Day 13: Frustration turned around

Today’s inane image of the day:

When we help out during interview days, we are given these notecard packets with maps and other useful information. I was an “escort” [heh…], which means I accompany applicants to their interview and back.

We had a TBL yesterday that put me in a rather foul mood. It wasn’t necessarily because of the TBL itself, but more due to my personal performance on it. It’s no secret that I struggle with multiple-choice exams, but I thought I had been improving in that department – well, apparently not so much. Sometimes I’m able to convince myself that often these tests aren’t representative of my true knowledge, however, there’s no escaping multiple-choice assessments so I’ll have to make due and just keep trying [at least I’m not failing!].

I signed up to participate in the first interview day of the 2012-2013 application cycle, which was yesterday immediately following my TBL. I was a bit concerned about my ability to talk about OUWB when I was feeling rather unhappy – but my mood markedly improved after chatting with some prospective students. One of them asked why I took time out of my busy schedule to do interview days, and I told him that it was because talking with interviewees reminded me of how excited I was to start medical school and proves to be relatively good motivation to keep moving forward.

My evening was topped off with some unexpectedly fun company. And today things are looking rather up [including the weather, which is 90+ degrees – I thought it was almost cider and donuts time?! Oh, Michigan], especially since I checked off a number of tasks this morning and I always feel better when I get stuff done.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Day 8: 2.5 years in (another long distance relationship update)

Today’s inane image of the day:

From my trip to San Fran – we made a pitstop in Malibu to visit one of Mike’s friends who was camping on the beach.

Today, we are 2.5 years into our relationship. Over 1 year of it has been on almost-opposite ends of the country. Sadly, it is likely that we will be permanently reunited only after we’ve spent more time separated by 1000s of miles than together.

Things have not necessarily gotten easier with time [whoever said time heals all, lied] – in fact, I’d argue that it has gotten harder as I move forward with medical school. Although I have arrived at a relatively comfortable point of treading the enormous volume of material, I cannot help but feel apprehensive about Step 1. I do not feel like I adequately learned the basic sciences last year, nor do I feel comfortable identifying a lesion in the spinal cord when given the results of a neurological examination. Although these fears cannot be erased by having Mike around, he could at least help keep them at bay.

But I guess we all yearn for the things we cannot have. Admittedly, I should be grateful for the endless hours he spends with me over FaceTime, merely watching me stare at textbooks or listening to me talk to myself about the pathophysiology of this, or that. I should be happy that I have someone so supportive and stubborn. I should feel lucky that he can visit on such a regular basis.

I recognize that I definitely have a pretty optimal LDR situation, but I cannot help but feel pangs of jealousy when I see my happily married peers at social events or hear about regular weekend visits from significant others in places only a couple hours away. Through my eyes, everyone else has a more optimal situation – however, I know that this isn’t necessarily true. I just have to keep reminding myself that appearances are not always representative of the truth.

My frustration comes in waves – most of the time I keep myself so busy that there isn’t enough time to let the negative feelings surface – but, sometimes they escape and morph into a fight. Mike is so accustomed to them now that he just seems to ride out the storm until the sun rises again. I really try not to let my emotions get the best of me, however, by the end of the week, I am sleep-deprived and stressed, which tends to turn me into a blubbering ball of anger and tears. Usually, if sleep it off, everything is better the next day.

We still have something like four years of long distance to go – hopefully it will all work out in the end.

Day 5: Back at it again

Today’s inane image of the day:

This time around, I decided to select my own resources to learn from [and tried to save some money by purchasing an older edition].

We just wrapped up our first week back at OUWB. Everything feels essentially like a continuation of where we left off, but not quite. This time around, there are more students [shiny, new M1s!], a different classroom [yeah, thanks a lot M1s for demoting us to the smaller classroom…] and some new facilities at Beaumont [more study space is always welcome]. Half of our building on the Oakland University campus is under construction [in order to get from the study rooms to the classrooms, we have to go down a flight of stairs, over, and then back up a flight]. Oh, and we also now have an attendance policy [I’ve updated my FAQs to reflect this recent change].

A couple weeks back, I was dreading my return to school. Honestly, I don’t necessarily feel much better now that we’ve started. I still love medicine and find everything we learn to be fascinating, but these things do not absolve the frustration of a perpetual state of exhaustion and stress. Plus, this year scares the living daylights out of me because Step 1 feels way too close for comfort.

As I went through my Google Reader [thank you dedicated, subscribed readers of this blog!], I noticed that Ali Binazir’s post, “Why you should not go to medical school – a gleefully biased rant” resurfaced in the blogosphere. I decided to revisit it [I read it maybe 4-5 years ago when someone brought it up on Student Doctor Network] briefly, and couldn’t help but nod in agreement at many of his sentiments.

Lately, I’ve been feeling extraordinarily young and naive. Although I am those things, it’s hard to come to terms with the thought that there’s so much left to learn and experience. Like many, I spent much of my childhood striving for adulthood, but now that I’m in a sort of transitional period, I can’t help but feel more like a child than ever before.

Anyway, reflective writing won’t help me understand the kidney…

Words of wisdom for 1st year medical students

Today’s inane image of the day:

Don’t forget to get some fresh air this year. [Photo from my trip to San Fran]

Lately I’ve been getting numerous requests for advice about starting medical school – instead of re-inventing the wheel, I decided to post links to my personal words of wisdom and those of some of my favorite bloggers. Enjoy!

Advice from my first semester of medical school [from this blog]
Med School Insight [that’s me!] – Learning to study when starting medical school
Medical State of Mind – A Word With First Year
Medical AdmissionsTo the class of 2016: Observations from 2015
WayfaringMDAdvice to Medical Students, First Year Edition

As always, feel free to post specific questions as you start on your first year of medical training! Good luck – [not that you need it…!].

P.S. OUWB M1s – enjoy your first day of classes tomorrow. We’ll be right next door if you need anything. =)

All good things must come to an end

Today’s inane image of the day:

A nighttime view of a street in San Francisco. This was taken from the back of a trolley [one of the highlights of my visit to San Fran – they’re so fun to ride!].

The best part of vacation as a single [as in, unmarried], non-parent? Being able to completely remove yourself from your world – everything falls away when you leave your comfort zone and explore somewhere new. You can temporarily ignore all the things that plague you. You can tell strangers lies about your life. You can breathe, freely.

But, all good things must come to an end.

It’s not that I don’t want to go back to school, but I’d rather not feel stressed out 24/7. Nor do I enjoy feeling relentlessly overwhelmed with the material. Or feeling very lonely while studying [though, Mike has been great about keeping me company].

In so many ways, the pre-clinical years kind of suck.

Participating in the Cardiology internship was a reminder that there’s a point to all of this. There are individuals out there with heart-wrenching stories of courage, hope and determination that I want to hear. Things don’t always work out, but when they do, it means more life. More love. More memories.

One year ago, I was preparing to start a new chapter of my life. This year, we get an extra week of summer to enjoy before starting classes on Monday, August 13. Although the nerd in me is excited to put some new creases into my textbooks and break out a new set of highlighters/pens, another part of me is dreading our return. I am fully aware that in order to be a competent physician, I need to learn the material – but some part of me wonders if there’s a better way to do medical education.

Incoming M1s, please do relish in the excitement of this first week – it’s an exquisite feeling that cannot be replicated. You will learn all about our school and be greeted by an endless number of fresh, smiling faces. You will be interested in joining all of our organizations [come say “hi” to me at the Activities Fair – I’ll be at the AMWA table, of course], receive your laptops and lots of free food. You will bond with your classmates through group and evening activities. At the end of this week, you will be presented with your white coat by your PRISM mentor and have a million photos taken.

Then, you’ll be thrown headfirst into an ocean of material. Like I said, all good things must come to an end.

Hello from the West Coast

Today’s inane image of the day:

Hello from the West Coast! 

Just wanted to drop a line and let you know that my Cardiology internship did not eat me up – I’ve just been enjoying some time in California with my love. Being [mostly] unplugged and completely smitten with Mike for the last 5-ish days has been delightful. I feel light and happy, but a bit apprehensive to start a new semester in less than 2 weeks [August 13, to be exact]. Alas, there’s no point in worrying over the future when we’re living in the present.

I’ll be back in Michigan [and back to reality] in less than 24 hours. But until then… I’ll be enjoying my last few hours with Mike.