Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Starting School. Again.

Yesterday was the first day of school for me. As a student. I'm not teaching this semester, something that I'm having a harder time with now as the semester is commencing, but I am taking three (what I consider to be) really hard classes. This summer we should have had one easy-ish class and one RHC, but the RHC turned out to be somewhat of a blow-off, and it made me rest on my laurels a little. Now I have three bona fide hard classes, and okay okay, I'll tell you what they are: Chemistry, Microbiology, and Pharmacology. All in the interest of getting a degree that may actually get me a damn job when I finish. How absolutely novel.

Let's start with Micro, which was the first class of the day. I had already printed out the syllabus, like the good little geek that I am. Nothing looked terrible and even the lab seems interesting. Even though there's a shitload of material to learn, it all seems interesting and I'm more or less looking forward to this class. Right now, it's shaping up to be my favorite course. (If you had told me, even a year ago, that I would be saying this about a course like microbiology, I would have shot myself in the foot, but I can't deny the truth of it now.) The professor has a nice dry sense of humor and that will help. The only downside of this couse, as I see it now, is that it is in a traditional auditorium type of room. You know, with the little desks that slide up and over the front of your chair? I figure I've got maybe three more weeks to fit in this chair, and then the gig is up. We'll see what happens.

Chemistry: Seems like it won't be easy, but I'll get it. Not too inordinately worried here either. Professor has a fun Puerto Rican accent. All tests, no homework, and lab assignments, which seems pretty straightforward. Okay. Chemistry-- down.

Pharmacology: First of all, I had to override into this class without one of the prerequisites, but when talking to the chair of the program, she didn't think it would be a problem for me. This was the class I was most nervous about. Everyone has said how hard the class is-- it's all memorization and the grading scale is such that it's even harder to get an A. And Partner is not taking this class with me. I'm alone. All alone.

When entering the classroom, it was immediately apparent that many students knew each other. Probably because they are all in the same program. I recognized someone, and sat down with her and the people at her table. It was a good choice because there was at least one other anal type of student there. The woman I knew peripherally is not a dim bulb either, and the other woman seemed pretty with it also. After a few minutes into lecture, I started feeling better. I even managed to answer a few questions the professor asked. Some things I had no clue about, but wasn't stressed: with a little reading, I'd figure it out. Mostly she annoyed me by asking us things like, "Do you knooooow what volatile means?" or "What's is longer: 40 inches or 40 centimeters?" Grrrr. She made us change tables every hour, which is a little disconcerting on the first day of class. Everyone is a little nervous anyway.

My final group didn't engender any confidence in me, and to make a long story shorter, she ended up giving us our first homework assignment in this group and told us we could do the first problem together. Here's what it said:

Doctor orders: Tylenol X gr q4h prn pain, not exceed 4 gm per day. Pharmacy sends acetaminophen 500 mgm tabs. What should patient receive? How many tabs of the Tylenol on hand would each 4 gm?

What the FUCK? What the fuckity fuck? What the fucking fuck fuck? No one at my final table really knows what any of it means. Some kid has a drug dosage calculation book, where at least we can look up the abbreviations. But then what the fuck is a GRAIN of Tylenol?? Eventually we figure out part of the answer, but I'm left in the dust. The professor starts rambling about questions four and five and IV pumps and not IV pumps and I feel my heart beating in my chest so damn fast, I'm actually worried about what my stress is doing to the Cricket. I try to talk to the professor after class, but she's too busy setting up for her next class, she doesn't really give me the time of day. I walk out of class, tears stinging my eyes, and stand outside in the rain, crying in Partner's shoulder.

Later that night when my mother called to admonish me about something I hadn't done, I mentioned what a hard day I had. I told her about the Pharm class. Her idea of supportive mother advice was to note that perhaps I should have taken the prereq. When I explained that the drug dosage stuff wasn't even a prereq for the class, she said, "Well, if you have to drop it, you'll have to drop it." This did not feel remotely helpful to me. It just goes to show you can't dictate what people will say to you for advice. I wanted some petting: You're smart, Katie, you'll figure it out, Katie. You know, your dad could probably help you with this, Katie. Alas.

It took some Coronation Street and Indian food to finally calm me down. I'm not dropping the damn class. I'm going to figure it all out. If it takes a whole semester of Chicken Mahkni to get me there. I'm clearly going to have to confront some issues in myself-- I'm going to have to ask some people for help, not easy for me. I have a whole mess of nasty school issues tied up inside, and it appears this class is going to bring back up some of these things, but I'll be damned if I just stop trying and drop the class. I've been down the route before, and I ain't going there again. Wish me luck, confreres.

Starting school again, indeed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been lurking and reading you guys and Addition Problems, and I just love all your posts. I wish the very very best for you all and am so happy everything is working out for all of you.

"I figure I've got maybe three more weeks to fit in this chair, and then the gig is up"

Time for belly shots, moms! :)
Tee hee!

Wishing you the best from inside the internet!

-Jen, New York

2:05 PM  
Blogger Wendy & Karen said...

You WILL figure it out! Stay strong! We wish you luck and lots of Chicken Mahkni.

6:14 PM  
Anonymous pixi said...

I have every confidence that you will prevail.

It sure would be nice if we could give up our daily responsibilities and just rest & nest during our pregnancies. Although at the same time, we feel more pressure than ever to get our lives in gear and to take steps to secure our families' future.

You'll make it work. I know you will.

6:40 PM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

Thanks for the reminder to listen to my son when he talks to figure out what he needs rather than just replying off the cuff.

You're smart, Katie.
You can do it. :)

9:58 PM  
Blogger PortLairge said...

I can't believe they are still working in grains. That is so last century. Most hospitals are trying to steer old fart doctors away from writing grains. You will get it beacuse you are far smarter than than most people. In a few short weeks you'll be wondering what you were worried about. Now, chicken mahkani mmmmmmm, one of my favorites- it can cure any woe.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

The only time I ever see grains used is usually with aspirin where 5 grains is approximately 325 milligrams. Except one time a resident ordered 325 grains of aspirin a day for a patient. And argued with me when I explained that would kill him.

5:31 AM  
Blogger Michko said...

I used to want to be a professional student, but now I'm super glad that I'm not. Good luck to you, and know that you will figure it all out!

11:18 AM  
Blogger M. said...

Katie - I took physical chemistry as an undergrad (I was a general bio major but was heading into a PhD program where I thought they would require PChem - and wanted to get it out of the way). The first day of class I was late (because of morning water polo practice so I was chlorinated and wet too!) and walked into a chalkboard filled with equations that looked like Greek, and I sat through the entire class with tears in my eyes and didn't write down a thing. I almost - almost dropped the class, but I didn't. I stuck it out, studied hard, and asked for help (hard for me too), and I ended the class with a B+, even though I couldn't tell you a single thing I learned in there today. I also beat a number of grad students enrolled in the class.

You can do it. Hang in there. It's hard because it's new material and it's hard because your professor sounds like an idiot. But you can do it! Trust me - if I can pass PChem with minimal calculus in my background you can pass pharmacology with flying colors.

(Also, I was a TA for microbiology in grad school - and am happy to offer whatever assistance I can if needed - and if that's not overstepping cyber-bounds.)

12:33 PM  
Blogger sparklykatt said...

Ha! Finally something I can do! I can't get pregnant, but I am a pharmacist, and I rocked in pharm calc.

Feel free to ask me anything, anytime.

Let me know if you need my work email.

3:50 PM  
Blogger mermaidgrrrl said...

go girl!
I'm pretty sure that they meant grams rather than grains. The whole drug calc thing will be surprisingly easy once you get your head around it, because most of the maths is just moving the decimal point to the right or left. I've 100% available for questions and support! Nearly every nurse I know absolutely despised pharmacology and found it the hardest subject of them all. I remember sitting there wanting to beat my head against the wall trying to explain the difference between the pharmacological actions of the different anti-biotics, but here I am shoving them up peoples arms with confidence every day. You will be too soon!

6:57 AM  
Anonymous J-Le said...

oh lordy - good luck!

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Lucy said...

Oh god, drops and grains and crap that is never actually used anymore ... so great to hear that you had to face that on the first day. I'm one of those freaks of nature who loved my graduate pharmacology class, but don't hate me because of it. Hang in there - it should get easier for you as the class goes along. If you have any questions, drop by my blog and hit me up in the comments or guest book ... happy to help!

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Erin said...

Have Ph.D. in pharmacology, will help as needed--my e-mail's on my blog page!

You're doing the right thing by staying in the class, and you WILL get it. Even if you have to sit on the floor for most of the semester!

Micro was one of my favorite classes in undergrad, and I still use what I learned there. It was fascinating!

12:41 AM  

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