Friday, August 22, 2014

What Does Friday Even Mean Anymore?

So, back when I worked a 9-5, I lived for Friday afternoon. It meant that I was free for the weekend to do whatever I wanted, whether that meant laying in bed all day, cleaning the house, meeting up with a girlfriend, binge-watching something on Netflix, or whatever. The weekends were work-free and meant I could recover from the work week. Even though I've only been a med student for a grand total of 2 weeks now, I already feel like Friday might as well be Monday, which might as well be Tuesday or Saturday or any day, really. The only real difference is that on the weekends, I might choose to sleep in, but twice a week, we don't have class until 1, so I get to sleep in then if I want to as well. Granted, I should be getting up and studying or getting life things done, but... sometimes I can sleep in. Anyway, it's Friday, which means it's time to link up with Amy and Karli for Oh Hey, Friday!

So for this week's link-up, I've decided to go with the five artists I've discovered recently thanks to listening to Sirius satellite radio!

1. Vance Joy
Song you need to check out: Riptide

 2.Andrew Allen
Song you need to check out: Loving You Tonight

3. Sara Haze
Song you need to check out: Lovely

4. Jon McLaughlan

 Song you need to check out: Summer is Over (featuring Sara Bareilles!)
5. Hozier
Song you need to check out: Take Me to Church

And one last song, that is a total guilty pleasure?

Someone send help. And wine. Or at least come over here and dance with me! Side note, I totally want her haircut, and can someone teach me how to wear a red lip? #totallyinept

Have a good weekend, all, and I'll see you back here on Monday if I can crawl out from under my notes and textbooks! 

- A

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tuesday Chaos, Wednesday Confessions

Well, yesterday was a day. One of those days. One of those days where you hit your snooze button and wake up not 10, but 30 minutes later. One of those days where you get dressed and then realize that you got God knows what kind of hair product on your shirt, so you have to change. One of those days where you try to go downstairs not once, not twice, but three times, before successfully making it down without forgetting something. One of those days where, when you have to go back upstairs for what feels like the 93rd time, you trip and almost smack your head on the hardwood, because clearly, you can't handle stairs at 28. One of those days where your lunch is yogurt with granola and grapes because you didn't get it together and pack your lunch the night before. One of those days where you put on your make-up in the car. And your deodorant.

Just one of those days. And man, was it long.

So far, I've learned the the fastest way to freak out 162 med students is to:

A. Not post slides before the lecture
B. Skip slides that are in the lecture, or talk about slides that aren't in the ones on the website
C. Have conflicting information on various schedules
Basically, we're a bunch of Type-A, overly obsessive, control freaks who don't want to look stupid and need to know what's going on at all times, or we all have meltdowns. At least... that's how I am, and how it seems a majority of the medical students that I've met (both here and elsewhere) react to situations like this. However, this situation did create a pretty hysterical conversation among some classmates and myself. Our online schedule said that today, we had small group work from 1-2:30 and a patient panel from 2:30-3:30, but it also said we were splitting into two lab groups (one from 2-3:30 and one from 3:30-5) and meeting in the lab. For patient panels, we have to wear our white coats, but for lab we have to wear gym clothes. Insert mass chaos here.

Someone had asked if anyone knew what was going on for class and the responses included guesses at interpretations of the schedule, which were helpful, as well as the far less helpful but far more amusing answers:

"To clarify, no one knows if we have to wear loose-fitting clothing tomorrow?"
"Wear all the layers you can."
"Patient panel, lab time, group work... FOLLOW ALL THE PROTOCOLS!"
"I think the conclusion drawn so far... no one is 100% sure that we have lab tomorrow."
"TLDR; mass chaos will ensue tomorrow from 1-5. Plan accordingly."
"Gym clothes under your dress clothes under your white coat, right?"
"I thought white coat underneath?"
"We have some of the 161 of the smartest minds in the country in this group... how do we not know what to wear!?"
"When in doubt, just the coat."
"Coat only? How scandalous."
"Well, that would make OMM easier..."

Because I am a neurotic disaster, I actually broke down and emailed one of the professors because I was tired of not knowing, haha. I never got a response, but it turned out that (not surprisingly) it was way less complicated than we thought it would be, our professors gave us directions as we went along, and no one was drawn and quartered for not having their white coat for the day's patient panel. 

Other chaos that has begun ensuing is my frantic attempts to organize my studying. I had to study in my post-bacc, but there obviously was a smaller volume of information to be assimilated at one time. I know the phrase "drinking from a fire hose" is overused in this arena and some people don't like it, but I still think it's an incredibly apt metaphor to describe how med school feels from day 1. I've also heard it described as "finals week, every week" which also is pretty close to the intensity one feels while attempting this crazy experience. Basically... it's hard. Really hard. (Duh.)

Monday was the first night I realized how my health might affect my ability to study. I've studied while tired before. I've even studied while acutely ill before, with a fever and in between laying on the bathroom floor from vomiting. Monday was the first time I was attempting to study with pericarditis and pleuritis. I say "attempting to study" because I really wasn't getting very far. The only way I found myself able to breathe deeply was to bend forward at the waist, which, as you may imagine, is not exactly optimal positioning for reading, typing, or writing. I also felt like I couldn't catch my breath, so every few minutes, I started to feel light-headed, which led to me laying my head on my desk and waiting for the spots before my eyes to go away. Then I started coughing and felt like the lining of my lungs was going to be ejected onto my notes, which wasn't going to help anyone. Add to that the bonus of my hip bursitis having returned with a vengeance and I was one unhappy camper med student.

Sidenote: If campers are so unhappy, why does anyone go camping? I can't remember when I've ever said that something made me a "happy camper". Perhaps there are campers out there that are simply overjoyed, but I am not one of them. Camping makes me itchy. 

Okay, anyway... Monday night, not fun, no bueno, called it a night at 11:30, self-medicated with prednisone that I had on hand, refilled my Medrol dose-pack, and went to bed. Laying down and going to sleep was hell, but eventually, I fell asleep... probably around the time that the prednisone kicked in. No lie, when I woke up Tuesday, the first thing I said was, "You know what's awesome? PREDNISONE," because I could breathe without pain. I have an unfortunate feeling that there is going to be a lot more prednisone in my future. Ugh. By the way, take a moment and thank your lungs and your heart for functioning optimally and without pain. Do it, I'll wait.


Right, so, Tuesdays are the only day we have class at 8 am (thus far) and into the afternoon, although we're usually finished by 4ish. We started with a thrilling 2 hours of genetics, during which we somehow blew through 90+ slides on clinical cytogenetics. The only thing it succeeded in doing was making me pine for Kristin (my CHOP officemate), who basically taught me everything I know about genetics and genetic testing. Subsequently, I pined for the days of my 9-5 and the office Keurig and having any number of delicious (and unhealthy) food options outside of my office door... but then I remembered that the job itself kind of made me want to punch people... but I still missed Kristin. We followed that up with 2 hours of rapid-fire biochemistry, where an excitable Chinese man shouted about TATA boxes and TTGACA boxes and promoters and who knows what else. Have I mentioned how much I really hate molecular bio? Because seriously? Molecular bio can blow me.

Then I did the lunch thing and sat at the Student Pediatric Medical Association Table to sign people up for the flag football tournament that's happening on Saturday (for charity!), talked to a second year in peds club about how not to fail the first biochem exam (whee) and tried to answer 94 questions about what the hell was going on that afternoon in OMM, because apparently, I look like I know what's going on. (Spoiler alert: I do not, I just pretend.) Then we had OMM... and then I got derailed by a patient panel.

This is the story of how I started crying during a med school lecture, and not because I thought that I would never remember the enzymes used in the tricarboxylic acid cycle or because I failed an exam. No, I cried because, as per usual, I just have a lot of feelings.

Today's patient panel was made up of patients who are seen in the OMM clinic here at the Neuromuscular Institute, which also houses pain management, a headache center, and orthopedics (I think?) They're all treated for chronic pain, either from injury or long-standing issues. There were two particular patients that really sent me over the edge. The first was a young woman, only a few years older than I am, who woke up one morning with intractable back pain. She went through doctor after doctor, treatment after treatment, never getting answers or a diagnosis or relief. She was told over and over again that there was nothing wrong with her and that there was nothing that could be done for her. A physiatrist even told her that what she was feeling (she reported that her entire body hurt) was impossible. How much more dismissive can you get??? Her story mirrored my own experience with chronic illness (and whatever this autoimmune disease is) that I just got very overwhelmed. Fortunately, this patient found a great team of doctors here at the university and she feels like she's finally on the right track to getting well again. 

The second patient was a woman in her mid-30's who had a few injuries from car accidents that started her pain. She also went from specialist to specialist, dealt with the haze of narcotic pain killers, and lost 3 jobs due to her inability to work through or with the pain. She was admitted to a psychiatric hospital because she was suicidal. She talked about how physical pain, day in and day out, can and does lead to depression. Life feels meaningless because the life you had before is over and this new life doesn't have much going for it. Another patient said, "Either come here and kill me, or do something about this pain. Who wants to live like that?" She started to talk about how one of the physicians here helped to save her life, and at that point, I lost it. I managed to not ugly-cry, but it certainly looked like my face was leaking. I guess that makes sense, because it was.

The patient also mentioned that people don't understand chronic pain, because it's not like the patient is always outwardly exhibiting signs of injury or illness. Instead, many of us look "totally normal" and can have what appear to be normal jobs and normal lives. What the world doesn't see is that every step we take from the car to the door feels like a mile, or the pain patches hiding under sleeves, or the haze of narcotics or the cloudiness of brain fog, either from pain or the disease itself. They don't see the depression, the anxiety, the grief over a life changed by pain. They don't see the 17 or 20 pills you might take every day to manage symptoms. What they see is a carefully choreographed routine of how to do things so that they hurt less, and how to hide it when it does hurt. What they do see is that someone might have a handicapped placard, or take the elevator one floor, and when they make a snide remark about laziness, they don't see how much it hurts and how much you want to shake them and tell them that they have no idea what it's like.

I don't know why, but I was just overwhelmed with emotions. I was sorry for the pain these two women had endured, both physiologically and emotionally, because no one wanted to help them until years after the needed it. I felt anger and sadness for myself, because I am still fighting to have my concerns met, and I routinely feel that my pain and other symptoms are illegitimate because I can go to school and work and go out with my husband or my friends. Like in order to deserve treatment, that I must act sicker and frailer. I refuse to give up the life that I have fought so hard to obtain; I refuse to lay down and let my life go on without me. After all, better living through chemistry, right?

And at the same time, I felt inspired. I felt hopeful. I felt right. I felt like if I can be a physician for patients who feel unheard and unseen, then I am doing my job. If I can help navigate the waters of vague diagnostic tests and symptoms that greatly affect a life but don't add up to a diagnosis that we can put into a nice, little, box with an ICD-10 code, then I am doing my job. If I can help someone realize that life is not meaningless, and that there is life beyond daily pain, then I am doing my job. I want to teach patients to advocate for themselves, to take responsibility for their own health, and to become a partner with their physicians in their healthcare. I want to be one of the physicians that these patients talked about, who take care of their patients in body, mind, and spirit. And yes, I realize this all sounds incredibly cheesy, but I really wasn't lying when I wrote my personal statement. Hand to God.

I hope that in 2 weeks, when I'm up to my eyeballs in studying, probably having a meltdown of some kind, wishing that I was back in my quiet office with my IRB amendments and my consent documents, that I can remember the reason I'm doing this. Someone remind me, okay? Good.

And since it's been awhile, let's throw some Wednesday confessions with Kathy of Vodka and Soda in there for good measure.

Vodka and Soda

So what am I confessing this week?

- I don't hate studying. Yet. That will probably change. But I really like using my brain. Who knew?

- A classmate hugged me today and it was awesome. Thanks, classmate.

- I am meeting new people every day and I guarantee that I won't remember half of their names. Sorry, guys. Nothing personal. (But I promise I won't call you Anfernee.)

- I have been pleasantly surprised by the reactions and reception that I've gotten when I tell classmates that I've done the med school thing before. So far, no one has looked at me like I'm some kind of zoo animal, although who knows what they're thinking once they walk away. In any case, they all seem to be totally cool with it, so... hurrah for people being reasonable humans for once.

- I already confessed this, but I totally cried during lecture today. Also, I am a big sap who, when she lets herself, really does feel like this is a good choice. "This" being medical school. That it makes me feel warm and fuzzy to think about doing this for the rest of my life.

And now that I've expressed my many feeling sin the form of Mean Girls and Easy A gifs, I am going to go take some more prednisone and... study? I guess? There's always something else to read and attempt to cram into my brain now. Tomorrow we have 2 hours of histo and then 4 hours of "On Doctoring," which is our clinical course. I don't have class until 10, but I absolutely must get up and attempt to renew my license at the DMV tomorrow before lecture.

So yeah, maybe I'll just take my plethora of feelings and go to bed. I'll leave you with this quote from Pam, because it makes me laugh.

"How can such a tiny woman have so many feelings?! Did they take the water out of you to make room?"

All good questions, Pam. All good questions.

- A

Friday, August 15, 2014

And the Winner Is....

Looks like you all want to hear about med school! Also, I'm kind of impressed that 30 of you actually answered my poll, so thanks for that! And don't worry, I'll be filling in the details of the wedding and moving as well, but all in good time, my friends, all in good time.

So, med school. The night before my white coat ceremony, I definitely was excited/nervous, although I wasn't really sure why because nothing really happens at your white coat ceremony (other than getting a white coat, of course). No one asks you to do anything difficult and they spend most of the day telling you how awesome you are and how wonderful it is that you're going to be a physician. We had to be at school 8:30 for some stupid reason, and I was tired. However, I think I managed to look like a human being:

Once we got there, it was pretty much organized chaos and a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. Eventually, we started the whole ceremony and after much speechifying by various Deans, class presidents, and the guy who is currently heading up the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (barf, boards...) we got our coats! I was pretty excited because I was "coated" by one of our OMM (Osteopathic Medical Manipulation) professors, who also happened to be the doctor who diagnosed and treated my herniated discs, essentially giving me my life back. She's awesome.

Pretend that I'm blurry because of the excitement and not because I can't hold a phone, kay?
After the coats, there was more chaos and we escaped outside to take some photos and then left to get lunch.

And then the real fun started. Okay, no, not really. Then it was orientation, which is about the most boring and hellacious thing I can imagine. When I started at NSU, it was 5 FULL days of stupid, so at least this was only 3 full days of stupid. It was, as all orientations seem to be, full of people talking at us about how important their particular role at the university was to our well-being. (Spoiler alert: Not actually important.) We also learned that, shocking no one, academic technology departments are inept everywhere. We were all supposed to have our exam taking software loaded onto our school-issued laptops, which of course didn't happen, and the interactive ResponseWare app that we're supposed to be able to use for answering questions in class/taking attendance was also non-functional for many people. Oh, and they managed to mess up all of our email addresses, so there was that. 

I did get to meet some people, which was fun, and I got to meet my "big", as all incoming first years are assigned a second year "big brother or big sister" for the year. This happened on Tuesday, and within minutes of meeting my big, we were shuffled off to a house party in his car, which led to me drinking Reisling out of a purple Solo cup before noon.

Huh, I just realized that the cup matches the walls in this person's dining room. It was definitely overwhelming to be there, as there were approximately eleventy-billion people in the house and it was 937 degrees outside (and no, I never exaggerate, clearly.) I met more people though, ate pizza, and hey, no one was lecturing us about the importance of our alumni association or whatever, so it was a win-win situation, I think.

On the last day of orientation, we had a bunch of presentations (zzzzzz....), including one from the student wellness people. I am all for student wellness, given my last experience with med school, but this slide made me laugh.

I'm sorry, isn't that... all med students? Didn't we all get here by exhibiting most of, if not all of those traits at one time or another? And really, excluding the "suppression of feelings" (because we all know that I have a lot of feelings), those traits describe my personality pretty well. (See also: Why Alison is in therapy.)

Anyway, that was orientation, and having being oriented x3 (ha, medical puns are funny), we all went on our merry ways. There were a bunch of orientation events that I didn't go to, mainly because they involved bars and/or bowling, and I don't like trying to get to know people who are in various states of intoxication or when I'm making a fool of myself trying (and failing, miserably, might I add) to bowl. I'm sure it would have been nice to meet more people, but at the same time, I was already on overload from having to be around so many people for 8 hours a day for three days that I needed a break. 

Fast forward through Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning, and here we are, ready to start med school for real! We got home from North Carolina on Sunday (more on that trip later, I promise!) and I spent the rest of the day running errands and picking up school supplies. I had some trouble sleeping on Sunday night, although I think that had more to do with the fact that I somehow managed to get pericarditis and pleuritis at the end of the prior week, so lying down was uncomfortable. (Thanks, autoimmune disease. You're awesome. Not.)

And so, on Monday at 12:30, I walked into the lecture hall where I'll be spending half of my natural life and started med school at 1 pm. First up was biochem, which is... a trip. The professor is Chinese and seems very nice, but I am definitely having flashbacks to my Public Health Epidemiology class with Dr. Liu, where I spent 90% of the time wondering what the hell the poor man was trying to tell me. I was sure that it was important, I just had no idea what it was. THEN I had flashbacks to one of our anatomy professors at Nova, who may have actually been speaking Chinese while lecturing us about the pelvis. (Sidenote: The pelvis is a disaster. I am not looking forward to that mess again. Ugh.)

After 2 hours of biochem, we moved on to two hours of histology, which if you're not familiar with it, is the study of tissues. This is now the third time I've taken histology, and thank God cells and tissues don't change very much because all of this is familiar. The biochem is familiar too, but I am much less certain about all of that material and it's way less clinical, so I find it rather boring. Histology wasn't always a favorite of mine, but I've been fortunate to have 2 great professors, and I think this one is also going to be wonderful. Everyone else seemed to be freaking out about it, and rightfully so, because yes, everything does look the same under the microscope at first. It gets better... although I definitely will need to brush up on my reproductive system histology because the last time I took that was a disaster. (Uteruses and ovaries, man... always messing things up for people.)

After class, which on Mondays is only from 1-5, I got a massage and I think I may have fallen asleep on the table. Whoops.

Tuesdays seem to be our long days. We started at 8 with two hours of physio, followed by an hour of biochem, and then a 2 hour break before settling in for what was supposed to be four hours of OMM. 


In case you are unfamiliar with OMM, let's do a Reader's Digest Condensed Version of that. 

OMM is awesome. The end.

Okay, not that condensed. So, OMM, or Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (AKA: OMT, or Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment) is a special set of techniques that DOs learn, on top of learning all of the "regular" med school stuff. If you've seen a physical therapist or chiropractor, you may have experienced similar therapeutic techniques that manipulate the bones and muscles to restore optimal function. Yes, part of this is "cracking" or high-velocity, low-amplitude (HVLA) but it is so much more than that. It's a hands-on diagnostic tool, and it can provide a lot of relief to people who are suffering from back or joint pain, as well as many other issues. Is it going to cure everything? No, and plenty of DOs don't use it in their practices at all. And yes, DOs still use medication, surgery, and other "traditional" medical techniques, but OMM is just an added bonus. When I started learning OMM, I was fascinated by it, and I think it's really fun. Also, if you can fix someone's back or neck pain, they'll probably love you forever, so that's a bonus for sure. I always recommend that people see a DO who practices OMM over a chiropractor, but that's just my personal preference. I'm sure there are plenty of non-crazy chiropractors out there who won't try and cure your allergies with HVLA or color therapy, but... yeah. ANYWAY... 

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

Our four hours of OMM ended about 90 minutes early (thank the Lord) so I headed to a therapy appointment where I brain-vomited all over my therapist and then had dinner with Patricia. That was Tuesday.

Wednesday, we only had genetics from 10-12, which was lovely. The professor was a bit boring and tended to just read off of his slides, but I find genetics to be interesting all by itself, so I don't really need someone to entertain me while they're lecturing. I felt pretty good about the genetics stuff, not only because it's easier to begin with, but because working at CHOP for the last two years and sharing my office with Kristin, genetic counselor extraordinaire, taught me a lot about rare and interesting genetic diseases and their treatment. (I also laughed to myself because I reminded of the time that Kristin was learning to use new pedigree-making software on her iPad and she accidentally "killed" some people in the pedigree, and then consanguineously married two others. Whoops.)

Today was another afternoon of lectures; this time, physio and histology. I had intended to go to the DMV this morning to renew my license, but I got there and realized that I didn't have proof of my new address, so I have to go back on Monday. Sigh. Tomorrow, we have class from 9-12 and then we're free! Free to go and... study. 

So how am I feeling? I thought you'd never ask.

I'm tired, and it's only been 4 days. I haven't been sleeping well, but that is getting better (I think). I haven't found "my people" yet, and I miss Constance and Michelle, who were really the only good parts of med school the last time I did this. I feel like everyone is bonding about freaking out about med school, and I'm standing over here going, "Hey, it's not that bad yet. Wait until the fun really starts." I am trying not to come off as a condescending crazy person, because really, I don't know much more than anyone else about how med school is supposed to work. Just because I (barely) finished a semester once before doesn't make me an expert... but I guess I do know a little bit more about what to expect. 

So far, the material isn't making me want to shoot myself, which is a change from the last time I did this. I think that's largely because we haven't started anatomy or microbiology yet. Biochem is going to be the hardest course for me, I think. Histology shouldn't be too bad; it's just a LOT to memorize, and physio is tricky, but it's also my favorite of the subjects we're learning. We're only 3 days in and people are already studying the stuff we've done thus far, which is a good sign. There are some people who are already totally losing their minds, and I want to just hug them and make them tea and tell them that it will be okay. Or really, that they better figure out a way to make it okay, or they're going to be walking into traffic on Route 30 before Thanksgiving.

I'm also afraid. I'm afraid that even though things feel okay now, that they won't feel okay tomorrow or in a week or in a month. That one morning, I'll wake up and not know what is going on or how I got here, and that I'll start to feel the horrible creep of depression edge its way into my brain. I feel it now, every now and again. The sleep troubles, the appetite problems, the sheer feeling of being overwhelmed by being upright.. it's uneasy and I don't like it. I'm afraid I won't find "my people" and that I'll go through this alone. At the same time, I kind of wish I could just do it by myself, because sometimes, other people stress me out more, and we all know that is the absolute last thing that I need. 

I feel like I can do well here, but I felt like I could do well at NSU, and look what happened. I am going into this telling myself that I just need to pass, but I know that I need to do better than that, especially since the powers that be are predicting that 2 years before we graduate, there will be more graduates than residency spots which... is bad.


I am trying to focus on what is directly in front of me. I can't freak out about potential residency issues before I've even finished my first week of my first year. I mean, I can... I am more than capable of doing that, but I need to not do that. I am trying to remember the things I've learned since the last time.

Do the best you can, and sometimes, the best is just passing.
They expect you to know it all, but there is simply no way. Accept this now.
Don't forget to eat and sleep.
Get up, dress up, show up, and never give up.
You're not the only one who doesn't get it. Go ask the professor.
No one knows what's going on, you're all winging it.
Insanity is inherent in this endeavor.

As one of our professors said this week:

"Most of medicine is not hard. Some things are, but most of it is not. It is the volume of information that is difficult. Nothing about this process is reasonable. This is medical school."

The entire time I was applying, I kept saying to Danna, "This entire thing just feels insane," and it was. And it still is.When I was freaking out before starting, Danna reminded me that I could not spend the entire first mile of the marathon going, "Oh my God, I'm running a marathon, this is the worst decision ever, this is horrible and stupid and insane." I responded that this is why I'd never run a marathon. Her reply? 

"Well, you're about to."

And she's right. This first week is a blip on the radar of my medical education, and it's going to be hard. And painful. And protracted. And exhausting. And insane. But one thing would be more insane than going to medical school, and that would be for me to not go to medical school. I'm afraid, but you can be afraid and you can do it anyway, right? Right.

I plan to do a weekly update about my med school journey, although I make no promises because med school is kind of a full time job (or three). If you have anything you'd like to hear about, let me know and I'll do my best to feature it. 

For now, it's back to the books for me. 

Here we go.

- A

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Coming Up for Air

It's been quiet around the blog lately, mainly because between moving, med school orientation, traveling to a wedding in North Carolina, and actually starting classes, I've barely had time to breathe. I'm actually in a break right now from my second day of med school (what the crap?) and while I am sure I could be studying or reading or maybe even eating lunch (imagine that!) I've decided to drop in here and say hey to all of you lovely people out there.

I realize that I have about 93 things to catch everyone up on, but I need your help. What do you want to here about first? Do you have any specific questions about any of the stuff I've managed to accomplish in the last couple of weeks? For example, I posted on Twitter:

And someone replied that they wanted to hear about how moving while dealing with RA symptoms went for me. That's a great question, and one I am more than happy to answer. So, if you have questions... send them my way! Moving, med school, whatever... I'll do my best to answer them in my post. Also, fill out my 3 second poll to help me decide what to post about first.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

For now, it's back to the books for me!

- A

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

That's My Bag!

I know, I missed the Weekly Wrap Up, none of you know how my move went, and while the first day of orientation was semi-interesting, I don't think it warrants an entire blog post. SO, I am linking up with BeccaHeather, Lisa, and Rachael for the Bag Lady Link Up! 

Bag Lady Linkup

I have wanted to do a "what's in your bag" post for awhile, mainly because I routinely find strange things in my purses and thought it would be fun to dump it out and share that with you all. For example, interesting things that have been found in my purse include:

- Individually wrapped pats of butter
- Socks
- An unused buccal swab (AKA: A bristle-y toothbrush-y looking thing for taking a sample of cheek cells)
- A banana
- Cutlery
- Random pills (yikes, that sounds bad)

If you can't tell, I kind of live out of my bags. I try not to carry ones that are TOO huge, otherwise I may get lost in it and never be found again. I also switch between 3 or 4 main bags, depending on what I am wearing. I have 2 black purses, a cognac colored leather tote, and a navy blue tote from Franklin Covey that I love. I also have a bunch of canvas tote bags, a messenger bag from my job, and a Vera Bradley tote that I got at a thrift store for $20. 

So, here is the bag I've been carrying:

Exhibit A: My bag. Ho-hum.
This is a deceptively large bag in which I lose my phone about 900 times a day. I bought it at Kohl's approximately eleventy-billion years ago. I have no idea why it's still alive, and in fact, there's a hole in one of the inner pockets that leads to the mystical space in between the lining of my bag and the bag itself. Once I found 12 screws and nails in there because I had taken down a bunch of frames in our old apartment and threw them into my bag. It was like going to bag-Narnia!

Anyway. Here's what was in my bag:

1. ID holder - This was a gift from Constance and I used to keep my med school ID in it... and then my grad school ID... and now it will hold my med school ID again once we get those.

2. Keys - I lose these in my bag about 93 times a day. There's the fob for my car, 2 house keys, a mailbox key, an extra key to Ken's car, a key to my mom's house, and a bunch of discount cards for grocery stores, some library cards, and a swipe card for the gym I don't go to on there as well.

3. 5 blonde bobby pins - I swear, these things multiply in the bottom of my purse.

4. Check book - Yes, I carry my check book. No, I'm not actually a hundred years old.

5. Altoids - I didn't used to carry mints, but the peppermint helps if I get randomly nauseated (which happens way too frequently), and sometimes, you just need to freshen your breath. They also help you stay awake if you're in a boring meeting (or orientation...)

6. Hand lotion - This was an impulse buy in line at Ulta. It smells like cucumbers and I kind of want to eat it. But I won't, I promise.

7. 3 pens and 2 pencils - Seriously, I don't even know where that yellow pencil came from.

8. Hair clip - This usually lives in my bathroom but it was so hot today that I threw it in my bag in case I needed to get my hair off of my neck. Then I was too stubborn to mess up my blow-out, so I didn't use it. 

9. A small notebook - This holds to-do lists, phone numbers, shopping lists, and other random-yet-important information, like blog post ideas

10. A smaller bag - This pouch is actually from my navy blue bag, but it has important stuff in it, so it travels from bag to bag. More on that later.

11. Wallet - I really need a new one of these because the snap on this one has been broken for ages. It's... where I keep things one would normally keep in a wallet. The end.

12. Drugs - No, not that kind. Tums, papaya tablets (papain is a natural digestive enzyme and it helps calm my stomach), Execedrin Migraine for less-serious migraines, and Fioricet for ice-pick-in-my-eye migraines. Also, there an alcohol swab there (smelling alcohol swabs can help curb nausea... also, you never know when you need to sanitize something, I guess), and a lone Benadryl tablet for those impromptu allergic fiascos.

13. Microfiber cleaning cloth - This is supposed to stay in my car to clean my GPS screen, but I threw it in my bag so I could clean my glasses and my phone, too. Leaving it out and about in my disgusting bag is probably defeating its cleaning purpose, but... oh well.

14. A receipt/tracking info from the post office - Today I mailed a suit that doesn't fit me anymore to a friend I made over Twitter who needs a suit in that particular size and couldn't get one at this time. She is starting law school and was feeling pretty down that she couldn't afford a new suit, so I volunteered to send her one of mine that I'm no longer using. It made my heart smile to make someone's life a little brighter.

15. Cosmetic bag - Holding... cosmetics. More on that later. 

16. A quarter - Self explanatory, I hope.

17. Appointment reminder cards - One for my neurologist and one for my rheumatologist. Okay, maybe I am a hundred years old.

18. A PATCO Freedom card - New Jersey has almost no useful public transit to speak of, but you can get to certain places in Philadelphia from certain places in NJ with relatively little chaos (although don't expect to be on time). When I commuted, I reloaded this card weekly to go back and forth via the train. Since then, it's been hanging out in my purse and I use it when I need to go to Philly and don't want to drive. Which is pretty much never, but hey, there's money on there!

And I bet you're wondering, "Hey A, what was in those smaller bags?!" I'm going to tell you, you lucky people.

1. Foundation - In FitMe! shade 110 (AKA: Translucent)

2. Mirrored compact - A gift from my best friend Victoria for being her MOH. It has my name on it!

3. Chapstick - From my dentist's office...? I have no idea why that is in there instead of my Burt's Bees.

4. Clinique High Impact Mascara - I just bought a regular size of this mascara, but I threw the tiny one in my bag in case I needed it.

5. A hair tie - For obvious reasons.

6. More blonde bobby pins - See above.

7. Blush from Ulta - I don't usually wear blush so I have no idea this was in there. All good questions.

8. ELF Concealer and Highlighter - I used to buy $23 concealer because it was awesome. Then I tried this one, which I think is $3 (or less) at Target and it worked just as well. Sold.

9. More drugs - This is my Byetta, an injectable medication that I take to help control my insulin resistance from my PCOS. Yes, I inject myself with drugs once or twice a day. 

10. Naked lip gloss - I usually hate lip gloss, but a friend gave this to me and it's quite lovely.

11. Lipstick - In... some shade of brown-neutral. Thrilling.

12. More lipstick - In some shade of rosey-mauve

13. A key - I thought this was our mailbox key. It isn't. I have no idea what it's for. Make something exciting up and tell me in the comments!

So that, my friends, is what I carry on a regular old, random day on which I went to orientation for med school and ran some errands. What's in your bag? Anything interesting or fun? Do you also carry bags inside of your bags? Do you have the same problem that I have with living out of your purse? Let me know!

- A

Friday, August 1, 2014

Wait, Say That Again?

It's Friday! I'm not sure Friday has the same weight that it did when I was a slave to the 9-5 in my office. For instance, it's felt like Saturday since last Thursday and the only reason I even kind of know what day it is in reality is because I've had appointments and things being delivered and places to be. If I had nowhere to be and nothing to do, I definitely wouldn't know what was going on. But yes, it's Friday and instead of 5 on Friday, I decided to link up with some lovely ladies for... a vlog link-up! Yes! I'm finally vlogging! I make no promises about how this will go, so unless this is an unmitigated disaster of an experience, you're going to see it.

This link-up was especially interesting to me because it's about accents and I don't think I have one. At least, not the one I'm theoretically supposed to have, having grown up in southern NJ. For example, I say "water" not "wooder", and no, no one actually says "Joisey" unless they're from New York and they're trying to make fun of people from New Jersey. I know that I must say some words oddly, because when I went to school in Ohio, my friends were really confused by some of my pronounciations... which I'll get to later in this vlog! So, without further adieu, here we go. Be nice, it's my first time. :)


If you'd like, you can also watch this on YouTube if you click here! And, as promised, here is the list of questions I answered:

1. Your Name
2. Where you're from.
3. Pronounce the following words: Aunt, Roof, Route, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Pajamas, Caught, Naturally, Aluminum, Crackerjack, Doorknob, Envelope
4. What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
5. What is a bubbly carbonated drink called?
6. What do you call gym shoes?
7. What do you call your grandparents?
8. What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
9. What is the thing you change the TV channel with?
10. What is the bug that when you touch it, it rolls into a ball? How about the one that lights up at night?
11. What do you say to address a group of people?
12. Do you speak any other languages? If so, say something in that language(s).
13. Do you think you have an accent?
14. End by saying any 3 words you want.

And that is how I'm ending my Friday evening at ten after eleven at night. If you'll excuse me, I have to go get the freshly washed sheets (twice in two days... thanks, Luna) out of the dryer and put them on the bed, and also wash the duvet cover and then somehow wrangle the duvet back into the damn thing. At least I can say I will have gotten my exercise for the day. (Why is that task so crazy? There has to be an easier way.)

Have a good night and a great weekend, everyone!

- A

PS: A cold cut sandwich with lettuce and cheese etc? That's a hoagie. It's not a sub or a hero or heaven forbid, a grinder. It's a hoagie. And yes, I do "argue" about this with Ken, since he insists that it's a hero. He's wrong. Long live the hoagie!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Confessions of a Mad Unpacker

Hello lovelies! Today I'm blogging in a Starbucks on Penn's campus, so I feel very much like a college student. Thankfully, I'm no longer a college student (although in a mere 5 days, I'll be a med student, which is INSANE) and right now, I'm some kind of combination of unemployed-soon-to-be-student-grown-up but I definitely don't feel like one. But it's Wednesday, so it's time for everyone's favorite... confessions!

Vodka and Soda

- Once again, I totally lied about being back for Listed Tuesdays... mainly because there was nowhere to link-up, but also because yesterday I spent most of the day sleeping and then running errands. Sorry, guys. Lists will be back next week. I hope. I make no promises.

- I am definitely a crazy cat lady and may have convinced my husband to let me adopt another cat. Keep your fingers crossed that he doesn't change his mind, that we get approved, and that the kitty we want is still available.

- Still haven't quit the gym... but I'm going to go tomorrow. Or Friday. Definitely by Friday.

- I asked the barista at Starbucks to remake my drink today b/c my mocha frappucino somehow tasted like strawberry. Wash out your blenders, people! And yeah, I did feel bad about it. I don't want to be "that person". I guess I am now. Whoops.

- I had a huge crying meltdown in my therapist's office today. I guess that's the place to do it, but I was definitely doing the ugly cry. Sorry for using all of your tissues, therapist.

- Speaking of therapy, I can't see my therapist next week or possibly for all of August because I don't know my class schedule for the week of the 11th and she's off the last 2 weeks of the month. I may lose my mind. You've been warned.

- Our cats really do not understand two-story living or hardwood floors. It's greatly amusing to me, although I do feel bad that they're sliding all over the place and crying when they can't find us.

- I was walking to my therapy appointment today and totally had a freak out because I couldn't find my iPhone for work. It took me a minute to realize that I no longer have an iPhone for work, or for anything. I'm unemployed! Cue more freaking out.

- I alternately wanted to throw up today when I got my student loan documents. Yay, I have money and can pay for school... boo, I have so much debt I will die before it is paid off. Someone send booze this way.

- I just realized I may have been flashing the people on the street outside of this Starbucks. I am sitting in front of a plate glass window while wearing a skirt and I was not sitting like a lady. ::crosses legs::

- I'm super excited about my new blogging friend, Marcie, and I wish she lived closer than Indianapolis because we would have the best time knitting, going to Target, and hanging out in our pajamas.

- I am nervous about my rheumatologist appointment today because he may stick a giant needle full of cortisone in my hip. He may also tell me that it's totally cool to stop taking my birth control. Or he's going to tell me that it's totally not cool and I can't have a baby because my body sucks at life. Either way, cue freaking out.

- My white coat ceremony is on Sunday and I am alternately super excited and totally anxious. THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING.

Life, you guys. It's really happening. Whoa.

So, those are my confessions for this week. I have to get going so I can drive across Philadelphia to my appointment and pray to the parking gods that there is street parking near my doctor's office. Perhaps tomorrow you'll get an update about moving. I have so many pictures to share, it's not even funny. Well, some of them are funny. You'll just have to wait and see! Don't forget to head over to Vodka and Soda to link up your own confessions and to read everyone else's secrets as well!

- A