Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The best laid plans...(aka - that's life)

So my plan for the next few weeks seemed relatively simple.
Purge the house.
The purpose of purging the house is also simple...need to get rid of all this excess clutter in our lives before things get crazy and we do not get a chance to do so.
Also, I want a chest freezer in my garage. Why? Well, I will need access to simple ready to make meals and frankly my side by side does not hold enough to do anything of the sort.
So Monday:
I was waiting for a dumpster and waiting for the water softener guy to come. Needless to say, I did not get much done.
And then Tuesday:
I got a call in the morning about Scarlett who was at girl scout camp. She was running a fever and I went and picked her up as well as took her to the pediatrician to rule out strep. Needless to say I did not get much done yesterday either.
And here we are today:
Scarlett and Declan are both home today with whatever bug they have and I have a feeling there is not much getting done today either.....


Such is life.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The beginning

So I have often toyed with starting a blog and documenting this amazing journey but I am often left wondering where to start.
As good of a place to start is the I got here. So pull up a chair, grab a bowl of popcorn and settle in for a heck of a story.

The journey really started in high school. I struggled in Advanced Biology and my guidance counselor did not think it was a wise idea for me to take general chemistry my sophomore year like the remainder of my classmates. However, still needing more science credits to graduate, I elected to take a genetics course as that was the only portion of biology I found I had a love for and understood. Towards the end of the semester, we discussed careers in genetics. It was then that I heard about what I thought was my career to be...genetic counselor. It seemed like a perfect combination...the genetics I loved and the chance to be with people (and I am nothing if not a people person). So I finished high school with this idea brewing in my head of what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be as well as what I thought a career would be like.
I did not go away to college immediately, as I had struggled with high school, instead I opted to go to community college and take classes there to start. I was surprised to find that college suited me much better than high school. I attended some of the college fair nights and asked the representatives in attendance what I would have to do to begin a career as a genetic counselor. I was surprised and dismayed when no one appeared to know what I was talking about and could not tell me how to get from point A to point B. I began to give up on being able to follow my dream and started to consider other career options.
My second love has always been writing. Somehow I figured I would combine writing with sports and I ended up At Southern Illinois University in Carbondale to pursue a major ion radio-television. It was a perfect storm of things that happened which lead to my ultimate failure. There were a lot of personal things that happened in my life, including my grandmother being diagnosed with lung cancer and receiving death threats at school. However, there were also other factors, the school did not follow their policy for intervening with failing students. But none of that matters because I was not pursuing what I really in my heart thought I wanted to do.
I began looking into becoming a genetic counselor again and using the web to figure out how to get from point A to point B. It was at this time that I figured out I would need to get degree in Biology and that it was a Masters degree I was looking at pursuing. After going back to community college once again and wondering where I would end up I finally found a home at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. My wonderful advisor here believed in me when I did not believe in myself, had faith in me when I lacked it and had complete confidence in me that I could accomplish anything I could set my mind to. While I was here, I took part in a shadowing experience when I was pregnant with my son in the summer of 2003 with a genetic counselor to meet the requirements of applying to the programs. I had this wonderful picture in my mind of what this profession would be like, this thing I had worked and wanted for so long.....and then I saw it in person and I was shocked. What I saw in person was not even close to what I had envisioned in my mind....I knew that the path I was on was not the one I was suppose to be on. At the end of the summer the wonderful group I was with met with me briefly to see if there was anything they could do to aid my application process, how I enjoyed my experience, etc. I told them that I tremendously enjoyed the experience (which I did) but that it was not quite the career I had envisioned. When they asked me what I wanted and I told them, that is when they dropped the "d" word on me. "Doctor". And that is also when I did my best impression of a 2 yr old and threw the temper tantrum of all temper tantrums and refusing to believe that I would be a doctor....I could not be a doctor I could not ask my family to sacrifice *that*. There just had to be another way and I was determined to find it. So I looked...I looked under every rock, turned over every stone, explored every possible other option and found myself lacking. everything required me to sacrifice something I wanted, everything asked me to change what I wanted...and I began to realize maybe just maybe I would be a doctor. So my final year at Parkside I became the thing I had worked so hard to avoid...the thing I had dreaded not even a year prior....I became a premed!! And of course I had t o do all the lovely premed take the MCAT. Yeah, I recommend studying longer than 4 months for that beast :) I could not apply until the summer after my senior year however and my life was about to get uprooted.
We got transferred to New I applied to east coast schools. I quickly discovered they had very little love for a nontraditional student with some questionable marks on her record and a less than stellar MCAT. Just as I began talking to admissions reps out there, we had made the decision we wanted to come back to the Midwest if we one was happy on the east coast. The schools there placed the idea of a Master's program in my my one and only shot at getting in to med school. So I began exploring programs on the east coast as well as back in the midwest and had my life changing surgery (my gastric bypass on tax day - April 15 2005). shortly after, we found out we would indeed have the chance to move back to Illinois and I applied to Loyola and Rosalind Franklin.
I never heard back from Loyola but was wait listed at Franklin. Then I got the call, two days before orientation was scheduled to begin, that I was in. I was thrilled and excited and happy. Here we went. Then life throws another curve ball at me....I was pregnant with my youngest daughter. It was an exceedingly risky pregnancy as I was still in the part of my weight loss journey where I was losing a lot of weight. I also began to have gallbladder issues. During one midterm week I became exceedingly ill, to the point of dehydration and some early contractions and had to be hospitalized and missed my biochem midterm making my final worth an extraordinarily large percentage of my grade. I was focused on trying to survive and get ready to add to our family, and ended up missing the gpa cutoff to continue by one question. The one question I had the right answer to but changed.....proof positive you should always trust your instincts and never change your answer! I also felt the confidence I finally found slipping away....I was floundering again, I was underwater again.
I looked for advice and was told I was done. I had my chance and I had blown it. I would be forever blacklisted...I would never get into med school...I would never be able to pursue my dreams.
I talked with an admission rep from the local state med school and he told me there was a chance, if I did good on my MCAT, got in my app early and got my grad gpa up to a 3.0. So I spent a year taking classes at NIU as a grad student at large and brought my gpa up as well as got my confidence back.
I took a year off, went to the local community college, got my first responder certification and applied one last time..I swore it was the last. I got the email from Midwestern offering to transfer my application to the Biomedical sciences program and I did. And I was placed on the wait list...again. But I would get off....again...this time about a week prior to orientation.
This is where I found myself...this is where I have thrived. I have approached everything differently I have been a different student and person and family member...I have had to be.
And I applied to CCOM...I knew Midwestern was where I wanted to be. I was placed on the alternate list for admissions...again. And somehow, someway, they found me deserving and I was called on June 30th...a full month and a few odd days before orientation.
Through all of this I have worked with doctors in the ER, I have shadowed, I have gained an understanding that this is truly what I am meant to do.
People talk about a calling, people talk about destiny, people talk about the thing that you know you were meant to do........well my thing, my destiny, my path begins in a few weeks.
Will it be challenging??
Heck yes.
Will it be manageable?
I know so....I think we as a family can handle anything.
Will it bring me to tears?
I am sure there will be tears...happy and sad and frustrated and angry and mad.
But they will be worth it...the dream is worth destiny is worth it.

In the words of Robert Frost:
"two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference."

And of course the ever present Grateful Dead:
"What a long, strange trip it has been."