Wednesday, November 6, 2013


October has been a rough month.  Thank you for the words of support regarding my grandma's passing.

I had a lot on my plate in October, and it didn't help that I was struggling to maintain my self-esteem as a student.  I am wondering if maybe I just need more time to adjust to studying again.  I've been out of school for four years, and maybe I am no longer used to memorizing information as quickly because I am out of practice.  I was very depressed because I only barely passed our first exam, and the only reason I did better during the second exam was because my cadaver lab practical exam score boosted up my total test score significantly.  I really liked dissection though.  I thought it was interesting to see all this variation in different bodies, and even though dissection takes out 3-4 hours of my day, once I find something, I will know it forever.  

I think my physical exam workshop instructor picked up on the fact that I was kind of mopey and offered his time to talk about M1 year and to talk about his current M3/M4 students.  I think I'll take him up on that offer, just to gain some perspective from someone who's been through that experience and now works with students.  

Some things I need to work on: improving my life balance.  I'm fixing my sleep schedule now.  I also need to get off my butt and get back to running, buy a gym membership, or do exercise videos at home.  I may just settle for doing Insanity at home until the rain lets up, then try jogging again before it snows.  I want to buy a gym membership but I'm reluctant to enroll because I'm trying to be frugal.  I'm finding it hard to read ahead of class.  If I'm lucky, I finish one set of reading before one of my classes, but I've never pre-read for all of the next day's classes.  

There have been moments when things are good.  One of my classmates realized that we've been very isolated this past month due to our study habits and went out for hot cocoa one night.  We had our lab practical and multiple choice test on the same day, and I didn't feel like cramming last-minute information into my brain (although I probably should have).  Instead, I made pumpkin pancakes (from a box mix, but still good).  It's hard to make pancakes and eggs on a stainless steel skillet without burning it...but I did it.  I forgot to buy maple syrup, but I had fancy honey and it was just as good, maybe even better than maple syrup.  

Also, it's my first time being in the midwest, so I got to experience a real autumn.

Now all the trees are naked and I track leaves indoors every time I come home.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Medical Monday!

Medical school is killing me.

Last weekend was the trifecta of shitastrophe.  I sprained my ankle, did not do very well on my first exam (but I did pass), and quietly dealt with the passing of my grandmother.  Her funeral service is today, and my mother and I agreed that it was best if I did not go.  I was fortunate enough to have seen her in July before I left for school, when she was still alert.  She was 95, lived long enough to see the first great-granddaughter and saw the first person in the family go off to grad school (me).

I knew, before I left, that my grandmother's health was deteriorating.  I had hoped to visit her next weekend, when I went home to visit the significant other, but it didn't work out that way.  I'm just glad that there was family with her, and that she simply "wanted to sleep."

My mom wanted me to focus on school, and I think my grandmother would probably feel the same, so I'm doing just that and staying here instead of flying home for the service.  The measured insanity of classes, anatomy, and constant studying kept me focused.  Not to mention, standing on one leg for three hours to dissect in anatomy, then getting around to all my classes in crutches, left me physically drained every day.  But there are moments when it's quiet and I'm alone in my apartment at night that I start to feel sad.

For the next test, I need to work on knowledge retention.  For a while, I was outlining certain notes because our lectures were all over the place (the setbacks of an integrated curriculum - or whatever it's called).  I guess it's good for people who like to see the "big picture" of things.  For me, it's hard to switch gears so suddenly, from learning about the uber-teeny (osteocytes, proteoglycans, etcetc) to the big (muscles), even if these topics are related.

What I tried to start doing today was to spend time reviewing subject matter from previous weeks...especially the biochem stuff, because I cannot not remember anything from last week.  Now that my ankle is better, I am spending more time in anatomy to go over the musculoskeletal structures.  I think if I can spend at least an hour or two in the lab daily, quizzing myself/being quizzed/quizzing others, I can spend less time on that at home and more time learning the biochem stuff.

I am tired and my brain hurts.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

First Exam

First exam has come and gone.  

It's definitely a problem when you don't recognize terms in the question stem....or when you flag half the questions as "things you'll go back to later."  

The only reassuring thing was that 98% of the people n my room stayed until the final half hour of the exam, which means everyone else was just as clueless as me. Hooraaaay.  

We are now diving into musculoskeletal system.  I'm debating different things I could try to improve my study habits and retention.  Flashcards are definitely a must now.  Quizzing is definitely helpful, but I found that among my group of friends, I can only REALLY study with a handful.  Some people are way too chatty.  Group studies (for me at least) only work if everyone agrees to study in silence or to quiz each other on a pre-determined topic.  

I tried give myself a better idea of "the big picture" of things and to help reorganize things in a way that is more sequential to me.  I've found that it's incredibly time consuming and is only effective if the lecture notes/course guide completely sucks (like when sentences and paragraphs are used to describe nucleotide synthesis pathways instead of diagrams).  

I might continue making outline-diagrams for Anatomy though, because if I draw something, I will definitely remember it. 

Interview season is gearing up for the pre-med hopefuls.  We're going to start seeing a lot of black-suited younglings walking around.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013


So...when I first planned my expenses for moving in, I neglected to take into account things like buying water filters, cleaning supplies, and cooking utensils.  I'm scared to type down my expenses on a spreadsheet.  To be fair, I did splurge on unnecessary items like a coffee table and two lounge chairs for comfort.  I could have waited, but I wanted to make my studio look a little more "home-y." I finally ventured out downtown to find the nearest Marshalls today, and walked away with a colander and two matching mugs that were way cheaper than if I went to Target.

Orientation was long.  I think that my school goes about things in a rather unorganized way.  Documents (like our itinerary for the next 19 weeks) get uploaded but no one ever actually goes over where to find these documents, but we spent over an hour being introduced to aspects of campus that I think are superfluous, like the bookstore. Pretty sure every college bookstore is the same, no matter where it is in the nation.

My fellow students are an interesting bunch...I've come to accept the fact that I am an introvert with a very deadpan sense of humor, which makes it difficult to chat up people in a social setting.  Oddly enough, I'm comfortable networking in a professional setting.  A lot of my classmates fall within the 22-25 age range, but the majority of them are 23/24. They feel young, which is probably odd for a 26 year old to say.  I tend to overhear a lot of conversations that make me think, "Uh....really?"  They come across as inexperienced [to me], and to be honest, I don't think living life for one year out of college creates opportunities to have much life experience.  Perhaps that is due to my metropolitan upbringing, too.  San Francisco/the Bay Area has a lot of diversity and I've been fortunate enough to work with people who have come from various backgrounds, which in turn makes me think and see things differently.

A number of my younger classmates are also engaged, or have a significant other that was able to pick up and follow their med student-partner, which horrifies me.  In the same breath, a lot of people seemed equally horrified when I informed them (after being asked about it) that I was in a long distance relationship.  (Also, a lot of my single classmates are VERY interested in others' relationship status....or maybe nosy in general - more signs that they are immature).  I don't know if I would ever ask someone to follow me to medical school, even if I had been with someone for 2-3 years.  My bf (L) has a pretty successful career and it would be wrong of me to ask him to follow me unless he himself was ready to look for new experiences in life.

I think my line of thought is more common among people who currently live/work in major cities.  San Francisco has a very high concentration of young, single and ambitious professionals who are very career-oriented.  A lot of my friends/acquaintances also put career first before relationships, because now is the best time in our lives to build a career.  My M3 friend only just asked his girlfriend of 4+ years to move in with him.  I guess we just move at a slower pace than others.

In a way, I think a LDR suits L and I best.  Neither of us will get into too many arguments about "always working, never spending enough time with me at home" because we'll both be working.  I'll be studying a lot, and L will probably go back to his routine of putting in 50, 60, sometimes 70 hour work-weeks in addition to a commute that will only get worse as holiday season approaches (he works in marketing).

At any rate, I have a lot of interesting stories about people that I've filed away for a day far into the future....And by interesting, I mean forehead-smacking.

And now back to reading my study guide :(

Monday, August 5, 2013

Medical Monday - Start of Medical School

After a long hiatus, I am back!

The last three months have been very fulfilling

I completed three runs - the 12K Bay to Breakers, the 10K Camp Pendleton Mud Run, and the 26K San Francisco marathon:

The super steep Hayes Street Hills

Bunch of Marines prior to the mud run

San Francisco Marathon starting line!

The sunrise that morning
The half marathon was a good run overall, but I was definitely starting to feel the burn during the uphill climb at the 10-11 mile mark. 

I started a new relationship over the summer, which is now a long-distance relationship. We'll see how that goes.

Annnnnnd since it's Medical Monday, I'm lukewarmly proud to say that I've now moved into my studio apartment to begin my first semester of medical school.


I feel lukewarm about the whole matter, if only because I have underestimated the cost and difficulty of moving into a new place without a car. I'm tired of cleaning, or assembling furniture, of making frequent walking trips to the nearby (thank goodness it's nearby) Target, and scouring the internet to find the best deals on furniture. I still have a lot of things I need to buy - spices, a skillet, cooking utensils and more groceries so I am not eating the same things every day. There are also things I want to buy: rugs, another lamp, and a computer.


The stress and workload of moving into a new place has overridden my excitement of having my own place.

Orientation is this Wednesday. The current second years have organized several welcome week activities for us, so I'm looking forward to that as well. I built my desk, so I'm happy to finally have a table (instead of standing/sitting at my kitchen counter).

More updates to come!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


10 miles!! Coach said it was 9 but Google Maps says otherwise!

Here's my running route:

It sucked. But it's motivating me to increase the intensity or duration of my own workouts. The first 7 miles was easy, which at least tells me that I'm ready for my own 12K in May. The last 3 miles sucked. I was able to keep up for another mile, but in the final two, my legs felt incredibly tight. My running mates were far ahead of me as I struggled to keep my legs moving. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that my car was at the end point.

After the run, I bought The Stick and a new pair of running shorts to help massage my legs and celebrate my milestone. I'm also considering getting a new pair of shoes to rotate in/out of during the week, but good running shoes are expensive!

At any rate, I have been waking up early this week due to mornings being quite warm for San Francisco standards. The sucky part about that is I like to sleep in, but can't because my room gets too warm and stuffy. The great thing is that I now have ample time to eat a wholesome breakfast before hitting the gym or the pool. Let's hope I can maintain this routine.

I signed up for the Camp Pendleton Mud Run in June, which is a 10k obstacle course. Time to work on my upper body strength!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Fit & Healthy Friday (Month 2)

Last month, I got a lot of compliments from fellow link-up bloggers about my routine. Thank you! 
Sooooooooooo this month was a rough one. I didn't do anything Weeks 2 and 3 since I was sick. I'm paying for it now. At least my progress report will be short. I'll also give a breakdown of my assigned homework for my running group. I have to do my homework, otherwise I fall behind on my runs. I am, sadly, the slowest one in my group. 

GOAL 1: Cardio 3x/week
Week One: Pass
Monday - 40 minute run, 40-ish minutes swimming
Wednesday - 45 minute run, 30-ish minutes swimming 
Thursday - 45 minute swimming
Saturday - 6.5 mile run
Week Two: Fail
Phlegm, anyone?
Week Three: Fail
Saturday - 6.5 mile run, with 1 mile up-hill
Week Four: Pass
Monday - 30 minutes of running on REALLY STEEP hills, 30-minute swimming
Tuesday - Speed-work day: 1 mile run interspersed with core exercises
Friday (to be completed) - 40-minute easy jogging
Saturday (to be completed) - Something long and arduous

GOAL 2: Muscle building 2x/week
Week One: Fail
Thursday - Arms/upper body.
Week Two: Fail
Week Three: Fail
Week Four: Pass
Monday - Arms/upper body
Tuesday - Core exercises: 4 sets of 10 for each movement: push ups, one-leg squats, burpees (minus the push up) and dips.
Friday - Core exercises: 5 sets of 20: push ups, planks, dips, squats, burpees

After every workout: Drink a protein shake or find chocolate milk within 30 minutes of each workout.

Week Four was tough because I've lost some of the progress I've made in previous weeks, ESPECIALLY with swimming. 

I'm trying to juggle swimming, running and weight-lifting at the same time and I've found that it's very difficult to accomplish during the week. That might have contributed to my catching a cold. I think I was just worn down from working out too much, then rushing to work without giving myself time to rest. Right now, I'm prioritizing swimming and running. The swimming teaches me how to control my breathing. My 12K is in 3 weeks, which means I still have time to build up my stamina for a run. 

I'm pushing myself to go harder each week, only because I know my limits and know that I used to be able to do these things.
....And because there is a pretty navy blue and white-polka-dot dress that I want to wear on July 4th weekend. 
I already fit the dress, but it'd be nice to have a nice set of legs  to kick everyone's butt to go with the heels. 

No solid goals yet, because I eat what my mom makes me, hehe. I really should cut white rice from my dinner, but I refuse! Give me rice or give me death! 
Junk food is easy to eliminate. I succumb to my cravings for chips and such only after rough days at work. I don't eat out very frequently. I'm eating Kashi Go Lean cereal in the mornings, reducing the sugar in my coffee, and also snacking on healthy things like greek yogurt+fruit or honey, fruit on its own, and almonds throughout the day. 

Here's to hoping May is a smoother month! 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Run + Rain = Dumb

Welp, I've done it again.  Last Saturday's (March 30)  running workshop completely sucked because my GI tract was very, very, very angry at me - making the subsequent 4.5 mile run very difficult.  The night before that, I had one measley rum and coke during a friend's birthday bonanza and I think that my stomach and intestines didn't like it very much.  I think that my GI is still unhappy from the last time I screwed it up, which my doctor thinks is from interview-stress.  So - no more hard liquor for me.

This past Saturday, I was able to complete the 6-mile run just fine, which means I'm just about ready for the 12K run in May.  We averaged at about a 10-minute mile and I'm amazed that I was able to hold to that pace even during our uphill jobs.  Unfortunately, it started drizzling during our run and we were fairly soaked by the time we finished.  It got to the point where I was no longer sure if the moisture on my face was rain or sweat, and there was no point wiping it off because my shirt was wet too.

I went for a swim afterwards too.

And now I have a sore throat.

But it's pretty minor as sore throats go, so I'll be alright.  Swimming has really helped me learn how to control my breathing when I go running.  My friend/swim coach has me swimming in 12m stretches on one breath, and I've noticed that this torture exercise has made me a much more efficient breather when it comes to running as well.

Hopefully my sore throat gets better tomorrow, because tomorrow is speed-training for the run group.  I should avoid yelling at kids and invest in a whistle.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

DO or MD?

I wasn't sure whether I should write about my decision to apply for MD and DO programs.  My concern was that people would misunderstand and that maybe it could come back and bite me later.  But, well, these are the things that I thought about to make a personal decision and I don't intend to slander anyone, so here goes.

I applied for both MD and DO schools.  Initially, I wasn't planning to apply for DO programs, but the majority of my college friends are currently attending DO schools and seem to be doing alright/having fun.  I figured, why the hell doesn't hurt anything but my wallet.  I made most of my college friends at a student-run clinic, so we have fairly similar ideals/experiences with patient care.

During the app process, I was also working at a pain management clinic and met a variety of elderly patients who struggled with chronic pain of the musculoskeletal variety.  Some of them relied on meds, but the majority of patients I worked with eschewed meds in favor of trying other methods like physical therapy, using topical pain relief creams, and participating in exercise workshops that I ran.  It seemed like a lot of people would observe more improvement in their mobility and a decrease in their pain levels if they just tried these three methods (or at least tried them first before using prescription pain meds).  Working with older patients was occasionally frustrating because they would show up to the clinic with a ziploc-bag full of various meds from various doctors.  There wasn't a lot of oversight, and most of the time the patients weren't really sure what most of them were for, beyond the standard maintenance meds for high blood pressure or cholesterol.  I wanted to be that kind of doctor who could maintain the big picture of a patient's well-being.  The DO philosophy matched my ideal, which is always a good thing, so I applied.

As an aside, I think my secondaries were a lot better by the time I go to my DO apps.  I had gotten much better at explaining why a particular school was a good fit for me.  Up until that point, my essays focused a lot on why I liked particular aspects of the school, but I wasn't great at explaining how all these contributed to make a specific school the only place for me.

I really liked two of the DO programs I visited during my interview season.  The faculty were great, I liked the curriculum, and the student body seemed cool.  The schools also had an emphasis on community health, which is something that I was interested in exploring further.  The Deans were down to earth too.  I interviewed and was accepted into my first choice DO school before I interviewed for an MD program.  I was fairly receptive to attending the DO school.

So why, if I was open to the prospect of a DO degree, did I ultimately choose to attend an MD program?

I wanted to be in a city and the program I will be attending is located in a city.  I had reservations about the DO rotations in 3rd and 4th year, as well.  I wanted to be at a major hospital, and the school I will be attending gives me the opportunity to be exposed to patients at a county hospital and large private hospitals.  The DO schools I looked at tended to form affiliations with smaller hospitals and community clinics, which probably more accurately reflects what it's like to be a doctor, but being at a big city hospital seemed more exciting to me.  Growing up as a city girl was probably a big influence.  Some DO schools have you pick a regional campus for your 3rd/4th year rotations.  I had mixed feelings about that.  On one hand, moving always sucks.  In college, I moved from one end of my apartment complex to the middle, and it still sucked.  I would also probably leave my med school friends.  While we can keep in touch, it just won't be the same. On the other hand, going to a new environment is exciting and challenging.

Another thing that I wasn't too excited about is that, among my DO-school friends, a lot of them were planning to take the USMLE and the COMLEX, which are national exams required of MD and DO students, respectively.  My friends plan to take the USMLE in order to apply for MD residencies and I would probably do the same.  It seemed like a pain to take two exams, even if the act of studying for the exam is a relatively small span of life as a med student/doctor.  Supposedly there will be a move to combine the licensing requirements for MD and DO students, but I'm not too well-informed of that and nobody I talked to knew how that would affect students.

There's also the part where I fell in love with the school.  The students and faculty were very enthusiastic and it's easy to get caught up in and feed off that energy.

I still maintain that DO programs are good and legit programs.  I've had a DO as my eye doctor for a while and she's so awesome that I wish she was my PCP instead.  In the end, I just picked the program that was the best fit for me and what I wanted.  I'm thankful that I was fortunate enough to have options, because it's always good to have options.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Last week was spring break for the students, so I spent a few days visiting beautiful Sonoma County to see my old mentor and visit my old non-profit.

My favorite doctors and dentists were busy at work last Tuesday, so I had the chance to drop in, observe a few cases, and deliver the good news. When I was still at this non-profit, I felt like I was always walking among giants - people who were brilliant, well-established in their current careers, and seem to have everything in order in life. The doctors and dentists I worked with came from big-name universities in undergrad and grad - Brown, MIT, Columbia, Yale, etc (one of them might have been a Harvard grad...but I can't remember). I felt so small and insignificant. That feeling probably won't go away, ever. There's always someone better and smarter.

 I stayed with my mentor and her husband, who live in a fairly nice part of town and own a gorgeous house. Their house makes a U shape and the courtyard overlooks a public grassy area with a little creek. It's currently frog-breeding season (apparently), so there are a bunch of little tadpoles swimming around the creek. I woke up every morning (armed with claritin) to see this:

My only regret is that I did not take pictures of the vineyards in the autumn. A lot of the vineyards in Sonoma County are grown in fields of rolling hills or in pockets of nearby mini-mountains that turn different shades of red, orange and yellow in the autumn. 

I visited two local wineries and picked up a bottle of 2011 Magnolia Lane Sauvignon Blanc by Kunde (fruity and refreshing) and received a bottle of 2010 Durrell Vineyard Pinot Noir by Chateau St. Jean as a gift. The bottle was $55 and boy, do I feel guilty. It was really delicious though. My mentor told me to share it with my med school friends, but it's so delicious I don't want to share. Well, we'll see what my friends are like when I get there. I'll share it with a good friend. The server at the Kunde Estate was awesome. He talked a little bit about his own experiences brewing beer, ciders and wine. I learned about the difference between using oak and steel barrels to age wine and about the acidity and alcohol content in white wines.

People always rave about Napa County wines, but I'm pretty happy with Sonoma County vineyards. The customer service and friendliness is much better, in my opinion.

My mentor and her husband are Italian, so they also had me try Fernet-Branca. The taste wasn't as fearsome as they made it out to be - surprisingly smooth with a hint of peppermint - but you could definitely feel the liquor going down.

Part of me wishes I stayed longer, but that's alright. I'm planning to go back in June. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Medical Monday!

Am I still considered a pre-med at this point? It seems pretentious if I change everything in my profile to "med student" when I haven't matriculated yet. But my deposit was confirmed! That means something. I suppose I am still just a med-student-to-be.

Anyway! I am participating in my first Medical Monday blog hop.

This will be an exciting year. Three other friends will be transitioning into graduate school this year and two of them are also going to medical school. Another friend finally obtained a full-time job (a step up from something that was more of as-needed basis) in the video game industry. Another former classmate was also accepted into a medical school.

Bout frickin' time! It seemed like the 1987 babies were having a rough time with post-undergrad-life. It was hard to see people my age, or younger, announce their acceptances when I was still trying to make my plans come together. I had to remember that everyone moves at their own pace and to be honest, now is the right time for me.

All of the grad-school kids will be leaving California. The supply of pre-meds in California is way, way high compared to the demand. Honestly, I'm happy to go somewhere else for a change. I'll probably regret it when I finally realize that I'm spoiled by easy access to fresh fruit and vegetables year-round and the lack of snow in San Francisco. (Note to self: eat everything now).

I spent some time over the past weekend with a group of doctors that I worked with at my previous job. I stayed with my mentor for a few days, in a neighborhood that is home to several retired doctors. People in general were very happy and excited when I told them where I will be spending the next four years. Phrases like, "You'll have the time of your life!" and "You'll have so much fun in medical school - even though you won't realize it until later!" A few of my closer friends jokingly said, "I told you not to go into medicine, but you didn't listennn."

A few of them offered names and contacts of fellow physician-friends who are attendings at my school. Nothing may come of that, but it's still nice that they offered. I'll have to remember to keep in touch with people here, just in case. I long since learned that networking is an important skill to possess and maintain.

I'm lucky to have had supportive mentors and role models like that. They've been a huge help.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fit & Healthy Friday Blog-hop


I decided to participate in a blog link-up. Woo-woooo. I've listed my general goals in March and how well I've been fulfilling each one. My schedule is kind of all over the place. The great thing about listing things like this is that I can then look at what I'm doing and fine-tune my schedule. I'm hoping to have more specific goals for April.

Goal One: Learn how to swim. Improve breast stroke, learn how to tread. Learn freestyle.
Goal Two: Fit in time for running somehow.

Week 1: 

Pass! Ran 12.5 miles, about 2.5 miles/day. Also did 45 minutes of weight-lifting over the span of 4 days. Two days of upper body, 2 days of lower-body. Core workouts combined with upper/lower body workouts. Used 10 and 12 lb weights.

Week 2: 

Pass! Ran 15 miles, about 3 miles/day. Same amount of time spent weight-lifting but increased the range of weights. Used 12, 15, and 17.5lb weights. Had my first swim lesson on Saturday.

Week 3: 
Pass! Swim 4 days each week for 1 hour. If flopping like a fish can be called swimming. Second swim lesson on Saturday. Learned how to tread! Kind of. Also learned freestyle. Attended first day of a friend's running workshop. Ran 4 miles in the sand. Died. 

Week 4: 
Planned to swim four days this week, but I overslept on Thursday and stayed home to take care of personal paperwork. Will have to cut swimming-time down to 3 days this week. Went swimming on Wednesday - working on freestyle, endurance, and breathing (note to self, remember to exhale under water).

Running: Pass. Day two of my running workshop. 4 miles in the park. 3 hill-sprints. Died. 
4-minute circuit: 10 push-ups, 5 frog-jumps, side-step in squat position about 10 meters, 10 crunches, side-step again 10 meters, 5 frog jumps, 10 burpies*.

On Saturday, coach will have us run a timed mile. I'll have a better idea of how I'm doing and can set a more specific goal for pacing after that. 

*Burpies = start from a crouch, jump up as high as possible, come back down for a push-up, start over. 

I think I'll start adding weight-lifting again in April. My arms and shoulders were fairly sore from swimming these last two weeks, but now that soreness is going away, which means I can consider being more rigorous in my workouts. 

If I'm going to be running this much, it would help to lose weight - something I never bothered keeping track of before. I'm going to start writing down what I eat and when so that I can re-evaluate my eating habits. According to my coach, we burned about 550 calories on yesterday's run. I'm not sure how many calories I'm burning during my swimming sessions...Hopefully 200? I'm hoping to continue this routine through May. In June, I'll have to figure out my gym membership situation. Blegh. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Break!

Spring break has begun for the San Francisco school system, which means I get time off too! Woooot.

I kicked off Day 1 with the most intense work out day. A 40-minute, 4 mile run on sand, cool down, home for a few hours, then a two hour swim lesson. I haven't run on sand in a long, long time. A friend/athletic trainer is leading a running workshop to prepare for the San Francisco Marathon in June. It's costing me about $100 for 24 running sessions, which is actually a really good rate. The whole idea of paying-to-run is kind of silly, I'll admit, but I'll be able to improve my time and running form. At the very least, running with other people will motivate me to run faster (I was dead last, yay me!!). When I run alone, I tend to settle into a comfort zone that lets me coast along nicely. I'd like to be able to run faster than a 10-minute mile - which I only do when I try really hard.

In reality, I'm doing alright for someone who spent most of February on a plane, eating airport food and drinking airport cocktails.

A few hours after that, I had my second swimming lesson with another friend. I learned that I don't know how to use a kickboard. I can kick just fine at the wall, but kick while holding onto a kickboard? Nope! Today I worked on my breast stroke form and learned freestyle. Once I learned how to kick, freestyle was pretty easy, and much more efficient as a swimming form than breast stroke. Even the lifeguard said I was doing pretty know, swimming the 11 meters from the wall to the guard bench before I got tired.

Now that I can swim, though, I can work on my form and eventually swim longer distances.

I also learned how to tread. The biggest challenge was learning not to panic if my head sinks underwater.

I'm happy with my progress. My goal last week was to learn how to do all these things in the water before the end of this week, and I did!

Next goal: swim well enough to swim in the pool during lap-swim times. Also tread for 30 seconds without letting my head sink into the water.

I'm taking tomorrow off from any kind of exercise. My legs are killing me. Getting up hurts.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Communication Styles

I used to think that work-related training sessions were a boring waste of time. Sometimes they are a waste. Lately though, at my current job, I find most of the material interesting. Maybe it's because a lot of these took place when I was in the midst of applications and interviews. I was doing a lot of self-reflection during that time, and these training sessions made me rethink how I interact with people.

We recently did a personality-color test/communicator-style test at work. There are four categories:

I belong in the "Just Do It" style of communicating (Brown group, for short). I like to be direct. I like to stay on task and multi-task during meetings. I hate meetings that drag on for too long because people are arguing tiny points or going off on tangents. I don't need to know every little detail about things. I see a goal and will work towards it or have other people work towards it.

Some of my coworkers are the "Let's Work Together" types (Blue group). They like to form personal connections, try to sympathize with others, and present things in terms of their personal feelings towards a subject.

 A few ended up in the "Planner" group (Green). They like to have all the information and to take time to properly review all that info before making decisions.

No one ended up in the "Make Your Own Kind of Music" aka spontaneous category (Red group).

I was wavering between being a Brown or Green. I wish we had conducted this activity prior to my interviews, because someone did ask me how I lead and I didn't really phrase it as well as I would have liked. I said something to the effect of preferring to lead by example and being a leader who sets a goal and relies on the team to plan and facilitate. In retrospect, I am like that now. Back then, I was more of a micro-manager. It took time before I realized that I can still be in control even if I step back and let other people think for themselves.

I also noticed that, as a Brownie, I don't ask my students to do things unless it's a kid who is generally very docile. I tend to command them, and somehow most of them end up obeying. Sometimes I'm surprised that certain kids still sign up for my workshops, especially the more rebellious ones, despite knowing how I work. I'm not sure if they think I'm still a lot of fun in spite of my rules, if they really desperately want to play video games so they behave (occurs rarely, but does happen), or if they just didn't read the workshop sign-up list clearly.

Oh well.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Just Keep Swimming

I never actually learned how to swim or passed the high school swim test in America because of my SLAP tear. I was one of the few with a legitimate reason not to take the swim test, hehe.

Learning how to swim is one of my goals in the next month. Actually - learning how to tread is my goal. Technically I can already swim, just very poorly. I don't know why I'm having so much trouble learning how to tread. My multi-limb coordination is actually very terrible.

Paddle, kick and breathe? Okay I can do that....oops...uh oh....sinking!sinking!!Sin-blubblubblub

I have no idea how I managed to wrestle for two years with such terrible coordination.

I'm practicing my breast stroke. It was going well until I started getting tired. Really tired. Good thing rec swim was over. Did not know swimming was that difficult. You'd think running 3 miles on a daily basis and doing a lot of lunges, squats, and other leg work outs would help - NOPE!

I've also realized my nose is useless. My nose can't exhale underwater if my life depended on it. Stupid nose.

Since I'm planning to swim regularly now, I have to cut back on my weight-lifting for the time being to make sure I don't wear out my shoulder too quickly. The arm motions involved in swimming still makes me nervous  because my shoulder was so screwed up for so many years.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Interview Days - Downtime

I've been lucky in that *most* of the time, I had a pretty fun group of people to hang out with during interviews.

We talked a little bit about snowboarding:
"Oh yeah, I suck at getting off the chair lifts. I just gave up. I would fall just to get it out of the way and then crawl off to the side."

We made jokes:
"If I don't get into medical school, I'll just be a doorman."

I've always been a people-watcher so I also had the chance to get a sense of what people were like when they started opening up. The experience made me realize that I'm pretty spoiled by being in a major city in California.

There was one girl who was very, very eager to take a picture with an individual who is an ethnic minority in the U.S. because she also had a friend whose family is from that part of the world. I thought that was really rude...but that's because I grew up in a place where that kind of behavior, even thought it's not violent or intentionally harmful, is frowned upon. I also took a few humanities courses in college that focused exclusively on race/racism and how they affect communities in various ways, so I'm also more sensitive.

At one interview, there was one group that I traveled with to/from the hotel and campus. We just happened to use the same shuttle service. That group was really fun - we shared a round of drinks and food afterwards and talked about our college life and whatnot.

Interviews are interesting. After my first round, my friend asked, "So what did you think of your potential classmates?" I had never thought of interviews that way. It kind of makes sense to think that way, and it kind of doesn't. The group of 20-25 people I meet are people who are chosen by the university as potential students - we probably share numerous qualities that the university likes while retaining other qualities that are unique to ourselves. My ability to mesh with an interview group might indicate whether or not I would get along with my fellow classmates. If I didn't like anyone in my group, it might be an indication that I may not mesh very well with the class.

Then again, these 20 people do not necessarily represent the matriculating group. I also tried to keep in mind that "beggars can't be choosers."

At any rate, it was nice to have people to unwind with before and after our interviews. There were always a few unlucky individuals who had very aggressive, tough interviewers and they would commiserate while we sympathized. I think it made the day much more bearable.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Accepted - First Choice!!

Received my acceptance letter via e-mail today for my first choice medical school.

I read my e-mail twice before turning around and yelling it to my coworkers. Then texted all my friends. I'm fortunate to have been one of those people to have been offered a choice in schools to attend. I'm trying to be objective and fairly evaluate both schools, but I think my mind has been made up on what I want. I'm lucky to be offered a spot and not a waitlist position. A part of me is waiting for my brain to de-fog and for the words 'we are pleased to offer you a position at this school' to turn into 'sorry next time pal kthxbye.'

I informed the ex to let him know and thanked him for his help through the process. It's a little saddening to know that I wasn't able to share the moment with him like I used to do.

I e-mailed my letter-of-recommendation writers to tell them the good news (and update some of them, because I've been out of touch). One of my letter writers was really happy, because the school was one of his favorites before he ultimately decided to attend Tulane.

I also really, really have to complete my financial aid application now.

Another part of me is really relieved I don't have to apply for another cycle. This process is very expensive.

It's kind of funny because I was having anxiety dreams this morning about getting rejection letters in my e-mail. Last week was around the time that the schools I interviewed at would notify us, so I was pretty mopey all weekend. The gym saved me. I'm glad to know that all my undergrad and post-undergrad work paid off. Eight years is a long time, and I've only reached one milestone in my goal.

Now I get a little bit of respite before I work even harder. I still feel like I should be bouncing off the walls with joy...or celebrating in some fashion. Honestly, I'm just very relieved. And very tired.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


My hope is that if I make a list of things to do here, I'll actually go and get them done and avoid suffering the humiliation of being a bum-who-doesn't-follow-through.

I decided against running in the Tough Mudder race  at this time. I know one group of friends running it in July, but I'll be uninsured this summer and I have enough sports injuries as it is to risk doing an obstacle-course/marathon without insurance. I plan to run half of the San Francisco Marathon though. My friend's brother, who works as a personal trainer and nutrition specialist at a gym, will be leading a training workshop starting next week.

Now that I'm sitting here and thinking about it, I don't know if I can run 12 miles at an average pace of 10 minute per mile. The great thing about this marathon is that there will be a pacing team I can follow for free - I'll need it. The running workshop will be good for me, too. On the bright side, the second-to-last mile is mostly downhill and the final mile is flat. Woohoo!

This past week, I've been pretty good about going to the gym regularly. I'm happy with my progress this week, after a month of being sedentary at home/on planes/eating airport food. I'm able to go three miles on a treadmill at a 10-minute pace, which is up from struggling to hit the 2-mile mark last Sunday. I also spend about 30-45 minutes lifting weights each time, although I admit I slow down considerably after the 30-minute mark.

I split my upper body routine over two days, otherwise I'll be at the gym for over two hours (including waiting for people to finish their stuff). Free weights, except for the rowing exercise, because the proportion of most of the machines don't work for my size. Arms: incline and flat dumbbell (the little weights, not the big bar) bench press, shoulder press, bent over lateral rows, bicep curls, flat dumbbell flies, rowing, and front and lateral raises. I just realized I've been missing a few exercises in my routine because I've been too tired after I finish those. Oops. I also have to be careful with a lot of them, in the interest of not screwing up my shoulder. For legs and core, I do squats, deadlifts and lunges. I need to expand on my core-body workouts though.

I've come to terms with the fact that I'll never be petite and slim like the vast majority of young Asian girls; I'll just be petite and stocky. It used to be a point of insecurity with me, but then I realized that it creates unhealthy perceptions of weight and body image. Hence my current fascination with building muscle. I don't really want to be beefy though...just proportionally fit!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Trouble with Kids

The thing with working with kids is that I probably see this kids much more often than any parent or teacher does in a day at this age. I see all their quirks, their bad habits, their behavioral issues, and hear about all their pre-teen drama because I see them in a space when they are the most relaxed - talking with friends in a classroom. The most frustrating part is when I work with a girl with some type of behavioral/psychological issue that I don't have the training to tackle. Something is really off with one of my students, P, and I don't think the school social worker is equipped to handle her either. I'm not a psych person, but I've worked with kids for so long that I can identify behavior that is a-typical for an age group. It's intuitive now, even if I can't label it with the appropriate terminology.

Most kids outgrow their Disneyland phase by middle school (at least until they go to college in LA, then they buy season passes), but P had an unusual obsession with Disney princesses. At this age, kids either become really serious about what they want to be (my studious kids want to be doctors-AH! SO CUTE!), or aren't thinking about it at all. Until now, I've only ever had five year old girls tell me they want to be Disney princesses.

P also has paranoia issues. In middle school, some kids will walk past an open door and make faces because that's what kids do. No matter how much I try to reassure her, P thinks it's directed at her. Last year, P also became obsessed with one of our program volunteers, a high school kid and former program participant. P freaked out that he knew her name (he probably learned it by listening to one of us talk to her) and then somehow this developed into a crush. But then, P noticed him talking to another female staff member, and thought they were flirting and was "weirded out." P confided that to me, and I thought nothing of it, but then she would bring it up every day for weeks and weeks.

I was starting to get worried, and started documenting everything and telling my supervisor as well. Other children started finding out as well, even though P promised not to tell anyone ("Oh but, I only told M, and he promised not to tell anyone"). The worst thing would be for someone to accuse an innocent coworker of child abuse. The school social worker was informed, who set up meetings with P and a group meeting with P and my colleague. Eventually, P figured out that I reported this to the bosses, and asked me why. I tried to explain in the simplest way possible that she was telling everyone a story that could be misunderstood and could get staff members in trouble.

"Oh but I only told M and he promised not to tell anyone."
"Yeah, but now G came up to me and told me about it, and so did N. Who told them, then?"

Now I've noticed that she remembers the gist of what I say, but has a tendency to twist my words around.

"Last time, you said that Ms. S would be arrested."
"Uh...No. I said the program and all the staff could get in trouble with [our parent organization].

It seems like a benign rewording, except whatever P repeats sounds way worse than what was said to her, and could potentially cause further misunderstandings down the road. Now, I'm worried that she'll eventually learn that this could be used as a tool to manipulate people.

I really think she should be evaluated by a mental health professional. Someone that is trained and licensed to provide the counseling or other course of action that she needs. I know that P's parents were brought into a meeting, but I think they're in denial that P has some real issue and the social worker isn't emphasizing the problem enough. The sad thing is, P is also a low-priority case.

In the beginning, I tried to be sympathetic with P and listen. I wanted to be supportive, but it was driving me crazy. I also don't think that being sympathetic is effective or advisable anymore, because it just encourages her behavior. Sometimes, I shut her down immediately: "P, you are being very rude by talking to me about so-and-so behind their backs. You do this all the time. If you have a problem, talk to them directly. You're talking about my coworkers/students behind their backs and I don't like that. You need to learn to talk to people directly."

I still want to tear my hair out though, some days.

Monday, March 4, 2013

My Life! It's Back!!!

For the most part.

Did I mention flying is exhausting? I can't imagine how people do that for business. Note to self: never go into consulting work that requires travel. Two times in a row, I landed in Chicago's O'Hare airport only to have to run from the end of terminal B to the end of terminal C. I was out of breath, sweating, and in no mood for the boarding attendant's cheesy smile. If I was just on vacation, I wouldn't mind missing a flight, but I wasn't :T

I spent the weekend sleeping 12-13 hours per night. And then wandering around the house in a daze.

But now it's back to reality. I have to fill out my tax return forms and also my financial aid application. I also recently checked my credit report, and while it looks good, apparently I have a bill (which I have no knowledge of ever receiving) that was sent to a collections agency. When I called this supposed agency, it just transfers to a dude's cell phone. For a local district hospital that's not very busy, this is kinda sketchy.

I also have to plan an activity for work.

I'm not ready to switch gears into work mode!!

I'm currently debating if I want to work over the summer at a summer camp. It's low stress and a good chance to save up some more money before school. I absolutely do not want to do research in the summer before medical skewl. It wouldn't hurt to apply, just 'cause.

I'm thinking of training for the Tough Mudder marathon. I have one former acquaintance that has a team and will be running it in July, and one or two more friends who are interested but aren't sure of their commitment. I'd love to join in, but the smart thing to do is to check with my doctor (and possibly my orthopedic surgeon)  to determine whether my shoulder can safely get through obstacles like wall-climbing, monkey-bar-swinging, and swinging Tarzan-style before I pay to register. I will also have to build up my upper-body strength dramatically. And maybe invest in a pull-up bar.

I'd also love to be in shape before med school. I'd like to start a new page in life with a killer body. So then I can screw it up over the next 4 years. hehe.

Friday, March 1, 2013


I am officially done. Now, the waiting game :(
Luckily, I have a life, so I don't sit around refreshing my e-mail and whining in forums like a small minority of people on SDN like to do. I understand, I really do. But...get a life, people. Threads would be twice as informative and half as long if people just quit making whiny posts every day. Watch tv. There's so many shows. Game of Thrones, Homeland, Portlandia, The Walking Dead. SO MANY.

Round 4 went alright. My medical student interviewer was a stony-faced person. Conversation my butt. You lie, admissions office! I loved my faculty interviewer though. He was funny and awesome. I would love to have him as my instructor. Overall, I left with a very lukewarm feeling of the school. Maybe our tour guides were just very deadpan. Or they just had a test. The staff were very welcoming and enthusiastic but the students didn't seem like that at all.

This has nothing to do with my impression of the school, but I was also really put off by one of the students. I'm a fastidious eater, and this was one of those types that gobbles everything and flings utensils and crumbs around (at me, in fact), all while talking with food in mouth, leaving trash around. I walked away from lunch feeling gross.

Round 5 went well. I was debating whether or not to go to my interview, but I'm glad I did. I bumped into my friend who was a second year there, so it was nice to catch up to him for a bit. I wasn't expecting to see him at all, since it was spring break, but he is one of Those. The Smart Ones.

So far, I've enjoyed talking to fellow interviewees on the interview trail. Some people are very funny and fun to talk to. I met a couple weirdos that I'll save for another day.

However, I will say that I get really annoyed when kids fresh out of college declare that they feel "omigosh, like, so old!!" Statements like that stem from a powerful naivety that I honestly think can only come from a life spent living in too much comfort. I wanted to tell these people to shut up and try living the kind of life where you evaluate every penny spent to get the most out of every dollar, as I did. Or working multiple jobs shifts to cover living expenses and rising school tuition, as a lot of my classmates and close friends have done, sacrificing the A's they could have achieved in favor of being able to survive and attend college in the first place. People like that don't admit they feel old. They're too busy to think about it.

People joke all the time about how working at Starbucks, or some other service job, would be so much preferable to medical school or residency. But there are people who do that just to be able to apply for medical school. Or undergraduate school. It's not something to joke about. It's life.


I broke off on a tangent, probably cuz I'm tired.

I got dropped off at the airport right after my interview and celebrated with a nice, tall, cold glass of beer. And chili cheese fries. And frozen yogurt. I tried to nap on the plane but the flight attendants wake me up every time they came around asking about drinks or garbage.

Things I look forward to doing now that I'm done:
-Working out

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Round Three...

I fell in love with school #3. I loved everything about it - from the campus, to the hospitals, to the area, to the qualities in the student body and faculty. I enjoyed being there, and would really enjoy going there. The fit is perfect for me...I only hope that my interviewers think that too and convey that to the Ad-Coms.

So I feel kind of guilty, conflicted, and very much anxious about the letter I received when I came home from my flight. I was accepted into an institution. One that I liked. One that also had a pretty happy student body and committed faculty. One that I was decidedly agreeable on attending, if given the chance...Except now I have my eyes on something else, and I feel guilty in that I'm being greedy. I spend all this time and energy thinking, "I just need to get into one, just anywhere is fine." But that's clearly not the case. I kind of wish I could be ecstatic about this, while still being hopeful about another school. I feel guilty because I'm not jumping for joy and cartwheeling down the hallway.

I'm so weird.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Round two.

You meet some interesting people at interviews. I didn't know this. That we would have opportunities to mingle and talk with people. I've started to wonder whether I would want certain people as my classmate or doctor. People say interesting things that amused or irritated me in certain ways...Usually the ones that irritated me were statements that made me think, "wait....are you joking..? Or is this how you really think?" I'll definitely pocket some of the stories for a better day. You'd think that I would be too focused on my interview to people-watch, but people-watching is easy.

My traveling group was different from my interviewing sub-group. My traveling group was just composed of the four of us who happened to use the same shuttle service, so we were transported as a group. We were dropped off at the airport at the same time, so we decided to have a meal and get a round of drinks to unwind at the airport. Best way to unwind, in my opinion.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Interview Prep

I was thinking maybe I should talk about how I am preparing for interviews 'cuz like, maybe someone wants to know. Or something.

I was also thinking about how I probably have bills due soon, but haven't even glanced at them. Sad face.

It helps to have an idea of what I need to prep for (besides knowing your own app from front to back), so I started with University of Colorado's 100 Medical School Interview Practice Questions. I don't know how frequently these questions come up, but when I first started practicing interviews, I didn't have any scheduled, so this was the only thing I had to work on. I mean, there are obvious ones like "why doctor" that everyone should probably know the answer to, just in case. Once I knew where I would be interviewing, I started looking at SDN's Interview Feedback page to figure out what questions other people received.

I collaborated with a friend who had also been through the interview process, and it helped me a lot to have his input in framing and presenting my responses. His interviews were going on in October/November, so that's kind of when I started doing my interview prep, although I admit I was kind of half-assing it at that point in time. It was good to have someone help me brainstorm, though. I know my app well, and all the things I've done in my prior experiences, but it was good to have someone remind me to tie certain examples back to medicine, so I'm not just rambling about random stories.

I'm currently meeting my friend for about 2-2.5 hours in the days preceding each interview.

I think working in non-profit really helped me in the long run. Not so much for public speaking per se, but in being comfortable talking to strangers about important things without rambling. I mingled with a lot of local legislators, business leaders and hospital-admin types. I hated mingling, but it taught me how to be a proactive listener and pretend to be enthusiastic about being at this event, even if I didn't want to.

I've also elected to write down all my responses for standard questions like "why medicine, tell me about your experiences in x,y,z, why this school, and etc." It works for me because how I write, how I speak and how I think are pretty similar, so I don't think my responses sound too canned. My problem is that I tend to ramble, and present too many details in anecdotes that are not necessary for my key points, so writing things down reminds me to keep moving things along when I talk.

I have one multiple, mini-interview style interview. Kinda nervous about it. My only hope is that, if I get a situation where I have to role-play a scenario with an actor, I don't get fed up and yell "JUST SUCK IT UP!" as I do with my students. To be fair, my students complain about really petty things like "waaaah so-and-so is breathing on me!" (to a kid 2 feet away).

Since I'm talking about interviews, I'll say that I don't claim to be an expert on the process. These steps just help me tackle the process in a way that keeps me sane and reduces the likelihood of me devolving into a panicking mess in an actual interview.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Late Interview Season

I admit it, I lost the motivation to blog for a while.
Just wanted to get my secondaries in (did that).
Then I had to complete my D.O. secondaries (did that too).
The end of last year was just a blur. I have no memory of *anything.*

"Turned down from an interview-invite? When did I apply here???"

I had given up on getting interviews. I was in a really bad zone of negativity and kept away from most people beyond superficial online correspondence with friends via Facebook. And then one interview invite drifted in at the end of December for late February. Then another in January, and now all of a sudden I have 5 scheduled this month.

A really long, long-distance-relationship came to an end at the beginning of the year. At that time, I kept thinking I should be upset about it, and I was to a certain extent, but then I realized that I had already given up on making things work. And then my interview invites started to flow in, and I had other things to worry about, like travel arrangements and preparing for interviews. That's probably one reason why things would have never worked out between us. The fact that I can push aside personal issues to focus on the task at hand without thinking about it too much. Another reason is perhaps that, outside of professional settings, I'm not good at compromising.

I had my first interview this past Monday at a DO school. I left with a great impression of the school and the environment. I left with the sense that I did okay, despite this being my first interview, despite it being a group interview. I was able to think on my feet, not ramble too much, and stick to my points, even if I didn't respond to follow-up questions as smoothly or concisely as I would have wanted. They really grilled me about the DO vs. MD route, even though I wasn't the only one who had not shadowed a DO. It wasn't a scenario I was unprepared for, but some of the wording of their questions threw me off and might have made me second guess myself, so next time I'll have to keep that in mind.

Afterwards, they kept me back to ask me two questions, which was scary. They asked why I decided to retake the MCAT, despite having a good score (Honestly, I never considered the percentile measure..only that I wanted to do better), and presented a scenario. Possibly to gauge my leadership ability in responding to a conflict. It wasn't tough per se. I remembered to pause and think about my answer, but I did leave thinking, "Dammit! I should have said that toooooo."

I also discovered one of my interviewers, the anatomy instructor, had observed an bypass surgery with the same cardiothoracic surgeon that I had observed. I was really excited to talk about that, because it was such an awesome thing to watch, and found out that my interviewer was actually able to scrub in. I'm glad I wasn't the only person to have felt giddy and excited during (and even after) that experience.

I'm happy to have made it this far, whatever happens. Trying not to think about my hemorrhaging wallet too much. Whatever happens, I've booked a 5-day vacation for myself over 4th of July weekend to visit Austin, Texas and it will be an opportunity to celebrate or get over the whole thing.