Categories
Application Process Blogging Medical School Premed

Catching up and Slowing Down

The blogging was slow throughout my neuroanatomy block. It was easily the roughest time since first semester when my class took our foundational science courses along with anatomy. Now the year is winding down. We are in our psychiatry block, or as we like to call it- “Psych-cation”. This is my last full week as a first year medical student. I had high expectations for this year. Nothing went as expected, but that’s not to say it wasn’t one of the greatest things I have ever been a part of. It continues to be my desire to wake up and learn and do medicine. I also continue to struggle each and every day to work my hardest, dig deep, and put my best forward. Some days are easier than others. I struggle to this day with the discipline to study for a full evening with no distractions. Time management- and the guilt that goes along with making tough choices- will always be tough for me. Whenever I choose to run and meal prep, I feel guilty for not studying. If given the the chance to watch my niece for an evening or be with my family, it is always my first inclination to pick them, and then spend my time with them rushing through it or worse, resenting them for pulling me away from studying. Yet, the same is true on the rare occasion I decide to continue studying- I start to get down on myself for being the studious, uncaring robot I never wanted to be and cursing my choice of medicine for making me betray my family. It’s so easy to fall to extremes whenever I am presented with two choices in the same window of time. I have a horrible fear of missing out (#FOMO) on fun with family and friends, but on the same token, I have awful anxiety when it comes to tests that I haven’t studied enough for. Life with me is always a certain roller coaster of emotions. It will soon be my last somewhat wide open summer. There are high expectations for that as well.
From my time with the doctors I love shadowing, and in spending time with our attendings that teach and grade us in clinical skills and OMM, I have learned how vitally important their experiences are to me. They give us tips on how to cause less pain, on how to find the diseases that “hide”, how to care for the difficult, stubborn, and “unwanted” patients. I love them for passing on their directly usable knowledge. I always remember what they say best when so much of medical school is only “practical” in the sense of boards. In watching and learning from them, I have decided that it wouldn’t be right for a doctor to learn all this and go about their practice without ever mentoring or teaching the upcoming doctors in some capacity. I may not have realized it, but this sort of outlet is one of the reasons blogging is great. So here it is; if I ever didn’t make it clear, or you thought I was to busy- here I am saying I am available to give you whatever I can offer you in your journey into medicine. If you are premed or thinking about premed or know someone that is- send them my way! I want to help anyway I can. Resumes, applications, stats, extracurriculars, what school to pick, what classes to take- I’ve been there and it helps to talk out your goals and reaffirm your passions with someone who knows the long road it will be. You can contact me on here. I read every email I get through my “contact” form. If you’re in Oklahoma, I can get students to come speak to your premed club. If you know me personally then you can contact me on Facebook and get coffee. Whatever you need, I’m available to mentor you and set you up with great doctors in the area that mentor too.  Especially now that summer is within sight!

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!
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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
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
Life

2014

It was arguably the biggest year of my life. The toughest too- with the most changes and adjustments.
I got accepted to medical school.
I started this blog to document the transition into and through medical school.
I graduated college.
I deep cleaned, organized, and re-did my room.
I travelled across the country with my best friend.
I spent time with family.
I said goodbye to someone I never thought I would say goodbye to.
I started medical school.
My world got bigger.
I studied.
I formed deep bonds with people I didn’t know half a year ago.
I turned 23.
I finished my first semester.
I celebrated and relaxed into the new year.
Here’s to you, 2014! I am blessed.IMG_4635
 
 
 

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
Health Life Recipes

Health

From time to time, while stuffing chips and cherry coke down my throat, I wonder how I am supposed to convince my patients that its easy to be healthy in the midst of their busy lives. Exhibit A. I sit down for most of my day. Standing up in lab makes me angry. I eat cookies and brownies and coffee full of cream and sugar and whatever else I can find to shove into my face. I don’t run most days. The healthiest things I eat are when I bring my lunch and thats usually microwave pasta or a turkey sandwich with yogurt and apples. And Lord knows I don’t get enough sleep.
But eating healthy on a quick stop to Quiktrip is really hard. Their “naked” juices cost 4 bucks and I’m never really sure what all they put in it.
So, today, instead of popping out out bed and studying anatomy like I should, I decided to try something. Ya’ll know I love my juice. It makes me feel good, lotsa vitamins and all. Its pretty filling and energizing too. But my dang juicer that I love so very much is a little high maintenance. You have to clean it right away because fruit beaten to a pulp rots pretty quickly and its really sticky. So I juiced everything all at once. Fresh pressed juice can be stored for up to 5 days in an airtight container. I made six bottles. All I have to do is shake it and its good to go.  So now I have delicious real juice all week and it took like 20 minutes! I’m so happy!
I made a red juice.
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And a green juice.
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The red was- 2 beets, lots of baby carrots, 1/2 lb raspberries, 1/2 lb strawberries, 1 red pear, 3 small fuji apples
The green was- A bushel of kale, 1/2 bag fresh spinach, 2 kiwis, 2 green pears, 2s small fuji apples.
So there’s my small step towards health this week during a busy schedule. Its so much easier to drink all those good sugars and nutrients than constantly munching on kale and pears.
Since its red and green, I thought I would also tell you that it’s 46 days til Christmas and 39 school days left til the semester is over. I have almost made it! WOO!
 

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.

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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.