Oct 22, 2008


in the flesh.

This term has me on an emotional roller coaster that's hard to adequately express because my mood towards it is changing so rapidly as are my approaches to attempt to stave off a bad attitude.

While my nature is generally sarcastic and cynical (as is anyone who read over a hundred issues of the Babysitter's Club as a child), my overall attitude is one I try to generally be happy (being sarcastic makes me happy), try not to let little things get to me beyond the surface irritation, thus I enjoy making fun of things without being too hard-hit by them, with a few notable exceptions that are pretty dramatically splashed onto this blog.

I've also let myself get cases of the deep-blue-funks which made the overall decently-run second term a complete misery for me while I enjoyed the "rabid monkeys made my schedule" fourth term largely by avoiding anything that wasn't mandatory and keeping chipper that this would be the hardest term in basic sciences and I was enjoying most of the material.

Flash forward to my current state of affairs where I am desperately seeking a positive attitude so that I do not waste my last couple months on this tropical island wallowing around feeling sorry for myself. This is difficult because there are a number of negative factors that are making the term a bit of a hell, while not allowing me to sink too deeply because there are a bunch of goods, and the goods are frequently rather spectacular goods, which just gives me that whole unstable bipolar feeling that I never know if I'm going to cry or dance around.

This is all being exacerbated by my having an absolutely *galloping* case of senioritis, thus I don't feel like doing anything, go for long periods of doing absolutely nothing but procrastinating, then followed by marathon study sessions, all the while kind of resenting that they're making me do this whole med school thing when I'm supposed to be relaxing on the beach, doing hashes, going scuba diving, playing guitar, seeing monkeys, island hopping, and all the other impossible goals I hoped to get in before leaving for good. Like it's third term or something.

Oh, to get onto the good... I've been chronicling this little battle with the pathophys department for a while, which was constituting a lot of the "bad". Long story short: chancellor letter, huge and surprising response, big open forum where we got listened to by all the department heads and the deans, some initial changes made that were promising, and continue to look promising, but cautious optimism.

This took a slight down-swing with hearing the reports to the fourth termers, though their 5/6th might be worse than ours, in that they were told a couple of times that they'd need to bring back all their books and notes (unrealistic and sucktastic, but at least announced), but that the current term (ours) had a bunch of complaints because no one told us we would have to think critically so they should be prepared for that for the next term.

So that was kind of pissy. "Well, we can't tell the 5/6th termers this because they'd completely destroy us in a debate over it by citing our lack of organization and preparation while citing the past pathology course as requiring integration and the BSCE1 as being a test of our recall from other classes, but we just wanted to let you fourthies know that unlike your special-ed upperclassmen, who have made it to the near-end of their second year of medical school without being able to arrive at any conclusion that wasn't drawn out in capital letters on something shiny for them, you're actually going to have to use your brains next term, so be prepared."


Lest I withhold credit where credit is due, they are reinstituting a curve based on the actual class averages and standard deviations, per an announcement on Angel! Woo hoo!!!! And though NONE of the renal Sonic Foundry lectures have been posted, the notes for heme, GI and renal were on time, and they changed up the way the BSFCR was run, as they indicated they would while getting the objectives up in advance, as they also said they would, so while I have no idea how this is going to play out on the upcoming exam, I'm going to go ahead and give the administration credit for following through on this one, and make it generally known that if you do feel like your education is taking an inexcusable hit, politely express that, and you never know what can happen. While I'm not wildly appreciative of the announcement to fourth term, it was made to fourth term, and so long as they're fixing the problems that are plaguing this term and are aware of the problem, I'm going to go ahead and give them a pass on saying anything they like. I mean, I'm going to completely make fun of it, but that's all part of the "not a deep hurt" part of above.

In Clinical Skills, they continue to demonstrate that though there is a ton of disorganization, you generally don't have to go any higher than the department heads (or sometimes the tutors) to get a response, and the disorganization seems regretted and inadvertent. And as I've said all along, attitude goes a *long* way with me. If you point out a problem and someones says "I'm really sorry for the inconvenience and we're working to do _________ to fix it.", I will readily let a whole lot of stuff go. Today, during our morning session, one of the students in my group pointed out that our patient write up grades hadn't been posted yet, which is important so we know what we can fix for the next ones, and they were up by this afternoon, and the reception of the request was apologetic and active rather than defensive. Pretty impressive.

The department is also fairly accommodating to students in situations that are directly the student's fault (totally guilty), and I haven't really seen any of their instructors or directors be overtly nasty, gripey, or unprofessional. Usually they're extremely friendly, helpful, and eager to add on stuff that'll benefit us. I'm not giving a pass on the organization, because it is a problem, but knowing you can actually talk to them and they'll respond nicely is honestly one of the high points of my experience with the school. I'm not sure what that says about me or the school, but there you go.

Pharm. Pharm is the definition of ambivalence for me, as I've mentioned before because I maintain that it is well run, but I hate this class probably more than any other and it is taking up a huge portion of my time, which means I'm spending a huge amount of time focusing on a subject that is difficult, heavy, high yield, and mindnumbing. So it's a lot like being forced to spend 2-8 hours of your day eating liver. It's good for you; it may be made well by champion chefs and butchers, but it's still going to ruin your day.

Clinic. The clinic is driving me nuts. 90 minutes minimum to renew prescriptions, only to have it dragged on for a week or two weeks or whatever the on-duty feels like giving me and having the pharmacy frequently out of what I need, while the mail from home isn't reliably making it. Not a great use of time. Also an added stress I don't need hitting right at the end.

Social... another big source of ambivalence. I'm finding more and more that I like a huge number of the students at this school, and have established close friendships with a number of them and I'm deeply enjoying being around them. My boyfriend is being completely awesome, per usual, and since we're both incarcerated in the study hall a lot, it means I get to spend more time with him.

BUT... (there's always a but)... I am becoming more and more acutely aware that though I'm extremely excited to get done with basic sciences and begin the next stage of my life, I am also going to lose the close contact with my fellow convicts and we're all going to get scattered to the wind. Many of us will likely end up at the same hospitals, and there's internet connections, but it's not the same, and I'm going to miss that. Some of my closest friendships have been made on this island, and I'm going to be abandoning that to have a close relationship with my step 1 videos. I'm going to miss running into a ton of people I know and like on campus, at the beach, at the market, and the whole closeness of the campus. Yes, this also creates a fishbowl here, but it can be a pretty comforting one, and soon, it's going to be back to the scary real world, having lost the ability to hold conversations with people that aren't Caribbean medical students. "Hey, how are you doing? So... who's running for president? Did you catch the last season of that show that ended three years ago? Don't you hate it when you're trying to watch an episode of House, but the channel feed keeps switching between the Colorado and New York feed so you can't tell when it's on? It's about as reliable as the egg supply at IGA. Wanna go get a Carib? How many EC do they go for at that bar on the corner? As long as they're not blasting soca, know what I mean? No?"

Also, there's the scenery. I love the scenery in the states too, don't get me wrong, but even after nearly two years, I frequently look around and am taken in by the surreality of essentially living in a Windows screensaver. Though I probably go to the beach and dive way less frequently than I did in California (and no, I didn't live near the beach), the fact that it is so close is something I'm always aware of.

So it's a whole weird thing. I'm having to do "next stage of life" things like register for the USMLE, which was always this huge looming someday off in the distance thing and now it's a 700$ charge on my credit card and I'm having to choose date periods and get photos made for my ID. I'm having to figure out what I'm doing for rotations, when I'm starting them, and how I'm handling the period in between rather than just continuing on the island, paying my rent. I'm dealing with what I'm going to do with all my stuff, people are touring my apartment, and it's a huge change.

I'm going to get to see my family again. I'm going to get to have seasons again. My clothes are going to last longer and can be varied. I'm going to get to have fast food and cheap meat and ethnic cuisine, and trips to the grocery store, and quick pick ups of anything I need as close as the local love/hate Walmart. I'll be able to drive. I won't need to book a boat or a plane to anywhere outside of an 11X22 mile radius.

So it's all... blah, mixed up inside me. And making it hard to study. As is the suddenly rescheduled meeting at 5 tonight.

To change gears abruptly (much like my moods at any given second), I guess I'll Sandblast-talk, since that's an actual event rather than some diary description of my overall feelings.

Since I wasn't behind in school enough, I chose to hit the last Sandblast for me (hopefully), which had a Halloween theme, making it particularly appealing because I love Autumn and Halloween, and they don't really do either here. I had to grab and orange AND black t-shirt since they not only had the whole Halloween thing going for them, but chose to mesh it with a Dark Knight Heath-Ledger-as-Joker pumpkin "Why so serious" motto that just upped the awesome. Well done, designers.

For a change, I actually got there close to when it opened rather than sleeping late and not getting there until they were half out of beer thing that I normally do. I also chose to maintain a steady state of alcohol in my bloodstream rather than gorging myself on it first thing, falling over, and being done for the evening by 5 PM. Muchhhh smarter. Makes for rougher mornings though.

I had promised Ashley a beer pong partner, so we first cruised the area a bit, grabbed our mugs, a well-made cocktail from the bar, hit the food tent and relaxed on the beach for a bit. Refilled a bit later on inexplicably pink beer. We attempted to figure this one out for a while, but it turns out, pink was supposed to be red for *blood* beer. While it ended up looking like we were drinking the run off from an eviscerated Care Bear, it's probably better off that there was not a sufficient amount of red food coloring to turn the beer *really* red or the clinic probably would have had a run on it the next morning the likes of which has never been seen.

So beer pong started up and we wandered over, and promptly watched a couple vet students run the table to a degree that it was surprising they were still standing.

To our credit, we got them down to the last cup to sudden death, and that is *quite* an accomplishment, but sadly, they got it in for the win. Much shame. Ran into Jay and Jordan, hung out with them for a while, and got a full thing of beer dumped over me by two guys who were "fighting or are they wrestling, I'm not sure, let's just move". Fortunately, you wear disposable clothes to Sandblast.

Ran into Grace and Dem and headed down to the Owl to watch the game. Good chicken wings there but unfortunately, only crab racing on Monday nights, which I still haven't seen. Some pool, some jeopardy, a good night swim, then home to preen for Bananas, which I ended up leaving with Grace and Dem at around 5 in the morning. Gods.

If this seems excessive, this is pretty much "just another Sandblast". One thing about medical school is that it destroys your sanity *and* your liver.

So now I'm paying the price and attempting to catch up pharm... which will leave me catching up renal in pathophys, which inexplicably puts me in the same place as everyone who either studied for the entirety of last weekend OR spent the entire weekend drinking. It's like the entire class procrastinates together and always seems the same number of lectures behind. See why I love these guys?

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