Sunday, April 29, 2012

Is This Real Life?

   A few days ago, I got my USMLE Step 1 score.  A bunch of my classmates and I got "the email" saying our scores were up while we were at orientation for third year clerkships.  While several of my classmates couldn't hold out any longer, and looked up their scores right then and there, I decided I could hold out a little longer until I got home.  I wanted to look at my score in private, so in case I started crying, no one would see.
   I finally mustered up the courage to look on my walk home (gotta love smart phones).  As I logged into the website, I started to breathe faster and feel my heartbeat.  I took a deep breath, and as I repeated "please please please..." in my head, I clicked the button to see that much anticipated number.
   When I saw it, I was shocked.  I thought to myself, "Wait, is this MY score?!" I double checked the name, double checked the score.  Yep, this is for real!  I started crying tears of happiness and smiling uncontrollably as I walked down my street.  Seriously, if anyone driving by saw me, they probably thought I had escaped from the looney bin down the street!  I called my mom, and told her my score.  She goes, "Wait, is that a good score or bad score?!" Hahaha!
   I set a goal score range for myself, with the intention of motivating myself to work hard.  I didn't actually expect to score in that range - I was really hoping to get about 10 points below my goal range, and I still would have been satisfied with 20 points below my goal range (luckily, OB/Gyn residencies aren't TOO competitive when it comes to Step 1 scores).  I ended up passing and scored in the upper range of my goal range.  I still cannot believe it.  I keep checking and rechecking to make sure I read my score report right.
   I never would have thought I would score as high as I did, so it feels amazing to surprise myself this way.  In fact, I am still super interested in OB/Gyn as a specialty choice, but now I think I would like to find out a little more about Anesthesia.  I had a small interest in it before, but now that it could actually be a possibility, I want to know more about it.  Don't worry, whatever I end up choosing, I'm going to make sure it's something I absolutely love.  I don't want to go into anything just for the lifestyle.  I want to go into a specialty where I "live and breathe" it.

A Little Bit Of Snow Before Full-Blown Spring

   BF took his boards a week after mine, and as soon as he finished, we took off for the hills.  We went to a cozy little B&B in the Sierras that we found on a LivingSocial deal.  It was really relaxing, and since it was one of the last weeks of the snow season, the whole town was deserted.  Lucky for us, we got quite a bit of snow while we were there!  I really enjoyed walking around in the powdery fresh snow, because I haven't spent a lot of time in snowy weather.  
   At the B&B lived the cutest golden retriever named Finnegan.  We wanted to steal him and take him home with us.  I decided that I want a dog, and probably a golden retriever.  I won't have time for a dog this upcoming year, as an MS3 slaving away in the hospital, but I'm seriously considering getting one my fourth year when I will have more time.  

Freaky weird picture hanging in our room 

I love fireplaces that turn on with a switch!

Finnegan! :D

Finnegan, greeting people at the door

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Medical Student By Day, Spider Wrangler By... Day Off

    Since I finished USMLE Step 1, I have been making good progress on my "To Do After Boards" list.  On Easter Sunday, I "installed" my garden for this year.  I had such a relaxing afternoon working outside in the sun by myself.  I forgot how peaceful and enjoyable gardening is.  The official line-up for 2012:
  • rosemary
  • basil
  • green onions
  • cilantro
  • watermelon
  • tomato
  • sage
  • thyme
  • dill
    This year, I decided to do less veggies and more herbs, since the veggie plants don't produce as much as I would like.  At least with the herbs, I'll use them all the time.  Unfortunately, the hardware store I always get my starter plants at had a terrible selection this year, so I am actually going to try starting from seeds for a few of the items.  I've never done that before so I'm nervous, especially with my vacation coming up, the timing of watering and planting might be a little tricky.  

Starting from seeds 
     I can't remember if I ever blogged about this, but last year when I was putting in my 2011 garden, I came across a family of black widows.  They decided to take up residence underneath an unused bag of garden soil, and there were a LOT of them.  Normally, I am not too scared of spiders (in fact, I am the official "spider wrangler" of the household), but black widows just give me the heebie jeebies.  Ick!  So anyway, at the time I tried to smash them with my shovel, but I don't think I got them all, so now every time I'm out in my garden, I always keep my eyes peeled in case they have decided to return for revenge.  This year, I encountered a variety of nasty spiders, but they weren't black widows, so I wasn't scared.  I can't imagine how arachnophobes would ever manage to garden.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Inauguration Of "Cold Hard B*#&$"

    If you read some of my earlier pre-boards posts, you might remember that I promised to reward myself with the ice-cream attachment for my KitchenAid mixer when I finished boards.  I ordered it with just enough time so that it was poetically delivered exactly while I was taking my test.  

    Once my friends and I started to get stand mixers, and we figured they are beautiful pieces of machinery that deserve names, we came up with this fun little tradition of giving them annoying/naughty/provocative names.  It started off with E's mixer, which is a beautiful Tiffany's blue color.  E got the mixer as a gift, and was super excited to use it for the first time, when she came home to find her roommate dirtying it up without even asking her if she could use it.  Her roommate's name was Robyn, so much to E's dislike, we all decided her mixer's name would from now on officially be "Robyn's Egg", since Robyn broke it in.  Next to get a mixer was C, who LOVES pink, so naturally her mixer is pink.  We tried to come up with a name to annoy her, but eventually gave up and came up with "Pink Taco" when we couldn't find one that annoyed her.  Most recently, I was the one to get a mixer, and I chose black to match the rest of my kitchen appliances.  Her name is "Black Beauty", which you can interpret as you'd like.  Finally, in anticipation of my ice cream attachment, we decided that such a big/important attachment deserved it's own name too, and the first thing that came to mind was "Cold Hard B*&$%"!

     The first batch of ice cream turned out pretty good, especially considering we had never made ice cream before.  We made 2 pints bacon/bourbon ice cream!

Meet Black Beauty and Cold Hard B*%$&

Our finished product in Baskin Robbins pint containers I conveniently had
    I probably won't get a chance to make another batch until after I get back from my trip to Peru, but next on my list to make is some sort of strawberry/rosemary sorbet/gelato concoction.  Mmmm, I'll let you know how that goes.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Life On The Other Side

    I did it! I am done with USMLE Step 1! (assuming I passed... I hope I passed...) I think I did okay. I tried to stay as calm as I could while taking it, but it's hard not to have palpitations when taking a test that matters so much. Also, I was nice and calm until we had to get metal detected/turn out all our pockets/roll up our sleeves to get in and out of the room each time. Hard not to get nervous when they make such a huge ordeal out of the whole thing.

    Oh well! It's all over, and now I just have to wait for that score. One thing that surprised me was how fast the 8 hours went by! I was worried I would be burned out by the last few sections, but I had so much adrenaline running through my veins that I could have done another few sections haha! The whole day only seemed like two hours in my mind. Later, when I saw BF, he gave me some flowers to congratulate me. He is so sweet.

     Well, time to take care of all of the life chores I have been putting off and actually plan some stuff for my vacation to Peru with J! It feels weird to not be studying today... I almost feel guilty! I'm sure I'll get over that REAL quick! Also, how poetic is it that I earned my Starbucks gold card with the last coffee I got before my test!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Step 1" Towards Becoming A Licensed Doctor

   Tomorrow, on April 4th, I will take what is arguably the most important test of my career - USMLE (US Medical Licensing Exam) Step 1.  The test is 8 hours long, and basically tests everything you learn in the first two years of medical school, so it's no easy feat.  For a moment, I briefly considered moving my test date later to give myself an extra week of studying, but ultimately, I decided to stick with my original plan and take it April 4th.  I'm glad I decided to stick with my original plan, because I have reached my "peak" of studying, and don't think I could mentally do this for much longer.  There is SO much material covered on this test, that you are NEVER going to feel "ready", so it's more important to take the test at the "peak" of your studying, before you burn out.

    In less than 24 hours, I will be completely done, and if I pass, I will officially be an MS3.  I can't wait to show this test what I've got.  I've been working my ass off studying for this, and I've sacrificed a lot in the last five weeks, so I really hope it pays off in my score.  I have never studied this hard in my life!  Not even close... For the past five weeks, I have spent 8-12 hours per day - everyday - hardcore studying, with only three days off.  I am really proud of myself.  If you know me, you know I'm usually  more on the lazy end of the "slacker-gunner spectrum".  I never would have thought I could be as disciplined as I have been.  I've worked harder than I ever have before, so I really hope I can show that tomorrow on the test.

   That said, this study period study hibernation for boards has been a lot better than the times (yes, timeS) I studied for the MCAT.  I HATED the MCAT.  I hated the material on it.  I had no idea how to study for it.  I hated the fact that my actual test scores, both times I took it, were a lot lower than all the practice tests I took for it.  I hated the fact that I had to isolate myself from everyone during it, that no one understood exactly what I was going through.  But this is so different!  This time, I have an entire class of people doing the same thing I am, and it's been amazing having such a great support system.  It helps so much just having someone sitting next to me at the coffee shop that I know is going through the exact same thing I am.  And this time, I can actually see a point to all the things we are being tested on (well most of them...)!  This is the real "doctor stuff"!

   On that same note, I am so lucky to have had BF as my study buddy.  I swear, he has been one of the only things that has been keeping me sane during this draining time.  He even put up with me and made me feel better when I had my little emotional break down the week before my test... (Hey, everyone cracks at one point or another before test day!)  BF's test isn't for another week, so I hope I can be there for him and support him in his last few stressful days like he has been there for me.
   I'm excited to finally get on with my life after tomorrow.  Like I said, I've made a lot of sacrifices in the last five weeks, and I've put a lot of things on hold.  I have a running list of things that is titled "To Do After Boards" that just keeps getting longer and longer.  It's going to be so weird coming out of hibernation.  Everyone says the first couple of days are weird, that you experience a sort of "re-immersion syndrome", getting reacquainted again with real life.

The things I am most looking forward to being able to do again:

  • Hanging out with friends/BF, and doing ANYTHING BUT STUDYING
  • Catching up on tv
  • Taking my time to cook and enjoy the process
Well, wish me luck... I'll take all I can get!