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For Not My Eyes Only? November 5, 2016

Posted by therealtinlizzy in Uncategorized.
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An unseasonably warm Fall cycles through Minneapolis, and I am once again cycled back here after much time away – time that has seen the coming and going of fevers dreams of going to medical school (although evidence continues to mount that the universe has done me a favor in closing that door); a figurative trash fire of a summer this year that saw the loss of our pup Chloe, weeks in the hospital with my mom, and a hired kitchen remodel whose epic shenanigans could fill a feature-length movie;  and last year’s late-summer literal trash fire (those in the know, know about all that).

However, even amidst the Series of Unfortunate Events, let it be known that good things have been in abundance as well, including the adoption of a new pup (Junie!), and acquisition of a new crew of 5 hens (all but one of the original 5+ year-old Battlestar Galactica crew passed into the realm of Ghosts of Chickens Past over this past year)…

…and progression nearly halfway through an environmental health-focused Masters in Public Health program (which I’ve fallen in love with and seem to have a knack for).

Now that we’ve Cliff-Notes’ed our way to the present, the reason I was compelled to post this morning. I don’t need to ax-grind or hand-wring here about the, might I say, DEPLORABLE state of affairs this election season; my Twitter account serves faithfully as steam-valve/bile-release for those sorts of day-in, day-out anxieties. No, this is about an affront to my policy of keeping politics and family strictly partitioned – no crossing of the streams, nope.


Over the years this has become increasingly difficult as partisan divisions have deepened; fears and paranoia about gay folk, immigrants, people of color, people of non-Christian faith have become further stoked; and lowest-common-denominator notions of civility in public, political, and interpersonal discourse appear to have beaten the white rhinos to extinction, resulting (in my family anyway) in more verbal political pot-shots from family members and screedy Facebook posts seeming to beg for open rhetorical war on any who disagree. But despite my long-time position as black sheep in the family due primarily to being gay, but also as one of those hippie commie pinkos who obviously subscribes to all of the usual liberal, big-city ideologies, I’ve worked really hard to keep all of the above (but for my relationship – I’m loooooong beyond giving any damns at all for sleep lost by anyone in my immediate or extended family by my having a wife) out of my family discourse, and to avoid taking the occasional bait thrown at me to pick fights.

One stand-out in my family has always been my uncle – he’s a man of sturdy but kindly evangelical Christian faith, and he’s watched me (I’m sure much to his chagrin) evolve from on-fire-for-Jesus evangelical teenager into hippie commie pinko vegetarian lesbian who peaced-out on evangelicalism, if not the underlying principles and good things to be had from the teachings of Jesus. And while I’m sure my apparent decline has been the subject of much prayer on my behalf by him and others from my evangelical past, he’s never been anything but genuinely civil and kind to me on the rare occasions we see each other, and (most importantly) he’s never been a bullying asshat about his convictions that I’m on the Wrong Side.

Then out of the blue yesterday this uncle emailed me a forward of a blog post written by someone whose opinion he seems to admire, about the prayerfully sought case for evangelicals to vote for Trump. After so many years of being mostly protected by my armor of no-family-arguing-over-politics, while being simultaneously worn down by all of the awful rhetoric fired at Hillary Clinton, Democrats, gay folk, and/or liberal/progressive-minded people generally by evangelical leaders, pastors, politicians – I snapped , and before I could say President-Hillary-Rodham-Clinton I’d fired off a written-in-love-but-I’m-done-fucking-around email reply to my uncle:

I hate to pick a fight with you as you’re my elder 🙂 and my uncle, and I genuinely love you regardless of what side of politics we ever have fallen on, always and forever. For many moons, years and election cycles I have very deliberately chosen not to engage in political battles within my family for the sake of continuing to HAVE a family. Continuing to be part of and connected to all those in my immediate and extended family is so important to me that I choose to focus on the ways we are connected and the things we have in common rather than fighting over the (often very significant) differences of opinion we have. However, I do not think anyone in the family would ever mistake my avoidance of political sparring to indicate that I don’t have just as strong opinions, beliefs and feelings as they all do, just perhaps different ones.

So I will pick a fight with you on this because for whatever reason you think God put it on your heart to reach out to me with this post about voting for Trump. I won’t counter email by bullet-pointing the 100 reasons I think Trump is one of the grossest human beings ever to have become a public figure let alone run for president. I won’t even go for the obvious “you know your niece is a big ol’ homosexual, right?” – because it’s not about me and I don’t take anyone’s decision to vote for Trump personally. If the decision to vote for Trump clicks in your head, maybe makes some kind of sense to you in your narrative about what he pledges to do about things more important to you than his crass, vulgar, careless way of treating people and moving in the world – that’s your perspective.

There’s only one thing I’ll call you out on: I believe it’s a really, really sad cop out of true evangelical Christians throwing in with Trump. While He would of course extend his forgiveness and love to Trump for any thing small or large that Trump has done, the Jesus I know wouldn’t celebrate Trump’s disrespect towards or treatment of women, those of lesser means or different nationalities, or any of the rest of His children great or small. The Jesus I know wouldn’t delight in Trump’s appealing to our lesser and more base natures to incite fear and loathing of those who look different or believe differently than we do. The Jesus I know would weep and be broken-hearted over His flock believing that supporting an unapologetically crass, mean, vulgar, smug powerbroker is an acceptable means to their religious, philosophical and political ends. 

I will always love you, but evangelicals don’t own Jesus and they don’t own God – never did, never will. I notice in that whole letter/post up above – Jesus is not actually mentioned one single time. Which makes me seriously question the Christian authority of this gentleman or anyone else peddling such things who seems to have taken their eyes so far off Jesus while claiming to be wrapped in His Word and authority.

There are many of us in the world, including many believers and born-again people in Jesus, who are not Republicans, nor conservatives, but are doing His work in love and trying to lovingly represent His presence in the world, many of whom even support Democrats and Hillary Clinton. We are not Satan, we are not possessed of demons, we are not the enemy. We are your nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, children and parents. 

And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me…And they too will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You? Then the King will answer, ‘Truly I tell you,whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.’ 

Maybe my uncle’s email was a mistake, not for my eyes at all – intended for an evangelical compadre in his contact list alphabetically close to my email address. Or maybe it was a product of the escalating political rhetorical arms-racing we’ve collectively fallen into as a society and he just couldn’t stop himself from throwing what he perceived to be a life-ring to his homosexual niece drowning in the sins of the world. Either way, I’m just tired – tired of being demonized by my former faith community, tired of those folks using Jesus as a sword to skewer those who don’t fall in line on their philosophies, tired of their claim of ownership of Jesus, and tired of taking the higher ground in exerting respect for my family members by leaving politics aside while fielding the incendiary political grenades lobbed at me by those who can’t be arsed to do the same.

The O.G. Monster Peaces Out September 30, 2014

Posted by therealtinlizzy in Uncategorized.
"un-welcome mat"

“un-welcome mat”

I was emailing Dr. Bongard about Dax’s latest visit to the ER a little over a week ago, likening Dax’s continued existence, particularly this past 4 months since she so brazenly turned away from death’s door back in June, with the quote we all know from The Princess Bride’s Dread Pirate Roberts: “Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning” but then 3 years later Westley remains. Dax has been rather like that for a couple years now, but most especially for the past four months: she goes a bit sideways, we’re pretty sure she’s going to check out – then she’s fine and all “what?”, yowling at us with that improbable voice to feed her right now or she’s totally going to call Dax Protective Services on us.

After having been allowed the gift of an extended warranty on Dax this summer, her nine lives came to a close yesterday. I said my final goodbyes and held her in my lap as she peaced-out, the one I considered my ‘daemon’ as borrowed from Philip Pullman’s deft imaginings of the animal manifestation of one’s “deepest essence…attached…by an inevitable thread, like an externalised soul”: Dax, the ridiculously wily, opportunistic, independent husky-greyhound – whose species’ civility and domesticity cultivated by humans over some 30,000 years she lacked entirely having been nixed right the hell out of existence over a few generations of sled-dog breeding and whose name really should have been Loki for the litany of pranks and shenanigans she pulled off (and in some cases survived) over a span of nearly 15 years.


Claire Seekins gets an enormous hat tip of gratitude for talking us into taking that little bundle of never-let-your-guard-down-again home with us back in Feb of 2000 during a span when Angie Williams and I were helping Claire and co. train sled dogs. And for talking us into taking her BACK a few weeks later when Dax was so taxing to our sanity (and possessions) that we gave her back for a week before getting suckered by our sappy heartstrings to take her permanently.

However, while I’m heartbroken and maudlin as all hell stumbling today over the muscle memory and minutia associated with Dax’s existence woven so deeply into the fabric of my life for over 14 years, I leave here a few photos/vids and a top-ten of sorts, a prospectus if you will, of a few of the more glorious exploits of my dearest Monster of monsters Dax: Skijor Racer Extraordinaire, Masterful Killer of squirrels (and other things), Expert Purloiner of Anything Remotely Edible, Professional Destroyer of Things Non-edible:

  • Eating a pan of lemon bars that were cooling on the stove (no really, she wrecked an entire pan of lemon bars, people)
  • Devouring a bowl full of Hershey’s kisses during her first Christmas visit to my mum and dad’s
  • Eating box-elder bugs by the mouthful:
  • Ripping a hole in Angie’s grandmother’s quilt (which I later had repaired)
  • Chewing the wooden handle off of the coffee table (which we replaced with a metal one)
  • Being the most awesome runner, roller-blade and skijor companion (being part greyhound served her well on speed!)


  • Shredding a patch of carpet & shredding a lamp (yes, a lamp) at one of Grand Superior Lodge’s cabins when we left her briefly alone to grab breakfast (oh yes, we paid replacement costs to GSP for carpet patch & lamp)
  • being regularly mis-identified by the kids in the neighborhood as alternately a wolf or a coyote, and even once as a cat (no idea!)
  • Leaving me for years with a parade of jackets and pants with the pockets chewed out due to presence of leftover treats (or the crumbs/remnants thereof)
  • Shredding countless dog beds and stuffies over the years:

  • Destroying one of the seatbelts in the back seat of the Jetta (required replacement)
  • Chomping off the very first of (and eventually the rest of) the tulips that bloomed in the backyard after moving into the house
  • Dispatching more squirrels over the years than we could tally (and one raccoon)


  • Chomping a crow mid-air as it flew past her
  • Receiving a permanent notch at the tip of her ear after getting to up close and personal with Angie’s cat
  • An improbable, piercing, ear-splitting yowl that led Claire to overnight a bark collar when taking care of Dax for us one weekend eons ago

  • Stealing the sock off of Sean & Andrea’s baby, while somehow not taking the toes with her (whew)
  • Getting banned (by us) from the airport off-leash dog park when she was 1 due to refusing to leave with us. We spent about 2 hours chasing her around the dog park and eventually drove down the road to try and prompt her to leave. A couple of years later she eventually grew a thimbleful of loyalty/recall-willingness, and got her dog-park privileges reinstated.

Dax, you will be remembered, and are so incredibly missed – you were the best even though (and probably because) you were the worst.


Annual Outing to the British Arrow Awards December 15, 2013

Posted by therealtinlizzy in Uncategorized.
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Tonight was our (we figured roughly 8th or 9th?) annual outing to see the British Television Advertising Awards, or British Arrow Awards as they’re now dubbed, at the Walker Art Center. I can’t recall by this point how I stumbled into/onto the BAAs in the first place; I suspect it was simply a random thing happened upon while casting about for some bit of entertainment for my birthday one year. In any case, the BAAs are now an annual thing for Ang, Jen, Lisa and I, so that no matter how busy the holiday season gets or how lives shift about, the intent is to always be able to at least slot in some quality catching up over dinner and the Awards.

The Awards themselves are an hour of award-winning (according to some UK jury of People Who Judge These Sorts of Things) ads run on British television. A number of the ads are quite frank and edgy, in some cases gut-punching, and inclusive of content much more provocative than anything that would be shown in the U.S, including ads addressing:

  • the importance of reporting child abuse
  • potential impacts of closing a women’s shelter
  • how the UK National Lottery apparently helps to support veterans. Seriously, people – I’m not even British and I don’t engage in lotterying, yet I’m utterly compelled to find some way to play the UK National Lottery due to being emotionally obliterated by this 2 minute spot centered on the memories of a Vietnam War veteran.
  • “Excuses” for texting-while-driving. I’m all for throwing these sorts of scared-straight PSAs at Americans, but sadly no – Americans have far too delicate of sensibilities to be subject to such frank unpleasantries
  • I’ll cautiously and with copious  amounts of OMG-TRIGGER-WARNING/WATCH-AT-YOUR-OWN-RISK-FOR-PTSD/FUUUUCK-HUMANS-SUCK-SO-HARD disclaimers for an ad showing the horrid practice of shark-fin harvesting/poaching against which my eyelids snapped shut faster than my fingers autopilot to flip the channel on a Sarah McLachlan-serenaded ASPCA ad.  I grant them an A+ for effect, but see also prior entry re: delicate-American-sensibilities

Happily – here are two friendly unicorn chaser ads, which I’ll kindly embed for your convenience:

  • Sheep dog herding pub dudes:

  • An ad for…advertising. How very meta, but I don’t even care because adorbs and awww:

And then there are those ads which serve as perfect studies in compare/contrast varying degrees of clever, amusing, creative with dim, derp, lowest-common-denominator:

  • Example of the former
  • Example of the latter (there were actually like 6 or so variations on this dim-witted, race-to-the-bottom theme, all of which inexplicably won awards)

See what Durex did there: woo-sex-is-teh-awesome CAN co-exist with a cheeky sense of humor WHILE not insulting half of the human species! See what Axe did there: chicks are teh dumb AND it’s-hard-out-there-for-a-dudebro-amirite. And while there’s plenty of the lowest-common-denom dim derp dudebros to keep Axe making bank long after my sexytime lady bits retire to an old folks home, it would be nice if there weren’t so many of them (dim-derps, not ladybits) dishing out Arrow Awards or curating ads into the shorted compilation of the Arrow Awards the Walker shows.

Other points of interest, honorable mentions or bits-to-be-mocked:

All in all a pleasant way to share an evening with friends,  even with emotional roller-coaster/PTSD-inducing ads.

Can’t stop, won’t stop May 17, 2013

Posted by therealtinlizzy in Uncategorized.
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This week saw the passage of gay marriage in Minnesota, during the live-streamed Senate debate of which @snipy and I cheered and booed/hissed alternately while drinking adult beverages at Wilde Roast. Neither of us have the least inclination to get gay-married, cuz – well it just doesn’t suit us. But cheers to homos who want to for lots of compelling reasons now being ABLE to get gay married here in ye olde Minnesota, hip-hip-hooray!

This week also saw the end of the semester for me with the taking of my Microbiology final exam today (on which I think I didn’t do too dismally), and am tonight basking in twitchy punchiness after cramming, shoving, shoehorning all things pathogens and virulence into the tiny space of my head over the past few days.

Does too fit

Must pick up the personal essay-writing again this weekend, and completing other bits of my (re)application, and then back on the train of studying for a retake  of the MCAT mid-late summer (le sigh), but for tonight – it’s all curling up with Sheri Tepper’s Grass. I’m rather pleased to have made it through Robert Caro’s first Lyndon B. Johnson doorstop (an excellent doorstop, but a doorstop nonetheless) but it’s nice to dip back into some spec fiction after that slog of nonfiction.

So while my brain works on getting back to being able to string some words together other than those relating to viral & bacterial pathogens, superantigens, endo/exotoxins, and the methods of action for which antivirals/antimicrobials are used to treat which marauding pathogens, I’m going to post the essay I submitted for my extra credit assignment for my Future Physician course. The assignment was to interview a physician of our choice,  and then string some words together about it. Happily I did so rather more effectively than I’m able to at the moment.


Med school for medicine? Nah dude – wind-sailing! April 8, 2013

Posted by therealtinlizzy in Uncategorized.
Not actual advertisement for the U of MN medical school

(not the actual advertisement in question for the U of M medical school)

Last Thursday’s Future Physician featured a doc/topic to whom/which I was very much looking forward: Dr.  Carrie Terrell – an Ob/Gyn at the University of Minnesota Women’s Specialties Clinic.

I was initially acquainted with with Dr. Terrell as one of the “visiting” physicians who provided abortion services at Midwest Health Center for Women (acquired over a year ago by Whole Woman’s Health) where I volunteered as a patient escort for over 5 years. While I didn’t have much opportunity to interact with Dr. Terrell directly during my years at the clinic due to my volunteer duties being on the sidewalk in front of the clinic, my experiences at MHCW provided the foundation for my inspiration to become a physician (inclusive of being able to provide abortion care for women), and Dr. Terrell was my initial point of contact for reaching out to a real-live physician to discuss my intent, plans and really to just get a first clue about where to start.

In addition to being incredibly gracious to meet with me and share her experiences in getting into med school and her journey leading to becoming an Ob/Gyn, Dr. Terrell was the one who opened doors for me to observe a number of surgeries and her clinical work at the U of M. She has generously provided me connections to other physicians, including to those through whom I’ve been given many learning and experience opportunities, such as with the Ladder and the Broadway Family Clinic.

Ok – enough prelude gushing, except to say that I hold Dr. Terrell in extremely high regard for my own personal reasons, in addition to my knowledge of the incredible work she does for women individually and for women’s rights and health on a more broad level. Now back to the part about being excited to have her present for my Future Physician class last week.


Reflections on Neurosurgeons March 15, 2013

Posted by therealtinlizzy in Uncategorized.

One of the good things about the Future Physician course I’m taking is the compulsory small bits of writing we’re sometimes required to do for the quizzes each week following the physicians’ presentations. Some of the quizzes are simply multiple choice, but some or parts of them are essay/reflection type questions. Oh, and on a timer – which, for this noodly meandering writer who finds concision difficult and excels in tangents and rabbit-holing, is a good thing.


Case in point, last week’s quiz included a request for reflections on some specific elements of the presentation/talk given by a pair of neurosurgeons. It was actually one of two presentations that particularly lit up my neural net like a Lite-Brite (each of them have been brushfire-inducing in various ways, but these two even more so), so I appreciated the added prompting of an assignment to prod me to write a bit about it. Also, I had only one hour to write it – so great practice on that whole “better get my mental shit together FAST.” Too bad the MCAT is doing away with the essay-writing portion. Actually no – it’s not too bad, I felt more harried over the essay bit than I did agonizing over some obscure physics passage on harmonics and composite waveforms that I crashed and burned on. Then again, I fared better on the essay portion than I did the physics portion…


Anyway, decided I’d post my hastily-thrown-together thoughts on the neurosurgeons from last week, Dr. Andrew Grande and Dr. Bharathidasan Jagadeesan, who were both brilliant and engaging. I particularly resonated with Dr. Grande, whose enthusiasm and love for what he does, and the genuine emotion with which he talks about his life and his patients, just gushes from him.

Note – I’m just leaving the sentence frags and misspells, because it’s how I wrote it in an hour where I ran out of time to proof (gah – frags and misspells! Am mortified that I had to submit it before cleaning those up):

One of the valuable notions I gleaned from Thurday’s session included Dr. Grande’s assertion of how every single individual on the team invovled in a patient’s care is significant and necessary – from nurses to health care assistants to techs to physicians to specialists. Early on in my pursuit of medical school I grew concerned at the hierarchy I perceived within the health care professions, that it rubbed wrong my egalitarian sense of respect for everyone’s differing skills and abilities, even when those skills and abilities are quantitatively or qualitatively diverse. However, Dr. Grande’s assertion and attitude reinforced for me what a number of physician mentors and medical learning opportunities have shown me: that there are many, many physicians who, rather than perceiving non-physician health care staff as inferior or to be condescended towards, they perceive teamwork and trust of each other to be of utmost importance.

The speakers also reinforced for me that medicine isn’t a profession that you just “lock up in your desk” at the end of the day – at least the sort of medicine Drs. Grande and Jagadeesan practice certainly isn’t. Dr. Grande’s description of a particularly harried week where he progressed from a 24+ surgery, to a follow-up on another patient (or few), to an engagement to which he had committed illustrated that being a physician, or certainly a neurosurgeon is a lifestyle, not a “job.”

In addition to the many meaningful and inspiring notions I took away from Thursday’s session, one piece of advice I found particularly relevant in assisting in preparation for a life in medicine was the reinforcement of the expectation I had already settled into that the “becoming” a physician isn’t some 7-10 year grim sentence to be endured, after which one can emerge into the light of finally “being a doctor.” Rather, 7-10 years spanning classwork slogging, rotations, residency and fellowship (and everything in between) is all part of the “practice” of medicine. As a prospective medical student already in my late 30’s, one of the first notions with which I had to come to terms as I considered pursuing medicine was that I wouldn’t be a full-fledged physician until at the earliest my mid-fourties. Almost immediately in my consideration of that, it occurred to me that it made no difference to me – because clearly the entire process of becoming a doctor – all of the schooling and apprenticeship – are exactly that: part of the process. The pursuit as well as the actual “becoming” a physician are what I’m passionate to pursue. Drs. Grande and Jagadeesan assert similiar notions – that the entire process of medical school, residency and fellowship (at least after the initial classroom work) is all apprenticeship and “doing,” and that was very encouraging to me.

One of the most meaningful moments for me from Thurday’s session was Dr. Grande’s story of an older woman who collapsed while on a riverboat casino with her husband. The woman came under Dr. Grande’s care and was discovered to have aneurism which caused the collapse. After being informed of the state of her condition, the family decided to withdraw treatment or life saving measures and to instead let her body go when it would. Dr. Grande spoke of happening to walk past her room when doing rounds as her heart monitor flat-lined and she passed, and of looking in on her to find her husband curled up next to her in the bed. Dr. Grande’s compassion, caring and empathy for his patient, and her husband, was evinced not simply in the telling of the story, but by the emotion evinced in his voice and on his face. Not only this story, but other descriptions of his interactions with patients and their families, and his assertion that physicians are present in the inner circles of patients and families, the most vulnerable and fraught of places – where the most patience and compassion from a phycian is possible and needed.

Another point about compassion that Dr. Grande made which struck home for me was his assertion that true compassion isn’t about being kind and caring during the breezy times when everything works out smoothly, or even just being caring, empathetic and respectful to the patient. Compassion is about being able to care for patients and their families, to be able to be frank and honest, during the most difficult of times – when circumstances are the most fraught and traumatic, when patients and families are frazzled, anxious or even short-fused, and particularly when circumstances are going entirely “off the rails.” The ability to remain actively, heartfeltedly caring, honest, gentle and empathetic towards patients and their families under these sorts of circumstances is what true compassion is, and what’s required of any good physician.

Etch-A-Sketchin’ March 15, 2013

Posted by therealtinlizzy in Uncategorized.

These past couple months have been the usual blur of rarely stopping long enough to even fit in a delectable episode of Doctor Who (I’m still on the 10th Doctor you guys, and will be utterly heartbroken when he morphs into his next incarnation).


In addition to the ol’ day job (which has actually been hella enjoyable,  ridiculously challenging and surprisingly rewarding since the exit of two former co-workers whose workloads I took on), the minion/volunteer shifts at HCMC (which I <3), and MCAT (re)studying there have been some additions to my cookie dough mix.

I’ve started participating in something called the Ladder, a gathering/org that seeks to mentor North Minneapolis kids towards pursuing health science careers. Obvs I’m not a North Mpls underprivileged kid, but rather my participation is about trying to make myself useful as a mentor to the particularly-disadvantaged-at-having-any-shot-at-becoming-a-physician demographic of North Minneapolis youth. Or rather more so, because I’m a grown up white kid wanna-be-doc who had/has all the privilege and who doesn’t on the surface have a lot for a dicked-over-by-society kid-from-the-North-Side to resonate with, to at least just be a useful minion to those (like the residents & docs from the Broadway Family Physicians clinic who started/run the program) who are in the bestest position to be meaningful mentors to such kids. I’ve found a happy niche as website-update-minion for them, in addition having the privilege of getting to know a crew of physicians, residents, students, and North Side folks to whom I can look as mentors as well.

Then in addition to recently dealing with hospitalization-level healthcare matters with both my dad and @snipy’s (both cases of which were excellent learning opportunities, and happily all has worked out and is nearly resolved in both their cases), and getting a crash course in management of type I diabetes (for this one, whose pancreas in early December apparently gave up insulin-production as a bad job)…


…I’ve picked up a couple of Spring term classes at the U of M. I’m only taking 4 credits (one 3 credit course and one 1-credit), which seems on the surface rather wussie – who couldn’t breeze through 1.5 classes?  However, taken in the mix of All The Things – I’ve got zero reports of lacking challenge at the moment.

One of my classes is Microbiology, which this Bio major somehow missed out on taking in undergrad. I know right? Actually – I had very good reason for missing out on it: St Kate’s only offered Micro one semester (maybe only every other year?), and it happened that the one time I could have taken it – I would have had to forgo Neurobiology, which I was seriously jonesin for at the time (and which did end up one of my very favorite classes in undergrad).  Anyway – it’s sort of a boon to have not taken it back then, because I could not have been nearly as enthused over little creeping/flagellating/sex-pilus’ing microbes then as I’ve grown to be over the past couple years.

Caulobacter crescentus

(That’s one of my favorite microbes of the moment, Caulobacter crescentus, part way through dividing to produce a stalk cell and a swarm cell. Summon swarm!)

The other class is called The Future Physician – where every week’s lecture is a presentation and Q&A opp from a different type of physician or surgeon (with a 5-point quiz or writing assignment as follow-up). Guest speakers have been without exception utterly compelling and engaging, and not surprisingly I leave each week wanting to go into whatever specialty was discussed that day. Except for sports medicine – I have next to zero interest in sports med, despite having been the recipient multiple times of sports medicine (looking at both of you, ACLs). Presenters so far have included: a cardiothoracic surgeon, an emergency pediatric physician, endovascular neurosurgeons, sports medicine doc, a policy-wonk/rural-medicine doc, an orthopedic surgeon, and a panel of med students.


Aside from the information and inspiration deluge that all of them have been for me, one of the presentation (by Dr. Marilyn Mellor, the pediatric emergency doc) was in particular on the art and usefulness of journaling. Her prescription was to journal, privately and for one’s own eyes only. And not just (for her) on the big things, but on the seemingly small things too, to take the time to commit to words the moments, the details that will eventually be Etch-A-Sketched ™ at least somewhat, if not completely, by time. I’m working on taking her advice, although a good bit of that  may end up here rather than the private pages of a notebook. Not many other than me sees this anyway, so it’s all good. 😀

Surgical Picture Pages – laparoscopic myomectomy via DaVinci October 11, 2012

Posted by therealtinlizzy in Uncategorized.

So – onto the Picture Pages summary of (my interpretation of) laparoscopic myomectomy (i.e. removal of uterine fibroids) by the DaVinci method.

Let’s consider the uterus, in this case a happy not-presently-hassled-by-any-undue-hardship uterus:

Now let’s consider a sad-panda uterus that’s been beset with uterine fibroids:

I know – bummer right? Uterine fibroids are a sort of benign tumor of the smooth muscle of the uterus. While they’re benign and nothing to generally worry about cancer-wise, they can become a damn hassle, leading to “gynecologic hemorrhage, heavy or painful periods, abdominal discomfort or bloating, painful defecation, back ache, urinary frequency or retention, and in some cases, infertility” (thanks Wikipedia!).

There are a few ways to treat fibroids, one of which is to slice them off-of/out-of the uterus.

Back in the day, the only way of accessing a patient’s abdominal bits was by slicing the patient’s belly wide open:


Surgical Picture Pages October 10, 2012

Posted by therealtinlizzy in Uncategorized.

In my quest for med school (for which, incidentally, I’ve been declined for the 2013 class, so am doubling-down for reapplication next year. Oh god – did I really just type “doubling-down?”) I’ve had the opportunity to observe a number of surgical and/or clinical procedures. These include a C-section, laparoscopies to remove ovaries and ovarian cysts, and a number of abortions. Yesterday’s observation was a laparoscopic myomectomy via the DaVinci method – i.e. removal of uterine fibroids using ROBOTS – which is both less and more interesting than you might think.


I’d meant to sit down and pen my summaries of each procedure to which I’ve been privy – but what can I say, I kind of suck at slowing down long enough to do so. I do all the things, then it’s off to the next thing. But today I took myself by the shoulders and said “sit your ass down and scribble your recollections into a blog post before they Etch-a-Sketch out of your head, dummeh.”

Ok, great idea, do it. However, summarizing a medical procedure as a lay person (even if, or perhaps especially if, that lay person is an aspiring med school student) in the context of a blog post seems pretty snoreworthy for anyone to actually read, and is most definitely rather snoozeworthy for me in the writing of it. So I decided I should draw it.

It actually struck me a number of times during the procedure yesterday that I wished I could photo-capture: the layout of the room, the expanded bubble of the patient’s belly (inflated with air to make space internally for the procedure), the patient skewered by 5 different ports/implements all attached to a “robot” being controlled from across the room by the surgeon who is doing the equivalent of playing a virtual reality video game, complete with 3-D visual display, hand/finger/foot controls; watching on-screen as the disturbingly-large egg-shaped fibroids were transformed into sausage whirled up out of the abdomen through what’s functionally a tubular inverse garbage disposal, via one of the ports transversing the patient’s belly.

So, with inspiration from (and apologies to!) The Oatmeal, and Hyperbole & a Half  (and Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings, for that matter) – I bring you my Surgical Picture Pages.

First you should meet the surgical team, names changed to protect – well sensitive health info, but here’s the general cast for typical gyn procedures:

Meet the Circulator.


Chalk full June 23, 2012

Posted by therealtinlizzy in Uncategorized.

(pun intended)

I’ve been trying the past couple of weeks to zero in on completion of a particular writing task, but I’ve been doing nothing but circling the drain on it, as my sig likes to say. I’ve been trying to craft my personal statement/essay to submit to AMCAS  (central site for med school application submission): a 5300 character (char, not word) essay on “why you want to go to med school” (yes – it’s verbed just like that, which sounds adorably like something I would ask my friend’s 7 year-old). To that end, I’ve been approaching it head on – with a resounding lack of success.  It’s similar to why I found blogging for the Abortion Gang so difficult: when faced with the task of writing a thing under any combo of constraints such as  narrowly defined  topic, specific structure, or word limit– I go all deer-getting-writer’s-block -in-the-headlights.

So I realized, as I’ve been doing everything short of chaining myself to a chair to get the thing done, that – duh – in classic tin lizzy fashion , it’s like this: you know when you’re trying to look at a really dim star, but you can’t focus on it, because your retinas don’t have rods in the spots where your focus falls, so you have to look NEXT to the star and you can then actually see it peripheral to your focus? Or, also analogous – those neato Magic Eye posters from the 80’s? 90’s? where you can furrow your brows and scowl at the thing all day long and you’ll never see the hidden image. But just relax your gaze, space off a bit, and stop trying to see it – and voila – there’s the dolphin chasing the unicorn across the rings of Saturn.

Actually this one’s pretty simple…a greyhound maybe…or a horse with no tail…or maybe a horse-hound.

Anyway, clearly that’s exactly what I need to do in this case: rather than approaching this essay-writing in full-frontal-assault-on-the-castle-gate style where I settle into the precise task of trying to craft an essay  describing why/how the entirety of my adult life experience has led me to pursue being a physician, shoehorned into 5300 chars or less, I need to step back and approach it sideways. I need to find relax my gaze to find the dolphin.

I don’t write well, or often at all, when I sit down tasked with free-writing a particular thing (except on the MCAT – I pulled those 2 essays out of my ass in 30 mins each pretty well – but I also was prepared for the structure of it, if not the topics); I know full well I do my best writing when I’m looking off to the side. So that’s what I need to do – look off to the side, see if I can get a better view of that star I’m targeting than the utterly useless act of staring directly at it. And if it ends up being an entirely different star than the one I was looking for, well – it will be the one I needed to see. I can promise whatever it is, it won’t be chock (not chalk) full of corny analogies. And whatever all else, ideally my answer to the question “why do you want to go to med school” will be more compelling than if answered by a 7 year-old.