Archived entries for Gail Knight

the beat of the heart

Dr. Knight was talking to me about a generic electrocardiogram (EKG) print out, and I wasn’t following her as much as I would have liked, so we decided that I should learn about it. I am currently trying to teach myself how to read one so I can understand what is actually going on in the heart when looking at a monitor. I wrote down some notes on it, but I figured it would be good to have it all in one place for myself, complete with some pictures that are much clearer than my drawings. The process of learning this involved regurgitating my knowledge of the heart, which has waxed and waned over the past five or so years, but it is amazing what the brain can remember.

Anyway, I first researched how EKGs function: the electrodes placed on the body detect electrical changes on the skin that happen when the heart muscle depolarizes and repolarizes. These changes are very tiny so the EKG must amplify them in order to extract anything meaningful from it. Using the following two images and some great information from Wikipedia, I’m starting to understand more of the physiological intricacies.

The P wave represents the depolarization that spreads from the sinoatrial (SA) node throughout the atria. There is a brief zero volage period, also referred to as the isoelectric period, after the P wave. This represents the time during which th eimpulse is traveling within the atrioventricular (AV) node and the bundle of His, the collection of cells specialized for electrical conduction.

The QRS complex represents ventricular depolarization, and the T wave represents ventricular repolarization, which takes longer than depolarization. The P-R interval is the period of time from th eonset of the P wave to the begining of the QRS complex, which is essentially the time between onset of atrial depolarization and ventricular depolarization. Finally, the ST segment is the isoelectric (remember, zero voltage) period following QRS where the entire ventricle is depolarized.

Sorry this entry was super drone. I need this information, and I could not think of any fun analogies to map onto the different waves. My inability to lighten up this content is definitely indicative of how little I am grasping, but you gotta start somewhere.

P.S. My heart has been beating for 21 years today. If my heart beat at an average of around 72 beats per minute for my entire life, it has given me a hefty 795,251,520 beats. You’ve done me good, heart.

day one

So much about which to blog. So little energy left. So I’ll give a quick rundown.

Today marked my official first day of work at the Neurosciences Institute. Finally, NSI has become a place where living, breathing people do incredible science instead of a series buildings that had been entering my dreams on an increasingly regular basis.

Although I included a nearly identical photograph in an earlier entry about the Institute, this picture was taken with my camera.

Upon arrival, I had some lunch (catered by NSI, tasty, intended to encourage interdepartmental dialogue) with Dr. John Iversen, one of Ani’s colleagues and the second researcher involved with this summer’s NICU project. Towards the end of lunch, Ani met up with me and we ventured to Rady Children’s Hospital to meet with Dr. Gail Knight. The three of us went over some of the more logistical things regarding the study, and then Ani and I returned to NSI. I got acclimated to my office, and that was pretty much it for day one. Today, it became clearer than ever the degree of intelligence that will surround me this summer. I’m already honored.

After work, I took an extremely congested route to join UCSD’s gym and it took me approximately thirty-five minutes in rush hour traffic. Upon arrival, the receptionist told me a much easier way to get there: drive two blocks. Thanks, GPS. Your system may have succeeded at positioning me globally, but it lacked efficiency, to say the least. Stressed, frustrated, and a little stir crazy from the car (I need to get used to the amount of time I’m going to spend in a vehicle), I went to the Torrey Pines Glider Port.

Before I left the house this morning, Penny suggested that I go there, and this suggestion was seconded and thirded by  gentlemen at lunch. I sat down, read, and slowly ate my dinner (avocado, tomato, mozzarella, caramelized onion sandwich on baguette bread). There is nothing like an hour and a half of listening to the ocean while watching the sun pierce the clouds to relax you. It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Pacific Ocean. Hopefully next time we can get a little more intimate.

I would say that my destress period was perfect, save for one detail. I didn’t have headphones and could not listen to the music that I craved: Sigur Ros.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sUVm77WjE0

When I finally returned home, I was catching Jay and Penny up on my adventures when the phone rang. One of their lovely family friends called to let me know that PBS was airing a NOVA program called “Musical Minds.” We watched it together; blog entry on the topic to come soon.

this time tomorrow, it’ll be three hours earlier

What a week! Preparing for my departure has been a full-time job, especially considering the added neuroticism of an individual who has ne’er-before traveled by air. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but I’m about to embark on my first adventure in the sky. Here are some thematically-appropriate tunes, even though I already booked my flight and I’m not going over the sea.

I’ve been shopping to smarten up/California-ize my wardrobe and gathering all of the last minute necessities that have spent a little too long simmering on the back burner. I just finished packing my carry-on, which barely falls under the limit in both weight and size, and my personal item, a stuffed-to-the-brim backpack complete with airplane snacks and enough reading material for a time period equivalent to the length of my flight cubed.

Tomorrow, the Cherichello clan is getting up bright and early to have a family breakfast before Dad has to go to work and my brother (Johnny) has to set off to school. Mom is taking the day off to take me to the airport, which I greatly appreciate.

Anyway, on a note directly relevant to the project, I received an e-mail about a required Biomedical Ethics training course that I had to take online due to my involvement with this summer’s music therapy research with human subjects. This course, mandated by the UCSD Institutional Review Board (IRB), ended up taking me longer than expected because I became fascinated with the array of completely unethical studies throughout history that led to today’s cautionary procedures. One study that sticks out for quite a number of scientific errors intended to determine whether sleeping or being physically active allowed for more digestion. The researcher fed two prisoners a large amount of food, then sent one to bed and one to engage in vigorous physical activity. Going through the lessons and quizzes of this course brought me back to this semester’s Experimental Methods and Statistics (colloquially, “Psych Stat”) at Haverford, as they mark one of the many prerequisites to my first engagement with IRB-approved research as a role other than “participant.” Although I have conducted two group studies at school, both have been for lab classes and thus have not gone through the IRB. I feel so legit!

To further build on this legitimacy, I’m continuing my progress with Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers and Music Therapy for Premature Infants (I’ve yet to mention the second in any detail, but that post is soon to come). Both have incited in me countless a-ha moments, whether they regard my own experience as a stressed person, my (limited, but growing) knowledge of infant development, or the power of music. If I were already in SD,  it would be merely 12:30 a.m. and my eyes would not be feeling the wee-hours-burn, so this post would include some of the content of these “a-has,” but for now, they must wait.

One last exiting update is that I meet Dr. Patel for the first time over lunch at the Neurosciences Institute (NSI) on Tuesday at noon, after which we are both heading over to Rady Children’s Hospital for the first meeting with Dr. Knight. I have training at the hospital during the next few mornings and will my afternoons at NSI.

In sum: sleep, family breakfast, Newark airport, California by 4:30 (7:30…), readreadread, acclimation. I can’t believe this thing that I’ve been talking about for so long and thinking about for even longer is happening. Wish me luck!

Note: Posts following this one should be full of photographs, pending the purchase of batteries for my camera.

Summer Research

This summer Genna Cherichello ‘11 will be in San Diego, CA, working with Aniruddh D. Patel, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at the Neurosciences Institute (NSI) and Gail Knight, M.D., Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Rady Children’s Hospital. Their collaborative project will focus on how music affects physiological measures of stress in babies recovering from cardiac surgery.



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