Thursday Born

The everyday life of a medical student (who was born on a Thursday).

I’ve moved!

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I finally got around to buying a domain! is the new address for this blog. If you go to, it will automatically redirect you to the new domain, but it cost me money (12 whole dollars!) to set that up, and being a broke medical student, I may or may not decide to pay for another year when it runs out (november 2011).

So please, change any links! And change the blog you’re subscribed to in google reader. I thought my old subscribers would be seeing the posts on the new domain, but I just found out that they’re not, so please change your subscription!

Again, new address =

Written by Aba

December 11, 2010 at 7:37 pm

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Bottled Mead!

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I finally got around to bottling my first two gallons of mead! These are the sum of the sterile, properly bottled ones that should be safe to store indefinitely (but I think I will encourage them to be drunk soon because I don’t think this recipe really improves much with age and I let it get exposed to air quite a bit as I was siphoning them into the bottles). I also really underfilled one of the bottles, but that one’s going home with me for Christmas so it will be opened soon. There’s two more of the smaller bottles (200ml) and a small 4oz nalgene container in the fridge, that were not bottled under sterile conditions and should be consumed really soon.

It was a very messy and sticky process, and I think I need to invest in an auto-filler. I’m not sure how people manage to actually pinch off the tube between bottles by hand, because the best I could do was sort of slow the flow, but not stop it. Still, I have to report that this recipe is amazing and while I do still intend to try at least a third recipe (there’s a second one still finishing up in my pantry), I think this will be my go-to recipe. It’s just so easy and it tastes so good. I might try little variations, but I don’t really have the time to seriously get into brewing anyway, especially recipes that need much more rigid handling.

I’m in love with my bottle capper though. There’s something nifty about being able to cap bottles just like the ones you buy in the store! I can cap any bottle that takes a standard bottle cap (so not the twist off bottles). I decided not to invest in a corker, and instead bought some fancy “Zork” corks that you just push (or hammer) into the wine bottle. They’re also easier to open than normal corks (hilarious commercial about this), and they turn into a wine stopper once the seal has been removed. They’re definitely more expensive than real corks, but for the volume of mead I plan to make, I think these are a reasonable investment.

Owning a capper kind of makes me want to try making beer, except I still only vaguely like beer. I have the yeast to try making hard cider though, and I’ll probably do that after Christmas break. Hard cider is a very simple process of add yeast to apple cider, wait ten days, then drink your hard cider.

Written by Aba

November 19, 2010 at 3:34 pm

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Engaging Teachers

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While a good majority of my medical education is lectures, there are some small group sessions. A good majority of those small group sessions are a bit more like mini-lectures, but every now and then I get lucky and have a small group leader who really engages us.

A month or two ago I had that experience in a one-time radiology session. About ten of us and one radiology resident, plus a bunch of chest x-rays. He made each of us take a turn talking through the x-ray, asking us questions, then asking leading questions when we floundered. It challenged us, but it didn’t make us feel like we were idiots. I was expecting yet another lecture with a ton of slides, so I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out, and how much I enjoyed it.

My GI small group leader does pretty much the same thing, and he’s great. Usually I can just sit silently, listening but not really absorbing what’s going on. I think I understand but then when I look at the material again later, I realize that it went in one ear and out the other. I’ve started to bring my laptop (since I take notes now! :D), and I’m really glad I do; he goes around the room and asks us questions based on the cases, and he doesn’t just ask us the questions we’re given ahead of time. I find myself having to look things up during the session so I can answer what I think he might be asking when it gets to be my turn, while also paying attention to what’s currently going on. And I’ve been making sure I’m caught up with the material and that I’ve read the cases the night before. But it’s not a hassle, and I don’t grumble about how he makes us all participate. I love it. I love feeling like I’m actually learning medicine and understanding what’s going on. I love not feeling completely lost because the questions are only being answered by people who really seem to know their stuff; instead, I’m seeing other people struggle and realizing that it’s okay not to know so long as you try to think it through.

And I’m thinking that maybe I’m not wrong to look forward to third year, if this will be central style of teaching. I can do this kind of learning. Where I really need to prove that I know something instead of just being able to pick an answer out of a bunch of choices. Grades have never been a good motivator for me, but not wanting to look stupid in front of others? Wanting to look smart? That’s the right kind of fire to light under me that gets me up and moving (or rather, down and studying).  I admit, I’m still a bit scared of third year, especially since we know nothing about it. At first I thought it was going to be really hard, and then I thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, and now I’ve been hearing that no, actually, it will be pretty difficult.  In about two and a half weeks we have another class meeting with the career counseling office (first and only other one was last year) so maybe they’ll shed some much needed light on Step 1 and third year, because so far we’ve been relying on each other and upperclassmen, with next to zero official information.

P.S. Just wanted to brag that I normally don’t spell check my entries, but I decided to today, and no errors! Well, minus the fact that it thinks I should hyphenate “much needed.” Huh.

Written by Aba

November 17, 2010 at 2:56 am

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Third Block! – GI, Endo & Derm

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And so begins our third block! My collection of course books is growing quite rapidly…

This block, at only 4.5 weeks long but only a little smaller than last block, has been fairly intense.  Very long days of lecture, which has made keeping up difficult (I just finished last week, but there’s enough time left tonight that I might be able to catch up through today if I focus). I really like the material of this block, so far. I guess I find Crohn’s Disease and Diabetes more interesting than Pneumonia and Myocardial Infarctions. All of my grades but Cardio from last block are in, and I’m happy with them, especially if the second years really thought that it, the CPR block , was the hardest of the six. I can do this! I haven’t been as good about reading First Aid (the main Step 1 review book that most people at least start with) after I finish each topic as I meant to be. I still haven’t read the Renal and Pulmonary sections, but I have a flight coming up for Thanksgiving and when’s a better time to catch up on some reading than when there’s little else to do? Reading the Cardio section didn’t send me into a panic though, so I’m feeling good about the correlation between what they teach us in school, and what I need to know for the test. I’m not very interested in any of the competitive specialties so I’m not aiming for an astonishingly high score, but I want it to be good enough to feel like I have options when it comes to applying for my residencies. Who knows where I’ll want to be for those 3-7 or more years, but I’d like to have a good shot at getting in wherever it is.

After my exams but before this block began, I had a chance to make some cheese fondue. This was only the fourth time I’ve had it (and all times it’s been home-made), and it was just as delicious as the other times, if not even better. I’ve always used Gruyere and Emmenthaler, but this time I used Jarlsberg instead of the Emmenthaler, and I cut the wine in half and substituted in some chicken stock. We had are it with bread and apples, with some spinach on the side.

But once the block started, it meant meals were going to be less fancy and more centered on “how quickly can I make it and how many nutrients can I pack into it?” Which leads to meals like black beans (canned), and sweet potato (microwaved) on a tortilla (this one was corn), with some cheese and salsa. Very quick to throw together, and one can of beans and one decent sized sweet potato means enough leftovers for 3-4 more meals. Guess what I ate for dinner/lunch most of last week? Sorry about the bad picture. Not the prettiest meal to photograph in the first place, and I’m not always good about turning on enough lights in my room before I take my pictures.

But sometimes, you need to find the time to indulge a little bit. I made a fish soup about two months ago that unintentionally was very close to a Ghanaian dish called Light Soup. It was very good, but I had meant to make something a little creamier and less acidic. Then my roommate made a simple thai coconut soup and I decided to see if coconut milk would give me the consistency and flavor profile I was looking for.  Finally, this past Sunday, I got around to trying this idea. I used this recipe for inspiration, but I cooked my vegetables for a while first, then added the liquids, and then I let it cook until the vegetables were soft. At the end, I added the fish, let it sit for five minutes, and voila! Delicious, wonderful, thai coconut and lemongrass soup! I remember the first time I had a soup like this, and I fell in love with it. Except then I only had it maybe three more times. Well, now I can make it myself! And it’s so easy! Honestly, I prefer it on its own, but my classmate-neighbors overcooked some noodles and didn’t want to eat them, so I’ve been working my way through them.

I confess, it’s still not quite what I was looking for, but it was a happy misstep because I love this soup! Next time I will try making something closer to the first batch, but decreasing the presence of tomato and adding either skinned  zucchini or eggplant, as my mother suggested (I might throw in the skins separately though, because why waste perfectly edible vegetable matter that my diet really needs?). Anyway, I really recommended making a variation of this Thai version. You can make it really quickly like the original recipe, or you can do what I do and let things simmer longer so you can get some other errands done until you get hungry enough and can invite your neighbor-classmates over for lunch.

My ingredient list:

~3/4 of 1 huge yellow onion
~1 cup of carrots
~ 1 tomato
1 container of button mushrooms
1 19oz can of Coconut Soup that specifically said “For Cooking” on the can.
16oz Perch
2 shrimp bouillon cubes
1 fish bouillon cube
~ 2 cans of water (ie, I used the coconut soup can to pour in the water; at some point I decided it was too thin and let it boil off for a bit. I’d say start with a 1:1 ratio, then thin as desired)
~ 1 tablespoon of garlic paste
The leftover ginger I had in the fridge which looked to be close to two tablespoons
My best guess at two tablespoons of lemongrass (don’t chop it up like I did; it’s touch to chew so you want to remove it before you serve)
1 cup and a bit more of frozen chopped red, yellow and green peppers from Trader Joe’s
Handsqueezed juice of 1 lime
Zest of about half of half of 1 lime.
Some extra salt and a bit of black pepper to taste at the end.
When I remember, fresh cilantro leaves right before serving.

Written by Aba

November 15, 2010 at 11:37 pm

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Tests, Studying and Food

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Exam week has ended! Got good grades on two of them, waiting to hear about the other two. During exam week and a bit before, I did find the time to take some pictures, and now I have the time to post them! Except I don’t really have the time, and I need to drag myself into bed immediately because I already have several hours of lecture to catch up on. Second year moves quickly!

Before exam week, I bought 20 pounds of Gala apples from the Farmer’s Market. The result? Several jars of apple butter! Mostly eaten in greek yogurt, which I’ve only recently decided that I like. I think in the future I might just start with plain apple sauce plus some real apples, unless I find a ridiculous deal on apples. Still, I rather like the stuff. It’s a bit sour because I refused to pour cups and cups of sugar into it, but the fat content of the yogurt cuts the acidity nicely.

The apple butter is also pretty good in oatmeal! My roommate, Hao, and I bought a watermelon about… a month ago. She cut it open before my exam week and it was still delicious, so that was exciting in and of itself, and also good timing for me. And in addition to my 20lbs of Gala apples, I had 5 pounds of Fuji apples. Oatmeal, watermelon and apples. Not bad for exam week stress eating! (Though I’m more of a stress non-eater than a stress eater.)

Hao found this amazing recipe for pumpkin bread, which she hasn’t blogged about yet and I don’t have the link to the recipe, but seriously, it’s really good. Instant coffee with powdered non-dairy creamer (ran out of soy milk and no time to go buy some) + pumpkin bread = good night before the exam “need to stay awake just a bit longer!” snack.

Peppermint tea! My stomach goes crazy when I’m stressed, so exam week equals mug upon mug of peppermint tea.

Which I also take to school with me and sip during my tests. And since it was a renal exam, twice people commented that it was “tea colored,” but it is in fact tea, and not a very large and strangely packaged urine sample…

One of my classmates, Joe, lives a few floors below me. His girlfriend Amrita bakes often, and has a great chocolate chip cookie recipe that we all love and that I’ve blogged about before. She doesn’t live here (yet! she will soon) so last time she visited, she left some dough behind for Joe. The night before our Renal Exam, he made us some cookies in my toaster oven to eat while we (me, him + two other classmates) studied. Unfortunately, the toaster oven was a bit tempermental so the cookies came out a burnt around the edges. They still tasted good though!
Apple butter, honey, and greek yogurt. Mmm. The cardio notes in the background, not so “Mmm” worthy.
Food gift from my “lil’ sib!” The first years and second years are paired up as “lil’ sib, big sib.” It’s tradition to leave baked goods and other tasty treats in your “sib’s” mailbox before their exams. Mine is vegan, so mostly I’ve been giving her some of my jams and butters, which she’s been happy with. She doesn’t bake much, but she does make granola bars and other such things, so this time she gave me peanut butter rice crispie treats, which are really good and about half gone now.

Written by Aba

November 10, 2010 at 3:25 am

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Fun with my new camera

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I’ve been experimenting with actually using the features my camera comes with, instead of just leaving it on one setting for all pictures.

Grilled cheese sandwich made of brie and homemade apple butter. Honeycrisp apple cider in the background. It was good, but sharper cheeses would be better. At least some good cheddar. Someday (possibly soon) I will re-create the Cosi sandwich my boyfriend Ahmet had the first time we interacted one on one, without others around. He had taken care of my rabbits over Thanksgiving break and I had just returned and no one else was really around, so after he gave me back my keys, we went to Cosi to eat, and he got this five cheese and marmalade toasted sandwich and it was delicious! I don’t even remember what I had. His was better.

Success! I just googled the sandwich and found a blog post that lists the five cheeses, so I’m good to go! Brie, provolone, cheddar, Swiss, and parmesan. It apparently has an insane amount of calories, but my version will likely be quite a bit more modest.

Eggo waffle (I was too lazy to make crepes, which are how I usually eat this combination) with hazelnut butter and fresh strawberries. Always a winning combination. Seriously. If you must, use nutella instead, but I prefer the pure hazelnut variation. Don’t get me wrong. I love nutella, but it’s a very strong flavor and I love it best on bread, by itself, like how I grew up eating it by mooching off my classmate’s lunches when I was six.

I wasn’t actually trying to turn my waffle in Pac Man, or the cut would have been deeper. Still, I looked at my plate and realized I had an almost pac man, so I took a picture, of course.

Random fire spinners I don’t know, at a drum circle. Fancier cameras can get even more amazing pictures of fire spinning. Still, neat though, right? I’ve been spinning a decent amount lately (but not recently, due to school) and realizing that not only do I have lots of techniques I want to learn, but I also need to work on style, because I don’t really have much of a style right now, and I could put on a decent performance even at my skill level if I just added a bit of a flare and some easy transition moves. Unfortunately, medical school kinda comes very far ahead of “looking cool while playing with fire.” Speaking of medical school, back to the kidneys!

Written by Aba

October 30, 2010 at 1:56 am

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Re-considering (sort of) Research

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I have exams again on Monday. Starting with Pathology of the Heart, Kidneys and Lungs on Monday, Renal Pathophysiology on Tuesday, Nothing on Wednesday, then Cardiovascular Pathophysiology on Thursday and Pulmonary Pathophysiology on Friday.

However, despite the fact that us second years have exams next week, and that we were the majority of the students who did summer research, the Summer Research Poster symposium was yesterday.   I wasn’t looking forward to it, right from the putting the poster together to having to stand by it for an hour yesterday, but it turned out to be okay. Putting the poster together didn’t take too long, my summer research team approved of the first draft, and printing did not take an hour as I was told to expect. I also rather enjoyed chatting with my “faculty reviewer.” He was a neurologist whose first question to all of us was “What was the coolest thing about your experience this summer?” His questions made it clear that his main interest was to see if the summer research had inspired any of us to think about research as a career. I don’t think I’ve ever had someone so genuinely try to recruit me into research. It wasn’t all that hard of a sell, but I could tell that he really enjoyed research and that he really feels that there need to be more doctors taking more of an evidence based medicine approach to their practice and doing clinical research at least on the side, if not primarily.

I did really enjoy my experience over the summer. It was only six weeks, which isn’t long enough to really accomplish something, but it gave me a chance to see a much different lab environment from where I worked for a year before medical school. The lab was very friendly, and there were many different labs all working in the same office area, with a very open and warm collaborative environment.  It almost felt more like an office job than a research job, but I liked that aspect of it. Still, while I had a lot of fun pretending to be a programmer (and succeeding at programing!), it’s just not what I had in mind when I decided I wanted to be a doctor. There’s certainly nothing wrong with doing something different from what I expected, but if something’s going to change my path, I don’t think this is it.

And now back to studying. I really should have a better grasp at reading EKGs by now but I’m still fumbling in the dark a bit (a lot).

Written by Aba

October 28, 2010 at 3:21 pm

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