Monday, December 20, 2010

Dreaming of a White Christmas and Pitote, by blogger of the month Claire Gahm

Hold on, I'm actually only day dreaming about Christmas. But at night I dream about pitote and the Urea Cycle and Mallory stained Collagen Type I and Cytotoxic t cells.

This is break #570 of today, the 15th day of finals study period, and the night before our Cell & Molecular Biology exam. We'll have Immunology this coming Wednesday then most of us will dash through the desert sand to the airport to arrive home this weekend! My room is decked and our hall has homemade felt stockings I spent an evening making instead of studying. Christmas music has been floating through the air since the day of Thanksgiving and I've made every effort to convince myself ‘tis the season - But dreaming of Christmas is becoming hazardous for my mental health as I try to push through these last few days. :)

Irene next to the store we passed in Jerusalem;
please note those are Santa balloons (not shown:
life size Santa statues)
In case you haven't taken a semester of Hebrew, "pitote" is the plural of pita (a feminine word - masculine would be "pete" and "petim"). Only in Israel would a professor refer to the Golgi bodies as pitote pockets. And did you know that eating along with caffeine has an opposing effect? Eating stimulates insulin release from the beta-cells of the Pancreas while caffeine simulates epinephrine (or glucagon released from alpha-cells of the Pancreas). All of this to say - there is a reason black coffee sans food really gets people going in the morning. Prime caffeine working conditions.

Taking a break for sushi at Ishimoto
for Lisa's birthday (Lisa, Tali and Jonathan)
It's also amazing to me (as I study Molecular Biology to a degree that suggests I am not, in fact, an MD candidate, but a graduate Molecular Biologist student) that I hear the following phrase so often in class: "We don't know much about this yet, so just know the general idea". We've finally, truly reached the frontier of our education - yet it will continue for the rest of our lives. It's like the Cisternal Maturation Hypothesis - mark the information that needs to be sent back to the classroom with KDEL and keep pushing ahead for the output of some breakthrough research finding. Nerdspeak translation again: aside from the next year or two, our entire careers as physicians will be filled with not knowing, but adapting, learning, and constantly staying up-to-date in case someone solves the latest educational gap of knowledge.

Last Friday I visited Jerusalem with Irene (fellow 1st year) to peruse their Shukh and go
Whiteboard balagan for finals
studying.  Biochemistry, Immunonolgy
and Cell Biology.
Christmas shopping! It was the day after the end of Hanukkah and there were huge Menorahs all over the city. This was my 4th visit and I was hoping to hop over to Bethlehem in honor of the Christmas season, but we ran out of time (buses stop running around 3 now that it gets dark at 4:30).

Every time I go to Jerusalem it is physically and spiritually breathtaking. Living in Israel for this Christmas season - with the tangible hope in the coming Messiah - has forever changed Advent and Christmas for me. It is more hopeful, full of genuine preparation for Jesus' birth, more joyful, and more real than it has ever been.

Beer Sheva Blizzard - the recent three
day sandstorm termed "the
worst in forty years" by many
cab drivers and shop owners
Here are a few pictures from recent study and travel adventures - time is perpetually either moving too fast or too slow (a thought-provoking concept from C.S. Lewis mentions that humanity’s need to hold onto time lends itself to Someone timeless – I couldn’t agree more because I’m often one of those people trying to speed up or slow down life!). These past 5 months have been an incredible & unexpected adventure – not only am I living in ISRAEL but I am a medical student (my lifelong dream) – now 5 months are over and I have NO idea how! - Claire Gahm, MSIH first-year student