Monthly Archives: March 2010

Touching base

This has been a difficult semester for me, emotionally.

I think some of what I’m struggling with is disappointment. Consciously, I don’t think I expected much. Subconsciously, I think I was expecting a lot more than what I’ve been getting.

See, I never wanted to go to college for the sake of going to college. I only wanted to go if I wanted to learn something in specific. And I, in specific, wanted to learn to be a Physical Therapist Assistant. I didn’t realize exactly how much I was looking forward to learning until I realized how little I would be taught, reminded once again that the only thing college is really good for is a piece of paper that said you went, and the line on your resume saying so.

Although we have been tested nearly every time we inhale, we aren’t really learning. At least, we aren’t learning efficiently. The teachers say to us “When you get to clinicals, you’ll be surprised at how much you know.”

But I’ve been working on weekends, and that is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because I am still learning so much there. A curse, because I can see how poorly I’m being taught and how little I’m learning at school. A blessing, because it’s one of the few days that doesn’t seem like an utterly futile waste of time. A curse, because I know everything that I am learning right now, I could be learning a thousands times faster on the job, and getting paid for it besides. A blessing, because it helps me keep my sanity in the midst of my non-learning. A curse, because it’s one more day I have to set my alarm, one more day I can’t sleep as much as I want, one more day leaving me just a little less able to handle the emotional load.

I am mad. I am disappointed. I am disgusted. I hate the feeling of judgment every time they hand out another test—another test on irrelevant material. Sometimes I am sad for us all, working so hard at accomplishing nothing. Sometimes I feel like I’m overwhelmed with helplessness. . .how did we get to such a place where we have so much bureaucratic red tape that we have to spend 2 years just to get to the point where we can learn the organic way—on the job. Why do they say we all need to be educated formally first, when they don’t answer the questions, don’t know the answers, don’t explain the nitty-gritty detail or the theories behind what we’re doing. . .When all they do in school is make us toe an invisible line that no one pays any attention to in the real world?

Some teachers are sympathetic. . .but they can’t do anything different, because of the college, because of the accreditation board, because of all of these nameless, faceless people above them on the food chain who have already decreed what is best for us. How did we get here?

I can’t even take the textbooks, teach myself, and take the boards. You aren’t allowed to take the boards until you’ve graduated from an accredited program. How did we get here?

I marvel at the complacency of those around me. . .they too realize that this is busy-work and nonsense, but seem to so easily accept that that’s just the way the world is. It just is. As though they cannot even comprehend of it being different. The world is such a twisted place that people have come to expect it to be that way. They don’t look around at their classmates and hurt, because they know that there are about 1,483 different better ways to learn.

Some of the teachers are rigid. They explain to us how they know how to teach, and this is how we learn. I sit there and think, “Lady, you and I must have totally different definitions for the word ‘teach.'”

Every subconscious hope I’ve held for school has crumbled in this semester.

All that remains is that, if I stick it out to the end, I can take the boards, and then I can participate in real-life. But the here and now is just not worth much, and we all know it.

I’ve dealt with it by trying to do independent research so I can at least learn something. I’ve complained. I’ve occasionally challenged teachers who weren’t earning their paychecks. I’ve ingested quantities of sugar enough to convince some people it’s my form of alcohol. But mostly I’ve become discouraged and frustrated. I feel like I am putting in far more than I am getting out.

The sensible thing to do, then, would be to stop putting so much in. To stop trying so hard. To just make it through and not worry about doing well.

But I can’t shake the feeling that “sensibleness” is the answer to the question I asked earlier. How did we get here? By being sensible. By not trying. By not caring. By just accepting the way things are. By not being angry at people who waste our time. By not challenging people who won’t work. By not refusing to complacently accept whatever was spoon-fed into their mouths. By not making waves and just going along with it all.

So I struggle in between. On one hand, I don’t want the stupidity of this world to drag me down to an emotional break-down. On the other hand, I don’t want to accept the stupidity of this world. It is wrong, and it isn’t okay.

“We have been indoctrinated in political courses, and in just the same way was fostered the idea to live comfortably, and all will be well for the rest of our lives. You can’t escape your environment and social conditions. Everyday life defines consciousness. What does it have to do with us? We can’t do anything about it?

But we can–everything. But we lie to ourselves for assurance. And it is not they who are to blame for everything-we ourselves, only we. One can object: But actually toy can think anything you like. Gags have been stuffed into our mouths. Nobody wants to listen to us and nobody asks us. How can we force them to listen? It is impossible to change their minds. ”

“The circle–is it closed? And is there really no way out? And is there only one thing left for us to do, to wait without taking action? Maybe something will happen by itself?”

“I am in the herd, and a coward. It’s all the same to me as long as I’m fed and warm.”

“So you will not be the first to take this path, but will join those who have already taken it. This path will be easier and shorter for all of us if we take it by mutual efforts and in close rank. If there are thousands of us, they will not be able to do anything with us. If there are tens of thousands of us, then we would not even recognize our country.

If we are too frightened, then we should stop complaining that someone is suffocating us. We ourselves are doing it. let us then bow down even more, let us wail, and out brothers the biologists will help to bring nearer the day when they are able to read our thoughts are worthless and hopeless.

And if we get cold feet, even taking this step, then we are worthless and hopeless, and the scorn of Pushkin should be directed to us:

“Why should cattle have the gifts of freedom?

“Their heritage from generation to generation is the belled yoke and the lash.” ”

Kinda sorta back on my feet.

I still find myself being snippier than I mean to be, but I feel like, at least emotionally, I’ve kinda gotten back up. I’m still working on being resigned to two of my classes being utter wastes of time, but it is mitigated in part by the fact that twice–twice!–in the last 10 days I’ve been able to catch up on missing curricula by picking the brains of practicing PTs (e.g. people at work).

There are two classes in particular that stink. In one class, the teacher is simply incapable of answering any question, of any degree. (That’s the one where I catch-up at work.) In the other, it keeps descending into a bigger and bigger joke every time we show up. Ironically, that’s probably the class that will break my good grades. The material is not difficult, but the tests are stupid, questioning things like the names of bacteria and obscure numbers—in general, the tests are on the LEAST useful of the information presented; therefore, the normal means of studying (picking out the important information and learning it well), is futile. And when studying hard does not result in the grades one wants to see (and indeed, one cannot figure out any better way to study), one rapidly looses desire to study for the tests.

Having said all that, I think mostly I’m just going to be a basket case every time a bunch of tests all pile up on each other. I don’t like all this “judging” business, and it makes me go to pieces. Need to work on that.

(Therefore, posting will still be dependent on my sanity, which I have decided is of greater value than sticking to a self-dare of writing every day.)

Sugar is sweet & formaldehyde is vile!!!(!)

Yea, verily.



Sugar should be a controlled substance. At least for me. Can’t hold my sugar.

Knowing full well that we were totally stressed out, almost to the breaking point, with five exams (2 of which are pass-fail, no mistakes allowed), TWO people brought in sugar. One brought dark chocolate, the other brought rice crispy treats with M&M’s.

So of course since we finished our first test in the morning, we ate sweets to celebrate/apply anesthesia. Then we’re all sitting just waiting for our turn to take the pass-fail practical of the day, and what do I do? I eat rice crispy treats. That is like the perfect “de-stress texture”.

Then I notice I’m starting to get loopy, but of course by the time you notice something like that, it’s too too late.

I talked super super fast all afternoon and was happy happy happy happy.

Then we get to bio class & we’re supposed to dissect the fetal pig. Which is VILE. Like, utterly. They were like drowned, rotting rats. All their organs were the same color, and when you cut them open, they goosh vile formaldehyde with chunks of clotted blood in it, like doing diarrhea all over the place. And they’re splashy, too. So if you are using the tweezers to pull something out of the way, and it slips. . .it sprays formaldehyde diarrhea all over the place, including in your hair

I would way, way rather gut a recently killed, still warm chicken with my bare hands before doing formaldehyde dissection. Vileness. You can’t get that smell out of your nose, either. It just lingers and lingers.

Apologies for not posting, but this is a really hard part of the semester and I’m just trying to keep my sanity.

OD’ing on sugar not withstanding.

(Think I’m starting to get eye-twitches. . .)

What constitutes being yelled at?

Several times now I’ve done a double take when some student recounts being “yelled at” by a teacher. . .only to realize that for them, “being yelled at” is “being reprimanded in a disapproving tone of voice”. I guess it’s because teachers aren’t expected to be disapproving, so any for of disapprovement is magnified. I would count it as merely a colloquial figure of speech, but apparently myself and another student got yelled at last yesterday afternoon, and I didn’t know it on account of I didn’t feel yelled at. (Our bio teacher was reminding us we couldn’t be at the same question display [we have to identify different things on plastic models of organs]. I took it as nothing more than a cautionary reminder, and didn’t think much of it. After I finished the test he apologized to me and said he wasn’t trying to insinuate I was cheating. I didn’t realize at the time how much more strongly the other student had taken it.)

In other entirely random and tired thoughts, this morning I thought that it would be cool if God taught school. Which, okay, maybe that’s a no-duh, but when you are sitting there in class trying to connect the dots between physics, biology and PT, you find yourself wishing that it was all just one class taught by someone who knew everything. Then you realize that (a) no one in their right mind is going to get a degree in both physics AND biology AND physical therapy and (b) there is only one who knows everything. But since God does NOT make rules about no cell phones or texting in class and no horsing around, we generally spend a lot of time ignoring Him and not learning. Bummer.

A more sobering piece of randomitis is this. Ethics committees can talk themselves into windblown circles all they want; in the real world, it often feels that there are NO right answers, not even if the answers are sanctioned by ethic committees.


So I got my first clinical where I want it to be. I didn’t really expect that I wouldn’t, since our class pow-wow showed that there really wasn’t any competition for the place I wanted to go, but it feels better to have it settled.

We’ve known for quite some time that March was going to be when the rubber really hit the road, and it is not disappointing our expectations. Not that we were exactly looking forward to back to back tests all month long; but I at least was bracing for it. It quickly gets to the point where you find yourself running over to-do lists and deadlines, trying not to loose track of things.

We also all said that this was probably going to be the semester where we were just happy to pass, and let go of our drive for “only A’s” in favor of just escaping with our hide intact. I’m trying to hang on to it for as long as I can. . .but I can see myself rapidly getting fed up with trying for the A in pathology class or simply not having the time to study properly for bio, or flat out FORGETTING first aid class, seeing as it is only once a week.

The material is not confusing (at least yet, too much. Neuro is trying to get tricky); but we’ve already had more student tears this semester than we did last semester. This pass/fail practical stuff is just brutal on our emotions, guys and girls alike.

There is so much I “could” be doing. . .but after a certain point, it feels like my brain reaches critical mass. At the same time, I know that if I do not go over bio lab stuff TONIGHT, I will not do as well on the lab quiz tomorrow; there will be no time tomorrow to study, because it will be back to back classes from 8 till 5.

It’s something like walking on the knife-edge of balance for so many things. . .the sleep you know you need to learn and recall properly, the down-time necessary for a brain to decompress and be prepared to absorb once more; The sheer number of classes and exams begging study time; the desire to do as well as possible against the desire to maintain sanity. We say to ourselves “one day at a time, one day at a time”. . .but that’s a little false; our eyes must always be on the next day and what we must do to be ready for it. It’s exhausting.

[insert something witty & captiviating here]

I did not know that heat actually increases one’s tolerance for pain. Like, literally; if you place a source of heat “upstream” on a nerve, you literally have a greater tolerance for pain “downstream”. I always thought it was just relieving the symptoms, e.g. the source of pain, and apparently it does more than that.

I had too many questions and was getting too frustrated with our PAM class, so I did go and speak with the dean. I started just by asking all my unanswered questions—which lead to a book with a good deal more of the answers. It’s amazing how much better I feel just being able to get my questions answered. She also took the time to really listen to what I was saying, and that really helped, too. Especially since it seems like the PAM teacher is always just blowing us off and shutting us down. Her entire vibe is “just shut up and sit down while I read this slide.”

I don’t know if anything will change class-wise or not, but for those two things right there, it was worth it. I hope class-wise things will change, because it’s starting to get pretty tense. If someone gets upset enough to walk out, I wouldn’t be surprised if we all did. And I guess that’s one of the reasons why I felt like it was time for me to say something. If it’s going to come down to dramatics, I want to be able to say we tried all reasonable routes first. And I wanted it witnessed that it was not just “certain people” in a class that were having issues, but that even certified “good girls” were not finding this classroom conductive to learning.

I think that helped, too—the fact that she realized a legitimate complaint, not a student-doesn’t-like-the-teacher complaint. The dean, having taught us all last semester (yay for small programs!!), knows perfectly well the kinds of questions I ask. She brought up first how I tend to be making connections and putting things together while the basic concepts are being discussed. She seemed disturbed to find out that felt I wasn’t really welcome to be asking questions or point out contradictions from the book vs. the teacher. She really wanted me to keep asking questions. So now if I’m the most-annoying-student-in-the-class, I’m the most annoying student with the dean’s encouragement to be so. Which is worth something, right?