Sunday, May 25, 2008

For the Coach

School is over now, the thought of no longer going to class or calling myself a student has sunk in, and I'm almost finished with my thank-you cards. At a moment like this one reflects back to the family and friends that have supported them along the way, whether it be a simple, "How's school going?" or my peers coming up with a way to get me out the house and rescue my sanity. I have been so blessed with so many wonderful people in my life who have helped me along this path. One of them I would like to recognize publicly. Although I gave him a thank-you card about four years ago, I wish I could give one more word of praise and gratitude.
Dr. Kent Van De Graaff had lived an amazing life, one that has impacted thousands of people, including myself. He wrote some of the top-used anatomy textbooks throughout the world, was published in research journals, and guided hundreds, if not thousands, of pre-med students into medical school. He even became a mnemonic for cranial nerves (O-O-O To Touch And Feel Van De Graaff's Very Accessible Hair!) He had his share of adversities in his life: losing both of his parents in his childhood, surviving over three decades after stomach cancer, and the death of his wife from complications of cancer treatment. Such resilience is to be admired. After being rejected for admission from vet school, he decided to pursue a Master degree and chose the education path, teaching zoology and acting as pre-med advisor at schools such as Brigham Young University and then returning to his hometown and alma mater Weber State University.
My first interaction with Dr. V. came when I was a high school senior. I was looking at some of the Utah schools and when I went to visit Weber, he took me in during his lunch break to sit and talk for almost an hour on everything I need to do to prepare for med school and what the school had to offer me in preparing for it. I left his office in amazement and a folder full of handouts. I did decide on Weber and looked forward to my next four years there. His lectures were amazing! He always had interesting points and stories and even some specimens. He welcomed his students to his office anytime. If we were overwhelmed or just feeling down, he offered us some "Damitol" (they were really jellybeans in a jar) and offered to write us a prescription for it if needed. He referred to us as the "Team" and so of course that would make him, "Coach." When I was taking the dissection lab, I realized my project was going to need some time outside of our weekly lab. Every Friday and Monday morning, he would hand me off the extra lab key between classes so I could work on my project over the weekend. He joked one day about our consistency, smiling and said" "We have to stop seeing each other like this." His humor was one-of-a-kind. At the end of that lab he asked me to co-instruct the advanced anatomy lab with another student the next year. Me?? I thought. I was only 20 years old, there's so many other smart and capable students...other reasons why I shouldn't have been asked to teach could go on; but his confidence in me built up my own confidence. He had a way of doing that with so many other students. He showed support for me when I told him I was taking a break from school to go on a mission, telling me that it will be a great experience and will benefit my own teaching. When I came back from my mission, his health was not very good. Having contracted hepatitis from his stomach surgery, his liver was poor and in need of a transplant. He took a sabbatical my last semester of college but he still wrote me an amazing letter of recommendation for PA school, a copy which I still have today. I took a year off to work after that, so I don't know if I ever told him that I made it into PA school. At the end of my first semester of PA school, I got an email that he had passed away. I flew to Utah for the funeral and it was one of the most inspiring moments I ever had. The stories of service and love shared by former students and his family were amazing. My grandfather said that his years at Weber State were his best years of education. I have to say it is the same for me and it is largely due to the influence one teacher had on me.
Many teachers hope to have an impact on the next generation just like Dr. Van De Graaff did to me. Maybe it's those movies and stories like "Dead Poets Society" and "Stand and Deliver" that renews hope and gratitude for the teachers who have impacted our lives. As a daughter and granddaughter of three teachers, I have been raised with an appreciation and respect for them. Five years ago I read Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. It's one of the few books that have made me cry, mainly because I have had my own Morrie in my life. There's a quote from it that I want to leave off on that describes Dr. V. and I also wrote it in my last thank-you card to him. Feel free to leave a comment if you agree with it or have had a teacher or other person impact your life in some way.
"Have you ever really had a teacher? One who saw you as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom, could be polished to a proud shine? If you are lucky enough to find your way to such teachers, you will always find your way back. Sometimes it is only in your head."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Catching Up

It's been almost 2 weeks since my last post so I should probably do some updating. It's been quite a ride this past week.
1. I found out that I will be having a second nephew. Now Little B. is going to have to share his title of "Cutest Nephew Ever!" He's still set to make his arrival in October and things are looking well so far.
2. My sister arrived after a very long flight with Brian. She was quite tired. It took Brian a few minutes to remember who I was but I think he caught on. On our way home I pointed and said "Mountain!" (Not too many of those in Alabama and I took him there the last time he was here). He pointed towards the window and said "Ah-deet". He still melts my heart everyday. He's crawling, babbling, and poking my nose now. He's growing sooo fast!
3. I had a friend from Northern Cali come and visit and it was good to see him again. I hit the health science campus one last time and had lunch at one of my old post-exam lunch spots - King Torta.
4. Oh yeah, I had this thing called graduation. It was the beginning of a very long day. A very hot day with the temp hanging around 100. And of course I am in a black long-sleeve gown with a seat in the first row of the section directly beneath the sun. I forgot how much sun-burning toes hurt. It was an early morning and I left around 6:15. I found that my sister had decorated my car, it was so sweet of her! I got there in time. One of the top-bananas of Disney gave a commencement address for the 10,000+ students that were there. All of the speeches throughout the day were great and inspirational. I also loved the band playing at the beginning and the end and all of us doing the "Fight On" sign. I had my program ceremony after that and strutted my stuff down the red carpet. Luckily didn't stumble like I was afraid I would do (especially being the first in line).
I love my classmates!! Yay us!!I thanked some of my friends, faculty and staff afterwards. My family was great and even made some posters with "Rapper J" and other things on them, and of course, my nephew was my biggest fan.
I couldn't help showing him off. My family and I took some pictures and we left about 1:30. After a cold shower I did some final preparations for my open house that night. It was good to see so many familiar faces again. I have so many wonderful people in my life, I am thankful they were able to come out and celebrate with me. We had lots of food, including my homemade empanadas that many have raved about for the past few days (I took some leftovers to a church potluck). Great times had by all. The day didn't end for me until about 1:00 Saturday morning. It was still a "magical" day, as Mr. Iger put it, and a great end to my 20 years as a "student"
5. Saturday I slept a bit more than I had the past few days but I still felt a bit tired. I escaped the 104 degree heat and went down to the coast and enjoyed a shake at the Shake Shack of Crystal Cove.
6. I went to a wonderful wedding reception for some friends and saw more wonderful people. More good times.
7. Saturday night I celebrated Norwegian Constitution Day or also known as Syttende Mai. This was the first official celebration that I have been to for it. More wonderful people, more great food, more good times. I think my Norwegian ancestors would be proud, with exception for my boot-throwing ability. One event of the night was a boot throwing contest that began in the apartment parking lot. I was doing a practice throw and the boot ended up landing in the cab of a pickup truck with a loud "thud". Most of the people ran and tried to hide and we tried to muffle our laughter. The boot-throw was moved to the Walgreen's parking lot and my next throw was much better that time.

So now it's been a few days since that crazy week/weekend. I finally went back online after a nearly four-day absence (that's rare for me!). I had the ceremonial changing-of-the license plate-holder. I feel as though I have recovered energy-wise. Still enjoying my nephew. Still eating leftovers. Still working on some thank-you cards. Still studying hard. If my posts seem less and less frequent, it probably has to do with my studying. Less than 1 month until my big test. Uggg... I probably will write a post on that in the future just to let you all know I am still alive. Until next time...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I was inspired by a friend and fellow blogger who has used her blog as a force for good to share her happiness with others. I shall attempt to do the same and see if I may have a bit of influence on other people's lives. Oh the power....muuuahahaha!! So here are just a few pearls of wisdom and experience I would like to share and maybe bring some enlightenment to all those who may stop by:

Sondre Lerche
In honor of the upcoming Norwegian Independence Day, I would like to highlight one of the musicians of Norway. He has a indie/folk/acoustic style and his lyrics are fun. He's the third song on my playlist and if he sound's familiar, he has sung and composed music for the "Dan in Real Life" soundtrack. There's a few other Norwegian musicians I'll probably highlight in future posts.
Hold Off On the Q-Tips
This one is more like a public announcement and it must be said!! Over the past few months I had quite a few patients tell me that they didn't know they shouldn't use Q-tips in their ears. The last time I went to the doctor I was asked about how I clean my ears. I think there may be a crackdown on Q-tip usage, so beware!! They are okay to use on the outside of the ear but there's a saying that nothing larger than your elbow should go inside your ear. A couple reasons: 1) Crud is just being pushed farther back, and you risk damaging your eardrum 2) You can irritate the inside of your ear which can lead to dry skin, itching and infection. There's also the memorable story from Dr. Van DeGraaff: college student + Q-Tip in use + ringing phone = permanent hearing loss in ear. So, you may be wondering: how do I clean them? Other than our natural mechanisms (sneezing, etc...) you can occasionally use a few drops of hydrogen peroxide, and later in the shower let the warm water do it's thing. Cold water can be uncomfortable. There's also this way where you burn a long, cone-shaped "candle" and let physics do it's thing. I know a guy who did this during a first date. It's true, and it wasn't his last one with the girl either. A little earwax is fine, it offers some protection and it's an insect repellent too. Sorry if you're grossed out, but onto other things...

Northern Exposure
I fell in love with this show last year. Maybe because it has to do with a doctor in Alaska, or the early 90's nostalgia, but it was a hit back in the day and had won several Emmys. The reruns in southern CA run on the public television network most weekday nights at 10pm (no commercials) on channel 24. The series is also available on DVD.

Getting the Most Out of Life Tip #17
The next time you find yourself in a furniture store or office superstore, find the most expensive chair and sit in it. A moment of pleasure and luxury for free! I discovered this while I was waiting for some files to be printed up in a Staples store in Palm Springs a couple years ago. It was SO nice!

Best wishes in your pursuit of enjoyment!

Monday, May 5, 2008

A little bathroom humor...

Some people search for the road less traveled, I search for the restroom less used. They tend to smell less, and well, you know... A few months ago I discovered a new restroom where I go to school and noticed this on the door:

Pull to operate... yeah.... Fortunately this restroom wasn't in the area of the basement-consigned USC PA program, so I guess it doesn't really insult the intelligence of myself and my classmates. It does stay open a little longer and closes by itself, so I guess that's the big deal.