June Meeting Recap: Stomach, Guts and Stuff!

June’s meeting of the Ladder was all about the gastrointestinal system (<– that’s just the fancy name for everything that’s part of our digestive systems, including the stomach and guts). Talking about the digestive system can make us giggle or gross out or squirm – we all know that everything that goes into our digestive system has to come out, and that the whole process includes a lot of oozing and glopping and gurgling when everything IS working right, let alone the less-than-awesome things that can happen when something throws our digestive system out of whack.

Listening to gurgles

Medical Scholar Christopher listening to the gurgles and squeaks made by the intestines.

Gastroenterologists are the doctors who know a lot about and work specifically on our digestive systems. Seems a good bet that gastroenterologists have a pretty good sense of humor given it’s their job to deal with everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly! – about our digestive systems.

At our meeting, Medical Scholars made model stomachs to illustrate how chewing and swallowing plus the stomach adding acid and churning up the whole mix helps break down a wad of food into glop that the small intestines can slurp nutrients from:

“Stomachs” churnin.’

Medical Scholars Yael and Cora then demonstrated with nylon stockings and a soupy mix of something that looked like runny oatmeal how the large intestines squeeze and wring out the goop leftover after that the small intestines are done getting all the good stuff out. The large intestines remove lots of the water from the sludge and slurp the water back into your body tissues, while what’s left after that is headed out the back door as, you guessed it, poop (or “stool” or “fecal matter” as you’ll hear doctors and nurses call it. Don’t ask us how it got to be called “stool” – doesn’t make sense to us either!).

Making “poop.”

Medical Scholars also learned about some procedures for listening to a patient’s insides, including simple things like”percussing” where you can get a lot of info from the sound made by tapping a patient’s abdomen in a certain way:

Percussing a patient's abdomen.

Percussing a patient’s abdomen.

Medical Scholar Renee taught us about things like ulcers, appendicitis and different kinds of cancer that can cause serious trouble for our digestive systems, and how there are many different health care professionals (any of which you could choose to be!) who help with different parts of you getting fixed, healed and recovered when something serious is wrong with your digestive system:

"What's the diagnosis?"

“What’s the diagnosis?”

The Ladder is a Society of Medical Scholars ages 9 to 99, and meetings are the second Saturday of every month and open to anyone and everyone. You’ll have a lot of fun, get a free lunch, and probably even learn something in the process. The next meeting is July 13th at the  UROC building (2001 Plymouth Ave N) in North Minneapolis!

“Lift as you Climb, Build as you Grow”

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