Monday, November 30, 2009


I'm back on the U of U medical campus, but this time it's not for Samuel. I'm currently sitting in a second year medical school class learning about angina pectoris. I've already had one interview this morning at 8:30, and I'll be having another this afternoon at 1:30.

I've wanted to go to the U of U medical school since I decided to be a doctor. Everything I've done to prepare to be a physician was based on the high requirements of the U of U admissions committee. I've worked in a nursing home, volunteered at the hospital, shadowed physicians, worked as a writing fellow, mentored abuse victims and spent way too many hours studying for classes I didn't care about because I need to have good grades. And it all comes down to today. Based on the scores I get in my interview, my packet will move on to the selection committee, who will debate my acceptance and give me the stamp of death or propel me into the magical world of medicine. No pressure, right?

Although I've always wanted to go to the U, I can't say I've ever really had much confidence or hope that I'd get in. I'm a white Mormon male from BYU, a demographic not super high on the admissions committee's priority list. Now that I'm here and I've seen the gorgeous campus and beautiful facilities, I'm praying for a miracle.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bladder Better

So a while back we were concerned with Samuel because he was pretty much always crying and never sleeping. We took him in to the doctor and they suggested avoiding wheat and dairy, and they took a urine sample. Ashton stopped eating breads and milk and pretty much anything that tastes good, and Samuel started sleeping more and having less gas. Two days after the doctor's appointment the health center called and informed us that Samuel had a bladder infection and that was probably responsible for his discomfort. He was on antibiotics for ten days and everything seemed fine. The doctors were concerned, however, because it is exceptionally rare for a little boy to get a UTI. Something about all that internal tubing. Apparently there's an anatomical condition typically associated with infant male UTIs, so they wanted to do a bunch of tests.

Keep in mind, Samuel's urine was sampled by putting a plastic bag on his male part. Not super sterile. I work with bacteria in a laboratory and all it takes is looking at it the wrong way to get contamination. So I didn't have much faith in his initial diagnosis to begin with. Samuel had to go up to the health center and get an ultrasound of his kidneys. He handled that like a champ, and the tech said she didn't see anything wrong.

Then we had to go to UVRMC to have a VCUG test run, where they run a catheter up to his bladder and inject a bunch of dye to take a contrast photo. That was last week. His appointment was at noon and he couldn't eat anything after 8, which is pretty much impossible for him. We got there at eleven to check in and get everything set up. The nurses were cool (except the nurse practitioner, who spent most of the time texting her family because her kid stuck some corn up her nose). They took us back to the overflow of the ER to get his IV and EKG tabs set up. He didn't even mind when they stuck the needle in above his wrist. They gave him some versed, which made him a little loopy. From there they wheeled him back to the scanner room. They had to strip him down for scan, and when they tried to hold his legs down he got mad. He pretty much screamed through the whole procedure. I can't say I blamed him. It was all really ludricous. My favorite part was when he peed on the nurses and techs. They got all the pictures they needed and informed us that they didn't see anything unusual.

The scans and ultrasound were sent to the doctor at the health center who called to let us know Samuel has a mild trabeculation in the wall of his bladder. Random. They were looking for reflux into the ureters and kidneys or a shortened urethra, which they didn't find. He urged us to go see a pediatric urologist to make sure everything was okay. So yesterday we drove up to Salt Lake to Primary Children's Medical Center to meet with a specialist. She informed us that everything looked perfectly normal (surprise) and that she wasn't worried about him. Then, as a reward for his visit, she gave him a cheap plastic hippo made in China, saying he could suck on its head. What kind of pediatrician gives an infant cheap plastic made in China? Honestly.

So Samuel's bladder is better, although I'm not convinced there was ever anything wrong with it. We're glad we made sure, but we're not looking forward to the medical bills on the horizon. Just another example of unnecessary care and procedures to save a physician from a malpractice lawsuit.

Friday, November 13, 2009


When I explain what I do in the Nematode Evolution Lab, it either goes over people's heads or makes their eyes glaze over with boredom. I've posted about my research before, but this last week I got to do some really cool gene knockout experiments. All of my research has been on nematodes who are immune to the effects of RNAi, but before I can submit my data for publication, I have to validate that they really all are resistant. That means I get to feed all of them special bacteria that express double stranded RNA to see if it knocks out any genes in their offspring. To make sure the bacteria is still viable, we have to try it out on the wildtype strain, which is not resistant to RNAi. That's what I did this last week. In most cases I couldn't see a crazy phenotype, but one of the strains had a gene knocked out that affects growth, and I ended up with a plate covered in little tiny nematodes. At first I thought they were just in the larval stage, but a few days later, they were still super small. I felt like I had accomplished something significant. I manipulated the gene expression of an organism and created midget nematodes!


Last Saturday I fulfilled a major dream of mine. I got to ride in one of those cherry picker/bucket trucks. We went up to Lehi for my grandpa's 88th birthday to help clean up the yard and garage. I thought we were going to be clipping rosebushes and raking leaves, but then my uncle drove up in an enormous bucket truck. He drove right onto the sidewalk and parked next to a lone tree in the lot next to my grandpa's house. My grandpa informed us that Keith intended to finish what he started a couple years ago and chop down that final tree. My grandpa doesn't even own the lot, but the guy who does is a crotchedy ornery old guy who lives in Bountiful and never comes down to look after it. It had become a high school kegger kind of gathering place, and my uncle decided he was going to clear the lot. For some reason one tree had survived the holocaust, and my uncle had come to finish the job. My dad and I were wondering where the heck Keith got a bucket truck from. Apparently he bought one.

My grandpa walked over with me to greet Keith when he got out of the truck, and he told Keith he had promised me a ride in the bucket. Keith pulled out a chainsaw and asked me if I wanted to cut or drive. We climbed into the bucket, which had a few inches of water from a previous night's rain, and he showed me where the joystick was for maneuvering the gargantuan robotic arm. It took a bit to get the hang of, but in no time we were at the top of the tree, hacking it down limb by limb. With the exception of almost getting tangled in the phone lines, we made it back down to the ground without incident, and I climbed out with my soggy shoes and pockets full of sawdust, and I decided I could do this lumberjack thing for a living.