Saturday, December 4, 2010

Quarter 1 is done...phew

For those of you following me, I apologize for being so long without any entries but it appears the hurricane got the better of me. I am going to be better by trying to update at least once a week.

So the first quarter is over and I have only one thing to say about it....I am very glad it is over!!

So, since the hurricane, the tsunami or whatever it is you want to call it has hit there are some things that have changed and some things that have stayed the lessons from the first quarter.

1. You can not fully prepare for the craziness that is medical school.
I have spent 2 years here at Midwestern, I thought I had gotten into a good groove and was somewhat prepared well for the transition to medical school.
I have only one thing to say about this....I was wrong!
I do not think anything can prepare you for the craziness that is medical school. Of course, I am trying to keep some semblance of a normal life. I still try to take time to have dinner with my family, we still do our family lunch together on the weekend on Saturdays or Sundays...I still help the kiddos with their homework...I still do all the things that a mommy does. Of course, our diet does not always consist of homemade and takeout from some local restaurants are commonplace. Talk about mommy guilt...ugh. But I digress.
So, the craziness. I think the most craziness is imparted by anatomy. Oh boy anatomy. Now I am one of those people who took anatomy in undergrad, which was fairly exhaustive and rigorous. Yeah...all that knowledge lasted me about a week if that. Plus, I had never dissected before, my previous anatomy lab had a prosected cadaver (more on this topic later). You can not get behind in we have weekly quizzes in OMM lab and in Biochem so you need to keep up in those classes as everything else. Sometimes I feel like there are not enough hours in the day...but I am managing.

2. You can not panic and you must be willing to change your study strategy.
Back to anatomy lab. So I admit I was one of the ones in the first day of class who when they said that half the class would fail the first anatomy practical thought that it would ever be me, there was no way that would happen.
Well, you can guess what happened......I failed. Not just barely but I am talking failed majorly. I think I could not have studied and done about the same...ugh.
So did I panic? Absolutely.
Did I cry? You bet.
Did I freak out? 1001% YES!!!
Did I dwell on it and make no changes to what I was doing? No way.
So what then did I do?
I immediately went to talk to two of the anatomy professors and told them how I had prepared for the practical and asked how I should study instead because it was painfully obvious that what I had done was not sufficient to prepare for the practical exam portion. Both of them gave me some excellent suggestions. I took all the suggestions they gave me, some of which overlapped, and I applied them to the second unit exam.
What was the end result of these changes?? Much to my surprise, I did better on the second unit practical than I did on the written exam. Yay me :)
The moral of the have to recognize that what you are doing may not work and be willing to change it.

3. Coffee and crock pots are your friends.
So I will admit my crock pot has not gotten as much use as I would have liked in the 1st quarter but I think this quarter I am going to ramp up the use of the crock pot. I just have to find some more good recipes for the crock pot that will be easy to make in the morning and be ready in the afternoon when I come home from school.
I was a semi-regular coffee drinker before med school. I would drink it on occasions but I would not drink it on a regular basis. Coffee is now my friend. I drink a cup in the morning on my way to school and a cup or two during the day.

4. Sleep...what sleep? Who needs sleep??
Okay, I get sleep. I do, really I do.
I just do not get as much sleep as I would like.
I am a 8-9 hour of sleep per night kind of gal.
That in med school is out the window. I get about 6-7 hours a night.
Thus the coffee.
And I get slightly more sleep on the weekends...but not by much. The munchkins are still on school schedule.

5. Living close to school is a must.
So I live 30 miles or so away, which amounts to about an 1 hr commute one way to school, not counting in any traffic from construction or weather or anything else that happens here in Chicago.
So we came up with a solution.
As of the middle of September, I have a dorm room on campus. It is used occasionally, I split my time with the main focus being before tests, will be on bad weather days/nights coming up here in the winter to avoid the extra commute time, and I have also been using it to crash in Friday night so that I can go into the anatomy lab to do cadaver work on Saturday mornings.
I am one of the few in my class who lives more than about a 20 minute drive from school and that is honestly too long. So if you have the option, please learn from my mistake and live close to school.

6. OMM is still awesome :)
I think OMM is one of those things you either love or tolerate. I happen to fall in the love category. I have used it on my family members to help them and they know it works, I know it works...and it is something I am kind of good at. Plus, it still feels great to get out of a lecture hall for a few hours a week and be active and do feel useful rather than simply being lectured at.

7. You will find friends....and they will be your saving grace.
I was a bit worried at the beginning of the year. It seemed like I was so much older than my classmates, that I was the only one who had kids, that I had this long commute. What on earth would I have in common with them?
But in the sea of classmates, I have found the ones who I like, who I can talk to, who I can commiserate with and who I am honored to call my friend.
They were all there for me when I failed my first anatomy practical, they offered ears and support.
They were there for me when my family lost our 13 1/2 year old golden retriever last month. So many offered a kind word or a hug, I was truly honored to know that I was so thought of.

8. You need a support absolutely NEED a support system especially if you are doing this with a family/fiancee/spouse/long term significant other etc.
My parents, my girlfriend and my spouse have been invaluable throughout this process. This is one of those where it truly does take a village.
It is not just you who goes through this process, it is your family. We prepared the best we could by making sure the kids were not involved in many extracurricular activities and letting everyone know I would need some advanced notice for any family gatherings.
And yes it can be tough at times, I have missed some family gatherings. I have not seen my grandmother as much as I would like to, I do not see my parents as much as I would like to. But I make time because family is important to me.
So this leads me to my last point......

9. You make time for what is important to you and you laugh.
You need to keep your sense of will keep you sane. Your family will keep you sane.
Medical school and studying does not take up all your time, you can make time for whatever is important to you.
For me, that is family. I make sure to make time for them. Without them I would not be here, without them I could not be here and without them I will not make it through here.
Bless them for putting up with me during this craziness.