Monday, November 28, 2005

Last Semester May Be a Bust

Just a quick note to start the week off right.

Or not.

I went to register for my classes today and discovered that I may have to take similar classes all over again. My first semester back may have been a bust. It looks like I registered for versions of classes that aren’t going to transfer well. I took the “for health science majors” courses in Biology and Chemistry thinking “Cool! That’s what I’m gonna be! Health Sciences!” No such luck. It turns out that there are different versions of those same classes for “science-majors” and so I may have to take those same level courses all over again under a different number, just so they transfer right. Now I’m off to talk to a school counselor about CLEPing them. I need to decide fast so I can get registered for the correct classes for the coming semester.

Crappy way to start a week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Wind Up My Stomach and Watch It Bleed

School is starting wind down for the semester. Or maybe it’s winding up? I don’t know. I finished my last Chemistry lab last Saturday, so that’s one class I’m done with for the semester. I’ve only got one more Biology lab this coming Saturday. After that my Saturday’s are mine again for a while.

Finals are coming up in about three weeks. As much as I’m feeling good about my labs being done, I’m also getting nervous about my finals. I’m not sure why, exactly. I’ve done well so far. Maybe it’s just because they’re so . . . well . . . final.

My health has been giving me fits, too. I went to the hospital last Sunday afternoon in a lot of pain. It felt the same as when they had diagnosed me with gall stones, only worse, so I was thinking that was still the issue. Trouble is the ultrasound showed no such problems. Clean gall bladder, no signs of inflammation.

So why on earth was I in so much pain? I was sweating like a dog on hot sidewalk, and becoming dehydrated because of it. The doctor came back, much to my disbelief, with a diagnosis of gastric reflux. What I thought was gall bladder trouble is turning out to be something that has me more worried. They haven’t ruled out an ulcer, either. Because where I hurt, if I do have an ulcer (which wouldn’t surprise me at this point) I suspect it’s a duodenal one. Just because of where I hurt.

I’ve still not completely recovered. I need to get an appointment with my regular doctor and follow up with him. With finals looming, though, it couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I'm a health hypocrite

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am a health hypocrite. I talk a lot about healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. It’s an important topic to me. I read up on all kinds of things about food, sleep requirements, and exercise.

But I’m a hypocrite because I don’t always do them.

I’ve been trying to lay off the sugar and caffeine, but when I don’t get enough sleep, I’m over to the convenience store buying an energy drink chock full of both of them. The fact that I’m not getting enough sleep in the first place is an example of my hypocrisy. It’s not that I’m not home in time. On many days it’s not even a matter of me staying up late to study. I’m just up watching DVD’s or bad late night TV.

I know I should exercise, too. I started doing it before I went to school, but now I’m trying to figure out when I can find time. See? More hypocrisy. If I really wanted to, I’d do it while I was up late watching bad television.

Now I need to figure out how to walk to talk again.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Surly John

I’ve really been feeling overwhelmed lately. I’m still doing well on my tests, just not as well as I’d like to. Mostly that stems from not studying as much as I should, and letting other things get in the way. Family things have gotten pretty tight, too. I find myself being more surly and argumentative of late. I think I need to take a break, and find some stress relief. Good thing I’ve got plans to go play with friends this weekend.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

How do we know what we know?

In an online musician’s forum I participate in, a vocalist asked for recommendations on getting over her cold. I’m sure you can imagine that she got as many different opinions as we have members in the group. This group is no slouch, scientifically. The group includes a medical doctor and a biology professor with a Ph.D.

Our respected M.D. mentioned treating the symptoms and getting plenty of rest and fluids. Several others (including myself) mentioned herbs and other natural preparations. Still others mentioned colloidal silver, and so on.

The discussion that ensued was interesting, to say the least. I think the alternative folks were more vocal than our good doctor. What was funny was how they tried to support their opinion, and start an argument with the MD, by making claims such as “I live with a bunch of microbiologists” and so on. The MD had never discredited them; they just started in on the MD and tried to justify their position. In our good doctor’s defense, our resident biologist mentioned that he would rather trust a person who has studied, trained, and become licensed in medicine than any number of less studied (or even unstudied) recommendations.

It brought up an interesting question for me, as a proponent of SOME natural and so-called alternative medicines. How do we know that any of these things work? How do we know anything? It’s hard to discount a positive result in our own lives when using an alternative therapy, even if some people shake there heads and roll their eyes at us, telling us it was “just a coincidence.”

People on both sides of the alternative vs. traditional argument site study after study, in some cases denying that such studies exist. I can’t count the times I’ve been told, “There hasn’t been any research on such and such a remedy,” when I’ve seen and read them myself.

On the other hand, I get concerned when people start talking about natural and alternative medicines as being completely safe, when it’s simply not true. I know people who swear by colloidal silver. I’ve taken it, but I didn’t notice a real helpful result that couldn’t be achieved through taking some other herb or medicine much safer than a heavy metal solution. I’ve heard the claims that a colloidal solution of gold or silver is safe, but I’ve never seen the real studies to back that up. Maybe one of my readers can point me to one.

But the problem continues in that some studies are designed to give a specific result, rather than actually test a hypothesis. That’s why peer review is so important in the scientific community. To cut down on scientists pursuing an agenda that leads to bad science. The problem is that some studies get published before going to peer review because they support a publisher’s specific agenda.

To me, that means that we need to quit believing that science and medicine, from any modality, is some kind of sacred cow; that it’s solid and can’t be questioned. We need to question everything. As a people we used to believe that atoms were the smallest particle in existence, now we know about protons, electrons, quarks, gluons, and all those other sub-atomic particles. People used to believe the earth was the center of the universe. Now we know better. We used to believe that Neanderthal man was part of the evolutionary chain that leads to Homo sapiens. Now, with increased understanding of genetics, we’ve proven that to be false. According to modern evolutionary theory Neanderthal man and Homo sapiens both evolved from a common ancestor, but are not directly related.
I’ve had this discussion with several of my professors, now. While we may differ in opinion on certain points, there are a few things we are in agreement with. The questions should constantly be, what is the data showing us? What can be claim with some certainty, based on what we see?

What do we really know? I think that understanding how we know what we know is just as important.