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The End of a Life

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Today I was fortunate enough to experience a rotation in a hospice center.  I say fortunate because this is not an experience many get to have and I learned quite a bit from my time there today.
I, like many others, thought of hospice care as managing elderly individuals who are unresponsive, don’t know what’s going on, and are on their way out.  I never really considered the use of hospice services in the patients I saw today.  One patient in particular had a heart wrenching story.  She is a 43 year old woman with terminal gastric cancer.  She is a single parent to a 13 year old son whose father died in a car accident a few years ago.  She was diagnosed with cancer in April after having symptoms since October of last year.  to make the situation even worse is that both of her parents have colon cancer, although not a far long as she is.  Additionally her mother has a cardiomyopathy and er father has lung cancer as well.  Her sister has quit her job as a nurse to take care of everyone.

The doctor I was shadowing today really put it into perspective for me.  When I began medical school last year, this woman was having symptoms bad enough that she was admitted into the hospital.  She was diagnosed with cancer as i was nearing my summer break.

I cannot help but think about all the times I complained, got frustrated and upset with where I was during those times and see just how insignificant my problems are when compared to hers.  Everyone around me is healthy, including myself.  I don’t have to worry about my child being left without a parent.  I don’t have a terminal illness looming over my head.

Hospice care is so much more than making patients comfortable as they die.  It’s helping them sort out all the complexities of their life as the come to terms with the end.  It’s helping them find peace of mind in knowing that their affairs are in order.  It’s truly working with a team of people to make all this happen.
I never really considered hospice care before.  I thought it would be too taxing and emotional.  I found today that it is definitely emotional but not in the “boo hoo, I don’t want you to die” sort of way.  It’s more than that.  It’s helping individuals and their families with the end of a life.


Back To Reality

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I seemed to have lost myself for a bit.  The beginning of Period 2 was not the best of starts.  Then came summer which proved to be a bittersweet period.  I didn’t get nearly half the things done I needed  or wanted to.

Can’t cry over spilled milk.

I will try to put all this behind me and move forward.  Granted, I haven’t been entirely successful thus far – we started classes on the 30th and I’m already behind in readings and there’s one lecture I’m just going to need to spend lots of time with.  However, I’m moving forward with purpose.  I’m trying to be as organized as possible (even bought myself a planner – now to make sure I use it).

My main goal – STAY FOCUSED.  I can’t let anyone or anything disrupt me this time around.

Is it to early to be frustrated though?

Express Yourself

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This year, my school started a Medical Humanities Journal Club.  I remember when I was interviewing at another school that had the humanities as part of their curriculum and really like that.  I suppose you can call me “artistic.”  I’ve played the violin for 14 years and love the arts.  I also enjoy writing – it is an outlet for me (and I express myself better on paper than I do in person most of the time).  This is part of the reason why I started this blog.

Anyway, the journal club is taking submissions and I’ve decided to try to write something.  I take a while to really crank out something good and with school I find it very difficult to get the chunk of time need to be inspired and write.  I did, however write a poem during one of my classes (in which I was not paying attention).

There was also a writing workshop I went to today where I was able to write two more poems (one of which I will submit) and play around with some other ideas.

How do you express yourselves?  And if you have anything you’ve written, drawn, taking pictures of, I’d love to see it!

Is It Summer Yet?!

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I know that this is somewhat premature to be writing about summer but I am excited about not having classes for 6 weeks.  Currently, I feel myself winding down as we get closer to the time off (reminds me of how I felt during my senior year of undergrad).  I need some inspiration, a push, a second wind.  I need to keep up the energy to make through!

How do you stay motivated, especially when it’s the hardest?

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

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Unlike many of my medical school counterparts, I don’t do much going out (i.e. partying, bar hoping, etc.).  Being a mother and a medical school student does not afford me much extra time for shenanigans and what not.  So when I do get to go out and do something, even if it’s mild and I’m home by 10 pm, that’s a pretty good night for me.

Tonight was one of those nights.  The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) chapter at my school put on a mixer and a faculty couple was so kind as to host the social at their home on an island where millionaires and famous people (like Oprah) have homes.  I was so excited to take a ferry (car on a boat – wow)!  And not to mention the gorgeous scenery.  I wish I had taken pictures.  It was so invigorating to be amongst female physicians and hear them encourage you and your career choice (albeit it biased!).

I was especially impressed (and will definitely be contacting) one physician, who is our region’s AMWA president.  She is also a mother of 4, teaches organic chemistry, runs her own practice, and is an author.  Amazing!

I also got to chit-chat with the other mother from my class and discuss my potty training woes!

Overall, a very lovely evening!

Keeping It All In Persepective

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I just had pleasant conversation with one of my classmates as we waited in line at Starbucks (yes, I did not procrastinate and made it to school today!).  We talked about not letting ourselves get bogged down by school that we disregard our lives (because, although it may seem otherwise, medical school is not your life).  It was a conclusion I had reached last night as I studied until 1 am.  I was reminded of my undergrad days where I would study until really late or pull all nighters.  I just can’t do that any more.  I now divert my energy to Kayle.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

No matter what, I’m going to become a doctor, and at the end of the day, I’m still going to be Kayle’s mother.  If for one second I thought that going to school was going to harm her in any way, I wouldn’t do it.  I want her to have the chance to go for her dream career and live a happy, healthy, productive life.

And obviously, I’m managing.  I still spend time with her, and my boyfriend, and my family.  I still have time to do things I enjoy.  And yes, I can even fit a workout in my day!  So, there is no need to get so caught up in my classes.  It’s called time management:  Do what you need to do so that you have time to do what you want to do.

Now, I feel energized and ready to study (and it’s not because I had coffee – I had tea)!

Lazy Days or Procrastination in Disguise

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It rained today, a lot.  And what’s worst, I have to study for an exam on Monday.  It is very difficult to focus when nature is singing you a lullaby and you’ve had warm soup for dinner (yummmm!).

But as much as I’d love to blame the weather, and life, for my unproductive day, I know that I must take some most of the blame.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a tendency to procrastinate.  It’s something I am working on.  Let’s take today, for instance.  I was up early because I had a cardiac surgery symposium to attend.  I was supposed to go to a health fair afterwards but it was cancelled due to the rain.  Awesome, more time to study!  Except for the fact that I went home (big no no) instead of driving straight to school where I could have gotten some real studying in.

Of course, when at home, I chit-chatted with the family, played with the baby, had the yummy soup I mentioned, and got sleepy.  I tried to take a nap but Kayle wouldn’t let me.  Then it was past her nap time so I tried putting her down for a nap, which she refused and instead stayed up and got extremely cranky, causing tons of trouble!  And so the day went.

Now, I’m at campus at 7:00 pm, getting ready to study instead of winding down to go home (and I’m still procrastinating because I’m writing a blog post instead of studying – I’m almost done!).

There’s probably tons of reasons why I do this (subconsciously and consciously), including that it’s just a bad habit I’ve formed.  Like any habit, it did not happen over night so it will take some time to kick, however, the fact that I realize that I do this is the first step.

My second step was actually leaving my house to study, which I should probably start doing!


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