Friday, 30 May 2014

The Office is a Symphony of Sniffling

Oh allergy season, how I abhor you. 

I'm really glad school ends when it does because at this time of year, I get so fuzzy from my allergies. Claritin helps, but I don't like taking it every day. 

Work is interesting. I'm working with medical info right now, doing some careful stuff which is really quite a learning experience. I am really enjoying it and my boss is pretty pleased with me which is even better. 

My mother in law was due to move in next month, but due to a tragedy in the family has had to delay for another month while dealing with the fallout. These things happen.

While the circumstances are certainly less than ideal, I find myself grateful for the additional time before she joins us. July is a better time than June anyway.

Applications will be here before I know it; only six weeks away! As soon as the applications open, I'll be contacting my profs and requesting a letter from my boss. 

I'll be applying to six schools; Ottawa, Queen's, Toronto, McMaster, Calgary, and MUN. I'm really quite blown away about the fact that application time is nearly here. I've been working towards this for two years and now it's just a few weeks to go. I need to get my essays and my ABS summaries ready!

At the moment, I am still trying to track down someone who can verify an employment from ten years ago. The company no longer has a presence in Ontario, where I worked, and the Canadian division was acquired, so it is proving difficult. Have to keep trying, though. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Patella, patella

My knee is a lovely shade of dusky purple at the moment, thanks to my idiot self leaving one of my kitchen drawers open for a moment. That's not related to the rest of the post, but holy frigging OW. I felt like complaining about it. 

My son's end of year school stuff is coming up right about now. His teacher called me today. There is a traditional field trip for first graders and this year she is doing an additional one. Given my son's tendency to bolt, she doesn't feel he'd be safe going unless my husband or I were to chaperone. If I can get the time off work, I'll go to one. Asking for two days off on either end of a three day weekend, a week and a half before I'm going to be off for a four day weekend, however, is not likely to garner me any brownie points so I've asked my mother to go to one. As my husband has just started his new job, requesting more time off is a bad idea. 

We're already planning to go camping from June 28-July 1. Yes, camping. With children. In the woods. We're thinking of going to one of the national parks in the region, but not our province, so it'll be an exciting trip for the kids, we hope. My daughter has never left our tiny province, so it will be quite an adventure. 

I loved camping as a kid. Campfires, swimming, cooking outside, all the wildlife...

Wait a second. Minus the tent, I live camping. We live five minutes from the beach, we're surrounded by wildlife, dark skies, mosquitoes, we cook and eat outside whenever the weather permits. We just have, you know, plumbing. And beds. 

Why are we going camping again?

Right, kid memories. My mother warned me that camping is really fun for kids, not so much for the parents, which is why we are making it a short trip. My parents ran a large camp (80+ kids) for six years when I was little, so I have some experienced minds to draw from, at least. 

And hey, four days off during which I can enjoy my family. When I don't want to kill them. 


Sunday, 25 May 2014

Networking has it's uses!

Someone, who he been kind enough to provide me a lot of information about MUN, sent me a solution to my prerequisite problem: MUN's distance courses. 

They're cheaper than my university's classes, and so I can easily fulfill the English requirements without screwing up my schedule. 

Problem solved! I'm going to talk to my university and see what I need to ensure the course is counter (letter of permission, I assume) and then I'll take literature this summer, then ENG 101 in first semester at my university since I have to take it anyway. My university requires that we take one of three courses as our 'first year experience.' That one counts.

I'm taking things easy this weekend. My husband put in his notice at his second job so starting in two weeks, he will be home every evening and weekend for the first time in the entire (nearly) eight years we've been married. It's an exciting time for us. 

Of course, a few weeks after that, my mother in law is moving in, so we'll see how this summer goes. 

For now, I'm just enjoying being home. It's been a nice, calm day. Time to make spicy spaghetti for supper!


Thursday, 22 May 2014

Prereq Shuffle

I need to take three courses this year to complete my prerequisites for all med schools I am applying to:
- 1 half course humanities
- 2 half courses English
- 1 half course biochemistry

Since I need ENG 101 to graduate, I'm definitely taking that. It's offered in a variety of time slots, both semesters, so it's easy to fit in. With my husband now having a day job, I can even take it in the evenings. Good. The humanities course - a religious studies class - is online, so that's good.

Biochemistry is at the same time as a course I really wanted to take (biology of cancer) which won't be offered again until 2017, so I won't get to take it.

The second English is where I'm running into problems. They ALL conflict with science courses I need to take. There is one slot - M/W/F 8:30am in second semester - that would be perfect, but there is not a single English course offered at that time. Seriously, not one.

One possibility is that I drop human physiology and take film studies in first semester, but even though it has an ENG course code, I'm not sure it counts.

The other possibility is that I take Children's lit, which means instead of having two afternoons off, I have a random class at 3pm. It means my daughter will be in daycare 4-5 days a week instead of the 2-3 we were planning.

I'm starting to weigh whether I should really be twisting myself into knots just to apply to MUN. It is, by far, the school I would most like to go to, but getting the English requirements will mean screwing up my whole year, and costing us about $60/wk more in daycare.

I really should have just taken an English this summer. Couldn't get funding though, and I didn't want to spend the $550 out of my own pocket.

Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Go west young med?

I am revisiting my decision about whether or not to apply to Alberta schools. 

U of A has announced they will no longer have prerequisite courses as of this new cycle, so I can apply. U of C doesn't have prerequisites so there is nothing preventing me from applying there either. 

Besides the fact that I don't want to live in Alberta. For one, it is very expensive to move a household that far. We'd be talking easily $20,000. It is also very far from home. To get home - which we hope to do multiple times a year - we'd have to fly. It would be about $3000 to fly the four of us. 

There are no direct flights, so we wouldn't be able to safely send the kids directly home as unattended minors on breaks like we could from Ottawa or Toronto.

It's just... far. We have discussed, if I were to get into U of C, me flying back and forth on breaks like my husband did when he worked in Alberta. The program at U of C takes two years and eight months. It would suck, but my husband will have my MIL's help here, and he now has a day job so he could handle the kids and house easily. 

The reasons I'm considering applying are that, while it is really far, the wages are better than Ontario. My husband will have an easier time finding good paying work which means less debt. Tuition is just over half of what it will be at the Ontario schools as well. We'll save $40,000+ over the course of my education. That is a big chunk of change. It's less when you count how much more it will cost to move, but still. 

It'll bring my application costs over $1000, but if it could save me a year of undergrad (and thus over $15k in costs) then it'd be worth it. 

But is four years of being miserable worth getting in a year sooner?

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Ow

I've posted before that I do calligraphy as a hobby. It's something I've done on and off since I was in high school. 

Primarily, I just do it to relax, because it lets me focus on something outside myself that requires patience and calmness. However, it comes in handy when I need gift tags or a random card for something. I don't typically like giving it as a gift because I'm always sure it is terrible and amateurish. 

My dad's 60th birthday is on Tuesday and we're having a dinner for him tomorrow. I'm making cake. The kids made him coffee mugs (he is a coffee addict.) I could not think of a thing to get him. He buys everything he needs and pretty much anything he wants which makes it impossible to get anything within my budget that he would like. 

He's a minister by profession and while I am not Christian (I left Christianity when I was 13) I can appreciate that he has a quiet, but profound faith that he lives. 

So I broke my somewhat rule and made him something. 


I hope he'll like it. I don't have a frame for it or anything so I may run out and get one tomorrow. I'm still undecided as to whether I'll accent the leaves and branches with colour or the gold ink. 

I have such a hand cramp right now. 

I wonder whether I'll include my hobbies on my app. While I do some artistic stuff, none of it is stuff I do with classes or teaches or anything so getting verifiers would be hard. Oh well. 

Friday, 16 May 2014

School Choice

So I'll be applying to five schools this year. Ottawa, Toronto, Queen's, McMaster, and MUN. 

MUN is my top choice, also probably my lowest chance of getting in. 

Ottawa is next, and is probably my second smallest chance. 

Queen's is after Ottawa, then Mac then Toronto. 

Why do I want to go to Toronto the least?

I have two family members working at one of the major teaching hospitals. One of those family members is someone I have not gotten along with since childhood. This person gets to me like nothing else and I have made it a point to keep them out of my life. 

The second is a faculty member at U of T and is director of something at the hospital, and I just think that'd be awkward. 

It's not that I can't work with family members or people I don't like, it's just that if I have the choice, I'll choose not to. If I only get into U of T, I'll suck it up and go there. 

Also, neither my husband nor I want to live in Toronto. I'm sure Toronto is lovely and many people love living there, but we are not city people. We didn't even like living in the tiny city we're close to. Going from here, where our entire neighbourhood isn't even enough for a soccer game and the only thefts we deal with are by foxes and crows, to one of the largest cities in the country is just a recipe for misery. 

So I really hope I get into MUN. 

Monday, 12 May 2014

Moleskin

My husband bought me some new shoes for work and while they are perfect for work, they require some breaking in. Currently, my toes and heels are wrapped in moleskin dressing. 

If you don't know what that is, it's a thin, soft, adhesive fabric that you use to protect feet or areas prone to friction injury. It's very soft and very effective. You can also stick it to your shoes. Things you learn from researching foot care nursing...

Anyway, I am having a very good day. Work is going well and I have a lot keeping me occupied there. I had a bit if a burnout, which my boss noticed and gave me a few days to work on. Now I'm back and better than ever. Which is good, because it's pretty likely that both of the other members of my unit may be gone for most of the summer, leaving me for a good chunk of time to keep things going. 

It's a little intimidating, but I think I can pull it off. Today was hectic, though, but I got done what I needed to, which is what my goal is every day. 

Apparently I have a three day weekend coming up. I didn't realize that Victoria Day was so soon, but it's next weekend! We're thinking of having a barbecue, something we have never done before. Spent Sunday cleaning up the yard and prepping the gardens, invite people over Monday. 

If I can swallow my anxiety and do it, that is. I think it'd be fun, if I'm not a jittery mess of nerves. 

Deep breaths, though. I think I can do this. 

Looking forward to stats-watching tomorrow! I think the emails come out around 8:30 Ontario time, which is 9:30 here. I'll be at work so I'll have to put off checking until 5! 

I am so taking decision day off next year. There is no way I'd be productive at work, whether the news is good or bad. Think I'll ask my husband to take the day off too, since whether I get in or not, I'll want him here to either celebrate with me or console me. 

I'm sure thousands of premeds across the country are counting the hours right now. I wonder how many will be able to sleep tonight. Good luck, guys! See you at interviews next year. :)

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Mothers

Well, old car is now sold car. :)

Happy Mother's Day to my fellow moms. 

In honour of Mother's Day, I'm reposting one if my earliest posts on this blog, Motherhood vs. Medicine

I hear people talk about how difficult medical school is. While I've no doubt it is challenging, I think to some degree being a mom first has done well to prepare me for it. Consider:

- In med school, you actually get to wear gloves while handling other peoples' output. I've spent [seven] years cleaning butts already. Poop doesn't scare me. Blood, pus, vomit, sputum, mucous, eye goop, if it sounds gross, I've probably had it on me, or have had to handle it with my bare hands or at most toilet paper at some point. Med students get gloves. Pfft. Wimps.
- I had a mirror during my first delivery. I can confidently say that after seeing parts of my own body looking like that, the idea of watching surgeries doesn't scare me.
- Residents complain of sleepless nights and long shifts. Hahahahahaha. Try colic or an infant with an ear infection for the third time that month. Sleep deprivation is the mother's perpetual state.
- I am used to having my orders completely ignored. While I unfortunately won't be able to send patients to time out for noncompliance, the 'I told you so' look may get used [and I have perfected it.]
- I will never, never be surprised by the fact that humans seem to feel the need to insert objects into their bodies for no particular reason. While I'm sure that ears and nostrils aren't the typical orifices of choice of the more delicate cases to come through ERs, I don't think I will be surprised. Curiosity is a physician's best friend and a patient's worst enemy, it seems.

All in all, I think mothers will probably make the best med students. We're used to juggling everything and having the lives and futures of other people on our shoulders. It's messy, difficult, tiring and usually thankless work. But it's worth it. And so, I'm sure, is medicine. 

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Seriously?

Im working on my essays and for the love of all that's good in the world, I have writer's block!

I've written (and trashed, never to be seen again) two novels of over 200,000 words and I can't write a decent 250 word essay!

Good thing I didn't leave this longer. 

Falling into Place

This fall, we're making some changes. 

It's starting with my mother-in-law coming to live with us next month. We've weighed the possibility in the past but have finally decided to go for it. She is almost 75, but is quite young for her age - it's telling that of all the health issues that can plague adults of great experience, the worst that has happened to her is she wore out her hip. 

Because she'll be here, and has offered, we're going to take our son out of after school care and have him come home on the bus every day. Two days a week, I'll be here in the afternoons because of how my school schedule will be this fall. 

My daughter is also going to start in the Aboriginal Head Start program my son attended for a year and a half before he started school. It's a fantastic program. The kids get a ton of field trips, they get to learn to speak Mi'kmaq, and it is small so they get a lot of attention and help. It's just four mornings a week, but I can pick her up two of those days. The other two afternoons, my MIL will pick her up and watch her for a few hours until I get home. She's offered to do this already. 

It means we'll only need one day of daycare a week. Maybe two, since I think they have a two-day minimum, in which case my MiL will only pick her up once a week. 

With my son coming home after school and my daughter needing only 1-2 days of daycare a week, we will be saving $600-$700 a month in child care costs. 

That's going right into savings. 

My husband may have a new job soon. He interviewed two days ago, and his old boss works at the place and recommended him for the job to the owners. It's a real day job - 8-5 Monday to Friday. The pay is equivalent to both of his current jobs, so we could have a real, normal schedule. The two of us home every evening and on weekends. No more of this working seven days a week nonsense. 

I really hope he gets this job. Between that, and the increased flexibility in our budget soon, life is really looking up. The last year and a half was nuts, but hopefully, hopefully the craziness is over now and we're on to better things. 

Friday, 9 May 2014

Hope

I spoke with the Admissions Officer today and she was very nice, and direct, which I like. She asked my stats and explained a bit about how applications are evaluated and what they are looking for (in general terms) for this exception to be granted. 

She said she'd recommend I apply. 

So I'm going to. :)

She also said it has been ten years since the exception was granted, so she can't say anything for sure, and I didn't expect she would. 

I came away from the conversation feeling very encouraged about the possibility of applying to MUN this year. While it's a long shot, it's not NO shot and as I wrote last night, I'd rather go to MUN than anywhere else. 

If I can even get an interview, that would be fantastic. 

Also, MUN sends out acceptances in late February. If I get in, I may even be able to cancel interviews at Ontario med schools, saving myself a lot of money. 

That's a big if, though. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! All I stand to lose is $225, so I'll make room in my application budget for it. 

Applying to five schools, one of which has four (I think may be increasing to five?) spots for people from my province. I think I'm in a good position this year. :)

Thursday, 8 May 2014

MUN

"In exceptional circumstances an application may be considered from someone who does not expect to hold a bachelor’s degree at the time of admission.  Such an applicant will have completed at least 60 credit hours including the prerequisite subjects of 6 credit hours in English at a recognized university or university college before admission and be a student who has work related or other experience acceptable to the Admissions Committee."

The above is from MUN's website. I've been wondering about it since I read it well over a year ago.

While I am applying to four schools in Ontario this year, it's not because I want to go to Ontario. It's because Calgary is too far away, and I want to get in as early as I can. My being a student costs my family a lot, and so I have to make every effort possible to shorten the time I spend as a student. 

My chances of getting into a school in Ontario this year are fairly high, I know that. But I'd rather go to Newfoundland than Ontario. 

It's something I've weighed a lot over the past couple years, and MUN is definitely my top choice. 

However, because they technically require a degree at admission, I can't apply through normal channels until next year. But I might have already been accepted to an Ontario school by then, and I am not going to turn down a seat for just a chance somewhere else. 

So I finally got up the guts to ask MUN admissions about what they are looking for under that policy. I have an appointment to speak with the Admissions Officer tomorrow. 

I'm not sure if I qualify as exceptional enough for an exception to the policy to be made. I am very competitive at the schools I am applying to, that much I know. But I have not invented something amazing, changed the world through my volunteer work, nor do I have a laundry list of awards to my name. I'm a good student with some difficult life experiences that have resulted in me having a perspective I think will serve me well in medicine.

So hopefully the Admissions Officer can clarify what is meant by the policy so I know whether it is worth bothering my referees for another letter and spending the $225 it will cost to apply there, which is a third again as much as I'll be spending for the Ontario schools. 

I will go wherever I get in first, but I really want to go to MUN. I just can't wait an additional year just for the chance, though. I have to do what I can to get in next year. I don't want to just give up on the possibility of MUN, though. I want to go there. 

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Workweek Wonders

In the summer, I work 9-5, Monday to Friday. It is the most 'normal' job I've ever had, and probably the last one I'll ever have. Coming off of a decade of shift work, it still feels weird a year into it.

I get there at rush hour, I leave at rush hour ('rush hour' being defined here to mean 'more than three cars at the lights.') Everyone takes lunch at the same time. I get an actual lunch hour, not thirty minutes enforced by punch clock or software. My day is neatly divided up.

The fact that I'm at work during the times I usually accomplish the business of life - making calls to doctors' offices, going to appointments, etc. - isn't a big deal. Everyone else is too, so taking a bit of a long lunch to address that stuff is not a bother, provided I make up the time (since I'm paid hourly.)

I have an appointment on Friday for my TDaP booster (you must get the pertussis vaccine booster once in adulthood. Especially if you will be around infants) and I am just going to pop over to public health on my lunch break. No fuss.

This type of schedule would be really easy to get used to long-term and I can see why it's the norm.

So it will kind of suck to get used to this, only to dive head first into a field where a normal workweek is 60+ hours.

I've done that, though. This is a nice fit for now, and I love my job. What more could I want?


Monday, 5 May 2014

I admit to some confusion...

For some reason my readership has spiked. I was averaging around 100 readers a day, but that's increased by 40% in the last month and a bit.

I am not obsessed with the numbers - far from it, this is primarily an exercise for my own benefit - but it's right there when I log in, so I can't help but notice.

Not that I mind, really, since I wouldn't have put this online if I didn't intend it to be seen.

It does confuse me somewhat, though, because to me everything I write here is just my life. Given, my life has been really, really crazy the last year and a half or so, and I'm sure some people are probably wondering if this is all true (it is, much as I wish some of the nastier parts weren't - some of my real-life friends read this so I can't really embellish!) so maybe there's some entertainment factor - or schadenfreude - involved.

All in all, this is proving to be a very fun experience for me. I've received messages from people far and wide who are going through the same stuff and it's been amazing. Apparently, I even inspired someone who is pursuing the same goal to blog about their experience overcoming a rocky academic past at PremedPostFailure (I'm rooting for you!) There are some people - like Kasia, of MDorBust who has launched a new blog on family financial mangement called Mommies and Cents - who have been consistently motivating for me. This whole crazy endeavor has been incredibly mentally taxing by times, but with so much encouragement I'm making it happen. And I'm getting to know cool people, so that's a huge perk.

Plus, I more or less require that I post here regularly to keep myself accountable to my goals. It may sound dumb, but the fact that I require myself to post all my grades here is part of what keeps me from screwing up too badly.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Round and around

I was debating whether to buy my kids both new bikes or let my daughter stick with her tricycle for another year. It's a bit small, but she's 3. Anything we buy she'll probably only get a year out of. 

My parents beat me to it by getting both kids new bikes and helmets. 

I have been looking forward to the day where my kids and I could go biking together for a long time. When I was a teen and into young adulthood, I loved biking everywhere. In Ottawa, it is easy to get around on a bike and I really do miss it. But I rarely have time on my own without the kids, so biking needs to be a family activity. 

My husband may have a new job shortly which would mean he could pick the kids up each evening. My work is 12km away, mostly downhill. I should be able to bike there, provided I don't need to pick up the kids after work since it'll take a lot longer to get home. 

It's something I'll have to work towards, given how long it has been since I biked regularly and I'm sure I'm probably not up for a 24km ride right now. The Confederation Trail crosses our road about a kilometre from home and it goes to quite near my work, so I can even avoid traffic when I do get to that point.

However, I do need a bike before I can actually go biking. My old one was locked up under 4' of snow at our old apartment when we moved a few years ago. I returned in the spring to get it and it was gone. 


Saturday, 3 May 2014

Learning Opportunities

My seven year old thought it was a great idea to throw an egg at the back of the fridge. Don't ask me why - I have no idea.  

He is now acquainting himself closely with the entire fridge and a bucket of hot, soapy water. 

I'm working on a learning opportunity of my own this summer. I've always had a 'thing' about people being in my house. It makes me insanely anxious. I get so jittery about the whole thing that I will go to absurd lengths to avoid it. It's not a normal response, I don't think, and it's something I need to work on because my son wants to have friends over. Hell, I want to have friends over without being an anxious mess. 

So I'm going to work towards having a barbecue with all my friends this summer. 

Right now, I'm not quite there. But I'm going to set a date and work on it. A nice summer event with lots of food and a pool for kids and meals outside. 

I know how to plan events. I grew up with a mother who is practically Martha Stewart (minus the felony history) so it's hard not to have picked up some tricks. 




Friday, 2 May 2014

Picky picky!

We're selling our old car. It is old, it needs work and we don't want to bother doing it. We're only asking a few hundred bucks, just to get rid of it. 

It runs, it's inspected until the end of next month. We are honest in the ad about the fact that it needs a lot of work.

I'm amazed that people call and then don't want to buy it because it needs work. 

What are people expecting to get for a few hundred bucks?! It's a ten year old car with 260,000km on it. 

You're not going to get a car that will fly through inspection for a week's minimum wage pay. 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

My Colleagues-To-Be

In twelve days, the acceptances for most of the med schools in Canada come out. I believe all schools except Dal and MUN send out their acceptances in May, but the bulk of them send them between May 13 and 15. This year, the thirteenth is the big one. 

As I've made clear, I follow the acceptances every year, rather like how sports people watch draft picks (that's a thing isn't it? Not a sports person.) 

This year it's special. 

The people getting acceptances in just under two weeks are going to be my immediate upperclassmen and women. They will be the ones hosting the interview weekends I attend. They will be the ones making those interview videos I so love watching, but I'll be there, watching them with all the other interviewees, not on YouTube. Hopefully.

The people who are going to get the best email of their life in two weeks are the people who will be preclerks with me - my first year, their second. They will be clerks with me as well, during my third and their fourth year. 

Our residencies will overlap. The ones who defer this year will be in my class next year. I'll go to them with questions when I am navigating the new world of med school. They'll be the ones setting up the Facebook groups for new students.

The people I'm cheering for, I'll get to know someday. We'll be schoolmates, then colleagues. 

This year's acceptance day is the most special one yet. I can't wait to see who my future schoolmates will be. 

At least, assuming I get in!

Re-design

I'm working on redesigning the blog.

Note: I am not good at designing things like this.

The goal is to put together some helpful links on the right - things like my MCAT studying suggestions, helpful links, med school stats, etc. - and a link to popular posts.

It's going to look a little funky for the next bit.