10 Things Vol. 6

Back to our regularly scheduled program, here is number 6 in the 10 Things series. Now that I have a whole, whopping 1 rotation under my belt I thought I’d share my top ten things I love about seeing patients. Sa far… Hearing and seeing the abnormal- in school we were taught to know what “mom” is. “Mom” is normal. You know everything about “mom”. “Mom” is the way the human body is supposed to be. When something is different with “mom” you immediately know something is wrong. Every exam I practiced on a classmate has been normal and not pathological, but seeing real patients means there is real pathology. I am actually hearing real atrial fibrillation and seeing enlarged adenoids, instead of just reading about it. Their stories- each patient has a complicated story of what got them to that point. Some visits are more simple than others, but no two cases of strep or heartburn are the same. You learn to listen for key words and subtle nuances that lead you to a diagnosis but it isn’t always cut and dry and though its frustrating, its much better than class 8-5. Kids- Pediatrics is still an option for me, but I don’t know if I could see kids all day everyday for the rest of my life. Still, whenever there’s a kid I get to go see, especially for a sick visit, I get really excited because they are so sad and vulnerable. They only want one thing- to feel better and its very gratifying that I get to have a small part in doing just that....

I’m Back– Close Calls, Boards, and the Start of Third Year

My life looks very different now than what it did 5 weeks ago. And, 5 weeks before that, I was in another galaxy. I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but these last couple months have been more of a startling transition than going from college and a summer off to matriculating the first year of medical school. I will say though, this transition has brought much more enjoyable changes. So let’s start back at the end of April/beginning of May during board exam preparations when I deleted every social media app and other time-sucking things from my life and moved in with my best med school friends; it simultaneously became a huge load off my back having awesome roommates and being in a more nurturing place at home, but then it got a whole lot more stressful because Macy and I needed to buckle down and study. Hard. This was 6 weeks before my big test, and classes were already over to give us time to study for boards on our own. (Before I go on, for all you non-medical people- passing this test is crucial to moving onto your “clinical” years of medical school and an absolute necessity for getting the big D.O. after my name. Residency programs look at this test score and assess your worthiness, and if getting into medical school isn’t hard enough, I daresay this was about 437 times harder than anything I had to do to get in.) Anyway, I took a practice test that the school required we take to make sure we were ready to take the exam and pass it. I was...

What I’ve Learned from Kicking a Bad Social Media Habit

I’ve been on a social media hiatus, but I never said I would quit the blog until boards. It’s been a gradual weaning process to break the habit of checking my instagram, twitter, and facebook every 5 seconds. I hated that I was so dependent on them. I was on my phone way too much, now I lose my phone a lot more without it by my side every minute. I also have a lot more time to study or better yet- relax- now that I’ve logged out of all of them and deleted the apps. Facebook has been the most difficult to kick though, mostly because a good part of my class uses it to communicate with each other. As a result, I’ve been checking it for school updates occasionally. It has been an overwhelmingly good thing for me, and not just for boards studying. I’ve also realized I don’t miss it. My boyfriend always said I scowl my face every time I scroll through my phone for the past couple months. I did it without thinking about it. Its stupid how much time I wasted on things that don’t matter. The people I really need to know about are people I talk I actually talk to on the phone, text, or in person. Best case scenario on social media is me paying very little attention to what I’m looking at or reading, absent-mindedly scrolling through weird, personal details of peoples lives. Its very strange, our interactions online. Worst case scenario I get told to buy something, or I get jealous, down on myself, panicked, sometimes angry even....

Olympic Years and Boards Fears

You guys. It’s an Olympic year. Rio 2016. I don’t know how many of you know this, but I friggin’ love the Olympics. I’m not really that patriotic any other time, there’s just something about the USA’s best of the best going to compete against the world. And- even better everyone gets to see the runners that I love perform on the world’s stage. It always surprises me that the best of the best of America’s runners train together. You would think they would hide in their respective corners of the country and conceal their earth-shattering workout times and world class coaches and not let anyone know their secrets. In reality, its quite the opposite. They gather in Flagstaff like Amy Cragg and Shalane Flanagan, or Portland, or Boulder and take training trips up to altitude together. They run their tune up races stride for stride with each other. Its a pretty great example of how no one truly succeeds on their own. They push each other, help each other come back from injuries and pregnancies–yeesh!- faster than anyone would think possible. Once they make it to the World Champs and Olympics these runners face the reality that they are now competing against their best friends, sometimes roommates, and running partners for the gold metal. But, they all know they never would have qualified without their teammate pushing them there. My class is freaked out about boards. So freaked out, in fact, that our school cancelled a previously mandatory class this semester to make room for a mandatory board review class. Today, during that class, one of our professors told us how the last class...

2nd Year Rut: Revisited

Apparently I scared my mom with my last post. I didn’t mean to be all dark and twisty. In medical school though, the drag on and on is not really a huge negative every single waking minute. We still lead pleasurable lives. To all of us, the huge amount of work is simply a fact of our lives right now. No more depressing than a weather report. “It’s 14 degrees outside.” “I have to spend 14 hours studying today, tomorrow and the next day.” They are one in the same. After that blog published, several classmates told me they felt the exact same way. We just keep on going. So in that, I find inspiration. We just keep moving forward, trucking on through. I wouldn’t rather do this journey with any other group of people anywhere on earth.   Allow me to bring last weeks post into a more positive light. One of runnings’ most fulfilling qualities, to me, is its incessant ability to apply as a versatile metaphor for medical school and life in general. The semester stretches ahead of me- my last body systems courses, my last months in the classroom, my first board exam, studying for both as much as possible- it all looms ahead like a road race I didn’t train for. I’m nervous. Scared I won’t be able to finish. Dreading the pain and suffering. The anxiety is enough to make me want to sit this one out. Wait until I’m better prepared. Go back home to my warm bed, and promise myself I will start training for a different race…tomorrow of course. Suddenly...

2nd Year Rut

I wanted this blog to be real. Honest. No sugar coating it. Med school sucks sometimes. There I said it. Its three days into a new semester and I’ve already hit a wall so hard that I can’t even sleep. Usually when I don’t want to study, I can sleep, or at least binge watch something while simultaneously “candy crushing” until sleep finds me. Here I am, though- its 2 AM and I’m Facebook stalking pictures of myself while I was in college, feeling sorry for myself. Something is off. And it has been for a while. I feel happy each day. I wake up, I eat, I laugh, I study, I see my friends, I sleep. Even my family is always close by when I need them. But, after looking at my own pictures on my feed, I see I’m not even the girl I was a year ago. That girl was “pinch me” happy to be in medical school. That girl lived to go into school each day and learn. That girl was running everyday. She loved going out, even on weeknights- regardless of the sleep she’d lose- just to be with her new friends, gain the life experiences. I loved my first year of medical school. It changed my life in all aspects for the better. Shortly after first year started, an older gentleman in a restaurant overheard me using “first year” and “second year” terminology and leaned over and said “You must be in law school, using those words.” I smiled and proudly said, “No sir, I’m in medical school.” “My mistake,” he smiled, “Congratulations then.” My “thank you”...

Functional Anxiety

Hopefully by now you have learned not to expect much in the way of blog posts during the school year. It’s a rough time and nearly all relationships, hobbies, and other activities suffer in the thick of it. I used to worry a lot about where the time went and fret over how little I had done in 3 hours or whatever. Now, I don’t have time for that. Anything that isn’t directly related to studying for my systems course- which right now is hematology- is immediately considered free time and I have promised myself to never regret how I spend my free time. If its free time and I want to sleep, I sleep. If I want to hold one of my babes, I try my hardest to get my sisters to let me hold them. Unfortunately sometimes OMM and DTP eat up my free time with their class requirement, and that is a quick way to get me really cranky. “Hell Week 2.0” I think is now over. I remember one distinct week in first year that just raked me over the coals. We had back-to-back tests, Anatomy and something else awful like Embryology or something. On top of that, I was sick. I’m sure there was more to it than that, but I have PTSD and can’t remember. This year’s worst week ever- just happened. I just had a lot going on; there were two tests and I had to do my first full history and physical on a standardized patient. This was all within 6 days but it didn’t fall on an exact calendar week...

Second Verse, Same as the First

I have started my second year of medical school. I’m actually two and a half weeks in. I’m still in the classroom, but since only years 1 and 2 are done on campus, it gives all of us MS-2’s this false sense of being “top dogs”. We’ve been showing the first years around all summer, and now we can pop backs so we think we are some hot stuff. Then the dream stops and we wake up to the nightmare reality every morning that we still actually only know very little and boards loom on the horizon like that scene in Apollo 13 where the astronauts are all walking toward the space ship dramatically. Will we all just burst into flames and never make it there?! Will we get halfway to the moon and then freeze to death?! Will we make it home to our lives and loved ones triumphantly?! NOBODY KNOWS! Sometimes I don’t feel like walking forward towards that spaceship. It seems like too great of a risk. Studying for the MCAT depleted my gumption reserves. It gave me mono and walking pneumonia and insomnia and anxiety and the sweats and nightmares. I always felt like crap, just completely run down for that 6 weeks or so I studied; only surviving by way of coffee and sonic drinks. Now that such conditions are normal for me as a medical student, I wonder how preparing for my tortuous first round of boards will plague me. Okay, think happy thoughts! That test is not til next June and I am loving school for the most part. The transition back...

Lion Scratches

When I was 15 my legs were itchy. I couldn’t sleep. I writhed in agony, with no rash or bumps or any other symptoms. I went to my pediatrician, urgent cares when I couldn’t stand it, and even the emergency room once. No one could figure it out. I had a whole cabinet full of lotions and creams to numb and soothe. Eventually I got a referral to a dermatologist with a 2 month wait before her next appointment. When I finally saw her, she told me about another over-the-counter lotion and sent me away to come back in 2 weeks. Still no relief. When I went back she found a few goosebump sized bumps on the back of my thigh and she squeezed them until I cried to see what would come out. The best she could figure was that it was some sort of keratosis. She prescribed Triamcinolone acetonide cream- basically what I now know to be the steroid cream of choice for itchy skin. She didn’t just give me the little toothpaste sized tube either. She gave me a 1 lb. tub with two refills on it. I was instructed to rub it all over my legs and butt at night and anytime after I showered. I followed the instructions; I got less itchy. And then it went away all together. I forgot all about the cream when I quit itching and then the itching would come back, so I used it again every night. The tubs of lotion lasted about six months and I used all of them, along with OTC CeraVe. With three tubs of...

First Year of Medical School is Over

and it has been for about a month now. To be honest, I’ve been relaxing without any guilt of not studying, not worrying about extracurriculars, boosting my application, or even getting ready for next year like I was constantly worried about last summer when I was prepping to enter first year. It’s a good feeling. I’ve had time to reflect and reevaluate myself and recognize all the changes that have occurred. Two weeks ago, I helped with some recruiting events for the medical school where some of my class travelled Oklahoma and taught high schoolers about some of the things you get to learn in medical school. Over and over, my classmates talked about how much we had learned in our first year. Listening to my classmates explain things in such a way that high schoolers understood, gave me a lot of pride in watching the fruits of our labors these last nine months come to life. We have successfully integrated anatomy, foundational biological sciences, and now the physiology of the systems we are going through sequentially; we are able to articulate these concepts into something high schoolers can understand. I’ve heard it said several times now that medicine involves a lot of teaching and at first I dreaded that thought. Rarely am I able to explain things in a fluid way such that my audience understands my thought process and the little tricks in my mind that help me learn. However, once I was put in front of these students just barely encroaching into the path that is Premed, I felt like for the first time I was...