Wednesday, December 15, 2010

HIV Cure?

Man cured from HIV!

I went to a review session for genetics today. And a brilliant, well everyone older than me here seems brilliant, but a very smart professor announced out of nowhere that there had been a cure for AIDS. So, at first I didn't question it.

As far as he seems concerned it was a done deal. I though 'How exciting'.

On the drive home I started thinking about the one case report in more detail. The report in the New England Journal of Medicine reports a man, who was positive for HIV, was cured (so far so good...) in the process of being treated for Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a cancer of the blood. They basically replaced all his bone marrow, the source of the cancer, with a donor's marrow. But, this donor had special bone marrow. In order for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) to infect people, it must enter the cell through a specific "door". This donor, didn't have "the door". So, overtime the virus lost access to the cells of this man and he is now off of the antiretroviral drugs he'd been on previously.

It's a complicated, expensive, and risky procedure. There's no way that this exact treatment could completely eliminate HIV, like the polio vaccine did polio. Or, really even make a dent. But, I've come to appreciate the fact that all research is a start. A small step in the right direction. If anything, it's a great success story for the doctor and his colleagues. You know, one you'd bring up over Christmas dinner this year.

Of course, there have been many other leads in the quest for finding a cure. This is just the first time someone has actually been cured. So, it's still kind of exciting.

It's (the article) free online if you're interested in reading more about the case...Click here.

"Our findings underscore the central role of the CCR5 receptor during HIV-1 infection and disease progression and should encourage further investigation of the development of CCR5-targeted treatment options."
(Long-Term Control of HIV by CCR5 Delta32/Delta32 Stem-Cell Transplantation. Gero Hütter, M.D., Daniel Nowak, M.D., Maximilian Mossner, B.S., Susanne Ganepola, M.D., Arne Müßig, M.D., Kristina Allers, Ph.D., Thomas Schneider, M.D., Ph.D., Jörg Hofmann, Ph.D., Claudia Kücherer, M.D., Olga Blau, M.D., Igor W. Blau, M.D., Wolf K. Hofmann, M.D., and Eckhard Thiel, M.D. N Engl J Med 2009; 360:692-698)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hebrews 12:1

"Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." 

After my physiology exam this morning, God blessed me in a big way. On my way out, I ran into Amanda and Bre, two awesome Christian women and amazing friends at school who happened to be on their way to Sultan's Middle Eastern Restaurant. I was invited to join and gladly accepted.

It's so easy to get caught up in life. And, over lunch, I was reminded of the importance of finding strength in the love of Christ by surrounding myself with people who radiate Christ's love. It's essential.

I came home and was cleaning a little in my  room when I came across a book I swiped from home last time I was there. Yeah, sorry Mom and Dad, I should have asked, but it didn't look occupied so I helped myself.

It's called "Running With The Giants" by John C. Maxwell. I opened it and read the first page. It had Hebrews 12:1 written on it. You know what they say...timing is everything. I kept reading. It was reinforcement straight from God that I need to cherish, for the rest of my life, relationships that glorify God; relationships that keep me in His love and challenge me to remain there.

As the book begins it reads, "It's often said that life is a marathon. But I think it's much more challenging than that....The race of life is different because you never know where the finish line is until you're actually crossing it."

I don't know about you, but a marathon seems a tad daunting (massively huge understatement!). If life is even more so, a little encouragement could go a long maybe into eternity? That's what Hebrews 11 does. I encourage you to read Hebrews 11. It "describes Old Testament giants: Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and Rahab, who ran life's course with great purpose and intensity." What a great source of encouragement...right at our literate, multiple-Bible-owning, and often idle fingertips.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday: Motivation for Monday.

Sundays are the best.

I just started going to this amazing church called the University Reformed Church in East Lansing. I've heard great things about it and three weeks ago walked into a building that was full of the spirit of God. I have been so blessed by the people there, and I hardly know them. And the preaching is challenging, captivating, and straight from the Bible. I leave feeling full of the Word of God and motivated to live a life that is paradoxical to many, but purposeful and glorifying to God.

Here is what I learned today. The sermon was titled, "What Do You Want From Jesus?" And the scripture was Mark 10:35-52. It contrasts James and John's request to Jesus, with the request of the blind, beggar, Bartimaeus. Here are some thoughts I wrote down in response to the sermon.

- When you don't hear from Jesus, do you yell louder? Like Bartimaeus does here after being rebuked by the people?
- Jesus loves people with "gutsy", or bold, faith. Bartimaeus is just one example, many more examples are evident all over the Bible.
- When Jesus called Bartimaeus, he jumped to his feet. Be excited and find the joy in being called by Jesus.
- Bartimaeus followed God after he was healed. To follow is an expression of faith. Contrast this with the rich man who won't leave his possessions to follow Jesus.

[Note: Reading Mark 10:35-52 really helps put these comments into perspective...try to compare and contrast the situation with James and John to that of Bartimaeus yourself. Then ask yourself, how do I approach Jesus? It's interesting. And convicting. Or just go here and listen to today's should be posted soon]

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Genetics. The Future of Medicine.

Ok. This is really cool to me, so, I'm going to share it with you. Humor me. Enjoy it with me. I don't know. You can stop reading right now if you want. This is a brief introduction to how diseases are going to be treated in the future. Here I focus on the successes of a clinical trial aimed at developing a safe mechanism for gene therapy to reverse a form of genetic blindness.

For people not devoting large amounts of their life to studying science:

Consider this situation: A person is born with a defective gene important in the function of the eye, specifically the part that senses light. Overtime, they develop blindness because that gene simply is not working.

For the science lovers:

There is a genetic form of blindness called Leber's congenital amaurosis. It's a case of severe retinal dystrophy caused by missense mutation in the RPE65 gene. This leads to abnormalities in the photoreceptors and vision slowly deteriorates over time. (if you want more info, at the bottom of this post there's a link to the journal article that describes the therapy for the condition in detail)


Insert the correct gene into the eye so it will start working again. Easier said that done...

This is a very cutting edge area of medical research. Literally, what researchers are doing is inserting specific pieces of DNA (or genes) into people using viruses.

There was a study done in 2008 that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine where they successfully accomplished the insertion of the correct gene for this form of blindness and actually improved the vision of their patients. 

Click on this link and then find the video on the right hand side of the webpage. The first part is the injection into the retina, the back part of the eye (don't worry, it's not bloody and gross, to most, you won't really see much of anything). But, the really cool part is at the end. They put the man before the therapy into a maze. Then, they put him in the maze 6 months after therapy. It's video 4. It'll take about 2 minutes of your time.

The cool part is that studies like this could lead to cures for so many diseases. So many diseases are caused by problems in our genes. Check it out:
-Multiple sclerosis (MS)
-Myasthenia gravis
-Neurological complications of diabetes
-Alzheimer’s disease
-Parkinson’s disease
-Retinitis pigmentosa (see the case above!)
-Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS)
-Rheumatoid arthritis
-Cystic fibrosis
-Heart disease
-Cancer of all shapes and sizes

The list goes on. But, of course, tied to such exciting research are enormous budgets, ethics commitees, dangerous side effects, and scientific challeges. However, that doesn't make it any less incredible.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Crazy Morning.
On my way to school, this is what happened.

-I picked up Amanda (her car wouldn't start)
-We watched a green mini van drive into oncoming traffic at least 3 times, drive at length on the shoulder, jump a curve, and demolish a mailbox...with no apparent intent to slow down.
-We call the police
-We park, and the van happens to park in the same parking lot
-Girl gets out. She is our classmate (awkward).
-We track her down and get the 411.

Amy: Excuse me, um, excuse me...we were just following you into school and were wondering if you're alright?
Student: Yeah, I'm fine. (confused look, as if she has no idea what I'm talking about.)
Amy: Well, we were just concerned, we saw you swerving and then hit that mailbox, are you sure you're ok?
Student: Oh, yeah. (Now, I remember what just happened...) My car is kinda messed up. (No way!) I don't speak car, though, so I'm not really sure what it is.
Amy: Oh, well, it must be pretty bad...
Student: Yeah, something about the steering. (Like how it doesn't?!)
Amy: Well, I just want to let you know that we did call the police. We were worried someone was going to get hurt. So, in case you get a call, you won't be surprised. (Oh, by the way, did you know hitting a mailbox is a federal offence!) If you need a ride home I can give you one today, or if you get your car fixed and need a ride I could give you one. Where do you live?
Student: .... (clearly upset with me) I have other friends who can drive me. (then she proceeds to speed walk away from us...)
-We call the police back to give them the 411
-We laugh, we can't believe what we just encountered
-We take our exam
-Crazy driver (or crazy car...) girl sits right behind me
-I experience the best way to replace pre-test jitters with I'm scared someone's gonna die jitters

Wow. Crazy. When I went back to my car, hers was gone. May God have mercy on whoever crosses her path. And may we all remember to practice defensive driving.
Beware! Her van looked something like this.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sojourn: A Temporary Stay

Pretty rad album cover, if I do say so myself.

I studied, for a very long time, in the Grand Traverse Pie Co. this afternoon/evening and heard the same Christmas songs over and over again. The fact that they were sung by different people, the fact that it was snowing outside, the fact that it is Christmastime, and the fact that I was indulging in a wonderfully delicious piece of warm raspberry-apple pie made it okay. And, I dare say, quite enjoyable.

But, in case you want to try something new, say hello to Sojourn music. Particularly their Advent Songs album. I've also done you a favor and listened to their other stuff and it is great all year round. At least I'm anticipating it will be.

CLICK HERE! for your favorite Christmas songs (I listen on grooveshark), like Joy to the World and O Come All Ye Faithful, with a refreshing new twist! Plus, as an added bonus there are some that I bet you have never heard before. Who knew? And I'll even throw in a virtual snow globe if you listen in the next 10 minutes! Hurry and listen now before this exciting season of Advent comes to a close.

(sorry about that last part, it's been a long day full of biostatistics, i needed it...)

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Let me tell you about my weekend. It was awesome.
To sum it up, Time Well Wasted :)

Friday: Christmas cookie party and Ryan's awesome hockey game with Erin. Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa Luke and Nana were at the game too and came over to visit afterwards.

-Saturday: Worked at the Friendship Clinic all morning, learned A TON of new things and once again saw the Lord soften my heart and convict me for taking way too many of the blessings in my life for granted. I then made a trip down to Hillsdale for a short but successful visit. I spent some good quality time studying and mostly not studying with Ben and we went to dinner with Kay, where we ran into the Jones Family (whom I have come to love, they are fabulous), picked up my glasses I'd left over homecoming weekend, and picked up a dog cage for Gabbie (Katie's new puppy). I also am very proud of the Hillsdale cross country women who ran at National's this week. They finished 14th overall and Ms. Erin Brunko capped her senior season off with an All-American 21st place finish.

Sunday: Slept in. Took a basic pistol course and worked my shooting skills. Shot this gun...

Qualified in shooting to get my CPL (Certified Pistol License). Began and finished studying for my first final exam which I then completed online. Went to the evening church service. Went to Cosi for dinner with Katie. And, I am about to go to bed and it's only 10:30. 

In regards to the coming week, I shouldn't be content. But, I am very content. And for that, I am extremely grateful.

My room is a disaster.

I have a total of 4 exams this week.

My e-mail inbox is overflowing.

My to do list I made last Monday hasn't been touched.

So, why am I content with leaving so many things undone before beginning the week? I don't know, maybe it was this past weekend, maybe I am feeling overly ambious and anticipating a productive week. But, life has proven that everything always works out. Not as planned, usually, but that's still no reason to worry.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Another Half.

That means...another half marathon. I just signed up to run another one. It's the Bayshore Half Marathon over Memorial Day weekend in Traverse City. It's run all along the Lake MI shoreline = B-E-A-UTIFUL! A friend from school, Bre, told me to do it. So, I did. Registration is already full! And, it opened on the 1st, 2 days ago. I'm thinkin' it's gonna be a good one. Bonus: maybe the Christiansen's will be in town?! And, it can't be far from Grandpa Dave and Grandma Kate either...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What Goes In, Must Come Out

The meaning of this title is two-fold.

1. I am realizing more than ever that unless the information I put in my brain studying can come out in a thoughtful way, say during an exam for instance, it is totally useless. I have been struggling with spending more time than ever studying, only to get a mediocre grade. Why? I'll take most of the credit, I could be spending my time studying and not writing this blog for example, but all in all, I need to become more effective. But, more importantly, I think I need to make this information mean something to me. So, my goal before I leave for winter break is to find a way to do that. I love clinical vignettes...maybe that's a direction I could explore? Ultimately, what goes in, must, must, must come out.

This principle applies in all areas of life too (thank you to my liberal arts education for making my mind think this way...and to my osteopathic education as well). It applies to our faith, when we experience the love of Christ in our lives, it must come out of us. It applies in a family, our parents spend years caring for and shaping our lives and it must then come out of us as they get older (Happy 50th Birthday Mom!). Anyways, that's my personal goal right now, to make things that go in, come back out.


2. In honoring one of my favorite profs here at school, Dr. Harvey Sparks, I have to share a poem that he gave to us in the cardiac unit of physiology. That's him pictured above...I haven't actually been to lecture to see him in real life, so both you and I have the same mental picture age of him, and lets be honest, that is a great mental picture!). I apologize if it bores you, but it's incredibly witty in an incredibly nerdy sort of way.

What Goes In, Must Come Out
The Great Dr. Starling, in his Law of the Heart*
Said the output was greater if, right at the start,
The cardiac fibers were stretched a bit more,
So their force of contraction would be more than before.
Thus the larger the volume in diastole
The greater the output was likely to be.

If the right heart keeps pumping more blood than the left,
The lung circuit's congested; the systemic -- bereft.
Since no one is healthy with pulmo-congestion,
The law of Doc. Starling's a splendid suggestion.
The balance of outputs is made automatic
And blood-volume partition becomes steady-static.

But when the heart reaches a much larger size,
This leads to Heart Failure, and often, Demise.
The relevant law is not Starling's, alas,
But the classical law of Lecompte de Laplace**.
Your patient is dying in Decompensation,
So reduce his Blood Volume, or call his Relation. 
-A.C. Burton 

If you want in on the wit, I've included the inside info below. If not, I won't be offended : )

*For those of you who care, I'll pass on some knowledge: Dr. Starling's Law states that the greater the volume of blood entering the heart during diastole, the greater the volume of blood that leaves the heart during systole. And, this shift occurs automatically, isn't our heart smart?! If it wasn't equal and more blood was entering the heart than leaving, blood would accumulate in the lungs...bad news bears. In just one hour, 3L of blood would accumulate in your lungs. Note: you only have 5-6L of blood to begin with all throughout your body. 

**Humor me...: The law of Lecompte de Laplace states that Tension on the wall of the heart = Pressure in the ventricle x Radius of the ventricle; T=PR. So, consider a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (see diagram below). The ventricle of the heart becomes distended (swells or expands) and thus the radius increases. As the radius increases, the heart muscle must create more tension to maintain the pressure in the ventricle to continue pumping the same amount of blood out of the heart as is entering it. Ultimately then, it will take more pressure generated by the heart muscle to continue ejecting the same about of blood that it ejected before becoming distended. Therefore, your heart must work harder to get the same result it did before. This overworking of the heart leads to heart failure, because the heart can no longer pump sufficient amounts of blood to the body, and death if not treated. 

Now, for real!!
On the right is an example of an enlarged heart.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Good day.

Today was just an ordinary day.

But, it was an ordinarily good day.

1. I gave some more flu shots. And talked about marriage (specifically arranged ones) with Dr. Aguwa who is from Africa. It was a bunch of girls giving flu shots...naturally, the topic came up. We talked a lot about their very family oriented culture (cool stuff).

2. I studied and went to a histology review session on muscles. Let me just say, when it comes to muscles, there is much more than meets the eye. Specifically neuromuscular junctions. Check it out.

This is real. It's skeletal muscle and nerves innervating it. The little bulb-like ends are where chemicals are released to tell the muscle to contract. That's the neuromuscular junction. Cool, huh?
3. Spoke on a panel of of students for perspective students of MSUCOM. Then toured and answered tons of questions. SO FUN! Met a retired AF pilot, and his aspiring doctor son, a woman interested in medical missions, and a guy who was so excited about hopefully joining the AF in the HPSP program. 

4. Went shopping! Amanda had coupons to New York Company and I needed to purchase a gift for a very special birthday girl who lives far, far away : ) So, we had to go to the mall. Let me just say, I saved $120.69!! Now, if I were you I'd be thinking, "HOW MUCH DID SHE SPEND!?" So, let me tell you I got some great buys totaling $140. It included 1 pair of awesome jeans, 1 equally awesome pair of dress, tweed pants, 2 of the softest, most perfect sweaters with really cute buttons, a great tank top with lots of ruffles, and a white button up that fits so well! (looking like a professional is going to be fun...) And some earrings...
Now, do the math:
$140 divided by 7 items = $20 per item!!
Can't you tell I'm excited?! I even took a picture of the clothes nicely arranged on the couch so you can see.

5. Then I came home and opened a letter from Somerset Beach Campground. Inside was a calendar...which I think I'll be cutting up and framing as my next art project (there were some awesome pictures in it!) And in the letter was a verse. A verse I had to share.

"Be joyful always; pray continuously; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

6. It's Friday. 

7. We didn't have class today. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Exercise (or lack thereof...)

I've been lazy. There's no doubt about it. This sort of confirms my all or nothing work ethic. One month I'm traing for a half marathon. The very next month I'm hitting up the cookie aisle and shoving my running shoes under the bed so I don't have to look at them taunting me.

Why in the world did I spend hundreds of dollars for a year long gym membership (that's right...$300+).

I emailed Dr. Miller a couple of weeks ago. In response to my comments about the increased pace of school he said:
Your comments about the “pace” were interesting and a reminder of my ever increasing age because I find that when I was younger, I had that fast pace that you’re now adjusting towards.  Hang in there.  You’ll be fine but remember that venting frustration is important.  Try to continue your running.
Ok, fine.

I'll take responsibility for my health and overall well-being.

I just wrote out a weekly workout plan for myself.

I figure, if I'm going to ask my patients someday to watch what they eat and exercise regularly, I had better be doing it myself.

So, here's to laying off the vanilla wafers and nutella, ramping up on the veggies, and getting myself back in gear. Because discipline in one area seems to correlate to discipline in others...discipline in school, in my walk with God, and in quality rest and relaxation.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eye Opening Experiences

On an exciting note, I attended the Global Missions Health Conference this weekend. The events of which are impossible to sum up in words. I'm not even going to try. CliffNotes version: First, trust God, and second, God is calling me to pursue medical missions, it's no longer just a passion of mine or something I'd like to do with my life. A significant shift to say the least. Also, pretty scary. It's hard to describe, but, it's very exhilarating. Another highlight was meeting Beth White, the wife of an amazing surgeon, Dr. Russ White, at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya. They are friends of my parents and went to the church I grew up in before moving to pursue their work in missions. It was the cherry on top of a fantastic weekend.

On an incredible note, I got my doctor toys yesterday and have been playing doctor today now that the batteries are charged. (I felt like a kid on Christmas morning whose remote control car came without the batteries...) If I ever get short on money it's nice to know that I can sell all the equipment for a small fortune. Tonight Katie and I played with the ophthalmoscope and discovered that you actually have an optic disc!! And blood vessels!! in the back of your eye!'s true! And it's awesome!
This is what your eyes really look like!
From left to right: a stethoscope, a practice eye for the ophthalmoscope,
blood pressure cuffs and a sphigmomanometer (please note the adorable child size cuff),
a tuning fork and a Babinski Neurological hammer  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Everyone makes them. Right? Well today I made one. Here's the story. It may or may not have involved a needle...

This cartoon is too perfect, and no, I did not intentionally try to give a sham injection
...just for the record
I was giving an injection to one of our senators at the Capitol Building today in Lansing. I was doing a great job talking to her, making her comfortable, A+ in the doctor patient relationship category. I cleaned the skin with an alcohol pad, let it dry, removed the protective cap on the needle, grabbed a cotton ball, and stuck the needle into the deltoid muscle. But, to my surprise, the pump was completely compressed and there was no flu vaccine in the syringe.


I pulled the needle out and placed it in the sharps bin. Then, my mind going a mile a minute, explained that there had been no vaccine in the syringe when I'd gone to give the injection. Panic was evident in her eyes as she replied, "Well, that sounds really bad."

I did my best to my compose myself, assure her that it had been a clean, but unfortunately empty syringe, and that she did not receive any vaccine. I had to call our supervisor over...explain it again...listen to her calm the patient down...have her watch me (very closely) give the injection again...apologize to the her leave....and then listen to a lecture from our supervisor on the need to be aware of everything we are doing. I'm thankful she didn't make me feel worse than I already felt but, still... here's what I learned and will never forget.

Always make sure the syringe has the vaccine or medicine in it before you stick the patient. 
...even if they are a Democrat : )

*Sorry, I couldn't help myself, I was giving flu shots at the Capitol, it had to get political!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Blast from the Past

Right now I am studying for a genetics exam in Kendall at Hillsdale College for an exam I have tomorrow morning at up at MSU. And this white board, covered in facts from the infamous Western Heritage class, sits before me. It appears that someone has attempted to identify a major piece of ancient literature with its author or contents (although I really can't be too sure). It's rather odd to be here, but at the same time, it feels like I never left. But, instead of heading to 32 Howder tonight, Kate and I will head back to East Lansing.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Election Day

Question: Is there any public school that contains a classroom that recites the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the school day anymore?  Maybe each and every American should be required to live in a non-democratic country for some extended period of time. Maybe it wouldn't even have to be an extended period of time. Isn't that how most of us got here in the first place? It's why our families came here years ago and why the colonists drafted a Declaration of Independence. Maybe then we'd appreciate what we have in America. Maybe then we'd appreciate our ancestors and even people today who still choose to come here to buy into the system that gives them the opportunity to get involved. Maybe. I know, it's a stretch. [Even as I write this, I'm tempted to say, "Why would anyone want to come here?" I am so quick to complain, but so slow to take action.] And then, when we as Americans fail to take an active role as citizens of this country, we wonder why it's failing. It's not failing because our leaders are failing. It's failing because we are. At least that's what I think.

Read this, even if you don't want to. Read. It.

...It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they have, thus far, so nobly carried on. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. 
[The Gettysburg Address. Abraham Lincoln]

It's impossible to have a government of the people and for the people if it's not by the people. So, vote. It's the least you can do. If you haven't today, there's always a next time. And if you don't next time...there may not me a next time. 

Friday, October 29, 2010


This week has been full of productivity. I expect nothing less out of the weekend.

1. Took (and passed!...yes, that is significant!) my biochemistry class. It marked the end of a love/hate relationship.

2. Read the book Boy Meets Girl this week. I rarely finish books, so this too, is significant. Jess, a new friend from my Bible study recommended it to all of us last week. I learned a lot. Also, I have to admit that I cheated, I didn't technically read it, I listened to it after I downloaded it from Josh Harris, the author, did. 

3. I bought a power drill and went to the shooting range and shot a recurve bow. All in one day. Rifle, pistol, and CPL classes are in my future.  Don't worry, when I got back I got in touch with my feminine side and lit a bunch of candles and made this for dinner with Ingrid Michaelson's new song Parachute playing thanks to Katie's wonderful musical influence in my life. It's delicious...kinda blew my expectations out of the water, but, they were pretty low to begin with and I was also very hungry!

Modified from "Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook"
Orzo with Garlic Vegetables
1 T Olive oil
3 garlic cloves
2 C sliced baby carrots
2 C sliced zucchini
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chooped
1 t. chicken bouillon granules, dissolved in 3/4 cup boiling water
2 1/2 C cooked orzo
pepper to taste
1. In a large skillet over low heat, heat the oil. Saute the garlic until deep brown, 4-5 mins; keep the heat low so they don't burn. 
2. Increase the heat to high; add the carrots. Stir-fry, adding the zucchini, bell peppers and dissolved bouillon, until the veggies are tender-crisp, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the orzo and pepper, toss to combine. Serve immediately and ENJOY!

4. Watched the movie We Were Soldiers.
Watch This! and you'll want to see it too.

5. Fell in love with this song. This music video (Lead Me To The Cross.) has scenes from the movie The Passion, if your stomach (and your heart...) can handle it, it speaks volumes. 

6. I went to EVERY class this week, opting out of putting it off until later and staying in bed. I'm so glad now that it's Friday and I'm not behind!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friendship Clinic

This morning I had the opportunity to get my feet wet in an awesome program. It's called the Friendship Clinic. I'm in a group at school called Community Integrated Medicine that is involved in promoting health in the community through health fairs, flu shot clinics, the Friendship Clinic (FC), etc... FC is awesome for two reasons. First of all, it provides medical care at no cost to the patients (save prescription costs). And, second of all, it provides what I think is the best experience I'll have to learn how to be a doctor at this point in my overall medical education.

But, aside from the benefits it provides in patient interactions and medical knowledge, the biggest benefit is the reality check it provided for me this morning. I called home today after leaving the clinic and stated that my childhood dream of having a summer home on Lake Charlevoix was off the table. There was no way I could justify it. The money could be better used somewhere else, more specifically helping someone else. Besides, I like camping. Even little things, I mean, I could totally live off Ramen noodles, right? Ok, so that's a little dramatic and a road headed straight for hypertension, (can you say sodium overload?) but I think you see where I'm coming from...

My Dad responded, "Amy, not even Jesus solved the world from poverty." Good point, Dad. But he also commanded us, "Freely you have received, freely give." So, where's the line? And so, while my comments were somewhat emotionally charged, I called home because I knew that he'd let me vent and then proceed to rationalize my overly ambitious thoughts. I'm so thankful for what he said to me. It was Godly advice. In a nutshell, he told me, God will show you where to put your resources, where to spend your time, and how to use the gifts he will lavish upon you if you follow his will. I guess I may have jumped the gun a bit. It'll be years, decades!, before I have to decide where to buy a house. One day at a time.

We also talked about how the government, while well intentioned to provide healthcare for each and every person, is way off track. It is not the government's responsibility to provide care for every single person. It is ours. Especially those who are fortunate enough to have received an education in providing a service to help people--as a medical professional or mechanic or you fill in the blank. We have the responsibility to provide what the government was never intended to, and quite frankly, can't provide. A system of checks and balances that extends beyond the walls of congress and relies on the trust built between people that can actually hold each other accountable. Because the sex offender who was put in prison for 12 years, has been unemployed for the last 7, and was the patient I saw in the clinic this morning needs a system that will hold him accountable, one that he trusts, and one that will support him so long as he is honestly attempting to support himself. And the federal government, as hard as it may try, will never be able to do that.

The only thing that can change a life is a love that extends further than what we are capable of giving as mere men and women. One of the coordinators at the clinic even mentioned that the biggest way you can treat a patient is by validating them, make them feel worthy to be here. We all need a love that is patient and kind. One that does not envy or boast, is not proud or rude or self seeking. One that keeps no record of wrongs. A love that protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. A love that never fails. My dad also reminded me that it's okay to feel heartache for the men and women I saw today. That that feeling is there for a reason. Thanks, Dad. While short, sweet, and to the point, our conversation today has had a bigger impact on me that I was expecting. I just pray that that feeling doesn't go away, but continues to motivate me. Especially as I go to prepare for my biochemistry final...ugh.

This post is dedicated to: my Dad

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Poetry Anthology

Do you remember all of those pointless projects you did in grade school? Crayons, markers, constructions paper, poster board, shoe boxes, binders, etc...they all remind me of grade school projects. Well, my eighth grade English teacher would be proud. Mrs. Moyski (I had to try really hard to remember her name!) would be proud. Because, my poetry anthology I had to do is still near and dear to my heart.

I came across it this summer as I was packing up my room at home in Saline. As I flipped through the pages, I was caught off guard by how many of the poems that spoke to me 9 years ago were just as meaningful today. For some reason, I can also remember procrastinating and working on this assignment way past my bedtime...some things never change.

The assignment went something like this. Choose a poem, write a paragraph about why you chose it, and then add a picture to supplement it. While most of what I wrote then applies now, I thought it'd be sort of cool to add to the paragraphs, 9 years later, a new personal interpretation of the poem. So here it goes...I'll share this one with you.

Title: The Mission

Here's what I wrote then:
Red String Tied Around Index FingerThis is most likely one of my favorite poems. I like the message it sends, you're not too young, small, or weak to make a difference in the world. I know that there are many times where I've just sat back and let everyone else do the job, making excuses like, "...but I don't know how." This peom is like a small red string attached to my finger reminding me to take advantage of any situation where I may be able to help. My favorite few lines in the poem are, "You can chant in happy measure, as they slowly pass along; though they may forget the singer, they will not forget the song." It tells me that I don't need to reveive credit for what I do and that I can help out anywhere. However, it won't be easy, because opportunities don't just come to you, you have to go looking for them.
And the poem:
If you cannot in the ocean
Sail among the swiftest fleet,
Rocking on the highest billows,
Laughing at the storms you meet,
You can stand among the sailors,
Anchored yet within the bay;
You can lend a hand to help them,
As they launch their boats away.

If you are too weak to journey
Up the mountain, steep and high,
You can stand within the valley,
While the multitude go by.
You can chant a happy measure,
As they slowly pass along;
Though they may forget the singer,
They will not forget the song.

If you have not gold and silver
Ever ready to command,
If you cannot toward the needy
Reach an ever-open hand,
You can visit the afflicted
O'er the erring you can weep;
You can be a true disciple,
Sitting at the Savior's feet.

If you cannot in the conflict
Prove yourself a soldier true,
If where the fire and smoke are thickest
There's no work for you to do,
When the battle field is silent,
You can go with a careful tread;
You can bear way the wounded,
You can cover up the dead.

Do not then stand idly waiting
For some greater work to do;
Fortune is a lazy goddess,
She will never come to you.
Go and toil in any vineyard,
Do not fear to do or dare;
If you want a field of labor,
You can find it anywhere.
-Ellen M. Huntington Gates

And now, here's what I have to say...
I love the way this peom reads aloud. The most powerful lines are the final two. I've heard life after college graduation described as a second puberty. Graduates are often filled with confusion, loneliness, inadequacy, and don't really know what to make of the new situations in which they find themselves. If only you could wrap this poem up and give it to each young adult searching for meaning and purpose. There is no need to compare yourself to other people. In fact, I think it limits one's ability to see their own uniqueness. There is no need for you to wait for a door to open--fortune is a lazy goddess--rather, I think there are opportunities waiting to be seized. So, why do I love this poem? It instills the confidence that is lacking in so many people. You can do it. You can be yourself. You can, you can, you can. God designed you as you, and nobody else is youer than you! (Thank you, Dr. Seuss!) And, that is truth..."The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." 1 Corinthians 12:21-26

Monday, October 18, 2010

13.1 Miles

You may ask, and rightfully so, where is the fun in running 13.1 miles in Detroit? When I signed up to run the Detroit Half Marathon, I was looking for some motivation to get active again after taking a hefty break from physical exertion after 10 years of competitive running and Commissioned Officer Training. But, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'll tell you why.
Erin and I before the race. It's like COT all over again...5AM wake up.
First of all, the people. There are so many of them! Almost 20,000 people competed and there were supporters along the road almost every step of the way. In the picture below you can see me and Erin amidst the huge crowd before the race. Katie drove down to capture the Kodak moments and after the race I was lucky enough to see some Hillsdale cross country ladies who'd driven in for the occasion as well. Erin Cvengros ran the marathon, exceptionally well, if I may add...she ran in the 3:15 range...big time qualified for Boston...and I'm proud of her, can you tell? So, the people, sorta like Hillsdale (I couldn't resist), made it worth it. 
In the middle of the picture, I'm in green with my back turned and Erin's in white.
Next, you run in two countries. This may not sound exciting, but it was awesome! You cross the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit to Windsor and after running along the water in Windsor, re-enter the US through the tunnel under the river. Crossing the riving knocks two miles out of the way and really does add to the excitement of the whole experience.

I may or may not have stopped to take pictures along the way...I felt super cool and way hard core doing it.
Not. But now, I'm glad I have the pictures!
Like I said, you run along the river in Windsor, at about 7:30AM and get to watch the sun rise. Check out the view...
Something I wasn't expecting that morning was to feel as good as I did. Sure, the slight incline of an overpass, like the one pictured below, did my quads in, but overall, it went really, really well. The weather was great, I can't imagine doing a long run like that in the heat. I was talking to Erin Cvengros afterwards and I realized that because of my past running experience, I'd been tricked into thinking you had to run a significant amount of mileage, quality mileage, to do something like this. But, all Erin Caverly and I did in preparation were two longer runs, around 8 and 10 miles, and put in about 4 half hour to hour runs a week. Cven also pointed out that it's nice to have the strength that years and years of running supply, which I think also helped. If anything, mentally it definitely helps. Distance runners have a distorted sense of reality, for example, 13 miles doesn't really sound all that long. Which brings me to my next point...

...and I hesitate to admit this, but just to be fair, running a marathon sometime in the future did cross my mind. It would require more training, but after the half and all of the excitement that a big road race adds to running, I think it might be something I'd like to add to my bucket list.
And Erin and I had a kick! 

I also have to make a comment about the tin foil looking blankets. Before yesterday, I doubted them. How could something like that actually keep you warm? But, I stand corrected. They are awesome.

And last, but certainly not least, it wouldn't have been a race without him. Mr. Pencilman. He's everywhere.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


You have made known to me the paths of life;
You will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

God is the ultimate source of joy. So I would like to thank God for 3 things: Beauty, Baking, and Family. Let me show you why...

Aesthetics: the study of beauty. Unfortunately, pictures don't capture the essence of an environment, but this is the best I can do for you via the internet. Last night, I lit a bunch of candles, listened to the warmth of Lorie Line play the piano--which is slightly sentimental in that my Mom often played her CD's growing up, it just reminds me of home (Listen to a sample here), and drank a seasonal pumpkin spice latte. The sounds, the smells, the dim light, I'm telling you, immerse yourself in beauty and you automatically feel closer to God. And that equals an automatic joy. It's also one of my favorite ways to study; it makes the experience slightly more enjoyable. The Puritan Prayer book, The Valley of Vision, for it's beautiful language, and my newly purchased tea cups would also fall into this category of beautiful joy.

These are my new tea cups. Tea is another simple pleasure of mine.
Drinking it out of a tiny tea cup is a bonus.

A well stocked kitchen. A while ago, I had purchased the ingredients for pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. And last week, I made them. It wasn't that I was in a bad mood, but I just needed something to get me going again. I'd been waiting for an opportune time and this was it. I would also highly recommend the little cookie ice cream looking scooper. Just one of those things I feel like no kitchen should be without. It makes life easier and that's something to be joyful about!

Grandma and Gramps + grand & great-grandchildren
My family. Sunday we celebrated Grandma's 76th birthday. So, I did it again. Monday morning I had a biochemistry exam and where was I? Home. Instead of studying from dawn til dusk, I studied for a grand total of 2 hours on Sunday. And, I wouldn't change that, even after being disappointed with my score. Ryan drove to Lansing from Grand Rapids and then we drove the rest of the way home together. To be honest, driving there and back with him would've made the trip worth it in itself. I think the phrase, "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is especially true when it comes to siblings. Seeing so many Lukes in one place again wasn't too bad either! I could've been stressing about the exam, but instead I was full of joy. See what I mean? It was Time Well Wasted--and that's something to be joyful about.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Happy Friday!

So, it's Friday. I thought I'd recap the week by sharing little of what I've learned this week.

1 - Don't make a decision while going up hill. A decision to quit that is. This thought originally occurred to me while running on Tuesday evening. I was headed up a hill, bet you wouldn't have guessed that!, and the thought of not running the Detroit half marathon sounded magical. Surely I could think of some sort of excuse. But, as I reached the top and continued another mile or so I thought, "Man, I'm so glad I kept going!" Moral of the story: Don't make a decision to quit while going up a hill. (As you can probably imagine, this has more significant applications as well...medical school? perhaps...) Which reminds of Dr. Seuss...

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!
(Dr. Seuss's Oh, the Places You'll Go)

2 - Calling recorded lectures of biochemistry, evidence based medicine, or physiology "Episodes" makes them slightly more enjoyable. Almost like I'm watching a real TV show. Especially if I grab a snack...

3 - Politics are everywhere (I already knew that...). But, they are much more prevalent in healthcare, particularly in Michigan, than I'd imagined. (That, I should have known...) It's probably best I don't share my opinions on here, but give me a call. We'll talk. For a long time. Maybe I'll try to tackle the whole situation in a future post...anyways, I've learned I'm even more thankful for the Air Force than I thought.

4 - Salad dressing on your leafy greens help promote all of their leafy goodness (specifically by helping your body absorb all those fat soluble vitamins in the salad--like vitamin A, E, and K) If you want to really help yourself out, go eat your leafy green salad, with salad dressing, outside (sunlight triggers vitamin D synthesis).

5 - Impatience is a sin. The sermon series at church right now is titled, "Not That Bad." It centers around sin that we claim, or sometimes don't even recognize, as being that bad. If sin is the failure to reflect the image of God in nature, attitude, or action, then being impatient, something God certainly is not, is a sin. When we're impatient we are doing one of two things: 1. tellling God our timing is better than his or 2. that we are more important than someone else. His challenge? Seek out the longest line at the grocery store and wait in it. With 2 items. Hold the door, every time, for every last person. And, drive in the slow lane...happily...without tailgating. The sermon the previous week was on anxiety and worry--also a sin. I'd have to say that those are probably the two most common complaints of all med students...feeling anxious or worried and impatient. Too bad these sermons aren't a graduation requirement!

7 - MSU and UofM play each other this weekend. Growing up near Ann Arbor, I knew it was a big deal, but  experiencing the intensity and emotion first hand, I am seeing the reality of the rivalry. It's been going on ALL week. My biochem professor called on people to answer questions if they were wearing yellow--because apparently you wear your respective school colors ALL week. Being in a graduate program where there are a lot of UofM and State undergrads in one room makes me a little uncomfortable sometimes. But, whatever, I'll give into the peer pressure.GO GREEN! (you respond, "GO WHITE!")

and lastly, but certainly not least! 6 - I love my biochemistry book. I can hear it calling as I type...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Modern Medicine

Modern Medicine. Sometimes I question whether it's worth it. Obviously I believe it's beneficial considering my current career path, but I think it's an interesting thought when you think about the quality of life some people have as a result of it. Ya know? Don't get me wrong, it's great and more people benefit than suffer, but sometimes ignorance is bliss. That's all I'm saying. Regardless, more often, thankfully, I just sit back in awe of the great lengths medicine has come. Two awe inspiring moments follow. Please, enjoy.

1. Robotic Prostate Surgery -- Click the title. It's a short movie, and so wild. A surgeon removes a prostate without putting gloves on his hands. Worried about your job going overseas? Now, so are urologists. A surgeon in Boston could perform this surgery hundreds of miles away. Could it be a breakthrough in providing medical care in areas where there is limited access to medical care? Maybe? 

2. Confocal microscopy -- Someday my office will be decorated with confocal microscopy images, aren't they gorgeous? See the descriptions beside the picture if you've ever taken any physiology course to make the pictures come cool! I realize not all of you will share my enthusiasm, but, it's so great to see things you talk about everyday really do exist! I don't know, maybe it'd be like a stock broker actually seeing money? 
Wanna see more? Click Here!
This is the Organ of Corti aka your ear. The green cells are hair cells and the nuclei of the hair cells are stained blue. The red spirally mess at the lower left are neurons which are synapsing on the inner hair cells and the spiky projections coming out of the green hairs cells are stereocilia. When sound waves enter the ear they compress the stereocilia, causing them to bend, which in turn depolarizes the hair cells and sends a message to your brain saying, "I heard something!" 
Your hippocampus. Orange =glia. Blue = nuclei. Green = neurofilaments.
 It keeps track of emotional responses and stuff like that. :)
Ok, this is cool. Cell replication in action. Literally, undergoing anaphase, the chromosomes which have replicated in one cell are now being divided to make two cells with the same set of chromosomes.
Green = the mitotic spindle. Red = chromosomes.
(Mallory, if you're reading this, I mentioned anaphase and cell replication just for you, cool, huh?) 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Guilty Pleasure...

It's Tuesday night at 8pm. What are you doing? Watching Melissa and Joey? That's what I am doing. Season 1 started a couple months ago and if I miss the episode, I wait ever so patiently...well, not patiently at all, for them to put the new episode up online. They wait an entire week to post it! I can't get enough of it. The show is hilarious, if you're into this sort of stuff. So, if you haven't seen it, appreciate the humor of Melissa Joan Hart (or someone like Amanda Bynes), and really just want to turn your brain off for a solid 30 mintues, I'd highly recommend it! I think it's hilarious. If you really like the show, I also recommend the movie, My Fake Fiance. Melissa and Joey are just a great combo.