Span of One Day

At 4 AM yesterday, I went off to babysit a child who was about to become a big brother. At 7 AM, his father sent me pictures of the latest addition to our population. Although the delivery itself had some complications requiring a C-section, the outcome was a healthy baby boy. My charge and I spent the rest of the day looking at pictures of his new sibling and celebrating the day of his birth.

At 6 PM the same day, I headed to the ED to start another 8 hour shift. Not even thirty minutes into the shift, we had two full arrests come in by paramedics. The physician whom I was scribing for took the 97 year old who was in respiratory distress. The other ER physician took the 4 year old pediatric cardiac arrest. As far as I know, our 97 year old is still thriving, albeit in critical condition in the ICU. The 4 year old, who was running in the park just an hour before, was pronounced dead shortly after her arrival. There are a lot of terrible sounds in the world. But the sound of a mother screaming out her daughter’s name is bone-chilling. It is a wonder how anyone – physician, nurse, respiratory technician, EMT – can continue on with their jobs after losing such a battle.

January 29th marks a witnessed birth and death. Life works in strange ways, doesn’t it?

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11 out of 10

Between working a number of shifts in the ED, prosecting, teaching Anatomy, and babysitting, I have not had a chance to sit down and update this blog. It may be due to the overnight shifts, which have been warping my sense of time, but I legitimately thought that we were at the end of October up until I resurfaced the other day to find out that it’s only mid-October! I guess with the on-going application cycle, it’s best to keep busy and not become obsessed with the intricate workings of medical school admissions.

Anyway, I wanted to write a brief post highlighting a new book by Freida McFadden aka Dr. Fizzy. It’s called 11 out of 10: A Collection of Humorous Medical Short Stories, and as you may surmise, there are a number of contributors to this particular novel including, yours truly!

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A quick disclaimer, my short story is definitely not that great when compared to some of these seasoned writers. I wrote it about two years ago, and in retrospect, it definitely sounds “green” to me. If I had the chance to re-do it, I could probably come up with funnier material, especially with everything I’ve encountered as a scribe thus far. But I digress. Regardless of how funny (or not) my own story is, I can guarantee that it is part of a collection of amazing stories written from various perspectives. The best part is that 100% of the proceeds will be donated directed to “Deworm the World“, a charity hand-selected by Dr. Fizzy herself.

So, if you have a moment, check out the links above. Even if you’re not interested in the book itself, consider donating directly to the charity as all it takes is mere pennies to get the appropriate medication to these children who are riddled with parasitic infections.

— A.

Memorizing Muscle Facts (Again)

Although I planned to take a break from school this year and instead, work more hours to pay for the ridiculous amount of debt I have accrued from applications thus far, my three-month summer break left me craving for some educational stimulation. So, I signed up for a Human Prosection class series that will begin this Fall and finish up at the end of Spring semester next year. It’s actually a pretty awesome class so far – and it’s amazing that a class like this is offered through a community college. What is Prosection, you ask? It is a class where a cadaver is dissected with the intent of using it to teach and demonstrate anatomical structures. In short, this cadaver will be a teaching tool for years to come and cannot be dissected without regard. But yes, that means that I, a pre-medical student, have the opportunity to dissect a full cadaver from beginning to the end with four other students. There are medical schools in the US that offer fewer opportunities for their students as they move forward towards “Virtual Anatomy”.

But I digress. While the experience has been enriching so far, one item that I am not looking forward to, is teaching muscle facts to students in the lower level Anatomy classes in two weeks. When I was in their position, I went for a straight memorization method and was able to muddle through the muscle unit of Anatomy. However, teaching is an entirely different game as students will be asking me questions that will challenge my understanding of the entire body. So this week, I will not only have to memorize the muscles, insertions, origins, and actions again, but I will have to do it in a way where I can verbally recall them without faltering in front of my students.

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This linked post from Action Potential has some great tips that I am going to attempt this week. However, if anyone else has any other tricks up their sleeves – or any teaching pointers to seem more confident in front of your fellow peers – please send them my way!

— A.

Source: How to memorize origins and insertions

Scribing

I may or may not have mentioned this already, but I have been working as an ER Scribe for the past few months now at a nearby hospital. I was actually hired on by the company back in October, but I had to go through an arduous training period until I was finally “recommended” to begin solo shifts. The length of training was understandable given that scribes work directly with physicians and ensure that these physicians are billed adequately for their time. One mistake could cost the ER doctor a lot of money, or worse, a lawsuit. But some of the delay was partly due to administration and miscommunication, so I couldn’t become a “full-fledged scribe” until earlier this year.

Before I go on, for those of you who do not know what the job entails, which is totally okay because up until a year ago, I knew very little myself, as a scribe, I help write up charts for patients who come into the ER, allowing the physician to spend more 1-on-1 time with the patient.

23 year old female presents to the ED with complaint of insomnia onset three days ago. Patient complains of back pain and weakness, but denies vomiting, nausea, or any other symptoms.

Scribing is becoming increasingly popular as hospitals shift from paper to electronic medical records. And why pay extra for an educated individual, when you have boatloads of pre-meds who would jump at the chance of working with physicians directly! Thus, I am the physician’s shadow, listening in when a patient explains their symptoms and medical history and typing away furiously when the physician dictates to me findings from a physical exam. Is it overwhelming? Most definitely. But is it interesting? Hell yes! I have seen so many exquisite cases in just my few months at the hospital so far. And if there is one thing I have taken away from my experience it’s that during a shift, a physician may be presented with 100 patients with abdominal pain as their chief complaint. However, it takes a keen observer to distinguish that one patient who might have a unique and possibly life-threatening diagnosis. No matter the time or how tired you may be, you cannot afford to careless when it comes to a person’s life.

It is astonishing how invested I am in this job, when initially, I had only applied to silence my mother who was badgering me about finding a “real job” for my résumé. I’m sure there is a crafty way to present ‘babysitting’ on your résumé, but it just didn’t seem like something that would impress future schools or employers. Don’t get me wrong, babysitting has been, and still is, a great way to make cash. I still babysit on the side now because I do make 2x, sometimes even 3x, the amount I make as a scribe. But the experience that I have gained as a scribe, is just unparalleled. I have learned more field-related information in the past few months than I did in the last 23 years of my life!

There is definitely a steep learning curve associated to this job. During my first few weeks of training, I had over 600 abbreviations and terms thrown at me, some so foreign-sounding that I questioned what I was getting myself into.

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when I found out that HA stood for headache -.-

To be honest, I am still learning, and will probably continue to learn until my last day as a scribe, but that’s something I should be used to if I want to become a physician. Just the other day, I was working with an older physician who was unsure if a patient’s diagnosis should be paraphimosis or phimosis. She had me do a Google search (which revealed some interesting images in the ER that I’m sure would be labeled NSFW) and then proceeded to devise a mnemonic to remember the difference between the two terms.

As I mentioned above, I work 8+ hour shifts, most of those shifts are devoid of breaks, and 95% of the time, I am on my feet. I come home mentally and physically exhausted. But, I have worked many jobs in the past and I can honestly say that this is the first job that I am so involved in what I am doing, that time simply flies by. There are the occasional glances at the clock – I’m only human after all – but for the most part, I am constantly entertained with charts or looking up bits of information online, or engaging with the physicians, that before I know it, my shift is over and I leave with a sense of fulfillment. It just validates the sentiment that when you are doing what you love, you’re never really “working”.

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<3 A.

 

 

In Retrospect

After a brilliant month of traveling Asia, I arrived back home a few weeks ago with my heart torn. I encountered what everyone experiences after an enthralling vacation – post-travel depression. I just simply was not interested in immersing myself into my old routine after embarking on what turned out to be an incredibly life-changing experience. So when I finally came home, I wasn’t just reminiscing about all the good times – I began to wonder what I could do to get back into such a state where my stress level was at a minimum and life was absolutely beautiful. Everyone keeps asking me how my trip was – and rightfully so. But it is quite difficult to sum up such an experience with mere words.

“How was your adventure? How was Thailand?”

“The trip was amazing. Thailand was absolutely amazing. Given that my internship was in Thailand, there wasn’t a lot of red tape so I was able to be up close and personal with surgical procedures and witness a variety of diseases that affect the Thai children. Along with that, I was able to do a bunch of touristy things including bungee jumping, elephant riding, ATV-ing, and ziplining. But the best thing about Chiang Mai was the people – I met people from all over the world and hearing various perspectives in a program that wasn’t American-driven was absolutely refreshing – but yah, amazing!”

“Tell me more!”

“……….”

Not to say that this little blurb I repeated isn’t true. It just doesn’t sufficiently capture what I felt – am still feeling – inside. For example, I saw more in Chiang Mai than landmarks and hospital procedures – I witnessed my confidence build up as I traveled around Asia. I’m not sure if it was because I was solely on my own, but I had a fire inside of me that kept me strong. You see, I have always had self-image issues. Whether it be my body, my hair, my face, my teeth, my skin – I have never been comfortable with myself. So you would think that in a place where the humidity was at a max and my hair was completely unmanageable, I would have folded into a shell. And yet, it didn’t bother me because I was too busy enjoying myself. I ran around the hospital in my scrubs, involved myself in every touristy thing possible, and every single night, played volleyball in the pool. My fear did not inhibit me and my stress level was at an all-time low. And although my physical/eating habits were the same (except rice was a staple in breakfast, lunch, AND dinner), I lost close to 20 lbs when I finally arrived back in America.

A picture is definitely worth a 1000 words in this scenario and I hope through a combination of photos and words, I can provide a detailed, yet concise summary of my time in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Singapore. I also accumulated some traveling tips and decided to dedicate a page on my blog with my thoughts on what to bring, what to wear, etc.

  • Chiang Mai (Thailand)

I spent two weeks in Chiang Mai for my GapMedics internship. I was placed in Nakornping Hospital with my first week dedicated to the Pediatrics ward and the second in the Obs & Gyn ward. Given that c-sections are a common procedure in Thailand, I found myself in the Surgery wing a lot and was able to witness a lot more than just c-sections and sterilizations. Our work day typically began at 8 AM with an early commute to the hospital and our shadowing would end at 3 PM. After that we had free time until dinner at 7 PM, followed by global tutorials which was taught by a local RN. Given that most of us were there for only two weeks, we spent every day doing something differently. After global tutorials, we would run into the swimming pool until 10/11 PM and then go into “the white room” where we played cards and spoons until 1 AM. I ran on about 6 hours of sleep every day, but there was never a moment when I felt exhausted or lethargic.

Monday: On the first day of my pediatrics rotation, I was able to hold a patient in the NICU who was recovering for pneumonia. Given that it was my cohort’s “first day”, the tradition is to spend only a half-day at the hospital so that we could take a tour of the city center and experience some of the local cuisine with one of our program’s coordinators. I was also able to score a pair of these stylish elephant pants which brought me one step closer to becoming a legit Thai tourist! Along with our global tutorial courses, we also had an additional, one-time language course so that we could get a few Thai phrases down for our hospital placement. “Sawadee Ka” (hello/goodbye) & “Khob Khun Ka” (thank you) became frequently used phrases in the household.

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Tuesday: Tuesday was “Temple Tuesday” where we climbed up to the tallest temple in Chiang Mai, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, which had a beautiful view of all of Chiang Mai. In the hospital, we spent the first half of the day in the Hemato Clinic where we witnessed many children who were anemic. One girl had such severe anemia that her facial features were affected to the point where she had no cheekbones and a flat nose bridge.

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Wednesday: After several convincing arguments given by my fellow peds group member, I agreed to go bungee jumping on Wednesday. On the day, we also spent time in the HIV clinic where we got to palpate an enlarged liver in a 3 year old little boy.

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Thursday: Apparently Thursday nights in Thailand are similar to Thursday nights in college towns across the US – so for our first Thursday in Chiang Mai, we celebrated with a BBQ Pool Party and a trip to the local night market, which was followed by a ladyboy show and clubbing at the poppin’ club, Zoe’s. During our internship, we spent time in the PICU where a heart patient who had contracted pneumonia was rushed in as we were entered the wing. We spent the rest of the session watching as a team of ten nurses and doctors hurried to intubate and hook up the patient to several monitors.

Friday: Given that the GapMedics program is a year-long program, some of the people we started off the week with were actually finishing up their two/three week stints. So we had to say good bye to some dear friends and then hurry off on our “Hill Tribe Weekend” adventure. Below was my pediatrics group for the week with representatives from the UK, Maldives, Italy, and the US!

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Saturday: On our first full day of the “Hill Tribe Weekend”, we ended up going elephant riding, white river, rafting, waterfall sliding, and experiencing some amazing thai massages. We lived with a Thai family in an elevated bamboo hut and woke up to some of the most gorgeous sights and freshest air. We ended the night sitting on the deck and singing while watching the youngest boy try scaring the sole male member of our group. I also scored my first bracelet after bargaining with the women for 10 minutes.

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Sunday: On the last day of our “Hill Tribe Weekend” adventure we visited Tiger Kingdom where we had the option of seeing small, medium, big, and large tigers – I went for the biggest! We also ziplined before arriving back at the GapMedics household. After a quick swim, we ended the night by attending the Sunday Night Market.

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Monday: Our second Monday marked the beginning of a new placement, which for me was my stint in Obs & Gyn. Since it was a half-day to welcome in the new kids, us oldies decided to ride ATVs. Although it was supposed to be a three-hour gig, we ended up spending over four hours riding through the forest and the countryside and by the time we had finished, it was pitch dark outside. I also realized that although I was one of the few people in my group with an actual license, my skills in ATVing are subpar, evident in the fact that I rode into a cornfield -.-

Tuesday: On our second Tuesday, we decided to visit the Umbrella Factory and score some souvenirs for ourselves and our loved ones. As one would surmise from the name, this store created some beautful umbrellas. But what was special about this particular location was the artistry involved. Inside the store, you can select from a variety of items ranging from phone cases to scrolls to fans to lanterns. Really, anything or everything was there – and if it wasn’t, you had the option of bringing in an outside item. Then you venture outside where there is a row of artists, all gifted in their own way and who, for a small price, can paint you a one-of-a-kind piece of work. Below, my artist painted a scenic waterfall with two elephants on a scroll for me.

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Wednesday: Waterfall Wednesday allowed us to once again, appreciate the natural beauty of Chiang Mai. Climbing up and down the waterfalls and laughing at our antics was a reminder that sometimes it’s the simplest of things that provide us with the utmost pleasure.

Thursday: Another Thursday meant another trip to the local night market where we witnessed a different, but equally entertaining, ladyboy show and an unforgettable night at Zoe’s. But a sweet memory for me was the aftermath of Zoe’s – after tucking respective people to bed, we ended up being the last four awake and simply proceeded to swap life stories in the white room at 2 AM.

Friday: You know, I wish I could say I had an amazing last day of my internship on Friday. However, the more remarkable moments occurred at the local cafe where we often spent our lunch time at. Speaking of lunch, did I mention that a lunch consisting of AMAZING Thai food in decent portions came out to be about a $1? And then a refreshing drink at this cafe with free wi-fi was another $1. So all in all, $2 dollars spent a day for an overall lunch meal. We also visited Zoe’s again since it was the club’s 25th Anniversary and lit lanterns at our farewell dinner.

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our favorite lunch time hangout

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Saturday: On our final day at the GapMedics house, we decided to spend the day swimming in the pool that we had fallen in love with. There was only a few of us left as most people had gone to Hill Tribe Weekend, Phuket, or another weekend adventure. One of my friends made ramen for lunch for all of us and after a few more hours of swimming, we left for the airport. I admit, I shed quite a few tears as I said good bye to people who had become some of my closest friends in a matter of weeks.


  • Sri Lanka

Because I was in Sri Lanka for quality family time than anything else, I spent many days sitting outside on the balcony with my favorite grandmother and just listening to stories of her past. During the day, my aunt and I would watch Tamil movies that had just come out and at night, when my uncle came home, we would explore parts of Colombo. On a day that my uncle was able to take off, we took a trip to Sigiriya, a World Heritage Site. It is an ancient palace that was built on top of a rock, and was selected by the king due to it being 660 ft high. And we ended up climbing all the way to the top to witness the scenery and the magnificence of the area. We also took a detour to the Dambulla Cave Temple – another World Heritage Site that has been preserved so well that you can still see the details of a 14-meter Buddha that has been carved out of the rocks.

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Sigiriya aka “Lion Rock”

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Dambulla Cave
  • Pattaya

I went to Pattaya to visit the Father Ray Foundation that my high school Leo Club has been raising funds for annually. It’s one thing to hear stories from another about a certain organization and all the astounding work you do. You can donate tens of thousands of dollars to a cause, but never really understand the impact until you visit it. That is what I was expecting when I decided and I was pleasantly surprised and how much more I gained from the experience.

On the downside, it was during this three-day period that I fell terribly ill. And let’s face it, no matter how old you may be, when you’re away from home and suddenly fall ill, that’s when you want to go home. Home where just inches away is all the medicine you can get your hands on. And if you are like me and live at home, then you immediately think of your mom who would instantly nurse you back to health. While I wish I used more of my time in Pattaya, especially at night, exploring the city, I ended up sleeping immediately after my volunteer shift was over and trying to nurse myself back to health. However, I was able to capture a video of children from the home, village, and drop-in center that the Father Ray Foundation sponsors; all dancing in celebration of new equipment.

  • Singapore

Going to Singapore was a last-minute decision and spontaneously occurred because a friend of mine who I met back in freshman year of UCLA was visiting home around the same time I was traveling. Her family was extremely welcoming and our few days together were activity-packed. As soon as I landed in one of the nicest airports I had ever witnessed, my friend whisked me off to the local beach where we spent two hours cycling around. We watched an indie movie called Bad Turn Worse and I was introduced to her childhood friends over dinner. We also visited the local museum and a beautiful botanical garden called Gardens By the Bay.

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Did you know, Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim’, a type of orchid, is the national flower of Singapore?

Ten different flights, four different countries (including my layovers in China), and about $4000 spent in total. But if I had the option to do it all over again, I would sign up in a heartbeat. There’s just something so cathartic about letting go and seeing the world for yourself without any ties, commitments, or distractions. I simply got a taste of it on this round, but I can say, with certainty, that parts of my heart were left in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Singapore. I know now, what I have known all along but with more fervor, that I need to do some more traveling. And if not now, when?

To be continued,

A.

Patient Point of View

I apologize if this comes off as a rant. It sort of is a rant, but more so, a question on how a similar experience can be bettered in the future.

But before I go on, some back story. Mid-December last year, I unexpectedly developed a rash of some sorts. It appeared out of the blue and would last no longer than 30-60 minutes. But it would happen daily, without fail. The rash would be a series of bumps and raised welts that were harmless save for the intense itching. It appeared in random places all over my body, as if a little bug was playing hopscotch. The curious, pre-med student that I am, I decided to look online to see what may be the causes/treatments of such a case. I understand the downsides of “self-diagnosing” and the toll that Google has had on doctors as patients barge in insisting that they have 1 of 10,000 different diseases. So everything I learned, I took in with a grain of salt. From pictures and descriptions, I came up with a “preliminary diagnosis” – hives. And I took all the necessary precautions to combat such a skin rash. I dusted my entire room, laundered my entire wardrobe, discarded soaps and detergents in favor of fragrance-free products, and watched for any triggers in food, temperatures, and conditions. When I could not come up with an explanation, two weeks later, I entertained the idea that these hives could be triggered by stress – mainly due to the MCAT.

Sort of depressing, right? That my anxiety over this huge academic exam was giving me hives – what happens when I am actually in medical school? But I sucked it up and continued to study, while itching here and there. After the MCAT, I awaited the departure of my hives. But they did not leave. Instead, they came in waves throughout the following weeks, and at one point, so intensely, that my mother agreed that I should go to the doctor and get it checked out.

As much as I adore my primary care physician, I reasoned that it would be best if I went directly and saw an allergist or dermatologist (since I really can’t afford to pay two visits). I messaged my physician (yay technology) and described my entire experience thus far, even attaching some pictures. Unfortunately, because my PCP was not in that day, another doctor replied on my behalf and simply told me to schedule an appointment with her. So I begrudgingly did just that – and on the day of my hospital visit (which, by the way, was about a 30-mile drive), I forked over $50 to see my PCP. Who immediately told me that she would need to refer me to an allergist. Fortunately, I was able to snag an appointment with the allergist later that day. So after four hours of soaking in the sun in my car, I went to see the allergist – BUT NOT BEFORE forking over another $60 as a second co-payment. Of course with my luck, my rash had not appeared on any part of my body, so when I ended up seeing her, I had to use my words and pictures to paint what was going on. With only a glance at one of my pictures, she determined that I had urticaria – most commonly known as ….. hives. And it was idiopathic (a disease or condition the cause of which is not known or that arises spontaneously). The treatment? A $10 over-the-counter prescription.

I took one pill last night and the rash has completed subsided. Not a trace at all. Go Cetirizine!

But was a $10 over-the-counter prescription worth the $110 that I forked over for co-payments + payments for lab tests + half a day wasted + gas + 60 miles driven in total?

I honestly don’t think so. I understand that visits to your primary care physicians sort of filter out visits to specialists and are “supposed” to be more economically advantageous. And this way, PCPs can oversee what’s going on. But in this case, I feel like I was cheated out of a good deal of money for a treatment that I could have picked up at my local CVS. I guess I wish I was taken a little more seriously – I mean, I do have a brain and am somewhat educated, y’know? Could there have been a better way for all of this to go down?

– A.

P.S. – On a lighter note, during my hospital visit, I got an email confirming my placement in Thailand for the fall. I’ll be working at hospitals abroad and learning about the healthcare system there – super stoked!

 

Self-Awareness

It has now been a month since I have whole-heartedly committed to studying for the MCAT. While there is a tremendous amount of content, it is not as horrifying once you actually sit down and begin the process. That being said, I am beyond thankful that I signed up for a preparatory course. I’ll admit it, on record now, that I have absolutely no self-discipline when it comes to studying. That, and I forgot almost everything science-related that I learned in college, so it’s nice to have a little review. And it’s not as if my review course is torturous or boot camp-like (flashback to those 9-hour Saturday sessions for SAT) – on the contrary, I have been loving everything that I have been learning re-learning. My instructors are thoughtful and eager to help us succeed. The only unsettling factor that has been nagging at me for the past four weeks, is that my Verbal Reasoning instructor is – in all honesty – Sarah Michelle Gellar‘s doppelgänger. Yes, Buffy is teaching my class and brings the same “kickass, no bullshit” attitude. So you definitely do not want to argue with her when she’s telling you that it is necessary to skip a passage on the real VR section. She also has a tongue piercing which is hard to not stare at during the two and a half hour-long class. 

We do not joke about the VR section.
We do not joke about the VR section.

I know, it’s ridiculous, but don’t think that will stop me from inquiring one day whether she realizes that she could be the Vampire Slayer’s twin.

So am I living, breathing, consuming MCAT material yet? Nope. Maybe ask me again when I hit the two month mark in a week? But for now, I am still on a somewhat lax schedule where I include time to gym, work, watch an episode (or two), and read. You would think after scrapping both Facebook and Tumblr out of my life, I would find less to do online. Wrong. Discard those two platforms, and I have now turned to NPR, blogging, and somewhat surprisingly – Yahoo! Answers. No, I am not kidding – I think I may have a new addiction and this is answering questions on Yahoo! Answers. How? I have no clue. Perhaps it’s my rebound as I fill this void that Facebook has left. Haha, but really, there are so many trolls on the internet nowadays, that I think people are genuinely grateful when you can pause and explain an answer thoroughly to them. Personally, I know how frustrating it is to be working on a problem late at night or early in the morning and turning to the internet to seek help that you cannot get from friends, parents, teachers, or tutors. So one day, I just casually went on the Education & Reference section and began to answer a few homework questions in depth. That’s when the “Best Answers” began to hit and before I knew it, I was playing a game, trying to raise my percentage and get to the next level. Which, let me tell you, is such a high! And a total self-esteem boost when you’re battling with the MCAT. And look, now I have a nifty little crown!

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Comic relief in the form of a lookalike and Yahoo! Answers. What else is getting me through this long and daunting process? Driving. New York might have four seasons, but along with being ridiculously cold, it thrives on public transportation. Which is great for the environment and all, but what I have discovered is that driving, on my own, is therapeutic for me. Throw in some songs from John Mayer or The Civil Wars, and I can handle a long commute to work or driving home from class. What about traffic? As much as I despised the 405, traffic isn’t horrible. Especially if I’m not competing with time. And that’s just another lovely commodity from my gap year. For once, in my life, I am not competing neck-in-neck with time or finances. Work is on my time and studying is on my time. I dictate when it’s go time and when it’s time for a break. In a way, I am getting to know myself better as I form these boundaries in sync with no one else’s schedule but mine. And living at home might have its drawbacks, but to not have to worry about money for rent, food, clothes, and utilities is bliss. And to be safe, secure, and surrounded by my support system of best friends and family, I can finally focus on my self-respect (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs ring a bell?).

That is one of the most valuable tidbits I have learned so far from the past three months. They say college is where you find out who you truly are. But in my opinion, it’s when you fail, withdraw yourself, become attuned to your needs – that’s when you start to create your identity. For most of my life, I saw myself as others tended to view me. I am just now realizing that there is so much more to me that even I have not yet figured out. An example? I have been told since I was six years old that I was extremely mature and “mom-like” for my age. But the more I learn about myself, the more I realize that this, in actuality, was not true. It is my lack of maturity that has brought me to this point in life.

This is not just about becoming a physician. This is about leading a life towards self-actualization. Hopefully the two will coincide as I continue on my path towards my own aspirations and desires.

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”
          – F. Scott Fitzgerald

<3 A.