Spring Break

So for this spring break, I decided that I was going to go through all of Pathoma again and then study all of micro (plus the regular 50 uWorld questions every day that I have been doing). I am glad to say that I am pretty much staying on track with my plans! It’s been a super productive spring break which is more than I can say for any other break I’ve had so far. Literally, every break since I’ve started med school has been just me chillin on a beach, or in a hostel, or on the couch. And I’m not complaining about that either, I just know that I’ve got to put in my time now.

I did however manage to put Husain on pause and squeeze in some R&R. I met up with some of my college friends and we spent hours catching up over food 🙂 Then today, I went into the city…alone. I’ve always wanted to walk the Brooklyn Bridge and see the WTC after 9/11 but just never could get someone to go with me. It was a gorgeous day so I was glad to take advantage of it. I took a train into Brooklyn and then walked towards Manhattan. The bridge is actually stunning, if only it wasn’t so polluted with people and angry bicyclists. Then I headed to the WTC memorial. I didn’t know you had to get tickets to go inside the site -.- so I kind of just encircled the area, took some pictures and called it a day. On my way back uptown I stopped at xi’an’s famous foods for some hand pulled noodles. The cold noodles (liang pi) were not as good as I thought they would be. At least not good enough to meet my expectations of an Anthony Bourdain approved dish. And the cheese-like gluten slices just rubbed me the wrong way. Caseous necrosis anyone? I also got the stewed pork burger which totally made up for the meal.

When I got back on the eastbound train home, I felt exhausted. It was a great day but maybe not as enjoyable as if I had someone to share it with. This “experiment” I guess you can call it, of adventuring out on my own with the intention of finding joy in my own company just kind of made me feel more lonely. I’ve never gone into the city without a motive of meeting up with friends or my boyfriend, so today was the day to explore the city on my own. I loved walking on the bridge but after the thrill of crossing something else off my bucket list, I was tired and wanted to head back. Riding the train home, I felt like the day’s experiences meant a little less to me than if I would have shared it with someone else. I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but after 4 hours of saying no words to anyone, I was just over it. Shouldn’t we be able to do things that we like without having to need someone next to us? This is what I thought was meant by, you have to be happy with yourself before you can be happy with anyone else. I was trying to have that today…to walk freely in the city, following only my desires. But at the end of the day, I’m not sure that being without someone is OK. And that really scares me! …or was it just weird that I went around the city by myself without even a friend to come with me?

Do women (or men) who don’t get married/remarried feel truly happy going through life alone or is it always a silent struggle within them to pretend like they’re happy being without a significant other?  Of course I have moments in my life where I am completely complete by myself. And then it’s like once I lay down to go to sleep, a wave of loneliness pervades my thoughts. I hate it! and I even tell myself that this is NOT me! I am the last one to bring attention to myself for being single (besides on this blog I guess) and I don’t want other people to feel sorry for me. I just can’t separate myself from my feelings of loneliness and I wish I could. I really wish that I couldd because I hate when I am crying that I might be #foreveralone. Actually, I want to confront the fact that yeah, maybe I will be forever alone, but that’s OK and it’s not necessarily a terrible thing. I want to be strong enough on my own that anyone coming into my life will only be adding to it and not the foundation of it. One day I want to be able to be really happy without it having to be attached to anything/anyone else. And I just want to know if that’s genuinely possible or not.

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New fridge today 🙂 There were 2 men who spoke spanish that came to deliver the fridge. They couldn’t get the filter connected and my mom started going crazy at them, calling my dad on the phone, yelling at them and whatnot. Then I heard the guys talking in spanish and there definitely was a “loca” in there. Note to self: MUST learn spanish fluently for times like these.

HPV

I wanted to share my experience with HPV. I knew about HPV before, but wasn’t aware of the actual emotional and physical consequences before I got HPV. I got the HPV vaccine when I was 17. At that time I had had 2 sexual partners, both of whom were virgins. That’s why I was shocked when my gynecologist fist told me I had an abnormal pap smear showing LSIL (low grade precancer cells). Since getting the shot, I had quite a few more sexual partners but I was still unprepared for the news of having HPV. I scheduled a colposcopy and the results were consistent with LSIL. I learned about HPV extensively in my medical school classes, so I felt fine when my doctor told me to just come back in 6 months to redo a pap, since your body can usually clear HPV itself.  When I came back in 6 months, my doctor told me my pap smear showed high-grade dysplasia. This is when my heart sank. Her recommendation was to do a LEEP where she wouldn’t be too aggressive since I am 23 and concerned about being able to have kids in the future.  I felt ashamed that I had an STD and couldn’t talk about my fears of getting a LEEP with anyone. I thought back on all my sexual encounters and regretted not being more mindful of my sexual health. For the entire week I felt depressed and just dirty.

I scheduled the LEEP a week after getting my HSIL results. I went in super nervous, because really, who wants to have an electrical loop burn out precancer cells from your cervix? But I have to say, it wasn’t bad at all. In fact, I would say that my colposcopies were more uncomfortable than the LEEP.

First my gynecologist put the speculum in, which in my opinion, was the only uncomfortable thing during the procedure. This could have been because it felt like she opened it wider than when she normally does for paps. Then she injected Lidocaine slowly to make sure I wasn’t having any side effects during the injection. It didn’t hurt and I couldn’t even feel when the needle went in. I didn’t experience any dizziness or heart racing as others have said. My doctor turned on a loud machine and started the actual LEEP procedure. I felt no pain or pressure besides having the speculum in, and it took about 2 minutes before she was done removing the cervix sample. The whole time I was pretty much holding my breath, trying hard not to move. The rest of the time was spent cauterizing the area and putting some gel in my cervix to help stop the bleeding. The whole procedure, from the time the speculum went in to the time it was taken out, took about 10 min (the majority of it being to stop the bleeding after the actual LEEP).

I had dull cramping from time to time right after the procedure, but nothing unbearable. All in all the procedure was a little uncomfortable (as a lot of gyn procedures tend to be :/) but painless- at least for me.

I started with wearing panty liners for the discharge but they soaked right through. I switched to pads, which I’m still using now. About 5 days after my LEEP, the discharge started smelling DISGUSTING. I mean, I’ve had a yeast infection before, but this smell… is on a whole other level. The only way I can describe it is standing in turbid water mixed with sulfur and rotting garbage. It’s not really bloody, more of a yellowish color but the smell- OMG I can hardly sit down with my legs uncrossed because it’s just RANCID. It’s been 2 weeks so far and my gyno told me that the discharge could go on for 6 weeks -.- Thank god I’m not seeing anyone right now because I’m pretty sure I’d knock them out with my vagina smells. 

The process never ends

Yesterday I had an interview at a hospital for a regional rotation spot. A regional rotation is one where you stay at one hospital for the entire 3rd year for clinicals instead of traveling around to different hospitals after each core rotation. There are certain advantages about doing regionals. For one thing, you don’t have to look for housing every 4 weeks or worry about finding the best way to commute to different hospitals. Also, if you want to participate in clinical research, it would be much easier to stay at one hospital for the whole year. And because you get so familiar with the faculty of the hospital over the course of a year, obtaining great letters of recommendation would probably be easier. There are also some cons. If you want to get the BEST education from the best programs, you should do the lottery (non-regional) option. That way, if one hospital has a great medicine department but is lacking in surgery, you can pick and choose which hospital you want for each specific core rotation. Also, it’s good to see a variety of hospitals and experience how each one operates differently.

I applied to this regional hospital not because it was an amazing hospital (au contraire) but because it’s very close to my home. That was pretty much the only reason I wanted to do it. But after the interview yesterday and hearing how enthusiastic the current 3rd years were about their rotations, I couldn’t be more convinced about the quality of faculty and education that this hospital provides. Not to mention, the Dr. Diamond, the DME is an 80 year old man who started TouroCOM and is still running this program in full force. You can’t go wrong with someone who has that much experience in the field of medical education.

My interview was entirely strange. There were about 30 people there on interview day (the other 30 had their interviews a day before). They took about 6 people per group interview and split them between Dr. Diamond and the head of the surgical rotations department. I was placed into Dr. Surgeon’s group. At first I was relieved because I knew I would feel intimidated by Dr. Diamond, but once we got into the room, Dr. Surgeon just talked about the surgical department and DIDN’T ASK US A SINGLE QUESTION. Literally, he asked us where we were from and then that was it. By the end of the “interview” he said he had to rate us from 1-6 and wasn’t sure how he was supposed to do that. I prepared in my head a 2 minute spiel about myself before coming to the interview and wished I could have at least said that! I walked out feeling pretty confused. But I guess since we didn’t have a chance to sell ourselves, we also didn’t have a chance to mess up either.

After that, there was a q&a with some of the current 3rd years rotating at NUMC. For me, this was the highlight of the day. I was already mentally exhausted after preparing for this interview all night and day, and then being surprised that I wasn’t asked any questions at all, and now feeling really hungry. But the q&a got me really excited about the prospects of rotating through NUMC and woke me up a bit. Then we went on a tour of the hospital and after all that we went back home. Mentally exhausting day!

I obviously dropped dead on my bed when I came back and then headed to the city for a nice dinner at a filipino restaurant on the LES. I knew filipinos loved pork, but literally everything we ordered had pork in it. I started off with a beer called, “porkslap”. Then we ordered an array of family style goodies: sisig (fried pork head), steamed mussels that actually had pieces of pork in the broth, and red curry noodles. Then the waitress accidentally brought us pata (deep fried pork leg) instead of the lamb ribs we ordered. So there was pleanty of pork for all. After all that fatty goodness, a fresh bowl of halo halo to cap off the night and send me into itis heaven.

Walking through med school alone

When I first started medical school, I was single. And that was exactly how I wanted to start this new process in my life. I had a boyfriend for mostly all of my early undergrad years and looking back, I sort of regretted that. Undergrad was about freedom, discovering yourself and finding your niche in this microcosm of a world. For me, it was hard to do that when I was attached to someone, and I found myself spending too many nights in with my boyfriend when I should have been out making new friends. So in medical school, I wanted to branch out. I wanted a completely new start and to embrace that feeling of freedom that comes with starting a new chapter in your life.

The problem was, med school’s not really about freedom. In fact, I found that it is the complete opposite feeling. Med school is about how best you can fit into the top percentile of the class, how hard you can force yourself to not get sidelined by outside distractors and how successful you are at self-introspection in order to improve your knowledge. Of course, I don’t mean to make med school sound like this dark place of self involvement… but from my experience, you do have to spend a lot of time thinking about yourself.

This makes med school a very lonely place, especially if you are single and don’t have that person to keep you company during those long nights of studying. Part of the time I am happy I am single and have the time to focus on studying. I never have to feel guilty that I’m not spending time with my significant other. I make my schedule on my own terms and don’t have to factor in the schedule of another person. But most of the time, when I come home from a tiring day or a stressful test, it’d be nice to have someone there for emotional support. At the end of the day I am always surprised at how alone I feel because I consider myself a very independent person. A friend once told me, “you shouldn’t let being single stop you from doing things you want to do” and these are pretty much words I live by. But for some reason, I feel that being in medical school has highlighted my single-ness. Maybe it’s because when I go out with my friends from school they bring their husbands or boyfriends and I feel like I have to justify being solo by saying, “I’m still young though”. Or maybe it’s that being in professional school makes the prospect of dating so much more stressful. When will I have time to go out on dates? Who will date me if I have to block out time for studying every 2 weeks? And actually, is being a med student intimidating for guys not in med school? I never had to think about these things before med school and I if I were in a different profession, I’d probably be less concerned about being single.

btw, if you think the dating pool shrinks as you get older, just come to med school to see the smallest puddle of your life. Since most of med school classes are filled with students in the mid-upper 20’s, many are married or seeing someone seriously. Others have paired up by second year and the rest are left wondering, where are all the McDreamy’s of med school?

For now, I’m just focusing on boards studying and hoping that starting clinicals will bring a new pool of single datable men, though I’m more inclined to say that even more doctors will be married by then. sigh, #medschoolprolems.

One down!

Just finished my first test (out of 3) so there are only 2 more tests until i’m done with 2nd year! That’s just so crazy… this year is definitely going by faster than 1st year, though I think when May/June comes, everyday will feel super long. Today’s test was on GU/Repro. The Repro part went pretty fast but the renal physio questions…oh hell no! I just really hate math which I guess will always be something I have to deal with, but these questions were just…I don’t think we were prepared for them.

I actually really like repro though! During 1st year when people asked me what kind of doctor I wanted to be, I always said, “I don’t know but I know what I don’t want to be- a pediatrician or an ob/gyn”. I am staying away from peds because even though I LOVE children, when I shadowed a pediatrician I was just so uninterested in the job. And I was always put off by the idea of the obstetrician part of ob/gyn ever since my friend told me she got sprayed by vagina fluids when she was a doula. But I’ve always been interested in gynecology and learning about it now kind of just makes sense. Maybe it’s because I’ve been through a lot of female health problems and I can understand how scary it can be. I’d love to one day be an advocate for women’s health, no matter what specialty I go into.

St. Paddy’s Day

Today is St. Patrick’s day and my dad made some corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. My mom asked what was the meaning behind St. Patrick’s Day and it sparked a conversation on the Saint Patrick, Ireland and the potato famine (I always forget St. Paddy’s Day is about real things and not just green beer). Then my mom was telling us about growing up in China. She and my grandmother left China for Hong Kong in order to avoid a famine that was going on in China at the time. She told us that they used to give out food stamps, but not the ones they give out here to supplement what you already buy. The kind where there’s literally no more rice left and you can only buy one bag for the whole family so you hand in your stamp and that’s all you get. My mom had to get up at 5am to wait on a line with her grandmother in order to *maybe* get 2 fish but by the time she was up, there were usually no fish left. My grandma had to ask an older kid in school to fight on the rice line at school so my mom could get a bowl of rice for lunch. At one time my grandma weighed 60lbs.

Usually when she talks about her life in China and Hong Kong I am so uninterested because the way she tells those stories, it just seems like it’s coming from a place of contempt…like she’s trying to make me feel guilty for something. I’m not sure why it got to me this time, but it made me really sad. And then I had a vision of my mom as a really little girl who was burdened with so much responsibility, and I saw my grandmother sacrificing her life for her family’s. Then I had a realization that my mom has been struggling her whole life and continues to now in her marriage and her career. And I guess today I really saw her as a single person, the way she sees herself. Not the way that I see her, or as how she fits into our family, but just as a person. And it’s really powerful to try and see someone as how they actually are, and not how they relate to you. It just made me sad. If you could see everyone through all their experiences, it could get super sad.

I was listening to too much frank ocean tonight. #toodeep #peace