Human Anatomy at Colby

Entries from January 2019

Measuring success

January 31st, 2019 · Comments Off on Measuring success

For the past few years I have had a mindset where I have thought the busier a person is, the more successful they are. If someone has more on their plate than I do, they’re a better person, they’re working harder, and they’re smarter. This fall, being a senior, I’ve been working to reprioritize, so that I didn’t spend my senior year feeling miserable, but “successful”. I think that being in this class with this kind of philosophy I was validated in my efforts. My parents are both doctors, many of my aunts and uncles are doctors or have careers in the medical field. I feel as if I know a lot about it, and it’s not something that I want to pursue. I’m a Biology and Environmental Science double major and I’m interested in public health and infectious diseases, specifically bacterial infections. I usually find myself in classes full of pre-med students. I am not pre-med. I find that in many times the people in my classes are riddled with anxiety that seems to be contagious and makes me feel inadequate. It makes being there a lot less fun. It’s harder to have intellectual conversations about the implications of what we learn or wider societal problems because so many people are just asking, “will this be on the final?” and I find myself wondering, “should I be more worried about the final?”

I went into this class knowing that it would be a lot of work since it was both Anatomy and Physiology in just one month. In the past, I’ve looked at my academics and thought that if I wanted to do well in a class, I was probably going to be stressed at some point. I thought that if I was more stressed out I was working harder and putting more effort in the class. On the first day of this class, Dr. K challenged us to be conscious of our stress levels throughout the semester. Before the first quiz and exam I tried to maintain a lower stress level and be comfortable with just knowing what I knew at the time. I ended up not doing as well as I wanted to on those first assessments. My instincts immediately wanted to revert back to they way I’ve thought in the past. I thought the reason I had not done as well as I had wanted to was because I wasn’t stressed enough.

Throughout the rest of the semester I tried really hard to fight that urge. As long as I was putting effort into the class and doing my best, I had no reason to stress. Getting to be at Colby and living amongst my friends and peers and leading some kind of holistic life that makes me feel fulfilled is a more important than how I do in one class. This is not to say that I didn’t care about this class and stopped trying. I just tried to shift my perspective. I tried my best to find new ways to learn the material that worked for me, and I definitely put time into learning this material. However, I tried to trust myself. At the end of the day, I knew what I knew, and that was FINE. Getting enough sleep, talking to my friends, reading for pleasure, not being so stressed I couldn’t sleep through the night, were all more important to me than staying awake for one more hour just to freak out about whether or not I knew enough of the material. I have appreciated the philosophy behind this class, and I am saddened by the fact that it’s been so rare in my Colby career.

Here are some videos of my friend Callie and I studying together that might be helpful for others IMG_2858 IMG_2856 IMG_2838

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Anatomy, Fractals, and the Emergence of the Universe

January 31st, 2019 · Comments Off on Anatomy, Fractals, and the Emergence of the Universe

I started at Colby studying physics, but I’m a biologist at heart. Thanks to this course, I can now say I generally understand the inner workings of nearly every biological system of the human body. But thanks to my prior experience, I can say I understand nearly every physical system of it as well. When you study nature with such a breadth of scope, from sub-atomic particles up to social interactions, peculiar patterns precipitate. Humans are good at finding patterns when there are none, so it’s easy to dismiss them when they first manifest. But, when you see the same patterns again and again, they become difficult to ignore.

I suspect the universe is fractal in nature, with no upper or lower bound to its complexity. The human body exists at a level of complexity which highlights this notion. Our muscles and nerves form like ropes. Beginning with single cells, they bundle together as fibers glued together with connective tissue. The bundles then form glued bundles of their own, continuing to aggregate until a complete muscle or nerve is formed with all of the associated features. Each level constructs the next; each successive level not much different from the previous, yet jumping from level 1 to level 10 feels like a totally new universe. If you look at the whole picture though, peering cross-eyed through every layer at once, you start to see them as the same. The layers, just an illusion.

Halfway through this course I encountered a pattern. I suspect it’d been following me a long time, nearly a decade. Society is like a cell. A simple thought, but one with heavy implications. Society is like a lot of things though: A body, a bee hive, an ant colony, a fungus. But all of those examples I just gave, are themselves, composed of cells. You see, each level of complexity above ‘cell’: tissue, organ, organ system, just allows organisms to eat, drink, sleep, defecate, and reproduce in more complicated ways. None of them are necessary for life or homeostasis. The simplest organisms are unicellular. That fact, that a single cell can maintain all necessary processes for life to flourish, made me see them as perhaps the most apt models of society imaginable. Simply start by swapping proteins for people and you’re on your way.

I won’t use this blog post as my grand thesis of a cellular society, I’m now writing an essay for that purpose. But I want to give credit to professor Klepach for approaching the material of this course with the sense of wonder and curiosity that it deserves. Paying close attention to the structural and functional hierarchies in nature can illuminate issues with the hierarchies we’ve created for ourselves. Understanding our society starts with understanding our own minds and the bodies that house them. Understanding those starts with anatomy and physiology.

~Miles Crockett

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My Experience In Dr. K’s Anatomy and Physiology Class

January 31st, 2019 · Comments Off on My Experience In Dr. K’s Anatomy and Physiology Class

Going into Dr. K’s Anatomy and Physiology Class, I knew that it would be challenging but I had no idea how fast paced and difficult it would be. The first week was pretty overwhelming, as I did not do well on the first lab exam. I was stressed out by this result and was unsure of what I should do. Returning back to my dorm after receiving this grade, I questioned myself. Are you meant to be in the medical profession? Maybe this is not for you? After having these thoughts, I emailed Dr. K and met with him about ways that I could improve my study habits and not stress as much. Going into the next lab exam, I went into the lab many times to look at the different models and realized the importance of studying a little bit every day while leaving time to do fun things with friends around campus. This lifestyle worked really well for me and I saw a decline in my stress levels, even though the amount of information we were learning did not slow down. Going into the second lab exam, I was really nervous, as I felt like I needed to do much better on the second one in order to raise my grade. The second lab exam went really well, which I was pleased about, but I found myself not that concerned about the grade. Instead, I realized that I was just happy that I was not as stressed about the class and was able to live an awesome life while taking a really difficult class. The grade just seemed to be a bonus for me. It was the changes that I had made in my day to day life that really shocked me. I have felt like this class has taught me so much more than I could ever imagine. The life lessons that I have learned will stay with me forever. In addition, Scott’s talk yesterday really resonated with me, as he said “It is easy to love the people that are easy to love, but it is hard to love those that are hard to love. Those that are hard to love are the ones that we need to focus on loving.” He talked about how the person that may be hard to love is sometimes ourself. Throughout my time at Colby, I have been extremely hard on myself and have put expectations on myself that are sometimes not reachable. This part of me has changed this JanPlan, as I have learned to work hard but not put the focus on the numerical grade. Working as hard as you can is what is most important. You should never compare yourself to other people because you are an amazing individual who is capable of great things in life. Leaving A & P, I think to myself contrary thoughts of what I was thinking after getting my first lab exam back. You can do it, Callie. You are capable. Thank you Dr. K for a semester of learning about what life really is and the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle while learning heaps of information. These life lessons are really special and will stay with me for a really long time.

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A Brief Blog on Time

January 30th, 2019 · Comments Off on A Brief Blog on Time

No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.
So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.
-Roger Waters

(more…)

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