Monday, January 30, 2012

Spirituality in Medicine

The first-year medical students choose from among seven humanities courses this semester:
  1. Cultural Diversity in Medicine
  2. End of Life Care
  3. History of Medicine: Great Pandemics and Our Responses to Them
  4. Medicine and Literature
  5. Perception, Art, & Clinical Judgment
  6. Spirituality in Medicine
  7. Physician: Heal Thyself
I chose Spirituality in Medicine, because the spiritual life is very important to me. Medicine is only a piece of my life, which as a whole is only legible in spiritual terms. I want to aid patients' bodies and the souls of patients and colleagues (not in an unasked way), and so I want to know how patients and colleagues think and feel about spirituality in medicine.

Since they course began a few weeks ago, I've made two discoveries:
  • There is published controversy about whether doctors should include spirituality in their practice.
One of our assignments (chapter 2 from Spirituality In Patient Care: Why How When & What by Harold G. Koenig, MD, 2002) cited multiple arguments against it. A professional does not do what he is not qualified or competent to safely accomplish, a physician should not hurt the autonomy of his patients, etc. Koenig overcomes many of these arguments and cites evidence for the beneficial psychological and somatic benefits of spirituality. This discovery (and Koenig's arguments) were not much of a surprise. The second discovery was.
  • It is very popular among non-Christians and weak Christians to think "spiritual" may be had without religion and without God.
Science and Charity. Pablo Picasso. (Crazy, right?!)
I approach this from a Thomistic, scholastic (rational) background. With natural reason alone, God can be proved necessary to sustain contingent beings moment to moment. Everything involves God. Moreover, how can a spiritual encounter not involve the principle of spirituality? God is most spirit, so is the agent of all things spiritual, just as heat is the agent of all things hot. A "spiritual encounter" in nature or with other people refers to a deep and impressive sensation which St. Ignatius calls a psychological consolation. But such a movement is not without God, who sustains our every breath.

I am grateful for my grasp of true spirituality (I am not afraid to say that I have the true opinion), but I will humbly learn from anyone that has something to teach me. I've already learned a great deal! Two physicians have addressed the class: a Muslim and a Christian. The Muslim spoke about spirituality as above. The Christian seemed to have a better understanding ("spirituality" was an intimate part of life animating her to serve and heal others), but did not articulate it. Both were adept at discussing patients' spiritual needs in their practices, and because this is what I want to learn, I will quietly listen and retain what is good. (And I will tell you about it.) Pray for me!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


When I was at TAC, I was limited to analyzing the prints in our collection (because I had to physically display the painting in the library each week). But now, I'm free to analyze anything I want! (Ha!) I'm hoping to do this about once a month.

On a different note, I finished my painting!   Here are some pictures!

My roommate's painting is on the left; she is almost finished. Mine is on the right (there's a mirror behind it).
We paint in the living room with the canvases on garbage bags covering the carpet. No catastrophes yet!

Oh, no! I just realized this has no title! Comment if you have a good idea. It's a scene from the ballet Giselle. The ballerina and her partner are very blurry, because (a) I can't paint people and (b) I wanted the focus to be on the silhouettes, since they're more individual and like real people. Note: the left edge is cropped in this photo. (The iPhone can't do everything....)

Detail: Giselle and her beloved.

My favorite silhouette. He's got a cigar in his left hand.
So, the painting is by no means Renaissance-quality, but I did try to make it meaningful. The focus is on the silhouettes; the dancers are so vague that they might be a thought in the mind of each silhouette. What is each thinking about? Well, I tried to give them each a little personality. I imagine the left-most man as a successful banker; maybe he's struck by the dancers' beauty and the romance of the story, and he realizes he hasn't had thoughts like that for a long time. The woman next to him is older (her hair is grey, which you can't tell from my fuzzy pictures, or my inadequate painting), with an elaborate hairdo; she almost cranes her neck forward to see she jealous? The far left figure sits with his weight on his left arm, gazing straight in front of him--not at the ballet at all; perhaps he is blind, and by enjoying the music sees a much richer ballet than any dancer could perform.

The younger couple in the center are perfect profiles; they are looking straight at each other, so there is no light reflected on their features. They are silent and solemn, struck by the sorrowful scene in this romantic ballet (Giselle at this point is dead; her ghost is dancing with her beloved and in this classic pose of the ballet, you see that she is eager to go to heaven, while her lover aches to have her on earth). They are challenging each other with a thousand questions: what kind of love do we have? What if this should happen to you or I? Will you mourn for me? Will you remember me? The somber moment puts distance between them. But I imagine it strengthens them.

That's way more meaning than the good-ness (like, lack of beauty) of this painting can bear, but that's what I imagine when I see it! First commenter to suggest a title I like gets to go down in history.

Friday, January 27, 2012

More die from abortion than childbirth?

Knowledge is valuable, even tiny details about obscure proteins, for two reasons:
  1. Such knowledge may be practically useful in a current or future application.
  2. Knowledge is inherently wonderful to have (just ask yourself if you'd like to be deprived of your eyesight, memories, or intellect, which are a few examples of the faculties we have for knowing the world).
Baby and Mom
But when I did clinical research a few years ago as a premed, I noticed the huge information glut in the scientific community.

This glut is mostly harmless but uselessly repetitive research published for the sake of publication. But the glut also includes false conclusions published and tolerated because of bias (conscious or unconscious, good or evil) and lack of skill (in the relevant field or in statistics).

One example of a false conclusion is The comparative safety of legal induced abortion and childbirth in the United States, by Elizabeth Raymond and David Grimes, promoted by Reuters the day after the March for Life. Its flaws are pointed out by Priscilla Coleman in this brief critique. Coleman's main thrust is that Raymond and Grimes' data is incomplete, because:
  1. not all states count abortion-induced deaths,
  2. not all abortion clinics report deaths,
  3. not all abortion-induced deaths occur after first trimester abortions, and
  4. not all autopsies correctly report abortion as a cause of death (e.g. if a women went to the ER after leaving an abortion clinic). 
Coleman also criticizes Raymond and Grimes of failing to discuss the protective effects of childbirth, though I think this might be legitimately outside the scope of their investigation.

I am ready to believe well of people, since I cannot read their intentions. However, I do not hold out that hope for research, which I can read and dismiss as poor.
Update 1/29/12: AAPLOG recommends's research on this.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

March For Life: a Must-See

The March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Monday, January 23 came and went with complete media blackout, well covered by Joe Heschmeyer. I'm posting to report: there are more young women than ever protesting Roe vs. Wade. Why can't our opposition, who claims to be so pro-women and pro-freedom, acknowledge their voices?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sex Education

Yesterday I attended a training session for the Worth the Wait sex education program. (I drove a long way! In the rain and fog, too!) I'm now trained to give the capstone presentation to eighth graders after they've received the bulk of their sex ed. (In this program, a healthcare professional or medical student always gives the capstone talk.) It was so cool.

I was able to get three other medical students to come, too, and I know they don't all share my "beliefs" (that word is so inane, but every time I want to avoid offending people I find myself using it). I feel like I'm sneaking truth under the radar!

Reasons I like this program:
  • It was designed by a Catholic and a mom of (then) preteens
  • It spans 3-7 years and is age-appropriate
  • It's not anti-sex
  • It encourages
    • abstinence until marriage
    • seeing a doctor if you've had sex, for STD treatment 
    • wellness (abstaining from drugs, smoking, alcohol, and dangerous behaviors...not just "don't have sex!!")--it's holistic
  • It doesn't rely on scare-tactics or graphic pictures. It's based on facts and moments of reflection ("what would happen if..." or "where would I like to be in four years?")
  • It gives the facts. All of them: the medical and socioeconomic effects of premarital sex, the bonuses of a healthy life, and the facts on contraception.
  • It incorporates the law (the legal age to consent to sex is 17; statutory rape, etc.)
  • Their data comes from reliable places, e.g. the CDC (see here for the CDC's information on STDs)
Reasons I can't wait to give a talk (once I observe one):
  • I want to show these kids/peers/friends that I care. I want them to have rich relationships and I want them to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy
  • It's urgent! The more lives are affected early, the healthier our society will be.
  • It's fun! I miss acting and teaching from high school and TAC.
Want to get Worth the Wait at a school near you? Visit the website or email me!

Monday, January 23, 2012


What's medical school actually like? Is it like college? High school? Work? How do you learn to be a doctor?
I used to wonder this a lot in college. So, if you're not a medical student and you're like I was, you're curious about how this works!

90% of my time is spent with classes that are a lot like typical undergrad courses (not TAC classes!). The first year here is divided like this:
  1. Core Principles of Medicine (two "blocks," where "block" simply means half of a semester)
    1. anatomy
    2. physiology
    3. histology
    4. "molecular medicine" (biochemistry, except relevant)
    5. genetics
  2. Introduction to Disease
    1. pathology
    2. microbiology (immunology, bacteriology, virology, parasitology, mycology)
    3. pediatrics
  3. Neuroscience
The second year begins exactly where the first year left off, continuing with more organ-system blocks (which are parts of a semester divided by subject, like neuroscience, female/male reproductive, hematology/oncology, cardiovascular, etc.) Pharmacology and physiology are sprinkled throughout.

10% of my time (right now) is spent in a class called Clinical Skills, where I practice taking a history and physical exam. I now rock the otoscope/ophthalmoscope. I'm terrified of percussion and palpation. (I cannot for the life of me feel lymph nodes.) Once a week we learn a new skill and practice it on partners in a two-hour session. I think this is inadequate, so I've been grabbing everyone I can see to practice any appropriate skill (hence why I am decent at funduscopy but awful with lymph nodes).

Next year this will change slightly, so stay tuned!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Missionary for a Week?!

painting of Mary and Jesus, Our Lady of Good Counsel
Remember when I was only asked to evangelize for a moment? Well, Our Lord is getting more demanding. My post about the childfree choice sparked days of engagement with others.

Long story short: my post of 1/7/12 was found by Laura Carroll, administrator of La Vie Childfree, a website dedicated to the community of those married couples without children by choice. She wrote an analysis of my post on 1/13/12, and ever since they we've been debating in her comment fields. It has been so hard to fit the debate in between the study times. The debate has taxed my patience and my endurance. So many times I said, "Ugh, it's over. I can't talk to this person any more! See? I've reached a brick wall."

I've bid good-bye to the debate, since I've got an exam on Monday. Now that it's over, I'd like to critique the comments, to show that there are no chinks in the truth.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Another Take on the Childfree

This is a guest post by another young woman (pictured). This will create quite a stir for those who are CF, but I am proud of her and edified by her thoughts.
Here are my thoughts on contraception and gay marriage (stay with me for a while):

I think that eating has two purposes. There's the fun part about satisfaction and security, but there's also the nutritional part. Food is meant to fuel your body. Bulimic people separate the two purposes: they want the satisfaction of eating, but don't want to have the additional benefit/result of gaining weight or extra energy.

In the same way, to purposefully live "childfree" without a good reason or through contraception is to separate the two purposes of sex: to have and nurture children, and to further the love and bond between the couple. You only want the pleasure, so you throw up the consequences. Just like bulimia, its unhealthy and unnatural.

Plus, in both situations you are really denying yourself, either of the nutritious benefits of the food or children, and/or the acquisition of increased self discipline.

It makes me sad that people would hold back on what God wants to give to them. In being fertile in marriage, they've got the winning lottery ticket. They are just to afraid to go and pick up the prize... Or, in Catholic terms, the church is right down the street, but they aren't ready for the responsibilities of being a Christian, so they don't take the plunge and try for the benefits of grace.

I think if children were more valued, a lot of problems would be solved. Obviously, abortion would be out first. And when abortion leaves, I don't think it would take long for contraception to follow. Then out goes gay marriage, too. Maybe in a generation or so, divorce would fall. Parents would be willing to sacrifice their own personal comfort and feelings for the love of their children. Parents would quit leaving the family, and probably fathers would be more willing to work hard for their families... If only.... (And maybe some of that annoying environmental stuff would die down a little.)

Anyway, I think a childfree life would stink. I think that people who use contraception lack either trust (that God knows whats best), self-control, or confidence (that they can parent), or some combination of all of them.
 Brava, filia Ecclesiae.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Married on a Crucifix

panorama view of Siroki-Brijeg, Herzegovina had this wonderful article on marriages that last. Couples in Siroki-Brijeg, Herzegovina build their marriages on Christ, symbolized in a large Crucifix that crowns their wedding and their homes. This custom gets results: no one in the town can remember a divorce. What a miracule! Let's start it here!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Simplicity Innovations

Why can't we live more simply? Our time here isn't about earthly life! It's about God. I want to become completely transparent and effaced as Christ takes my life for His own. He must increase, I must decrease. There are two parts to this: spiritual (invisible, most of the iceberg) and material (visible, the tip of the iceberg). Materially, I want to take up as little time and space as possible to lead my little life.

Note: I enjoy comforts like tea and thick socks, and I know time can't all be spent in work and contemplation (some recreation is necessary). At the same time, however, I realize there are many ways that I can decrease. Here are some innovations I've found that might help me:

green conesinkpositivefolding showerdrawers under stairs •  in-wall bookcases (2) and cabinetsno-till gardeninggardens in stackersdouble-stacked drawers • secretary desks and murphy beds, especially from this company • in-room closet (this video at 2:53) • laundry chutes • solar shingles • solatubewaterboxx • clotheslines • no-knead bread 

tiny house, tinyhouse, little house, simple living, green living, Tumbleweed, Zinn
The Zinn: this house is 16' by 7'.
And finally, tiny houses. (I actually don't know what the cutoff is for "tiny," but the ones I see are between 80 and 900 square feet.) My current future tiny house is the Enesti, by Tumbleweed Tiny Houses. It's actually a little larger than my dream (the Zinn), but if I want a chapel, there are rules about it being accessible to the Church militant, so it might be more hospitable to have a larger home. (Plus, living alone is hard.)

Friday, January 13, 2012


I just read a great post at Catholic Sistas about veiling. At TAC, perhaps 20% of female students veil. I began to wear one myself as a sophomore, but during the summer and Christmas holidays I got so many looks and felt so pressured by my parents that I stopped veiling at Mass. Only after Mass would I go to the day chapel, veil, and make my thanksgiving.

Over the summer, I lost my veil at one of the last daily Masses I attended before moving out. I have lost things before and benefited from discontinuing them for a time (I feel as though Our Lady almost took my Little Office book away when it was stressing me out). So, I reluctantly but peacefully stopped veiling.

I wish more parishes and women would take up this custom! It is an antidote to feminism—a mark of a woman's sacredness and likeness to Christ. (Sacred objects are covered, like chalices, tabernacles, altars, and priests. Sacred topics are the same way, and even people of civil importance are formally gowned.) My veil began as a mark of specialness, then humility, then a tool to create privacy in my soul during Mass. Finally, it became a sign of sweet submission, and exclusive belonging to Christ. For this reason, I look forward to taking it up if I am confirmed in my vocation to consecrated life.

For more on veiling, check out a comprehensive review of the custom by Fish Eaters. Then, enter this raffle to win a free veil.

Thomas Aquinas College, TAC, procession, Eucharistic Procession, Catholic, Blessed Sacrament, adoration
We veil Our Lord, we veil the altar servers, and we veil women (I see at least two).
What an honor! Truly, women are treated as a glory. (1 Corinthians 11.)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Class Attendance

medical school, lecture hall, class, lecture, medical student, student, learn, strategy, learning strategyWe just had the most interesting Professionalism class I've ever attended. Technically, the topic was "Physician Impairment," and that yielded forty minutes of tolerable dryness.

But after that the professor transitioned to making medical school more liveable. She is on the curriculum committee and opened the floor to suggestions by proposing one of her own: lower the number of in-class hours to ten per week. (Apparently this is underway.)

People began to murmur. I heard things like "that's impossible," "we'd still have too much stuff to memorize." I piped up (as I often do) and said that if it was impossible to lower the amount of material, lowering the number of in-class hours would be a good compromise.

Thus began the liveliest Professionalism discussion I've ever seen! Without any of the usual pauses, comments flew.
"But some lecturers give us sixty slides of information...without going to lecture how are you going to know what's important?"
"It would help to make classes that are officially 'not mandatory' truly not mandatory: no punitive, graded pop quizzes, no stigma, no scolding."
"Some people learn better watching the lecture later."
"There are only so many hours a day; watching the lecture at double speed, skipping parts you better."

What is your reaction as you read these quotes? And what do you expect I thought?

Are you ready for a shocker?

I felt relief! Just yesterday, I came to a difficult decision after a long and uncomfortable deliberation. Yesterday, I decided that I will try skipping some classes.

Here are the points I weighed as I considered this experiment:
No brownie points from the profs. This has always been a big door-opener for me.
Pros (reasons to skip class)Cons (reasons not to skip class)
I could watch lectures more quicklyI'd be behind my classmates; they heard the lecture at 9:00 and I'd be hearing it at 18:00...
Self-study is fun! I like to look up extra stuff and go beyond the requirements; right now there's no time to do so, and that makes me sad... Plus, boring lectures and wasted time draws off enthusiasm.Unable to ask questions of the prof; would have to send an email later in the day.
I am disciplined and can demand results from myself. Other classmates still going to class tell me they know they couldn't keep themselves on a schedule.
Better ability to prep for standardized exams. A med student needs to move up the rungs quickly from basic concepts to review to practice questions/clinical vignettes. Going to lecture retards my climb.
Better grasp of material; I can stop a recorded lecture and look something up! Asking questions during lecture is annoying and cuts the professor's time (the COM strictly monitors its professors lecture lengths).
Commuting. Let's have it out: I dislike driving and gas is expensive (especially considering I'm living on loans, so the price of everything is several times its sticker price after repayment.)
The classmates who still go to class.... Let's say there's been a self-selection; the higher-driven people whose company I enjoy are no longer there every day.

In the end, it's about time. Time consumed in slow, repetitive, or unnecessary lectures and all that comes with them: commuting, changing tasks and places, reheating food.... I can move faster alone, at home or at a library.

I felt this last semester, too, but reasoned a good student goes to class. (I have never been in an environment where skipping class was good. During summer school, away from TAC, it was tolerated, but still an embarrassment.) Now, I want time to become a good physician, not just what's good for the test. To learn well, I need more time than I currently have. I've been feeling a little oppressed, spread thin, and time-crunched lately. I'm up-to-date on all my prereading and lectures, but I'm behind on ascending to competency with the concepts and I've missed my one hour of free time for almost two weeks

I doubt you are happy to read this (parents, siblings, friends, strangers). I am the shiny, good-girl student! I used to think it was embarrassing, all those statistics at other COMs about 20% class attendance. What am I doing, skipping class?

I am trying to learn well, go at my pace, know beyond the bare-minimum, and preserve my mental health and balanced life. I am experimenting with my attendance strategy, just like I experimented with my notetaking and memorizing strategies last semester. I will go to all mandatory classes and I will attend classes covering material I judge difficult after my first pass. Other than that, I am going to watch recorded lectures and see if this is better. (Note experimental language.)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Virtuous Pagans

Warning: opinion piece. (I got tired of studying the immune system, realized I hadn't spouted loads of opinions in a long time, and began to type.)

Beneath the tempest of open hedonism, there is a current of stoicism in our culture. For instance, the tiny house movement (of which I am a fan) is often motivated by a desire to better enjoy life. A beautiful example of a tiny house and a typical example of this motive is found in Diana Lorence's Innermost House. Is this a good sign for our culture? Is this a trend among secular people against the insanity of materialism and atheism?

I'm not sure.

Stoicism and hedonism are at root identical: both exalt the pleasures of this world to man's highest end. Granted: stoics often choose nobler earthly pleasures such as peace, self-sufficiency, self control, stewardship, and conversation. But to seek anything for earthly delight is to be a slave to an appetite. True monasticism and poverty seeks God to replace the surrendered goods of earth.

On the other hand, this new stoicism reminds me of the late pagans (the Pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle). They wanted to choose the highest goods, not the ones they liked. Aristotle and Plato write that we are eternal beings and that we have something divine in us, so they look to peace, higher virtue, friendship, and contemplation of truth as man's highest end (interesting how close this is to Christianity, no?). This is a swing in the right direction, a huge improvement from the Herodian glory of some of Plutarch's boars, or the decadence that made Rome infamous.

But still, where does the life of a virtuous pagan culminate? Aristotle is left empty-handed and confused at the end of his works. Look at the world from his perspective (nature alone, no grace): men are not eternal, peace is fleeting, virtue is impossible to perfectly obtain, friends die, study is difficult and contemplation constantly interrupted by our body's demands and fatigues....

Now that our culture is leaving the heritage of Christianity behind, it returns to pagan days. Some become Caesars; others become Aristotles; none are satisfied.


St. Augustine says that the Church is a city, with the Blessed performing different functions to produce self-sufficiency. (Aristotle notes that the city is the first tier of social interaction to be self-sufficient and although most of St. Augustine's philosophy training was in Plato, Scripture puts the Aristotelian position across.) Without each citizen, no citizen can attain his good (because the whole does not achieve the common good).

One example of this self-dependence within in the church militant is charisms. The Catherine of Siena Institute gives a good definition:
Charisms, or spiritual gifts, are special abilities given to Christians by the Holy Spirit to enable them to be powerful channels of God's love and redeeming presence in the world. Whether extraordinary or ordinary, charisms are to be used in charity or service to build up the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2003).

The... "seven gifts of the Holy Spirit" and the "fruits" of the Spirit are gifts given to us to keep. They are part of our inner transformation...and provide the inner "Christ-likeness" necessary for the effective use of our charisms (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1830-1832). Charisms, on the other hand, are gifts given to us to give away.

[All Christians have charisms] according to both the New Testament (Ephesians 4) and the teaching of the Catholic Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 951).
Here's a list of the charisms a Siena Institute workshop covers. (They came to TAC two or three years ago to help the students discern their charisms. It was so cool!)
  • administration
  • celibacy
  • craftsmanship
  • discernment of spirits
  • encouragement
  • missionary
  • music
  • pastoring
  • evangelism
  • faith
  • giving
  • healing
  • helps
  • prophecy
  • service
  • teaching
  • hospitality
  • intercessory prayer
  • knowledge
  • leadership
  • mercy
  • voluntary poverty
  • wisdom
  • writing

Exciting stuff! What're your charisms?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"Happily childfree"

Conservatives and Catholics enjoy rebutting the Overpopulation Myth. I devoured the argument when I was fourteenish from a fifteenish-year old magazine my Dad showed me, so I figure it's pretty historical. After all, everybody knows we could all live in Texas, right?

Texas area= 267339 X (5280)2 = 7,452,732,672,000 sq.ft.
Population of world = 7,000,000,000.
7.45 × 1012
1 × 109
= 1064.676096 square feet per person
(Space for my
family of 9
= 9500 square feet; tres nice.)

There's enough room on the planet a fortiori. So isn't this obvious to everybody?

Apparently not. I read a sad set of comments today written by women who may have wanted to conceive but chose not to. Their motivations were twofold: overpopulation, and appreciating freedom and time/closeness with their spouse. One woman summarized her feelings:
[B]ased on the affects [sic] of poverty, and later of an over-populated world[,] I never wanted children...[and my husband] has never wanted children; because of the enviromental [sic] impact as well as the responsibility of how the child's life could turn out. (Face it, we do blame our parents for pretty much everything! ha ha)
...Every now and then, there is a twang. For instance, I'll never know what it's like to feel a baby grow inside me. Or have that special bond I see my siblings have with their kids. On the other hand, we have time to dedicate to each other, and our marriage is deeper than most. We really enjoy the freedom of being able to do what we want, when we want.
Sad to think she won't raise a child because she fears responsibility! Another woman defended herself against objections:
It seems like 99% of parents have some reason to lay on us for why we *must* join their club; from the refusal to acknowledge that we ARE a family already, to allusions that we are doing something unnatural and wrong by not having children, to the "you just couldn't understand since you don't have kids," to the INFURIATING accusation of selfishness. It is truly shocking the number of people who accuse you of being selfish simply because you have chosen to live a life wherein you are following your heart and living the life you envision.
I recognize that a) I am not married, so my only experience of marriage is my family of origin, b) the vocation puts God before spouse and spouse before children, so relationship with the spouse shouldn't expire at the expense of children, and c) people need recreation and relaxation to function. But as I see this, selfishness is exclusive concern for your own interests, and the concern of these couples for their own vision excludes part of their state of life! Vocations are paths of joy with sacrifice.

Admittedly, there are many variables here (some married women's own childhood/psychological difficulties may make them choose rightly not to have children, others' biology or legimate poverty might prevent them from conceiving). But if a couples' three reasons not to conceive are a mythological problem, a fear of personal failure, and desires for intimacy and freedom, I think they are in error.

I long for the conversion of our cachexic Culture of Death to a wholesome, healthy Culture of Life! Better for women, better for men, better for families, better for medicine, better for government....

Edit 1/13/12 9:45pm: I just realized this post was analyzed by Laura Carroll of La Vie Childfree. I commented on her analysis to alert her readers that I am a young woman and open to discussion below with anyone reading this. I placed this clarification on my original post as well.

Update 1/15/12 4:20pm: Laura Carroll and I are continuing to discourse on her site in the comments on her post. Please join us.

Friday, January 6, 2012

AAPLOG Conference

I'm going to the AAPLOG conference in February! I am taking two of my classmates with me (not besties, just people who expressed interest) and I am pumped. Look at the schedule!

8:45 Maureen Condic, PhD. “Defining the Beginning of Human Life”
9:45 Theresa Deisher, Ph.D. “Current Ethical Issues in Drug Development”
10:30 George Delgado, M.D. “Reversing Mifepristone: Case Reports”
11:00 Paul Gray, M.D. “Medical and Surgical Naprotechnology”
11:45 Priscilla Coleman, Ph.D. “Psychological Effects of Induced Abortion: Summary and Update”
1:15 Frederick Dyer, Ph.D. “Horatio Robinson Storer, M.D. and the Physicians’ Crusade Against Abortion, with implications for the current practicing doctor’s responsibilities toward the abortion issue.”
2:00 Michael New, Ph.D. ‘Analyzing How State Level Anti-Abortion Laws Impact Fertility Outcomes.”
2:45 George Mulcaire-Jones, M.D. “Safe Passages Program: Confronting Maternal Mortality in Rural Nigeria, Update”
3:30 Angela Lanfranchi, M.D.: “The Abortion Breast Cancer Link: The biologic basis and a review of the literature 1957-2011
4:15 Byron Calhoun. M.D. “Premature Labor: The At-Risk Patient ”

The conference is the week before an exam, so I hope this isn't a dangerous move. But this is so important, I thought--how can I not go?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


My brother introduced me to one of the coolest financial ideas I've ever seen. Kiva is a company that provides microloans to the world's poor, to help them start businesses or other projects. This increases local productivity, provides lasting aid, and dignifies the poor. What a great idea! You can give gift cards to people (like my brother did to me) which they can loan to the poor. The amount is repaid in cash (and the recipient of the giftcard gets their amount in cash, but not before helping the poor), or it can be reloaned to another group. Try it!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

I want to be an OB/GYN immediately

I shadowed Dr. A on a call day. (I followed her once in November.) Before the day was over, I'd seen two C-sections and two vaginal deliveries. This was the first day I'd seen a birth. What an experience!

Before the jump, two notes:
  1. This is one of my first blogs about clinical experiences. I believe this post conforms to the blog rules. Please help me obey the law and maintain patient privacy by contacting me if I violate confidentiality.
  2. This is the first time my horarium included a nighttime rising to help Jesus in a patient. As such, it is the first in a new category of posts: "medical matins," the reason for the title of my blog. As I move through my career (especially those M3 weeks of night shifts) I'll have many more, but today I celebrate the inaugural one! May God bless me through my patients, and bless them through me.

1 AROM: "artifical rupture of membranes." Dr. A induced labor by rupturing the baby's amniotic sac; in short, she broke the patient's water.
2 primagravida: pregnant for the first time!
3 SROM: "spontaneous rupture of membranes." This patient came into the hospital herself, her water having broken earlier that morning. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Schedule, phase II

The second semester of Year 1 is called "Phase II Year 1" at my medical school. Phase II is system-based and focused on disease and medicine (not on the healthy body), and has more early morning classes. My new horarium looks like this:

5:45 - wake up, exercise
6:15 - Morning Prayer, meditation
7:00 - breakfast, commute to school!
8:00 - class
12:00 - Midday Prayer, then lunch+study
1:00 - more class and studying
4:30 - commute to Church
5:10 - Evening Prayer
5:30 - Mass
6:30 - dinner, recreation
9:30 - Night Prayer, bed

After my first week of this, I realize I don't have as much study time as I need. I'll keep working on it; perhaps I just need to learn to switch tasks faster, or perhaps I need to make a larger change.

The Divine Office in Your Life: Rubrics

While searching for the correct postures to make during the Divine Office, I found a short summary at a blog called Coffee and Canticles. The rubric is not mandatory for individual recitation, but why not complete the prayer with the body?

Time capsule

This post is for sheer fun and has nothing to do with Catholic medical school. Sorry! It mostly has to do with technology and the changes I see in the institutions I pass through. (Not including the Church.)

Grade school:
  1. I learned to type in sixth grade.
  2. Our first computer looked like this (right). It had an internal floppy drive, Power Pete, Glider Pro, and Kid Pix. (I remember all the important stuff, including the opening screen, below left.)
  3. I had a walkman to play hand-me-down CDs. I thought it was pretty awesome. (Bottom-right picture, upper-left object.)
  4. I had a gameboy color (below center). The biggest cartridge we had was pokemon pinball, which was 2"x2", plus a part about the size of an AA battery which protruded from the cartridge slot. This part actually held an AA battery and enabled the novel "vibrate" feature.

High school:
  1. First laptop: I had an external floppy drive and an internet card that protruded an inch from the computer. It lit up when it was working, which was when it got signals from the cockroach-shaped modem on the wall. 
  2. The older girls in high school had internal floppy drives and internet cards with two little antennae. The younger girls had (gasp) tablets.
  3. Some of my friends had cell phones. (Whoa!) They were almost all thick clamshells; some had stubby antennae, and some antennae were extendable.
  4. AIM was new. I IM'd during class, and I was floored by the bots that you could IM with. They were pretty dumb, but I was still surprised at how much they could do.
  5. I watched how the gameboy grew up, especially how the DS had a quick facelift from windows-style to apple-style as the latter company took over the younger consumer demographic.
  6. Our family moved from our first macintosh to the iMac, then the eMac. I missed Power Pete, but enjoyed Bugdom.
  7. We got a gamecube.

  1. First cell phone! A motorola; I washed it after the mud tug-of-war a few weeks into school. My second phone was a Sony Ericsson walkman phone. I loved it! It was so durable and tiny. The background picture was the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the old TAC Chapel.
  2. Between my High School Summer Great Books Program and my TAC graduation the college built St. Thomas Hall and Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel from the ground. For the first year and a half of my education, the chapel was a walled-off third of the cafeteria.
  3. The oaks adjacent to St. Monica's and the library would fall to rot during my stay, and the wild peacocks would be banished due to too much noise and mess. 
  4. Dr. Dillon and Mr. Berquist attended my convocation, but theirs were the first funerals in the Chapel. At my graduation Dr. McLean signed my diploma and Mrs. Berquist received an award in honor of her late husband.
  5. I gave library tours centered around TAC's copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle, unretouched except for peripheral annotations. This and other glorious works might be sold to build the last few campus buildings (because when I went to TAC, St. Patrick's was a portable and the gym and auditorium were fantasies).

Med School:
  1. IWhen I entered my medical school, the "2 years basic, 2 years clinical" paradigm described their curriculum very well. Things are changing...
  2. I have performed a gram stain (although not in my medical education).
  3. No one lacks a bachelor's degree in my class (to my knowledge), though this may become more common in the future
  4. I took the old MCAT on April 10, 2010.
  5. I dissected.
And more changes to come...