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Friday, October 23, 2015

Gotta Keep Moving Forward

Soooooo, it' been a minute. I feel like the last 3 months have been crazy busy and have gone by entirely too fast. Well, I am still working on my applications, clearly still dragging my feet a little, but I am committed to finishing by the end of next week. I have 1 LOR completed and submitted, and 1 more to work on. I was able to go to a pre-health conference at UC Davis a few weeks ago which was pretty amazing. I was able to make a few connections, find out about some new programs at my top school of interest and really regain my confidence in myself because my worth as a non-traditional student was validated by many of the admissions advisors for several medical schools. Listening to what many of the people who are part of admissions committee said about the importance of life experience and being authentic in interviews made me realize that I am absolutely what schools are looking for in an applicant. Also, going to that conference made me realized that I am way too old to sit in a car for hours and be able to physically recoup quickly. Can we say swollen feet and sore back and ridiculous tiredness? Yup, all of it. And on top of that, my friend and I probably were 2 of the oldest people there, probably close to the age of some of the parents who were there with their child. Mmmm-hmmmm....

**I often talk about personal things on my blog, but I try to keep some level of "space" so that I am primarily talking about my path to medical school, but sometimes life just gets in the way and I feel compelled to share those parts at times too.**

There are a couple of things that have really impacted me finishing my application. I have talked about my son in previous posts and how we have been trying to figure out his health situation. Long story short, he has always had a peanut allergy but last year in September he suddenly developed multiple allergies to different foods (tree nuts, tomatoes, carrots, pineapple, and, recently strawberries) and severe lactose intolerance. He previously had very mild lactose intolerance but it became severe very rapidly. In April of this year he began having severe abdominal pain after eating and started taking Omeprazole, which helped minimally. Over the summer we had several doctor visits and a few ER visits. He has developed reactions to some new foods, has become more sensitive to the ones he already had, and has developed chronic constipation along with it. In August, just as school started, he went through a period of 3 weeks where he was vomiting daily, had a couple of syncopal/near syncopal episodes and felt really horrible every single day. After a visit to the children's hospital, we got him on a medication for his stomach that actually makes everything bearable and stopped the daily vomiting. He still has chronic abdominal pain but he has an appetite and is gaining weight. Two weeks ago we finally got an official diagnosis from his allergist of Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). He is in the 2% of people with OAS who has severe reactions to foods. (If this interests you, I encourage you to look it up. It is not well known and even some of the physicians I have talked to have never heard of it. There is a lot of literature out there on it.) Unfortunately, it also seems to be getting worse so there is trepidation every time he eats fruits or vegetables, even ones he has not had a reaction to before, because it seems to be ever changing. He had started immunotherapy for his pollen allergies, which are tied to his OAS, but the higher the dosage was, the less he was able to tolerate the dosages and we are currently taking a break from them. I say all of this because this has been my focus for the past few months and it has felt impossible to put any focus on anything else. While we are in a good place right now with his health, I want more answers than we are receiving right now and he is definitely a work in progress. He's getting there though. :-)

So the other thing that I have been dealing with is trying to get help with the depression I have been dealing with since having my daughter. I have not spoken about this to anyone other than my family but I feel like it is having a bigger impact than I had thought and it is something that so many women deal with after having a baby. I do not recall feeling this way after my first 2 pregnancies, but then again, I did not stay home after my first 2 pregnancies because I was working full-time in managerial positions so if I did have those feelings, I did not bother to acknowledge them. It is really hard and I am trying to find help with my depression because I need to learn how to deal with it before I am able to move forward.

That is where I am right now but I know that I still need to continue moving forward because despite all of these obstacles, I am still determined to start osteopathic school in the fall of 2016 and I feel very confident that there is a good possibility that I will be able to do that. If you pray, I welcome your prayers, if you believe in the transfer of energy, I welcome your positive energy.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Busy and Lazy All at Once

Soooooo, I've been simultaneously busy and lazy the last month or so. Kids are enjoying their summer break and I am trying to keep them as busy as I can with our itty-bitty person in mind. We've gone swimming, gone to the splash pad, went to the science center and both boys took part in basketball camps. This week we'll be doing some fun stuff too because I do not have to work this week since my husband will be going on his last trip for basketball for the summer. (Woo-hoo!) Aside from that, work has been really good and I enjoy my 2 days a week away from my little people and everything I am learning as a scribe. My osteopathic school app has been completed, transcripts have been verified, and MCAT scores submitted.

About the MCAT......yea, that. I'm not entirely happy about my score (at all!) but trying to study to retake while all 3 of my kids are home is CRAZY TALK! I'm going to get my supplemental applications (I've received 2 so far, Yay!) completed and get my LORs sent in. I've been dragging my feet a little on the LORs and completing the supplemental applications but at the same time, I've been juggling my little people while my husband works his summer basketball camps. I'm getting there though. Once everything is complete I may just see if I get invited for an interview and then determine whether I want to retake the MCAT. I'm just not up for the stress of retaking it if I really do not have to. My oldest LO is about to start middle school as well and I really think he will need some added support as he transitions. We are also in the midst of trying to figure out what is going on with his health right now so that just adds to everything else. He's had almost weekly doctor's visits since school ended and they still are unsure of what is causing his chronic abdominal pain and headaches. (That's a whole other situation I may do a post about.) I'm really enjoying my kids though and seeing my itty-bitty person grow.
My Birthday girl!

All my little people

Sunday, May 17, 2015

So much to do and so little time!

Soooooo, I will not get my MCAT score until June 16th but 3 weeks after the test I did get my percentile ranking (where I ranked in comparison to the other people who took the MCAT April 17th and 18th). It is meant to help you make a decision about whether or not you want to take the test again. So, yup, I'll be retaking in August. Booooooooo! I can say this though, I now know how to better study for it, I know what to expect when I take it and I will do everything prior to studying that I had wanted to do last time but did not. This week I am going to clean my whole house and organize EVERYTHING. I am going to start working out this week. I am going to get a schedule in order for my little people since this week is their last day of school. For me, being unorganized in my home and life makes my mind unorganized and makes it difficult for me to organize my thoughts. Keeping my family's life organized is what I did while I was in school and it allowed me to get the grades I did but after having my itty bitty person, all of that was thrown out the door. I forgot how I got where I was. That percentile ranking was a wake up call so it's time to get my ass in gear.

Because I took my MCAT early, I also got an Amazon gift card and I used that to buy the Kaplan MCAT books. The other problem I had was that I had so many resources to study from, I was overwhelming myself trying to use all of them. TOO MUCH!!!!! It's still going to be a struggle because I will be studying while my kids are home but my boys are pretty good about taking care of their sister for short amounts of time and they really enjoy it. I also am VERY motivated to not take this again. $300 is no joke and we cannot afford to pay that a 3rd time.

Applications for AACOM (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine) opened May 4th and I have started mine. I was fortunate to get a fee waiver but it means that I have to complete it by the 21st (4 more days). I am almost done but I need to get my transcripts from the junior colleges I went to in order to add those classes and I need to add my "Achievements" and "Activities" to my application. In addition, I have to get my LORs in order and sent to a system that allows me to distribute them to the schools as needed. I am excited and nervous at the same time. I am fortunate enough that I will have a strong LOR from the head of the scribe program that I work in but I have not taken my science classes in a few years and did not really have the time when I was taking those classes to "develop relationships" with those professors. I have kids and stuff! Aside from that, I have my personal statement to finish up. So much to do and so little time!

Monday, April 20, 2015

MCAT: Check!!

MCAT is done! Woo-hoo!!!!!! Do I feel like I did really well? No. Do I feel like I knew a great deal of the information? Not totally. Do I feel like I will have to take it again? Perhaps no. My goal was not to get the highest score on the test, my goal was and is to get a score that does not require me to take that stupid test again. I did not go into the test thinking I was going to ace it, I've been studying while watching my daughter and taking care of my kids; I just know that I do not have the time or resources to take it again. If I absolutely have to then I will cross that bridge when I get to it, but I am at peace with whatever happens. I have to say that I felt good when I took the test, I prayed before starting and I did yoga during my breaks (not full out Ashtanga yoga, that would have been a bit much Lol!) and I felt good. No anxiety, no freak outs. I should probably add that I found out I had pneumonia the Sunday before the test. Yes, I'm for real, I got pneumonia MCAT week. While it sucked, like REALLY sucked, it was a blessing in disguise because I was simply too tired to stress all week and too tired to even force myself to study. I also have to say it was a learning experience because I have never had pneumonia. It will help me be sympathetic to a patient one day because pneumonia is serious business.

So now I'm getting ready for application time. And kind of doing nothing. I plan on working out now (Be gone baby weight!), reading more, watching a lot of nerdy documentaries and, of course, enjoying time with my munchkins and this tall, dark and handsome guy I kind like (and I'm kinda married to). They have all been amazing while I have been crazy the last 4 months so they definitely deserve that from me right now.

On a side note, but interesting: my 10 y.o. has always had a peanut allergy and mild lactose intolerance but about 7 months ago he developed acute lactose intolerance and allergic reactions to about 5 new food items. I took him to the doctor in December and was referred to an allergist. We finally got into the allergist this past week. A week before his appointment he had additionally developed problems with his stomach and was unable to eat anything without having stomach pain, indigestion and heartburn afterwards. My poor little guy was hurting and there wasn't a whole lot I could do about it. It really hurt my heart. Fortunately, the allergist is really amazing. He was knowledgeable and was able to definitively tell me what we needed to do to get him better. He has a morning regimen now with some new medications and we have to completely eliminate dairy from his diet rather than using lactase, but he feels better already and his skin is looking and feeling better (he has eczema too, because they are all connected). I look at every interaction with a physician that I observe or am part of as a learning experience for me. While I hate that my child has to deal with all of this so suddenly, I also am appreciative that we have a network of doctors that knows their s*#$. We are on Medicaid so I was expecting the allergist to not be the best quality (frankly speaking) but I researched the doctor after we saw him and he has been voted as one of Arizona's best the last 2 years. He has an amazing resume and I am just happy that we were blessed enough to have been referred to him. Fingers crossed, my little guy responds well to all of the recommendations the doctor gave and the worst case scenario does not apply (look up eosinophilic esophagitis; um, no thank you).

So now I work on my personal statement, getting some shadowing done with our pediatrician, taking care of myself and taking care of my family. Application opens May 1st, let the countdown begin!!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

9 More Days! (But Who's Counting?)

I take the MCAT in 9 days. I do not feel ready to take it but from what I have gathered from the physicians I work with, it's something you never feel prepared to take. The MCAT is tantamount to taking 2 semesters of OChem, Gen Chem, Physics, A&P and Psychology in one semester and your instructors saying, "At the end of the semester you're going to have a comprehensive final with all of your classes combined and it will not only determine your grade for the semester, it will determine your life!" CRAZY!!! I'm going to continue going over the subjects I feel are most pertinent, continue to do lots of practice questions and prepare as best as I possible can, especially mentally.

I'm trying to stay prayerful and not let my mind delve into everything that could happen and go into a negative mind space. I have a Plan B and a Plan C, I am preparing myself for the possibility of retaking it in July if needed or even taking it later in the year if I am not invited for an interview. I am again reminding myself that God has a plan for me and that I have to surrender to Him. It is hard most of the time for me because I am a worrier by nature but I know I have gotten to where I am because I have been able to surrender myself when it was most needed. I have been really lazy about doing yoga since my pregnancy but I think that this is probably the best time to start again (or 2 months ago but whose keeping track) so that I can stop the incessant chatter that so often fills my mind. I have reserved a room for the night before the test so that I can get a full night's sleep since my itty bitty person still wakes up during the night so I'm a little excited about that and I will certainly allow myself to indulge in a glass of wine before going to sleep. While that might seem counterintuitive to a lot of people, I know myself. I would have an anxiety ridden night, waking up intermittently because I would be dreaming about all of these words and processes I've been studying. No thank you! My goal is to take the MCAT with as little anxiety as possible and to just be able to get through the whole 7.5 hours with a clear mind. Ultimately, I do not want to take it again so if I can get a score that does not require me to take it again and get invited to interviews this cycle, I WILL BE ECSTATIC!

*Any luck, prayers or a combination of both that you would like to send my way is much appreciated.*

Monday, March 9, 2015

If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

So I had somewhat of an epiphany a week and a half ago after being utterly exhausted after being up entirely too early in the morning with my daughter. I am standing in the way of my own success by creating obstacles and expectations that are completely not realistic. I had this idea in my head that I could and should be doing everything (taking care of my home, taking care of my kids, taking care of myself and preparing for the MCAT) by myself. In my head I not only thought I could do it but that I should be doing it and if I didn't, I was failing. And then, when I didn't meet my own ridiculous expectations, I became overwhelmed and just shut down, not making dinner, not cleaning the house, not studying, just doing (what I consider) the bare minimum of taking care of the kids and of myself. I have done this for 2 months! I've beating myself up because I've been unsuccessful at balancing a million things with my 2 hands. I didn't ask my husband for help, I didn't ask my mother-in-law for help, I didn't ask my dad for help and I didn't tell anyone that I felt like I was drowning. I didn't even realize I was doing it until I was almost delirious with exhaustion after getting 3 hours of sleep one night because my daughter (who is almost 9 months old) decided that waking up at 4:30 in the morning and playing for 3 hours was an amazing idea. Of course it was the night I decided to stay up a late as well. I have been tired for 8 months but that day just brought about the ultimate level of exhaustion. I began to rethink whether taking the MCAT and even applying to medical school this cycle was really what I should be doing. I had to really sit back and reevaluate EVERYTHING.

Sooooooo, what I have decided after talking to my family and asking for some help, I am going to take the next month and REALLY focus on studying so that I can take the April 17th MCAT. I figure even if I don't get the score I want, I will have experienced the environment of taking the exam, I have time to retake it before schools start setting up interviews and, in the case that I am ok with my score, IT WILL BE DONE AND I DON'T HAVE TO TAKE THAT DAMN TEST AGAIN! I have a lot of information to cover and thinking that I will do well the first time I'm taking it is pretty unrealistic but crazier things have happened to me; I mean look at what I'm trying to do at the age of 36 with 3 kids. I have to believe that I have been put on this path to complete it.

"If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it."

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I've Got to Get This Together!

So it's official! I am scheduled to take the MCAT on April 17th! I am super freaked out!!!!!!! I have been struggling with studying consistently and fitting it all in. I took a practice test last week and I was very disappointed with my score. If I got that score on the real MCAT, I would never make it into medical school. Needless to say, I felt very deflated. I had to tell myself, and my husband helped, that I have only been studying for a month and that score is not indicative of what my final test score will be. It was still hard to swallow.

So I've been thinking about everything a lot lately and yesterday I had a "Come to Jesus moment." I did some yoga yesterday and was meditating/praying at the end. It was hard, but I had to allow myself to admit my fears, my anxiety and how little credit I give myself. I have come so far since I started school again 5 years ago. I had 3 goals then:

1. Get my Associates degree (Check!)
2. Get my Bachelor's degree (Check!)
3. Become a doctor (In progress)

I have accomplished 2 of my goals and I have done really well under the circumstances. I was able to juggle my monkeys, school and taking care of myself. This last goal feels so much bigger though. I think part of it is having this new little person who requires so much more of me and part of it is the overwhelming feeling that I can't do it, that it's just too much. But I digress, so realizing all that I have already accomplished and reminding myself that becoming a doctor is not only a choice I have made, it is my calling. I truly believe that God only asks certain people to live a life of service and he has asked that of me. Taking all of that in, I allowed myself to go through my fears, think about what would happen if I do not do well on the MCAT or if I don't get accepted to a medical school, and I let it go (mostly). I also had to remind myself of how I got to where I am now. I just did it! I did not make excuses, I kept myself accountable and I killed it! I have struggled with all of these things since having the baby. I know part of it is having a new baby and being the primary caregiver but part of it is figuring out how to juggle an additional item. I'll have to be creative, I'll have to be purposeful and I'll have to find new avenues to motivate myself. I know I can do it, I just have to figure out the best way for me to get there and be patient with myself. I have to be more prayerful and take everything as it come rather than becoming impatient and frustrated when my plans do not go as planned. I think part of that is also going to be me creating realistic goals in all aspects of my life: academic, family, and health. I can't say that I have it all figured out but I can say that I am working towards that direction.

"I am working for what my heart is saying."

"If it is both terrifying and amazing then you should definitely pursue it." ~ Erada

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Struggle Is Real!

Week 3 of MCAT studying and I'm struggling already! I think it's a combination of a few things though.

1) I feel so overwhelmed! I think I am trying to do too much. I have been doing Coursesaver videos AND Examcrackers with Audio Osmosis for all of my subjects. I don't know if that is the best way to go about it. My thought was that I would go through one and the 2nd would solidify the information but instead I got overwhelmed by how "behind" I was getting by not following my schedule because it was so much material to cover. Unfortunately my response to feeling overwhelmed is to occupy myself with other (non-productive) stuff.

2) Studying and taking care of a 7 month old is hard, REALLY hard! Some days she takes a couple of really good naps that allow me to really dive into my studying and other days she takes a series of 20-30 minute naps all day. At 4 I have to pick up my little monkeys from school and then I'm helping with homework and getting dinner ready. I can sometimes get some studying done after dinner but my itty bitty one usually stays awake for a while before going to sleep for the night. By that time, I'm usually almost ready for bed myself. And she still wakes up in the middle of the night. That being said........

3) I'm sleep deprived and I do not function well without sleep. Everyday I tell myself I'm going to go to sleep at an appropriate time, I end up staying up late to spend time with the hubby or waiting for my itty bitty one to wake up for her 1st nightly feeding. At the same time, I'm usually tired by 10 and I can no longer study when I am tired because my brain just stops functioning properly.

Sooooooo, I'm taking a couple of days to re-center myself and reevaluate how I am studying. I know I can do it, I just have to figure out how to do it best for me and my situation and not allow myself to get overwhelmed by the material or consumed by keeping to my schedule. I need to make myself go to sleep at a decent time everyday so I can feel rested in the morning when I wake up. I also need to become more prayerful. Sometimes what you want or how you want to do something isn't what you need. It's time to surrender myself to His will because He will make sure everything gets done when it needs to get done. That's how I got to this point but I seemed to have forgotten that. I got this!