Hello, Party People… Nanon’s Diary

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  • #115235
    NanonNanon
    Participant

    Hello, Party People,

    Right after I announced to the world that I was finally pregnant, I had a miscarriage. It started last Saturday, and I was expecting it because my HGC levels had plummeted, almost overnight. So I spent the weekend before school started lying on the couch with a box of tissues and a bottle of Tylenol, watching home improvement shows until the wee hours of the morning. (This is my preferred form of therapy – if you want to read more about it, see this . By Monday, I was up and around again, getting ready for the first day of classes with less enthusiasm than I can ever remember having. By Wednesday, I was taking my basal temperature again and feeling relieved that it happened so early.

    This makes me what they call a “habitual aborter.” It’s a “three strikes” policy in the OB/GYN world, apparently – miscarry three times, have this rather repugnant label slapped on you. My doctor thinks it’s probably due to my history with endometriosis, my mom thinks I’m too stressed out, my Aunt Bertha thinks that the stars were badly aligned… (that’s a joke – I don’t have an Aunt Bertha). I don’t know what to think, except that I’m going to give this procreation thing another year and then look into adoption.

    On other, less depressing notes: This is my last full semester at school, and I really am having a hard time believing it. I’m actually going to put on a gown and a funny hat this Spring and walk across a stage and receive an empty folder and shake someone’s hand and graduate. For the first time in my life. (Wow, tears just sprang to my eyes when I wrote that…) My very first diploma will be from U.C. Berkeley.

    I’m taking the rest of those fussy classes that have nothing to do with my major, but that the University requires; An international studies class, Political Economics. A history class, “Late Medieval Societies.” I’m also taking Linguistics, which is applicable to my major. And finally, I’m taking Discrete Mathematics, a “highly recommended” class for my major. And I have to tell you, I giggle every time I think of this class, and me sitting in the back row of it. In fact, I’m giggling now. (Apparently, the mood swings take a while to subside). When I started college, lo these many, many years ago, I had to take a basic math class in order to progress to basic algebra. I remember throwing my book across the room in frustration after not understanding how to add and subtract negative numbers. Now I’m learning how to prove how the math works to add and subtract negative numbers. I think that’s really, really funny. :rotfl:

    On top of all this, I started my Princeton Review classes on Tuesday, as well. I’m taking the MCAT this Spring. I am so excited by this, I can barely contain myself, and no, I’m not being sarcastic for once. This, in a way, is what all of these years have been leading up to. This is, for me, kind of the last step on a really, really long journey before it all changes again. I’m excited by the chance to see how much I’ve learned, how much I know. Our first practice test is this Saturday, and I’ll let you guys know how I did. I expect I’ll do just horribly, and then I expect I’ll do better and better.

    Next time – an update on MCAT preparation, and more about my work and volunteer gigs, as well as an update on application preparation!

    Night, chickadees and chicadudes!

    Nanon

    #115237
    NanonNanon
    Participant

    Ok… this is sooo bad of me, letting nearly six months go by, but it’s been a very, very busy six months.

    Let’s see. I changed my major at the very last possible moment so that I wouldn’t have to take discrete mathematics (a new requirement for graduation in my old major) at the beginning of this semester. I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary. (See pics here: http://www.scrupulousps.com/renewal_pics.html )
    I worked very hard and have gotten pretty good grades in my classes. I took an MCAT review course, and then decided not to take it after all because I just wasn’t ready. And by the way, couldn’t be happier with that decision! Finally, I’m graduating in t-minus 1.5 days and counting.

    Those are the highlights. The lowlights include being laid off of a job I really loved and struggling with mounting health issues that I’m not getting into right this second – that post will come next week.

    However, overall, it’s been a glorious semester. I just wanted to renew this diary, and I think now I’m ready to keep at it. It’s oddly good for me to do this, especially after I’ve read over my old diaries. I’ve come such a long way, and I’d hate to forget any of it…

    Shemena

    #115238
    NanonNanon
    Participant

    Hello, Party People!

    Well, it’s done. I walked in a big, goofy gown and a pointy cap and got my faux-diploma in front of about 5000 people, including 16 of my closest friends and family. It was… AMAZING. It was so overwhelming that I seemed to only be able to sustain my sense of the enormity of it all for a few minutes at a time: When I looked up into the stands and saw my husband, every time, just beaming. When I saw my sister tear up when she saw me in my cap and gown, right before I left the house. When I heard that music start to swell, and when I walked out and saw Nick and Janna, waving wildly. When my aunt ran into the pit to make sure that I, too, had a lei of orchids around my neck. When I got up on stage, hopping on one foot and then the other until they called my name. And then once I got that scroll, feeling 100 feet tall, and oddly vindicated.

    Yesterday, my aunt told me (of course while I was driving on the freeway – I must stop using my cell phone while driving) that when she got home, she hurried to her daughter’s Brownie meeting (she was late on my account, but that’s another story for another day). All the little Brownies sang her their new song, and then she sat them all down and explained why she was late. “I was at my niece’s graduation today. When she was a little girl in the Brownies like you, she had a tough time of it. She was really, really poor. She had a hard time in school. When she got older, she had to drop out of high school. She worked for a while in awful jobs that she hated. And then one day, she decided that she wanted to give school another try, and so she went to a community college. She worked really, really hard there, and then several years later, she applied to UC Berkeley, which is a really good school. They told her no – they rejected her. So she appealed, and they rejected her again. She appealed three times, and on the last try, they accepted her. That was three years ago, and today she graduated. (By this time, I’m sobbing). So I told you this, because my niece is my hero today. She showed me that no matter what it is, you really can achieve what you want to if you just keep at it, keep going, and believe that it can be done. Next year, she’s applying to medical school! She’s going to be a doctor!”

    Then my aunt told me that there are five little girls in that troop that are in the same boat I was – in foster care, or really poor and being subsidized to be in the Girl Scouts, and their eyes were really wide when she was telling them about me.

    That was better than any gift I recieved that day. First, that someone is sooo proud of me to talk about me to a troop of girl scouts is wild. But second, and maybe more deep for me, that my story was used as an example of all the things that I really struggled to have throughout this process – persistance, faith and belief in myself, hope that there really is no last chance to live my life. And for little girls who were like me. It’s an amazing feeling.

    Ok, so enouph about that. Today, I’m washing 4 sets of sheets (we had, on average, 4 guests a night from Wednesday till today), and packing to get on a plane and follow my sister to Indiana. She’s moving into her new house with three kids under four, and she needs HELP!!! haha. I’m bringing my laptop, so I’ll try to write more when I have more time.

    Have an awesome day, my heros!

    Shemena

    #115240
    NanonNanon
    Participant

    Because I’m lazy… read this weeks entry at:

    http://www.scrupulousps.com/essay2.html

    Pretty much what I’d write here, only prettier… 😀

    Shemena (aka Nanon)

    #115242
    NanonNanon
    Participant

    Wow… and almost five years later, I pop up again like a bad penny, lol.

    Since my last post:

    1 child, another on the way
    1 house
    4 jobs in 3 departments at one university
    2 MCATs
    1 medical school application cycle
    2 interviews
    1 acceptance (so far)…

    I’m a different person in a lot of ways than I was in that last post. Motherhood will do that to you, and so will time. I’m going to post here as much as I can, because this transition – from pre-med to medical student as a mom and wife – will be interesting for me to look back on, and maybe helpful for other folks, too.

    The big challenges I’m dealing with right now are: paying for the interviews, selling the house, then finding out where we’re moving and getting housing and daycare there, finding my husband a job, and all of this while pregnant. The baby is due July 2. Right now, we’re in one of the most difficult parts, though – the holding pattern. We’re not moving on any of this, just waiting to hear from schools.

    It’s particularly difficult because my husband is doing everything he can to get some name recognition by working 12 hours days doing research and presenting it at conferences. Like last time, pregnancy isn’t kind to me. Unlike last time, I’m coping with almost daily migraines while I try to finish up huge projects at my own job part-time and trying to keep up with the admission process.

    We’re also a little paralyzed by the economy. Now is a horrible time to sell a house and get a new job. If I wasn’t pregnant, I think things would be moving forward quicker anyway, but as it is, there’s just too much to think about just getting stuff done everyday. I’ve got to find a way to regain my balance and my energy.

    Shemena

    #115244
    NanonNanon
    Participant

    After I had my son, I lost 70 lbs by adhering to a pretty strict diet and exercising. Today I went in to my doctor’s office because I have a really horrible chest cold, and was a little worried about it turning into pneumonia – I’ve had it many times before. The back office assistant and I are friends, kind of. We took an MCAT class together, and I’ve watched him go through a few application cycles.

    Anyway, after weighing me, I told him the truth – that I’ve pretty much given up on gaining only 25 – 30 lbs. It looks like this will be another 45 lb. weight gain, just like the last time. He said, “Well, you took off that weight really quickly. I mean, what were you doing? A crack diet?”

    … long, long pause.

    Here’s a tip: Don’t say things like that to someone who healthfully lost, and then maintained, a significant weight loss, particularly when they’re pregnant. Mkay?

    Thanks. 😉

    #115246
    NanonNanon
    Participant

    I’m having the BEST MONTH EVER! I got into University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, which is pretty much a perfect fit for me. And then 2 days ago, they gave me a full tuition scholarship for all 4 years.

    I’ve been walking on air ever since. I’ll post more later, but right now I’ve got to get kiddo some breakfast…

    #115248
    NanonNanon
    Participant

    Wow, that was a loooong breakfast, lol.

    I am 5 days away from starting medical school. I now have 2 boys – Asa was born via c-section on 6/22/09. We are mostly healthy and I am grateful for that, but this has been one of the most stressful summers of my entire life.

    First: We couldn’t sell the house because of the economy, and this may become an enormous financial burden soon, one that we can’t maintain. As in, we may have to short-sale the house. I am worried about how this will effect residency matching, loans, and I worry about it all the time, unless I’m worrying about…

    Second: Asa has some kind of seizure disorder which resulted in a weekend hospital stay when he was 2 weeks old. The same hospital that is attached to my medical school. So strange to have my future peers come trail in behind the pedi resident, or the pedi-neuro attending, to ask me questions that I might be asking another mom someday soon. So weird. And now we’re drowning in medical bills.

    (An aside: If you are one of those people who believe that single-payer health care will result in rationed health care, you are ignoring the fact that you do not have a real choice for health insurance now – you get what your employer is willing to pay for. You are also ignoring the fact that our current insurance system often DOES ration health care, but through 20% co-pays that discourage people from getting the care they need. We bit the bullet anyway with my son, of course. Now we are drowning in medical debt.)

    Also: My mother, who’s profoundly mentally ill, attempted to commit suicide a few weeks ago. She almost succeeded, having taken 40 or so Ativan. What’s messed up about this is that she lives in an assisted living facility, and at the time, was conserved – so how did she get the pills? No one seems to know. What’s even more messed up is that right after it happened, she was released from conservation. That means that she won’t have to take her other meds if she doesn’t want to.

    Finally: My 3 year old had a minor nervous breakdown after the move, a more significant one after the baby was born, and the result is a house that always smells vaguely of pee. And a lot of whining. Then last week, his new pre-school teacher told me that she thinks he has sensory integration disorder, and needs OT. OMFG. Did I mention that we are drowning in medical bills? That I’m starting medical school in a week? That my other son is having seizures and my mom is suicidal? And so I look at Dylan, and I think, “How am I going to address this? What if this is a real diagnosis? Who will give you the structure and balance you’ll need to overcome this? Am I going to fail you?”

    My life is kind of mired in the real health care issues that the rest of the US is currently debating – often with more fear and vitriol than logic. And all of this is going down right before I enter the medical profession. Yes, experiences that will (hopefully) make me a more effective and thoughtful physician. Right now, it’s making me a fearful, stressed out and sleep deprived almost medical student.

    I have no idea how I’m going to do this. I worry that the disorganization and complications that defined the move out here will continue through medical school, making me a crappy doctor. Here I am at 40, and you’d think that I would have more confidence in my abilities. But the fact is, I barely qualify as an adult sometimes. Did I make a huge, huge mistake?

    And then I look at my class schedule, and all that yearning that I’ve harbored over the years is right there, with the promise of being fulfilled in less than a week. It’s stunning, how wildly exciting it is for me. I think it makes me a little delusional, in that I put a veneer of “it’ll all be ok, no problem” over the other stuff going on in my life.

    That’s how I’ve gotten through everything else. Here’s to the hope that my delusions have some tie to reality…

    #115250
    NanonNanon
    Participant

    Tonight is a pump and dump kind of night. I’m getting ready for medical school with a bottle of Gundlach Bundschu Merlot, 2005. Excellent wine. Superb. I owe the guy at the wine shop who recommended this to me a thank you note.

    I’m sitting here on the couch with my husband watching Dexter while I write. The boys are asleep. My purse is packed – keys, phone, pen, checkbook, atm card, notebook and schedule. The kid’s bags are packed for school, and I’m pretty sure all the paperwork is filled out. Tomorrow morning should go smoothly, once I manage to get my hair done. That’s always the hard part of any new adventure. That and getting dressed.

    Things I have thought about this week: How much would it cost to have someone come in and clean this house twice a month? When will I have time to write a hardship letter for the home loan modification appeal? (An aside – I will never own a home again unless I can afford an accountant.) How are my kids? I don’t want to leave Asa with a daycare. Can we afford a new (to us) rug for the living room, now that ours has been peed on and muddied. Did I mess up the first possible friendship I have here by talking about my weight and my scholarship? I’m an asshat.

    I’m really tired, and I think that Asa might be sick, or having some kind of issue with the vaccinations he had on Friday. Or maybe his schedule is messed up. In any case, tomorrow will be a hard day once the caffeine wears off, because I’m at the hard part of parenting an infant. So tired.

    That’s all I got tonight.

    #115251
    NanonNanon
    Participant

    I’m week 3 into medical school. It feels like 3 months. Some days, if feels like I’ve been doing this for a year now.

    If you haven’t started medical school yet, and have taken the MCAT, and are wondering what it feels like, here you go: It’s like studying for the MCAT when you only have 3 weeks to study for it – everyday. I study 4 hours a day on average, and I’m behind. Very behind. I’m hoping that having all day tomorrow and Monday will help me get just somewhat behind. On the bright side, I haven’t failed a quiz yet.

    I would study more, but I have kids. More to the point, I have an infant. This means I don’t sleep much, and sleep trumps everything – including studying. I try not to feel guilty or weird about it, but sometimes I do, particularly when I have to work in groups. These kids might be hung over, but they’re generally 18 years younger than me, have more free time and they just smoke me in the quick thinking category. I think I kind of annoy them sometimes with my dull-witted questions and occasional lack of preparation. I wish I could tell them, “I’m just barely able to brush my teeth in the morning, please have mercy on me,” but I know that they most likely wouldn’t understand or care. So I just go along, hoping that over the course of 4 years things will get easier. Ha.

    I have met some amazing people, though. And while none of them seem to be in my small groups, there are many parents at my school. I’m friends with many of them at this point. Very cool folks.

    All whining aside, I’m really sure now that I did the right thing, at least most of the time. I love what I study, even the hard parts. I love the subject matter and the challenge. I sometimes wonder if I have the kind of personality that will meld well with the profession, but then I think, “Who gives a rats ass? I love this stuff!”

    The kids are doing ok. My husband and I fight more, but we’re doing ok, too. Finances really stress me out, and my coping skills are a little shaky right now, but overall… this is working out.

    That’s all I got.

    #118422
    NanonNanon
    Participant

    So. I failed every test in my first block. Each one. Some by a little, some by a lot. I let myself be devastated for a few days, and now I’m merely disappointed in myself, and trying to figure out why, and how to not let it happen again.

    As to why: My study habits suck, and this is exacerbated by the fact that I’m sleep deprived and dealing with post-partum depression. Remedy: Study more, end studying at 11pm, wean the baby and take anti-depressants. I’m also going to meet weekly with my professors and my study group and I have worked out a new study plan.

    The truth: This is really hard. I still believe it’s doable. But it’s really, really hard.

    #118589
    NanonNanon
    Participant

    What would you do?

    So, yes, I failed all (ALL) of my tests, some by quite a lot. This block I’ve been studying harder, and I *feel* like I’m understanding a lot more. But student services, my teachers and the Dean have all suggested that I drop to part time at the very least. They’ve put the option of taking a leave and starting all over again next year on the table, too. NO ONE seems to think that I’ll pull myself out of the hole I’ve gotten myself into, as I’ll have to get better that 88% on everything for the rest of the semester.

    Actually, my study partners seem to think I can do this. So does my husband. And honestly, I feel like maybe I can, too, on a good day. But it’s a huge gamble – literally. My scholarship is at stake. If I take a leave, it’s safe unless I mess up next year, too. If I take 1/2 time, I’m more likely to pass the 2 classes than the 5. If I don’t do anything and keep my schedule the way it is, I don’t have to spend 5 years in medical school, and I don’t have to lose the continuity of my education, and I don’t have to feel like a huge loser… if I pass my classes.

    So really, what would you do if you were me? I know most of you would never let yourselves get into this stupid position. I should have taken a leave to begin with, that’s painfully obvious now. But here I am. PM me, if you want.

    #118747
    NanonNanon
    Participant

    Decision has been made, and I am now part-time. It was the safe, rational, probably better for me in the long run choice… but right now I regret it. It’s stupid, but it’s put my self confidence in the crapper. My classmates know, and they tend to say stuff like, “Is everything ok?” It’s not said with any kind of malice, but I definitely feel set apart. And what I’m finding is that being set apart from one’s class in medical school is worse than being set apart in middle school. It’s not about popularity (at least not for me) – it’s about that feeling of camaraderie that only comes having faced something together as a group.

    I’m not really in that group anymore. I won’t be in any group for a while.

    But back to the self confidence thing. I’m not exactly one of those gals who succumbs easily to shame. I generally don’t care what people think about me. I can’t afford to. But I don’t think I’m very smart, and so I do succumb to self doubt… often. Sometimes when I look at chemical pathways that I’m supposed to learn, I literally swoon with anxiety. And study groups… oh, my God, how I loathe them. I never feel ready to study with other people. I hate (HATE) trying to teach people stuff when I don’t feel ready, and even when I do. And now that I’ve dropped to 1/2 time, I kinda feel like I should be able to do this. But I don’t. Not even a little.

    I have good parts of my day that make me feel wonderful, like when I get home and my older son yells, “MOMMMA!!!” and runs into my arms. (Did something right there, I guess). Or when my infant son looks up at me and gives me his biggest smile. That’s awesome. Or my husband, who will sit on the edge of the couch and hug me, and tell me that I’ve tied my (metaphorical) shoes together again and need to take a minute and untie them. I would not get through this at all without them.

    But back to Urea. And all of the really horrible, horrible enzyme names that are accumulating like snow in a blizzard. Thanks for letting me vent. Night, party people.

    #119111
    NanonNanon
    Participant

    Hello. This last block of tests was bizarre. I studied very hard for the two tests I had left, but I studied far harder for biochem than for cell. Turns out I did fine in cell and went down in a burning heap of flames in biochem. I’m meeting with my biochem prof. next week to dissect the test and figure out why I’m doing so badly. It’s not that I’m not getting it – I am. I’m keeping up with my study partners (who both got A’s, incidentally). I get it. But when I sit down to take these tests, I freak out and start doubting what I know to be true.

    For instance, I lost 10 points by changing 2 answers when I let myself get confused. I miss-bubbled, and then had to go back and figure out where I’d skipped. The whole time I was thinking, “I can’t do this I can’t do this I can’t do this,” and then another part of my brain was saying “SHUT UP AND TAKE THE TEST.”

    The upshot: I’m failing one of the two classes that I have left. No, let me be more succinct: I’ve failed one of the two classes I have left. They’re letting me retake it in the Fall. I’m grateful, but I feel like shit about it. I feel like I’m taking money from my granny on a fixed income. I feel like I swiped a dollar from the collection plate at church.

    The prof and a few other people have told me that I’m not the only one that this has happened to (or is happening to this semester), and that in the past, people who have had to take over biochem went on to be great doctors. Other administrators are less user friendly and treat me with skepticism, which honestly I’m more comfortable with at this point. But I’m trudging ahead anyway, to the promised land of “great doctorhood.” I’m keeping a little kernel of hope alive that this is just a stupid, rocky start, and that I can redeem myself.

    Having said all that, it’s not all bad. It really isn’t. My issues with stuff are my own, and shouldn’t be extrapolated to anyone else. And I still really like what I’m learning (sometimes love it). I have good friends, good professors, excellent administrators and a wonderful family. I’m blessed in spite of myself.

    #120071
    NanonNanon
    Participant

    See me here, for now. Thanks! 😀

    Improbable M.D.

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