Mar 8, 2009

Weird accomplishments

A lot of people measure accomplishment in terms of, like, saving kids, annual salary, number of prostitutes killed in Grand Theft Auto (okay, that was me when I was unemployed; don't judge me), etc, but my whole self worth lately has been tied up in A) How many USMLE World questions I can do without inciting a panic attack and B) How many pages of First Aid I can clear in a day.

So this leaves me feeling even dorkier than usual (and I've been to a science fiction convention, so I'm an expert) because at the end of the day, I will either say things like "No, I cannot possibly afford to take a shower tonight/tomorrow; I have to catch up. I only did 4 pages today" or "YEAH! 14 PAGES!!! Rock out!! I've earned myself a 15 minute break to grab some frigging Taco Bell!"

Yeah... but I'm also learning stuff... stuff I should have known a long time ago. Primary sclerosing cholangitis can cause secondary biliary cirrhosis. Everything that gives you cirrhosis can give you cancer. All the time in the world you lovingly spend memorizing tumors anywhere along the bile pathways is useless because they all kill you within 6 months and have obnoxiously long names terminal patients probably aren't going to be all that interested in. Cancer drugs, speaking of which, are still completely forgettable, even though I know I went over the Vincristine flashcard fifty billion times in pharm, I still don't remember that it stops cell division in uh... (checks notes) the M phase. Oh, and I REALLY should have cracked my First Aid in basic sciences rather than just occasionally during pathophys. That thing's actually useful.

Besides the whole "self worth as determined by numbers in First Aid" thing, I also am relearning that my mental state is based completely on how much sleep I do or don't get. I've also bypassed the phase of diagnosing myself and others with psych conditions (as is common third term and the psych part of pathophys) and have concluded that it doesn't matter so long as the voices aren't actively telling you to kill someone whose death would attract immediate police attention.

And so forth.

Oh, 50,000 hits! Rock on! And thank you!

What else?

Oh, I'm trying to figure out what song I want stuck in my head for the USMLE. I've figured out that second guessing myself and panic are my main foes on tests and that my subconscious, unlike my conscious, knows what it's doing, so my best scores in med school, looking back, were those for which I had songs stuck in my head, so was highly distracted. The tests I did the worst on (except nutrition) were those for which I'd built myself into such a panic that I just melted down at the first sign of Alpha Fetoprotein.

Highest score in path was accompanied by these songs (really profane language warning).

Best in pathophys accompanied by some help from the Amateur Transplants, though none of that medical stuff, since that would be way too relevant (really profane language warning; seriously, "C" word and everything). Weirdly, since I've only been to London once, I don't even have a reason to be mad at the tube, but there ya go.

Seriously, during those tests, I was literally "la la la ing" in my head even though the tests were extremely freaking difficult, to a point where my main focus had to be on NOT singing the stuff out loud. For so many reasons.

I'd been suspecting, based on a few of these experiences, that my active mind shares a few characteristics while my subconscious does all the real work. I've been confirming this on USMLE World, which is a question database whose 'easy' questions read like "Unified Field Theory will rely on _____". When I'm distracted and hit first guess, it usually goes well. However, if a question is stressful and I feel like I SHOULD know it, rather than going with the option that my subconscious picked after 10 seconds, my active mind will attack it with the violence of a sci fi geek nitpicking the physics of the Death Star, go over the entire lexicon of medical knowledge I've ever been exposed to in all permutations and, without fail, spend 6 minutes picking the wrong answer.

Then, harried by all the fuss of subconsciously knowing I chose the wrong answer, that active mind will hang out and panic for the rest of whatever test I'm taking, count seconds, and gradually mess everything up for the rest including stuff I've known since the 7th grade, leaving me in a shame spiral.

There's an upside. This focused supposedly "smart" mind is REALLY REALLY easily distracted by goofy music and profanity. Cartoons optional but bonus. So if I sing to it, it'll leave my subconscious alone to do what it does.

So now I need to find something basic, profane, hopefully animated, and capable of occupying me for 7 hours. Search is on.

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