Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Tutelage of Rupert – 2

My how the time flies. Has it truly been three months since we last visited my engaging undertaking? Well, in all honesty, I didn’t bring Rupert out here until this last Sunday – simply because I had a lot of moving and preparing for ‘his coming’ and really didn’t feel like taking care of anything else, namely a living creature. But I felt a little guilty pawning him off on my folks, so I have gathered him up again and here we are – back at square one.

I have 2 bathrooms, one of them is now Rupert’s – only the brave will use it for human needs. I need to get a camera, because this journey really needs visuals..but I guess text will have to do for now. The bathroom is really long, with a tub and toilet at the far end. The litterbox is currently residing in the bath tub – in a vain attempt to capture the messy bastard's litter trail as he exits. Seriously, do most cats kick the litter all over the place or is it just this little freak?

I was a little leary to really get going as the cat took a few days to get acclimated to my place. Ya know, freaked out and cowering behind furniture thinking he was going to die. Fortunately my downstairs neighbor has two cats, one of them has become Rupert’s new BFF. His name is Pootie (hahahah). Now that he is comfortable, I will try inching the litterbox closer to the toilet.

I hope by next week to have the box out of the tub and directly adjacent to the toilet – keep your fingers crossed loyal readers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Vocabulary 100 - ed. 3

ambivalent – Continually wavering between opposites or alternate courses of action.
-In case ambivalent is too difficult of a word to understand, feel free to insert ‘flip-flopper’ as it is commonly used by our country’s leaders.

ephemeral – Lasting a very short time.
-My positive attitude towards the White Sox 2007 campaign was quite ephemeral.

thermocline – The region in a body of water that divides the warmer, oxygen-rich surface layer from the colder, oxygen-poor deep water.
-Never, ever, swim below the thermocline. (Not very practical..but it just sounds cool.. you could use it to insult someone too….damn frank, you are such a thermocline – he won’t know what hit him.

polyglot – One who can speak or write several languages.
-I wish I was a polyglot. Wait! Donde esta la carnacia? No se senor. That’s all I got.

polyphony – Music consisting of two or more independent but harmonious melodies.
-You don’t actually need an example of polyphony do you? Go pick up a Bach CD and prepare to get blown away. FUGUE!

primiparous – Bearing a first offspring
-The purpose of the study was to compare the average duration of labor for primiparous women with that of multiparous women. (2 for the price of 1).

primordial – Existing in or from the very beginning.
-Larry King is a primordial talk show host.

homonym – One of two or more words pronounced and/or spelled alike but different in meaning.
-I like swimming in the pool. I like playing pool. Get it? Pool is such a homonym.

ad hominem – Marked by an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the arguments made or the issues raised.
-Watch the democratic or republican candidate debates, you will get a enormous serving of ad hominem abuse.

ex post facto – Done, made, or formulated after the fact.
-Most of Carl’s so-called reasons are merely ex post facto excuses for impulsive behavior. What a stroke.

And of course, your reward!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Careful, or You Might Just Blow A Gasket

So I was at lunch today with a fellow summer research student. Anyone living in a city will understand that 12:30 is a hellishly busy time at restaurants. Now this place is quite efficient at grinding people through and getting them their orders. So my friend and I sit down and our food is brought out. As we engage in normal chattering, I notice a rather large – check that; extremely large woman stomping her way back towards the registers.

She approaches the register and immediately begins yelling – I mean wild incoherent blah yelling. The place is really loud, and we weren’t THAT close, so I couldn’t make anything out, but you didn’t need audio to get the picture. This woman was given the wrong dish – heaven forbid. The part that annoys me is that she doesn’t even try to be polite about, she immediately flips shit. I know how hard it must be to not get your precious order just perfect, but statistically speaking, it is bound to happen several times a day in a place THAT busy. Speaking of food, I don’t think this lady needed to be stuffing her face with anymore Pompei for awhile, hell, I thought she was going to have a heart attack – I could envision her choked arteries screaming for mercy.

No more they say, no more.

So the teller says something, backs off – and the crazy woman moves on to her next victim. I felt so bad for this guy. Not only is he trying to get tons of orders put in the right spot for pickups, but he has to deal with an insane behemoth breathing down his neck. It truly is not hard at all to politely say, ‘excuse me, this is not right, could I please get it redone.’

It reminded me of my days working in retail, the time I realized that adults can be just as infantile and absurd as a five-year old. A truly unsettling thought - and unfortunately quite true.

So my friend and I began talking about the perils of running our own practices. I would not be surprised to see someone going nuts after seeing a bill they weren’t prepared for. Now being frustrated is one thing, but there is never a cause for the explosion I witnessed today. I could care less if I lose a few patients that are completely insane. If they are legitimately upset or were mislead, then I will work with them, but if they attempt to belittle myself or the staff, then I will kindly show them the door.

I know you can’t discriminate patients based on health issues, but I don’t know what the rule is about assholes. I might have to look something up.

I will leave you with an immortal quote:
"We're living....IN A SOCIETY!!"
-George Costanza

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The D-0 Experience I

I realize that updates are lacking as of late, but I just haven’t had time/drive to write much. The creative spark is lacking currently and the enormous transitional period I am going through has also dampened anything truly inspiring to share with others. With that being said, I am going to revert to the original purpose of this blog – not simply for entertainment, but to educate others and provide insight to future students as they cross similar barriers. With that in mind, I am starting a new intrablog series (yes another one) dedicated to Dentistry – namely the schooling thereof.

We are no longer called freshmen. Incoming students are referred to as the D-1 entering class. I like it because it sounds like something out of a terminator movie. Ultimately though, it is just a fancy way of saying freshmen, because it is still the ‘first’ year and we are the newbies in town.

So why does my title say D-0!? Well, because some people refer to the time between acceptance and matriculation as D-0. There truly is a lot more to being a D-0 than one might assume. All the busy work, stress, gopher running, and old-fashioned anxiety rolled into one are a good start. I have already mentioned several of the odd-ball tasks like filing mounds of paperwork, verifying this and that, taking out a sea of loans, and collecting teeth to boot. I have recently been asked to provide final transcripts, and pay for a background check to be sent to the school. Separately, all of the above mentioned tasks are really not bad at all, but they snowball into one hell of monster when you add them up. Add moving and working into the mix, and summer vacation really doesn’t even exist. Might I add the last summer vacation ever.

The D-0 portion of dental school will probably be the biggest variable amongst incoming students. Some take vacations, others work, some have changes of heart, and others fail to matriculate by not completing anything and everything required by their respective school. My experience has been fairly straightforward thus far.

In all actuality, I am probably doing myself a huge favor by participating in this summer research program. I have my residence located and partially set-up, although there is still PLENTY to do. I am beginning to familiarize myself with the surrounding neighborhood/city as well as the dental school itself.

I have met several of my classmates although we really haven’t had much of a chance to get to know one another. I am hoping this changes before orientation so that I’ll already have a few friends to ease the gigantic clusterfuck that is “school orientation.” Ya know, when everyone is supposed to somehow get to know an entire class in one week.

So what am I doing at the school? Not much yet, the first week of this eight week program was an orientation in of itself. I have gotten to know everyone who works in my mentor’s lab and what all of their responsibilities are. I feel bad for the primary PhD responsible for giving me something to do because she didn’t even know I was coming until I walked in the door. She is also responsible for ANOTHER student in a different lab.

However, they have lined up a project for me to start, although I still have a lot of basic training to go through. Ever listen to a 2-hour online lecture about HIPAA? I don’t recommend it; your eyes just may start to bleed from utter demoralizing boredom. Ever take a pair of 2 hour courses involving the basics of lab safety? Oh the joys of research orientation.

The first week really involved me reading a lot. I will be doing work with wound healing so while at the lab, I either observed/practiced some technical ability, or read a journal article contextually beefing up my wound healing repertoire. I began extracting RNA on Friday, but only got about half finished. The problem is that I need supervision and all the lab folks have other responsibilities as well. I am hoping to solo RNA extraction by Tuesday – but we will see.

The entire process really is no different than cooking – you loosely follow some protocol, pay attention to things in bold, definitely take advice from the veterans, and go nuts. It isn’t all shits and giggles though. For example, there is one point when we spin the sample down into three layers. The top layer is where the RNA is contained, but YOU CANNOT PIPETTE ANY OF THE SECOND LAYER OR YOUR SAMPLE IS RUINED. So now I have to eyeball everything perfectly, and slowly pull this top layer out because you need to get pretty much all of it. I fucked up one of the two samples at this point – luckily these were going to get tossed anyways.

I have a feeling this type of technical research is just like any other monotonous job, you are clunky at first, than eventually perform like a well-oiled machine.

Why am I extracting RNA? Briefly, the lab has samples of human tissue from past experiments. Some of it is wounded, some of it is healthy. My mentor also does a lot of work on how stress effects wound healing. Some of his results are actually quite remarkable. Let’s just say stress has an effect – and it isn’t good. But I digress; my job is to find out what is going on with the Mast cells or eosinophils. They produce all sorts of cytokines/chemokines that assist/call in other cells to assist the haywire process known as wound healing. I could go grab my notes and get really technical…but I choose not to. Email me if you are DYING to find out and I can link you some papers.

We want to know what is being produced at what stages during wound healing as well as in healthy tissue. Another side project is to figure out why oral mucosa heals SO much better than other tissue – some people think it has something to do with mast cells – so I am going to help in those discoveries by first extracting some RNA from the various samples.

I still need to learn the ins and outs about real time PCR to quantify exactly what the RNA is expressing, but that will probably happen later this week. I find research interesting, but I am 95% confident that I will not be enrolling in the DDS/PhD program come next year – I just don’t want to limit myself to academia and research before I even experience clinical dentistry.

My advice to fellow D-0’s or any that are to follow – do what you want to do. I chose to participate in this program so that I could move into the city early and get comfortable before school started. I also am not a big traveler, so backpacking through Europe just ain’t my thing. I know people that are doing all sorts of activities, but I am completely content working and exploring my new home. To each his own.

If your school does offer a summer research program, I highly recommend looking into it – the experience thus far has been positive. I of course still hold the right to retract this statement at anytime over the next seven weeks.

Oh and to my readers not interested in dentistry – if you see ‘D-anything’ in the title followed by a roman numeral, I am gearing the post towards fellow dentites – so read at your own discretion. Haha, I bet you wish I put this paragraph at the beginning.