>January 23 2002

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Is there any part of the body that has been written about, romanticized, and imbued with such symbolism as the heart? We started studying the heart in Physiology today. I wonder how the heart came to be equated with the center of emotions? Poets have written about it as a symbol of love forever it seems. The history is powerful, because even today, when we know that all of the things once attributed to the heart, actually reside in the brain, we still use the heart as a metaphor for love, courage, and kindness. One of the helpful things about Gross Anatomy is the permanent image it stamped on my mind for the internal body structures. I can still see my cadaver and the placement of his heart clearly. We actually took the heart out and dissected it thoroughly back in the fall (which seems almost an eternity ago!) and knowing the structure makes learning the function so much easier. As part of today’s lab session we had to get an EKG done on ourselves. The guys were segregated from the girls who for some reason did not want to bare their chests in front of us. Several of the guys were not to eager to go first, but when I visually ascertained that I would not be the fattest slob in the group I jumped to the front. The leads didn’t stick to well to my hairy chest, but I managed to get a printout to prove that I had done the lab. We are just beginning to learn to read EKGs and will have a printout of our own heart’s rhythms as we study. Having finished up the lab early I was able to get some reading in the rest of the afternoon.

We have our second Histology exam coming up on Monday. This has been a great class so far. The instructors are great. Dr. Naftel who is the director for the course has been super. He goes the extra mile to help students learn the material. Every Saturday morning he voluntarily comes in to give us a review session for all of the laboratory work we were assigned for the week. He apparently comes in early and sets up a microscope with a TV viewer, and gets all of the slides in order. He then goes to the local Krispee Kreme doughnut store and picks up a gross of HOT doughnuts for us. (If you have never had fresh Krispee Kremes right out of the “river of grease” as I call it, you have not lived.) The review session starts at 10:00 and he patiently walks us through slide after slide pointing out things we need to know for our practical examinations. I have not had another professor who does so much on his own time as Dr. Naftil, and it is much appreciated.

Another cool thing about Histology is the number of great web sites available for study. For the first exam, I found it much more helpful to study a lot on the net at home (I LOVE my DSL line!) than to spend a lot of time in the lab looking at slides with my own microscope. I am hoping to get away with that strategy for this test also.

Yet another thing I like about this course, is the notes the professors write for us. In most of our classes, our note service writes up notes, but they still need to be supplemented with printouts of the lecture slides and textbook material. The Histology profs though, write up very detailed notes for each lecture and they pretty much contain all of the information we need to know for exams. They seem to be the only department that realizes that we medical students are so busy that we cannot possibly read all of the assigned textbook material, or at least read it all with full comprehension, given our time constraints. I try to read each lecture note three times and look at just the diagrams and illustrations in the text to cement the concepts.

The most important thing I have learned in Histology so far though, is something your Mom has probably preached for years – wear sunscreen! Melanoma is not a pretty thing.

About Marcus Lee

Child Neurologist
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