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And it begins

My first day of med school is in the books. It was pretty easy. I had a small group session where we have a fictional patient and gradually are given little snippets of the case and attempt to diagnose and treat the patient. With each bite of information the group gets a better idea of what happened, what might be wrong, and what we still want or need to know about the patient.

Then a syllabus lecture for my clinical/professional skills course, an introductory anatomy lecture that was identical to one I had this summer, an hour on how to use library resources for health science research (basically I played on the internet because I did a lot of that in my MPH), a meeting on lecture recording, and that’s it. I got a “job” with the notetaking service at school. Basically, 2 students are responsible for starting the recording software and uploading the recordings of all our lectures. We have to go to every lecture (which I was planning on doing anyway, there’s no way I’m disciplined enough to watch them on my own and I can’t watch them in double speed). And we get paid a minimal amount. Definitely nothing to make a living off of, but it makes for good latte money.

And I’ve wasted a lot of tonight. I do have some assignments and stuff to do by next week, but today was all review and I don’t have a test for 2 1/2 weeks. Why rush things?

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Med school starts tomorrow. I am excited and terrified. Med school isn’t easy and there are so many changes happening. I don’t deal well with change and have been having a lot of anxiety this week. I have already broken down and cried twice. I really need to get it under control because life isn’t going to get any easier.

Some of it is that things are different now than they were 2 weeks ago and still different than they will be next week. M moved here and has been spending most of his time at my house. I love him and it’s great to see him, but it stresses me out sometimes. Right now he’s practically living with me and I wasn’t prepared for that. He has spent all but 2 nights at my house and most of his free time during the days as well.

My schedule is changed; I can’t eat what I want or when I want; I haven’t been able to run. And because of all this I am totally freaking out. I’m naturally a very anxious person and if I don’t have medication I need to run to keep it in check. I don’t have medications and so running is the only way to manage it. Not running tests me enough, but add on all the other changes and I’m struggling.

But either way school comes tomorrow and I have to be ready to hit the ground running.

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Some days I get a sort of itch to write out my thoughts. And not just any thought dumping will do. I want to write on real paper, with a nice pen that writes smoothly with just a bit of grip on the paper. Today is one of those days. And unfortunately I am working at the hospital and I can’t just pull out my journal and write my deepest darkest secrets. So instead I am typing some of my thoughts as a weak stand-in for that paper and pen feel I crave so much.

A few weeks ago I had a wonderful deep talk with M. We talked about our relationship, moving forward with it and times when we had misinterpreted the others words and actions. It was exactly what I needed at that point in time. And for the first time I realized his intentions during all the times he nags me about food and exercise and all the other topics I get defensive about. When he begans such litanies I immediately assume he is judging me, thinking I am stupid, and I respond with defensiveness and anger. Which sparks his anger, which fuels mine, and the whole conversation goes up in flames. What came out in the most recent conversation was that he is concerned about it. That he doesn’t ask about my eating solely to berate me, he asks about my eating because he cares and is genuinely worried. While that may seem obvious to him and anyone else, it was an entirely new perspective for me. I was floored. I honestly couldn’t imagine, much less believe, that anyone cared that much about me. And further discussion brought out his fears of raising children in a family where wife/Mom disappears to treatment every year. All this brought about the strongest motivation I’ve ever had for recovery.

That’s not to say, though, that I immediately called my therapist and vowed to never indulge in another eating disorder behavior. I bargained with myself, thinking that I could just keep a little, or not get too thin and keep some of the behaviors that didn’t disrupt life too much. But I am an epic failure at controlling my disorder. My eating is erratic and the purging, well, definitely not controlled. So this past week, I finally broke down and emailed my therapist. I told her that I was still ambivalent about gaining more weight, but I can’t live with the purging and secrets anymore. Tuesday came and went. No response. Wednesday, Thursday, the same. By Friday I was convinced that she never wanted to see me again and while a part of me was sad, another part of me rejoiced that I would not have to face my fears. But this morning, a new email showed up in my inbox. It’s not a no-holds-barred, please come back, response. Of course tone is difficult to determine in email, but it seems rather reserved to me. A suggestion of an initial consultation where would would discuss my readiness to change and determine how to proceed.

I am terrified.

Will she force me to begin gaining the last few pounds immediately? Will she let me keep running (the one thing that I believe has helped me gain this much back on my own)? Will she say “I told you so?”

So many questions. None of which can be answered until I go.

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Wasting Time

How much time can a person waste? I am capable of wasing a lot of time, however I very quickly run out of ways to waste time while looking busy. I’ve been practicing that skill all day today. I know that I could definitely go to my supervisor and she could have several hours of work for me in just a couple minutes, but I don’t feel like it. For most of the time I’ve been here I have been a model employee. When I didn’t have work to do I went straight to my supervisor asked for work and helped out with a myriad of different projects. And I just don’t want to do it anymore.

Burnout? Probably.

I was watching a video on QuantifiedSelf.com today about productivity and the speaker had measured his efficiency over a 4-week experiment to be ~85%. His first thought was that he should be aiming for 100% efficiency. But on further investigation he revised that. Studies have been done extensively on telemarketers (apparently the most tracked profession?) and it turns out that the highest sustainable level of productivity is 80-85%. Going over that point results in increased staff turnover (read: burnout). Looking back on his data he also noticed that days when he worked more tended to be followed by days where he unconsiously worked less to balance out to that 85% average. When I think about it, I really made an effor to give 100% of myself in the hours I was at work and it seems to have backfired because here I am today watching QuantifiedSelf videos, writing blogposts, and checking facebook.

But……I also got the most exciting news today!

My boyfriend was accepted from the waitlist to the medical school I will be attending in August! I am so excited. More excited than I ever thought I could be for another person. Definitely as excited as I was for my own acceptance, if not more so.

Sometimes, when I haven’t seen M– in a while I find myself feeling, shall I say, apathetic? about our relationship. I am a person that doesn’t do well with phone conversations, texts, ect. I really need to see and spend time with a person. (I think this also correlates with my level of depression) And when I do spend time with him more frequently and more regularly (and when my depression lightens) those feelings come back so much stronger. But even in the depths of my apathy there are moments that tell me that that isn’t my true feeling for him. One day we had a wicked fight and I was so hurt by what he said to me, but the one thing that spoke the loudest was that fact that even though he was the one that caused that pain, he was also the first person I thought to turn to for solace. And then today: when I am so extremely overjoyed, more so for his acceptance than for the fact that we will likely be able to live in the same town again. Before having a seriously relationship I often struggled to understand how you could be so honestly and deeply happy for another person. Or perhaps it’s just that I’m getting older and more mature overall.

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I’ve posted before about my love of minimalism. I love the clean lines, the environmental impact (or lack thereof), and the freedom that the lifestyle signifies. I’ve made small steps–cutting back new clothes, learning to be content with what I have. But, I’ve never made any significant steps toward a truly minimal lifestyle. I have wanted to, but one thing stops me:


I am afraid of two things: failing and being judged. (I’m also afraid of being judged because I failed, is that a third fear or just the first two combined?)

If I were to make a first step toward minimalism it would be to join The Compact. (see also Wikipedia) Essentially, participating in the compact is agreeing to not buy anything new for one year. There are some exceptions such as food, medications, underwear, etc.

Part of my is dying to do the compact. Part of me just comes up with all the reasons I can’t do it starting May 1. Those reasons include:

All the stuff I may need for medical school: a laptop (new would be easiest, but refurbished would probably be just as good), medical equipment such as a stethoscope (can you find this stuff used?)

What happens if my phone breaks? (again, apple refurbished iphones)

I’m picky about my shoes and pretty sure I can’t find exactly what I want in thrift stores around here (ebay probably has them though)

So although I have all these excuses I recognize that they are just excuses and I could work around all of them. Honestly, if it wasn’t somewhat challenging to do the compact and have to work through those challenges where would the fun be in that? And wouldn’t everyone be buying used/refurbished?

I wish I had the gumption to commit to this. Without knowing the response from my friends, colleagues, acquaintances. (Although it would be wonderful if they were supportive)


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I am extremely distractible. My brain has 10 different topics running through it at all times and I can never seem to just pay attention to one.

1. eBooks. I like them. Do they have the wonderful feel that comes with holding a paper book in my hand? No. But they definitely have their advantages. They are easily portable. I have 20 different books on my iPad and it is no heavier than the day I bought it. Not possible with real books. I like that I can borrow kindle books from the library and “highlight” them, or photocopy them without a copy machine. Try that with a paper book. But I do have my concerns about ebooks. First, the local economy. If I had unlimited resource I would buy all my books from local new or used bookstores. Unfortunately, I don’t and my book reading is limited to cheap kindle books or library books. But I feel a little guilty every time I hand off $5 to Amazon for another kindle book. And along the same vein. Once I’m done with a kindle book its life path is pretty much done as well. There is a sort of magic to having a real book, reading it, passing it on to friends, rereading it, and then sending it on its way via a used book sale or donation to a library. But ebooks can’t have that life. Sure, you can lend kindle books to friends, but you can only lend each book a maximum of 2 times. And there’s no way to resell used ebooks. I wish I could resell my ebook to someone else or donate it to a library. Wouldn’t that be neat? I don’t understand why it can’t be done either. They’ve figured out way for me to rent books from the library and it disappear from my device when my time is up. Why can’t my own purchase permanently disappear from my device and be managed by the library?

2. Splenda. I use a lot of it. Not massive amounts, but more than the average person probably.

3. Distractible? I sat down with my computer to get a head start on my homework for Monday (anxiety disorders across the lifespan). I went to open my (e)textbook on the Amazon cloud reader, but it wasn’t available on the cloud reader. (Another thing I don’t understand about ebooks) My ipad is charging. There is more than enough charge for me to do my assignment, but blogging was more attractive. Then I started looking at recipes and then I made a few changes in my own personal cookbook and then I pulled up an article on anxiety disorder across the lifespan and then I started this blogpost and then I had to look up how to spell distractible and then I actually started writing this post. That all happened in about 10 minutes.

4. The s key on my netbook sticks and often I type a long paragraph only to look at it and realize 2/3 of the s’s are missing. Frustrating. However, I am required to buy a new laptop for medical school so I suppose that is a frustration I will only have for another month or so. (Also, this paragraph about s’s included a lot of s’s)

5. I’ve been struggling with some more depression lately. It always seems to get worse around this time. I don’t know if it’s just that I’m fed up with cold weather or stressed with school and not close enough to the end of the semester or what. But it’s frustrating and it makes life hard. I’m also not on any medication (haven’t been since October!) and it’s at the point where I’ve considered going back to see someone but I’m just too stubborn to give in.

6. My little brother continues to amaze me. And he’s living with me again this summer. I’m overly excited already!

7. I’m going to Denver after finals to visit a good friend. I’m overly excited for that too!

8. I only have 5 week (15 days) left at Student Health and approximately 36 days left at the hospital.

9. I love to cook and bake. It’s no fun to cook something for myself and then eat it for 10 meals straight. I would love to host weekly dinner parties for a few friends just so I had an excuse to try new recipes and not eat leftovers forever. However, groceries get expensive and both my friends and I have busy schedules. I have always dreamed of finding a few people to do a cooking co-op with. Perhaps now is the time for me to figure out how it would work and find people who want to join me.

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Day by Day

I’m pushing through work day by day. Counting down the days. Even as I count down the days though I wonder sometimes if in the thick of medical school I will wish to have these days back. Will I dream of spending 8 solid hours meeting with students because I was able to go home and forget about it all? No homework, no prep for the next day. (Well, I sort of have homework for the one class I’m in, but it’s pretty low stress.

Regardless, I only have 6 weeks left at student health. Which sounds like forever until I remember that working 3 days/week there I only have 18 days left. And today all but one of my students cancelled (I may or may not be writing this at work). So really only 17 days. I can do anything for 17 days. Right?

On the medical school front:

I was accepted to the summer Intro to Medical Education program. It’s a program designed for students who may have a more difficult time transitioning into medical school–non-science majors, those returning to school after being out for a while, people with MCAT scores and GPAs below the average for the accepted class. On the surface it seems a little strange. A program designed for people who might not do well in medical school, why even admit them in the first place? Which I agree with. But on the other hand, most medical schools make a huge fuss about having a diverse class with different majors and experiences blah blah blah. Those diverse people will probably make excellent doctors, but might struggle with the first two years of medical school and its focus on the hard sciences and memorization. Do these people not deserve a chance to become doctors? I think it’s a great concept to not just say they value diversity but to put some actions behind those words and help those diverse students succeed.

So I will be starting medical school work in mid-June! I’m definitely grateful to have a slightly easier transition in a class of 20 people. As much as I want medical school I am terrified that I will fail at it.


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