Friday, 30 January 2015

Destination M, I suppose

So, it's either MUN or Mac. Queen's sends their regrets as well.

Clearly there's something about my ECs that just doesn't appeal to them, and that's okay. I wasn't able to participate in much for a very long time, and that is hurting me in the application process; I knew it would going into this. McMaster, with their emphasis on what I am ABLE to do (grades, MCAT, Casper) versus what I have the time or means to do (volunteer, do poorly paid research, etc) seems suited to applicants like me. MUN, with their understanding of the socioeconomic difficulties applicants may face, understands that too.

I am disappointed, but not surprised I didn't get interviews at Queen's and Ottawa.

As it is, these two schools represent the best options I could have had available to me. MUN for the many reasons I've stated already, and Mac with its three year program is just a good idea for a non-trad.

I have two chances. Two possibilities. I just need one of them to say yes. That's all.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Had to happen eventually...

I did not get an interview for Ottawa. Honestly, I'm a little surprised but not entirely. I don't have any research and they do seem to like that. My ECs are not typical and they seem to like more traditional premeds, more or less. A 3.98 does not make me stand out at all there.

I'm a little bummed because I would really like to go to U of O to start my medical education at the school that I had to withdraw from ten years ago because I was poor and couldn't access loans. It would have bookended my education nicely, provided a sense of completion. But it isn't to be for this year and hopefully I'll be attending MUN, Mac, or Queen's next year instead of reapplying for another shot at Ottawa.

I should hear from Queen's within the week or so. No one seems to know what Queen's wants so I have no idea what my chances are. I just have to wait and see. At least if I get a Queen's interview, I'll be able to fly into Ottawa to see my friends. I have missed them dearly in the seven years since we moved home.


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Kid Votes

My son fell in love with Toronto when he went and visited twice. He doesn't quite get that a place is different when visiting than when you live there. His visits had very generous budgets as they were with family and he hasn't quite accepted that if we were to live there, he wouldn't be going to the Lego store or the zoo every day, that life would be pretty much the same, only with longer lineups for stuff. 

He was somewhat upset when I didn't apply to U of T. But I've shown him photos of Hamilton and he has granted his approval to living there. Not that it would actually make a difference, but at least we can avoid the worst of the misery for him if he wants to be where we end up. He didn't much like the idea of St. John's, though I don't know why. 

As much as I do hope to get into MUN, I just don't have a good feeling about my chances so I'm trying not to get my hopes up there. My shot at Mac is MUCH better. Between initial offers and waitlist movement, McMaster accepts about 50% of IP applicants, and they do consider me IP by their criteria, which I find amusing.

Realizing that I have essentially a 50/50 shot of getting into med school this year as of now, I am steeling myself ahead of the big adjustments. We will have about 2-3 months - less if I get a waitlist offer - to coordinate a huge move, get the kids registered for school in the new city, get services for my son set up, have my husband find a job, figure out how to pay for everything, and then actually move and get set up. It could be as little as five and a half months from now that we move. That is not very long at all. Consider, it was five months ago that this academic year started and that has gone by in a flash. 

Either way, I'll know within the next 15 weeks. MUN acceptances will come out in early April for my pool, and Ontario school decisions come out May 12, exactly fifteen weeks from today. 

Holy crap. 

Monday, 26 January 2015

Storm Day 3

We are under a blizzard warning again. For the second time in less than a year everyone is buckling down ahead of a huge storm. Blizzard warnings do not happen often, and two in a 12 month span is almost unheard of.

We made sure we're ready for an emergency (got our Stormchips), and tonight we'll warm the house up quite a bit and then settle in to ride it out.  We usually keep the house pretty cool inside in the winter but the inside drops to freezing very quickly if the power goes out. Heating up ahead of a big storm can get us though an outage, though we've only had two in the four years we've lived here. 

In entirely unrelated news, the Queen's interview video trailer is out! Video season has begun!

As I've mentioned before, I watch these videos every year, and until now, each year I have really looked forward to when I would be the target audience, when I'd be in the auditorium listening with people who could be my colleagues within months. 

This year, I finally am the target audience. I just went and re-watched my favourite video - the one for  Schulich's 2013 interviews - and I was all happy and sentimental at the end because it just perfectly captures the feelings about this process. Watch it, you won't regret it. I've seen lots of these, and that remains my favourite. 

The MUN video put me at ease before my interview, just the perfect amount of silliness and seriousness, and I hope whatever other ones I see this interview cycle do the same. I think the videos are a fantastic tradition and hopefully next year I get to take part in helping make one myself. 


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Storm Day 2

Breakfast this morning: homemade rice pudding. Could be worse, I guess. The batch I made is about 10-12 servings and contains 2/3 of a cup of sugar, so it's not that bad, about 250calories per serving. Not what I would call the healthiest breakfast, though. 

This has been a perfectly relaxing weekend, just what I needed. Next week is probably my last lower-stress week this semester because after that, I have either presentations or tests every week until the last two weeks, by which time I will already be studying for exams. 

On Wednesday, I'll be doing some Skype MMI practice with another premed (Hi!) I didn't do much practice ahead of my MUN TaMMI and while there are spots I felt I could improve (which is why I am doing practice now) I do feel like it went well overall so I'm pretty comfortable doing it again. 

While Mac has typically been the lowest on my list (ahead of Toronto, to which I ultimately didn't apply,) the more I read about it now the more comfortable I am with the idea of going there. While I obviously still hope for MUN, I know it is a long shot so I'm glad that Mac is looking more appealing now. 

The thing that most changed my opinion of them was the White Coat Cerremony notes. Each matriculant receives a handwritten note from an alumnus or alumna tucked into their coat pocket. That connecting the past with the future is exactly the sort of tradition that I love. It tells me a lot about how the administrators view the school that this is one of the first things they do for new students - build connections with their more experienced colleagues. They see the school as part of the medical community, not only a doorway into it. It is a fantastic tradition and while it is very new, I am sure I will frame my letter if I do end up attending McMaster. 

I'll know about MUN in just over two months and will obviously attend there if I get in. But McMaster doesn't look so bad, I really think I could be happy there too. 

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Progress?

My son came with me to class the last two days. He enjoyed himself and I'm immensely grateful to my professors for letting him sit in. I had no other options except skipping class, which would have also meant skipping a mandatory tutorial with a quiz, so I'm glad I didn't have to do that. 

I got 100% on my first biochem tutorial quiz. Good way to start the semester, I suppose. 

First presentation assignment is due Feb 2 - my friend and I have to present a biotech company as if to investors. We chose Myriad Genetics. That Friday, I have my first biochem midterm. 

While my biochem professor is very interesting and an engaging lecturer, the actual expectations of material mastery are not very clear and I foresee this being a bit of a problem come test time. 

Overall, the semester is getting off to a good start. I have three of the most awesome professors is semester, and I'm getting to know the other two. Two of my profs this term are the ones who wrote my LORs and so I'm updating them as I hear from schools.

A Mac student offered a place to stay on PM101 so I'll be billeting the night before my interview. Works out nicely. I'll be staying overnight in Toronto the night after and I have a couple places I might stay there (I have a fair number of friends in Toronto) so my accomodations cost for this trip will be $0. Besides the flight, I just need to worry about the GO train and a cab or two to get to/from my interview, plus food on the go. I got a pretty good deal for the flight; $586 to and from Charlottetown, so I don't have to worry about driving to Hali. It was only $50 more than from Halifax. 

I should hear from Ottawa on Wednesday. and Queen's the next. I'm still unsure if I will bother with the Ottawa interview if I'm invited. While accomodations and most of my food will be easily taken care of (I have lots of people in Ottawa) the flight alone will run $600-ish, and that's a lot to put out for an application I may well have to withdraw. It is, however, my second choice after MUN. Because I'll need to rent a car for Queen's, that will probably be my most expensive one. 



Thursday, 22 January 2015

Study Sleep

My son is suspended from school again. It's a very long story, but the short version is that he went nuclear after he got a bad mark and his response was sufficient to justify keeping him out the rest of the week. 

He is, after all, my kid and bad marks are apparently the worst thing in the world. 

His sleep is an aggravating factor with his behaviour and always has been. He sleeps terribly. On a good night, he'll get six broken up hours of sleep. Collecting data about his sleep has always proven difficult because he's quiet and we aren't always aware of his waking at night. 

It occurred to me yesterday that my Fitbit tracks my sleep. Why not get him one?

They cost $100, though, and I don't feel like spending that much on a device for him to wear around. But then I found something called the Misfit Flash. It costs $30 and doesn't need to be recharged. It uses a coin style battery that is good for six months and it's waterproof. 


And it is exactly what we needed. The data it collects about sleep is perfect. It's showing how broken up his sleep is and that he has several periods of waking up during the night.

Perfect data to bring to his paediatrician to help pinpoint and manage the problem.

I have heard from a few parents with kids like my son who read my blog so I thought I'd share this in case anyone else needs a data collection tool. 



Wednesday, 21 January 2015

2/2

I just received an invite to a McMaster interview!

I figure Mac is the school I have the highest chances at, and so I'm not entirely surprised I got an interview but I am surprised I got it this early!

My interview is on the 22ed of March, a week after my birthday. Time to to buy my plane ticket!

So that is two notifications, two interviews. Hopefully this streak continues.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Eighteen

The day after my tenth birthday, my parents brought home a cockatiel. Over time, he became my bird instead of the family bird.



B turned 18 yesterday. He's been with me through the hardest and the happiest times of my life, providing judgement-free support and cuddles through everything. He's old now. Cockatiels live 15-20 years in general, though some get well into their twenties. He has arthritis in his feet, and he can't fly very far anymore - just across the room, pretty much, and he's obviously tired afterward, but he still seems to be enjoying life. 

The next handful of years are going to see so many changes. I'm already two weeks into second semester; only have 12 weeks left and it's not slowing down at all. I have three weeks until my first midterm (biochem) and February will be very busy with lots of tests, projects, etc. Maybe interviews. I'll know soon anyway. 

I guess I'm feeling a bit swept away with how fast things are going, how fast life is changing. The last few years have been pretty crazy. I've had a pretty rough last month, so I'm just trying to look forward because it helps to think about how fast things can change, because that's how fast things can improve. I feel kind of in limbo right now, as I'm waiting to hear from MUN and 

As for now, it's a nice quiet weekend and I am being snuggled by my adorable four year old. Life could be worse. 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Squares

I hate fondant. 

My son wanted a Minecraft cake for his birthday. No problem; I have some slight cake skill so I could probably manage to make a cake modelled after the pixelated cake you create in the game.

The fondant made me screw everything up. I will just ice things in the future. Fondant is evil. While wrangling with it I ended up smudging the cake board with icing and just overall made a mess of things. 

This is almost Cakewrecks worthy, and that is the *nice* side. 

It tasted okay and my son liked it and that's what matters anyway. One layer was rainbow chip, the other chocolate. 

Next year, I will buy his cake or just stick with the standard round cake with "Happy Birthday" on it. 

As for me, I have my first quiz of the year tomorrow afternoon at my first biochem tutorial. We will see how this goes - it's been about a year since I did organic chemistry so I need to brush up a bit more tonight. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Not Challenging

I saw my imm exam an decided not to challenge the mark. I really crapped out on the exam, it happens. I earned the mark I earned and while I wish it was higher because of my Ottawa app, I am not going to challenge a valid mark just because I wish it was higher. 

I may have a 71 in that course, but I still have my integrity. That's what matters.

I'm going to wait to see if Ottawa gives me an interview because I just want to see if I can get one. I will decline it though and will withdraw my application after that. There really is no way I can pull off 5 90%+ marks this term.  

Sunday, 11 January 2015

On Eight


My son will be eight this week. I took that photo right after we had gotten home from the hospital just hours after he was born. W, my husband, looks so very young in that picture and really, he was. He's a couple years younger in that photo than I am now. He is six years older than me, so it's funny how often it hits me that I'm older now than he was when we got married and started our family. 

It's hard for me to believe that our son is already coming up on his eighth birthday. He is a fun, amazing little kid with strong opinions and a quick-witted nature that will serve him well. He seems to have finally really internalized using his mind instead of his fists, and he seems to have realized that his strength is found in his head, not his hands. 

Unfortunately, a kid who realizes he can outsmart a lot of the adults in his life paves the way for some issues, but on the whole he confines his nonsense to amusing mischief instead of the disasters of former years. Not completely, but mostly. Some aspects of social interaction still evade him, and there's an awkwardness that the other kids tend to take advantage of, but he's coming into his own. He wants to be an engineer when he grows up, and I can very much see him in that role someday; creating, designing. That's very much him. 

He is my intensely curious, hilarious son who learns things as fast as they are presented. He is devoted to his little sister, is a fanatical gamer, and all things being equal he'd probably rather spend the day on his bike than doing anything else. He had developed an internal sense of justice that makes me prouder than anything else he may ever do.

He's a happy, brilliant little kid and while the last eight years have had their very, very tough points, I am really excited to see who he grows into over the coming years. 

Happy birthday, kiddo. 



Thursday, 8 January 2015

Challenges

The past three weeks or so have been the most challenging weeks of my schooling so far, and I wasn't even in class for most of them. 




Between receiving the worst mark of my academic career - which may mean I have to withdraw my Ottawa app - the day before I found out I was pregnant with what would turn out to be an ectopic pregnancy that put me in the hospital twice and the stress at home and discovering my student loan had been severely slashed - this has been a hell of a few weeks. 

But stuff is settling down. A bit. Life moves on and things get a bit easier and stuff works out and some stuff doesn't. 

I have a follow up with my OB tomorrow. Have to keep checking my hCG numbers to ensure the trophoblast tissue isn't continuing to grow. I have to be on alert for potential rupture for a few weeks anyway since even decreasing hCG doesn't mean a rupture won't happen. I get to go sit in the OB waiting room tomorrow morning. To any future OBs who are reading: show some frigging compassion to women grieving a lost pregnancy and offer them a separate place to wait, or just take them right back, or ANYTHING but  having them wait in a room with happy pregnant women and babies. It is torture. 

In other news, my MIL moved out. Things went south very quickly and we asked her to move out (when she is able) because of her behaviour; the arrangement wasn't working out for anyone. She chose to move out on Monday. We had hoped the arrangement would work out but apparently the more difficult to get along with aspects of her personality have not eroded with time, unfortunately. 

As to the student loan bit, I appealed and won. I will be getting the maximum amount and that takes a huge amount of pressure off for this semester. I am really impressed that they did it that fast considering I dropped the documents off on December 31. That sort of efficiency is really impressive, particularly coming from government. 

So in some ways the semester is off to a halfway decent start. There's other stuff going on which is less than ideal but I just have to push it aside for now so that I can focus. I have to do amazing this semester. I need 90+ in everything or Ottawa is off the table. 




Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Evasive

I woke up at 2:15 this morning. Didn't get back to sleep until half an hour before I was supposed to get up. Needless to say, I'm tired and a little cranky this morning. But the world marches on. 

At the moment, I'm sitting in the endocrinology lecture room in the basement of the oldest building on campus. It is freezing so I'm still wearing a scarf. I expect this class will be informative, but dry. We have a large project which is a debate on a current topic in endocrinology, and I expect I'm going to have fun with that. I want to have a debate on the inclusion of assisted reproduction technologies in public health care systems for the treatment of reproductive endocrinological disorders. Ontario, I understand, will fund a limited amount of IVF when certain criteria are met. 

Biomedical Imaging looks like it will probably be my favourite class this term. It's hard to say, actually, which class will be my favourite. They're all pretty awesome, material-wise, and I think I'll get to broaden my horizons a bit, which is a big part of why I'm here. Three of the classes I'm taking (biomedical imaging, biomolecular technology, human physics) are either new or completely reformatted courses, so the profs are sort of playing things by ear. 

The one that looks like it will be the most time-intensive is biochemistry. We basically have homework to be completed before each lecture, based on the assigned readings. I am not terribly amused by that, because I usually don't bother with my textbooks, but I can't really complain too much since it's the only class I'm taking this semester that has a textbook. 

Class is about to start. Have a good day people!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Bursting with bad luck


All things considered, the food at our hospital isn't that bad. 

I'm actually surprised I was allowed to eat at all since I was told I might soon have surgery. I'm waiting for the OB to round on me. Could only eat a few bites anyway. 

Initially I opted for medical management of the ectopic - methotrexate (MTX.) I'm a good candidate; early, no fetal cardiac activity, small ectopic, low hCG. But around 10% still end up needing surgery. 

When the pain got so bad I couldn't walk last night, they had me come in. US didn't show any internal bleeding, but apparently the OB hasn't seen anyone come back in for severe pain after MTX who wasn't rupturing so they have kept me here on morphine overnight. I'll be needing another dose soon. As a rule, I do NOT take opioids. This is the first time I have accepted them for pain relief. Still VERY uncomfortable even with it. 

The crappy part is that I had to be checked out in L&D, and I was admitted to the maternity/gyn unit. So I am hearing all the little newborns and happy new parents. I realize it's because the nurses in these units are better specialized to help me, but damn does it suck to be surrounded by other peoples' babies right now. 

Really hoping I don't get stuck here another night. Classes start tomorrow and I want to be there. 

Friday, 2 January 2015

The End of The Beginning

I had two weeks of being happy I was pregnant. 

Unfortunately the pregnancy is ectopic and I am sitting alone in a hospital room deciding between surgical or medical management and trying not to cry too loudly at the sound of the newborn infant in the next room. 


Thursday, 1 January 2015

Ringing in a New Year Full of Changes

2015 is heralding a lot of changes in our lives. 



For one, this could be the year I start medical school. If I am fortunate enough to be accepted, we'll be moving away from our beautiful island for 3 years at the very least (if I get in to Mac) or 4 years. It will mean leaving the job I really enjoy, and my husband quitting the only 8-5 weekdays only job he has ever had. 

It will be the first time my kids ever live far away from their grandparents. Actually, it'll be the first time I ever live far away from my parents. That will require some adaptation too. 

On the subject of my kids' grandparents, my MIL will be moving out. She has been very lonely since she moved here and she has been getting sick a lot due to the kids bringing home colds. It's become quite taxing for her, so she'll be moving back to Ottawa sometime in the next few months, probably more toward the warmer months just to be safer. 

My extended family will be increasing by one in the next couple weeks as my first nephew is due to be born shortly. My kids are very excited about having a baby cousin. 

What they don't know is that our own family should be growing next summer. It's too early to know for sure if everything is going okay, but if all goes well we should welcome our own new addition this year. I wasn't planning on posting about it until I'd reached at least 10 weeks, but I figured I'm going to post about it regardless of the outcome, so I may as well mention it now. We won't be telling the kids for a while, if all goes well, because we don't want them hurt if things go poorly. I have an ultrasound tomorrow and there's considerable doubt as to viability, so this may be the last day that I can be happy about this, so for today, I am going to share my happiness. I am going to leave my depressing obstetric history in the past for today and be happy that for right now, until I know for sure tomorrow, there is a possibility all is well. 

For today, I am going to be happy looking forward at the changes the year will bring, and I am going to let myself be filled with hope for the possibilities.