Friday, December 25, 2015

Block 2, Week 9: God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen... yeah right.

I think everyone was very happy to see this week finally arrive. We had a short week at school, starting on Monday with a final exam in epidemiology. Then the remainder of the day was set aside for skills checkoffs. We had to demonstrate aspirating and injecting a knee or injecting a shoulder. So you go into a room alone with a disembodied knee (for me) or shoulder, and talk your way through the proper technique, while trying to demonstrate as well. I think I did OK. It's a really odd experience talking to a fake body part. There is a camera recording everything once you walk in the door, so I'm really glad I didn't trip. On Tuesday, we had OMM lecture and lab, and then we were FREE! Well, sorta.
See there's also the anatomy practical from a few weeks' back hanging over our heads. The majority of the class failed it miserably, and the instructors have been deciding what they were going to do. So instead of a nice restful Christmas break, we have a take-home practical to complete during the holiday. I'm grateful, actually. I was going to spend the break studying for anatomy anyway, because when we get back, we only have two weeks left in this block, and the last week will pretty much be finals. This will actually help me study for the anatomy final, so I'm glad to have that to focus my study. It kinda sucks that it's during Christmas break, though.
I guess this is what it's like for "REAL" doctors, right? It's not like I won't have patients needing me for the two weeks at the end of the year. Seems like people tend to need doctors MORE when the holidays arrive. So chalk it up as another "Welcome to med school and the reality for doctors everywhere" kind of experience. I doubt it will be the last.
I hope everyone is having a nice break, and you are able to celebrate with people you love. I'm so happy to have awesome family and friends that support me in this crazy adventure. There have been a lot of people who have taken up my slack, and I hope that one day I will be able to make it up to them. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Block 2, Week 8: Put that thing back where it came from, or so help me...

Magrathean Sperm Whale and a Bowl of Petunias for my 42nd birthday.
So I held off on blogging until today, because it's my BIRTHDAY! I wanted to have a fresh view on what it felt like to be in medical school ON my birthday. Since it is so late in the year, I have never had the experience of being at school on the same day as my birthday, so it's kinda cool that it happened during my first year of medical school. I used to be kind of jealous of people whose parents brought cupcakes to school to celebrate, so it was super fun getting so many Happy Birthday greetings on the day of. I'm sure that will wear off by next time around the sun. We had an exam (a FINAL!) this morning, and I have a skills assessment for either a knee aspiration/injection or a shoulder injection later on this afternoon. I also got to have lunch with my parents today, which was also a treat.
So the picture above is showing off the hilariously awesome gifts my HB gave me for my 42nd birthday. He also bought me a new desk and bookshelf to increase my studying aesthetic. Can you say spoiled rotten? That's me! If you fail to see the joke with the whale and the flowers, let me enlighten you. The book, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is one of my favorites. There are some silly plot points that include the fact that 42 is the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. Also, there is a place where the whale and the petunias have a starring scene, and it is an absolute hoot. So my husband consulted with nerds to find out exactly what one buys a HGTTG fan on their 42nd birthday, and WHAMMO! Did I mention how absolutely blessed I am? *sigh*
We only have one more class day this week before we get out for Christmas break. I'm really looking forward to catching up on some sleep and completing an online anatomy practical and spending some time with my family. Wait. Sleep, yes, and family, yes. NOT looking forward to doing an anatomy assignment OVER THE HOLIDAYS! My feelings about that are pretty much just... resigned. But that's all I have to say about that.
I just wanted to wind this up by saying Merry Christmas to everyone who is following along on this crazy journey with me. I was looking at the number of page views on my humble little blog, and I was blown away. I hope you all have a lovely holiday, and that you are able to be surrounded with love and warmth and happiness. Of course, if you're with your family, there's probably some other stuff thrown in there too, but I hope it's MOSTLY happy. If you find that you're stuck in town alone and need to borrow some family, please let me know, I have PLENTY to go around! Seriously, though, don't spend the holidays alone, reach out to someone and make it a new tradition. I am happy to include any "orphans" in my Christmas celebration. AND I make a killer coconut pie. If I can remember how to turn the oven on...

Friday, December 11, 2015

Block 2, Week 7: Let me tell you a thing or two, mister

I just want to start today by clarifying that I'm not angry at anyone, and I do understand how someone could make the mistake of not understanding what is going on with me right now. Being in medical school is probably a mystery to a great portion of the population, but since I am completely baptized in it right now, it can make me feel incredulous when I experience the following conversation. But it happens ALL THE TIME, so I thought it would be a great time to educate the public on exactly what goes on in medical school. Pay attention, there will be a test. Here's how it goes:

"Hey, Val, I haven't seen you in ages, what are you up to nowadays?"
"Hey, it's so good to see you! I got accepted into medical school, and I'm in my first year."
"Oh, that's so exciting! You must be so proud! So are you going to be a nurse?"
Blink. Blink. Blink blink. "OH, you're serious."

Now before you nurses come beat me up for being a butt to nurses, simmer down now. Simmah. Down. Nah. I love nurses! My best friend is a nurse (Hey, Marian)! Wait, that sounds kinda, I dunno... Anyway, this post is not to undermine nurses or belittle their education or contribution to health care.

I feel like the reason they ask if I'm going to be a nurse is because I'm a chick. And before you guys get all up in arms, let me just take you on a journey to my childhood where the boys were always doctors and the girls were always nurses. It's not that far away, let me assure you. I was buying a present for a certain little boy for Christmas who may or may not be my grandson, and I was choosing what I wanted to embroider on it. The choices included a teddy bear who was obviously male (and by obviously male, I mean in a cartoon way with or without eyelashes OBVIOUSLY) in a white coat with a stethoscope and it was called "doctor bear." The only female choice was a teddy bear who was obviously female in a pink nurse outfit called "nurse bear." Now we all know that it doesn't matter what your gender, you can be a doctor or a nurse or a garbage truck driver. But check your reaction when you hear someone say, "OH, he's a nurse." Uh-huh, see?

So since it's a matter of murk and clouds to some people, I'm going to break it down for you right here. Medical schools generally train doctors. There are some campuses out there that are medical schools and they also have other types of schools on the same campus, but they are separate schools for different programs. If you get into medical school, you will be spending four years, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and when you graduate, people will call you doctor. Let's review. Medical school = doctors. Got it?
OK next part. Nursing schools train nurses. If you go to nursing school, there are different levels of nursing degrees that you can get, depending on how much time you want to be there. There are LPNs, RNs, BSNs, and so forth. You can go on and get to nurse practitioner if you want! But you'll still be a nurse. Sooooo nursing school = nurses. Still following?
OK here's the hard part. Remember I said there would be a test. If you need to go back and review, take a minute and go back. No trick questions. Ready? OK here we go.

1. If someone tells you that they were accepted into medical school, their temperature was 37C, ALP was 87 IU/L, blood glucose was 81 mg/dL, and CRP was .4 mg/L, what is the mechanism for glucose metabolism in the liver?
2. A patient presents in your office c/o muscle weakness in the upper and lower limbs, with a stocking-and-glove type distribution. He drinks 2 six-packs of beer every Saturday, and his left great toe is hanging by a thread of skin. He went to nursing school, so he tells you that he was treating at home with bacitracin and bandaids. Which type of glycogen storage disease does he have?

See? I told you no trick questions, and I never lie. So now that you know the difference between medical school and nursing school, tell all of your friends. No. Go tell them now. I'll wait.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Med School Recap Block 2 Week 6: Don't tell me. We're about to go over a HUGE waterfall.

1. Oh boy, guys. Floating into the weekend like this, yo. Let's just say this week has definitely got me "funned out," but guess what, the waterfall is LOOMING. This block has been a little bit more manageable (I refuse to say easier) so far in that we haven't had three tests a week. However, with anatomy lab and OMM lab, SDLs in pathology, and having to be ready for quizzes in pharmacology, the work load has NOT decreased a bit. But the next couple of weeks are loaded with all of the above PLUS standardized patients, clinical skills, a lab practical and four exams. They want me to know how to jab a needle into someone's knee and aspirate fluid, AND not pass out at the same time. Ummmmm...
2. Lots of movie clips today, folks. This is what it's like to be my friend. I often speak entirely in movie quotes, and only the best ear can catch them all.
3. Sometimes I get to talk to physicians about what I'm up to. Usually when I have a doctor's appointment, and the doctor is doing that conversational pretend-to-be-interested-in-your-life part. Then they find out I'm a medical student, and they always have advice. I appreciate the input I get from most of them. The doctor I saw the other day told me to take it one day at a time, and make sure I get everything done that day that needs to get done, but not to look too far into the future because it's too overwhelming. I can definitely say that if I start thinking too far ahead, I can't breathe. I do need to keep an eye to the next things coming up so I'm prepared, but if I start thinking too much about all the piles of things I have to accomplish before the end of this block, I get lightheaded. I really did appreciate the advice about making sure I get all the things I need to do today finished though. That way I don't get buried. Feeling behind AND overwhelmed does not work out too well.
4. One of the things that has been tough this week once again is dealing with life stuff on top of keeping up with school. Before school started, if something put me in a tailspin, I could climb into bed for a day and recover and then get back in the groove. This week has had some challenges that would normally put me under it. I don't have time to crawl under the covers and hide from the world. Medical school just goes on without you and then you have to run to catch up. So I'm hoping to manage to use this weekend to do some mental health support AND study for that OMM exam and practical coming on Tuesday.
5. I guess this is the halfway point for this block! Exciting right? I guess I should be excited. It just seems that there is way more ahead of me than behind me at this point. Maybe that second wind will hit me any time now. I'm suffering from sleep deprivation currently, and all I can think about is sleep. Maybe when I catch up, I'll remember to get excited.
6. I think I've mentioned this is the musculoskeletal block. We are learning about all things muscles and bones. Diseases, deformities, fractures, injuries, and all things that we might see wrong with someone's bones and muscles. This block has confirmed that I am not called to orthopedics, although it has been some fascinating stuff. OMM lab has been pretty cool, because we are learning to use our hands to diagnose and even treat certain nagging issues. A lot of my classmates have told me they are enjoying the lab, and at the same time they are terrified of trying to demonstrate some of this stuff at the practical. So this weekend will be full of more practice!
7. Well, I guess that's another week of med school in the bag. It's amazing to me that all these weeks add up eventually and then I'll be a doctor. I keep thinking there will be this point where I will suddenly feel like a real doctor. I'm sure it's not in the first few blocks. ;)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Medical School Recap Block 2 Week 5: Don't Image Search Necrotizing Myositis. Seriously, Don't.

  1. My latest tradition in medical school is having a good cry every Sunday night. I usually have a 'one thing' that sets off the tears, but it all pretty much boils down to feeling overwhelmed. This week, it was reading Rory Feek's blog about his wife Joey's battle with cancer. She's at home receiving hospice care, and she's pretty much bedridden at this point. I was just thinking about how doctors are supposed to be heroes and save people's lives, but they can't save them all. It would be nice if death didn't come for young mothers of babies, though. I'm not saying anyone else deserves to die more, but I am saying that doctors aren't the heroes. It's people like Joey that find out that they have cancer shortly after delivering a sweet baby who will grow up not knowing how awesome her mother was.
  2. Then there's heroes like this doctor, who lost a 19 year old patient and was captured on film having a good break-down outside. This picture breaks my heart, but it also gives me hope. I didn't set out to become a doctor without a heart. People don't want a robot caring for them. I hope at some point I can overcome being a sniveling sob-bunny, though. I've never cried so much in my life as I have since I started school. And if anyone else is an INTJ (Myers-Briggs), you know crying is not something we are supposed to do. I guess I've held it in my entire life, and I can now cry at the drop of a hat. It's disconcerting and I hate it.
  3. My HB does not seem fazed at all by my new cry-it-out-Sunday habit. He sits and rubs my feet and talks about whatever started the avalanche, and then analyzes me and says I'm crying because my big girl pants are getting wadded up. Whatever.
  4. Since this block is about all things musculoskeletal, we are learning how to splint, cast, inject, and aspirate. This is terrifying and exciting at the same time. I love whenever things get clinically-related, because we get to do stuff! But the idea of sticking a needle into someone's knee is pretty horrifying. Good thing we practice on the mannikins first. Don't get me started on how I'm afraid of the mannikins. 
  5. I'm really excited about this week, because I get to torment, er, have lunch with some of the potential members of next year's class. They are doing interviews this week, and some of us from this year's class get to have lunch with the interviewees and take them on a tour of the building. Apparently a ton of us signed on to do the honors, so they had to make a schedule. I'm kinda excited, and hey, free lunch!
  6. Thanksgiving holiday was a nice break, except for the homework assignment that showed up in my email AFTER I had left town to go visit family. Monday is going to be an all-day small group learning (SGL) activity that involves a butt-ton of pre-reading material. Of course I put it off til today, because holidays, duh! I suppose they are trying to teach us that as we get further along in our education, and probably as doctors (except for probably dermatologists), we will be working through a bunch of holidays. Thanks. *adjusting big girl pants*
  7. Also, tomorrow should be when we get some of our grades back from the exams we've taken lately. I've not been so very eager to see all of those. That anatomy exam was painful, and I don't really want to know. Ignorance = bliss, right? Hopefully they will let me stick around. 
  8. So I guess that's pretty much everything for this week. Tune in next week for "Why the Med Student is Crying Now."

Friday, November 20, 2015

Medical School Recap Block 2 Week 4: I Felt Like Vermicious Knid Was a Valid Answer for That Anatomy Practical Question.

  1. The other morning, I woke up before my alarm, and I was having all these cool ideas to write about. I was positive that I would remember these epiphanies when I got ready to write. But alas. I sat down later to put it all down, and it flew out of my head. Quite like all the answers for the anatomy exam on Friday.
  2. I don't want to make this entire post about the disaster that was the anatomy exam and practical. Suffice it to say it was extremely difficult, and despite how much time I spent studying, I don't think it went well. One of the things about being in medical school is having attacks of imposter syndrome. I'm constantly asking myself how in the world I managed to get in, and what's going to happen when they figure out how dumb I actually am. I was seriously embarrassed to write my name on the paper with my answers from the anatomy practical. I just honestly did not know most of the answers. I tried to make some educated guesses, but they were definitely more guess than educated. I signed onto the medblr (medical tumblr) group to wail about my certain failure, and most of the med students on there assured me that they never passed an anatomy practical in their entire medical school career, and they are now doing their clinicals or getting ready to apply for residency. I guess that made me feel better, but it was still a depressing weekend. At least Auburn won, right?
  3. I'm looking forward to a short school week and then THANKSGIVING! I love the holidays, and I'm definitely looking forward to a few days off. I'm also hoping to make up to my sweet hubby that his birthday fell during the busiest studying week of the block so far. We had a hurried family dinner at Moe's before I had to go back to studying. He's a sport about it, but I still feel like he's owed a little more attention. If it was my birthday, I would still be walking around with my lip out. Speaking of MY birthday (haha), this year will be the first time in my entire life that I have school on my birthday. It's on December 21, and I will be celebrating with an epidemiology test and some clinical check-offs involving injections and casting. Exciting, no? Actually I'm kinda looking forward to it. I was always jealous of kids having birthdays during the school year. I'm wearing a crown and a sash (not really).
  4. I found out this week that I'm allergic to sulfa drugs, specifically Bactrim. I have a piercing (in my ear, mind you) that has gotten infected, so my doctor prescribed antibiotics. I woke up the next morning after the first dose, and was COVERED in HIVES!!! I've never had hives before, and let me tell you I don't recommend it. My doctor switched my meds, and the hives are almost all gone. But I missed class all day Thursday because I was an itchy whiny mess (I know, you didn't expect that, huh?).
  5. It's hard to believe that November is almost over and Christmas is right around the corner. This will be a really strange year for us. We are living in an apartment, so celebrating at our place is not an option. I've gotten used to having the family at the big house. But I guess it doesn't matter where it is as long as the family is together. My family is so much fun! It's going to be so much more fun this year because Liam (grandson) is getting big enough to enjoy the celebration. I can't wait to spoil him with lotsa pressies! AND Emily (daughter, Liam's Mom) is expecting another grandbaby in July 2016. I love squishy babies!
  6. I guess I'm wrapping this post up. I hope everyone has an awesome holiday with their loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving!
  7. EDIT!!! I almost forgot to talk about something REALLY cool that happened this week! My son Micah applied to medical school (actually the same one I'm attending!), and he found out this week that he has been ACCEPTED!! Isn't that so cool? There's going to be TWO doctors in our family, and we get to be at the same school. I'm so very excited for him and kinda for me too. I can't wait til next year! Congratulations Micah!!!!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Medical School Recap Block 2 Week 3: Somebody stop this thing…

Also... Friday the 13th sounded like a good test day? C'mon FOLKS!
  1. I feel like I’ve been in medical school long enough to say this with some authority: Once we are dead, we all pretty much look the same. While I can’t expound on this too much, I have observed that it really doesn’t matter what color you are, what gender you are, or what political party you subscribe to — the only thing that makes you stand out on a slab is any extra features that were added during your lifetime. Pacemakers, scars, surgeries, enhancements — things like that do show up on closer examination. But medical students can’t tell whether you were greatly loved, or if you voted for Bush, or if anyone attended your funeral. Some of us like to imagine what your life might have been like. More than any of that, we are inspired by what might have led you to make the tremendous gift that you did to medicine and to people you didn’t even know (HOPEFULLY). I think about their souls sometimes. I’m a Christian, and I remember thinking as a child that you had to be buried in a grave somewhere to go to Heaven. I have no idea where that idea came from, but when I first learned about people gifting their body to science or medicine, I wondered where their souls went. One thing I do know is that their souls aren’t there any more, and that it isn’t just biological function that animates a body. But that’s all way too deep for this post, eh?
  2. Someone came up to me this week and said that they had asked someone about how I was doing, and was told that block two was turning out to be a lot easier than block one. I balked at that statement, because I like to think I’m working a lot harder than I actually am sometimes. Also the word easy really can’t be applied to medical school in my opinion. But after I thought about it, I guess I could say that block one conditioned me to be able to function better in block two. I didn’t come to medical school to fail, but I am constantly learning what it takes to do well enough and be able to incorporate some ‘real life’ into this chaos. The concepts are not as difficult to grasp in this block because they are all related to the core concept of the musculoskeletal system. There is a lot of overlap and repetition (thankfully), and there is more rhyme and reason to learning the information. But easy probably isn’t the right word.
  3. Everyone seems to have caught the plague and mostly recovered. I think the HB might be trying to come down with it now, which is not acceptable because he runs this joint. I remember when the kids were little and they’d get sick, I’d catch myself being envious of being able to lay in bed and be excused from life for a little bit. John sometimes says he won’t get his flu shot because he wants to be able to take a week off and catch up on his favorite shows on the DVR. I have to remind him the flu is not worth it. Since I’ve brought up flu shots, GET YOURS PEOPLE!
  4. So one of the things you might like to know is if you see a new blog post pop up, I’m probably supposed to be studying. Like now, for instance. This week we have a pathology exam on Monday (that’s tomorrow, Val — seriously) and an anatomy exam along with the separate but equally important lab practical on Friday. And it’s not like there’s a lot of time during the week to get a bunch of studying accomplished. Peer tutoring, reviews, labs, and various meetings tend to impinge on what isn’t a lot of free time. So this is me whining about an upcoming busy week as usual. You’ll just have to excuse me if I feel like my chaos>your busy-ness this week. I think this is part of how they make us heartless in medical school. ;)

Friday, November 6, 2015

Medical School Recap Block 2 Week 2: Things are going well, must be time to GET SICK

  1. Don’t you just love it when you feel like you’ve finally got everything going according to plan, and then a WRENCH gets thrown in? That’s the theme for this week, folks! Sunday night on the way home from church, my throat started feeling a little sore. By the time I got up Monday morning, I was carrying around about ten extra pounds of mucus in my head. My seat mates were so pleased to be greeted by me and my super-sized bottle of hand sanitizer and one of those sweet little packets of Kleenex. Those sweet little packets are just enough confidence to get you into the middle of a lecture, and then you’re out. Now what? So thank the Lord I have a son that drives and is always so very willing to run errands for me. He brought me a giant box o’ Kleenex and some cold meds. But there’s still nothing like getting in the middle of an exam and having to blow your nose and sounding like a foghorn while everyone is trying to concentrate. I don't recommend it.
  2. Trying to stay ahead on class prep was a mess this week. It’s like when you’re sick, your tolerance for slogging through is at an all-time low. I guess when you’re an adult and you have a real job, sitting on your butt in the middle of the hallway and dragging yourself along with your heels and whining, “But I’m siiii-iiiiiiiiiiiiiii-iiiiiiiiiiiiii-iiick!” just isn’t going to cut it. It’s not like I actually did that. My inner toddler is quite the mess, though.
  3. I must have started looking like I was coping with the sick + medical school crapstorm, because here comes another wrench. I’m a mom, and when my kids aren’t feeling well, it gets hard. My poor Zion started having symptoms of the sore throat, so I told him to go directly to bed, and I gave him some of the meds I had been taking. This didn’t work out so well, because apparently he has a HORRIBLE case of strep throat. His last football game of the season was Friday night, and he didn’t want to let his team down, so he rested up all day Friday in order to be on point for the game. Granted, we didn’t know he had strep at the time, or Mom would have forbidden it. He was up sick all night last night, and when I looked at his throat, I couldn’t believe how red and swollen it was. So John took him to urgent care this morning, and the doctor was not pleased. She told him in no uncertain terms that he was out of commission for the next week, and she loaded him down with meds. He’s still miserable, and we are just trying to keep him comfy until the meds start fighting back for him. I’m really hoping that this doesn’t spread around to the other kids.
  4. Micah got an interview for VCOM! I’m pretty sure everyone knows that our son Micah is applying to medical school for 2016. He applied to VCOM, and it took a little while for everything to get verified, but they sent him an interview invitation yesterday. I’m so excited! He’s like a thousand times smarter than me, and I know he will knock it out of the park. Won’t that be cool going to medical school with my kid? They’d better accept him, that would be awkward otherwise, right?
  5. I hope this doesn’t sound like a whiney post this week, I can only really recap what my life is like, and while I’m still having a great time — and I’m incredibly grateful — sometimes life happens and talking about it makes it moderately better. I’ll be so glad when everyone is feeling their best and able to tackle what comes next. Which I believe is pharmacology and anatomy. *whew*

Friday, October 30, 2015

Medical School Recap Block 2 Week 1: Block 2 Begins

  1. This week went by incredibly quickly. It seems I was just lying awake on Sunday night, unable to make myself go to sleep because I was so excited. Now here we are on Sunday, marking another week off of our calendar. It is the first day of NOVEMBER! How did it get here so quickly? We actually finished a class this week, and have our first exam on Wednesday, which is the final for that course. It’s weird starting and finishing so fast. But it was essentially painless (har har har).
  2. We started anatomy lab this week, which means dissection on real cadavers. I can’t talk about anything specific on social media; it’s extremely frowned upon. Also, I feel like it’s an extremely private thing. I just want to say that I’m extremely grateful for people who are willing to help us learn and their families who help their wishes to be realized. 
  3. Last block, I used different colored markers to write on a huge wall calendar which classes I was taking every day, and which days I had exams. By the end of the block, it was a huge mess, partly because the scheduled changed a little in there, but also because I make big messes. This block, I have written everything out again on the calendar, and it looks so nice and neat. I’m going to do my best not to make a huge mess out of it this time. That’s not usually how things work out for me though. I always seem to be that kid that the mom dresses up so nice and fixes her hair, and two hours later, the stockings are full of holes, one braid is undone, and one shoe is missing.
  4. I got a package from Amazon today, and it’s one I’ve been kinda excited about. It’s a Netter’s coloring atlas of the body and a 64 pack of Crayola coloring pencils. I thought it might be a nice way of studying for anatomy. I love to color, and this will serve a dual purpose of (hopefully) being a relaxing thing and studying for anatomy.
  5. I was hoping I’d have a lot more to say this time, but things are getting pretty normal, so it’s hard to come up with exciting/funny stuff to write. Hopefully this week will be more eventful. ;)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Med School Recap Week 12: ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzz

  1. A week can go by really quickly or really slowly. It just depends on what’s waiting at the other end. So at the beginning of the week, I was hoping it would pass really slowly because I was super tired from my first eleven weeks of medical school, and my brain felt like a heavy soggy pile of noodles. However, given how excited I am about the White Coat ceremony and starting my second block of medical school, it actually seemed like a really REALLY long week.
  2. So here we are today on the last day of block break, and also the day of the White Coat ceremony. I was a little weird about today, because I was afraid I hadn’t worked hard enough to get here. I hadn’t even put it on my official school calendar that I keep on the wall in my “office”. So this morning, I got up and actually wrote the day on the calendar because I’m pretty sure they are going to let me in now. It’s pretty exciting! The White Coat ceremony is a pretty recent tradition. Medical students are awarded a white coat with their name and “STUDENT DOCTOR” embroidered over the pocket. I kinda think that part is a warning. ;) Hey, so you can ALMOST trust anything this person says, especially if it is about diabetes or Chediak-Higashi Syndrome. ZING! My first running gag…
  3. So what did I do this week? Well, I did some SERIOUS sleeping. Like a lot. It was really hard at first because I am used to getting up early and WISHING I could go back to sleep. But when I had full permission, I was kinda like, meh, I could get up. But then I’d lay back down and wake up at say, NOON. OOPS. I also did some knitting. I seriously LOVE to knit, but it’s not something that I have a lot of time for. I decided this week that I am going to figure out how to make time to produce a few rows, just for sanity’s sake. It helps me relax and focus, and I think I’m smarter when I have a project on the needles. And hey, I need all the brains I can get, right? Don’t say it too fast. I also cleaned my house a bit. John has done a really good job keeping the house in running order, and clean to boot. But I’ve really been wanting to do a deep clean on my bedroom and bathroom, and I managed to knock that out this week as well. I did binge-watch a few TV shows, but I still need to catch a couple of episodes of The Walking Dead. Overall, I had a very relaxing and productive week off, and I managed to catch up with some loved ones as well. It felt really weird venturing out of the bubble and staying out a long time. I kept thinking I should be at home studying.
  4. So I’m about to jump in the shower and get dolled up for the White Coat ceremony. I’m really excited, it is something we’ve all been looking forward to this block, and it will be something we look back on with nostalgia. My Daddy posted on Facebook earlier and said I was a warrior. It made me really proud to hear that, because he understands. Sometimes when people hear that I’m in medical school, they say, “Oh you must be really smart.” OK, maybe I am smart, BUT I’ve worked my heinie off to get here, and smart didn’t make it easy. I do dumb things all the time that indicate that I may not be all that smart. I think what makes a difference is being willing to bulldog your way through stuff that isn’t all that fun to get to where you want to be. So if you’re feeling like you might not be smart enough for medical school – that is not what’s important. If you want it bad enough, you can be a dingbat like me and still make it because you worked hard. So there’s my sermon for today.
  5. Block 2 starts TOMORROW! I thought I’d be all uggghhhhh I don’t wanna go back, but NOOOO! I’m so very excited! Finishing block one reminded me that there is a finite amount of stuff I have to do to get from here to where I want to be, and I’m ready to start the bulldozer! Let’s do it, CREW!!!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Med School Recap Week 11: Onchocerca volvulus causes river blindness, but I can’t tell time

  1. I’m sorry this week’s update is so very late. The very minute I walked out of the building, my hubby called dibs, and he’s had three months of butt-napping to catch up on. What is butt-napping? Well. The art of butt-napping is when you ask someone to accompany you on a short errand, except 4-5 hours later you still have them in captivity to whatever you decide to do next. Butt-napping isn’t always a drag for the nappee, but it just depends on how eager they are to return to whatever they had previously planned before they were butt-napped. The term is actually a sanitized version from the movie Shrek, when he tackled Donkey. I’ve been known to text my mother with, “I was supposed to catch up on laundry, but I’ve been butt-napped!”
  2. I’m sure that the goal of medical school (specifically block one) is to prepare me to be a good physician. However, one of the side effects of learning about every single virus and parasite known to man is that I am now forgetting important things that I might need to function in everyday life. Like telling time. Thursday, my clock got messed up on my computer, and I didn’t realize it until way late in the day. I thought it was 3pm, but it was 5:30. How does that even happen? I really hope I don’t forget how to wing my eyeliner. That will be a dealbreaker.
  3. Friday was the last day of block one. We had a microbiology final at 8am, and that was it. As I walked down the steps toward my car, I had a momentary feeling of panic that I needed to get home and get back to studying. This keeps coming back from time to time, and I’ve gotten more adept at telling my brain to come out of hiding, it’s OK. Maybe in a day or two, I’ll remember how to tie my shoes. Until then, it’s zippers or Velcro.
  4. I hope my musings don’t scare the pants off of anyone hoping to be a physician in the future. I know it sounds like when class is in session, I never leave the two-mile bubble that encompasses the school and my apartment. It sounds like that because it’s true. There are only so many things one can accomplish in a 24-hour period, and it is MUCH easier to let the team handle everything they can so that we can capitalize on the few hours that I’m not actually in class, studying, or sleeping. If I had to drive all over creation, well, that would subtract from what little time I have left. We do get to spend time together – I have attended almost all home football and volleyball games that my kids play in. I also go to church at least once a week, and we manage to get a few meals together as well. It’s hard managing the time crunch, but we make it work.
  5. I just wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate my fellow classmates for making it through block one with our sanity still mostly intact. It was super hard, and I did have several times that I second-guessed this gigantic undertaking. But we got through it, and next week we will be rocking our white coats at the ceremony! High fives to all my VCOM Class of 2019 dudebros, dudettes, and just regular folks (You know who you are!). Also, HUGE thanks to my family and friends who have gone above and beyond to keep this zoo running. Thank you for the prayers and encouragement when things got ugly. I’m also really grateful to the faculty and staff at VCOM-Auburn. They are doing a great job, and I’m so proud to be part of the inaugural class.
  6. They are interviewing candidates for the class of 2020 already, and I’ve seen a few of them around campus. I can’t believe they are already getting ready for another go. It will be weird to double the number of people next year. I’m really excited to welcome the next class and fight them for good parking.
  7. I’m not sure if I will have a weekly post for this coming week, because all I plan to do is catch up on laundry, housework, and actually cook some real food. If anything exciting happens, maybe I’ll post about it. But otherwise keep an eye out around the 30th for the first week of block two. Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Med School Recap Week 10: DEEEEEP breath, aaaaaaand…

  1. One. More. Week. We have been medical students for 10 weeks, and there is one last week left in block 1. Block 1 is called basic sciences. But let me tell you, these sciences are anything but basic. They seemed a little on the acidic side to me. *BA DUM TSSSHHH!* Science jokes, I got ‘em.
  2. This week has not been too terribly horrible. I know I’ve been a big whiney butt for several weeks now, and there was that one week (that we will never speak about) that almost did me in. But this week has *only* had two exams, and it just wasn’t too bad. It’s been the week where I was able to take a big deep breath so that I can hold my nose and get through next week. We have three exams next week. Then we are done with block 1. *sniff*
  3. So I will have an entire week off to do some serious nothing. I have made lots of plans that include reading an exercise book I’ve been eyeballing on my nightstand for a couple of weeks now, but have had ZERO time to crack open. Most important on the list, however is CATCH UP ON SLEEP! I plan to sleep as much as humanly possible.
  4. A lot of us have discussed mistakes that we made this block that we plan to avoid repeating in the next block. It’s like New Year’s Eve is approaching, and we are making our resolutions. I resolve to stay ahead, get plenty of sleep, and figure out how to manage my time more efficiently. I feel like this will be a recurring theme between blocks. ;)
  5. The last few weeks we have been covering some very interesting organisms in microbiology. I have since sworn off noodles, cottage cheese, shellfish, and swimming. Trust me, you don’t want to know. Also, seriously people, don’t let your dog lick you. Anywhere. And go get tested. For everything. Because EW. I’ve also seen pictures of diseased body parts that I can never unsee. All of you folks looking forward to me being a doctor owe me a big one for taking that in. More EW.
  6. We had our first standardized patient last week, and we were allowed to watch our videos from the encounter this week. I was pretty sure it was bad, but I had no idea how bad. My professor assured us at the beginning that we probably did way better than we thought we had. But no. You guys, I was so nervous, I forgot to knock on the door. I just busted up in there like I owned the place. BAM! Heeeere’s the DOCTOR! Oh boy. I did much worse than I thought, and I was thinking it was pretty bad. I guess I can only improve, right?
  7. So thanks for hanging in there with me for 10 weeks of medical school. One more week, and it will be break time! I can’t believe it has gone by this quickly. I guess staying busy does make the time go faster. And it is fun. In kind of a painful way.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Med School Recap Week 9: Insert Sassy Subtitle Here

  1. This is the part where they bring in the puppies, right? It has gotten to the point where there aren’t any “tough weeks” that stick out. It’s just a long trek in the snow both ways putting one foot in front of the other and praying that we get to the end without freezing solid. (Our brains, that is.) We are past the point of “can you deal with med school,” to the point of “can you deal with med school AND this other really hard thing that would knock you flat all on its own.” I’m just gonna go ahead and say UNCLE. Seriously, a room full of puppies and perhaps a foot massage would go SO far.
  2. We have two weeks left in our first block of medical school. Everyone is all, “OH! We get a WHOLE WEEK OFF!!! WOOHOOOO!” I hate to be a hag, but uh, think about how fast a weekend flies by when there’s an exam on Monday. Block break is going to make that look like slow-mo.
  3. So this week was the one where my anchor in the hurricane (not Joaquin) R-U-N-N-O-F-T to Nashville for THREE DAYS. John had this big trip planned, and I gave him a watery smile and a thumb’s up that we would be just fine while he had a good time. As far as he knows, everything is fine, and we are all in one piece. And actually, I managed to keep everything in working order AND I had dinner with the kids (well last night only one kid was home) AT the table every night he was gone. The fire alarm only went off once, which is really funny since we had delivery…
  4. I had my first standardized patient this week. I’m not allowed to talk about it, but I had it. I won’t reveal any specifics about my case, but there are a few things I think I CAN say about it. First, I REALLY struggled not breaking character. I am a super honest person, and one of the things that helps me when I meet someone new is relating to them on an awkward level and making jokes. So I felt like a dirty liar through the whole thing because I was pretending to be a doctor and the patient was pretending to be a patient, and even the vitals were LIES. Second, there was this crazy mischievous streak in me that REALLY wanted to bust the patient’s story. Like, I wanted to ask questions that I KNEW they weren’t prepared for JUST TO MAKE THEM CRACK. I might be truly evil. Don’t tell anyone.
  5. A rumor in medical school goes viral in 3.7 seconds flat. I thought maybe since we were all gunners and super-focused on our studying that this kind of nonsense wouldn’t be an issue. I was WRONG. We are all super tired of learning about the pentose phosphate pathway, and a little juicy gossip is JUST the thing for a little break in the monotony. It’s relieving and disturbing all at once.
  6. Stethoscopes are kind of a big deal. Also, pretty expensive, so a big commitment as well. Everyone is starting to buzz about what kind they have, or what kind they hope to get from their family for the White Coat ceremony. Some people are REALLY opinionated about which one to get, even though they have never used one. It kinda sounds like adopting a dog, or having a baby. I’m the goofball in the corner that just wants mine to be PURPLE!
  7. So that comment about weekends before Monday exams is actually a thing this weekend, so I’d better get to it. Hang in with me, there’s only two more weeks in this block!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Med School Recap Week 8(?) Or... Y'all put that 2x4 down and we can settle this like gentlemen.

1. No one has the corner of the market on having a hard time. In other words, when someone is struggling, you don't have to monologue your difficulties in order to make them feel better about struggling. This is something I might have been guilty of this week, thankfully it was internal. I have heard a LOT of people say what a difficult time they are having for one reason or another, and I started thinking about how they have no clue what hard is, and maybe even I thought about what weenies they were. Before I stopped myself. A lot of interesting paths have converged here at school, and this is probably the hardest thing that most of us have ever done. I'm doing this hard thing and trying to balance the rest of my life with it. Thing is, everyone else is too. I can't say that my particular set of circumstances is any harder than anyone else's. It's all relative to your experience. Anyone who has gotten into med school has probably worked their tailfeathers off and none of this is coming easy for anyone. SO if you want to talk to me about what a difficult time you are having, I will save you space and give you a hug or handshake or high five and we will commiserate.
2. Having said all that, I have been SERIOUSLY surrounded by some really awesome supportive people. It was a stinking rough week, and I didn't make it intact by any wide stretch. I think if only about 3 of the 50 things that knocked me on my butt had happened, I would have been OK. But I'm rounding the bend on week 9 in a full army crawl, covered in mud and blood. I'm only still moving because someone dragged me through Tuesday.
3. If I make it through block 1 with my faculties intact, I'm going to dance it out for a good 3 days straight. After I sleep for 44 hours.
4. I had some rules that I had every intention of abiding by when this whole thing started. It had to do with not cramming, getting enough sleep, and staying ahead. I want to go back to week 1 and laugh in my own face. Because today, I've had 2 hours of sleep. I'm no longer juggling. I'm just madly defending my face from the next thing to fly at it and hoping I can duck the thing behind it in time. I've got two black eyes and a bloody nose. BRING IT.
5. I wouldn't advise asking a first year med student more than halfway through block one whether you should go to med school. Just back away slowly and put the ice cream on the floor within reach.
6. Hopefully I will be more optimistic next week. I'm waiting for my rose-colored hindsight to kick in. C'mon. Any minute...

Friday, September 18, 2015

Med School Recap, Week 7: You Had Me at Glycolysis

Or... Four More Weeks Until Block Break!

1. I guess this is the point where we start counting down the weeks left rather than the ones completed. I suppose I should feel proud that I've hung on through seven grueling weeks of 24/7 Science. We've actually completed two of our seven (eight?) courses, so I probably should feel accomplished in that regard. I would, if I had the time to stop and ponder it. As of now, I'm a little foggy.
2. One of the things that I've experienced this week is a bit of a jolt to my attitude. I guess you could say I've been a bit of a whiner (HB might say more than just a bit!), because things have been hard over the last couple of weeks. I have been feeling extremely overwhelmed and tired, and I've questioned whether I've got what it takes to get through all of this tedious studying. I was driving home on Thursday, and I started thinking about how I've always loved to learn, and I've always enjoyed the challenge of learning stuff that a lot of people consider impossible. I remembered several times when I was younger that I would teach myself things that were supposed to be way over my head simply because I enjoyed the challenge. Somewhere along the way, I tripped across things that I put in the category of "I don't care to know that." That list has gotten so large, it would probably fill several books at this point. I managed to get through my undergrad skirting things that I felt like just weren't worth the time it would take to understand. Now I wish that I had taken the time to understand a lot of those things, because they are coming up in a BIG way in medical school. See, you can learn just enough to pass, and maybe even make a decent grade, but it's really in your best interest to learn as much as you can, because it's all building blocks. When you get to the part where you're building on what you SHOULD have learned back there, it all crumbles over those details you should have understood in the foundations. So I was knocked over the head with the fact that I've become lazy with learning. It kinda broke my heart, because I've always been an insatiable learner.
3. I guess it might be a little late to try to knock these three tests coming up this week completely out of the park, but it is my goal to find a way to get on the right track in these last few weeks. I'm definitely starting Block 2 off with a MUCH better attitude. Yeah, even if I graduate in the bottom of my class, I'll still be called doctor. But God didn't put me here on this earth to accept mediocre. I want to walk across that stage with the confidence that I threw my very best effort and positive attitude into everything I attempted.
4. If you've made it through my personal pep-talk so far, congratulations. I hope that my struggles somehow encourage someone that reads to re-examine their motivations and commit to going all in.
5. I have missed my family so much the last few weeks! I'm hoping to carve out some hours with them even though the next few weeks seem to look even crazier. Zion had an out of town game last night, and apparently he brought his A-game! I'm so proud of him, AND he turned 16 this week! I am so looking forward to having a driver in the house. It's been way too long since I've been able to send a kid on a soda run. Add that to NOT living in the boonies, and it's just all kinds of win. That man I married -- I sure miss him! Block break cannot come too soon! Bo is still recovering from his syndesmosis surgery, and I know he's looking forward to having both feet on the ground. And Mack is owning the volleyball from what I'm hearing. Next home game, I'm so there!
6. Thank you all for reading and praying and thinking about me. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a hole all by myself, and when someone says they read my updates and are praying for me, it really is encouraging. Until next week!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Med school recap week 6: I can't spell DO

1. Someone should get in a time machine and go back to right before last week's recap and punch me right in the butt. I'd do it myself, but there's that whole space-time continuum per Doc Brown and I'd never make it back. I said it wasn't so bad. Lies.
2. Three tests last week and two this week = ARGH. TPIC (The People In Charge) keep telling us to read ahead, study every day, learn to prioritize, and remember to take care of ourselves. I can't seem to manage to do more than one of those things in one day. So my solution is to learn to deal with what's immediately in front of me for as long as I can, and then occasionally come up for air and reintroduce myself to my family and friends. Also I've eaten nothing but garbage all week.
3. I've bargained with God a lot this week. I heard a pastor say once that God likes it when we make promises, but we have to keep them. I hope God realizes the duress I'm under and gives me a pass on some of the things I mumbled this week. Otherwise, I'm going to be studying all day every day even when there's no exams on the week's schedule. I probably should do that anyway, huh?
4. I have a big ol' box of bones sitting in my room at home. I can't wait to get done today so I can go pull them all out and study all the stuff we're supposed to know about them. I'm ready to get beyond pulling one out the box and going, "This is the ulna, right?"
5. At some point I'm going to have to stop writing these because if I read this about my doctor, I'd have second thoughts about putting my health in his hands.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Med school recap week 5: Oy my aching neurons

1. Everyone has been dreading this week since the block calendar first came out: three tests in one week! Ow! I guess the large amount of dread that had been building was probably worse than the week itself. In other words, it wasn't that bad. I've been better committed to studying since I knew I was going to be called to account. However, the other classes that didn't have tests were sorely neglected. I have severe atrophy in my cell bio muscles. That will be fixed this weekend. Sorry kids. (BTW still passing!)
2. I was very happy with classes being over at noon for the first couple of weeks. It afforded more studying time. Now we have labs and lectures and all kinds of stuff keeping us busy later in the day. I am hoping I can balance study time with all that going on. Time to get more efficient!
3. This week in OMM lab, a couple of the circulating lab instructors asked me to show them that I can locate certain landmarks. ON THEM. I am cool working with my partner, but there is just something weird about showing Dr. DeArment that I can find his mastoid processes. Definitely way too into his personal bubble for my comfort.
4. I just ordered a big box of disarticulated bones to be delivered to my house this week. Seriously, there is a skeleton winding its way to my home. As.We.Speak. When it gets here, I will be spending a lot of time finding every little bump and divot so that I can identify it. I REALLY enjoy studying alone. See, I've discovered that most medical students are super focused and opinionated on how to study (yes I mean bossy). When we were looking at the bones in lab this week, there were four of us to one box, and I wasn't able to get my hands on anything to see for myself because we had a limited time to check off the landmarks off our list. So I got my own skelly to investigate at home at my own speed. CLUTCH. Next I want to buy one full sized all put together. Because that's important too. (Don't tell HB)
5. It seems like the entire medical community is pretty jazzed about REALLY rare diseases. We've had questions on exams in different classes on this ONE disease that has been seen less than 500 times in the last 20 years. But if I ever see Chediak-Higashi Syndrome, I'll diagnose the CRAP out of that sucker.
6. Still loving my life. I'm still here, and it seems no one has figured out that I'm a big dumb imposter yet. Cheers!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Med school recap, week 4: URRRRRGGGHHHH!!!!

1. Studying is hard. And you're never done. You take an exam, and then WHAMMO! Time to get back to studying. *whimper*
2. My brain feels kinda old and shrively and like I can't squish another thing in. SO, it has decided to start flinging out stuff that it doesn't want any more. I have no control over what it flings. It's mostly people's names or important facts like where I put my keys.
3. Sometimes life happens, and you have to decide if you can live with letting someone else handle the stuff that you're used to doing. Like when your kid gets seriously hurt in a football game, and surgery is in order. Am I going to let his Dad handle the whole shebang? Doubt it.
4. I want to say I can't wait til Immunology is finished, but then I see Microbiology and Genetics looming to take its place, so I'm just trying to be grateful where I am for now.
5. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I am reminded that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. And where I want to be. Sometimes you work REALLY REALLY hard to accomplish a goal, which turns out to be a giant plateful of even more work than you could ever imagine. But I'm having a blast. With the exception of some tiny details that I can't seem to hang onto, it's really really interesting.
6. Yes, I'm studying for that immunology exam coming up tomorrow. But I've been going solid for a while, and my brain has the hiccups. I'm taking a break. ;)
Cya next week!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Medical School Weekly Recap: Week 3

1. Immunology>biochem. At least as far as grades are concerned. I've passed all three exams so far, and that's all I have to say about that.
2. I'm feeling less like an impostor that snuck in the back door, but mostly because I have this cool card with my picture on it that I have to swipe to get in.
3. If you leave that card in the car, you can't get in. And even if you hit muscle failure on the first time up the stairs because you're late to meet with your advisor, you still have to race back to your car to get the card and drag yourself back up that giant staircase. Because they won't let you in. Even if you make puppy dog eyes at maintenance. Meanies.
4. Hillari at the reception desk is seriously super sweet. And perky. I love her to pieces after I've had my coffee.
5. I still feel like I'm juggling madly to keep everything in order. But I have lots of help and support all around me. So now there's guilt.
6. HB is a saint. Seriously. He listens to me whine and moan about the very thing he's working his tail off to help me get through without smacking me down once. Although he does fall asleep while I'm telling him about the finer nuances of smoker's lung. Somebody give him a medal.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Medical School Weekly Recap 2

Week 2 med school recap:
1. First test was pretty great. If they are all like this, I can deal. Now that I've said that, I'm sure I will pay for it on Monday with our next exam.
2. You shouldn't buy textbooks when your brain isn't working correctly. I bought two of the same book.
3. Some of the best conversations are had in the library while sharing sour gummy worms with a fellow student. Part two of this is sometimes the right person is put in your path to say just the right thing that makes you feel better. Daniel has perfect timing. Even if he sets off the alarm.
4. Time management is hard. But I'm getting better.
5. I think I'm going to be OK.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Medical School Weekly Recap Numero Uno

So here's my first recap on my first week of medical school:
1. Seats are important. Like I-will-cut-you important. Get there early and mark your territory. Unless you're me and don't give a crap. Then you can just sit in the same seat for the whole week and then decide on the last day that you like the back row best.
2. Instructors are interesting. Sometimes they forget to hit record before the lecture (a LOT), they tend to run over time, and mine are all-around pretty darn awesome.
3. Five minutes between one-hour lectures is not enough time to take a pee break. But you try anyway.
4. The lecture halls are pretty darn cold. You can combat this by running the stairs to the very top floor so you don't have to wait in line for the bathroom. This accomplishes the dual purpose of getting to pee more quickly, AND bringing your body temperature up so you aren't mistaken for a cadaver by lunch time.
5. I've gotten spoiled on just three subjects. Next week they start adding them until we have seven. I just thought I had no time this week!
6. This is absolutely exactly where I'm supposed to be. I love my school, my fellow classmates, the faculty, and staff at VCOM-Auburn. Several times a day, I have to bite the inside of my cheek so I don't start crying at how grateful I am to be here. This technique has recently been replaced by thinking about student loan debt and how much studying I need to do.

If you made it this far, just know I'm having a blast, and I'm feeling the burn. Oh, and thank you thank you thank you thank you Dr. Glenn Stokes for your awesome instruction in all things Cell Bio, Physiology, and Histology. You've made this week far less painful than it could have been. I hope you feel all the gratefulness I send in your direction every single day.