medicine

Book review: The man who mistook his wife for a hat

I recently red the book ‘The man who mistook his wife for a hat’ written by Oliver Sacks, a British neurologist. Oliver sacks is quite a famous writer, he has written 14 books of which 7 were made into a movie. This specific book was written in 1985 and it consists of 24 cases in which different neurological issues are being discussed.

Summary
The book is divided into four categories that each talk about a specific neurological issue. Part one deals with losses, part two with excess, part three transports (about perception, imagination, dreams,…) and part four the world of the simple (how ‘simple’ people understand remarkable concepts).

I’m going to talk about one of these stories because it stood out to me. It’s the story of Jose, the autist artist. This is written in chapter four – the world of the simple. Jose was a 21 year old male who was said to be retarded and had seizures which caused him to be hospitalized. During his examination he was asked to draw a pocket watch which he drew remarkably well. Dr. Sacks was amazed by this and wanted to learn more about this patient. He wanted to see more drawings and asked Jose to draw some more and again his drawings were really nice.
It appeared that Jose was indeed autistic, but that he was quite talented. He could draw, remember what he drew and he was able make adaptations to his drawings.
This story definitely stood out for me because it just goes to show that there is a whole world to people that often stays unnoticed, even for many many years.
The drawings are included in the book but I wanted to show you an example. On the left we see the picture, on the right the drawing that Jose made.

Schermafbeelding 2017-07-30 om 10.08.55
There are many more extraordinary stories written in this book. It’s an easy read making it is a book that will appeal to a lot of people. Difficult concepts are all explained in the book making the book fit for anyone interested in knowing more about brain related issues.
For those wanting to learn or read more about neurological problems, there are also a lot of references to other scientifical books. Especially Loeria (neuropsychologist) and Jackson (neurologist) are writers who are often referred to.

For me this was such an interesting book that I was able to finish it within the day. It is therefore no surprise that I strongly advise you to read this book.

Medical stationary gifts

I recently saw a picture on Instagram that had bone balpens and while I was searching for these I came across these amazing school/college supplies. Most of these would make great gifts and they can be found on various sites such as Aliexpress, Amazon and Etsy. So without further ado here are some great gifts for medical students.

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1. Sticky notes
I found these great sticky notes on Amazon, these are pricier than your regular sticky notes but they’re unique and quirky. There are quite a few options to choose from so definitely check these out!
Link: Amazon

2. Memo holder
This is definitely the most unique gift out on this list. It’s a brain shaped memo holder made out of concrete. These are made in the Netherlands and you can find these on Etsy or on the manufacturers site.
Link: Manufacturers site
Link: Etsy

3. Pen
A funny gift for students who are tackling anatomy and learning all bones in the human body. These balpens are quite affordable and can be found on Amazon and on Aliexpress.
Note: since Aliexpress can sometimes be unreliable I’ve tried to filter out two companies that have sold the most and had the best reviews.
Link: Aliexpress
Link: Aliexpress
Link: Amazon

4. Erasers
I found these cool brain shaped eraser tops on Amazon but you can also buy these on Etsy. They come in different colours and are a great addition to your medical stationary.
Link: Amazon
Link: Etsy

5. Tape
I never knew about DNA tape but it’s a clever take on regular tape. You can use this to decorate your note books. This tape also comes in a spinal tape version and you can buy both of these together on Amazon.
Link DNA tape: Amazon
Link spinal tape: Amazon

6. Markers
These come in many different shapes but two stood out to me. The first were pill shaped markers. I personally loved these from Amazon because of the bottle they came in.
The second shape were syringe shaped markers which you can find almost everywhere.
Link pill markers: Amazon
Link syringe markers: Amazon

I hope you enjoyed this stationary as much as I did! Let me know in the comment section which stationary item you liked most.

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe

Preparing for retake exams

As you all know I’ll be on vacation but for students who need to retake exams I wanted to write this blogpost. Retake exams are not fun and you often have less time for retake exams, than for exams you take during the year. It’s important in medical school to pass retake exams or you won’t be able to follow all courses from the following year.

1. Look at what went wrong first
Since you have retake exams it means that something went wrong the first time. Therefore it’s important to take a look at your exams and see what went wrong. There are feedback moments, there are professors who will help and guide you through the process. They will be able to tell you what went wrong and thus what you can do better next time.

2. Make a good schedule
I made a timetable for my vacation. I have already spend a good amount of time relaxing. It’s important to make a timetable that you will follow. You need to divide your time well and make sure that you keep to your schedule. You don’t want to retake these exams again next year.
When I had retakes I would study for three days and take one day off. That’s how I stayed positive and kept on studying during my vacation.

3. How to use your notes
Before studying make sure to have all of your notes present. Do not rewrite them because that is just a way to procrastinate the actual study process.
If there are mistakes on your notes write those in red so you don’t make them again.
If you don’t have notes, ask your classmates for help! I miserably failed the easiest class last year and I was lucky enough to borrow someone else’s notes.

4. Too many retake exams
Students with 7-8 retake exams often end up taking all of their exams. In the end they fail with 45/100 which is really sad in my opinion. If you know you won’t be able to pass all of your exams, or you have too many try to prioritize your classes!

5. Don’t get demotivated
It’s important to keep your goals in front of you because they will motivate you for me a simple inspiration board works. When I’m really not feeling it I’ll take a day off (this is usually planned in my schedule). Taking a day off will help you get motivated back again.

Last but not least I hope that you do well on your retake exams! If you have some tips for retake exams leave them in comment section down below because they can help other students ;). If you liked this article press the like button down below.

Lots of love
– A doctor in spe

Review: how to think like a doctor

As some of you might know I wanted to read a lot of books this summer. I personally liked going for books related to the medical field hoping that I’ll learn from them. I recently made up my entire book list and I’ve already started reading some books. The first one I’ll be reviewing is ‘How doctors think’ and was written by Jerome Groopman M.D. This book has received the quill award for health/self improvement.

The title of the book is quite self-explanatory and though I’m not a doctor yet I figured that this book had to contain some valuable information on the topic. I don’t mean to spoil the book but the book reveals it goal in the first chapters. Students who eventually become doctors struggle with the transition from books to real cases but even older doctors make mistakes. The book gives a ton of anecdotes on the subject to try and show what went wrong with the diagnoses and how doctors can avoid making mistakes.

There are a few things I liked and learned from this book
… I liked the cases that were discussed and that there were a lot of them. Each case was different but the general conclusion was the same
… I liked that there were reasons given on how doctors make small mistakes. However it’s obvious that every human makes mistakes. The thing is that we can all learn from others’ mistakes and thus we can all learn from this book
… I liked the structure of the cases. Each case had a lot of explanation that accompanied it. There was a clear structure.
… I most definitely liked the advise that was given: think in the other direction when somebody comes with complaints. They have headache? Don’t think that it’s just due to tension look further!
More importantly I feel like this book is good for students starting residency. It’ll show you how patients reveal very small clues that are often misinterpreted. Small things like words or signs that make a big difference. It can also show you how confidence can form an issue. Leading to confirmation bias is the enemy here!

I would advise any medical student to read this book because it shows that small things that patients say can mean an entire spectrum of things and that it’s important to try and look for a correct diagnoses instead of assuming the first solution or the most common solution is correct. It’s important to keep all possible diagnoses open and think further than you normally would when diagnosing patients.

Though I’m on vacation definitely leave a comment in the comment section down below telling me what you’re favorite books are.

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe ❤

A medical compendium 

I recently found out about a kickstarter campaign that I thought you might find quite interesting. Two medical students from the Netherlands called Veerle Smit and Romée Snijders decided that the books they used to study medicine were often confusing and contained a lot of information without giving a proper overview on the subjects. They decided to make a Dutch compendium in collaboration with medical students and specialists and eventually published their book ‘compendium geneeskunde’ in september 2016.

At this point you might wonder why I’m talking about this campaign because the book is already published and it’s not really something that could interest international med or premed students since it’s written in Dutch.

Well… The goal of their kickstarter campaign is to change that. They want to raise money to make a complete English (and thus international) version of their book. The book will have the same structure as the Dutch version. It will be a compendium consisting of 4 books. Each book contains different chapters and at the end you’ll be able to test yourself on the information you just read.

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If you happen to be a medical/premed student or if you just want to know a little bit more about basically anything medicine-related I would recommend supporting their kickstarter campagin and buy a 4-part compendium. The prices of these books are amazing and you’ll receive the first ever English version which in my opinion makes it a bit more special. I’m leaving the link to this campaign everywhere on this page 😉 so definitely go check it out!

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe

Tips for prosection courses!

Prosections are a part of anatomy. You’ll see parts of the human body and you will most likely have to know where the muscles, nerves, veins and arteries are. I spend a lot of time preparing for my prosection course so I have quite a few tips!

1.Look up videos
The best way to have a clue of the material you’ll be studying is to look online for some videos in which they go over every part of the body and talk about what’s important. On youtube you’ll find sapiens medicus, on the internet I found this site. These videos will help you know where to look for certain structures.

2. Anatomy book
Your anatomy book is going to be your best friend during all of med school and it’s filled with pictures of the human body with and without muscles, nerves, arteries and veins. I use Sobotta anatomy which has an online site on which you’ll be able to find anatomical pictures. These are more structured and therefore easier to visualize.

3.Work together
It’s perfectly normal to search for certain structures. Talk to your peers and ask them if they know something you don’t. This is what helped me so much. Everyone I knew seemed to remember a certain part of the human body best. I always asked my friends to help me with structure I didn’t know.

4. Take your time
I ended up going to two groups of prosections to have enough time to revise everything and to make sure that these prosections where actually useful. You’re going to have to retain all of this information and it helps if you do it well. In my university every group got 1:30 hours to look at the cadavers. For me this was not enough so I ended up staying over groups to make sure that I was able to visualize and point out every structure.

I hope you enjoyed these tips! Let me know what you thought of your first prosections in the comments down below 🙂

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe

Charity hair for kids with cancer

I wanted to talk about donating hair since it’s something that is done quite often and it is important. There are a lot of people in the world that are diagnosed with cancer. Some prognoses are terrible whereas others have a chance of getting cured. While talking about the basics of cancer I also wanted to raise awareness for cancer and hopefully show you how you can help.

Cancer is a disease that is characterized by abnormal cel growth. Keeping it quite simple (and more understandable) cel growth is not necessarily a bad thing. If these abnormal growing cells stay in one place of your body and don’t invade in the tissue around them you’ll most likely talk about a good form of cancer that’s often curable. I’m saying often curable because there are so many different types and forms of cancer that don’t follow the rules.
If these abnormal cells keep growing and invade in the surrounding tissue or they move through blood or lymfe vessels they will lead to more abnormal cell growth in different places and are most likely to be benigne or bad cancer. This form is often aggressive, more likely to return after treatment.

The curing of cancer has a very rich history and there is a beautiful book written about it but the essence is that physics (chemotherapy) combined with chemistry (medicines) and biology (human processes) are able to create a situation in which quick growing cells are attacked. This is a process that requires a lot of energy from human beings. If you know someone with cancer you’ll know that the entire process of chemo and medicines can cause changes in someones appearance. Since these treatments work on rapid growing cancer cells, they also work on other quickly growing cells just like hair cells and skin cells. Therefore people with cancer start getting a fragile pale skin and might experience hair loss. Hair loss is often a negative experience it can damage your self-esteem. Besides that buying wigs is quite expensive. That’s why there are a lot of foundations that make wigs for people with cancer and…

…here’s how you can help. If you have beautiful long hair and you want to get a haircut you can donate your hair. Depending on where you live you can donate either directly; send your hair to the correct address or you can donate via your hairdresser (this is only possible if your hairdresser donates hair).
The hair is then taken and processed before it’s made into a beautiful wig. There are a lot of ponytails needed to make a wig so please consider donating your hair.

I’ve listed some websites down below that are aimed at hair donation. There are also a lot of foundations that are aimed at kids that have hair loss due to other diseases besides cancer. So I really wanted to list those down below as well ;).

Canada
UK or UK
USA
USA
NZ

Definitely leave some options in the comment section. I’d love to see more places where you can donate your hair.

Lots of love
– A doctor in spe