All About Med 1: The Block Is Hot

Block Exams Are Coming

I’m 4 weeks into term 1 and I’m about to start study week.  We get 4 weeks of lectures, 1 week to study uninterrupted, and then a block exam.  The block exam is a combined test that covers all the materials from the beginning.  Last week, we had a 35 question formative exam kinda like a “sneak peak” of what our actual block exam will look like.  The formative counts for 2% of our grade and benchmarked where we stood with the material.  I’m glad they gave it to us because it showed me my strengths and weaknesses.  

The first block is a general review of undergraduate material.  There are a few new things, but nothing from left field.  My biggest challenge thus far has been allowing break myself to take a break.  My friend told me that having a glass of wine at night with my notes before bed doesn’t count as personal time.  

Breaks are important

block

I use a daily calendar to track my daily activities and my iOS calendar to track my time.  Since this week is study week, I’m about to go “hard in the paint.”  Meaning, this next week is no joke.  Since I understand the benefits of time off, I made sure to schedule some down time.  

I spent the weekend preparing for the week. My meal prep included pot roast, taco salad, ginger chicken, spaghetti and meatballs.  I made the roast and the ginger chicken in the crock pot.  Both are really easy to do.  I’ll post directions when I get more time.  I froze half of the meals so they would last unit the end of the week and beyond.  

Your girl won’t be hungry this week.  On top of meal prepping I went grocery shopping, filled up my gas tank, checked my tires, did my laundry, cleaned my house, changed my sheets, washed my hair, and shaved.  I don’t need any distractions this week.  The plan is to pray, eat, workout, study, and repeat.  Check it out below. 

block

The Block Is Hot

Okay, so I know this schedule looks insane.  But, “The Block Is Hot”.  Which is a Lil Wayne’s reference from his hit jam in 1999.  Every time I sit down to study I start singing that song.  LiL Wayne is referencing police on the corner preventing him from participating in discretionary activities.  I’m referencing my professors literally saying it’s my job to “F” you on this exam.  YES!  One of my professors actually said that.  So the block extra hot!

The good news is, I feel comfortable with all of the material.  I need to work on memorizing the small details and cross-referencing topics.  Hopefully things will go in my favor over the upcoming week.  

Weekly Wins

I’m still sticking to my personal goals.  Things haven’t been prefect but I haven’t completely fallen off either.  

  1.  I’m only a few days behind on my daily devotional.
  2. I still work out.  Although the past few weeks has been intermittent (1-3 times per week).  The goal is at least 4.  This week.  I want to workout everyday.  It will help me sleep and it clears my mind.  I need every advantage during study week.  
  3. My diet isn’t terrible.  I’m cooking more than I have been and that’s always better.  
  4. My sleep has been so so.  I need to be more strict with forcing myself to sleep before midnight.  
  5. Blogging fell off.  I trying though.   

If I haven’t completely failed I consider it a win, even if it’s small.  

Check out my article on eating real food and find me on pinterest.

Striving to make practical changes for healthier lifestyle.  

Tiffany Rebekah

St. George’s University

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Maurice Bishop International Airport in the beautiful St. Georges, Grenada.  Local time is 3:08 p.m. and the temperature is 81 degrees.”  I looked out the window and thought to myself, “OMG, I finally made it.  I’m actually here.”  St. George’s University school of Medicine, here I come. 
St. George's University

On September 16, 2015, I received my one and only acceptance letter into St. George’s University Medical School.  Considering this was the only school I applied to I was ecstatic when the letter came.  Why did I only apply to one school?  Well, there are many reasons which I’ll address later.  What I will tell you is that I really wanted to go SGU and I got in.  Yay me!

St George's University Medical School

St. George’s University Medical School is arguably the most respected medical school in the Caribbean.  The school out ranks all other Caribbean medical schools with residencies.  It also has a higher first time pass rate for the USMLE step 1 exam that rival US and Canadian medical schools.  With this type of reputation, I didn’t want to be any where else.

On top of SGU’s outstanding test scores and residency placement the campus is gorgeous.  SGU is located on the beautiful island of Grenada in the West Indies.  How lucky am I to be able to study medicine in such a beautiful place?  I’m so thankful.  

St. George’s University Medical School

St. George's University

St. George's University

St. George's University

St. George's University

St. George's University

My journey took me on many detours before I landed here.  However, all the hard work and studying has paid off.  The admissions committed saw something in me and I’m so thankful St. George’s University decided to take a chance on me.  Many people stress and struggle getting into medical school and when you finally make it the feeling is unparalleled.  

SGU started me in the Charter Foundations Program, aka Foundations to Medicine.  It’s a 6 month program, to prepare you for term 1.  After successful completion of the program you go straight into the school of medicine.  Here I plan to document my journey.  I’ll talk about the ups, the downs and everything I’ve learned.  I’ll even tell you what I’d do different if I could start over.  

Make practical changes for a healthier lifestyle.

Tiffany Rebekah

That difficult workout could kill you.

workout

I  work in the emergency room as a medical scribe.  I’m exposed to many mind blowing cases and I’m learn a ton daily.  I’ve recently learned, that it is possible to workout too much.  Gasp! Over doing it can cause rhabdomyolysis (rhabdo).  It’s a condition that breaks down skeletal muscle tissue into the bloodstream eventually causing kidney failure which can lead to death.  The condition is considered rare, however I see approximately one case per week.  Seriously, mind blowing!

The cases I’ve witnessed have one common denominator, difficult workouts.  So, how are difficult workouts linked to rhabdomyolysis?  WebMD, states rhabdo is caused by direct or indirect muscle injury.  When most people think of muscle injury they imagine accidents or trauma.  Well, when we workout we are purposefully damaging our muscle tissue.  It’s that burning sensation that we crave which lets us know we’re “really” working out.  

Most of the time, we’ll experience muscle fatigue which is our bodies way of stopping us before we injure ourselves.  However, some people try to push through this feeling going above and beyond their max.  While it’s great to challenge yourself when working out, it’s more important to listen to your body.  

OMG, will I die if I workout to hard?  

I try my darndest not to bombard my physicians with constant questions, but I always have soooooo many.  What causes rhabdo?  Who’s can get this?  How do I prevent it?  Can I still max out at the gym?  

workoutWhen I’m presented with some new case that I think could affect me, I mentally freak out on the inside.  After a few minutes, I pull myself together and start researching.  Then I try to formulate intelligent questions so I don’t sound like a complete idiot.  

After many google searches, I found quite a few articles associating rhabdo with crossfit.  While I haven’t personally seen any cases where the patient admitted to crossfit activity, having done crossfit in the past, I can understand the association.  

The cases I have seen have varied from weight lifting to just difficult daily exercises.  They are normally diagnosed by analyzing symptoms and blood test.  Some common symptoms include muscle weakness, swelling, inability to move, dark urine, or inability to urinate despite staying hydrated.  

workout

The most interesting thing I learned is many times, patients diagnosed with rhabdo have been using some type of dietary supplemental or performance enhancers such as diuretics, creatine, or stimulants.  The problem is that some performance enhancers may cause electrolyte imbalances increasing your chances of rhabdo from prolonged usage.  

While I have nothing against dietary supplements, I’m not a big advocate of them.  The only supplement I take is cold pressed cod liver fish oil.  My chemistry professor told me years ago, they were a waste of money and my physicians have reinforced his claim.  Interestingly enough, half of my physicians (approximately 5/12) still take dietary supplements in the form of multivitamins.  Their reasoning is, they realize their normal diet doesn’t provide them with maximum nutrition.  They admit that most of their supplement is literally flushed down the toilet as urine but they rather have something over nothing.  

So what’s the take away?

Listen to your body.  After difficult workouts, give your body sufficient time to rest and heal.  Don’t over do it.  Eat a well-balanced diet and stay hydrated.  Avoid taking performance enhancers if possible.  I’ve noticed, blood test of those with rhabdo have high amounts of creatine and low amounts of potassium.  

Most importantly, if you’re starting a new workout regimen consult with professionals.  Still kill it in the gym, but be safe.  This is by no means a reason not to to stay active.  

If you experience any of the mentioned symptoms, go to the emergency room immediately.  Everyone will not react the same way, but if your body feels “off” seek medical attention.  

Hopefully, you learned something.  I did.  

Make practical changes for a healthier lifestyle.

Tiffany Rebekah

Follow me on Pinterest or Instagram and check out my article on Eating Real Food.

Beginners Guide To Green Smoothies

Beginners Guide To Green Smoothies


Beginners Guide To Green Smoothies

Have you ever made a disgusting smoothie?  Here is a basic smoothie guide for beginners to ease you into the game.  

The USDA recommends a daily consumption of at least five servings of fruits and vegetables.  Drinking green smoothies can help you reach that goal.

WARNING!! Be careful with excess fruit.  Although fruits contain essential vitamins and nutrients, it also has sugar.  All sugar reacts in your body the same regardless of its source.  Remember too much of anything is not good.  Your goal should be to acclimate our taste buds to tolerate less fruit and more greens.

I’m not trying to scare you, just make you aware.  It’s better to us fruit instead of plain sugar or sweetener.  Unlike plain sugar or artificial sweetener, fruits come with other essential vitamins and nutrients that your body needs.  It’s always a better idea to sweeten your smoothie with fruit.  

Just be mindful of the amount you use.  Keep your fruit servings to 1-2 per day.  

Beginners Guide To Green Smoothies

beginners guide to green smoothies

Additional Tips

  • If you choose bitter greens, use acidic fruits like pineapple or oranges.  It helps to balance the bitter taste.  
  • Choose a liquid without added sugar such as plain coconut or almond milk.
  • Let your fruit ripen.  Banana are sweetest if they are heavily spotted and almost over ripe.  

As you become better with making your smoothies start to decrease your fruit and add more greens.  Your goal should be to adjust your taste buds to less sugary things.  

Click here for smoothie don’ts.

beginners guide to green smoothies

If you are struggling to get your fruits and vegetables in your diet, try making green smoothies.  I’ve been able to improve my diet using smoothies.  It’s kept my blood pressure down and relieved me of irritable bowl syndrome.  

Check out a few of my smoothie combinations here.

Make practical changes to promote a healthier lifestyle.  

Tiffany Rebekah

Find me on Pinterest and check out my article on eating real food

GMOs: Link Between Lymphoma and Pesticides

Controversy

I’ve been met with a great deal of opposition in social media lately regarding GMO and pesticide safety.  Although there are countless research articles reassuring us they are safe, it still raises concern.  Who’s funding this research?  Should I really be concerned with GMOs?  Who do you trust?  

Non-GMO-project

I stumbled upon an interesting PubMed Central publication, a biomedical and life science journal, that links lymphoma to pesticides.  The “GMO & Pesticide safety committee” has some explaining to do.  

Is the link to lymphoma a false claim?  How can we tell?  For those without a science background let’s show you what to look for. 

What is research? 

Respectable research follows some form of the scientific method.  A question is asked, research is done, and observations are made.  Based on what’s observed,  a hypothesis is developed.  A hypothesis is an attempt to explain answers to posed questions, almost like a prediction.  Then the hypothesis is tested.  

The test must be clear, concise, and repeatable.  Other scientist should be able to duplicate the experiment and achieve similar results.  The experiment results are analyzed, summarized, and reported.  Those reported results are then used by other scientist to answer new questions and the cycle continues.     

link between lymphoma and pesticides

 

Image adapted from www.sciencebuddies.org

All respectable research must use some form of this method.  This is a simplified version as it can become more complicated.  I share this with you so when reading “research” you can ask yourself if it follows this basic form.

So, back to the issue of pesticides being linked to non-hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).  This article says there is a positive association with NHL and occupational exposure to some pesticides.  It notes that further research is needed to investigate epidemiologic trends with more pesticides [1]. 

My opinion 

Occupational exposure pertain to farmers and their workers.  Average people do not experience the same exposure as workers do.  However if there is even a possibility of risk, I’m good.  I’ll continue to avoid conventional produce if possible.  I’ll let the confident GMO scientist be the guinea pig.    

link between lymphoma and pesticides

link between lymphoma and pesticides

 

Images adapted from www.inlander.com

So, are GMOs and pesticides safe?  You have to decide for yourself.  My advice is research, educate yourself, and then decide.  If you’re interested in the research I found, check it out.  It definitely opens the door for concern.  

I hope this was helpful.  

Make practical changes to improve your lifestyle.  

Tiffany Rebekah 

Follow me on Pinterest and check out my article on eating real food. 

1.  Schinasi, Leah, and Maria E. Leon. “Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Occupational Exposure to Agricultural Pesticide Chemical Groups and Active Ingredients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. MDPI, 23 Apr. 2014. Web. 02 June 2015.