Year 1 and me

The end of my first year of naturopathic medical school is looming, and I realize I’ve been remiss in keeping any kind of journal of updates. Where to even begin! So much this year. Science though, always the science.

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Personal growth has been more of a major theme this year, and while it may not yet seem apparent on the outside, there have been some big shifts on the inside that are likely to take awhile to integrate. I have been extraordinarily lucky to have free counseling services provided by my school, AT my school. (For me, this made all the difference.) I’ve never sought counseling before, but becoming a doctor is starting to feel like a big deal at the grand ol’ age of 29, and I have professors and doctors echoing the same. Coming into the program at a run, straight off the boat quite literally, and after a nice piece of “life experience” I felt like it was time to check in with myself and see if I couldn’t come up with some new insights on patterns and stumbling blocks. I drew an ace and got paired up with someone amazing, who always remembered my story, drew parallels I’ve never noticed, and offered support in a way I don’t know if I’ve ever had. I feel empowered, but in a loose-trucks-with-my-helmet-on sort of way. Trying to figure how to carry on with the work on my own, and also how to use the illumination to move forward into who I will become.

Being a doctor. And a woman. And a feminist. And spontaneous. Too much. Not enough. Converging non congruent ideas.

I can write you a list of courses, or concepts. It will in no way describe to you the value of this education. I am so enamored with the human organism. The numerous pathways and systems, checks and balances, safeguards and rogue deviations. There is nothing about this body that is simple. What we think we know is ever changing. Having studied anatomy twice prior, a form that wouldn’t expect changes once we’ve seen the cadaver… so much new info, changed names, altered understandings, better magnification, theories gone bust! My mind sparkles at the concept, the change, the vastness. With such dynamic in anatomy, you can imagine what that means for biochemistry, GI, neuro, endocrine, etc!

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Another genre I’ve explored this year is space. Solar systems, super nova, dark matter, and the universe. So much of what I learn about the human form reminds me of something I heard on How the Universe Works. The recursive pattern of nature. Mind blowing! I highly recommend a venture when you have the time and attention span. There have been more breakthroughs in recents months/years than in the past several decades, and it is inspiring and humbling to visualize my place in the world. A self-aware consciousness in the goldilocks zone of a holographic universe… Thank my lucky stars there are physicists willing to talk slow in small words so I can begin to comprehend these things!  (If you’re an inspiration junkie, I also highly recommend Shots of Awe by Jason Silva)

One of the greatest gifts I’ve been given this year is friendships. So many wonderful people have come into my world, as friends, study partners, adventurers, seekers, future colleagues. Walking into my first day of orientation I could already feel it. This is my family. These people get me. We are sharing an amazing journey towards something we all believe in. Last weekend we all went on a retreat together to practice our medicine, on ourselves and each other, in nature, of nature. And in the end as we were reflecting, I heard my same worries, my same struggles, my same gratitudes, my same achievements, in the voices of my cohort. Nothing feels like belonging to a purpose quite like that does. Reiteration that I’m in the right place. That I’m on my path.

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This year has been full of study and science and hard work. But the memories that stand out are of people and growth, of change and inspiration. This is not the scary medical school of legend. This is my future, started already, and my cultivation as a naturopath. This is my life, and I am blessed.

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Cardiac physiology

I wonder if physiology professors everywhere hack on about the same things: action potentials in muscle cells, both cardiac and skeletal, and the contents of the cell. So many things I’m more curious about, like the human genome and DNA, transcription, meiosis and mitosis, brain chemistry, kidney function, etc etc. But somehow it seems to me that the longest lessons always wind up being on action potentials, with their sodium and potassium channels, depolarization, and concentration and ion gradients. Maybe it’s just UofO and ESO. Maybe these are just the ones I understood the first time (thanks Grant and Greg!).

So let me explain it to you, to test my knowledge!

The heart has two types of muscle cells: autorhythmic and contractile. Autorhythmic cells control the electric signal that initiates the beat of your heart. Contractile cells cause the actual beat you feel, pumping blood through the body, and coordinate the timing. Both of these work in a never-ending cycle of depolarization and repolarization.

Hokay, so… in autorhythmic cells, like any cell, sodium is constantly being pumped out and potassium is constantly being pumped in by ion pumps that live in the membrane. They do this to Continue reading

Mitosis, Meiosis, and weird alien cells

First day of embryology today. I once participated in a Visceral Manipulation III (of V) class, and my teacher spent a lot of time going through the embryology, SO FASCINATING. (Consider yourself 1 cm high, standing between layers of tissue, and walk. What’s in front of you? Behind? What do you run into? Where can you go? etc.) So today I was expecting something similar. Well, actually that is a lie. Last week I was expecting something similar. Then my physiology professor told us not to. Because we are students of osteopathy, and because he is a professor of physiology, and because osteopaths primarily need Continue reading