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Archive for February, 2022

Pardon the dust…

Well today I’ve had a major demolition project going on at home (see yesterday’s post for details), which has left precious little time for anything else, much less blogging. Sorry, but for the day this is it. As a reminder, no matter how big your goal, no matter how far you’ve come, it’s okay to take a break if you need it. My goal was 365 days of academic blogging and well sometimes you need time away. It doesn’t reset the clock, it just makes you human. So take a minute for yourself if you need it, I certainly do!


The hits keep coming

Art by: J.C. Leyendecker from November 21, 1914 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, titled “Beat-up Boy, Football Hero”

You know, if I wasn’t living it I wouldn’t believe it. I honestly question if my coworkers believe it. I have some crap luck. I get the sense that if it weren’t for the photographic evidence of my horrible luck no one would believe me and frankly I wouldn’t blame them. Even with photos, I’m wondering if people are questioning, because how many times can something go wrong with one person?

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Sanity and the week ahead

The past week has been surprisingly difficult. There are a lot of things right now that are up in the air and without moving forward, nothing will be settled. Still, there are ways to prepare and things that can be done now to take the stress off. We already know how last week went, so let’s take a break from directly talking about my horrible mental health and take a look at the week ahead. Spoiler, this is another way I deal with my horrible mental health. You didn’t think it wasn’t related, right?

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Death and depression

Fair warning, today’s post is heavier than usual. There will be discussion about suicide, death, depression, mental health, etc. If you’re not in a good place, this probably isn’t for you. Never fear, there’s help (suicide prevention hotline for one), you’re not alone, despite what it feels like. For everyone else, welcome to my brain once again, but the content is probably not suitable for anyone, including myself.

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For the love of war

Aren’t there enough things trying to kill us? Between global warming, pollution, and the pandemic, I feel like something somewhere wants us gone. Then again, humans are stupid, I include myself in that statement. So here we are talking about something I wasn’t expecting to talk about and that my dear readers is combat.

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The way through

Well new year, new problems. I’m not super surprised I guess given… life. I’m incredibly tired, like mentally and physically exhausted, but we do what we need to in order to move forward. Like I said yesterday, the only way is through, so today is an example of how I try to cope with living. That’s right, time to plan and figure some things out.

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The only way is through

Well I’ve been on a talking about mental health kick lately and I guess that fits with today’s topic. Sometimes in life we find ourselves out numbered, outmaneuvered, outsmarted, and without any real power. It never feels good to find yourself in that kind of situation. I’m proud of how far I’ve come mentally, because if the situation I’m in now had occurred even just a few years ago, I would be checking myself into a hospital for my own safety again. When the weight of the world presses you down so hard you just want to scream, all you can do is push back.

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Time management and mental health

We’re all super busy… right? I don’t think it’s just me, we feel like there’s a mountain of things to do. Then you try to get through the list and when you look away just for a second, suddenly you have twice the work left. This is particularly troublesome for someone like me who has serious mental health issues (along with physical health issues). I want to do all the things, but my mind and body have other plans for me. Somehow I still manage my deadlines and since I was specifically asked to share, we’ll talk about how I do it.

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The death of celebration

Sure, it’s a little early to think about graduation. Even if I finish on time, I still have a little over a year left before it’s my turn. If I don’t finish on time, then it’s anyone’s guess on when I could hope to graduate. Still, it’s something that’s been on my mind lately because I was actually looking forward to celebrating this time.

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The balancing act

With the weekend here, comes time for some school work. School and work is a tough combination, but I did this to myself. The payout is both in experience and security, but the risks are just as high, failure on either end would mean severe disruption to any plans I’ve made. Then there’s the third and fourth pillars to this equation, physical and mental health. Thus a complex balancing act where if one thing becomes too heavy, the whole thing topples over.

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The force of will

The body is stronger than the mind. At least that was what the military drilled in me. Your mind will give up well before your body fails. Because being uncomfortable is, well uncomfortable. We don’t like discomfort and we don’t like pushing ourselves outside a limit we’re comfortable with. But constantly pushing yourself past your established limits… that isn’t good either.

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Foresight and Second Sight

The Argus II, the second generation of the neuroprosthetic.

Move fast and break things. It’s the silicon valley motto. In an extremely “tech” world where the pace of computer progress has been and continues to be exponential, that motto works well and drives progress. But it isn’t without consequences. Second Sight is… or was, a tech company that promised to, at least partially, restore vision. Sadly, when the users are so entwined with the product, when a tech company hit’s the “break stuff” portion of the motto, things don’t always work out well for the user.

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The invisible self

What drives you? Who would you be if the world around you stripped away all the pretenses of how you should act and who you need to be and just let you be you? If it’s a bit too philosophical or overwhelming to think about, then maybe we should all take the time to ask ourselves if we are the people we want to be. Then again, I don’t have the answers, so maybe I’m just as lost as everyone else.

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The road less traveled

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…” and that’s twice in almost a year exactly that I’ve started a post off with that line. The title of the poem isn’t the road less traveled, but I’ve decided that for today, that’s the name of the post. I have not had an easy life, some of that was because of birth, but a lot of it was based on the choices I’ve made. While the poem isn’t really about how hard life can be, when I thought of today’s post Frost’s poem popped into my head. Because the road less traveled, fucking hurts.

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Back in the OR!

Well we finally got approval to head back to the OR. We were having some issues with our sample size, as in we hit the max for our protocol, but after a little bit of work we’re going back! The good news is that this doesn’t just affect the project I’m working on, this means I can move forward with the other project I’ve been dying to start.

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On randomness

Pick a number between one and ten. You picked the number seven. Was I right? Doesn’t matter, the point is there’s a slim chance you picked one or ten. The reason is simply because humans are bad at random number generating. Fear not! Computers are bad at it too, but that’s a problem for a world that revolves around cyber security. Randomness is so important to our daily lives, that we don’t even notice it… mostly.

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A mental health day

It’s been an exhausting week so, for the day at least, I’m calling it a mental health recovery day. Don’t worry though, 365 days of academia year three (wow, still at it!) will be back tomorrow. In the meantime I’m going to catch up on my sleeping and do absolutely nothing. So friendly reminder to all my readers, don’t be afraid to take care of yourself. You can’t take care of anyone if you can’t take care of yourself first.


The final push of “last paper”

Amid all the chaos that the lab visitor we had yesterday caused I wouldn’t blame the causal reader if you thought that the robot project was my only focus. Hospital-PI summed it up best when he said we’re all working on roughly four projects at any given time and I responded with, “you guys are only working on four?” Don’t get me wrong, I like it this way.

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Visitor to the lab

Today was the day! Luckily I somehow managed to get the robot assembled and working properly… mostly. I’ll get to that. We got to showcase some of the stuff we did in the lab, I got to explain “big idea” to yet another person who may be interested in helping fund the project (since technically I’m running on a budget of funding scraps), and overall I think it was well received.

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Robot troubles…

Sixty or so hours later and I somehow finished the robot assembly. It’s been a week and a half of 12 or more hour days to get it done and I’m exhausted. Still nothing feels better than when you finish, flip the switch and everything goes exactly how you hoped. Unfortunately I’m not quite at that stage… maybe?

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Inter-lab rivalry

Still from Science Kombat, because sometimes Newton just needs a good smackdown.

There’s nothing wrong with a little competition. In the field of research you’re either the first or your a footnote, so we rush to be the first when we know that other labs are on the other labs are not far behind. Our lab knew it was coming, there was already rumblings of something big coming from another lab, but when it finally came, we were both surprised, but not exactly shocked. It’s a pretty impressive paper.

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Measure once, cut a dozen times

Okay that isn’t really what happened, it was more measure once, realize the piece is directional, measure a second time, realize that the direction doesn’t matter, and after about three times finally making the cut. Then freaking out because you’ve now marked the piece three different times, but you cut the right mark… right?

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Another robot appears!

In the middle of the week we’re expecting some visitors that could lead to funding for our lab! Not that we need more projects, we already have over a dozen different projects we’re trying to power through and only three of us (including hospital-PI) to get them all done. Since we have so many projects, we’ve split them in half, literally. I’m taking all the lower limb projects and my labmate is taking upper limb. What does this have to do with the visit? It turns out, a lot.

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Return of the “technique”

splatter color brain
splatter color brain

With all the excitement around here with the progress made towards making “big idea” a reality, you may think that I’ve forgotten about other projects and things I’m working on. That isn’t the case and I have other exciting updates regarding something I’ve been calling my “super secret technique” not the most descriptive name, but that’s sort of the point. It’s not “big idea,” but is sure isn’t a tiny idea either.

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The big pitch

Today was the day we pitched a proposal to two of the doctors that can help make my “big idea” a reality. It did not go anything like I planned, some of what happened was funny, some of it was horrific, but mostly it went how it needed to go. Things never go as you plan them, but this was just completely off the rails.

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A big meeting

Well I’m excited, tired but excited. It’s been a long week and that is partly because I have a meeting tomorrow to discuss a project that will be a big help in my PhD, but also a really cool project in general. We also have a second big meeting next week with some guests coming to see the research side of the hospital, so yeah busy!

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In defense of pain management

Chronic pain is different for everyone, for some it feels like razors, for others even bee stings.

Well this seems to be coming up a lot lately. One of the things about working in a hospital is you get to see a lot of different opinions and cases from doctors from all areas of expertise. It gives everyone a well rounded education and frankly no matter where you are in your career it’s always good to keep up with the state of the art in your field and adjacent fields. I’m in the neurosurgery department so we get to talk a lot about the brain and spinal cord, which means pain is a frequent topic.

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The last paper updates

Well things are moving fast. So fast I haven’t had a break. Since I have a free moment, and I really do mean moment, we might as well go for the low hanging fruit and update on the “last” paper. This paper has been in the works for years (literally years) now and we’re finally coming to a close in the chapter. At least that’s how it appears. There’s still some rough sailing ahead, but I think we’ve finally made it…. maybe.

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