Heart and Soul

We are currently studying cardiovascular physiology in school, and my professor told an interesting story about compliance of blood vessels in relation to the ancient understanding of heart and soul.

So blood vessels such as veins are highly compliant vessels. This means that they are very distensible. In fact, most of our blood volume is stored in our veins- this can be considered as a reserve blood volume. When we exercise, then we can utilize this 'reserve' volume to increase our cardiac output.

Arteries, which carry the blood away from the heart, are less compliant. You can consider these vessels to be elastic since they are able to resist a high pressure of blood coming out of the heart.

Now, in the olden days when people died and physicians opened their bodies to make observations they noticed an interesting phenomenon. When one is dead, the heart is no longer acting as a pump. This means that it can no longer create a pressure difference to drive blood around the body and move from arteries to veins. As a result, the pressure in the system is quite low, say around 5mm/Hg. This causes most of the blood in the body to pool in the veins - the most compliant blood vessels in the body. Since the veins are able to distend to accommodate the volume of blood, there is nothing in the arteries. When the physicians saw this, they thought that the veins contained the blood of the heart. But then, they had to consider this seemingly completely different system-- the arteries. Here were these vessels, running throughout the body, devoid of any substance within. What could this be? They hypothesized that this system contained our ether or life force. Since the patient was dead, then the life force had left the body, so these vessels were empty.

So there you go- heart and soul related to physiology :)



One of my goals for 2011 is to be more consistent with my blogging.

Things to look forward to:
  1. Reflections on my trip to India for a Medical Selective
  2. Looking back on Term 1 of medical school
  3. My Term 2 experiences
  4. Perhaps a summary of my Cornell Days
2010 was a year of change for me. I graduated from Cornell University with my BSc in Communication. I said goodbye to my old friends of the last 4 years. Then I began medical school at St. George's University School of Medicine in Grenada. Making new friends and adjusting to the course load has been quite an experience.

To top it all off, over this winter break I took my first trip across the Atlantic. I visited London for the first time and did all the touristy things like see the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus, the London Eye, Harrods and many more.

Then I left the cold and headed to India. Spent some time in Mumbai and Goa, but mostly at the Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences in Karad.

What a wild ride. I hope that 2011 brings experiences that are just as fulfilling. Here's to enjoying our youth!


Gummy Bear Anatomy


The 5 cardinal signs of ACUTE inflammation include:
Rubor, Calor, Tumor, Dolor and Functio laesa
That means:
1> Redness
2> Increased heat
3> Swelling
4> Pain
5> Loss of function


Happiness is Overrated

I came across this article entitled Happiness is Overrated in the Harvard Business Review.


This phrase stood out to me, "pain and discomfort are critical to growth, and that achieving excellence depends on the capacity to delay gratification." This makes me understand and helps me come to terms with the fact that failure happens. Sometimes we don't do as well as we want to. Coming at a time when I just received my grades for the first midterms of medical school, I can relate to falling short of one's expectations for oneself. Feeling disappointed in the outcome of one's examination will cause pain and discomfort. But, it is what we do with this feeling that makes the difference. This is true in all arenas of life. I learned this lesson time and time again in my youth. As a competitive long-distance swimmer, if I was behind at the start of the race, I would use that disappointment to keep pressing on. This would help me to continue plugging away at and and eventually persevere. Even if I did not win the race, I would achieve my best time. This would only happen if I learned to embrace the failure and not be a quitter.

I feel like I have heard the sentiment that perseverance makes all the difference between someone who will succeed and another who will fall short. I will continue to strive for the best. If you're not trying to be the best that you can be, then why bother trying? No one likes someone to half-ass an assignment or a presentation, and no one likes a friend who's not all there when you need them. Being a true person makes the difference. I am still trying to learn how to overcome my fear of failure. As JK Rowling so wisely states, failure strips away all the inessential, and who you hot rock bottom you should use it as a solid foundation. I have been through this, after the first year of engineering at Cornell, I hit rock bottom. I approached medical school as a test to see how much I learned from that experience. It is obvious that I learned some, but there is much still to do.

When we're living fully, what we feel is engaged and immersed, challenged and focused, curious and passionate. Happiness — or more specifically, satisfaction — is something we mostly feel retrospectively, as a payoff on our investment. And then, before very long, we move on to the next challenge.

This statement is taken from the aforementioned HBR article. It explains why we sometimes feel demotivated or apathetic after the thrill of success is past. I know that I experience this sometimes. It is the challenge that makes life worth living. In the words of Miley Cyrus, "Its the Climb"


JK Rowling's Commencement Speech


JK Rowling speaks about the fringe benefits of failure and the importance of imagination.
Her sentiments and morsels of wisdom struck a chord with me. I believe that some of her words and proclamations will resonate with me for a long time.

I wish she spoke at my commencement...

For most of my life JK Rowling's words have been my guide. She reached out to many through Harry Potter. I wish that one day I could be such an influential writer.

Until then, I will continue along the path of medical school. Here I have the assurance that one day my actions will at least help a few people.



Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry go round or listened to the rain lapping on the ground? Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight or gazed at the sun into the fading night? Do you run through each day on the fly? When you ask 'How are you?' Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head? Ever told your child, 'We'll do it tomorrow.' And in your haste, not see her sorrow? Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die? Just call to say 'Hi'?

When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift....Thrown away.... Life is not a race. Take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over.