Sunday, February 27, 2011

Philosophy and Medicine

This was in our renal physiology course pack. MSU (Dr. Stephenson)incorporates the liberal arts into medicine almost as much as we did at Hillsdale...

"It was the view of [Claude Bernard] that we achieve a free and independent life, mentally and physically, because of the constancy of the composition of our blood. Recognizing that we have the kind of blood we have because we have the kind of kidneys that we have, we must acknowledge that our kidneys constitute the major foundation of our physiological freedom. Superficially, it might be said that the function of the kidneys is to make urine, but in a more considered view one can say that the kidneys make the stuff of philosophy itself."
-Homer Smith, "Father of Renal Physiology"

Image courtesy of the National Library of Medicine

He's in the middle, tell me he doesn't look like a nice guy. Ok, enough procrastination. If only I could implant his renal knowledge into my head for the exam tomorrow morning. But, since I can't, I better go study...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Fire Hose

If I could have one dollar for every time I heard someone say the course work in medical school is like drinking from a fire hose, I wouldn't need the Air Force to foot by tuition bill. Or rent. Or spending money.

Up until this point, I've not felt like that analogy was entirely true. I've been busy, yeah, but not that busy.

However, I'm now carrying a full course load for the first time. Our anatomy course was in the summer which made the fall a little lighter than most.

I'm enjoying the increased challenge, but must admit, it's starting to infringe on my weekends away. I haven't been in East Lansing for the weekend in a long, long time. And trust me, it's not like I'm studying while I'm away. Still, by the looks of my calendar, it's not going to change. Not anytime soon.

This weekend I'm going up to Petoskey. One of the best places on Earth, I am convinced. And this is what I'll be doing. Katie and I are going up to stay with Gerry and Mary Mills who graciously invited us to take advantage of their conveniently located home. I think one of my next big investments will be some skis...maybe I'll save up and buy a pair next winter. But, right now, I can totally wait for next winter. Could it be summer please?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


What I am currently (hopefully) doing right now.

Watch this video: Neuronal Growth

This is a video of a growing neuron. In order to store information in long term memory, we must actually make new connections in our brains.

This is what happens when you take a break from studying Neuroscience. You search for videos of growing neurons. And then get distracted when you come across more awesome fluorescent and confocal microscopy pictures of growth cones on neurons. Facebook? What??

Thank you Neuroscience. I think I'm gonna like you.

That is a growth cone. Growth cones are on the end of neurons that are searching for the correct path necessary to create a connection. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that my growth cones are making some serious ground today.

Here's some more differentiating neuronal cells just for fun!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm not really into all the typical Valentine's Day gifts--for instance the dumb little bears with hearts all over them. And, somehow Ben knew that. (My sincerest apologies if you received one or enjoy receiving them...) And so he got me these...

The first is the Handbook of Therapy. It was put out by the American Medical Association in 1935. It covers all the basic systems, common illnesses, and recommend treatments. Two of my favorite excerpts I've read so far...

"If the patient neglects his own treatment after warnings, he has only himself to blame, but never let him be allowed the opportunity to blame his physician."


"An educated physician should be ashamed to perpetrate a therapeutic imcompatibility either in a prescription or in a patient."

The second is a short book of favorite party recipes. Like I said, cooking=therapy. And if you make enough food, friends come, and they provide even better therapy. What more could you ask for? It outlines the perfect menus for a bridge tea or gormet dinner or a mid morning brunch.

He also brought complaints there either. In fact, I'll probably polish the box off tonight.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I've been blessed with an opportunity to head to Haiti over Spring Break, March 6-12.

The Could Forest Medical Clinic

Already since starting med school, there have been multiple opportunities to go out of the country to do medically related trips. I say "medically related" because they aren't focused on spreading the Gospel. They may be great learning opportunities and also help clinics with a great outreach in an underserved area, but I quickly realized that choosing the time and place to go on an international trip needed more thoughtful consideration than I'd originally imagined. Especially since they can cost up to $4000!

God has provided an opportunity for a group of students from the Christian Medical Association along with a local doctor to minister to the people and volunteers down in Haiti from March 6-12. To have a team with a common purpose, ready to see God work, is and will be such a blessing.

A fellow med student from MSU COM, Kyle Martin, is currently in the middle of a one year commitment to the Cloud Forest Medical Clinic in Seguin, Haiti. He's taking a year away from school and as a consequence, we now get to visit him and hopefully lend a helping hand wherever we can. To get an idea of what the clinic we will be visiting, you can check out Kyle's blog at

The website for the clinic is

This will be the first opportunity for me to experience a medical ministry first hand, let alone travel to a foreign country (besides Windsor in Canada...), let alone one that has little reliability when it comes to running water or electricity, water in general, a language I don't know, and I'm sure a lot of other differences I can't even anticipate. I've dreamed of practicing medicine in far away places and I'm excited to see where God leads my heart after this trip.

One reason I'm sharing this now is to ask for your prayer support as our team prepares to leave. If for some reason you think of Haiti or our trip, could you pray for:
- opportunties to share the Gospel and love of Christ
- the team's safety
- for the people of Haiti


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Meet My Food Processor

This is my second big investment since entering the "working" world. I hope I use it as much as I use by first big investmest--a desk I purchased before starting med school.

A Cuisinart Premier Series 11-cup Food Processor. I tell you the whole name, because I highly recommend it. It's My pride and joy that slices carrots and cucumbers in about a second, chops green onion like nobody I've ever seen, and has a motor that would put you right to sleep.

Check out these beautiful zucchini slices. So easy. So wonderful. Also, notice the new red baking dish bought especially for this baking project. Over dinner last night we discussed the therapeutic benefits of cooking/baking. That statement couldn't be more true.

Please. Invite yourself over for dinner. I'll make this.

Katie and I had Janay, Kaylyn, and Alison over for dinner last night and this is what we had. A great winter entree; it may have been some of the best lasagna I've ever had.
The recipe is brilliant. And super easy.
Chicken and Squash Lasagna
(modified from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Magazine)
serves 6

4 zucchini (1.5 lbs.), sliced
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 pound ground white-meat chicken
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/3 C. packed fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 t. chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
(I don't think you need to follow the amounts for the spices, just use as much as you'd like and use your taste to guide you.)
5 C. prepared pasta sauce
No boil lasagna noodles
1 1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400. Toss sliced zucchini with 1 T. olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Divide them onto two baking sheets and bake for about 20 minutes. Check on them frequently, stirring the zucchini and rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Zucchini should be tender.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 T. of oil of medium-high. Add chicken and cook thoroughly. Drain and return to skillet. Add spices (you may want to add a tablespoon or two of water) and continue cooking until fragrant. Transfer chicken to a medium bowl.

3. Layer the lasagna in a 8x8 baking dish in the following order:
- 1C. sauce
- a layer of noodles
- half of the chicken
- 1C. sauce
- 1/4C. Parmesan cheese
- a layer of noodles
- half of the squash
- 1C. sauce
-1/4C. Parmesan cheese
...and repeat using the remaining ingredients

4. Cover the lasagna loosely with foil, place on a baking sheet (in case some sauce bubbles over...) and put it in the over for about 35 minutes, the sauce should be bubbling.

5. Remove from oven and heat the broiler. Sprinkle the top with the rest of the Parmesan and broil until the cheese is brown and bubbly, 3ish minutes. Let cool about 20 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Our Rocks

A few weeks ago, before coming back to East Lansing for the next semester, I went to church with my family. The pastor shared an analogy on time with us, one that some of you may recognize if you've ever read Stephen Covey's First Things First. It was exactly what I needed to hear before coming back to school. I remember it often and it has transformed my perception of time in a very valuable, and even more challenging, way.
The analogy goes:

Imagine there is a large jar, sand, and large rocks sitting before you. You pour the sand into the jar and then proceed to add the large rocks. Once you finish it looks something like this...

Now, in an effort to make it all fit, you remove the rocks and sand. But, this time you add the rocks first and then pour the sand over them. Sure enough, it all fits. You haven't taken anything away, nor obtained a larger jar. You've just reorganized everything a little.

The jar represents our time. Lets say 24 hours, one day. The large rocks are our big priorities. Things like God, a significant other, our families, friends, or maybe even our careers. The sand represents our smaller priorities. Thigns that we still value, but that aren't as important as the rocks. Things like our car, our house, a hobby, facebooking, blogging :), watching TV, cooking (for me at least), and the list goes on and on.

So often, we fill our time with the sand first and become frustrated when there isn't enough time for the important things in our lives. But, what would happen if everyday, we made time for the big rocks before the sand. Everything would fit. Nothing would be sacrificed or lost, but rather rearranged in a way that allows us to devote enough time to the things that really matter.

This is hard to do. Really hard. But, in the few times where I've been really diligent, I am convinced that it is really true.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Health Care Quandaries

A couple days ago I was talking with Bob, a friend from mine from Hillsdale. I asked how he was and he responded by stating that he was great! A rheumatologist had just prescribed the solution to his debilitating low back pain; an injection that costs a mere $450/week, for a grand total of $1800/month. Bummer. His current health care provider? Medicare. Unfortunately, he's about to enter the Medicare Donut Hole. And, well, $1800/month is a little hard to come by for just about anyone. Double bummer. I love Bob. I want him to be able to play golf this summer (that's what he's looking forward to now that his back pain has been alleviated). So, should I blame Medicare (aka the government) for not providing care? Where should Bob get the money?

I have no idea. I'm still trying to figure out where the solution lies.

However in regards to the current changes that are being made...
"It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place."
- Judge Roger Vinson [the Federal Judge who ruled the Health Care Bill (the PPACA: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) unconstitutional on January 31, 2011. To learn more I highly recommend this article at and the video associated with it.]
There are parts of the bill that aren't bad things. Like the parts where Bob may get more coverage. Or the parts where people will get health care who don't have it already. Those things themselves are not bad things! And I want them for people. Or the extra funding for primary care residency spots. Please! Sign me up!

But, this and the other good parts are worth sacrificing. All $940 billion dollars of it. Why? Because we can't have everything. And that's okay. Life's not fair. And I like Foxs News, but lets just get one thing straight. Nothing is ever really fair and balanced.

As Judge Vison points out, if the "individual mandate" which requires every person to have health care is unconstitutional, then the whole darn thing has to be as well. It's what will fund all the other underlying parts of the bill.

That's why I disgree with the PPACA. Not because I am happy with the health care system, not because I am content with the millions of Americans who can't afford care, not because I associate with a different political party, and most certainly not because I'm not President Obama's biggest fan. The government shouldn't have that sort of power to tell people to buy something. And we shouldn't want them to either. But, we are selfish. We see how the bill with benefit us in some small way and forget about the huge implication it has on generations of future Americans.

"Congress could require that people buy and consume broccoli at regular intervals."
-Judge Vinson

All because it's for the good of the people. Do you want to be told to buy broccoli? We aren't stupid. You are not stupid. Don't let the government treat you that way. Take some responsibility.

"In a democracy, the individual enjoys not only the ultimate power but carries the ultimate responsibility."
- Norman Cousins
American political journalist, author, professor, and world peace advocate