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.
Today (Thursday 2/13), we had the fourth snow day of the year. Prior to this news, it was to be a pretty intense day from 9am to 9pm. Damng. (I just made a new word by accident. Damn + Dang = Damng?!)
But first, a small flashback to Wednesday 2/5/2014!
Dinner @ Nha Trang Palace — Who do you think is Photoshopped, me or Richard?!
Vietnamese food & cake!
Karaoke @ 100 Fun (KTV | BAR | LOUNGE)
Alright, and now to address the title of this post, let me establish a clearer timeline:
24 year old Asian male complains of alternating insomnia and hypersomnia associated with a “nocturnal” sleeping schedule and “strange dreams” x 2 days.
Why, in this day and age, is this still a thing? This is unacceptable.
A bunch of errors happened idiopathically, which ended up freezing my account.
I depend on my Gmail account for so many things. Now I don’t know when I’ll regain access.
Update: ~20 minutes later, it’s back up. But chat is still weird, with “history off.” And apparently I wasn’t alone.
I was also told Google’s stock went down 2.5% during that time.
In life, there is a balance. Between…
- good and evil
- love and hate
- work and play
- studying and filming
You’ll notice that I put the “better” things first and the “worse” things second. You may not agree with my categorizations. But work and studying are good, are they not?
And filming. I’ve been filming so much, and it’s been really fun and a lot of work. However, it’s exactly what I told myself NOT to do as I was directing the video this time last year. But there’s no question about it: I’m excited for the final product.
For each of the following pictures, I implore you to decide: studying or filming? Trick question.