runs in this little hippocampus circle and your brains recognizes it as being more and more important and will make it a memory. I hope that makes sense.
    • How is the Medial Temporal Lobe damaged in Alzheimer's Disease?
      • So when a person begins to have Alzheimer's Disease the hippocampus is damaged and the person cannot form new memories. The damage is caused by a buildup of misfolded molecules called proteins.  These proteins are not just any type of protein you drink from a smoothie, but are proteins which are normally found in a healthy brain that have become corrupted and now harm your brain. Most of your brain is made a little healthy proteins. Proteins can be described as little microscopic chains of chemicals that are linked together. The proteins that cause Alzheimer's Disease are chains that have been broken or bent so they don't link together to form normal brain stuff. They end up forming tangles and knots, called Amyloid Plaques and Neurofibrillary Tangles, that disrupt the chemical signals from reaching their proper destination (see picture below). So in the case of the hippocampus, these proteins would break up the memory loop needed to form new memories. The person with Alzheimer's would then be unable to form memories for simple things, like recent events and instructions. Then as the disease progresses more of the storage system of the brain, which is located around medial temporal lobe, becomes damaged and the older memories are forgotten. I hope this makes sense. 
        • Interesting fact:
           Emotional memory, which is the ability for a person to recognize and express emotion, is the last type of memory to be affected by Alzheimer's Disease. So people with Alzheimer's are able to understand and express emotion until the very end stages of the disease. If you are around a person with Alzheimer's disease that individual will notice and respond to when you are getting frustrated, angry, sad, or happy even if they can barely talk, walk, or act "normal". Alzheimer's patients respond very well to stimuli that evoke emotion. For example, bringing a baby to an Alzheimer's patient can stimulate feelings of joy in that patient's brain, and you can see in the patients face that they remember that babies make them happy even though they might not even know how to say the word "baby" or even know who that baby is. Pretty cool!
    • How is it diagnosed? It's complicated!
      •  The picture above show a brain scan of 3 people. The colors reflect the action happening in the parts of the brain. Red is highly active and blue is less active.  The middle of the brain is more like relay center rather than a hard working factory like the rest of the brain so it appears blue. The middle portion is probably the most important part of the brain and just because it is blue doesn't mean it isn't working less hard. If you look at the blue part on the scan on the far left that is the two halves of of the medial temporal lobes. That is wear memory is formed and relayed to the rest of the brain. So as Alzheimer's progresses that part of the brain shuts down and becomes that black hole on the far right and that person loses all those memories and their brain fails to make sense of pretty much everything.
      • Brain scans can be used to diagnose Alzheimer's,  but the scans only take a snapshot of what is happening in the brain at that moment. So in order to really diagnose Alzheimer's with brain scans a person would need to go get brain scans often to show the disease progression.  This is extremely expensive and most insurances won't cover this because imaging the disease will not really change the outcomes of the disease. Insurance feels if we can't cure it then why do we need to keep imaging it. In real life, if doctor's suspect Alzheimer's then usually it is just a wait and see what happens type of thing. 
      • Alzheimer's can only be officially diagnosed in two ways. The first way is by basically ruling out all the other possible forms of dementia through expensive imaging and then doing strict mental tests that often upset the patient before an official diagnosis can be made.  The second and more accurate, quicker way of diagnosing Alzheimer's is through autopsy. Yes, only after you die can we say, "Yep you had Alzheimer's." That doesn't do much good, so most people opt not to have their family member get their brain removed after they die and just say what is done is done. 
    • How can we treat Alzheimer's Disease? It depends, and its complicated!
      • Here are the top two FDA approved drugs that are "proven", I use that term loosely, to help with Alzheimer's and what they do:
        • Donepezil/Aricept: well we don't know exactly how it helps Alzheimers, but I will explain what we think it does. The main chemical signal used in the hippocampus, the memory loop thingy, is called Acetocholine. The name is not important, just know that Acetocholine is what makes the hippocampus memory loop thingy go round and round.  People with Alzheimer's don't have enough Acetocholine in the hippocampus because it is getting destroyed by overactive proteins called enzymes.   Donepezil goes in and shuts off the enzymes that break down Acetocholine and therefore let the hippocampus run in circles to form memories. Wow I hope you guys can make sense of this!!! After a while though the damage from Alzheimer's gets bad enough to where it doesn't matter how much Acetocholine you have, the loop is broken so the drugs won't help.
        • Rivastigmine: is basically a manufactured form of Acetocholine that gets transported from your gut, into your blood, and then to your brain to keep your Acetocholine levels high.
I hope this was educational and interesting. Send me questions if you have any. If you guys are curious about other diseases and medical things let me know and I will try to find answers.  I have a ton of resources not many people have and I know google is great, but it often times isn't the best resources for current issues.  I hope to check in every month and write about a few topics I have been curious about. I think next I want to talk about what to do when babies are sick and how to tell if it is serious or not. I think many people would enjoy that. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Summer for the Bennion History Books

This post was meant for August and I totally forgot about it. But here it is!

This summer started off with a bang! After finishing my first year medical school and passing all my classes, Hailey, Olive, and I look forward to a summer full of adventures and bonding time. When we look back upon the school year, we realized we really missed out on a lot of family time so this summer was going to be the time when we can make that up! However, this summer was going to be something we would never forget for both good and bad reasons!
I will first make a record of all the trying times we have had the summer. Unfortunately, most of these unfortunate incidences revolve around my car. Her name is Diabla! The bad luck with Diabla started one beautiful sunny Sabbath morning here in Yakima Washington. The summer had just started as I had been out of school for only a few weeks. Our family got to church about five minutes before starting and we parked Diabla facing Terrace Heights Drive. After sacrament meeting we decided it would be best to take Olive home as she was teething, screaming, and needing to go down for a nap. As Hailey was getting Olive into the car she noticed that there was a bunch of glass on the two front seats. Then she looked at the windshield and saw that a rock about the size of a fist had been thrown at our windshield and shattered it. Long story short, we found out that a kid was throwing rocks from the other side of the road attempting to hit cars. A witness saw the kid throwing rocks and told him to stop, but the witness did not realize he had already struck our car. After finding out our car window was shattered I left church to clean the car and to call the insurance. We later replace that windshield that week for about $200. 
Just about a month ago, our poor car ran into another tragic event.  Diabla was taken advantage of, violated, and carnapped! We had planned to take a family trip with the Harlan's up to Vancouver British Columbia. We followed Hailey's younger sister and her choir up to see them perform a concert and then did sightseeing in Vancouver, BC. We stayed at a nice hotel just outside of Vancouver. Hailey and I drove our car and followed the Harlans up to Canada. Once we got to the hotel we parked her car in the parking garage and transferred Olive's car seat and essentials either to the hotel room or to the Harlan's car. During our trip to Vancouver we saw the city of Vancouver, we visited a fun suspension bridge, and visited the Vancouver, British Columbia temple. The trip was amazing, at least thus far.
 The morning we planned on leaving, we packed up our room and I took the bags downstairs. I met the Harlans in the parking garage as they were coming back from McDonald's to bring us breakfast. We looked to the side of their car, supposedly where my car should have been parked, and they asked me if I had moved my car in the past night. I told them I had not. I dropped my bags and began to think. So we believed that my car for some reason have been accidentally towed by the hotel. The hotel monitored the parking garage and required us to pay a parking fee so maybe I thought they had made a mistake and towed my car. I went to the front desk and asked if they had towed my car, and the front desk lady said, "We do not tow vehicles here. I am so sorry, I will call the police." I could not believe what I was hearing. My car had been stolen! After about a 2 to 3 hour ordeal we filed a police report and I began my insurance claim with my insurance. I actually have footage of the vehicle being stolen. Maybe I will upload that sometime. To make matters worse I called around to every rental car company in Vancouver to find out that all international vehicles are sold out so we could not make it across the border in a rental car. After I was able to gain my composure and after realizing my car hds been stolen due to poor security by the hotel, I realized that the hotel should have done something to compensate for my difficulties. Also, I forgot to mention that the Harlan's room had been infested by bedbugs, luckily ours had not, and therefore that was another reason to complain about our stay! Honestly, the hotel was amazing. The beds were comfortable and the amenities and staff were great. But that was still was not enough to make up for the bedbugs and my stolen car! I headed up to the front desk and asked to speak to a manager. I spoke with the manager and he was the most kind and understanding manager I've ever spoken to. He refunded our stay, bought the Harlan's new luggage, and even help pay for a rental car when we finally made it across the border. For a brief little while I regained my faith in humanity after having our car stolen by some selfish lowlife.
So after getting things squared away with the hotel, we squeezed all our belongings into the Harlan's car and luckily had just enough room to drive out of Canada to make it to the nearest city in Washington. We picked up a rental car and continued with the rest of our travels. We were able to travel with the Harlan's to visit the grave sites of Hailey's great grandparents and her grandma Carol. Dave was able to dedicate their graves and leave the ashes of Hailey's great grandma in the hands of the mortuary. These two events were the main goals of our trip with the Harlan's on top of our trip to Vancouver.  
After visiting with a few family members in the area, we headed back to Yakima. Two days later we received news that our car had been found. After paying the deductible we had the car towed to Yakima. Yesterday we were able to see the damages that have been done. The thief had attempted to steal the stereo leaving damage to the dashboard. He smashed up the backseat attempting to get to my aftermarket speakers. He ripped out my amp in the trunk. He stole four temple bags and our portable crib. He ripped out the ignition and shoved a screwdriver in it to start the car. Other damages include nicks and scratches on the interior of the car as he was vomiting through the vehicle. Since the car is been stolen our anger had died down, but after seeing what the thief had done to our vehicle we once again felt violated and angry. It is very hard to understand the mindset of an individual who would take advantage of our little family, especially when we do not have the money lying around to have events like this occur. 
To top the summer off with an even better ending I also lost two of my grandparents, Grandpa Bennion and Grandma Allen. Because of our planned trip to Canada and the obligations we had made with the Harlan family, I decided not to go to Grandpa Bennion's funeral. I was sad I could not make it, but was able to see pictures and listen to the audio of the funeral. I was grateful for the taking the time this past Christmas to visit him with Olive and Hailey. I love my Grandpa Bennion. He was always so happy and always had a funny joke to share. He was proud of my accomplishments and made me feel important and loved. I will miss him. Both Grandpa B and Grandma A had been battling a long struggle of Alzheimer's Disease.  I was fortunate to be able to know them before the disease took over the majority of their faculties, especially in the case of Grandma Allen.  I know that they are in a better place and will miss them dearly. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Finding Fun in the Journey

Four months have passed since my last post.  The medical school year isn't even over yet, but I have so much I have already wanted to reflect on.  I will hit a few points tonight and when school is out in a month I will get back to another blog post.
A lot has happened in the past five months. Olive is getting so big it's not even funny. She understands so much about what we are saying it gets me worried.  Haha. Olive is even getting sassy.  The other day she tried to get my attention by trying to turn the TV until it tipped off the entertainment center. I started by saying, "Olive please don't do that!" Then it escalated to, "OLIVE STOP! NO, NO!" Then she kept doing it so I slapped her hand and put her on the stairs and said, "Olive we don't want to break the TV so please don't turn the TV like that." Then she slapped her own hand and repeated some gibberish in the same tone that I was talking to her. Now if that isn't 16 month old sarcasm and sass then I don't know what that is. I couldn't help but start laughing because I realized how stupid negative reinforcement is for little kids and because Olive is too cute to get mad at. Even with her sassiness she is so fun.  We also found out recently that she is allergic to citrus, which is sad, and kiwis.  Anything more sour than a clementine gives Olive a rash, and Kiwi juice makes her mouth itch, gives her diarrhea, and creates hives on her hands.  My pediatric professor who is kind of Olive's pediatrician, her residents see her, wants us to go to an allergy specialist, so we will see what happens with that. So far Olive is not allergic to anything like peanut butter, nuts, or eggs which cause more serious allergic reactions, so hopefully she grows out of her citrus and kiwi allergy.
Hailey just started to go back to school at our prestigious Yakima Valley Community College. She is taking Biology and Chemistry.  She has aced her first set of exams and is the student in the class everyone love/hates because she knows way too much and keeps the class average high.  Haha. I am proud of her pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse. She will be applying to the Washington State University nursing program come fall.  We are praying she gets in and at the same time I land my 3rd and 4th year rotation site here in Yakima.
Anyways, I am so happy to be in Yakima with my amazing wife Hailey.  She has supported me so much in this journey.  Being married to me would be tough.  Hailey is so perfect for me.  I have realized that more and more. The only reason I hate medical school is because it keeps me away from her and Olive.  I have enjoyed the challenge of trying to balance medical school and family.  My goal this year is to look back on this journey and tell people medical school was challenging and fun.  I want Hailey to be one of the few wives who say to future medical students, "Medical school was hard, but we had so much fun and in the end we became so much stronger." Before I started medical school, Hailey and I met a few wives that complained and complained about the horrors of medical school like being alone, being poor, being stressed, and having no time for fun.  Well so far Hailey and I can whole-heartedly say that we have made our journey the best times of our lives.

Olive hates masks and costumes! This was our PNWU SAA easter egg hunt and brunch.

Murder Mystery Night
I was the spoiled nephew of the rich, murdered uncle and  Hailey was a rich cousin!

Run 4 Your Life 5K. We ran it in 29 minutes with a stroller, without walking, and without training for it. I was proud of us!

Fill Your Own Slurpee Cup at 7-Eleven. We chose our ice bucket! We were both sick that night after drinking only half of it.

Med School Prom Roaring 20s Theme

Monday, December 8, 2014

Through the Good and Bad! What really matters?!

With  little time to spare before finals I decided to write a little blog post about some fun and not so fun current events.  I will start off with the negative and end with the positive.  So last week Hailey and I decided to babysit my second cousins kids, the Gourleys.  This was not the negative experience. I dropped Hailey off on Wednesday night in Sunnyside, halfway between Yakima and Kennewick(Tri-cities), and was planning to meet Hailey in Kennewick Friday evening after my exams.  So I studied hard Wednesday night and woke up to a crazy ice storm.  I really wasn't paying attention to the road conditions nor the temperature outside as I drove to take my exams.  I was more worried about the nerves, blood vessels, and anatomy of the gut than I was about getting in a wreck on the slick roads.  So all was merry and bright up until the turn from University Parkway into the school parking lot.   On the entrance to the parking-lot there is a double wide sidewalk that makes up the entrance. Upon hitting that sidewalk my car decided to fling itself sideways and into the curb.  Not a good thing to happen 15 minutes before exams.  Moments later another car comes inches away from sliding into my car.  My car hit hard enough to bend my tire to the point it wouldn't turn. So I turned off my car, threw on the warning lights, and ran inside to tell security to put cones around it until I could deal with the issue post exams.  2.5 hours later I called my insurance and got things squared away.  We are still waiting on an estimate. Secretly we hope for a new car. Haha. Unfortunately that day I also broke my favorite watch, which I still need to see if I can exchange at Target. So it was not a good day/weekend for future Dr. Bennion.
After getting a rental car, I met up with Hailey in Kennewick and we had a blast babysitting the Gourley kids.  Nevertheless my luck still was looking bad. Sunday night we drove home and I felt weak and clammy.  Upon arriving at home I had to head for the toilet as I had probably the worst diarrhea I have ever had in my life, no joke. It was ironic having such bad bowel issues as we had recently studied the gut as well.  Oh man my enteric nerve system was tearing me a new one! Look that up! I have been to Peru, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina and never got diarrhea like this. I won't go into to many details, but let's just say it was bad enough to where Hailey laughed and yelled from the bedroom, "Are you for real? You are so sick." So after what felt like losing 80% of my bodily fluids, I climbed into bed at 8:00 p.m. and planned to wake up and cram for my Histology Image exam the next day, which was today. I feel lots better today, too bad Hailey is now sick!
After all this bad happened to me I realize a lot of good has also happened to me.  I passed all of my exams, kinda.  I mean kinda because I got a 67% on my biochem exam, but will most likely be curved to a C-C+ because so many people struggle with that class.  I chose to let that class slide so I could catch up on my Anatomy and that payed off as I aced that exam, which is one of the most difficult classes to do that in first year. So all in all I am passing all my classes with flying colors going into finals.  I have calculated my grades to where I only need to get 50-60% on my final exams to pass my classes.  I hope to do better of course, but that takes off a lot pressure as I am not relying on the finals to pass the classes. The histology image exam went very well today and tomorrow I have a clinical skills exam where I pretend to give a physical to a patient.  Should be fun playing doctor instead of looking at books all day.
Even after all this bad stuff happened I have a lot to be grateful for.  For Thanksgiving Hailey, Olive, and I flew to Utah due to a gracious donation from my Great Aunt Phoebe, and celebrated my Grandma and Grandpa Allen's 65th wedding anniversary.  I was able to catch up with family that I haven't seen in almost 10 years.  It was an amazing experience.  I am so grateful for family.  A lot can happen in a lifetime,  I cannot believe the amazing legacy my grandparents have created.  I cannot even imagine the joy my grandparents felt during that occasion.  I love my family and all the weirdness that comes with it.  That's what carries me through even my bad times.  I realize that I have a lot of "STUFF" that I care about like my computer, my car, my phone, my education, my goals, and the list goes on and on. What truly matters is family and people!  I love my family and I still have a family even when I wreck my car.  Hailey wasn't too happy about that, but she reminded me it could have been worse, Hailey or Olive could have been hurt or I could have been hurt. Point is, life sucks, shiz happens, and money comes and goes, what is left is family and those you love.  God is good, He tries us, and He loves us.  I can't believe I am where I am at in my life and I can't believe I have such a hot wife and cute baby.  I am living my dream and bad things happen, but I take a deep breath and say, "LIFE IS GOOD!"
 Our first family flight! Olive was a wiggle worm, but didn't even cry!
 Grandma Allen is about 85 in this pictured and Olive is 11 months! Olive and her first meeting!
Too bad neither of them will remember this day until the eternities! Haha. Sorry not that funny! Haha
 Part of family pictures! Mom and Olive look like Russians with Yak fur! Ow ow!
 Olive can now say she once met her Great Grandma and Grandpa Allen! What an amazing legacy!
Poor car! My bad!!!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What a $50,000/Year Eduction Looks and Feels Like!

I felt it was time I took some pictures of some of my weekly locations and class settings. I also wanted to give a quick summary of my feelings of my education so far in medical school. My educational experience here at PNWU has been amazing.  My class size is around 135 students.  Students are randomly assigned to smaller groups for clinics, labs, and other educational opportunities.  I receive adequate attention and time from professors to get my questions answered and obtain help I need for tougher classes. For example, Gross Anatomy Lab aka the cadaver lab places students in groups of four to dissect and study a cadaver.  I rotate each test block, every 4-5 weeks, between different bodies, lab sections (each have there own assigned professor), and groups of students.  This allows me to meet other students, learn from different professors, and see different cadaver body types. My other labs follow similar rotation patterns.  All in all, my teacher to student ratio is fair and manageable.  When I need help, which is not too often, a professor or tutor is just an email or hand's raise away from helping me.
As for the finances of medical school, do I feel my education is worth $50,000? I would prefer to reword the question and say should my education cost $50,000? Heck no!  All educational costs these days are extremely inflated and so many mismanaged institutions, including state and federal governement, are to blame it's not even funny. Nevertheless, I feel a medical school education is worth every penny because I want to be a physician.  I would pay more than $100,000 a year if it meant in the end I would be a successful and knowledgeable physician.  I have always wanted to be a doctor. Actually, I originally wanted to be a vet because I loved discovery channel, biology, and animals; then I learned that animals aren't as interesting as people. So technically I have wanted to be a physician since I was about twelve years old. The point is I have found what I am passionate about and so nothing will stand in my way of me doing what I want to do. Hailey, Olive, and I are poor, stressed, and happy.  We have God, food, shelter, and friends.  We are in pursuit of my/our dream and a life free of debt and full of happiness.  The journey will take while and we try to enjoy it through its ups and downs.  In the end the hard work will pay off.
Here are so pictures of my class settings I thought would be interesting. I hope it's legal for me to show them. If not I will remove them. Haha.

My Lecture Hall. Mon-Fri I am here 8am-5pm for the most part. Sometimes we have lab instead of lecture or have afternoon study time, but mostly we are in lecture. 

 My home away from home (study cubicle in study hall) 
BTW I am a hug flashcard guy and every four week go through about 300 flashcards

 Osteopathic Principles and Practice Lab
This is where I learn Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, it's like chiropractic with different phylosophy and techniques

 This is Histology Lab.  Back in the day this was studied under microscopes. Now we use digital slides to study human cells and tissues.  My professor is drawing on the projection to explain what we are looking at.  Today we studied the female reproductive system. On my laptop is a slide of a fallopian tube cross section.