Monday, August 24, 2009

Grinding away WIN!

The attic had possibly 500 pages of receipts for medical procedures, but almost nothing in the way of actual medical records - reason #7,258 why American healthcare needs fixing: nobody cares about the information but boy, do they care about payment.

SO: Having found an immunization record from when I got booster shots at UMass in 1988, I went to a clinic and bought me some shots. I called up the Harvard Medical Records Office person who takes care of Special Student stuff and she told me exactly what she needed to see, so I got that. I'm now booster'ed for Tdap & MMR, got a HepB (even though I'm pretty sure I got the whole sequence when I was pregnant with child #2), and got a meningitis vaccine just in case, because there were a couple outbreaks of things last year.

Clinic doctor bemused at Harvard requiring all this. Said things about Dartmouth. Hee.

My registration is now DONE. On to Study Cards (whatever that means) (I think it's the course registration paperwork that I turn in after "shopping period" is done). I'm thinking about taking the super-scary Neurobiology course, and more seriously considering a course on synaptic plasticity and another on the neurobiology of perception. Whee!!!

Ran a little over a mile this morning - go, me! Biked 15 miles yesterday morning, which was kind of by accident but still a good thing. Legs were pretty sore after that, so I iced my knees a little and that seemed to help a bit. Then I took oldest to the track way late last night and did some sprints and easy jogging, and that fixed me right up! All better; just needed to run very fast. Weird, but glad to have woken up with much happier legs.

Today was going to be a beach day, but a) I had to spend a bunch of time doing shots and all that, and b) it keeps raining. Feh.

The roofers are still roofing away, stopping when the monsoons come. They really want to get the job done so they can get paid. This is good.

New shoes that fit and feel and look fabulous arrived today! Yay! Still waiting for some running clothes to arrive.

Dh was once asked by a friend what to do to train for the Boston Marathon. Since dh had coached an Olympic hurdler (as well as many other athletes), he had some useful things to say (with a sigh, of course - I think anything he knew, he somehow felt should be general knowledge). I've been remembering what he told T. about how to train. It's a pleasant, unexpected kind of echo, as is riding his (very nice!) mountain bike. The bike has more gears than I've ever used in my life and is clearly customized up the wazoo for serious trail-riding. This is more than I need, but it's one of the only bikes in the barn that's not a kids' one, so on I go. I'll need a new seat, because the one on there makes my butt hurt. Sore butt = misery.

And so it goes. Some dusty digging out of paper, fixing things, adjusting for what I need: weaving in little pieces of memory so they shine instead of hurt. I keep going, and get stronger, and now and then I seem to have accomplished something.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Grinding away

Today's tasks are:

1) Dig around in the attic to try and find some of my old medical records. I need to submit immunization history to Harvard and my OB/GYN's office is the most recent source, and they claim that it's too hard to find them. Awesome, eh?

2) Go up to HealthStop and get some booster shots. Which didn't get done at my checkup this spring because they wanted my OB/GYN's stuff first. And now it's urgent.

3) Fax a bazillion pages of medical forms to the HUHS office. So they can take the hold off my registration.

I also need to grocery shop, work on the annual homeschooling submission for my younger two children, and map out a route to run today that goes about two miles and doesn't involve the whole second mile being uphill.

Registration has to be done online by midnight Tuesday - confusing, it's the midnight between Tuesday and Wednesday. Orientation is Wednesday. Sometime I'm supposed to be paying tuition, too, but the finance office hasn't billed me yet.

Courses look really really cool!

Oh, and the fun at the museum yesterday was large: I did an eyeball dissection in the morning with a nice, fresh sheep eyeball, and the retina was in great shape! I could peel it off in a sheet! Then I spent some time playing with a Golgi staining protocol. I mixed the first solution I needed in the museum's chem lab, then diced up some sheep brain and put it in to soak. It's quite different using a lab for real stuff as opposed to course assignments--a lot more enjoyable.

I'd saved the nice retina, so I figured I'd try staining that, too - stuck some Carosafe in the petri dish and let it sit. That'll go into the potassium dichromate. Next up: putting the tissue in some silver nitrate. Then slicing the diced cortex really thin and seeing if the neurons took up the stain. The protocol calls for using a vibratome and doing 60 micrometer slices, but sheesh, this staining technique was being done a hundred years ago. So I figure I can get a reasonable approximation of around half a millimeter with a nice, sharp scalpel. If Cajal could do it, then I should be able to.

One of the managers for my area ordered me some sheep brains with dura mater intact, so I dissected one of those on Thursday, which was great fun. You get a lot more brain structure intact when you order a specimen that hasn't had the dura removed. That was the tissue I cut up to soak for staining.

We have a nifty microscope that feeds to a computer screen, and we can do image capture of the screen images. Big fun! If my staining works, I should be able to get some nice images of neurons. Oh, and now I know why Golgi images are always in an orange background: the first solution you stick the tissue into is orange. Then you put the tissue into silver nitrate and that forms a salt with the K2Cr2O7. The salt is what you see in the random neurons that take it up.

Lorena, Mel, Cheryl, Amber, Lucia - thanks! I'm trying to keep up with training and be reasonable with myself.

Later, all!

Monday, August 17, 2009


Running is...working. Now that the plumber (who was here to fix the water-raining-into-the-kitchen problem) and the roofer (who gave me a huge quote to fix the roof so we don't have water coming in down the walls) have gone, I can go run.

It's now later in the day by a lot than when I'd like to be running. But I still want to do it. Yesterday I ran about 1.5 miles without needing to stop and walk, without running out of breath, and without anything hurting, for the very first time in my life. I was amazed. I did my usual leg exercise routine beforehand, stretched out afterwards, and now my legs aren't sore from yesterday or anything.

Both things feel like small miracles. I could keep going. I don't hurt. I kept running, and because I'd never been able to go that long before, I ran out of road--Liz to self: hey, I still feel okay! I can keep going! um, where the hell do I go??

It was a bit silly.

And I've signed up to run a 5 mile race on October 10. So I better get off my ass and go run.

Classes start in a couple of weeks. I'm juggling the schedule for Harvard GSAS and Harvard Extension. I've got to go to grad school orientation and stuff. And finish up my internship. And oh, yes, raise and educate my children, take care of the pets, yadda yadda...

It's good.