Categories
Medical School Medicine

Second Semester Classes

I’m a little over 2 months deep in my second semester of medical school. I have finished my cardiovascular block, and am now a week into neurology/neuroanatomy. Its a doozy, but it’s nothing compared to last semester.
I got an email to talk about the classes I have, and I wanted to do it before Neuro gets too crazy, so here it is!
The second semester of medical school:
My school is in its second year of switching to systems-based learning and we officially start the systems in our second semester with cardiovascular. That basically means we go through every system in the body and cover everything that entails in about 6 weeks per system. We learn physiology, normal function, and review some anatomy, then we dive right into everything that can go wrong with it, what the symptoms are, the diagnostic tests you run, how to diagnose, and then finally the drugs to treat it.
The only thing is that there are so many different things going on now that I get a little overwhelmed. In addition to our systems block (which is the heaviest part of our lecture hours each week), we have Clinical Problem Solving, Clinical Skills Class and Lab, OMM Class and Lab, Developing the Physician, and now a Neuroanatomy Lab each week.
Clinical Problem Solving gives us a clinical case each week and is incorporated strongly into our systems courses. We learn to write SOAP notes and discuss diagnosis and treatment in small groups with a practicing physician. Easily my favorite time in class each week!
Clinical Skills teaches us how to perform physical exams, take histories, systems checks, auscultation, and other “real doctor” things. The lab that goes along with it also puts us with a practicing doc in the Tulsa area and we practice our skills on each other. Standardized patients (paid actors) come occasionally and we practice on them as well.
In OMM we have a lecture and lab each week. We practice our techniques on each other. We have officially finished muscle energy techniques and are moving into counterstrain.
Developing the Physician is a class where we are exposed to various issues in medicine. They are especially focusing us in on Geriatrics this semester and handling all the special controversies and humanity issues that that entails. A few weeks ago they gave us goggles that simulated going blind. Take that as you will. Nothing in the class is particularly hard, but there are due dates for papers, shadowing to do and small groups that always seem to be inconveniently timed with everything else going on.
All of these classes have their own exams too, which also don’t always line up well with the systems courses. For example, we are responsible for the dermatologic exam in Clinical Skills when we haven’t learned anything about the skin! Two tests in one week doesn’t happen a lot, but it always freaks me out a little bit because every little facet in medicine has SO MUCH material.
Neuro is just a little ridiculous. We have some really good professors this block but nothing is more complex than the dang spinal cord to me. How anything gets transmitted correctly in the body is beyond me. Still, being out of basic sciences, and learning the real medicine is such a wonderful milestone to have finally made it to. After all, its been a long road with science after science. Finding out that medicine is everything I wanted it to be is extremely satisfying.
There’s a little glimpse into my classes and how I’m learning.
Those of you who are in medical school, how does your school do it? Comment or message me!
Thanks for reading!

Categories
Medical School

My Blog Interview is Up!

This is my face when I find out my blog is published on a well-known website after a long day at school!
IMG_4862
Just wanted to let you guys know that my interview with accepted.com is up! I had a lot of fun answering their questions. Go check it out!
http://blog.accepted.com/2015/02/09/window-life-busy-d-o-go/

Categories
Blogging Medical School Medicine

Not for a Lack of Trying and Summer Plans

There are so many issues I want to talk about. Things I’m passionate about. In medicine and in life. Vaccines, mental illness and mood disorders, nutrition and exercise, pregnancy and childbirth, medical school admissions, preventative medicine, geriatrics, malpractice, thoughts on caring physicians, managing chronic illness, and of course this era of mistrusting our physicians and reliance on the internet. Big things are coming and happening and the future of medicine. I simply do not have the time to research and delve into these big issues and write the well-written pieces I know I can write while being true to my studies. The hard truth is, being the best physician I can in the future be means I need to give my all to the cardiovascular system right now. It means I can’t dive into those side issues I care so much about just yet because I need to know paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea, bread and butter pericarditis, and Kerley B lines. I haven’t even had the spare thought-processing energy to figure out exactly where I stand on so many of these things. I sift through these thoughts in spare moments- spending time on my runs and in the shower deep in thought. When I’m done, I have a lot of little half-ideas and nothing really hashed out. Still, I write all my ideas in a note on my iPhone and save them for later. “Summer,” I promise myself. I’ll get down and dirty with these ideas this summer. It’s coming.
Also in the summer, a myriad of opportunities have come about since being in medical school- and I’ve been really blessed for that. I wasn’t really expecting it, since its so tough to find those good opportunities as an undergrad. Externships, research jobs, medical missions, vacations. I’m still sorting through it all right now, but I will be on at least one medical mission trip, being doing a summer rural health externship, possibly part time research. I’ll get some good shadowing time in too. Another big part is that I’m moving! Out of my parents house, and into one of my dad’s rent houses! I’m sort of sad, sort of excited. I’ll probably have roommates that are classmates and live WAYY closer to school so its mostly a good change. Anyway, I’ll keep you posted and thanks, as always, for reading!

Categories
Application Process Lists Medical School Premed

10 Things Vol. 5

10 Things to Think About When Selecting a Medical School
Some of you lucky premeds that are applying this year may have multiple acceptances by now, or will have them by the summer. I just wanted to share some things that you should consider when picking which one you ultimately go to. Having gone through the first semester, some things matter more than you think!
1) The city its in! It’s true, you’ll spend a great deal indoors and won’t have the most interaction with the whole city, but even more than what there is to do there- the city matters for demographics too. The city’s population can largely determine what your school puts an emphasis on. My school is largely geared toward preparing us for primary care because of the needs of the region. For me, this was a good thing. So check that out before you pick!
2) Touring the school. You should get a tour of the school with your interview of course, but I also went to a couple recruitment events and those visits were valuable in my considerations too. What is the environment like? Is it bustling and busy in the school? Are the lecture halls comfortable? You can tell a lot about what the school emphasizes by what kind of environment they foster.
3) What the students are like. Do you get along with the students that are there? What do they emphasize about the school when you interact with them? Think about whats important to you, and ask them about the school’s best and worst attributes. They should give you an honest answer. These will be your best friends in a few short months and your colleagues in the future. So, you gotta like hanging out with them!
4) Resources. Think about how you study. Does the school provide things that would be helpful to you? I especially think about all the things the library provides in the way of resources. Most of them I didn’t know about until I matriculated, but I wish I had thought to ask. Does the school have ebooks? Some classes give you a list of 7 textbooks for one 3 class and you only need to read a chapter from each. That makes ebooks extremely valuable. Are there isolated study rooms? Group study rooms? Is there a place to relax? Think about things like that. Call them and ask them if you don’t know.
5) Support system. This was a big one for me. You’re going to be losing touch with people just by being in medical school. So think about that if you’re going out of state away from family. Maybe you want a break to stand on your own two feet, or maybe you want to stay close to your college friends or family. So think about those things when you’re deciding where to move.
6) Cost. Duh. This can be a big deciding factor in going out of state or not. It’s going to cost a butt-ton of money either way, but really think about the money and where you think you’ll want to practice in the long run. Ultimately, knowing the school I ended up going to, I would have gladly paid the out of state cost to come here. So take it with a grain of salt and go to the right school for you even if it costs more.
7) Belonging. This kind of goes with the above. Do you see yourself going there? Did you feel excited when you were there? Does the environment and the people there make you excited about medicine? Do the students exemplify the kind of medical student you want to be? The kind of doctor you want to be? I can’t really describe the feeling I had or put my finger on what it was but it may be the most important one on this list. There was a sense of belonging for me when it came down to picking a school. I knew I would fit in there, be happiest there, and become my best there. Go with your gut.
8) What’s nearby. Long days spent studying, sometimes I don’t even think about dinner until its 8 o’clock at night and all I feel like doing is calling in a pizza. Look around the area for things to do and eat when you need a break. It matters.
9) Campus amenities. What do they have that other schools don’t? A plush student lounge? An awesome clinical skills practice environment? A buzzing hospital campus complex that keeps your eye on the prize? This is largely personal. So decide what you like.
10) Interview Experience. I went into my interviews panicking about how impressive the other interviewees were, feeling like I didn’t belong at all. By the end of the day though, I realized that we were equals, and I could even see myself among both them and the medical students that took us around the campuses. There was also a big difference between the type of questions I was asked at both of my interviews. You can read about both of them here and here. This one is largely intuitive as well, as I found I just preferred one interview experience over the other just because of my personality.
Hope this helps!
And… Thanks for reading! I never imagined this blog would be what it has become! Keep sharing with your friends! Comment, like, subscribe! Follow on twitter here and instagram here.
P.S. Look for a feature on my blog at http://blog.accepted.com/tag/med-student-blogger/ in the coming days!
 

Categories
Growing Up Medical School Premed

Long Overdue!

Woah! I sorta fell off of social media unintentionally. Things got crazy the last month of the semester.
But I have made it! We made it. I have finished my first semester of medical school. I had so much help and support. Seriously could not have made it without my classmates. We fought through so much information and talked and argued and learned so much together. I walked out of my last final and seriously did not know what to do. So I waited around for everyone else to finish. I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to relish in the moment with those people who got me through. Compared to college where I had my bags packed to head home straight from my last test and didn’t look back; it’s quite a change.
There’s so many feelings surrounding this semester, I don’t even know how to sum it up. I know what I sacrificed personally to make it, but I’m realizing the sacrifices my family has made as well as a result of my being in medical school. Most noticeably, I felt like I wasn’t as available to them. Not that any of my sisters or parents are dependent on me, but I was only able to talk on my schedule, my terms. And I heard the majority about everyone’s lives from bits and pieces talking to my mom. I know it required more effort on their part to stay in touch with me and all my conversations were word vomit about studying and the fast food, sleep deprived delirium I spent my last 5 months in. I know my nieces went without their Aunt Andi a lot more, but they handled it like understanding little pros and I tear up thinking about how gracious they were to me when I missed their school program and studied over Thanksgiving instead of spending time with them.
Basically, a lot went in. More than I expected. More than I thought was possible. I could have done better on my part in so many ways. Still, I had way more support than I would have imagined I had available to me. So thanks to everyone who kept up with me and supported me! I appreciate it!
Over and over during the semester, I would think about how much time I spent in undergrad researching on AMCAS and AAMC and other websites, reading about what medical school is like. I still had no idea. So few people know that “medical school” is for future doctors (not nurses, thank you!). But, no one knows the application process and time it takes to become a doctor better than pre meds, so when in that position, you feel like you have a pretty good grasp on how much time you will spend studying. I remember dreading the vast amounts of studying before me, but seeing it as a necessary evil. I now realize, there’s just no way to accurately assess how much time you spend studying before you’re in the thick of it. Even living with my parents- they saw my hours, they knew my comings and goings; I still don’t feel like they fully understand how much time I studied and how hard it was. nobody understood it, except for my classmates- and we were all delirious!
I had a blast, though. I came in to my own. I grew up. I grew personally, professionally, relationally, and intellectually. I stretched myself physically and mentally. I flipped out, broke down, and gave up at times. There’s nothing light or breezy about going into medicine, and its not just the workload while you’re in training. The world is full of healthcare problems I haven’t yet had the time to fully consider yet and I still feel like sometimes I don’t make the cut to be an excellent doctor that can affect change in the healthcare world. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Walking out of the last final was the most proud of myself I’ve ever been. I felt light and free and yet ready to get back to it, because I know there is still much to learn. I was ready to celebrate with my class and revel in our tiny step forward on a long road ahead.
I’m still sighing big breaths of relief and I’m already well into soaking in the time to myself to be silent or watch tv or run, to color, change clothes just because, lay on the floor, think, watch TED talks, and eat whenever I want, throw my anatomy papers to the wind, take a bath and whatever else the heck I want to do without any “I should be studying” guilt whatsoever. I feel a little like I deserve some “me” time.
Class of 2018, we are 1/8th done! Until residency. LOLZ.
th
 

Categories
Life Medical School Medicine

The Truth About Anatomy Lab

Before reading this post, please take time to review my disclaimer here.
If I had to pick a theme to encompass this semester thus far, the theme would be time. What time is it? What time do we have to be there? ? When can we stop studyingHow much time left on the exam? How long have we been studying? Where has the time gone? How much time is that meeting? Time, time, time. There’s never enough of it, but I’m always ready for whatever-it-is to be over.
Speaking of which, I have neither the time to write this, nor the amount of sleep I require, but I think I need to say it.
Simply because it bothers me so much, I feel like I have brought up the fact of having no time to reflect at least a couple times on this blog. Where it bothers me most though, is anatomy. I don’t have the time to be bothered though.
We were told to be grateful for the gifts of these donors’ bodies. We were told strict rules of how we would show that respect. (No cell phones in the lab, no pictures, be courteous, be mature, don’t take body parts, etc.) Some of us have even had cadaver labs before. Let me say this though, having now done both. Medical school cadaver lab anatomy is nothing like undergraduate cadaver lab anatomy. Do I feel more prepared having taken undergrad anatomy? Maybe I was more prepared on the first day of school, for words like “inferior” and “malleolus” to pop up. Maybe. I may remember some superficial muscles from anatomy 3 years ago. Rarely has this been true. I got my feet wet handling a dead body. Barely. (We shared two bodies with about 100 students.) Still, I don’t feel like I was prepared for the semester in store. Not really at all.
Some days it doesn’t bother me at all. I go in, do my work, chatting and laughing and focusing on the anatomy and other things and then I get out, and go get my dinner and go back to studying.
Some days I do not want to go in there. Not at all. Some days I just can’t find it in me to touch the bodies or talk or even think about anatomy. Because some days, it really just feels wrong. Honestly, I don’t even know how to deal with it. And even worse, I think a lot of people really aren’t dealing with it at all. It’s just become something we have to do.  We have to do it for a lot of reasons- because we have to learn it, and we were told to do it by our instructors; we’ve even been told that it’s a noble pursuit. Unfortunately, the severity of it gets ignored in the name of duty sometimes.
I feel like I’m doing something straight out of a concentration camp somedays and nobody has told me how to deal with it!
I’ll even go so far as to admit to ignoring the fact that they were humans at all. The smallest details sober me up though. I went to another group’s table and saw that their cadaver’s legs, (skin still on) were peeling like a sunburn. Something I don’t have to learn and not at all relevant to this anatomy unit, startled me and reminded me that her skin gets dry and flaky just like mine. We are humans. And one of us is cutting the other up.
I know how terribly fibrous and tedious it is to pluck through the connective tissue of the back of a human neck. I know the best technique to skin a human stomach- and leave the fat on- in less than an hour. I know the different texture of cutting through the human heart pericardium. I’ve heard the sound of a human tendon peeling off of bone, of a human sacrum being sawed through. Of flinging human fat into a bucket. I’ve had a neck ache from cutting on a human body for too long. I’ve wiped my forehead with the back of my glove, only to find that I’m wiping my forehead with the fatty “grease” of another human being. I’ve gone home with my cadaver’s armpit hair stuck to my shirt, found flecked bits of human tissue in my hair, in my scrub pockets, on my body. Each and every human body in that room has a distinct smell. We’ve made up names for them. Some nice, some not. The women’s hair on their heads is shaved. There is poop still in their intestines, though it doesn’t always stay there.
Are you catching my drift? I want to scream, “None of this is normal, or even OKAY!” Its not healing, its not easy; its ugly and its dehumanizing. These are opposites of what I’m trying to do here!!!
But for all the terrible, disgusting things I have beheld in that horrid lab that I hate with a passion, there is good. There is always good.
I have physically seen human organ cancers and surgical alterations and held a human gallstone, and a human ovary, and a human kidney in my hands. I have learned and traced and touched and owned the knowledge for myself what is in the human body. The depths and awe and intricacy and straight up crazy things it has to teach us. I felt the juicy, soft texture of a lung and looked inside a heart. I know the shape of each vertebrae and why its like that. I got elbows deep into the spinal cord and saw straight down a trachea into the lung. I’ve traced the ureter from its beginning in the bladder and out of the body. I follow the arteries to each and every place the hearts pump their blood- their sizes give away their importance. I’ve palpated a lymph node filled with disease and one that was healthy and smooth like a pinto bean. I’ve compared sizes of prostates to other bodies and looked at inflated bladders and black lungs and liver cancer.
We laugh and joke and play and gosh darn it, we get every last thing on our list done because its what we have to do and we are medical students.
If I choose to donate my body to a donor program I wonder what the students will say. What will they speculate about my life, my scars, my abnormalities. What will my body tell them? The truth is, a cadaver tells very little about what really mattered in their life. Would they have ever known or cared to know if their hepatic portal vein was much larger than normal? No.
Though I find it incredibly skewed that I know so much about my cadaver’s insides without knowing them personally, I know their anatomy- the health and diseased states of it. They’ve taught me a lot and I won’t let it go to waste. Cancer is ugly and surgeries leave gruesome scars. Palpation is a key tool I will always have in my hands. Variations are numerous- no body is the same. These are things they have taught me about patient care even though I wasn’t able to do anything but cut them.
They’ve taught me the depth and beauty and intricacy of the human body designed by God. They showed  me the beautiful mess that it is and allowed me to touch it and see it outside of a textbook. They’ve left me amazed, wowed, grossed out and “oh cool!”ed.
The truth about anatomy lab isn’t spoken about much. I certainly didn’t know what went on. A lot of it is unavoidable, and no one is completely innocent or at fault. It’s going to be messy and gruesome and uncomfortable. I think the point of it is to get the most education out of it that you can- both didactically and emotionally. Gratefulness, always. I now think donating my body would be a great sacrifice, one I am not sure I can stomach.
If anyone is asking me, though, I think it can be handled more gracefully by medical schools and medical students alike. My class isn’t particularly keen on mamby pamby feelings chats because we are so busy, but I think a candid briefing before anatomy starts and a debriefing after the semester would be helpful for us as future physicians. What we are called to do is heal and humanize and what anatomy lab is right now, is anything but.

Categories
Life Lists Medical School

10 Things Vol. 4

10 Things I Wasn’t Expecting From Medical School
Some bad some good.

1) Complete and utter mental exhaustion. I used to be a mad-crazy over-analyst of all conversations, thoughts, interactions, and observations of myself and people around me. Now, I study. When I’m not studying, I’m sleeping or thinking about studying. Which means I don’t have time for self-awareness or reflection.
2) How much information can be shoved into the brain. I’ve always been taught that the brain has an infinite hard drive and I never thought I would be able to learn this much more and still know nothing at all.
3) (See #2) How much I still don’t know. It always amazes me. Never-ending wealth in every single facet of biological knowledge. Most of which is still being discovered.
4) Still not feeling worthy. Do I feel like a doctor? No. Do I feel like a future doctor? No. Do I know what I’m doing? No. Do I dance around to Taylor Swift, pick my split ends, fall asleep in class, and hug my mommy and daddy each day? Yes. Is that something I thought future doctors would do? No. Are these things that the medical professionals of tomorrow are doing while in medical school? Yes. I am still in disbelief, I still think real doctors are these incredible put-together geniuses. I’ll walk around school sometimes and pinch myself, and ask my study buddy, “Are we really going to be doctors someday?” Yes.
5) A hatred of Anatomy. I liked anatomy in undergrad, we even had cadavers. It was one of my favorite classes. Now, I dread it. It is the bane of my existence. Seriously, impossible amounts of information, structures, clinical relevances, and all the intermingled relationships of everything ends up becoming a complete mess in my head.
6) How much I miss doing nothing. It would be nice to lay on the floor for a while and just do nothing. To not need to sleep, eat, or study would just be amazing.
7) How much fun I’m having. Its really hard for me to study without anyone around. Just having people sit with me studying while I study makes it feel more like hanging out. It would be hard to be at school so dang much if I didn’t enjoy seeing my friends up here so much too.
8) School pride. Don’t get me wrong. I still don’t give a rip about college football, and I don’t particularly like orange and black together. But I’ll defend this school- and my class- to the ground. I maybe went to one high school football game in my day, and really didn’t care what went on at OBU because I was so busy. But here it feels different. Maybe its the higher level of education and it just feels more elite. I really feel like we’re just the best, and its something special we have at OSU. The experience. The community environment. All of it. I love it.
9) I really didn’t expect to become unable to talk about subjects other than school for more than two minutes. Literally, someone should time me. The lady at JC Penney? Yeah she knows I go to medical school. I text old friends and suddenly I’m talking about anatomy exam scores. I don’t mean to do it and its not braggy. There is just nothing else I know or do or understand anymore.
10) Running. I can’t do it every day. I just can’t. I started out all gung-ho and motivated had high hopes for running 30 miles a week and now I’m either too tired or too behind. Oh so chronically behind! It sucks real bad too because I’m running a half marathon in a month and haven’t run more than 12 miles a week. Oops.

IMG_4125

Errybody loves dat OMM.

 

Categories
Life Medical School Running

How A Random Run Reminded Me How to Med School

Its been a pretty hellish week. Last week, I think I was operating on the fumes of a month long exhaustion situation and just got flat out sick. I was nauseous, my back hurt, I had a headache, I couldn’t eat, I had no energy and no amount of coffee was helping. I was falling asleep anytime I sat still. I went home early one evening for a dentist appointment. And oh goodie, I have TMJ! Guess what causes it? STRESS! I told my dentist my situation with medical school and all got the “bless your heart” look. He knows what it’s like.
Anyway, I had a huge Friday test in Histo and then another one on Monday in Anatomy that I didn’t do well on at all. I could blame it on many things: Not feeling good, having too much material, the awful Friday/Monday test situation, etc. But, I’ll take the blame for it and just say that I was not ready for that test. Still, I know myself well enough to know that I won’t get them all. So I took the good with the bad. I did pretty well on Biomed, I just didn’t get the anatomy one this time.
I stepped outside on one of the first truly chilly nights we’ve had this October. Some generic Pandora hiphop station starts up in my earbuds and I start to feel freedom in my very first steps off the porch. I didn’t bring a watch. Didn’t need one. This run isn’t for time. Its for clarity. By 16 seconds in- I guarantee you- its not school on my mind anymore. Sometimes its nothing on my mind at all. 7 minutes in and I might as well be flying. The wind is just cold enough to bite at my throat and ears a little, but I don’t care. Chilly fall weather that you can still wear shorts in- is prime running time. Especially at night when the street lights make the wet roads look like black glass reflecting it to twice the city lights.  I blow through cross walks and stretches of street without sidewalk. Up and down curbs, around bends, and mud holes. I cross the street but am sure to run straight down the double yellow line in the middle of the road a few steps because its where I feel the most free; like nothing can stop me- not even city ordinances and 2-ton hunks of metal.
In running, it’s never mattered to me whether I’m puttering and sputtering and choking and hurting just to keep putting one foot in front of the other, or if I’m in cruise mode, just chilling at a smooth pace, enjoying the view. I could even be gutting it out, leaving it all on the line grimacing with the speed of my own legs’ muscle memory out running my own lungs. None of that matters. I’ve always just been chasing that feeling. Maybe its runner’s high. I don’t know. At a certain point, though, the body takes over- if my mind will let it.
Its a place where my leg turnover carries me further than I thought I could go after not running for 9 days 16 hours and 21 minutes. Like pedaling a bike upside down. If you crank the pedals a few times,  the wheels won’t quit spinning for quite some time. Its just residual motion and it doesn’t require any thought whatsoever. It’ll just stop whenever it stops. That’s what my legs feel like.
Or that feeling I get when I give a little extra power in my hamstring to leap an extra-long stride’s length off a curb and head downhill, busting out the bass drum tempo to my song with my feet. It’s a feeling I would imagine getting when you go up a ramp and land on the other side of ten buses all in a row and land safely on the other side.
It’s a feeling when I don’t feel like my legs or lungs want me to keep going because they’re hurting, but I keep going somehow as if the act of running were involuntary. Like it comes naturally.
Its going so fast I feel my heart up in my throat. I know I can’t hold the pace for long, its just nice to amp up and feel my body working with me not against me for once. Its slowing down and feeling the tension come out, the adrenaline ebbs and flows and I get comfortable again.
It’s feeling comfortable on a run at all. Ever.
Who ever thought running would be my biggest comfort during medical school?
Running makes me powerful, joyous, competent, and aggressive, but yet, graceful. I feel loose and free and fierce and accomplished. I feel feminine and strong and not anything near weakness. I feel confident and beautiful and happy. I never feel like I don’t measure up, because its just me there and I am running and that is all I am doing. I feel like I’m doing something, because I am.
Every step is quantifiable, definite, appreciable, and proven. Every step proves something to myself- that I can go one more step. I look back at all the steps I’ve taken and can’t even trace the path I ran 8 minutes ago with my eyes. Do you know how few times that happens in life? Where you can work- and work hard- and then look at where you came from and where you are now and SEE- actually SEE- a quantifiable difference that can’t be argued with. Its an incredible feeling. When I study and study for 14 hours a day, I go home with nothing. I have no proof I can see. I have nothing to show for it. Only time and tests will tell whether that time was worth something- if I gained anything from that work.
On a run though, I come home with work I can see. The sweat on my face and shirt. The five miles of pavement I left behind me. Chewed up, spit out, burnt up asphalt that I conquered with my own two feet. Even the pain in my left foot tells me I’ve done work.
Running gives me things I don’t get to experience a whole lot anymore. It gives me a good dose of accomplishment, stands me back up, builds confidence, and makes me happy.
It’s the whole theme of steps that gets me and keeps me going in school. The runs carry me through in more ways than I can count. That even if its baby steps, slow steps, big steps, or steps where I flat out stumble and fall and get back up again, I’m still getting somewhere. I try not to forget that when I’m endlessly studying. Each powerpoint, lecture, sentence, note, drawing, and test is a step and I’m getting somewhere whether I see it or not. My steps aren’t always the best or fastest or more graceful, but they mean I’m working. And whatever else anyone around me is doing, I get a lot of satisfaction out of knowing I’m out on the road taking laborious, painful, glorious, work-for-every-last-one-of-them steps, and everyone is driving by fast in a car acting like they’re getting somewhere.

Categories
Growing Up Life Medical School

Life Lately

I really do think about it as a past life sometimes. My life before 9 (what?!) weeks ago. It’s hard to describe to anyone not going through it, but I feel like a totally different person in some ways. I thought I was busy before, and most people in all walks of life would tell you that they are busy. Still, there’s a difference in not having enough time to do the things you want to do and not having enough time to do the things you NEED to do. Before medical school, I would pretty much agree with the statement “You have time for the things you make time for.” But now, I’m not sure. I ache to be able to run everyday. Believe me, I would make more time if I could. Some days, its just not feasible. More and more I find myself having to choose which “side” of myself to be “good to” that day.
For example, this weekend I made time to be a good aunt- and sacrificed a big chunk of my weekend to hug and hold and celebrate little girls (who are not that little anymore 🙁 ). It was worth it, believe me. Last Thursday I shut the books, and ran and lifted weights instead of eating dinner. I just wish that I was able to do all the things I have to do properly, instead of cutting some things in half or out of each day entirely. I can’t explain to you how exhausting it is to come up with time savers and then carry them out each day so that I can maybe get something else small accomplished. I brush my teeth in the shower while I’m rinsing my hair, or I check my email while I’m peeing, or I watch lectures online while sitting on the floor hanging up my clothes. Its tiring to try and save so much time.
I also used to be quite introspective. I don’t have time for silly things like self-reflection, and I feel like I’ve become a crappier writer because of it. I used to journal privately on paper AND blog. Now I’m lucky if I get to post on here each week. The only time I feel I actually get to reflect on my day and FEEL things is on my drive home, because my brain shuts off pretty quickly from the biological stuff. As with all things in medical school, feelings even have to be expressed in warp speed. It’s less tactful, said more hastily, and also said aloud to anyone that is around instead of to a few select people like I would’ve before. I’ll demand “Give me a hug, Macy!” whereas I would have expressed the emotions that led to me needing a hug. I also would have tried to sound more intelligent instead of juvenile. It’s like I’ve reverted back to that state of emotional frustration in childhood where you had feelings about what was going on, you just didn’t know how to say them.
Relationships in medical school move faster too, and its not a bad thing at all. Where it took me three years to grow into friendships with peers where there was mutual reliability and generosity, medical school classmates have so quickly become people that I not only study with, but people I rely on for support and hugs and food and empathy and commiseration and laughter and help. I would do all these same things for them in a heartbeat, and I am grateful to have this incredible network of the brightest, funniest people I have ever been amongst. A sense of belonging abounds and I guarantee you this whole thing would be approximately 19,000x harder if I didn’t enjoy going to see each and every one of them everyday.
Along with my difficulties in having time to really process all my feelings (not to mention the didactic information), the wind still gets knocked out of me sometimes. Little reminders of people and things I’ve had to leave behind, catch me off guard. Like a wound I thought was healed- a cold wind finds a fresh new facet of raw skin and it begins to sting a little again. It’s a little nostalgic and a little heartbreaking. It’s a lot of emotions to deal with and very few opportunities to have dealt with them. It feels like its been a week and yet it feels like it’s been years. It’s been hard to lose something so suddenly and yet it’s been heartbreakingly easy because of how busy I’m staying. Anytime I would usually pick up the phone, I pick up a PowerPoint copy instead. When I’m dissecting the hand on my cadaver, I think of the hands I used to hold. I’ll catch a glimpse of someone that looks similar, hear a blip of an old song and bam I feel the puncture wound in my heart, still gaping. I immediately stuff the hole with information about all the anatomical triangles in the neck and fetal circulation and move on, wondering when I’ll have time to deal with it. Does ignoring it make it better? No. But does it make it manageable? Yes- and manageable is what I have to work with for now.
I don’t know if you guys know much about elephants- but in captivity, they have certain needs to be met for their overall wellbeing. They need emotional enrichment-companions, offspring, a mate. They need physical enrichment– their diet, space to roam and play- and mental enrichment– toys, hidden treats, ropes, etc.
So obviously I am the elephant in this metaphor. My captivity is medical school, which tends to provide enough mental enrichment to satisfy my needs. (Understatement of the millennium). My physical enrichment is decent- all I ask is soft pretzels, copious amounts of caffeine, and a run to get me by. Emotional enrichment is hard to come by in my captivity. The only people that have a clue what’s going on are just as unstable in that department as me. It’s a struggle, and the general consensus among unmarried, single people in medical school is that we haven’t got a clue what we want and have to suppress everything til we figure it out later. My friend Macy and I joke about how ridiculous it is, but we tell each other to suppress all feelings and unresolved issues until Christmas break. We young medical students are in a fragile place. Capable of imploding at any moment.
The fact is- I’m going to be a doctor. I’m not the only one relying on myself to know this material anymore. The thought is sobering, but my patients need me to learn about their parietal cell Hydrogen pump in the stomach too.
So things have to be sacrificed.
I won’t sacrifice my studies because I worked too hard to get here. This was the dream all along. I’m not learning this to maybe get to do what I want- if I can get in- anymore. I’m in! I’m learning now for all of my future patients.
I’m extremely task driven anyway, so I’m still getting by based on making those “check marks” on my everlasting to do list.
And I won’t sacrifice my physical health. I need sleep and nourishment and running or I will not make it.
So some things are gonna be benched for a while, and sometimes I think its a good thing- to stay busy. Time heals all wounds, right? For right now, that means I’m going to do what I can to keep myself afloat with thoughts about anatomy until I accidentally happen upon the remnants that make me ache a little. I will swallow the lump in my throat and keep going. Old habits die hard, and I’m going to miss some things. Sometimes I think I always will. But I don’t have a choice.
I have to make it through, with or without my past life.
I knew all this was coming, when I started medical school. I knew it would be hard. It really is a rewarding and satisfying kind of hard, though, and I wouldn’t trade my medical school experience for anything. A lot of days I’ll come home at midnight and my dad will ask about the day. Exhausted, I sigh and say, “So so hard” and he says, “So you’re loving it, huh?” And really, it exactly expresses how I feel about all the hard work I do each day. Its hard but I love it. I’m so extremely lucky to be here, to be able to learn, have fun and yes, study all day and all night.
But I miss what I used to love, simply because it was once something that I used to love.

Categories
Lists Medical School

10 Things Vol. 3

10 Things that have changed since medical school.
1) The amount of sleep I get- Pretty obvious; I like my sleep. Now, I don’t get so much. First I get cranky, then I just fall asleep in random places (like class), then I wake up and I’m slap happy. Then I’m grumpy again. So I give in and nap. Then I hate my life because I’m so behind. Rinse and repeat.
2) The amount of caffeine I consume- I used to be an occasional coffee drinker. And every once in a while, I would crave soda. Now I’m flooding myself with coffee at least twice a day and I always want pop! Its not like it makes me feel better, either. I just need SOMETHING to give me any kind of pep most days. Caffeine is not without its side effects, friends. Acne, heartburn, poorer sleep, inflammation. I get it all. Really just the junk food in general has me feeling like a big blob of blah. Chips, sugary goods, and frozen things that you microwave are easiest to come by and it makes my tummy hurt.
3) The camaraderie- It wasn’t until senior year at OBU that us science majors got into the nitty gritty and bonded as friends and as a group even though most of us didn’t hang out outside of class. In medical school, though, one of the things we came into quick is togetherness. Its not like I talk to everyone everyday, but everyone is approachable and friendly, helpful and nice. Even if we never hang out, there’s always someone to chat with and complain about the lecture to in the computer lab or student lounge. Plus, out class Facebook group has saved my life once or twice. My classmates are the bomb. Just the best and brightest and I can’t believe I get to be among them.
4) The level of complication- Everything is sort of simplified now. There’s no time to worry about silly stuff. It’s either studying time or relaxation time. I take both very seriously.
5) My reliance on other people- Particularly my parents. I liked to pretend I was pretty independent and self-sufficient before I started medical school. But now, no way. I hate to admit it, but its the dang truth; a secret to a lot of how I’m getting through is because of my parents. My mom brings me food, wakes me up in the morning, picks up my medicine, etc. It takes a lot of planning on her part to take care of logistics for me so I can just try to not rip my hair out focus on school during the day.
6) The amount of people I touch- I’m affectionate, don’t get me wrong, but before medical school, it was only a few select people. Family and close friends. Now, I’ll grab whoever, wherever, and palpate their PSIS, ask to translate their cervicals, and volunteer my own “Woah feel my iliac crest!” We are a touchy bunch and its not unusual for classmates to rub my shoulders as they pass by me in class. We’re nice like that.
7) Running- Unfortunately my running is suffering. Sweet naive little me before anatomy started thought I had everything under control, getting my first 8 mile run in for my half marathon training. Then anatomy hit me hard and was like “HAHA you arrogant, silly girl. No running for you” There are several marathoners in medical school and I. Just. Don’t. Get. It. How?! How are they doing this?! Now I stare longingly into the gym and just take my scrub-wearing self into the anatomy lab.
8) Disbelief at the End of the Day- Every day. I make it home. While I get ready for bed and just think about the vast amounts of information I’m shoving in. I cannot believe how much I’m learning. I can’t believe I’ve made it through 7 weeks of medical school, or even just finishing one more day. I still can’t believe I got in, or that I’m really going to be a doctor at the end of this. You look at all the lectures they give you each week and you’re like, “I can’t learn all this! It literally impossible.” And then the whole week zooms by and you did it. You’ve really forced that much more into your head somehow and its just amazing.
9) My obsession with EVERY. SINGLE. LAST. POINT.- One time in undergrad, I asked my organic professor for a point back on a quiz. I had him on a technicality and had never gotten a 10/10 on his quizzes. He even admitted I was right. So, sitting at a 9/10, I asked him if he was gonna give me the point back. “Really?” he said. As in “Really, you’re gonna make me log in and change your grade over this one point?!”
Well, I learned my lesson and never made a big deal of it again- though I am still a bit bitter. But now, oh man!, I deserve every single last point I get and you bet your sweet little keister I will fight for every single point. Something about medical school feels like it matters more and so I’ll fight tooth and nail to know this stuff and be able to PROVE I know it on the tests. It’s just more important to me now.
10) Nervous habits- If I had nervous energy before medical school, let’s multiply it by ten now. I’ve always been a little high strung. I tap my feet and pens and chew gum and bite my nails again, and pick my skin and my face and my hangnails. I pick my split ends and pop my knuckles and just general. Also, just another weird thing, it has me doing is obsessively wanting to pick EVERY. LAST. BIT. of skin and fat and fascia off of my cadaver. Just absolutely meticulously. I could sit in there all day trying to satiate this desire to completely clean him off down to the structures we need. Ok, have I creeped everyone out now? I have problems… OCD maybe. That means its time to quit.
Peace out cub scouts.