Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Kidney: How to Know When 'Urine' Too Deep

Adorable Kidney from I Heart Guts!

Unlike serious, stuffy organs like the heart, brain, and lungs...the kidneys, I have realized, are bodily organs with a sense of humor. It should have been obvious from the beginning because on gross pathology, the kidneys are cute, bean-shaped organs hiding underneath the fatty tissue slightly above the small of your back. Hence the term "kidney punch," the phrasing of which tickles my funny bone (it's so 'humerus') for some strange reason. One lecturer likes to say that some diseases involve "a good kidney in a bad world."
My penchant for anthropomorphism extends to all organs...the heart is a no-nonsense workhorse, while the lungs are spongy and passive. The kidneys never take themselves seriously and strangely remind me of myself: small, quirky, and complicated.

Maybe if I actually started studying the material regularly, this block will be more productive. I'm starting to realize that maybe passively absorbing information for three weeks and then cramming for the last 2.5 days before the exam is like eating a candy bar for breakfast...sure, it's a quick fix that can get me through the day...but it's not very soul-satisfying and the effects fade quickly.

Sorry for the dearth of entries lately, lots of things have happened in the meantime...such as a medical school formal or "prom" at the Hyatt Hotel at Fisherman's Wharf last Saturday and a fascinating case spanning several problem-based learning (PBL) sessions involving a fictional young man coughing up blood. Today, Dr. Stan Glantz gave a really interesting talk about the links between tobacco, restaurant economics, and heart attacks. This paragraph has no relation to the rest of the entry and the sentences have no relation to each other. Back to the kidneys.

There are A LOT of pathology/histology slides this block involving the kidneys. The lecturer who teaches us these slides likes to insert normal pictures of flowers, fruitstands, buildings, art work, and encourage us to interpret them as "glomeruli," "crescents," "humps," "necrosis," and "mesangial cells." At first, it was sort of interesting and novel...but now I feel like it's a little obsessive. She is extremely nice, however, and I appreciate her efforts to make histology more stimulating. Apparently, I have to the opposite problem: I like to look at histology slides and interpret the cells, staining, and shapes as everyday objects. Each slide is a Rorschach ink blot to me...sometimes I see a big slug, a happy face, two Picasso creatures mating, or a cylinder of red Cheerios. It was also nice of the lecturer to assert that pathology slides are like works of art...every interpretation is in the eye of the beholder. To synthesize these thoughts into a coherent ending, I'm going to post a picture that draws together art, interpretation, and the kidneys...it's a gorgeous sculpture in Chicago called "The Cloud Gate" that locals have dubbed "the Bean." Until recently, the only silver "bean" in my repertoire of free association involved expensive jewelry from Tiffany's, but now I look at this picture and see a big shiny glorious KIDNEY.

What I Want for Valentine's Day: An Oversized Novelty Kidney.

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