I’m on a plane, and I have this feeling of squealing… I can’t quite explain it. In the night, I just know that I sit, firmly between 2 individuals, cramping all my muscles, especially my carpal tunnel. My butt feels hot in the same spot I bought online a long time ago… Jetblue. Yet where is this blue hue promised in my window view?
All I see is black. The sky is lacking the light for my eyes to experience tracking. What am I to do in this tight space, in the face of 2 sleepers who won’t budge, no matter how much I nudge? I’m not one to hold a grudge, at least, not against a stranger. But my bladder might be in danger of a splatter. I wonder if Shabil is experiencing the same squabble of deepening weakening of his urinary sphincter. Maybe this is merely imaginary in character.
Yes, perhaps none of this is real. What do I really feel? Stunned? Sickly? Is this the matrix? Is this all just a collection of theatrics? Are my affections and connections towards others just reflection and introspection? Exhaustion, fatigue… is this a product of paroxysmal misfortune or simply poor physique?
Could I have bronchial congestion? Do I even have true possession of my lungs? What does breathing mean among a society filled with trees of photosynthesis and crimes of injustice? Is online piracy a crime? If yes, then why is police brutality often benign in legislation? Where is the regulation? What a design of insanity! But then, what is design?
How does one define design? Can man truly design anything? Is everything not a product of the divine? What can man actually create that is not already made by faith? Is there a higher power at play? To whom should I pray to avoid a future of gloom? Is this even necessary?
Is aspirin needed when living a sedentary lifestyle? Meanwhile, others are out there running marathons, humming along, being legendary. Is life not ultimately a legend? We are all destined to a life rife with precipitation, not limitation. So grab a poncho. YOLO.
This is the inspiration for this… Yes, I added an extra stanza.
Who am I?
Was med school the right choice for me?
Am I not meant for surgery?
Should I be thinking ’bout that now
Or does my schedule not allow?
What is life?
For 2 years I have hit the books
Now, on the wards, I get weird looks
It differs much from what I’ve done
Oh, how I miss prep for Step 1!
I can’t believe it’s gonna end
Should I feel joy or discontent?
I’ve had 12 weeks to doubt myself
It’s almost time to take the shelf!
But I’m ill!
How can I ever face my tasks at hand?
This timing was for sure unplanned!
Still, I must forge towards the subway
I promised that I would not stray
It’s never failed to give me hope
It helped fill up my temporal lobes!
Em Ess Three
One week more!
Feeling delirious 2 Tuesdays ago…
Labor Day weekend. 9 weeks into my clinical rotations. Hiep’s 31st birthday. Happy birthday Hiep!
The last time I sat down to write, my third year had barely started. I was still adjusting to my new life with its busy schedule. I was still afraid of the unknown future. Afraid of the newfound responsibility I would soon uphold. Thoughts were racing through my mind endlessly, resulting in a prolonged physiological stress response.
As of today, I have finished 2 weeks of Anesthesia, 2 weeks of ENT, 4 weeks of General Surgery, and 1 week of Cardiothoracic Surgery (with 3 weeks left until the Surgery shelf exam).
There is a stark difference between reading about something and living it–about knowing about an experience or person versus actually knowing the experience or person.
For the past 2 years (and more), I had been reading about medicine, steadfastly looking forward to becoming a physician in Field A. I was so dead set on Field A that I blinded myself to all the other possible fields out there.
Step 1 has come and gone, and it has been almost 2 and a half weeks. It feels like an eternity ago. Scores come in 3 days, and what I thought would be the longest month of my life turned out to be quite short. I thought it would feel long because I predicted it would be filled with disturbing dreams in which I would receive a low Step 1 score. After all, dreams of my MCAT haunted me night after night 4 years ago.
Instead, all of my anxiety shifted toward my inevitable responsibilities as a third year student of medicine. I began reading my “Success on the Wards” book that I had purchased the summer before MS1, and while it helped ease some of my anxiety by informing me what third year was all about, it also served as a trigger for anxiety, kind of like how Metronidazole both treats C. Diff pseudomembranous colitis but can also cause it.
I was certainly able to enjoy my week off before the Dawn of the Planet of MS3, which included seeing a few old friends going through the same transition to third year at UCLA.
But in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but fearfully count down the days until my encroaching return to reality.
For all medical students, it seems like the transition from the pre-clinical to the clinical years is quite a shock for everyone. After all, we spend two years learning things from books and unlearning how to talk to people.
Additionally, we just studied our THIGHS off for the most important exam in our lives, with only 1-2 weeks off (or as little as one weekend for some) before being catapulted into a completely new medical culture in which we, as neonatal chicks forced to fly for the first time from our mother birds’ nests, are expected not to tumble down like an anvil from 500 feet above and explode into bits of hemorrhagic fetal limbs onto an age-old earthen pavement of fiery criticism and knives of lemongrass in maze-like corridors of unfamiliar hospitals.
I almost forgot that I had a blog. This reduction in memory certainly wasn’t due to a lesion in the mamillary bodies, as I seriously doubt I have a Thiamine deficiency on account of having vowed not to drink alcohol for the remainder of 2014. It is, however, quite indicative of the cyclical nature of my selective attention to this blog–some months, I’ll update a few times a week. Others, I’ll barely make it at all within the month. I have always thought that I had some sort of sleep cycle disorder involving the suprachiasmatic nucleus. I probably suffer from some sort of delayed sleep phase syndrome. Or so I thought.
During the past few weeks up until last week, I struggled to keep to a normal sleep pattern. Despite having no distractions of required class, I still slept late some days and woke up late some days, while other days I would make the egregious attempt to sleep early only to wake up late again. Starting last week, I decided to begin doing something I should have done all along–take advantage of my sister’s high school sleep-wake cycle. For the most part, I have been successfully going to sleep when she does (11pm/12am) and waking up in time to have breakfast and take her to school at 6:50am. Well actually, in the beginning, I found that it was difficult to fall asleep right at midnight and often went days upon days with only 3-4 hours of sleep. I feel like I’ve gotten better lately, and when I’m tired, I’ll either pop some caffeine or take a nap in the afternoon.
For the last 2 days, I feel that I have been experiencing some rebound hypersomnia as a result of my increased caffeine usage. Despite having 6+ hours of sleep, I still managed to succumb to a midday nap that exceeded 1 hour (yesterday’s nap was nearly 4 hours). I partially attribute this to the fact that I did not drink as much coffee 2 days ago, but yesterday I did have a skinny vanilla latte in the morning and still went to sleep. Perhaps there has been some adenosine receptor downregulation, if that is indeed the pharmacological target of caffeine. I think caffeine inhibits some sort of PDE that affects adenosine or something. I’m not sure how that would work, since inhibiting PDE5 would increase cGMP levels, and other PDEs have to do with cAMP.
16 days ago, we had our last class of the pre-clinical years. Over the next 2 weeks, we had 3 exams: a Neurology clinical exam 13 days ago, a clinical shelf exam 7 days ago, and the Neurology/Psychopathology block final 5 days ago (Friday).
Immediately after the last exam, we all went into our usual post-exam discussion of test questions. We commented on each other’s sleep quality the night before. We exclaimed that we were glad that it was over. But something was different this time. This was the last time it would happen in our MS2 year. MS2 was over.
But was MS2 really over, with the impending Step 1 exam coming up in 2 months? Were we allowed to celebrate? In a way, it felt like this:
The truth was that we were exhausted. We all needed a recharge. It was Friday, and I had drawn up a game plan for the weekend 2 days prior. It was to be A Weekend to End All Weekends. At least, that’s what my Facebook event was titled.
For this Spring Break, I decided to stay in New York to catch up on some studying as well as editing photos and videos.
Ironically, this decision will prove more costly than going home, where everything is FREE!
This pic is 1 month and 4 days old. (2/19/2014)
My life is very cyclical. This blog is indicative of that. I go through cycles of blogging consistently, and somewhere along the line, I lose that consistency. Lately, I’ve not been in a blogging mood, and the act of not blogging consistently perpetuates that in a positive feedback loop.
I made this flyer.
Therefore, you should all come to this event. Props to Samira for putting the event together.
“And in the end I think I’ve learned the final lesson from my travels in time; and I’ve even gone one step further than my father did: The truth is I now don’t travel back at all, not even for the day, I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.”
I’ve been sick for a few days now. I guess that’s what happens when you alternate between days of being awake way too long and days of sleeping way too long for an entire week or more. During this time, I’d lost all sense of time and some of my grasp on reality. I wasn’t productive, and all I really did was sleep. Last night, my level of indifference and self-acquired loathing reached a peak, and I thus decided to watch the movie About Time on my iPhone, eating snacks in bed (including but not limited to shrimp chips, Snickers almond bar, and pumpkin seeds from Halloween) despite my exponentially piling list of unattended responsibilities.
The lesson I grasped from the movie was nothing profoundly different from lessons I have blogged about before. But it was presented in a different way, and this time it seemed to click a little better for me. Although in real life, we can’t really travel in time, we can be like the character in the film and pretend that every day is a day we have traveled back to re-live with more enjoyment and attention.
If it takes a metaphor of fantasy to get me to be productive and enjoy each day for what it is, no matter how busy or stressful the circumstances, then I’ll take it.