Thursday, July 21, 2011

Running, Application Limbo and Good Reads

Today, like the past week of days in the midwest, it was hot outside. I'd estimate around 90-94 Fahrenheit. I had decided yesterday that I wanted to go for a run, and I followed through, much to the incredulity of Nicole. I ran what I thought had to be three miles, but sadly, it was only two. That's pretty much shameful for someone my age and body type. Yes, the heat and humidity take a huge toll on a runner, but I'm definitely out of shape. I haven't run regularly in months, and I was feeling it. I'll admit it - I had to walk THREE TIMES. Terrible.

The good news is that this is a low point! I'll only get better from here - and I'd better. Nicole and I are going with several other couples on a backpacking trip to Lake of the Clouds in Michigan's upper peninsula in just a couple of weeks. We'll probably be averaging around 7 miles a day with fully loaded packs, and unless the weather takes a dramatic change for August, it's going to be pretty hot. I need all the endurance training I can get.

On the medical school application front, things are kind of at an awkward standstill. My application status online has been "Verified - Ready for Review" for a couple weeks now, and it turns out it may stay that way for several more. The application gets verified once you've submitted it AND AMCAS receives your transcripts from all involved schools. Basically, it stays that way until they get around to tallying up all your grade points, reviewing your essays and biographical information, and getting it out to schools. I wasn't planning on such a long wait between submitting the app and having schools actually receive it, but the bright side shows some nice down time for me!

I've had one request for a secondary application from Pritzker - definitely automated, given that it came 23 hours after submitting the primary app for review. I've gotten pretty close to finishing those essays, just because I'm not one to passively sit while something like that hangs over my head. I like knowing I've done all I can instead of scrambling at the last minute. I don't always follow that instinct as well as I have this time, but I always feel it.

With all the free time I've had lately, I've been doing a lot of reading. I have a subscription to Popular Science (thanks, Nicole!), and devoured the most recent issue in about 30 minutes. The most interesting article this month is about a guy named Bill Andrews who hopes to extend peoples' lifespans to 150+ years by the time he dies. The scientific community is pretty divided over his ideas; some thing he's a quack job with no chance, others give him generous helpings of the geneticist-equivalent of street cred, saying if anyone could do it, he could.

You should give the above article a read, but the basics are this: Our chromosomes are capped by repeating sequences of adenine, thymine and guanine bases. These caps are called telomeres, and their purpose is to prevent the loss of DNA when cells divide. Cell division results in chromosomal shortening. If the telomeres weren't there, then every time a cell divided, the chromosomes left in the two daughter cells would be shorter, missing possibly essential DNA. Cells would quickly (if not immediately) become somatic - they would lose the ability to divide - and the organism would die. There is an enzyme called telomerase that participates in cell division to add telomeres to copied DNA during replication. The problem is, it doesn't add enough to completely counteract the shortening effect. The theory is that this is why we age; eventually, the time clock runs out, and we get old and die. Bill Andrews' idea is to synthesize a compound that activates telomerase to increase its production of telomeres during DNA replication, causing it to do a better job of rebuilding the lost telomere length. He's a workaholic, and seems to have a huge opinion of himself, but the story about him and his work is pretty interesting. I don't know which side of the fence I'd step to if I had to make a choice right now; I'd have to do more reading in the field than this one PopSci article before deciding, but it's at least interesting to think about.

In other fronts, Nicole and I have been going through The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I was skeptical about it at first. It seemed awfully presumptuous to think that you could break all of the possible and preferred methods of interaction between married couples into five categories and have it really be comprehensive, and I was partly right. It's not necessarily perfect (it was just written by this human guy, after all), but there's some worth to it. I'd recommend it for anyone in a relationship, even if you're not married, or if things are going great. Our marriage is awesome and strong, but there are always areas in which we can improve if we understand each other better.

I just finished reading Something for the Pain: Compassion and Burnout in the ER: Compassion and Burnout in the ER by Paul Austin. It's a sometimes-shocking account of what life is like for an ER doctor. This was an incredibly interesting read to me for a lot of reasons. Of all of my clinical experience, the vast majority was in the Emergency Department at my local hospital. I volunteered for 150+ hours and shadowed a doc for 28, so it was easy for me to picture the environment and equipment mentioned by the author. I am very seriously considering emergency medicine as my specialty, but that (and my reasons for it) is for another post. The author was a non-traditional medical student that married a nurse and pursued a career as a doctor. Sound familiar? If you want insight into what life is like for an ER doc and don't get too bothered when things get graphic (linguistically and descriptively), I'd recommend this read.

Lastly, I started an old classic that I've wanted to read for a long time. It's free on iBooks, so I just dove in: The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It's so old, I don't get some of the vocabulary, but it's crazy to see how much of the language and slang is still in our speech today. It's also fun to be more challenged as I read simple descriptions or conversations; I feel like I'm broadening my vocabulary even more. Unless you've really got a passion for reading (or Boggle) you might not get into it as much as I have.

All right, this post is huge now. Congratulations if you made it this far! If someone else had written a post this weak in entertainment clout, I'd have given up four paragraphs back. Lots of word vomit. I have some coffee-flavored chocolates that a coworker gave me that she got from her German foreign exchange student. Germans make great chocolate. I'm gonna go eat them now.

1 comment:

Curt Gerbers said...

Just so you know... I read the first two paragraphs and then scrolled down to read the ending.

Have a great day.

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