Categories
Life Medical School Medicine

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 not at a passing score at that test, 5 weeks out from D-day. I’ve debated writing about it because it feels like a big deal to talk about scores. This test and the months of preparation leading up to it are such a big part of my life right now and no one shares their scores except with the closest of people. Still, I want to share at least some of my story for the same reasons- because it is such a big part of my life and I learned so much.
I was devastated about this practice test score for days. I curled up in my mom’s lap and cried. My dad bought me a Quiktrip pretzel and told me to take a step back and maybe talk to the school about pushing everything back a few months. I cried to an attending physician in his office- the medical school equivalent to calling your teacher “mom”. Still, I decided to buckle down and move forward as planned and the plan was to pass at all costs.
I knew balance was key and I needed to stay sane with breaks and hobbies, etc, but I also wasn’t stupid. I knew my “studying status quo” of cooking a nice dinner, running 4-6 miles 5 times a week and taking Netflix breaks- even without the social media- wasn’t going to cut it. With a very important deadline, some more sacrifices had to be made.
I think I ran a total of four times in that last month. I watched one 22 minute show at the end of my study days. I started drinking Ensure nutrition shakes for meals. I lost 20 pounds in the 6 months before my boards, which is not a healthy amount for me by the way. I gave my dog back to my mom for a number of weeks. I went to an 8-5 board review class and stayed. awake. for. the. whole. entire. week. I hit the books hard and cried and panicked and learned more than I have ever learned in my entire life. I was also very miserable and alone for the majority of every single day for those six weeks.
I took two more practice tests before my exam, and I surprised myself, getting significantly better each time. I didn’t really know what to expect as far as what kind of progress was possible that close to a test date, but I did it. As well as I was doing, my anxiety lurked in the shadows during every minute I wasn’t studying. I would go get dinner with Dru and inside my heart was pounding, saying “You’re going to fail because you didn’t bring your book with you.” In the shower every night, “You don’t deserve a break with scores this low.” Laying in bed, biting my lips until they bled, texting my family and anyone else that would listen to try to get any sort of 5 second reassurance where I didn’t feel like I was going to vomit my esophagus up into my mouth. The harder I studied, the more I feared I would not pass.
Being naturally high strung, having anxiety, and a having healthy dose of fierce test anxiety to boot, I fully expected to need a dart gun to feel calm on test day. The night before, I took a Benadryl and a melatonin at 6 PM just to cover my bases. I added an ice pack on my head and a heating pad on my feet for good measure. I was out by 7:30PM. I woke up that next day and grabbed my packed lunch and rode with Macy to the testing center as we were taking it on the same day. I felt like everything was going to be okay. I got low on time during the first four hours, and I had never needed extra time before. Still, I didn’t feel nauseous. Even during lunch, when my mind was able to wander,  I didn’t ever feel like it wasn’t going to be okay like I had been feeling for the past 6 weeks. Macy and I finished and went home- together, relieved, overwhelmed and exhausted- where my sweet boyfriend had cleaned my house and got me a couple precious happy gifts. Still, it would be another 6 weeks before I knew for sure I could take a breath.
In that 6 weeks I spent a lot of wonderful, mostly stress-free time with my family, roomies, and Dru. I learned Advanced Cardiac Life Support. Some of us went to the lake and saw lots of med school friends that we hadn’t really been able to let loose with really since orientation before first year. It was sweet, sweet relief to my tired, studied-out soul. Memories were made that I know I’ll cherish forever.
And then we started rotations. Possibly the most daily rewarding thing I’ve ever been privileged to be a part of. This useless noggin full of jumbled up, color-coded notes and random lectures finally has a use and can make heads or tails out of what’s actually wrong with my patients! (most of the time.) It is much easier to read medical things at night and on the weekends while being able to put a real patient’s face to the condition I need to learn more about.
I got my scores back last week and I was mostly pleased with the results. In my Type A hindsight, I like to think I could have done more and gotten an even better score by tweaking some of my preparation, but I do I know I did my best and really got a much needed confidence boost out of finding out that my best was good enough this time. Medical education can be extremely taxing in the self-doubt department and make you feel like you’re failing all around because it is so all-encompassing, all-consuming. This was not one of those times.
If you didn’t want to read the whole thing and scrolled down to the end here; I can really sum it all up by saying how extremely blessed I am to be in a career with these sorts ups and downs. Where the rewards are that much sweeter because of the trials. I can focus now on being the face-to-face, compassionate, knowledgable, doctor now that that pesky test is in my past; thank you Jesus.
I’m also lucky because of everyone that brought me meals (thanks, mom), sent me encouraging texts, cupcakes, edible arrangements, Starbucks, and hugs. My roommates really pulled together and helped me get through, while also studying and working really hard themselves. My family prayed for me and supported me emotionally and financially and recruited others to pray as well. My school faculty and classmates supported me and gave encouragement, resources, advice and kicks in the pants where needed. Dru loved me, taught me a lot of test material, and listened to me whine repeatedly; he did dishes, cooked meals and absolutely knocked his own test out of the park all at the same time.
I don’t remember where I read it or if it popped in my head or where I got it, but somewhere along the line, I told my family that I had a mantra for this seemingly insurmountable test. I started telling myself “You are overestimating the problem and underestimating yourself.” It sounds crazy at this point in my life that I would still be crippled at times with self-doubt and confidence when it comes to my ability to belong to this schooling and eventual career, but I do. Even after I got accepted to medical school, if you had asked me to look at a future hologram snapchat video of me seeing patients competently and happily coasting into the start of third year in July 2016, I would have said an incredulous, dumbfounded, “No, that can’t be me.”
It blows my mind, in the best of ways. 
 

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

This Place Is A Roller Coaster

Day to day, minute to minute, even- my situation changes. Sometimes I feel on top of everything and then the next time I check myself, I feel like know nothing and panic. Occasionally I feel like I could study all night and be productive. Other times I fall asleep while trying to choke down a cup of coffee. Sometimes I can stay in a good mood picking fat out of my cadaver’s neck. Then the next minute I would do anything to leave lab and never go back in there again. It’s ups and downs and good and bad and nothing is ever the same minute to minute because there’s always new information being thrown at me, changing my situation and stress levels. It’s a good time. And also it’s terrible.

Categories
Health Life Lists Medical School

10 Things Vol. 1

In an attempt to expedite some posts, (since I know I’ve been lagging lately) I’m starting a new series where I just list 10 random things of whatever I want to talk about. Ha! So here is my first installment.
1) Medical students like to complain a lot, but I don’t think it’s because we are negative people. We really are proud of what we are doing, but all we know how to talk about is school. If we said “we had three quizzes this week and it was awesome!” you would think we were insane.
2) Crazy professors don’t end in undergrad. If anything they get weirder. Seriously we’ve got some real nutjobs.
3) I spent well over $1000 this week on bills, club dues, running shoes, food, etc. Sorry not sorry.
4) My class is only 36% female. I was expecting closer to 50%.
5) I live at the school/at other people’s apts now. I have shower items, workout gear, a change of clothes, scrubs, and multiple stashes of food in various places up at school and at my friend Macy’s already. I take meals and coffee whenever/wherever I can get them, and don’t be surprised if you happen upon me in a break out room and I’m laying on the floor. I’M ONLY RESTING MY EYES FOR FIVE MINUTES.
6) Many of my classmates have started reading this blog and that makes me excited (and embarrassed!). Also I’m a little scared I’ll say something wrong!
7) My dog is not adjusting well to me being gone all day. He follows me everywhere and won’t leave the base of my chair when I’m studying at my desk. Sometimes he just sits there and whines at me.
8) Everyone is so helpful! I just can’t get over it. There are these amazing people who are just SO on top of things. Normally I would think “gunner!” but they aren’t because they SHARE their preparedness with the rest of the class. It’s super encouraging.
9) In the science department at OBU we would get yelled at and deducted points if we had too much info on any one slide during presentations. This rule does not apply to medical professors and they can even just put text boxes of testable info that don’t even fit on the slide and add several pages of footnotes down below.
10) Arsenic is bad for pyruvate dehydrogenase and genetically predisposed SIDS is caused by a deficiency in an enzyme that makes the babies blood sugar drop so low that they can’t cry and then they vomit and choke. There was also some very irrelevant politically-charged health insurance information opinion thrown in there as a plug for testing babies for SIDS. See? I told you I can only talk about school!