A Day Late and a Dollar Short: Wonderful Stuff Wednesday (on Thursday)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

So yesterday... I don't even have a good excuse for why I didn't post Wonderful Stuff Wednesday. I was handling some things at work and then I went home instead of going to the gym because I was incredibly sore from my workout on Tuesday (probably because I am woefully out of shape, which means I should go to the gym more, not less... but oh well). BUT, I am here today, so you can all calm down and settle in for another edition of Wonderful Stuff Wednesday (on Thursday).

Pretty accurate description.
The first wonderful thing I would like to discuss is what made me so sore on Tuesday. I am late to the party, but I discovered Barre classes! I had been wanting to try the one at my gym (where I haven't been for months... nothing like throwing $45 out the window every month for no good reason) since the summer started, but the classes are on Tuesday evenings and Wednesday mornings, so I could never get to them due to my class schedule and having a job. I went on Tuesday for the first time, and I was nervous because I didn't know anyone, I knew that I was out of shape, and I wasn't sure if my body could handle actually working out, since I have a tendency to get hypotensive and fall over when I exercise. I ended up having the best time, though! The instructor was good and the class was pretty small (about 15 women of varying ages). It was a much harder workout than I had originally thought it would be when the class started, and I was definitely "feeling the burn" about 15 minutes in. I only started to feel disgusting and possibly like I was going to die when we were about 45 minutes in and had picked up the pace a LOT (and added some weights). I took about a minute to wipe my face (I was sweating profusely) and breathe, and then I stopped feeling gross. I wasn't sure how sore I'd be the next day, but I definitely was! In fact, I am still sore from using muscles that I didn't even know that I had. I have never been one to enjoy the treadmill, and I could never figure out how the hell the elliptical worked. I think I have definitely found my work-out "home" in pilates/barre, and I'd like to try yoga, because God knows I could use the mental calming that comes with that work-out. What are your favorite ways to exercise?

How oddly specific.
This is a bit of silliness for you. My friend's husband had posted this on Facebook this morning, and it made me laugh. Internet, you are a weird place. Apparently, someone, somewhere, really loves drawing on small, ceramic, cats.

This is probably one of the most adorable things I'll see all week. If you haven't already seen it, this is a mini-documentary about Fred Stobaugh, a 96 year old man who entered a song writing contest and wrote a song about his wife, Lorraine, with whom he had spent 75 years of his life. It's a sweet story and song, and it will make you smile... and also possibly cry a bit.

To file under, "Too Adorable for Words" and to cross-file under "Biological Clock on Overdrive". I think my favorite part is that she is so excited about seeing her dad on Skype that she just has to hug someone. Just try to not get the warm fuzzies about this. If you succeed, stop reading this blog because clearly, we aren't supposed to be friends.  (Just kidding, you can stay.  I am just going to apologize in advance about my love of small, adorable, children.)

So, this might not sound wonderful, but September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Many of you know that I work at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in the oncology department. Recently, we were ranked #1 by Parents Magazine as one of the ten best children's hospitals in the country, and in all ten sub-specialities ranked by the US News and World Report, CHOP was ranked in the top 4. CHOP is a pretty special place, and the doctors, nurses, and other clinicians that I work with are beyond wonderful and amazing. Fortunately, I was a healthy child (amazing, I know, given how diseased I am now, haha) so I never had any experiences with CHOP as a patient. One of my best friends, however, had a sister who was treated at CHOP for most of her life. At 7, Jessica was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), the most common childhood malignancy. She went into remission, which was great; ALL has an overall survival rate of over 85%. Unfortunately, Jessica relapsed, had a bone marrow transplant, and relapsed again. She received a second transplant, but never recovered. On May 28th, 2010, Jessica died in the PICU at CHOP, surrounded by her family and the doctors who had cared for her for over 10 years. When I interviewed for my position, I offhandedly mentioned her name and the doctor who was interviewing me instantly knew who she was. That's how it is here; every patient is important, special, and remembered. Even when they're adults. Lisa Haffner, an oncology nurse here at CHOP, is a two-time childhood cancer survivor who is now battling an adult cancer. While she is fighting hard (and recently came back to work!) she did make a bucket list. On her bucket list? Being part of a flashmob.

The people who come down the stairs at the end are some of the doctors I work with, and yes, they're like that in real life (minus the air guitar-ing... usually). This is the kind of place that CHOP is, and I love it here.

Every year, CHOP helps to host multiple events to raise awareness about childhood cancer, as well as to raise funds to support the vital research necessary to someday cure every child who is diagnosed with cancer. Treatments are getting better every day; one of the teams here at CHOP has been instrumental in bringing a new treatment to the forefront called CART19. (It's very cool, check it out here, here, and here.) One of the events that CHOP hosts is the Four Seasons Parkway Run and Walk, which benefits research. There is a 5K run, as well as a 2K walk, and there are other events throughout the day.

Another event that CHOP is hosting is the Power to the Ponytail party, which is taking place at the King of Prussia mall. If you have 10+ inches of uncolored hair (that is less than 5% grey), you can donate your ponytail and get a free haircut at the Regis Salon in the mall. If you don't have enough hair but need a haircut anyway, you can sign up and get your hair cut for a $20 donation. Where else can you get a $20 haircut at a Regis Salon!? If you're not in the Philadelphia area but would like to donate your hair, Pantene Beautiful Lengths is a program that also collects hair for donations and National Donate Your Hair Day is September 7th!

And one more thing! Every day, kids and their families here are told that their chance of survival is the greatest if they can receive a bone marrow transplant. Bone marrow, despite the fact that it looks a lot like blood and is, in fact, full of blood cells, is a lot more complicated than simply matching a blood type, however. It has to be matched on the 6 HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) markers that we use for organ transplant. We always look for matches within the family first, because they're most closely genetically related to the patient, but a lot of times, we have to do a national search to find a match. You could help save a life. All it takes is a cheek swab. If you're interested in becoming a marrow donor, go to the National Marrow Donor Program website. You can be the match! :)

So... why am I posting this under Wonderful Stuff Wednesday? Because I work at a wonderful place that provides help and care for families whose children have been diagnosed with cancer. I have wonderful friends, like Liz, who donated ALL of her hair and raised over $4,000 for childhood cancer research. Because you can make a difference in the lives of people who have been affected by cancer; maybe you already have. This is a chance for you to do something wonderful, even if it's just passing on the information. If you have any questions about getting involved, leave them here or email me and I'll do my best to answer them!

And to wrap things up on a (much) lighter note, Jenni from Story of My Life is hosting another blogging challenge! This time, we got the weekends off (whew!), but I know it's still going to be a challenge to write every day! If you want to join me, head on over to the blog and pick up your own button, and remember that we start on Tuesday!

It's officially 5:00, which means I can officially leave my office, get my car, and find a place to park it near my class for tonight. Fall semester began yesterday (in the middle of the week, I know) and tonight is my first Histology lecture... which is from 6:30-9:30, someone please put me out of my misery now. Tomorrow, I have Microbiology from 5-7 (not as bad) and then I'm grabbing a drink (or two) with Chrystina to talk about life, the universe, everything (and probably blogging). Saturday, I have Microbiology lab from 11-2 (ew, right?) and then that afternoon, Ken and I are going mini golfing with Victoria and Vinny... then Sunday... relaxing and starting the methotrexate (sigh). And then hurrah for Labor Day, we get a long weekend! On my to-do list:

- Finish my goddamn personal statement (Sartre wrote, "Hell is other people." Clearly, he had never written a personal statement.)
- Submit my med school applications (goodbye, extra money in my savings account)
- Bake challah
- Make challah French toast
- Make the white bean, sausage, and kale soup that Pam told me about
- Organize my dresser/bookshelf/nightstand because it is making me nuts
- Go to the gym (more Barre, please!)
- Finish the baby blanket for my friend Jen (who is having her baby on Tuesday!)

Oh, and I guess do school work, laundry, and clean? Lame.

Have a good night, everyone!

- A

Welcome to the Other Side

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Well, here we are! I took my MCAT and lived to tell the tale (again), and then Ken and I went on the best trip of our lives. Being back to work this week is pretty lame, especially because there are no mountains and no sea lions here, but I'm finding ways to cope, haha.

So. The MCAT. I took a bunch of practice tests leading up to the actual test and had improved my score about 3 points, which was dangerously close to my goal. The night before the test, I got a good night's sleep, and that morning, I got ready at a semi-leisurely pace and got on my way to my exam. I was early, so I sat in my car for awhile, looked over my formula sheets, and breezed through some genetics material to refresh my memory. At 12:45, I went into the testing center and it was full of anxious pre-meds. I found myself thinking, "Wow, these kids are really annoying," and then I remembered that 6 years ago, I was one of those really annoying kids. It was an odd mix of people academically posturing ("Man, that orgo class was SO rough," "Yeah, but half of MY class failed... I got an A...") like they were trying to psych each other out (WHY?) and people freaking out, including a girl who kept getting up, saying she was leaving, and then coming back in. At one point, I said, "If you don't take the MCAT, you definitely won't get into med school. No one's ever died from taking this exam.... that we know of. But seriously." That last part may or may not have been helpful, but that girl needed to seriously calm down. (And you know when I'm telling you to calm down that it's BAD.) There was one guy who refused to talk to anyone and just had his headphones in... he was the smart one. I kept to myself and waited for my time to get called back. After the usual signing various oaths to not disclose information about the exam, being digitally fingerprinted, and having my photo taken, I settled into Test Station #10, quickly clicked through the tutorial, and began the exam. For those of you who are fortunate enough to have not taken the MCAT, it's set up like this:

Physical Sciences section (General Chemistry + Physics, 52 questions, 70 minutes)
Optional 10 minute break
Verbal Reasoning (Lots of boring passages, 40 questions, 60 minutes)
Optional 10 minute break
Biological Sciences (Organic Chemistry + Biology, 52 questions, 70 minutes)

There used to be a writing section after the physical sciences, but they removed that this year. Instead, at the end, there was another optional 10 minute break, and then a 45 minute, 32 question, trial section in which they are piloting new questions for biochemistry, biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, sociology, and biology. The AAMC was offering a $30 Amazon gift card, and since I am a sucker for free money, I took the trial section (I got the biochem, bio, chemistry, and physics questions). The entire time to take the exam, start to finish (including the tutorial and miscellaneous questions about wanting to void your exam etc) is around 5 hours. I didn't take the full 10 minutes for any of the breaks and didn't leave my seat. All told, it took me abound 3.5 hours to take the exam, which felt really short, but I have to remind myself that I read a lot faster than most people, so the verbal section was done more quickly than the 60 minutes. I took almost the entire 70 minutes for the physical sciences section, and about 2/3 of the time for the biological sciences section. I didn't feel rushed, and really, the entire thing felt like just another practice exam.

Everyone wants to know, "How was the MCAT!?" when you're done, and it's such a hard question to answer. My answer was generally some variation on, "I took it and it's over," because I honestly have no real clue as to how I did. I knew a lot of the answers... I think? There were definitely a few where I was like, "Well, that's something I just do not know," and made an educated guess, but those were few and far between.  I was glad when it was over, and almost as if on cue, as I walked out of the testing facility, I got a BLINDING headache. I guess my brain was sore? Now we're just waiting for scores, which should theoretically be released on 9/17... not that I'm counting. Actually, I'm trying very hard to not actively think about the MCAT at all because I have too much other stuff to worry about that is far more pressing than an exam over which I officially have no control. So yes. MCAT. Done and done.

Friday night, we were up until 3:30 in the morning packing for our trip, so after a 2 hour "nap" we were on our way to the airport. The security line was completely nuts, but we made it to our plane and 5 hours later, we were landing in San Francisco. The entire week was... amazing. Beautiful wineries, delicious wine, amazing food, the most gorgeous scenery I've ever seen in my life, and 7 uninterrupted days of spending time with my husband. We laughed our heads off every day and basically had the best time ever. There will be an entire post dedicated to pictures and more details about the trip, but for now, just know that it was awesome and exhausting, but in a good way. I am definitely sad to be home, mainly because I never realized how flat NJ is until I went to somewhere where there are just mountains all the time. Also, there is a decided dearth of sea lions here.

So, now we're back to reality, and what a reality it is. I saw my rheumatologist yesterday to discuss the fact that the prednisone had little effect on my joint pain, and whatever pain it had alleviated immediately returned upon the tapering of the prednisone. I was less than thrilled with this because it meant that something was up with my as-yet-unnamed autoimmune disease that Plaquenil could not handle. My doctor, whom I trust immensely, suggested that I try methotrexate, which is the first treatment they try for people with RA. I know, I don't have Rheumatoid Arthritis... sort of. Apparently, names and diagnoses are suggestions at best and are used largely to get reimbursed and covered by insurance (because you have to tell them something). It's strange and frustrating to not be able to say, "I have _________, which is why I'm taking ________," and instead saying, "We don't know what this is but I'm taking methotrexate." Methotrexate is a pretty serious drug. It is used to treat various kinds of cancer, and in lower doses, it's used to treat autoimmune diseases because it is an immune suppressant. Possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, and hair loss. They are giving me folic acid to counteract some of these, but they can't give too much folic acid because it might compromise the action of the methotrexate. Complicated! I start on Sunday with my weekly dose of 6 pills, and hopefully in 4-6 weeks, we'll see some improvement. There are more serious drugs that we can go to, but I'd really rather not (for obvious reasons). I'm really glad to finally have a doctor who:

a) Doesn't think I'm crazy and
b) Is willing to treat my symptoms without having blood markers all over the place for various diseases

So.... we'll see where this goes. I'm hoping that it doesn't make me crazily sick and that it helps! Any fellow rheumies out there have any advice?

Aside from that, I've just been getting back into the swing of things. I have a lot of things on my to-do list, and for some reason, I can't make myself do them. Blogging was one of the (less important) things, but I finally made myself do it. I was telling my friend Chrystina that I don't feel like I am a "blogger" and more like "someone who blogs" because I "just talk". Apparently, that is called a "lifestyle blog". I think I have a lot to learn.

But yes, my to-do list.

- FINISH PERSONAL STATEMENT (for the love of God and all that is holy)
- Submit med school applications (definitely won't get in if I don't apply)
- Organize my dresser/nightstand/bookshelves (disaster zone)
- Mail stuff to my Snail Mail Collective partner and to LF for her birthday
- Clean the bathroom
- Make challah (and subsequently, challah French toast)
- Try the bean/sausage/kale soup recipe that Pam gave me (which included gems such as, "Brown sausage in pot... cut up it, crumble it, I don't give a fuck.")
- Put up our pictures/decorate the living room etc
- Buy a friggin' toaster
- Get school supplies for classes that start on Thursday (what the actual?)

So, upcoming posts will include a honeymoon recap (with pictures!), recipe reviews, talking about the Snail Mail Collective, and of course, Wonderful Stuff Wednesday!

And now, it's 4:15 and I am going to get going because I am trying to go to the gym more (read: at all) and there's a Barre class that I've been trying to get to for MONTHS now and I am going tonight, damn it!

Let's hope I don't make a total fool of myself, shall we?

- A

Wonderful Stuff Wednesday: Email Randomness

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Well folks, it's 2 days before the exam and I haven't walked into traffic yet, so hurrah! Between that and the fact that the weather is gorgeous, today isn't too bad. Yesterday was an absolute clusterfuck, thanks to a torrential thunderstorm that decided to grace us with its presence during rush hour. It took me over 2 hours to get to work (it usually takes 25-30 minutes in the morning) and it was miserable. I ended up taking a detour when I could finally get over to an exit because apparently, 295S was underwater before the bridge. Suboptimal, I'm telling you.

Also suboptimal: When you're taking a practice test and you go to grade it and the entire key is slightly out of order, includes answers to questions that weren't on the exam, and is missing answers to questions that were on the exam. It took me almost an hour to score my test, and it necessitated printing the 37 page answer key and reading all of the answers to figure out which question they went to, since the numbering was all wrong. It should not be more difficult to grade the MCAT than it is to complete it, am I right? (I'm right.)

ANYWAY, that was yesterday and this is today and it's sunny and lovely outside. Of course, I'm in my windowless office, freezing my ass off, but hey, it's 1:30 and in 3 hours I can get out of here. And tonight, there is a bang trim, pizza, and a movie with my friend Lindsey. Until then... studying. WHEE.

So today's Wonderful Stuff Wednesday is brought to you by email. First of all, how cool/weird is it that we can send messages THROUGH THE AIR? I know that this technology is now old news, since I'm pretty sure that soon, we'll be able to beam messages into each other's brains, but it's still kind of amazing, right? That being said, I do miss the lost art of letter writing, so I try to send people cards. Who doesn't like mail? Mail is great (except when it's bills, which it usually is. Sad face, being an adult is lame). 

I will say that most of my day is spent staring at a computer, waiting for various and sundry emails to show up so I can respond to them. I usually check my work email on my Blackberry when I get up in the morning to see if there is anything urgent that needs to be remedied before I've even brushed my teeth. (Side note: I friggin' hate my work Blackberry. I can't figure out how to use it, and I'm blaming the device. Also, the answer to the question is usually no, there is nothing that urgent, but hey.) This morning, I couldn't check it because the battery had died, so when I got to work, I was expecting to be met with at least half a dozen emails. Even if most of them are automatically generated from the IT department, telling that something is broken or something is fixed, there is always something in my email inbox. Today? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. I thought that I was stuck in The Twilight Zone or something. But hey, no email to answer first thing in the morning is pretty wonderful!

The second wonderful thing that is email-related today was this goofy scam email that was sent to our string trio account:


How are you doing? please I'm sorry for taking a little of your time, please I have an important issue I will like to share with you concerning my inheritance and character of my wicked Uncles that wants to kill me to enrich themselves. On hearing from you on my email address and i will give you more details.

Have a nice day. Sincerely, alexa oko

I'm not sure why, but it just made me laugh so hard. I feel bad for you, Alexa. I can't imagine what it's like to have wicked Uncles who want to kill you to enrich themselves. They should enroll in some enrichment courses instead. Take up gardening or yoga. Start journaling. These are all very enriching experiences, and they don't include felony homicide! Good luck with all that, though.

Of course, my email-less streak at work could only last for so long. Among the useful emails I received today, I also got an email from the supply chain, which is apparently the department responsible for ordering supplies (aptly named). I'm all for keeping people informed, but this email just cracked me up:

Subject: Supply Conversion Notice: Liquid hand soap conversion to foam hand soap.  Conversion begins at Main campus on August 19, 2013! 
Supply Chain and Environmental Services have an important supply change to report to you.

Kimberly- Clark, makers of the liquid hand soap utilized throughout CHOP Main, has made a business decision to discontinue its line of liquid hand soap. 

Kimberly Clark hand soap will now be replaced with Kimberly Clark foam soap.

The conversion from liquid soap to foam affects CHOP Main Hospital, Wood Center, Seashore House and some Care Network locations (offsite soap utilization assessment in progress). 

The change in soap also creates a change in hand dispensers. Installers for the new dispensers will begin their work on the Main Campus on August 19,2013.

Please continue to use the soap provided.
Be aware of the conversion of liquid to foam soap

So, a few things.

1. To whom is this change actually important!? It's soap!
2. What the actual fuck is a soap utilization assessment?
3. Did they have to tell us to continue to use the soap provided? NO, I refuse!
4. I am pretty sure we're all aware of the conversion to foam soap. I'm also pretty sure that none of us care.

Anyway, those amusing emails made me giggle today, and I hope that they made you smile, too. And now, back to the studying!

- A

Change the Channel

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

So, I don't have time for a real update right now because I am up to my eyeballs in MCAT studying (3 days! AHHHH!) but I needed to share this conversation that I had with my best friend, Victoria, today. I had mentioned that I was really glad that I was almost finished with this course of prednisone that I have been taking for the recent hand/wrist/elbow arthritis that I've had. Prednisone, if you've never taken it, is a wonderful anti-inflammatory, but it makes you hungry, so I've been feeling like I need to "EAT ALL THE THINGS!" recently. Anyway, that got us onto the topic of eating and dieting in general...

V: I am trying to diet again right now, but I actually gained a half a pound last week. So I decided until after my birthday, all I'm doing is just trying to counterbalance the insanity of eating out so much.

I was down to 136, but prednisone sucks. I'm not trying to do anything until after the honeymoon though, because wine. And also eating out for an entire week, essentially.

I think after my birthday, I'll probably just stop drinking anything for a month. That usually helps. The problem is that on top of the calories from the alcohol itself, I also get major drunk munchies. Or tipsy munchies. Pretty much the second wine hits my lips my body goes "CARBS. NOW. GIVE ME CARBS"

My body is always on that channel. The all carb, all the time, channel. I need to switch to the channel Pam is on. That's the all kale, all the time channel. Girl eats more kale than I think I could eat in my entire life.

V: I need to subscribe to that channel.

A: Me too, but that channel is REALLY boring. It doesn't include things like cheesecake or chocolate.

V: Canceling the carb channel is harder than getting out of a Comcast contract. For about a week, I subscribed to the brussels sprouts channel. I actually could have lasted longer, but my husband reached his limit.

A: I am trying to watch more of the salad channel, but I think something is wrong because it keeps switching back to the Bread and Pasta channel.

V: We have faulty remote controls.

A: We do, can we trade them in?

V: Have you been to the cable store before? I don't want to go there.

A: True. That is a circle of hell that Dante forgot. I think we need parental controls!

V: OMG, that's it! I wish I could just block out carbs from the hours of like, 6pm-8am, lol. Or put a PIN on it, that is set by someone reliable and not easily susceptible to torture... because I will waterboard someone for access to potato chips.

And that, ladies and gents, is why V is one of my best friends.

Back to studying!

- A

Little Life Update

Thursday, August 8, 2013

So, I fell off of the face of the blogging planet for a bit because holy hell, life is insane. I had been doing pretty well this entire semester, but the last two weeks have really been kicking my butt and I'm starting to feel the pressure of an impending burn out. So here's what's been going on in my not-so-exciting life...

1. School
It's finals week. As you can imagine, this is not a super fun time. Granted, it's not quite like when I was in undergrad and somehow managed to have 5 finals, 3 papers, 2 lab reports, 3 concerts, a vocal jury, and a lab practical (and a partridge in a pear tree?) to handle... but it's still not fun. Monday night was the Autonomic Physiology final, and I am 99% sure that we all wanted to kill ourselves afterward. We had 90 minutes for an exam that easily could have used twice that, and our professor had to pry our exams from our hands when time was up. Fortunately (?), they curve the exam and the class, so we can't all fail...? I hope? I seriously loved that class, but the exam was rough. It also only has 2 grades for the entire course (midterm and a final) which is entirely too stress-inducing for my tastes. I guess we'll see, but I'm feeling like I at least landed a solid B in the class. Fingers crossed, people.

Cell Bio... ugh. Sophomore year of college, I took Bio 214, which was Cell Biology. I had this professor named Felice Elefant, which caused me to sing her name to the tune of "Feliz Navidad" and to also occasionally refer to her as the "happy elephant professor" because seriously, I couldn't help myself. She was quite a lovely human being, and very bright, but I could not STAND her class. I love biology, but apparently, I hate proteins. I especially hate actin and microtubules. There are very few things that I find completely uninteresting in the sciences... cell biology is apparently one of them. The only part of cell biology that I ever really liked was when I took my Biology of Cancer class. Sadly, this exam is on the cytoskeleton, actin, microtubules, and the cell cycle. On top of finding the material completely and utterly uninteresting, the professor seems to not have the best handle on this chunk of the material. He's using someone else's lecture slides which are mostly pictures, and he's not the clearest of lecturers, so my notes are kind of a disaster. The text book isn't a ton of help, but it's all I've got. Well, that and the internet. Thank God for NCBI.

Next semester starts August 28th, which is random because it's a Wednesday, but hey, I don't make the schedule at Penn. I'll be taking 3 classes, which may or may not make me want to walk in front of a bus. I am seriously not looking forward to being in class Monday from 6:30-9:30 (Immunobiology), Thursday from 6:30-9:30 (Histology), Friday from 5-7 (Microbiology), and Saturday from 11-2 (Microbiology lab). That means that Monday and Thursday, I won't be getting home until after 10 pm, which makes me nauseated just thinking about it. Oh well... the things we do for our goals, right? (Tell me I'm right. I need someone to reassure me, here, haha.)

Anyway, after tonight, I refuse to think about school (except to order my Microbiology and Immuno text books) until I get back from my honeymoon. Moratorium on thinking about school starts today at 7 pm. So there.

T-8 days remain until test day and frankly, I vacillate between feeling as "okay" as one can feel about such an exam, and frantically freaking out like the world is ending. I took a practice exam this past weekend and went up 3 points from my last exam, which puts me almost within my goal range, and that was before I finished studying half of the material on the exam. I am taking Friday off to study, and the rest of the weekend is basically devoted to studying as well. I think that by next week, I'll be in a good place, but getting there is certainly hell.

3. Med School Applications
Everything is done except for my personal statement, which is rattling around in my head. I'm hoping that I can carve out some time next week in between practice tests to slam out a rough draft. I know you're probably all sick of reading about my hopes and dreams of becoming a physician, but I'll need my editing friends out in full force when I finally get something down on paper. And then the application will be sent away and we will wait. For what seems like an eternity. Sigh.

4. Health
I finally saw my rheumatologist about two weeks ago after missing my appointment before that. (Sidenote: Blogger apparently thinks that "rheumatologist" is not a word. What the hell?) I was nervous because it was the first time I was seeing this physician since my original doc at the practice took another job elsewhere, and I am always worried that doctors will look at me and say, "We don't know what's wrong with you, please go away." Fortunately, this new doctor did not do that and I actually like him even more than I liked my original doctor. We talked about the joint pain that I'd been having in my wrists/hands/elbows since early July and he started me on a 20-day tapering dose of prednisone. Somehow getting 10 mg prednisone from the pharmacy turned into a 3 day adventure of incorrect prescriptions and mass chaos, but in the end, I got my steroids and have been taking them for 12 days. I haven't felt a ton of relief, but it has been mildly better. The hope is that the prednisone will calm down whatever inflammation is going on and then I can go back to my regular life of feeling pretty decent. However, if the pain comes back or gets worse, we have to talk about adding another medication (TBD) and that doesn't really thrill me. The next drugs that get added are more serious immuno-suppressants with all kinds of potential side effects that I'd really rather avoid. So... fingers crossed that this just calms down and goes back to being manageable without more drugs.

In other news, I've been getting more migraines, which sucks, and I think it's largely related to not enough sleep combined with overworking my addled brain and stressing out beyond what is even considered marginally reasonable. I am thinking about going back on the Topamax to see if it helps, but I got annoying paresthesia last time I took it, so I had stopped. SIGH.

So yeah, that's basically all that's been going on here. I have this cell bio final in an hour and a half and I'm just staring at my notes. My mind has been wandering all day and I have really had trouble focusing, which isn't usually like me. I think that all of this studying and focusing on the exams I've taken/am going to take is really pushing my brain to the edge. It's an odd dichotomy, because I really and truly enjoy studying (I know, that's weird) and I get kind of a zen-like joy out of sitting down with my books and taking notes... but at the same time, I want to lay in bed and watch TV and knit and do... nothing. But doing nothing often gives me anxiety, which about one of the stupidest things to ever give someone anxiety, I think.

Anyway, I am going to go back to studying and then I'm going to go write this horrid exam and try to spend the evening not obsessing about it. Have a good night, everyone!

- A

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