Remember in Harry Potter: The Prisoner Of Azkaban in the beginning when an entire choir made of different years and different houses was singing with oversized bullfrogs? Because that means that here is a fucking CHOIR GROUP at Hogwarts where people can gather and sing, and that older students help younger students learn to hit their pitches perfectly. Like, what if an older Slytherin was helping first years (especially the Hufflepuffs) because “I’m not doing this to be nice, I’m doing this so they don’t deafen the school with their flat C minor”.
Today was a good day. Even though I haven’t spent it studying, I still managed to clean, cook for the week, do some grocery shopping, take a refreshing bath and visit my family. Now I’m going to study some biochemistry and then off to sleep I go! Wish me luck, I’ve been a bit stressed lately.
There are rooms that become haunted, or cursed maybe. Rooms
that get the same type of patients, over and over again. The room that always
has disoriented, demented patients. The ones trying to climb out of bed or
playing in their own poop.
The room that always has vegetables. The ones that are
there, but not there anymore. Yes, we call them vegetables sometimes. Because
we have to harden ourselves, distance ourselves from what’s really happening.
That’s why we love acronyms. MVC, MCC, GSW, SAH, etc. They help us avoid what’s
really happened to these patients. We have to find a way to harden ourselves,
because if you allow yourself to truly realize the fact that, the “vegetable”
in there was a fully functioning human two weeks or two months ago, you’ll lose it.
When you see the pictures their family posts around the room of them with their
kids, out riding ATV’s, being normal. You’ll realize what a shell they are.
That their body is holding on, keeping them alive even though their brain
doesn’t seem to be interested.
We have to turn off the feelings about these patients. If
you stopped to truly realize what it means to have two patients that were
assaulted, one was pushed out of car, one was shot, another met a semi head on.
If you stop to truly examine what that means for their life and their families…
you’d never get out from under it. You’d never escape all the feelings. You’d
never make it out of bed in the morning to come to work.
The first one that really got me was a woman in her 20′s. She’d hit a semi head on. Prolonged extraction, field intubation. Never
good things. She’d survived, she’d made it out of the ICU. Her family papered
the walls of her room in posters, pictures of her. She was a teacher, she
ran marathons. Before. Now she makes no communicative intent, she neuro storms,
she doesn’t follow commands. Her family asks whether people come back from
this. “What have you seen?” they ask, desperate for hope.
What do you tell them?
She transfers out of your unit and to a hospital closer to
home. You’ll never find out what happened to her. She was a few years older
So you try to engage and care just enough. Just enough to
get by, to give compassionate care to people for twelve and half hours a day, three
times a week. You try to be nice, even when people are mean and horrible and
scream at you and cuss you out. You try to think of how you would want your
family treated. But you gripe and complain about them at the desk with other
nurses. Why are they so needy? So mean?
Maybe they have to be. Maybe they’re
just trying to survive.
I’m pretty sure that if you asked most second years about the class that scared them the most, 95% of them will shudder and whisper “Anatomy.” What is anatomy? Anatomy- the study of 234,823,948
structures of dead things, which will make you also feel dead inside. I’m only partially joking… For the most part, anatomy is hard because 1) There’s oceans and oceans of information and 2) In general, the only real way of tackling this information is pure memorization. Which stinks, because while we are given some clinical correlations to pull concepts together, you have to memorize a butt-load of terms… really quickly. The following is a quick guide I made to hopefully make the transition to anatomy survivable as possible.
It’s OKAY to mess stuff up. When you first enter the anatomy lab, you may look at your specimen… and be afraid to touch it due to the fear of cutting something that may be “important.” While you may get some (hopefully teasing) flak from your dissection mates, it’s OKAY to cut that nerve. It’s ALRIGHT to tear that artery. There are other cadavers for that reason, and preserving your specimen in the perfect condition is not worth the stress. My anatomy professor always said “This is a learning environment, and it’s more than okay to make mistakes.”
You’re going to smell… enjoy your formalin perfume. I’m 16 weeks removed from anatomy… and I STILL smell formalin on my clothes. The smell of anatomy clings to everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. The good news is that after several weeks you will most likely get desensitized to the smell (but probably not your family, friends, or significant others!). In order to make the anatomy stink more bearable, here’s some hints. 1) Bleach will be your best friend! Bleach bleach bleach bleach! 2) Buy some old gross scrubs… and wear them to lab. Throw these away (or burn them..) after anatomy is over. 3) For the ladies- if the smell in your hair gets crazy overwhelming, I found that a little bit of apple vinegar or a strong citrus shampoo takes the edge off the smell. 4) If in lab, you can put some Vick’s or Vasoline under your nose to help ward off the smell.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Anatomy is definitely a class that can get crazy overwhelming, crazy fast. So please please PLEASE reach out to someone if you are falling behind. See if there are tutors available. Go in for group sessions. Email your professor and approach them during class to point out something you don’t understand. DON’T let yourself slip into a deep hole without having someone that is there to help you get out of it. Your professors are there to teach, so don’t hesitate to approach someone!
Draw Draw Draw! (and use this website:http://www.cvmbs.colostate.edu/vetneuro/VCA3/vca.html !) There are SO many ways to study anatomy, yet at first it feels like it’s impossible to put it all in your brain. Don’t freak out, everyone has these feelings! The biggest things I found (that worked for me) is 1) When in doubt, DRAW IT OUT. Confused about what nerves go where? Draw the bones or muscles and then overlap the nerves. Then see if you can do it again by memory. How do those arteries split? Draw them out and see if you can think of landmarks that surround the muscle, nerve, or artery. Landmarks will help you during the exams, so it’s a good idea to know where things are so you can make a good guess of what it is under pressure 2) Go into lab during extra hours if it helps you study, and make sure to study it at different angles! For some reason I knew that muscle really well until the flip it upside down on the exam… 3)Use the CSU website!! (http://www.cvmbs.colostate.edu/vetneuro/VCA3/vca.html) This website has a step-by-step guide to every single section, and is AWESOME if you don’t know where things are. I would frequently use this in lab while studying, and it SAVED MY BUTT. 4)Don’t just study one-step questions. For instance, if you are studying bones, don’t just ask yourself what the process is. What muscle would attach here? If you have a muscle in front of you, what innervates that muscle? Always go that extra step, so that way when you see it on exams you won’t go into panic mode. 5) Make whatever studying you are doing ACTIVE. Don’t just read the dissection guide. Make flashcards for origins and insertions. Draw out the bones and fill in processes. Cover pictures and see if you can recall the muscles by memory. Color anatomy pictures or drawings, then quiz yourself on what you did.
Bottom Line- Find out what works for you, and if what your doing isn’t working, don’t be afraid to try new study techniques!
Always enter anatomy lab with a full tummy! This may seem counter-intuitive, but you should always eat something before you go to anatomy lab (ESPECIALLY anatomy practicals!). There was one day that I didn’t eat before my anatomy exam, and I actually had to sit down mid-way because I got too light-headed. So even if it’s just a snack, make sure you eat before lab to avoid falling over on the (disgusting) anatomy lab floor!
Lastly, it may be overwhelming, but you’ll survive anatomy and be one step closer to becoming a veterinarian!
It is very, very easy to lose track
of whatever you’re trying to accomplish when you’re worrying about everything
else, but in terms of sorting out what you need to do and when it needs to be
done, it really does help to get things down on paper. Make to-do lists, make
charts, set alarms, write notes, text yourself if you have to, (maybe even use
that agenda that you forgot about); whatever method you have to make some of
the planning process tangible, to turn “hmm I should probably do this” into something
you can touch and refer to and check off or shuffle around because it’s not a
priority today, take advantage of it.
2. Be nice
I know you are having a bad day, because everyone
is having a bad day. And I know that your frustration is hard-earned and valid,
and I appreciate that you have a lot to deal with in any realm of your life and
it’s not your responsibility to look after everyone else’s emotional state. I get
that. But don’t be rude.
3. Join things
I saw a piece of advice in the
administration’s version of the UofT handbook that suggested that students can
meet new people by heading into public spaces and sparking conversations. That’s
a really nice thought, and I also would love to live in that wonderful fantasy world.
I’ll let them have that, that’s not hurting anybody.
But here’s the real way to meet people:
join things! I know, it’s annoying to join things, it’s difficult to make
plans, and there’s nothing quite as powerfully satisfying as not doing things. However, recognize that
you’ve been handed a rare opportunity to just trystuff, and that
everyone else is also just trying stuff,
and it’s OK to be bad at that stuff because so is, like, everyone else. I’m serious;
no one is good at anything. Join a student newspaper, join a religious club, join a crafting club, go to a commuter student
centre (also, sometimes they have free food), see a play, meet someone for coffee.
Moreover, it’s a good call to take advantage
of this window of opportunity when no one’s really made friends yet to start
conversations with people in your classes, which is actually a really
nerve-wracking thing to do for some reason, but during the first week or so, no
one’s going to ignore you as long as you’re polite. What I’m saying,
essentially, is try to take the first steps, and don’t be afraid to have a bit
of a rough time at first – don’t worry, literally no one knows what they’re doing.
4. Do your readings
This seems embarrassingly self-explanatory,
but you’d be surprised. It’s easy to fall behind if you miss the first few
weeks, so try to make the effort to read and annotate (yes) at least one reading per week. TAs might
expect you to have written notes on everything you were assigned, and if you
have time to do that it can really only benefit you, but don’t sweat it if you didn’t
make it to all of them. Just power through and make sure you understand the
Also, I find it really helpful to physically
print out readings and go through them with a pen and highlighter rather than
reading PDFs right on the computer screen. The library printers are cheaper if
you can print 4-on-one-page and double sided, and it helps to print off
whatever you need at once and staple them together so you can treat it as a
complete package for the week. Try to hold onto them and date them if you can,
it’ll make it easier to reference them later for assignments.
5. Develop your own tricks for studying
Everyone has their own studying routine and
tricks that work best for them. You’ll find yours eventually. Until then, you
can use some of mine for reference. For example, I’m really easily distracted,
so I use a browser extension called “Strict Workflow” to block social media for
half-hour intervals and 5-minute breaks. I also like to get myself tea or
coffee or something so I have something to reach for besides my phone when I get
bored. Colour coding is an asset – sticky tabs, highlighters, and pens are your
friends, and they can be useful in dividing your ideas and turning a big mass of
information into coherent, thematic, organized chunks that you can work with more
easily. Also, though you can’t overuse or heavily rely on them, course Facebook
groups and Listserves really do come through for notes in a pinch, and can be a
good way to see who in your class actually knows what they’re talking about.
6. High school is over
Literally no one cares about high school
anymore. I am 100% serious. There are no popular kids, and everyone is a nerd,
and if anyone has time to be cliquey, that’s because they’re not doing their homework,
so that’s their problem. Groups will naturally form, so just try to be pleasant
Time is not an infinite resource. You will
have to prioritize. That’s part of being An Adult, unfortunately, and it’s a
skill you’re going to have to use throughout your entire life so you might as
well start now.
As I mentioned before, I’ll be attending several orientation workshops at UTM. It’s not part of frosh/orientation/welcome week but it was a good week to meet new people, chat with professors and learn more about the university. Overall, I enjoyed it and I’d definitely recommend to incoming freshmen.
Read more to see my brief review on each of the workshops I attend.