Sunday, 31 March 2013

Bright Mornings

I did not enjoy being a stay at home mom. Some women delight in it. I was miserable. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, I do enjoy taking care of my family, but I do not enjoy doing it to the exclusion of everything else. I'm glad both of my kids had me home for the majority of their first two years, but really, there are experiences they can benefit from at daycare too.

That said, I do enjoy long weekends like this. For one, I get a lot done. Cleaning, organizing, studying, and so on. And I can be the happy homemaker for this short period.

My kids got mini crepes with slice strawberries for breakfast. I had time, so why not? I do cook breakfast every day (cold cereal is a rarity) but it is usually eggs and toast or oatmeal with fruit.

Last night, I made the most incredible pork tenderloin medallions for supper. I sliced the loin thin, marinated the medallions most of the day in a mild mesquite marinade and then did them up in some butter and olive oil (just a little, mind you) and they were perfect; moist, a tiny bit of heat to them, a nice, brown outside. Seriously, best food I've ever made, and I'm a pretty good cook to begin with. My kids helped prepare the vegetables and wild rice I served with it. They love helping in the kitchen, and I need to make sure they can cook for themselves and their families when they are grown. Too few people learn that skill these days.

I can't help but wonder whether, once I get into medicine, if the days like this will be fewer and further between. I do intend to go into family med, so maybe it won't be as bad as I think. But it is nice that my kids are young now, and we can make these memories now. Even if I do get in on my first big application cycle (I may apply to U of A, still, but I highly doubt I'll get in) they will be almost 5 and almost 9 when I start.

By the time I'm actually a doctor, my kids will be in, or nearly in, their teens.

So as much as it'll suck to miss these little days during the crazy years of clerkship and residency, I have a feeling I'm at an advantage compared to those who won't have kids until they are residents, or in practise.

I got two years (mostly) home with each kid. More years after that to be a relatively unstressed mom who makes crepes for breakfast and has dance parties when it's time to clean up the living room.

It's fun in small doses, anyway. I can't be this awesome every day for years and years.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Miles to Go

I mentioned this before but I thought I'd give a bit of an update.

I realized that a lot of stuff would have to change for me to go to med school. The scholastic stuff is just the beginning.

Ever REALLY looked at pictures of med school students? Have you ever noticed how few overweight people there are, relative to the population? Around a third or more of the population is overweight or obese. I've actually gone looking, and I rarely see more than one, maybe two, in a med school class photo.

Perhaps it has to do with the types of personalities that get into med; largely very driven, goal-oriented people.

I'm very goal oriented and motivated, but I'm still fat. I'm always going to be big, that much I know, it`s how I am built. But there are degrees of fatness and I was on the jiggly end of the scale. Adele-esque, if you will, minus the singing talent.

Last summer, I was at my highest ever adult weight. When I am on steroids, I gain weigh extremely easily, and losing it requires virtual starvation (less than 1000 calories a day.) Combine that with the insulin resistance from PCOS and it's a bit of a shitstorm. Super easy to gain weight, incredibly difficult to get rid of it.

So I made a choice my doctor wouldn`t really agree with and I went off the steroids. The weight *was* making my asthma worse, to be fair. Crappy breathing, or mildly less crappy breathing and keep getting fatter.

I stopped taking my maintenance medication - and prednisone when sick, which is a regular thing for me - when school started. I am taking bronchidilator masks frequently, and I'm far more liklely to be kicked into an asthma attack, but I'm losing weight. Quite a lot, actually. I look very different. I gained a bit back when my husband was home because I was being lazy, but I have since lost that again.

No matter what people say about med admissions being fair, there is very much a bias against fat people (particularly fat women) in hiring, and med school interviews are simply job interviews of another sort. To get into med school, I play by their rules and it does very much appear that far fewer fat people get into med, so I`m not willing to take the chance that an interviewer will be biased against me because of my size.

Maybe it`s overpreparation, who knows. But anything I can do to increase my chances, even if just by a little bit, is worth it. Even if it isn`t really a factor, I`ve lost a bunch of weight so that`s pretty cool too.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Tricksy Stuff

This is me this evening (ignore the glare, I'm wearing my crappy glasses)

Would you be surprised to learn that I could apply through the aboriginal applicant pool at several schools?

I could. I won't, but I could, and it would be perfectly allowable.

It amuses and saddens me a bit. Much of my childhood was spent in areas with fairly large populations of aboriginal people, and I married a Native guy and have kids who have Indian Status, so it isn't as though I'm completely outside of the Native community, such as it exists anyway.

But I'm not who those seats are intended for. Aboriginal applicant pools exist to help shape aboriginal doctors.

I am not aboriginal. Regardless of the fact that I have enough of a percentage of Native blood to get me into a moderately less competitive applicant pool, it would be wrong for me to use that to gain an advantage, and take a space that may go to a very well qualified aboriginal applicant who will do great things for these communities which are so in need of doctors who know the people.

I know, though, that a lot of people with personal histories like mine WILL use that to their advantage. It probably bothers me more than it should.

This is a more loaded topic than I usually discuss, but it came up.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


Commence the panic.

I've booked my MCAT seat for August.

This is early to write, I'm aware of that. The scores are only valid for 5 years at most schools (with the noteable exception of Calgary, where any MCAT taken after 1991 is considered valid) so if I don't get in by 2018, I'll have to rewrite.

But I'm okay with that. Here's why:
- I can only really manage to write once a year. I have to travel to another province and stay overnight to write the MCAT. It isn't safe to drive there most of the winter, and getting away from my kids even overnight (as I will have to do for this) is more difficult to arrange than you might think.

- While I'm not sure if I'll be applying this year (leaning towards no, but that may change) I will DEFINITELY be applying next year. I want to leave myself a good, long time to prepare to rewrite if my first score is not where I'd like it. So, if I do poorly in August, I'll rewrite next July.

- The MCAT is going to be undergoing huge changes in 2015. As of January this year, there is no writing sample section. Just the two science and one verbal section. Come 2015, there's an entirely new science section, and I don't think there will be a whole lot of study materials available on the new test. Writing in 2013 or 2014 is more advantageous. Fewer sections to prepare for overall.

- Realistically, I'm not sure I'll want to keep applying to med schools forever. By the time my score for this year expires, I'll be done my bachelors and be in a new stage in my life. I'll be 31. Will I really want to keep applying year after year? This gives me a limit to work with. When my score expires, I can then decide if I want to keep going.

- As horribly overconfident as this may sound, I do have a good shot at med school. I'm a very good student, I'm strategic with my course selections, and I have IP status that works heavily in my favour. The likelihood of me not getting in within 3-4 application cycles isn't high enough for me to really worry about my scores expiring. It's a real possibility, definitely. I can't discount it because there are many very well qualified applicants who do have that happen. But I'm not going to risk screwing up my first round of application to the Ontario schools by only having one shot at writing the MCAT before I apply to four schools.

So, this year is my trial run. If I do phenomenally well, I'll consider applying to U of A just as a practice run. Getting in would be unlikely, but the worst thing they can say is no, so I may as well.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Almost A year ago

Last year, on March 23rd, I got the letter that changed everything.

A small, expensive-feeling white envelope was delivered to me that day. It was a standard lettermail envelope, and I knew what that meant. Rejection. Universities send out a big packet of information when they accept you; that's what the University of Ottawa and Carleton University had done when I was accepted in 2005.

I'd applied to the nursing program as a mature student. My high school grades were, let's say sub-par, and I'd not had a great deal of time to do a whole lot of volunteering since graduating high school as I had very quickly started a family.

I walked inside somewhat dejected and opened up the letter. The first page was informing me that I'd been rejected from the nursing program.

Then I turned the page, and there it said at the top "Congratulations. You are now a student at..."

I'd been accepted to the faculty of science. Now, I had not applied to the faculty of science, I'd only applied to the nursing program. Believing it a mistake, I called the university. Turns out, they will often check an unsuccessful application to nursing against the science requirements, to see if I could be admitted to another program.

After talking to my husband, we'd decided there wasn't really a way we could afford it and I was going to just not register.

Then he brought up my dream of medicine, which I had totally tossed out because it seemed like my choices - to have a family young, to move home, to work dead end jobs and barely scrape by - had permanently crossed it off the list. It seemed an impossible dream and I couldn't imagine how we'd get me through undergrad, let alone get into medicine.

But we have been doing it, because my husband has been my rock. Every success I have is his as well, because he has made it possible, because he made me believe it is possible.

I'd started this blog as a way to maintain my determination. But my determination has not dissipated, it has grown day by day.

A year in since the decision now. A year of planning and preparing and studying and stressing and working has passed me by in a flurry of pages and lab coats.

One very, very short year (well, minus 4 days) that has taken me further than I ever thought it would.

Here's to the next year. Cheers!

Up, Up, and Away

My husband leaves this afternoon. This is the longest he's been home in a year, so it has felt a little strange but nice. He'll only be gone for a month this time, then he'll be home at least until October. Longer if we can manage it. It just all depends on how we make things work out.

He's actually considering going to school himself this fall. It's a distance program done through our local college, so he'd be able to take some classes in person if he wished. It's still up in the air, though.

The semester is wrapping up, with only 11 days of class left. My last final exam is on the 16th of April, after which I'll be working and studying for the MCAT. Once I've worked out a study plan, I'll post it. I have a friend in second year from whom I'll be getting all the notes from both semesters of organic chemistry, and I'll be buying the book after exams if possible. It's the topic I expect I'll run into the most issues with, so I'm going to have to focus on it.

Our tax refund will be in on Thursday, and I'll be booking my MCAT seat then. It will likely be in Halifax, so I should be able to arrange an overnight trip and stay with friends.

Right now I'm in a state of limbo for the most part. I study, I prepare, and then I wait.

For today, though, I'm doing nothing except spending some time with my husband before he leaves. Hopefully for the last time.

He's almost done packing now, so I'll end this post and wish you all a good day.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

First of the Lasts

Tomorrow is my last chemistry lab. Friday is my last biology lab.

I still have three more physics labs (and quizzes) but that's fairly easy. The semester is wrapping up nicely.

My average right now is a comfortable 94.55% for this semester but I'd like to bring it up at least 95% in each course before heading into exams. That means 95%+ on my biology lab final next Thursday and doing veyr well - 95-ish - on my second chemistry midterm. Not unachieveable by any means. I do need to ensure I do very well on my three remaining physics quizzes, but as they are on electricity and optics - my favourite fields, hehe - I don't anticipate that being a problem.

My husband being home the past couple weeks has been a big help. He's really taken the stress off of me with regards to home stuff. Financially a lot of stuff is up in the air, but we just have to hang on and work things through as we go. His tax refund is significant enough to give us some time to figure things out when he comes home for good soon.

Speaking of tax refunds; as soon as his refund comes through, part of it is going to book my MCAT seat for this August. Even though I'm really leaning against applying to U of A - no offense, Albertans, but I'm really not overly inclined to return to your fair province for four years - but I still want to write at least once this year, and I can write it again next year if necessary.

Realizing that I'm only just months away from the MCAT makes it feel very real. I'm really about to get the ball rolling on the whole process. This is incredible. It has gone so, so fast.