Thursday, 13 March 2014


I'm not sure how this happened, but somehow I haven't posted here in about three months. I always have such good intentions to update regularly, but man, med school keeps me consistently busier than I expect! So, going forward, I don't know how often I can promise to post, but I promise I will try to drop in once in a while to update things.

So, lots has happened since I last posted - I finished an entire MF and started a new one! We started MF2 at the beginning of December - that one was GI and Endocrine, and we lovingly (or not-so-lovingly), referred to it as "MF Poo" instead of MF2, haha. I have respect for gastroenterologists, for sure, but I think I can cross that one off of my list of 'things I might want to be when I grow up'. Endocrine was interesting - we learned about all kinds of things, like Diabetes, Cushing's Disease, Graves Disease, etc, etc... basically, if it's caused by an endocrine organ or hormones, we learned about it. I had a really great group for MF2, and so it flew by.

Now, we're three weeks into MF3, which is renal (the kidney) and reproduction. We're doing our last kidney case today, and then moving on to repro next week, and the past three weeks have essentially been a huge blur. Man, the kidney is COMPLEX. I'd say it's probably the most complex organ we've studied so far (and we've studied a lot of them) - there's just so much to know, and it controls so much of what's going on in your body (and is affected by almost everything else that goes on, too!). I'm also probably not going to be a nephrologist, but the kidney is super interesting. Hopefully reproduction is equally interesting! My friends who are interested in possibly going into Obs/Gyn are really excited to start this unit. Honestly, Obs/Gyn has never been something that I've been all that interested in pursuing as a career, but it's still interesting to learn about.

So, things here are basically the same as always - eat, sleep, study. Matt is in about the same spot right now - he finishes exams just after Easter weekend (thanks for that, law school. Not like I wanted to spend my one weekend off in 3 months with my boyfriend or anything instead of him having to study all weekend), and then will be working for the summer. I can't believe his first year is almost over, and that mine is almost 2/3 over! Crazy.

I've also been bad at taking pictures lately, but here are a few from the last couple months.

Over the holidays, my parents had Ruby the dog as a houseguest for 6 weeks while her family was in England. It's too bad she was so stressed about it, as you can see here. 

We had a nice family get-together over Christmas with my dad's side of the family, and my cousin Josh was nice enough to take portraits of a bunch of us. He got this great shot of my grandfather and I - Dr. Brown with future Dr. Brown. 

Matt and Ruby, at a games night. I'm slowly breaking him down into wanting a dog one day. 

This is not Ruby, but it's a good thing for Lottie and Curtis that I didn't see this picture while my parents still had her. I can't guarantee I wouldn't have taken her to the groomer and returned her as a miniature donkey. Haha. 

It's been cold, and today there's yet another windchill warning. It's going to be so nice if spring ever hits and I don't have to wear 85 layers out the front door. 

Well, that's all for now! I'll try to pop in once in a while and update things around here, though I can't guarantee how often that will happen. The best laid plans, right? Anyway, thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

One Day Matters

At my school, they run a program called 'One Day Matters', where first year med students get to shadow a surgeon for a day and watch their surgeries. I got to participate in the program back in November, but am just getting around to posting about it now (oops). I was lucky enough to get paired with an orthopedic surgeon for the day, which is super cool because bones are my thing! I was really excited to see some surgeries, but was also terrified that I'd pass out at the sight of the scalpel (and it wouldn't be my first time passing out, haha).

About a week before my placement, I went to the hospital and checked the schedule, which said that I was going to be seeing two hip replacements, a knee replacement, and a first MTP debridement (the first MTP is the joint between your big toe and your foot). I made the mistake of watching some videos online in the days leading up to the surgeries, and man, let me tell you - a lot of the videos you can watch online are actually way worse than what it looks like when you're in there! So I psyched myself out nicely, and was pretty stressed the day before surgery. 

The morning of my day in the OR, I got up and forced myself to eat a decent breakfast (that's pretty much the #1 thing they tell you - do NOT go into the OR on an empty stomach!), and headed out. I got there super early (I'm always paranoid about being late), and got changed into scrubs and was told to wait for the doctor I was working with in the surgeons lounge! I felt so out of place, the lowly little first year med student sitting amongst a bunch of surgeons (most of whom were men, but who's counting?). The surgeon I was working with got there fairly quickly though, and she (yes, I was lucky enough to be paired with a kickass female surgeon!) was amazing. She was super nice and welcoming, and after she changed we went to see our first patient of the day, who was getting a hip replacement. We went to the OR while it was being set up, and chatted a bit. At first, she wasn't sure whether she was going to have me scrub in (which is when you're completely sterile and can be at the operating table), or just observe (when all you have to do is wash up and wear a mask, and you just stay back so there's no risk of you contaminating anything). She decided to have me scrub in though, which was super cool. I actually stood right next to her the entire time and got to participate! I didn't get to do anything that could be screwed up (as it should be!), but she let me do things like hold retractors, cut sutures, wash out a joint, and even hammer a couple things! Such a cool day. 

This is a screencap from Grey's Anatomy and not a photo of the surgery I was in, but it's good to show what ortho surgery looks like (though the OR I was in was about 1000 times brighter, they make everything look dark and mysterious on TV. Also, there were way less screens everywhere - if you're looking right into the joint, you don't need to project what you're doing on a screen, haha). With orthopedic surgery, it's incredibly important to control the risk of infection as much as humanly possible, because if an infection gets into bone it's bad. Really bad. Bone infections aren't something you want to mess with. So, in addition to gowns and gloves, you also wear these crazy hoods! The best part of the hoods though is that underneath them you wear a helmet-like contraption that plugs into a battery pack and has a fan in it! So that actually kept me pretty cool the whole time (because the gowns and gloves get pretty warm!). It was awesome. 

A close up of Callie in the hood. 

I couldn't believe how quick and efficient the surgeries were, either! The surgeon was amazing, and definitely didn't rush at all, and still each surgery I was in lasted less than an hour. It's awesome to be part of something that's going to improve someone's quality of life so drastically. I was also super proud of myself when I made it through the whole day without passing out! I did get a little woozy at the very end of the first surgery, but was totally fine during the rest of the day. Pro tip: between each surgery, I was lucky enough to have a small snack and a juice box to keep my blood sugar up, and run to the washroom. Eating and drinking regularly is super important. 

So, my first day in surgery was pretty awesome. I don't know if I want to actually be a surgeon, partially because the lifestyle can be ridiculous and I want to be able to balance work and family. I think I could maybe see myself in a specialty where I'd be in the OR maybe 2 or 3 days a week and in clinics the rest of the time, but I'm not sure how feasible that would be. Good thing I have time to figure it out! 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Thumper, Bugs, Roger, Peter...

All of the names in the title of this post have one thing in common... they're all famous rabbits! As you may have guessed (or seen on facebook), Matt and I picked up the Rabbit this week, and I'm in love. It's a way nicer car than I ever thought I'd be able to own (especially as a student), and it makes my 40 minute commute so much more enjoyable on the days I drive. The seats are so comfy. :) Here are some pics!

Me and the car in the pickup bay at the dealership... it's so they don't have to do outdoor deliveries in the winter. Nice touch!

Me again, very excited. 

Oh look, me again. Matt wasn't as excited as I was about the prospect of a photo shoot (though we were equally excited about the car). 

The little rabbit icon on the back. I know this is ridiculous, but it's part of what makes me love it!

So, now the big question: what should we name our car? I like Thumper (though wonder it's a bad omen to name a car Thumper), Matt likes Bugs. Any other ideas? I tried googling famous rabbits, but strangely enough there aren't too many of those. ;)

Also, my PSA is that if anyone living in my area is looking for a VW, let me know and I'll hook you up - I know a guy. ;)

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Happy December!

Man, that three day weekend between MFs was so needed. I did a lot of relaxing (and no school work!), caught up on some sleep, and cleaned the apartment top to bottom (it looks awesome!). Now all that's left is to put up curtains (which has become quite the saga), and get some artwork up on the walls.

Friday night, Matt and I had dinner with some friends from grad school. It was so nice to see everyone and catch up! Also, because we're old, we all met up for dinner at 5 and were done by 8:30, which is my kind of night. I unfortunately still am not good at remembering to take pictures of these things, so there's no proof, haha. Then we went and met up with one of Matt's friends from school and his girlfriend at a place downtown called The Caledonian - it was amazing and you should all go (especially if you like scotch - they have a ridiculously long scotch list). We didn't have dinner (since we had already eaten), but the food all looked amazing, and the Scottish woman who owns the place is so friendly and welcoming! She kept stopping by our table to make sure we were enjoying ourselves (which we were), and it was so nice that she was so genuine. Matt and I will definitely be having a date night there soon. :)

Saturday was more low-key, which was nice. Sunday was December 1st, so I got to start my DavidsTea '24 days of tea' advent calendar! It's such a great idea, you get little tins of 24 different kinds of tea (each tin is enough to make probably 2-3 cups of tea). It's a great way to try different teas, and it's way healthier than a chocolate advent calendar!

Then later Matt and I went out for a coffee and donut date at Krispy Kreme... it's our guilty pleasure, and we try not to do it more than once a month. It's really cool, you get to watch them make the donuts and then they serve them to you right off the conveyor belt, still warm. Delicious. 

Frying and then being pulled on the conveyor belt. 

Going through the wall of glaze.

My happy place (we each had one, to be clear... I exercised self-control). 

The coffee actually wasn't that good. I was sad. 

Dinner - pan-seared tilapia and asparagus. Can you tell we also went grocery shopping this weekend for the first time in a while?

Then we capped off the weekend by watching Elf on Netflix! Such a good movie. Will Ferrell cracks me up in that movie... I have no idea how he managed to keep a straight face while filming it. 

So, that was my weekend! MF2 started yesterday (my tutor and group seem amazing, so I'm excited to get started), so expect to hear more about GI and the Endocrine system on here eventually... exciting stuff! 

Tomorrow morning we pick up the new (to us) car - hopefully the weather is good so I can take some pictures to share! 

Thanks for stopping by! Talk to y'all soon. :)

Friday, 29 November 2013


Hi everyone!

I can't believe I'm writing this post, but we're finished MF1! To explain, the in-class portion of med school at my school is divided up into five blocks, or 'medical foundations'. MF1, which we just finished, included learning about respiration, cardio, and hematology (blood). We start MF2 on Monday, which runs for 9(?) weeks and includes the Endocrine system, GI, and nutrition. It's actually designed incredibly well, in that everything we learn builds on what we've already done - I can't imagine how much effort must have gone into designing the curriculum.

I have a couple of other posts in the works on some of the specific things I did in MF1 (like spending a day in the OR and how my family medicine rotation has been going), so I figured I'd post a general update to start, now that I'm 1/5 (!!!) of the way through pre-clerkship.

School has still been fantastic - I absolutely love the program and medicine. It's a ton of work, but I'm still really enjoying all of the work, which is great. Knowing that what I'm learning will be the basis of treating all of my future patients makes those 12-hour weekend days of studying so much easier! Not that I enjoy 12-hour days of studying, but you know...

On Tuesday night, my MF1 tutorial group had a fabulous end-of-the-foundation dinner party at our tutor's home. Our tutor is a cardiologist (which was super helpful during the cardio/resp section!), and he and his family are just the nicest people you could possibly imagine. It was so nice of them to host us for the evening, and I'm sad that we're changing groups! I'm a bad blogger and it didn't occur to me to take a group picture, so I have nothing to show for it, sorry!

So, I figured I'd post a general update on some of the things that have happened in my life during MF1, since I haven't been nearly as good about keeping up this blog as I'd hoped. My plan is to write a couple posts this morning and roll them out over the next week or so though, so stay tuned!

The med student backpack - the holy grail for aspiring doctors!

To start with, at the end of August at Orientation we got our backpacks! For those of you who don't know (which is probably anyone who isn't an aspiring pre-med in Canada), the OMA (Ontario Medical Association) and CMA (Canadian Medical Association) along with MD Management give backpacks to all of the first year medical students in Canada each year (except for students at UOttawa, something about corporate sponsorship not being allowed on campus there?). Every year the backpacks are a different colour, and they're a kind of weird status symbol on university campuses - most premed students know what they are, and carrying the backpack identifies you as a med student. Honestly, it's just super helpful to recognize the other people in my class! There are 203 of us in first year, and I've met maybe 1/4 of the people. If you walk by someone else with an orange backpack on campus though, you automatically know that you're in the same program and you can just start chatting! It's happened many a time. We also joke about how we'll never get hit by a car because they make us look like traffic pylons, but that's a different matter. :)

Matt and I discovered that there's a Krispy Kreme donut shop about 10 minutes from our new apartment... I think it's the only one in Canada that still makes the donuts fresh in house (there's a location in Toronto, but this location makes their donuts and they get shipped). This is dangerous. So far we've successfully limited ourselves to going about once a month, which I think is fairly reasonable. 

Stethoscope day! I think you guys have already seen this particular picture, but it was an exciting day so I'm posting it twice. 

Learning to intubate at a medical student conference - best day ever. 

Fist pump happy dance after getting the tube in on the first try!

In October I got to attend OMSW in Toronto, which stands for Ontario Medical Students Weekend. It's a conference put on by med students for med students, and U of T hosted this year (next year it will be at Mac!). I wasn't sure whether I was going to go until the last minute - I'd registered, but was worried about losing an entire day of school work time to go, so until the night before I wasn't totally sure if I was actually going to make it - but I'm SO glad I did. It was a great day - in addition to learning to intubate, I also got to do a casting workshop where we actually got to put plaster casts on each other! So fun, and also a great skill to learn before the first time I actually have to do it. So, future med students, if in doubt, go to OMSW. You won't regret it!

Then at the end of October it was my 27th birthday! I'd been talking about wanting to go apple picking for weeks, so Matt took me on the morning of my birthday. The apples were delicious, but it's so easy to pick WAY too many because you're having fun - we picked something like 12lbs of apples in 20 minutes! Oops. We shared with my parents and ate a lot of apples for about a week and a half, and I'm sad that the season is over because they were SO much better than the apples you buy at the grocery store. Having been able to shop at farmer's markets, etc over the last couple years has been amazing and I'm really glad that I'm lucky enough to live near markets. It feels great to eat (reasonably) local, and everything tastes so fresh. It's also nice to buy directly from the growers, instead of having everything route through a store (and I've also noticed that buying at markets can be cheaper, because it eliminates the middle man). So that's me, really happy with my apples. Haha. 

At the beginning of November, Matt and I officially graduated from UWO with our Master's degrees! This is the only picture I have at the moment since it was on my phone and the others are on the camera, but maybe I'll post more later. It was a fun day, and we had an amazing dinner with family after at Morrissey House (if you're in London, go - it's amazing). 

Then later in November, Matt turned 25! Yes, I'm older than he is, haha. I made this cake and was really proud of myself, usually my cakes are way messier than this. I definitely don't have a future as a cake decorator, but it's better than nothing! For his birthday, I took Matt to Chilis up in Vaughan - it was a bit of a drive, but Chilis is an American chain restaurant that he grew up with and loves, and it's the only location in Canada! It was really nice - because it was a Thursday night, the restaurant was fairly quiet, and Matt was happy because he got his southwest egg rolls. :)

Then this happened. I'm not sure if you can see, but that's a big horizontal crack in the windshield of the Mattmobile. Ugh. We decided this summer that we were done putting money into the car (after all the money we've poured into it in the last year, things keep going wrong). We had already decided that this summer we'd buy a newer car so that while I'm driving all over the place during clerkship I'm in something more reliable, so this was kind of the last straw for us. Which brings me to.... 

Last night, Matt and I bought a car! 

I'm so excited. It's a 2009 VW Rabbit, which is my favourite VW (from something like 2006-2009, they made the Rabbit instead of the Golf - they're essentially the same car, but the body design is a bit different). As most of you know, my dad works for VW so he got us a great deal and I know that he'd never sell us something that he didn't think was great, so it was a fairly stress-free process. We won't pick it up until sometime next week, but I can't wait. It's just so nice to drive (we took it for a test drive last night), and it just feels so sturdy and well-built. My dad called last night to say that the loan was approved and everything is a go, so at this point all that's left is setting up insurance and picking it up! I'll post some more pictures once we get it. 

So, that's the news in the life of me. Keep an eye out for some more posts, coming soon! 

Thanks for reading, y'all. :)

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Where I've been, and White Coat Ceremony

Well, it seems the theme of all my posts is beginning with an apology for disappearing for so long in between posts. The last few weeks have been absolutely crazy - I thought the first month was a lot of work, but that was nothing. My family has been gently reminding me that I haven't posted anything in a while, so I thought I'd put up a quick post to update you (and I have a few more in the works, so hopefully posting will be a more regular thing!).

At the beginning of October, we finished the respiratory module and started cardiology... and somehow, we finished cardiology today and we're moving on to hematology! I don't know where the time is going, our first 'medical foundation' (or block of systems we're learning) is over at the end of November! Jeez. If the rest of med school goes this fast (which I'm sure it will), it feels like I'll be a doctor next week.

A week and a half ago, we had our White Coat ceremony. It's a nice evening, sort of a 'welcome to the profession', where we get our white coats (which are short coats because we're still in training - we don't get the long white coats until we're done med school and are actually doctors). My grandfather (who is a retired GP) was able to come up for the ceremony, which was really nice - Dr. Brown getting to see the future Dr. Brown get her white coat. Here are some pictures from the night:

Me on stage shaking hands and having my coat put on.

Matt and I, post-ceremony. Our clothes matched... that happens more often than I should admit. 

The family - my parents and Grandad. :)

So, now I have a stethoscope and a white coat... this medicine thing is starting to feel official. I have some cool stories about being on the wards in the hospitals, but that's a post for another day. Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Stethoscope Day!

Hey friends! Something exciting happened on Friday... the stethoscopes that we ordered during orientation came in!

So, we clearly decided that the appropriate way to celebrate (on our way to clinical skills class) was to take nerdy pictures in front of the medicine office's sign. We're so cool. 

Note how the Caribbean Blue colour of my stethoscope matches my blazer. Total accident, though Matt pointed out that it will, in fact, match 90% of my wardrobe since it's my favourite colour. 

This post is going to be a bit of a drive-by - I promise a real post will be up soon - but we just had our first CAE (concept application exercise, which is another Macronym - my term for McMaster acronyms, though I'm sure someone else thought of it first) this morning, and so I've been busy studying! It was unnecessary to put in as much time prepping as I did, since it really was just testing our comprehension of what we've been learning about the last four weeks, but I feel pretty good about it. 

Now... to learn how to use my fancy new stethoscope. I found out on Friday that there's a wrong way to put it in your ears - who knew that there was a front and a back? Apparently I still have a lot to learn about this medicine thing. I foresee some internet videos that teach auscultation technique in my immediate future so as to not look like an idiot in clinical skills on Friday. 

Well friends, gotta run and do some work. Maybe I'll chase Matt around the apartment for a while trying to listen to his heart with my fancy new toy. :)