Thursday, December 20, 2012

3 is better than 2

Woke up this morning, still feeling hellish from the apparent TB* that I caught before coming home from Ireland.

It was my usual routine of

1. regain consciousness
2. realize where I am on the planet
3. worry about having a job on July 1st
4. hit 'refresh' on my phone to see if any emails have come through.


Let me tell you, after all the rejection emails I received when applying to medical school in Canada, seeing the subject heading "Invitation for Interview" is a sweetness I can't even describe.

Without taming the Medusa-like mane, or smoothing out the red flannel pajamas, or brushing my teeth, I walked up the stairs into my sister's kitchen, phone held high in the air. My brother in law saw the rising iphone and said,

"Ooooooohhhhh!!!! I THINK WE'VE GOT ANOTHER INTERVIEW!!!!!!"

Cue familial happy dance.

UPDATE: Just received 2 rejection letters. Sigh. Keeping me honest, I suppose.

*I didn't actually catch TB. I just have a horrendous respiratory tract infection which I cannot seem to shake, though no night sweats, weight loss, or hemoptysis (for the record). 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

And then there were TWO!!

Today while walking through West Edmonton Mall, trying to replace my burned in housefire ski pants, I checked my email .


I nearly cried in the mall. Then I nearly jumped up and down. Then I nearly hugged a random elderly couple who were eating ice cream. Then I tried to send 7 texts all at once.

It's big people. Big. I am over the moon.

These are some exciting times!

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Nope! I am not afraid to use the oldest meme on the internet to display exactly how I feel!

Yes, I do believe I have the right to put that title in all caps.

Of course, I've been compulsively hitting 'refresh' on my emails since Thursday which is when some of the IMG programs were rumored to start sending offers/rejection letters out. Last night my mom and I were babysitting my brother's three little ones so I was distracted with the chaos until after their swimming lesson. As soon as they all fell into an "Ice Age" induced trance and I was able to check my email again.

Et voila!! My first offer!!

I screeched, jumped up and down, did some clapping, fist pumping, and then ran into the living room to 4 stunned sets of eyes. Of course my mom was over the moon, but the little-ies just looked up at me from their warm milk like I had completely lost the plot. My niece asking me, "are you a doctor yet?" Um, no....but it looks like I might actually get to be one soon!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Little Breakthroughs

Today was a big day for me in an area completely outside of medicine. Yay! There are other things in life besides stressing out about my future career.

Indulge me in a little post about yoga.

My sister has a great workout studio in her basement so today we decided to spend some time playing down there and attempting on some challenging yoga poses. She has become a serious yogi in the past couple of years who can now wipe the mat with me. Yes...the student has become the teacher. 

So we both had some fun breakthroughs today resulting in loads of whoops and high fives sounding up the basement floorboards.

To start.

We finally nailed Bird of Paradise. It is a beautiful pose and one that I've often admired others doing in hot yoga classes. But usually the flow is so fast and I am so afraid of falling on my tuchas that I haven't attempted it before. (I took a very hard and embarrassing fall from a bind once in Whistler which has made me one-leg-bind-shy). My sister went from not being able to bind to pulling off the pose five minutes later. We were both pretty giddy.

Bird of Paradise

Side Crow
Then we tackled Side Crow. Which isn't as pretty as Bird of Paradise but it is another one that I've been too afraid to try in class. Probably a good idea since my first dozen attempts involved me flopping all over the place like a dying killer whale, then face planting with my arms stuck behind my back.
Sis had it on her second try while I was still getting mat-burn on my face but then...VOILA! It happened!

Finally we went for the headstand.

My mom had been warming up with us and now she took on full cheerleader and coach mode. Your hands are too close! You need to make more of a triangle!! Straighten your back!

"Head stand" photo by Richard Seagraves
Oh headstand. How beautiful you are to behold. 

I can't remember the last time I tried to slowly extend into a head stand (as opposed to kicking up with a wall very nearby) but something just clicked today. It was unreal. It felt so easy I couldn't help but think...why didn't I try this ages ago?? I just never thought I was one of those people with enough strength and balance. And really, these days I don't feel like I have much of that physically or mentally.

Gotta love it when you surprise yourself!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Waiting! So...slowly!
Hey, so have I mentioned that 'tis the season of CaRMS, interview offers, interviews? Yes, OK, probably once or twice.

Whaaaaattttt? You are tired of seeing the word CaRMS?

Believe me, so am I. My apologies. It is just that right now, whenever the constant chatter in my brain stops to take a breath, the word CARMS appears and I descend into one of my thought spirals of:

what if I don't get any interviews?
what if I get loads of interviews for jobs I really want?
what if I have interviews during my surgery elective in Ontario?
what if I don't get a job next year in Canada or Ireland?
how am I going to start paying off my suffocating debt?
am I going to work as a nurse next year?
do these flannel Christmas pajamas make my bum look big?

and so on... 

Ack! Waiting!!! 

“...of all the hardships a person had to face none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.” -Hosseini

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

File Review Starts Today!

Dearest Readers,

Today all of the programs start reviewing the mountain of applications for residency positions. That means that today is when the "Yes!" and "Hell NO!" piles are made. On average each IMG seat has >100 applicants vying for an interview. The programs typically give about 3-8 interviews per position. I'm no mathematician but those odds are not ideal, to say the least.

So, as of now I ask that you cross your fingers, and all other paired appendages for me (ok, well not all...I do want you to keep your gonads) . If you're a praying person, throw up a few prayers. If you're a wiccan / pagan / animalist scatter some ground up chewable aspirin into the wind while chanting "grant ABB an interview".  

It's exciting, and frightening, and nerve wracking all at the same time. Pretty sure that is why I woke up with a gut ache this morning. Or maybe that was secondary to the paroxysmal coughing fits I was suffering all night (upside to coughing fits--sore abs! See post below).

I do take small comfort in knowing that up to this point in my medical career I did absolutely everything that I could, with every fiber of my being, to succeed at this stage. If I don't get a residency in Canada, well...I've got plan B and C simmering away on the backburner.

Alea iacta est. The dye is cast.

I am trying to let go and know that wherever I end up is absolutely where I am meant to be, even though it may not be where I think I ought to go. But I am still allowed to hope for certain things. Right?

Monday, December 3, 2012

6 Pack

Me: Yeah, ugh he said he "met someone else". From his running club, his running club. I mean, how cheesy is that?!

Ryan: Sooo cheesy. 

Me: I am pretty sure I know which one, the one with the six pack. I can't compete with that! I don't have time to get a six pack right now!

Ryan: Oh ppffffffttt! Who cares dude, you've got a six pack right here! [taps side of my head]

This is why we always need close friends around to keep things in perspective. 

I also love to write equations on windows.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Passive Agressive Notes

I am packing to go home, and preparing for another move which means going through all belongings with a scrutinizing eye. Used book stores, second hand clothing stores, and recycling plants--brace yourselves! I love a good purge, being the anti-pack-rat that I am.

So in this process I stumbled upon a little book of quotes that I kept during first year (yes, cue the nostalgic montage). One quote is from a weekend when Keith came to visit. For those of you who don't know Keith, he's one of my oldest friends. We met when we were 14 at a volleyball camp in Jasper, Alberta. We were both going through a "skid" phase and wanted to become doctors some day. Hence, fast friends. 

About 8 years later I managed to convince him, over a Boston Brute, to become a nurse with me. We also got our first nursing jobs together, as employed students on Unit 62 (the acute psychiatric unit at the Royal Alexandra Hospital). 

He's now living in London, England and has a masters in nursing (my attempts to get him to join me in medical school were ill-timed due to his masters!) He's this total kick ass, published, saving the world one abandoned patient demographic at a time nurse now. He's currently specializing in schizophrenics suffering with HIV. He also specializes in being awesome. 

London 2012. Almost at the 20 year mark!
Anyway (longest pre-amble ever) he came to visit at the very beginning of medical school. I was living with three classmates at the time. A few necessary points required to understand the passive aggressive note Keith left George (one of my roommates). 

We had a MASSIVE whiteboard in our kitchen. 
George had recently been published for some melanoma research he'd assisted with.
I had complained to Keith about how George always drinks from the Britta and never fills it up. 
Keith gets belligerent when he drinks beer. 

No. You cannot leave the Britta with 1cm of H20 in the bottom. 
Unacceptable.  I think you're slipping. You're never going to get published again unless you refill the Britta. 
I'm just sayin'. 
Fer realz, Bro-ski. 
Love Keith. 
P.S Best note ever. 
P.P.S Yer momma.  

Stumbling sleepy eyed into the kitchen on Saturday morning George discovered this note written on the white board. We had been sitting there having our morning coffee and had completely forgotten about the note until George stopped talking and was clearly reading it. It was like one of those slow motion

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! [dive roll attepting to grab paper towel to erase it before he actually read it.] But it was too late.  

George, ahem...failed to see the humor in the note, I believe. Being a rather serious chap. Things were a little chilly for the next two days but I sniggered to myself over it for ages. And Georges still brings it up when I mention Keith. Coming across these little gems is the one and ONLY upside to packing / sorting / moving hell. It still makes me laugh. Nothing like a dear old friend leaving passive aggressive / yer mom notes for your new roommate to really make things awkward. 

Love ya, Keith! xx


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Holidays, Day 1.

I am disappointed that I haven't been able to keep up the blog more regularly this semester. It's been such a wonderful and horrible few months. It makes me sad to know that a lot of it will be left undocumented. I was going back through old posts and was amazed at how much I've already forgotten. I am so pleased that I put the time in during those early days. Maybe I'll print the blog again when I am done medical school and read it on the beach somewhere before residency begins, to remind me of the twists and turns that got me there.

Seeing all those posts gave me the impetus to summarize what has been going on lately. I try to remain an upbeat person and I also try to keep my issues in perspective by reminding myself that I'm lucky to have first world problems. But.

That said.

I am so ready to kick 2012 to the curb. There were some major low-lights.

My mom's house was hit by lightening and burned down in August. She was physically unharmed, though understandably shaken up by the whole thing. She's handled it amazingly well though, and has demonstrated what a tough and philosophical woman she is. Go mom!

Mom's kitchen.
My aunt on my dad's side died of lung cancer (also in August). It was really tough seeing her this summer before I left. I knew that she'd probably die before I came home for Christmas, and I was really sad to miss the funeral. She was a very tough lady, remaining stubbornly independent right until the end. She became aphasic for the last couple of months due to brain metastasis, which was a cruel twist. I hated watching her struggle to find words after a lifetime of sharp wit and story telling. Plus, it was like saying goodbye to my dad again by losing that connection to his last living sibling.

Love the shirt, Auntie Rita!!
In October, some crazy junkies decided to try to light my house in Ireland on fire after attempting to break in. Nothing like waking up to police and firefighters on your front lawn. That was by far one of the most frightening nights of my life, to date. You just don't realise how much refuge and security you get from a house until you don't feel safe and relaxed in it!

And overall it has been the toughest semester of medical school. With the Canadian boards, the residency application process, my research projects, my Grand Rounds presentation, and student society work piled on top of the hospital rotations, I feel like I've been flying by the seat of my pants since arriving in July. I've been on a "take this one day at a time" regime as main method of survival.

But yes, I cannot ignore that it has also been a fantastic few months, with a smattering of high-lights too.

I was blessed with a great group on my hospital rotations. No sociopathic gunners, no drama queens, no gossip generators, just pleasant folks who were trying to learn and get through the challenges of being a medical student.

I was living in a beautiful house, with my dear friend and ideal flatmate, Margaret. She's the type of flatmate whose car you're happy to find in the driveway when you get home. The kind that doesn't borrow your clothes or blast trance music, leaves no dishes in the sink, likes her own space but is always up for a hospital debrief and cup of tea when needed. Win.

Yes we are wearing matching sweaters, thanks for asking.
My pediatric and obstetric rotations were fantastic. I am partial to tots and tums, so I had been looking forward to these electives for ages. I even had the great pleasure of being at the mall and running into one of my former patients whose labor I attended. She gave me a giant hug and kiss and proudly showed me her 7 week old daughter. Those are the nice treats in medicine that remind you why you're going $300 000 in debt and forsaking a normal life for years on end.

Though it has mostly been work there have been a few little adventures that have kept me sane. Three weeks ago myself and two Besties went on a trip to Belfast for a pediatric/obstetric review course (and some evening shenanigans).

For the record, Eileen (in the nerd glasses) was trying to
We did manage to get a lot of work done as well, despite the shenanigans. Though Eileen did nudge me halfway through the Saturday morning session to show me an addendum she'd made to the schedule...

The lightweight.
So yes, I suppose I cannot complain too much. But I am ready, oh sooooo ready for my Christmas holiday in Canada. Once again I plan to adopt full pajama wardrobe on most days. Yes I will be working on a literature review and writing up my 10 000 word reflective journal assignment...but...those can be done in aforementioned pajamas which makes it bearable (just). (And no, sadly I cannot just submit the blog as my assignment!)

Here we are, Dec. 1st and I am officially half way through final year. Bring on the eggnog, festive sweaters, and (hopefully!!) residency interviews.

Happy Holidays! From me and my Nerd Herd. xx