In Which I Move Onward

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Out of breath, I am left hoping someday I'll breathe again,"

                                       - "Breathe Again"
                                          Sarah Bareilles

First of all, where has half of February gone?  I mean, I know February is a short month and all, but what the heck?  It's weird, because every week seems to crawl towards Friday, but then I look at the calendar and boom, it's the middle of the month.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Time is weird.  One of my best friends maintains that this is the "stoner-est" thing I have ever said.  This is debateable.  (NB: I have never smoked pot, and neither has the friend in question.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I've never even seen pot in real life.  I am completely okay with this.)

Anyway, it was a good weekend here, mostly.  Friday night was exciting for 2 reasons.  

1. I fit into my size 6, Calvin Klein dress that I haven't worn in over a year.  I threw myself a party in my closet. 

2. Ken and I went to see the Philly Pops perform at the Kimmel Center!  

We had gotten $25 tickets for their all-Gershwin concert, and since Gershwin is one of my favorite composers ever (Let's be serious, I named my cat after the man) I really wanted to go.  The concert was incredible. Long, but incredible.  Marcus Roberts and his trio were there for the second half of the concert, and holy crap, they were unbelievable.  If it's not enough that Marcus Roberts plays jazz piano like I have never seen or heard before, the fact that he's been blind since he was 5 makes it even more ridiculous/amazing.  Seriously, if you ever get the chance to hear him play, GO DO IT.  

When we got home on Friday night, I was having some significant pain, so I basically just went to bed and slept for 12 hours... and then I woke up at 9:30 or so, read for a bit, and went back to sleep from 11 to 2.  I really wasn't feeling great, so I spent another 2 hours in bed.  I tried to get up to go grocery shopping with Ken, but I had really terrible chills and couldn't stop shivering, and just walking to the bathroom made me so tired that I had to sit down on the floor.  We were supposed to be having people over for game night a few hours from that point, and I seriously considered canceling it because I didn't think that laying on the floor in a pile would be a great way to host an event.  Ken went grocery shopping without me (because he is awesome) and I managed to take a shower and not fall over while doing so.  I still wasn't 100% by the time people started arriving, but at least I could remain upright for a period of time.  One of the best parts of the night was when this happened:

We were ordering pizza online and on the delivery form, there was a spot for "special instructions".  We joked about the various things that we could put there, but I went with this.  When the guy knocked on the door, I forgot to ask him for the password, but he just kind of stared at me and said, "Is anyone going to ask me the password?", at which point I did, and he said, "OCTOPUS!" and we all applauded.  The rest of the night was spent playing Catch Phrase and Cards Against Humanity, during which of course, hilarity ensued.  People left around midnight and Ken and I collapsed into bed.  

Sunday... I slept in again, did laundry, and dragged myself out to buy pants because I was tired of not having anything to wear to work.  I hate shopping for pants.  HATE.  Actually, I hate shopping in general.  I do most of my shopping online because most places don't carry pants that are short enough for my non-existent legs, and even if they do, I hate fighting through crowds of people and going through piles of stuff.... the entire process is just exhausting and if I can have pants and sweaters mailed to my house where I can accept the packages in my pajamas and try things on at my leisure, you can bet your ass that that is what I'm going to do.  Alas, I needed pants sooner rather than later, so out to the mall I went.  I tried on SO many pairs of pants.  So many.  A plethora of pants.  I ended up buying 2 pairs of pants at The Limited, because their Exact Stretch pants are amazing.  I also raided the sale racks and ended up with a top, a sweater dress, and a sweater (but I'm returning the sweater).  Success.  Of course, when I got home I was completely and totally exhausted, so I spent the rest of the evening just laying around.

And then the work week started again.  I spent most of the day researching post-bac programs (and doing work, of course) because, as per usual, I needed to make sure that my contingency plans (and my contingency plans for my contingency plans) were in order.  Previously, I had only thought to look in the immediate area for post-bac programs, so I had decided that I was going to apply to Penn, Drexel, and probably Temple, and see what happened.  Then I remembered that post-bac programs existed in other places in the country, namely Florida.  I lived there from July 2008-February 2009, and while the experience while I was there wasn't great and I thought I would never want to live there again, I finally separated the trauma of what happened when I was there (nervous breakdowns are no fun, even when you're surrounded by palm trees) and the place itself (which is lovely).  That took me almost 5 years.  A lot of that separation happened when I let myself recognize that I really do want to live in FL, mainly so I can be closer to my dad and my step-family (and also because it's never cold there and that would be nice).  

Upon this realization, I started investigating post-bac programs in southern FL and emailed people for information on the 1 year, MS programs in Biomedical Sciences at Barry University (near Miami) and the University of Southern FL (in Tampa).  On my way to the optometrist on Monday after work, I spoke with the admissions representative from the USF program and was greatly encouraged by our conversation.  She suggested that I apply to the Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences program, which is very small (10-15 students) and involves taking first year med school classes at USF with med students.  I didn't think that I was eligible to do a program like the IMS because it says that it is for underrepresented minorities in medicine and those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and seeing as I am a white woman from a middle-upper-class family that grew up in White Bread, USA... I figured that applying to that program would be futile.  Apparently, because I am "older" (Medicine: The land where 27 is "old"), married, and a reapplicant who went to med school, left, got her MPH, and has work experience... that qualifies me as interesting and therefore, they might want to accept me.  In any case, if I don't get into the IMS program, they will literally carry my application down the hall to the pre-professional program office, which is the exact same type of program (1 year, MS in Medical Sciences) only it's a larger class, it's not with the med students, and it starts in August, not June.  

Interestingly, the admissions person that I spoke to also mentioned that if I retook my MCAT in the spring, I might be competitive enough GPA-wise to reapply to DO programs for Fall 2014.  I emailed and put in a call to Nova (where I went to school in 2008) to find out some information, but I had to leave a message.  That would be kind of ridiculously awesome, because not taking another year before going back to med school would be nice, but I am doubtful that it would actually work out that way.  I'm mentally prepared to do a year of post-bac classes, but it would certainly be nice to not have to do that.  I finished the first part of the application on Monday night, and today I worked on a few other supplemental things for the second part of the application. I have to write some essays (ugh) but that won't be too bad and I plan to do it this weekend.  I was freaked out because I knew that I needed to get two letters of recommendation from science professors, and I haven't talked to any "science" professors since 2008 when I graduated from Drexel, but I found out that my MPH thesis adviser (a biostats professor) would be an acceptable recommendation letter writer, and I remembered that Dr. Finster, my chem prof from freshman year at Witt (who I am now basically friends with) had written me letters in the past, so I emailed both of them yesterday and poof!  They both got back to me practically immediately and said that they'd love to write me a letter.  

That was a very long sentence.

ANYWAY, that's basically taken care of, although I feel bad because they have to write the letters really fast since the application is due on March 1st.  Fortunately, they can just fill out a form if they don't want to write a whole letter, so it's not that bad.  So, overall, I'm applying to:

- University of Southern Florida
- Barry University
- Florida Atlantic University
- Drexel University
- University of Pennsylvania
- Temple University (maybe)

This weekend will be full of essay writing and putting packets of information together... but I'm okay with that because Ken will be in Indiana visiting his sister (and because he can't go visit his sister and not visit his mother, also seeing his mother).  I will be... sleeping, writing essays, doing laundry, perhaps baking, reading, knitting, seeing Colleen for a Downton Abbey date (complete with tea and our stuffed llamas), and possibly having brunch with my friend Liz (last weekend's plans got waylaid by a stomach virus).  So hurrah.

In other news, I finally heard from USP, and as you can probably guess from all of this talk about post-bac programs, I was wait listed.  Honestly, when I opened the envelope, I wasn't all that surprised or upset.  I was kind of intrigued because the letter said that the wait list would remain open until classes started in August, which is a little ridiculous.  I doubt it would happen, but do they seriously think they can call someone in the beginning of August (or even the end of July) and say, "Hey, want to go to PA school in a few weeks?" and expect them to show up.  Since there's no clue where I am on the wait list (they took 20 students, so I could be 21 or 51, who knows) and no guarantee that they'll even have to use the wait listed applicants, I am going to move forward in the vein of "not going to PA school in the fall".

Honestly, it feels kind of awesome.  

I wrote an email to Dr. Finster, as both a way to catch up and to ask for a recommendation, and he said the following:

It is clear that you have to try to follow this path towards being a physician, and if you don’t you would probably regret it forever.  You’re a different person now that you were in the first go-around.  Getting in may still be a challenge for all of the reasons that you recognize, but you simply have to try.   Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.”    I hope it works out.

And he's right.  For the first time in a long time, I feel like I am finally being true to what is in my heart and soul.  In 2009, when I left NSU, I was crushed and broken in so many ways that when it came time to go back in August, I just couldn't.  The rest of 2009 and 2010 were an exercise in retraining my brain.  Every day, I told myself that I didn't want to even BE in clinical medicine, let alone be a doctor.  Somewhere in the middle of 2010, I reapplied to a few DO schools, interviewed at NYCOM, got wait listed, and took myself off of the wait list.  I barely told anyone, and decided it wasn't the right decision, and the point had been to reapply, just to say that I did.  I graduated in 2011 with my MPH and figured I wouldn't look back.  Then I applied to PA school at the VERY end of the cycle to start in Fall 2012.  I interviewed at Drexel, was rejected, and decided that I would reapply the next year, which I did.  That brings us to the current moment.  

Really, since 2009, I've been actively trying to change my mind about med school.  When I left, I was too much of a disaster to even think about it, and because I had been such a disaster, I guess I convinced myself that I couldn't do it ever again.  I also don't think it helped that my mother had told me that I wouldn't be a good doctor, and that I didn't have enough stamina to finish med school, and that really, I am just not as smart as I think I am (gee, thanks).  I wanted so badly to just STOP wanting it, but I never did, and now that I've finally accepted the fact that yes, this is what I want, I feel... lighter.  I don't think it will solve all of my problems, and in fact, will probably create more than I've bargained for, but I do know that like Dr. Finster said, if I don't try and follow this path, I will regret it.

And there you have it.  I'm moving on, and someday, I'll even breathe again.  Until then, full speed ahead towards... whatever the hell.  I guess I'll see when I get there.

- A



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