Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Punctuality

I am not always on time, but I always take steps to avoid unnecessary lateness because I feel it is disrespectful of others to be late, especially if they made arrangements to meet me/do something with me. 

My MIL and SIL told us repeatedly that they will be here on the 30th. That's tomorrow. My husband and I arranged time off work so that we can make sure the house is perfect before they arrive and that we are there when they get here. I took a chicken out of the freezer on Sunday to start thawing (takes 2-3 days. Big chicken) because I am going to make a big roast chicken supper the night they arrive, and salmon the next day. I like to cook. Even have plans for eggs Benedict and crèpes with local berries this weekend. 

Well, my husband called his mom yesterday and it turns out they aren't leaving until today. A day after they said. They are doing the trip over three days (4hrs of driving per day) just to enjoy it. They didn't leave on time because my SIL wanted to party with her ex and can't drive. Keep in mind, the woman is 46. 

They won't be here until Thursday. Meanwhile, my husband and I have time off tomorrow and a chicken that I can't cook for suppertime on a weekday without time off in the afternoon (takes 3 hours to roast) and we are annoyed. It is incredibly rude to hold up three peoples' lives because you want to party. 

My husband is livid. I've rarely seen him mad like this, but he is. His sister invited herself - originally for three weeks, until we put the kibosh on that - and did not even bother asking us. She just told people she was coming down. I suppose every family has someone like that. 

Very, very annoyed.  Going to ask my boss if I can take Thursday afternoon instead, which might not be doable. 


Saturday, 26 July 2014

Preferred Name

My legal name isn't Kay. I have been Kay since childhood, though. At the age of six, my best/only friend Aaron gave me the nickname and I kept it.

My family still calls me by a shortened version of my legal name (which I despise) as do some very old friends to whom I was introduced. If I introduce myself, I give my name as Kay.

I hate my legal name. Hate it. Always have. I do not use it. 

But that doesn't stop people from calling me by that name. 

At work, when I registered for the FSWEP program I was told I had to put in my legal name, because my paperwork all has to be under that name for my security clearance. So I did. 

Unfortunately now all my computer accounts are under that name, instead of my preferred name. So my boss will tell people to include Kay on something, and they are really confused because there's no Kay in their email address book! IT won't change how my name appears, though, without a legal name change. 

Fortunately, med school apps seem to all have a space for Preferred Name, so my verifiers won't be confused when the schools call. 

And yes, life would be just a little bit easier if I just had my name changed legally. The only reason I haven't is that my family would throw a fit about my degrees not appearing under my original name. 

Just over seven weeks until my first application is due (MUN) and about 9 weeks until the rest are due. 

Also, right about the time MUN interview invites are coming out, my high school reunion will be taking place. While I doubt I can afford to go, what with interview travel costs, I'm hoping that by some miracle I can swing a trip to Ottawa over the thanksgiving weekend. I haven't seen my friends there for years and I'd love to talk to my old teachers about what I'm up to these days. 


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Dr B

My son's paediatrician, Dr B, is amazing. He has seen her since he was two. For my American readers, you may not be aware but paediatricians are not first-line primary care like family doctors the same way they are in the US. My son is seen in paediatrics because of his autism; he does not see a paediatrician for typical complaints of childhood or well-child visits the way that might be the norm elsewhere. 

Dr B is everything I would like to be in a doctor. She is caring, but professional. She is extremely well-informed and keeps up on her readings and CME. She talks to me at my level, and includes my son in the discussion. She allows for my judgement as mom to play a part in treatment decisions, but still makes her professional opinion clear. 

Honestly, I would love to be a student under her.

Conveniently, she holds a faculty appointment at Dal and so does have med students and residents now and then, so I may actually get that opportunity. 

But for now, I'm just glad to have access to her for consults about my son. 



Monday, 21 July 2014

Course Decisions

I have no labs first semester, and nothing in the afternoon second semester except for a biochem tutorial. 

Both lab courses I wanted in this year filled up before I could register. One of them, I technically needed the prof to waive the pre-requisite for. I emailed him almost a month ago asking if he would, but he hasn't gotten back to me. I'm coming to think this prof (who is also my faculty advisor) doesn't like me that much. He's taken months to get back to me, and I've had to ask him in person and by email several times (very politely, and with at least 4 weeks between reminders) for things he absolutely is supposed to do within a limited timeframe, like letting me see an exam I wrote. 

I think he's pretty awesome, but I think he may have just decided to not like me which is unfortunate, but that's how life goes. It's not my job to make everyone like me (except during med interviews) I just need to be able to work with people. 

My schedule for first semester is crap. I have one fourth year course, two second year courses, and three first year courses. I am currently registered for six courses, but will be dropping one, I just don't know which one yet. 

Right now I'm registered for:
Immunology (4th yr)
Astronomy (2ed yr)
Biomedical Ethics (2ed yr)
Myths of Love, Sex, and Marriage (1st yr)
Human Physiology (100-level, but requires third year standing.)
Latin (1st yr)

I may drop Latin. I'd likely be bored to tears, considering I've studied it before. It would, however, be a free mark. 

Biomedical ethics is one of those courses that could be awesome but can also go terribly, terribly wrong if you get a prof that marks based on how much they agree with you. 

Astronomy is taught by someone who I know is a good instructor. I had her in first year as my lab instructor in physics. She's awesome. Problem is, it's two evenings a week. Yes, my husband is home, but I don't like missing that much time with the kids. Realistically it's only twelve weeks, but still. Also eats up my evenings when I need to study. 

Hard decision at this point. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

Where are you going?


The simplest questions are the most profound.  Where is your home?  Where are you going? What are you doing?  Think about these once in a while, and watch your answers change.



That is from a book that has always had a lot of meaning to me, Illusions by Richard Bach. I do think about those questions a lot and, true enough, my answers change. 

My home is here, on this little red lump of clay cradled in the Atlantic waves. It will always be here, even as my address wanders around the country.

I don't know where I'm going. Somewhere that isn't here. I'll know in about ten months if I'm going anywhere. My son is voting for Toronto, but my daughter doesn't remember living anywhere but here. We moved into this house when she was just six months old. Moving will be hard for her. She's never been to a big city before, so something like Toronto or Ottawa or Calgary may well be terrifying for her. 

What am I doing? Everything I can to make sure we end up somewhere that works for us next year. Writing applications, going out of my comfort zone to request letters of reference. 

Today, we are cleaning out the basement to prepare for my mother-in-law's arrival. She has some stuff to store down there. She was going to be here next Friday, but she pushed it back to the 30th. I'm going to request the day off from my boss, which I'm sure she'll grant under the circumstances. 

It's going to be an adjustment for MIL to get used to living with little kids again, and to get used to smoking outside only. She's not a very heavy smoker, but we don't allow it inside. And yes, if you're wondering, I'm still doing just fine there - no relapses, and I did manage to convince my husband to join me and he quit around a month ago. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Scheduling

I love my school most of the time. 

Having small classes, super friendly professors, great lab experiences - this is all really awesome. 

But yesterday was registration day. Fourth years registered on Tuesday. A class I need for my minor filled up. It's a second year course, and it is full of fourth years. They didn't even restrict some seats to third years, like they do sometimes. As someone who requires the class for a declared program, I should have priority. Nope. 

The scheduling was crap this year. Because most classes are offered only once a year, or every other year, you have to take them when they are offered. This is frustrating because it means no flexibility. Some classes on the calendar haven't been offered since I've been there and aren't on the 'expected' list for next year either. 

Right now, there's a third year selective (as in, you pick one of a certain group of courses) I wanted that is scheduled at the same time as the required third year biochem course. I have to take biochem this year, so I can't take med micro. This sort of conflict isn't supposed to happen, but it did. Almost all biology courses were scheduled in the same four Monday/Wednesday/Friday morning blocks. 

Because of the need to coordinate classes, science lectures all happen in the morning and labs in the afternoon/evening. There are 10 possible lab blocks and 7 different morning blocks. Bio courses were almost all scheduled this year in one of four blocks. So many of the courses I want conflict with each other and I have four straight hours of lecture three mornings a week and the high probability of up to four midterms on one day. 

I am not impressed. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Wow.

Apologies if this comes across as 'too much information' but it's nothing I haven't mentioned before. 

I have PCOS and have seen a gyn about it off and on for the least 5+ years. It's proving problematic and I want to discuss a different treatment option that family docs tell me to discuss with a gyn because it's more specialized. Okay, that's fair enough. Makes sense. 

I just called to see if I can make an appointment with my doctor. Nope. Need a new referral since it has been a while. Problem: They are not accepting elective referrals, so pretty much anything but pregnancy or cancer. 

Great. 

My family doctor has been gone for eight months and will be gone for another few (I don't think she'll bother coming back at all anyway) and while we had a really nice locum for three months, I've essentially been without a family doctor for more than half the time I've been on her roster. 

I've joked many times that the only way I'll get consistent medical care in this province is to go to med school, but I'm starting to think that's seriously the case. 

THIS is what health care is like here. The people you have access to aren't the people you need and the people you need won't see you, if we even have them. 

Monday, 14 July 2014

Sore Story

My son had a huge meltdown last week and I ended up badly bruised from him hitting and biting me. Despite being relatively high-functioning, he is still very delayed socially and with self-regulation and often responds to things much as a toddler would. Problem is he's a lot bigger than a toddler now.

It is a rarely discussed part of some presentations of autism, but aggression is not itself rare. Google "extremely aggressive autistic child" if you don't believe me. It is hard to deal with and hard to talk about because there is a lot of stigma attached. As often as people say that there's no such thing as a bad child, they're certainly quick to treat my son as irreversibly broken and unworthy of empathy when they know what he can be like when he's having a hard time. It proves very isolating for parents of kids like this - many become afraid to talk about it because we're often labeled as terrible parents, as failures. It's hard not to internalize the message that they wouldn't be 'like that' if we'd done something, anything, different. That's why I talk about it, because I am confident that I am a good mom and I am doing everything possible to help my son and this needs to be talked about.

I was taught by my son's paediatrician how to restrain him safely. What a lot of people don't know is that improper restraint can kill someone, particularly when they are very worked up. Positional asphyxia deaths have been documented in autistic patients. 

Problem is, the restraint I was taught doesn't work so much now that he is not such a little kid, which is how he managed to hurt me. It won't be long before he is as tall as me and, to be honest, that's a little scary. 

I am trying to find funding for the NVCI - Nonviolent crisis intervention - training course. It's the standard for dealing with violent/aggressive/highly escalated people. I have been taught some of it, but I really think the formal course would help. I can do it in Halifax in October or Ottawa next month if funding comes through. The full course is $2200 (plus travel) so if I can't secure funding, I won't be doing it for a long while until I can save up. I'm just hoping there is some small funding somewhere in the provincial budget earmarked for educating parents of kids in receipt of autism services. Or maybe federal, if there's anything I can access under Status funding.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Wrong Side of Morning

At least once every summer, I end up on the wrong side of morning. Awakened - or still awake - at sunrise. 

It is my tradition to greet these mornings with some spice tea and a cat on the deck. I listen to the birds telling each other they made it through the night and I watch the sun come up. 

My cat is in the grass behind me and my tea is chai. This little ritual is one I have had for fifteen years. Especially now that I have children, these minutes of absolute peace and serenity are so rare that I value my sunrises even more.

My yard is a mess, my gardens are a fright, but the robins are awake. They made it through the night. 

I have many long nights behind me, and many ahead. During how many sunrises will I find myself awake in the hospital, helping someone live into a new day?

Will I be able to make sure I keep my ritual alive then, maybe sneak away to a quiet room with an eastern window carrying a paper cup of earl grey?

I know the peace these moments bring me. I need it more than ever now. 

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Special

I'm hard at work on my personal statements for Toronto and my responses for MUN. All my first drafts are finished, I'm waiting to hear back from my volunteer critics/editors. We'll be doing a bunch of long overdue yard work today, though, so I will have to wait until this evening before I can do any more with my applications. 

My heart is a little heavy today for an unexpected reason. We just signed our son up for camp. There was a spot open that we managed to grab for the end if July. At the special needs camp. 

While, yes, he has full time aides at school and I spend a lot of time going back and forth with them, and we have modified our lives somewhat to accomodate his needs, until now he has been able to do everything other kids did. He has had accommodations through other programs before, so we've had run-ins with resume fluffers, but this is a program exclusively for special needs kids. This is the first time he's attending a program designed only for kids labeled 'special needs.' A program premeds volunteer at to make themselves look good. 

I've been thinking about his future a lot lately because he is not catching up socially. As the other kids leap ahead in their social interactions, the gap is widening. What was a small difference at five is now a chasm at seven. The school was positive they could deal with him when he was five. His needs haven't changed, but their expectations have. The goalposts are moving, but they are just getting further away. His social development has, essentially, stopped. 

A little bit of extra understanding isn't enough anymore. Now he just can't do what the other kids do and he needs alternatives, if they are available. 

As he grows, the reality of what his needs are becomes further and further from what they should be. It was one thing for him to have meltdowns in public at five. People would frown and shake their heads about the 'brat' but move on. But now at seven, with him as tall as some ten year olds, people look on in horror when he melts down because he lashes out physically the same as he always has. Because now he actually can hurt me. 

He is no longer a cute little kid who can be restrained easily by a snug hug if he melts down. He requires the full strength of an adult to contain. Sometimes two. He is barrelling towards puberty and raging testosterone and I don't know what we will do if things haven't improved by then, because at that point the crisis options are psych ward or police, not grandma. Now is when the crisis training is important, when NVCI has real meaning.  

At least, with us moving to a larger centre for med school next year, hopefully, we will have access to services we don't currently have available to us. As hard as it is to know I will be less available for several years, at least by the time he is in his teens, we will be in a better place financially and socially, able to support him in ways that we currently can't. 





Thursday, 10 July 2014

Woo!

Its OMSAS opening day!

I'm in training at work all day so I have plenty to keep me busy until it opens. I've been checking quite a bit this morning though. 

Happy applying everyone!!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Hey you, yeah, YOU

If you lock your dog or kid in the car on a hot day and walk away I WILL call the police and/or humane society and if you manage to get back before they arrive, I will speak to you directly. If your child or animal is in distress and emergency services are slow, I will break your window. And there are lots of people around who will do the same. People who aren't okay with children and animals being cooked to death by selfish, lazy, or ignorant people who can't bother to take responsibility for lives that depend on them. 

I'm not a busybody. I don't care how you want to live your life. I DO care if you are being so bleeding stupid as to risk the lives of beings who can't protect themselves and all people have a responsibility to challenge cruelty when they see it. 

Happy summer!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Well, how about that

My mother-in-law said she's going to pay for my med school applications because she wants to see me succeed. 

:)

She's going to be here in a couple more weeks - around the 25th. We'd planned to have my husband fly down to drive her here, but my SIL is going to drive her instead. She can drive just fine, but isn't very comfortable going such long distances alone, which makes sense. 




Ref

I have accomplished nothing this weekend so far. We had a former hurricane blow through yesterday so we couldn't do anything outside. Lots of people lost power and are still out today. We lost power for about one minute total, if you add up all the small blackouts. For reasons we can't quite explain, given the age of our power lines, we almost never lose power for extended during storms. The people down the road do, but we don't. 

I am continuing to work on my MUN essays. 3000 characters is too brief to allow for the substance I want to include, so I'm going back and forth on what experiences to include. 

Apparently, I only get 250 characters (not words - characters!) to explain why they should consider my application despite the fact that I won't fulfill the degree requirement. It's not much, but I tried to sum it up in brief. 

Annoyingly, I have to pay $151.50 to CaRMS (MUN uses their application system) before I can print my referee forms, so I have to pay that this month even though I have my med apps costs coming out of my September budget, not July. It's hardly catastrophic, but it is an annoyance. I don't like my budgets being messed with. I also have to pay my $100 deposit for school next week, since I register on the 16th. 

OMSAS doesn't accept LORs until August 1st, so I'm going to wait until the end of July before I ask my referees and give them the forms. I have little folders prepared with pre-stamped, pre-addressed envelopes, my résumé, a letter explaining why I have chosen medicine and what other things I have done that don't appear elsewhere. 

Once I have the forms, I'll give them to my referees. MUN apps close September 16, OMSAS and Calgary by October 1st, so my referees will have 7.5-10 weeks to do up the letters. I think that's sufficient. 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Open

For two years, almost everything I've done has been to make sure I arrive at this point as well-prepared as possible. 

It's time. 


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

PSA - Iron Veins

Finally, after ten years of attempts, my haemoglobin was high enough that I could donate blood. Good timing too, since there's a shortage at the moment. 

I have A+ blood, so my blood isn't as widely useful as type O, but if it'll help, it's something. 

If you are able, make an appointment. If you know anyone with type O blood in particular, urge them to go. I went over my lunch hour, and am sitting here with some chocolate milk and cookies right now. Nice and easy, just a bit of time out of my day.