>December 11 2001

>We only have 5 more days of classes before Christmas break! I cannot believe how fast the first semester has gone by. We do not really get much of a break from studies though. We return to school on January 2nd, and have a final exam in Biochemistry on the Friday the 4th. Then our first Histology exam hits on Monday and a National Board exam in Biochemistry on the 10th. So I will be studying over the holidays, but at least there will be no new material being thrown on top of the pile.
I have gotten pretty frustrated with my study results in Biochemistry. We had our test Monday and I just wasn’t as prepared as I wanted to be. I find that the material is not integrated very well and seems to be presented as just a bunch of random facts and chemical pathways. I spend a lot of time trying to put it all together in my head and get the big picture before jumping into the details, but by the time I have everything squared away and understand how everything relates, I run out of time to memorize all the catalyzing enzymes and what disease is caused by an excess of what chemical intermediate.
Unlike many of my classmates who were pre-med in college, I have never had a Biochemistry class. Adding to the problem is the course is taught by a team of seven professors and they each lecture on a particular topic, but nobody ties it all together for us. While studying all of the metabolic pathways, I would like to step back at each new concept and be shown how it all fits in the big picture, but it seems I have to get that on my own.
My biggest problem is that I have been studying in such a way as to understand the material rather than to perform well on the exams, and there is a difference. I have seen some of classmates just memorize old exam questions. They play a word association game, where they know a certain enzyme goes with a particular pathway, but they may not really understand what is going on. That is not to knock them, they have just figured out the game a bit better than I have at this point. Hopefully though, my extra efforts will pay off on the final and the board exam, as I hope my methods of study will lead to better recall for the long haul.
One of the great things about being in a hospital every day is access to quick medical care when you need it. Last week we had some kind of crud going around my house and I got congested and it led to an ear infection. It is so easy to go by student health services and get a prescription for an antibiotic.
Also I am getting some physical therapy for the broken arm I suffered eight weeks ago. I fractured the head of my radius in a furious driveway basketball game. It has been improving steadily but I still don’t have my full range of motion back. When I started therapy two weeks ago I was at 150 degrees of extension, but I am now at about 165 on my own, and my therapist has gotten me close to 175 while stretching me. She starts out each session by putting a heat pack around my elbow while I lay on my back with my arm extended. An elastic band is wrapped around my wrist and then tied beneath the table so that it straightens my arm out. Then she takes the heat off and pushes my arm down as hard as she can. I just try not to cry. Then she flexes it as far as it will go and starts shoving my fist into my shoulder. After some strengthening exercises comes my favorite part – the ice packs. She wraps my elbow up good and I imagine I am Curt Schilling after nine tough innings.
It has definitely paid off. I hadn’t been able to engage in my Sunday afternoon games since I had broken it. I have an awesome driveway for hoops – about 40 feet by 30 feet and perfectly flat. I’ve got a gang of about 8 buddies that come over and we have three-on-three games. I couldn’t stand to watch them while I was on the disabled list so I would go to school to study, but last week I gave it a shot. I had extremely limited range and shot like a sissy but it was good to be back out there. Then this Sunday, my jump shot was back! No real pain and most of the strength back. I can tell its still not 100% but I could play hard and not hurt my team too bad.

About Marcus Lee

Child Neurologist
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