Welcoming 2017

Looking back over the past year, I thought I’d start out with my resolutions for 2016. How well, or how poorly, did I do? Where do we go from here?

Here’s an excerpt from last year’s New Year’s post:

Last week, I found this idea: a “7 x 2016”, a prompt for making wishes become goals instead of ‘traditional’ resolutions. I really liked that idea, so here goes mine, with a couple additions:

Learn how to.….. speak in medical Spanish. Back in high school and even college, I was pretty good in speaking Spanish with native speakers. However, it’s true that what you don’t use, you lose. I’ve bought a guide and have already conquered the first chapter. Here’s hoping for better communication with some of my future patients. This one has been a success, in some ways. One of the perks of being a medical student is that sometimes we are offered discounts on this… like Rosetta Stone. Our class got a deal on the Spanish set, and I jumped at the chance to use a program to increase my skills. I’m still not done with the program or with the Medical Spanish text I bought, but every little step is a victory so I’m calling it a win.

Start……. My Year of Kindness. One thing I’ve been noticing lately is a genuine lack of kindness in our community. I’ve got a few ideas on what to target for each month, and I’m really hoping this new venture is a success. More on that soon. This was also a success, and one that I am very proud of. In January of last year I pioneered a project christened My New Kentucky Home that served the refugee and new immigrant populations of my city, and it was a smashing success. What a way to kick off a year of Kindness!

Stop…… Doubting myself. I do it all the time. It’s a hard habit to break, but I realize what a detriment it is to my psyche and my performance as a student, wife, and mom. There is no room for it anymore in this new year. I have gotten better at this. It is a very slow process, but I’m gaining more optimism by the day. It’s so easy to give up on some things because they seem so daunting. Slowing changing that inner voice has helped my life in a big way.

Travel to.….. This one is my favorite, I think. While I feel like I am overdue for a visit to somewhere outside the USA. It’s been almost 5 years since we went to the Caribbean. However, I think that adventure might still be awhile off. This year, we’re planning on a post-third year pre-Step 2 studying family vacation to Washington, DC and Virginia Beach–three new states for me and the Ladybug’s first trip to a beach. Much slower-paced than we’re used to, but that’s ok! Making memories with my family is a priority this year. We made a ton of memories on that trip to DC and Virginia Beach! The little one had a blast too, so I think another beach vacation is in the cards for 2017.

Find…. Two half-marathons to run this year. With rotations, it’s not like I can just pick which ones to do this far ahead of time, so I’m wondering if I should skip the local half-marathon in April (during my OB/GYN rotation… just watch my week of nights in L&D be the same time as the race) and plan for one in summer and another in the fall. Any suggestions for fun ones to run? As it turned out, the local half marathon WAS during my two weeks of Labor and Delivery, when I was working intense hours at an intense pace. So, this goal was a flop. I failed. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t gain something along the way. I was much likely to be found at the gym this year, even if I didn’t get to run in those races that I hoped for. I no longer hate the gym. I no longer feel that it is a chore to go, but instead I actually look forward to going. Baby steps! My most consistent part of the year was probably during Step 2 studying, since I would get in a run before sitting down to study as part of my daily routine.

Try…… New restaurants in our area. Since there is a great probability that we just may not be living here after The Match, I’ve insisted that instead of always going to the same places (which I love, honestly), that we try some new places that are unique to the Louisville area. We’ve asked friends of ours to go with us to a new restaurant once a month. I’m really excited for this new Double-Date Night! This was also a major fail. Between my schedule, the Handsome’s long hours at work, and conflicting schedules with friends, this one did not get off the ground. However, we still have high hopes for 2017 and adding more friends to the mix.

Be more……. Girly. Since being in med school, I quit dressing nice for class/school in general unless it was absolutely necessary. Then once I became a mom, I put myself last on the list of people to care for. I love dresses but don’t think they look right on me. Since losing so much weight, the brand-new clothes I bought for rotations in July already don’t fit me, which is a blessing and a curse. I hope to actually acquire some style this year, and maybe even keep my nails painted and try new lipstick or something. So this one is a win for me too. This has been the first year in a long time where I actually took care of myself. Taking pride in my appearance wasn’t on the radar before because I was simply trying to survive, and spending time on myself didn’t feel like it had good return on investment. However, now I am feeling better about myself (it’s all part of changing that inner dialog!).

And then two I added to make my own “9 x 2016”:

Less….. Screen time/wasted time on my phone. I wonder how much efficient I would be if I transferred all of my phone time to work time. Not that it’s bad to focus on something outside of medicine for awhile, but I find that I scroll through all the social media apps when I’m bored and spend much more time on them then I intend. There was good and bad to this one. I was much better about staying off of Social Media during my dedicated study time for Step 2 CK, but outside of that, I STILL pay far too much attention to my phone.

More…… Memories/Playtime with my kiddo and hubby. The Ladybug loves for momma to come home and do nothing but play until it’s her bedtime… which sometimes eats up a large amount of my study time, and sometimes makes me worry that I’m not a good medical student. However, I don’t think this is time wasted (such as when I’m on my phone). I always, always, always make sure that I tell her that I am happy to see her and that I love her as soon as I pick her up each day. I want to soak up all of this sweet toddler time as I can. This one was definitely a win. 4th year has aided in my ability to make more special moments with my family, since I’ve had much more ‘free time’ this year than in the previous three years. Every opportunity I get to pick up the little one early from daycare to take a surprise visit to the park, I take. It has been amazing and so sweet.

So what does that leave for 2017? 2016 was my best year yet for sticking to my goals throughout the year. Previously, my ‘resolutions’ were usually broken by the first few weeks of the new year. This year’s successes are making me much more optimistic for 2017 and beyond. 2017 has the potential to be the best year yet with so many new adventures on the horizon: my brother is getting married in the spring, I graduate in May, we will be purchasing our first home before the start of residency, and I will finally get my MD and start training to become a pediatrician. Many new things were introduced into my life this year, which were unexpected and totally outside of my 9×2016 list. I have started meditating using the Calm app (which I love!), increasing my yoga practice, and becoming minimalist. These were things I never saw coming but I am so glad I found them/they found me and my family, and I fully intend to keep them throughout 2017.

My 9×2017:

Learn:… Spanish. This is just a continuance, and still something that is very important to me. It has already helped me form greater bonds with my patients and their families just by saying the phrases that I do know, and acknowledging that I still have more to learn but I am TRYING.

Start: Racing. I made good strides of going to the gym more frequently and PR’ing my times, but I want to bite the bullet and actually race this year. I’ve already signed up for a local series of races where I can build up my distance.

Stop: Feeling guilty for not knowing everything. So much of medical school is realizing just how much I STILL DO NOT KNOW even when I am killing myself with studying. It is OK that I do not know everything. There is an opportunity to learn each day, and I plan on fully taking advantage of that and asking more questions… all of which will make me a better physician.

Travel to: We have several plans for travel this year, with the first adventure being next week. I could go on and on about this one, but for now I will just say there will be hiking and sunshine and a few new states/possibly countries.

Find: The right program, the right home, the right mentors. Some of these are time-dependent, but there will be a lot of work to do come Match Day (3/17).

Try: New restaurants (a continuance of our goal for last year) along with new foods! As part of interview season this year, we get a lot of dinners out with residents in all of these new cities and I’ve made it a secondary goal to try meals I would ordinarily never try. From butternut squash ravioli to my first taste of Indian food (which I LOVED!), it’s been a good idea to branch out and try new cuisines/flavors.

Be more: Of an advocate. One of the things I love most is projects, especially those that help people. I do not have much experience on the political side of things, but as I start residency it is increasingly important to me that I learn how to fight for my patients, their families, and their needs. Learning this skill is one of the things I am most looking forward to in residency, in my new role. How exactly do I plan to do that? First of all, I’ve been interviewing at programs that excel in advocacy. There are other opportunities for training through local and away electives. I’ve also been looking for great mentors. No matter where I end up Matching, I will have a solid foundation to help me with that endeavor.

Less: Screen time. This one is a hard one to break (I mean, I’m blogging right now, so….), but I realize that especially with screen time, less is more.

More: Meditation, exercise, relaxation, reflection, minimalism. All of these things, to me, go together hand-in-hand. What I haven’t been doing much of lately is reflecting and writing about how these things have helped change our lives for the better.

I am looking forward to a 2017 full of adventures and memories. What are your goals for the new year? What big adventures are on your heart and mind? Share with me! Let’s encourage each other to make 2017 the best year yet!

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The Nightmares

Since we returned home from our vacation, I’ve been having nightmares. Not every night, but most nights. They reflect my current fears– failing Step 2, not getting any interviews, not Matching…

I’m not sure what to do about them. I thought that once I started filling out my ERAS application for residency that I’d gain some confidence looking back over all I have accomplished in the past 3 years. Instead, I wonder if there is anything about me that will stand out enough to land my first job as a physician (-in-training).

This week is the big week: my ERAS application will be officially submitted and many programs will start downloading applications. I may even get some interviews to schedule this week. My Step 2 scores should also come back this week. I’m excited and terrified at the same time. I seriously think I have looked over every single pediatrics program in the country. My list has been whittled down to the places where I think that I (and my family) will be happy, with lots of things for all three of us to do and enjoy. I had a meeting with my home program’s residency director, and she helped me to go through the list to make sure it was realistic. She said I had a good group of programs and she thinks I will do well–which helped my confidence a bit and since then, no new nightmares! She also told me that she loved my personal statement, which was unexpected but also boosted my confidence a bit.

Here’s to having a good week, a great start to the application and Match process, and finding the right place for my family and I as I transition to being an actual doctor next year.

Overheard

Today, on the campus shuttle:

“I don’t understand the difference between moderate and severe heart failure. If the heart is failing, it’s like a machine and it just fails, right? Oh, so you have it? Do you still have hope? Don’t worry, they’ll beat it out of you. It might take a few years, but they’ll beat it out of you. Then you’ll be like me, going home, sitting on the couch every single night, and having a beer. Yeah, they’ll beat it out of you.”

I was speechless. Is this how the medical profession is viewed from most patients’ point of view?! In class we’ve started organ systems for this block, and have had cardiac and pulmonary path/pharm. We’ve learned a lot about heart failure, its physical exam steps, treatments, and the like, in addition to taking on a lot of new topics in our standardized patients like how to take a sexual health history, delivering bad news, domestic violence counseling, assessing suicidality, dealing with difficult patients, and other complex communication skills. I have really enjoyed this labs so far this year–the more difficult, the better, since third year is rapidly approaching.

I really wanted to help this person on the shuttle. We don’t get to see the day-to-day lives of our patients. We can learn all we can about congestive heart failure, but we can still miss the person behind the diagnosis. This is why humanism in medicine is so important to me. What would I have done if this person was my patient and showed up in my exam room? This person is clearly not happy with their care, or level of communication with their physician.

This gives me a lot to think about… especially now as I go back to studying cardiac pharm.

Fortunate

It’s hard to imagine that I’ve been on summer break for almost a full week already. In that amount of time, I’ve had a baby shower for our little Ladybug, finished a book (at David’s suggestion to read a “non-school” book, I chose…. Genetic Rounds by Dr. Robert Marion. And of course I am now researching Peds/Med Genetics combined residencies. I really need to reevaluate my use of free time.), and started to work on some of my own projects. Oh! And sleep! Oh, glorious sleep! It’s been so nice to not have to rush off early every morning for a change. I finally feel rested, or at least the most rested I’ve felt since last summer.

These past few weeks have been less than fun. As I get closer to my due date, my limitations have made themselves more clear. I was really hoping that I would be able to prove–at least to myself–that “pregnancy brain” was a myth… not so, for me. Being able to concentrate on what I’m studying has gotten progressively harder, and my recall is not as sharp as it used to be. Battling this while preparing for finals has been stressful. All in all, though, I passed all my finals, passed all of my classes, and I feel like I accomplished a lot this year. Could I have done better if I hadn’t been pregnant? I’m pretty much certain of it. Did I still do well while juggling that added stress? Even with the fatigue and sickness, yes. I even went above and beyond some goals I set for myself, so that makes me feel pretty good about where I stand at the end of M1.

If I ever forget just how fortunate I have been, and am, I need to read this following article. If you’re a premed who gained an acceptance this cycle, congratulations to you! My best advice is to not squander this opportunity. There are so many people who would love to be in your (or my) shoes. If you’re a premed who did not gain an acceptance this cycle, it in no way, shape or form means that you are unintelligent or unworthy, not driven enough or not passionate enough; there are simply just not enough spots for everyone who is qualified that would make a terrific doctor.

http://m.startribune.com/?id=259674871

3am

It is 3:30 in the morning, and I cannot sleep.

At around 1:30, someone in a rusted out, old pickup truck outside our apartment decided it would be a good idea to blast his radio and shine his headlights into our bedroom. I must have been in the middle of a REM cycle, as I immediately awoke without a trace of sleepiness. And I’ve been awake ever since. Nothing seems to be working. With as cold as it’s been and the recent snow we’ve had, I cannot wait to give up apartment living. I want my own space, a garage, and no unwelcome visitors at 1 in the morning.

To preoccupy myself, I caught up on the emails I’d missed during my brief stint asleep.(One part I had quickly forgotten over break was the incessant emails we get when classes are in session. It’s an ungodly amount of emails to begin with, and then throw in the needless ones that demonstrate medical students’ inability to “Reply” instead of “Reply All”.) One of these emails is about an event that is occurring later today.

Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure of having a conversation with a local physician whom I greatly admire about what my plans are for my career. It is so easy to forget the big picture when there is so much information to understand and retain in classes, on top of techniques to perfect for the clinical skills exams that are quickly approaching. It was a nice reprieve to remember why I’m doing this in the first place, and has given me a bit of a refreshing enthusiasm for my projects outside of the classroom.

Later today, there is a lunch session for the Global Health Interest Group that I’m excited about; the session is titled “Helping Babies Breathe”, and it’s an interactive, hands-on event. In this same email, Dr. H listed a blog to read if we were interested in neonatal mortality, a blog written by none other than Dr. V, an acquaintance of mine from IU who runs a clinic and research programs in Kenya. I’ve been following Dr. V’s blog for almost three years now, and I love it. (Can I just have her job??) In reading it this morning in my state of dreadfully conscious wakefulness, I am reminded once again why I love medicine. There is a neverending amount of good that can come from it, doing almost anything. Which made me wonder, where exactly does my job end? When will I be “done” with my job, when will I feel as though I’ve accomplished my objectives? Will I ever feel that way? Or will I turn out to be a workaholic, working on my projects and creating new ones until the day I die? Will there ever be enough satisfaction in a job well done, or at least in a job completed enough, to feel that I’ve reached my limit? These are the weird things I wonder at 3am.

It’s been a pretty big week. We started two new courses yesterday (technically, on Tuesday, but with an actual SNOW DAY, classes were kinda-sorta-not-really postponed until yesterday. I am thankful (so far… I’ll probably eat my words later) that we’ve started both Biochem (Genetics & Molecular Medicine, GMM…aka, Biochem) and Physiology, and I’m feeling optimistic about them because they coincide with the way that I think. Every so often, it pays to be a certified biochemist! Also, I generally love spring semesters anyway… sure it’s winter and cold now, but every day it’s getting closer to spring, warmth, green grass and fresh flowers… and my last “free” summer ever. It’s going to be a good semester. Several side projects of mine are finally coming to fruition, so I’m excited to see what lies ahead.

Now that the clock is telling me that I need to be up and moving in a matter of two hours, maybe I can finally get some rest before starting another long day. Living the dream, I tell you!

Another One Bites the Dust

Three weeks down (already!) and we are DONE with Neuro!

This was the reprieve I’ve been wanting. New year, new start in new classes.

This was just not my favorite class, and I think the arrangement of the schedule was one of the reasons why I was a bit disappointed in it. We spent a whole self-study week on just the anatomy of the brain, and I think this is where I got a bit complacent with the class; we definitely didn’t need that long just to finish Sidman’s Neuroanatomy. But that also coincided with my first full-blown week of morning sickness (which lasted all day every day), so I was grateful to be able to stay home and away from people.

This week has been rough. The night before the final, I couldn’t sleep. Then I forgot my badge on the way to campus so I had to go back to get it. On campus, I got a migraine. I thought the exam and the end of the day would never come. I was so happy to be done with that final!

Biochem and Physio definitely interest me more, so I am actually excited to get started with those next week. I’m also excited (because I am a total nerd) to start going to lectures full time again, now that I am finally starting to feel like myself again. There’s also a lot of things coming up this semester that I’m excited for. I just applied for the Global Health Distinction Track at school, and I have submitted a few pieces for publication. It is so nice to not be sick every day anymore, I’m finally getting things done!

What I’ve Learned (So Far) About Navigating MS1

Now that I’ve had some time to recuperate, I’m in a bit of a reflective mood. (That, and I cannot sleep tonight.) First semester was rough at times, but it wasn’t that bad overall. As the saying goes, I’m 1/8th of an MD already! Here’s just a few things I’ve learned so far:

1) Volume

One of my biggest questions before starting school was about the volume of material. Everyone likes to throw out the “it’s like drinking from a firehose” analogy, but what does that even mean? So what was undergrad, a drip? A trickle? A water fountain? When I would ask someone what the volume looked like, visually, all I got was blank stares. What I meant was, please put it in terms I can understand. I felt that if I had a visual of what exactly this “firehose” was, I could at least be mentally prepared.

So this is how I would explain it anyone who asked me that question: In college, sure, I would study. I’d review. I’d do the homework. But I only really studied when it came down to finals. The all-day, leave-me-alone, I’ll-see-you-after-finals, do-nothing-else-but-study type of studying so I could be prepared for finals. For me, med school is that type of studying every single day. Printed notes for two weeks’ worth of material more than filled a 2.5 inch binder. It is so easy to get bogged down or to get behind. Because test questions are not as simple as they were in undergrad, which was basically a regurgitation of facts. It’s a new way of thinking that not only requires understanding what the notes say, but being able to apply it in a given situation. I feel for the first time that this is what I’ve been looking for in an education since I started high school: challenge me. It’s incredibly rewarding, but a total time sink.

School started out seeming like it was going to be impossible to stay afloat, but after a few weeks you do, somehow, get used to the volume and processing it. If this endeavor were impossible, we wouldn’t have physicians… so if we have as many physicians as we do, it can’t be as daunting as it seems in the beginning.

2) Time

I still don’t feel like I have my routine down to an art yet. How I study has completely changed since I started getting sick every day. I started the school year by reading the notes before lecture, attending lecture, and reviewing material during lunch or at home at night. Effective studying, but I was burning out quickly. At the time, I wasn’t taking any time out for myself during the week. While it is easy to fall behind or get bogged down, it is equally important to work in some down time. There are days when I come home and thought I just don’t want to do this anymore! (“Do this” = studying the same thing again.)

3) Sleep

I have yet to compromise my sleeping habits. I don’t really see the point in making myself miserable. There comes a time at night where I mentally shut down, and I know that nothing I’m reading or reviewing is sinking in. At that point, continuing is only wasting time. I’m not 21 anymore, and I’m not a gunner. Sleep is a precious commodity.

4) Books, Notes, and Lecture Slides, Oh My!

We have at our disposal so many different resources, it’s a bit ridiculous. There is no way that having a dozen resources for every class is efficient. My classmates are excellent about making review sheets, powerpoints, and other study aids that are fantastic… but they only exacerbate the problem, so I have to carefully pick & choose which ones are worth my time.

For instance, Gross Anatomy. The books that are generally required are Netter’s Atlas, Grant’s Dissector, Moore’s Clinically Oriented Anatomy, BRS (Board Review Series) Gross Anatomy… the list goes on (and on and on). Then there’s the Visual Body 3D program, a plethora of apps, Netter’s/Gray’s/Kaplan flash cards, etc. And let’s not forget the lecture notes, recorded lectures, and countless hours of lab time (with 24/7 access to the cadaver lab). Keep in mind that this is only one of the classes we’re taking, and the others are similar in resources required/recommended. It’s a bit ridiculous. Of course I want to be successful, so I’m going to want to be efficient. There is no way that I can thoroughly use each and every one of these resources without wasting a ton of time because I’m trying to do too much.

My suggestions, at least for Anatomy:
Netter’s: This is the holy grail of anatomy texts, but I don’t really like it all that much. Dr. Frank Netter was very gifted with his renditions of the human body, and they’re helpful when you’re first learning the names/layers/functions of structures, but that’s about it. Arteries aren’t bright red, veins aren’t blue in comparison (well… some were, but not most), the lymphatic system is not green, nerves are not yellow in a real body. In a real body, it can be hard to distinguish between a nerve and an artery. On our cadaver, muscles in the back were bright red, where in the abdomen and lower extremity they were more like a pinkish color, where in the face they were white. Netter’s also doesn’t do the best job in really showing the relationships between structures, such as what muscles cross other muscles, and where vessels weave in and around them. As the semester progressed, I got more and more frustrated with Netter’s and my flashcards, so I eventually quit relying on them.

Moore’s: Meh. I didn’t find this book helpful at all, minus several of the “blue boxes” with clinically-relevant information. Didn’t waste much time on it.

Visual Body 3D: Downloaded, did not use. Didn’t seem to be worth my time.

Grant’s Dissector: This book was okay. Some of the diagrams were extremely helpful for filling in gaps left by Netter’s. Overall though, I didn’t use it much after the first two weeks of dissection because our instructors usually told us the way they wanted us to proceed that deviated so much from Grant’s that it was a waste of time to read it beforehand.

A book that no one mentioned that wasn’t even required or recommended, but suggested to me by a friend who went to med school a few years back, was Rohen’s Color Atlas of Anatomy. This book saved my grade in the lab. It’s no secret that dissection was my least favorite part of the first semester; I made a great effort to spend as little time in the lab as possible because dissecting a body bothered me so much. It helped if I went into lab considering it as a job: all I had to do was finish my structures and then I could go home. Task, time, done. If I went into the lab with that robotic workaholic attitude, I could manage the urge to retch. (It did help that my dissection team had a sense of humor and we had things to talk about to pass the time.)

Lab can be frustrating because structures are hard to find, or can be destroyed, or one perfect example can be destroyed by the next day’s lab and then you have nothing left to study. Rohen’s is not a traditional textbook, but rather a large collection of color photographs of cadaveric dissections in expert examples. I would highly recommend this book to any incoming student, it made my gross anatomy life so much easier.

4) Fun

There is still plenty of time for fun in medical school. In fact, I can’t study in the unit labs because we have too much fun in there. It’s also pretty easy to get involved with a group (or two or ten) on campus. I’ve had a blast so far working with the kids in the oncology ward, helping them to SMILE. Shadowing and being a part of a research group has been a lot of fun too, and I’ve met some pretty cool people. But if that sounds like too much school-disguised-as-fun nonsense, there’s also group trips some clubs take–like the Wilderness Medicine Club–that have taken trips skiing and whitewater rafting. (Personally, I’d like to see more outings planned that significant others can also attend.)

5) The Importance of Being Friendly and Polite

Sometimes, you’ve just got to be in the right place at the right time. Not always easy to do, of course, but my momma always told me that “Someone is always watching,” which is absolutely true. I just so happened to be in the right place at the right time when I met a Program Director who shared his career advice for me. Out of the blue, I had an hour conversation with this person I’d never met before, and I really felt like I learned a lot from his advice. I ran into him a few weeks later (he’d even remembered me), and he told me about his disappointment with a few other MS1s he’d also tried to help. It always, always pays to be friendly and polite, especially in the medical field where networking can go a long way.

6) Being Married in School

I’ve hosted a few interviewees over the semester and given tours, and the question I am most commonly asked is how I handle balancing schoolwork with being married. The first semester wasn’t that bad. With David also being a student and working, he had plenty to keep him busy while I was studying. We had originally hoped to keep Friday nights as Date Nights, but with our busy schedules, that didn’t work so well. We’re hoping that with the second semester (and him “just” working instead of also tacking on school) we’ll be able to stick to it. I also tried to get all my studying done through the week so we had our weekends free. This didn’t always work, and if I had a test on Monday my weekend was booked solid for studying. But I did learn that if you prioritize your schedule, it is possible to make time for things that are important to you, be it a relationship, a hobby, or something else.

7) The Smell of Anatomy Lab

Gross Anatomy pretty much ruled my first semester. It was arguably the most challenging and required the most time. As an incoming student, I’d done a lot of research on how to avoid the smell of the lab, since that’s what all of the medical students I’d talked to had mentioned to me. There’s a ton of tricks for how to avoid the smell: put Vick’s Vapor Rub under your nose, always change clothes before lab (everything, including shoes, socks and hair ties), keeping perfume in your locker, double-gloving, washing your hair with swimmer’s shampoo… and the list goes on. At first, I did all of the above. It was a real hassle, but as the semester went on I started slacking. I quit using Vicks, and I wasn’t concerned too much about the socks and hair ties part anymore. I did throw out one set of scrubs after the second exam and brought in a new set. I can’t say that I ever really got used to the smell, but you learn to just work through it. The worst part was when I’d be driving home after lab and I could still taste the formaldehyde. That part was pretty gross. No one ever told me that they could smell it on me after lab, though, so in that respect I had an easier time of it than some of the upperclassmen I’d talked to before school began. Overall though, I’m just thankful that my school completed the entire course in one semester instead of dragging it out for the whole year.

I am so thankful that medical school is going well so far. It turns out that the words my mentor gave me long ago still ring true: “You CAN do everything… Just not all at once.” I have no doubt that this will continue to be true, especially now that we’re expecting to add to our family.

And again, if I can do all of this with being nauseated every single day, and wanting to die when I got the stomach flu… it can’t be that bad.