Tuesday, 31 May 2011

"LOL"

I'm not using this term any more. I think it has completely lost its meaning.

"lol" is supposed to mean "laugh out loud." The irony of this is that I highly doubt anyone laughs out loud when they type these three letters. If anything, it sounds a bit platitudinous when I read it at times because it is so overused. Unless you put an exclamation mark at the end of it, I register this phrase as "I find what you said slightly amusing... I guess" or "I really wasn't paying attention to what you just said."

This is not targeted at anyone in particular. And you are free to use this when talking to me, void of judgement. But, I'm going to stop reproducing little "lol" babies on the internet. Pest control, really.

I myself overuse the smiley face emoticon. But, I like it. And I won't stop using it. :)

If I myself ever use the term "lol" please call me out on it. "haha!" is what I'll be using when I find something funny.

I hope the "lol" abbreviation disappears... one can only hope.

End rant o' the day.

C

Monday, 30 May 2011

Awe-struck

Official polls results are in. It was tight, but most you find Calvin preferable to hang out with than Hobbes by 57%.

Issues with comment box

Hey everyone,

There were some issues some members reported to me about not being able to comment on the blog. Which is sad to hear, considering I want this blog to be more of a community and would love to read your comments!

Please take the time to leave a comment at the end of this post so I can verify that everyone can write comments.

Thanks!
C

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Convocation Day

Convocation was a wonderful and scary experience. Wonderful because it was a day to share and celebrate with friends and family. Scary because I sat there at times thinking, so now what? A feeling I had to shrug to the back of my mind, which was fairly easy to do since there was alcohol everywhere I looked post-convocation ceremony.

It's such a cool feeling to graduate with friends you've made along the way. Before I went up on stage I had about 12 of my friends bump my fist and give my high fives to pump me up! How awesome is that? One graduate actually went on stage with a Vancouver canucks banner and said out loud, "GO CANUCKS, GO!" which definitely woke everyone up and was awarded with much excitement.

Unfortunately, our ceremony had to stop at a certain point due to a medical scare. One of the members of the audience had an epileptic seizure - his mother was in hysterics. To everyone's surprise, a physician, paramedics, security, and the ambulance brigade were present at the ceremony and helped the young man out. Glad to say that he was responsive and seemed to regain his health back at the end and was able to receive medical attention.

After the ceremony, there were many pictures to be had! We went to my boyfriend's house for lunch to wine and dine. Following the lunch, we had a great time recounting our past 5 years as biochemistry undergrads. So many late nights studying, so many examinations, and yes. They are now over! The overwhelming feeling that came over us was the fact that we had shared something special together. We had all of the same classes and shared precious memories.

That night we had dinner at the fanciest restaurant in town. Everyone had delicious food, drinks, and dessert. I'm not ashamed to say I ate about four creme brulee ramekins!

I will make a post soon about my plans/thoughts for the future as they have changed a little bit in the last few days. For the good.

Have a happy Sunday, everyone!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Convocation tomorrow!

So it just sort of hit me that tomorrow will be the day I graduate. Four and a half years of biochemistry are finally coming to an end. It was such a hard degree. I wanted to give up so many times I am not able to count it. But, I stuck with it and at the end of the day I'm proud of myself. Could not have done this without my boyfriend who was there every step of the way. We took all of our classes together. My earlier posts about genies and dreams were dedicated to him (and of course my Jasmine, who spent countless hours on my lap while studying). He was always the person I could rely on to help make me through the day :)

Dedicated posts, so you all know what I am talking about:
Dare to Dream
Genies

I will post more exciting details about convocation tomorrow. And hopefully it won't be too mushy, but knowing me there's a good chance it will be filled with mushiness. I warned you. Hmm... not sure if I will want to post my actual photos but I have a feeling I'll try and find some creative way of sharing them.

Congrads to all of us grads! And good luck to everyone who will be graduating in the future! It's definitely worth the struggle.

All the best,
C

Monday, 23 May 2011

Fat Elvis

There is a cat who is in love with me and his name is Fat Elvis. Actually, I've recently found out that this cat is a female and not a "he." And her real name is not Fat Elvis. But that is what I've called this cat since the day we met.

Fat Elvis lives on my boyfriend's street. Often when I visit my bf's house, this cat sees my car and waits for me at the front door and waits for me to say "hello." Elvis likes to roll around on the driveway and sniff dandelions.

One day, when studying retrosynthetic analysis at my boyfriend's house, I had to put down my notes on nitro compounds because of a strange gurgling sound. Something to the effect of, "Grrr rawr rawr gurble gurble." Outside, face to face, was Fat Elvis and my bf's cat Toby. I tried to break up the potential catastrophe by telling Toby he looked and sounded like a grumpy old man. He usually gets embarrassed and stops the noise soon after.

Enjoy photos of Elvis and Toby the cat.

Toby the cat
Fat Elvis

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Finding research opportunities

I realize that there are some premeds who would like some help finding clinical research. I made a great big thread on the website premed101 about this and I`d like to share it with everyone.

Research FAQs:
http://www.premed101.com/forums/showpost.php?p=563675&postcount=3

Here is the entire thread, with contributions from other members that answers frequently asked premed questions:
http://www.premed101.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47062

Note: This is a site targetted towards Canadian medical students, but have a look at it as many of the answers apply to premeds in general.

Good luck! Now, everyone, become doctors.

Retweet if you like this!

Beware of dork.

I'm what you would a way-too-excited-about-everything personality, especially when it comes to dorky things. On my first day of kindergarten I remember dancing around the house with my brand new backpack, lunch bag, and sneakers. My parents drove me to school and I told my mom, "I'm ready for you to leave now. I can't wait to learn and make friends!" Look up "adorkable" in urban dictionary. If you don't see my photo in the definition, it's because they have already deleted it due to intense dorkiness.

I like to learn and I like to be different. If someone tells me there is a bug outside eating another bug, I'll get my camera out and take photos of it. And, I'll probably try and put it in a jar to keep for "scientific purposes." I'll guess the species name and look it up on my computer.



I like learning about anatomy. If someone talks about a body part, I say the latin name of it. Then, when I realize that no one else knows what I'm talking about, I change the topic to something much more appealing. Such as Britney Spears, or whatever kids today like to talk about.

I get excited about wearing baggy clothes. Why? I feel like a gangster when I do and have the urge to make ridiculous dance movements because I feel so badass.



When I buy something new, like my new HP touchsmart tm2 tablet, we become inseparable. I watch YouTube videos about all of the special features, I play around with it to see how well it functions, and I bring it every where I go and show it off like it's the best invention known to mankind. Because, it probably is.

When I explain things, I am very technical with hand gestures and everything. For instance, when explaining how a moka pot works to my sister, I used terms like "extraction ratio" and "emulsion." Doesn't everyone?

If I'm about to do something that day and I'm looking forward to it, I do a happy dance about it. For instance, a few days ago I went to my boyfriend's house to help paint his deck. And all morning, before  painting it, I was singing about painting the deck and how I couldn't wait to use the paint brushes and make the deck look pretty.

I have a big imagination and I think that life is too boring when we talk about the same things day in and day out. As if we're programmed to lose enthusiasm over time and become static. I remember telling myself when I was around six years old that I never want to grow up. And, I think I'm doing a pretty good job of this.

If this post was too dorky for you, just take a look at the title. It's called "Beware of dork." Don't act like I did not warn you.

Note: I did not draw these comics. If you like them, please check out exocomics: http://www.exocomics.com/180
The girl in the comic strips is basically my virtual twin.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

It is official.

You have spoken. Pasta is officially better than pizza by a whopping 66% majority. 

Not sure what to do this summer?

Sean has got you covered:

Friday, 20 May 2011

Vegetarianism

There is one food group missing from my diet: meat. People often ask me why I decided to become a vegetarian, if I'm an animal activist, and if my life has turned to jibbles because of a lack of protein.

I've tried to be an animal activist, really I have. But I'm not a PETA fan, and I do not like the fear tactics they use. I have had several unsuccessful vegetarian phases when I was younger because I have always loved animals and didn't want to eat them. Those attempts were unsuccessful because I did not have the willpower to go through with becoming vegetarian in my Portuguese household. Going meatless was like announcing to my family I was a transvestite.

It was not until I moved away from home that my distaste for meat skyrocketed. I did not care for it, it started to taste like a patch of leather with sauce on top, and I would feel ill at the thought of eating something dead. Meat became tasteless to me, and truly sickened me.

I have found it very simple to be a vegetarian, and I have no desire to convert others into vegetarians. If you enjoy the taste of meat, I would imagine how difficult it would be to cut it out. Vegetarians do have substitutes that I find silly at times, such as "vegetarian" chicken breasts. Thank you for the creativity, Morningstar Farms, but I became veggie because I don't want to eat anything that looks or tastes like meat. No offensical.

One day I hope to go vegan, but cheese and milk are my friends. Making crème brûlée with egg substitute and soya milk just doesn't sit well with me. I'm far too much of a baking snob to ever replace my dairy buddies.

But as we grow our tastes do change. I just can't help but shiver at the thought of soya milk invading my fridge.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Being short is awesome. Right...?

Today I saw a research participant who was quite a jolly woman. I remembered testing her in our previous session and getting along with her very well. We talked about many important issues today, such as shoes and Swiffer sweepers (I must admit, I am gifted at the art of small talk).

We go into my little research office and one of the first things I did was record her height measurement. This participant had shrunk by 1 inch since her last visit, and even more discouraging in her mind was the loss of two inches over the course of three years. Now, I don't like frowns so I attempted to turn it upside with a few words of consolation. I told her that being short was, indeed, very useful and proceeded to tell her the benefits, as if I were selling "shortness" to her.

First of all, short is cute, generally speaking. Secondly, finding a boyfriend can be a bit easier as boys tend to have height complexes. Lastly, it is much easier to eavesdrop on important conversations without being noticed when short.

However, my pitch was unsuccessful today. The participant told me with a smile on her face, "The older I get the shorter I am and the closer I come to my grave."

Now, before I go to sleep I ask a question to the void: am I alone in my affection for petiteness?

Writing notes in the shower

Disclaimer: I am not getting paid for informing you of this product. Obviously... haha.

I personally think this is hilarious. One day, my boyfriend started talking to me about an ingenious invention. I was hoping he was going to tell me that they finally made a device that would tell you the location of anything you lost. Unfortunately, my hopes were killed when he told me that this invention had not been made (party pooper). Instead, the ingenious invention was a notepad. A waterproof notepad.

Um... that's kinda cool, I guess? In between scrubbing and rinsing he now has the ability to write calculus notes on his waterproof notepad (the calculus notes are still there, by the way).

Here is the link for the waterproof notepad: http://www.myaquanotes.com/
Enjoy.

Monday, 16 May 2011

I don't understand colloquialisms...

Have any of you heard the phrase "whet your appetite" before? Apparently it is a common term that means an experience that makes you want more of something. I heard it for the first time today from my boyfriend and I thought he was saying something silly just to make me laugh. I have looked on the internet and it really is a phrase people use! I am stunned. I swear, I feel like I learn a new phrase every day that perplexes me and I have to look it up. A few months ago, one of my research participants said she was "bowing out" of the study. Now, I had never heard the term "bowing out" before and the audio was a bit strange on the phone so I really had no idea how to react to what I had just heard. I was truly confused. I try not to use colloquialisms in every day speech. I feel that they defy logic, are overused and often make no sense at all. I feel like I'll end up like my friend Mr. Literal one day.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Back in the ring

I have spent so much of this year gaining clinical research experience and doing well in my courses that I feel like I've been sort of like a boxer in training for his next fight. I've used pm101 to do my research on different medical schools and have used it as a great resource. I'm glad to say that I'm ready to put my boxing gloves back on and step into the ring yet again. I'm getting so pumped up for the upcoming application cycle. I've gotten great words of wisdom from others telling me they believe that this is my year. I know that there are way more qualified applicants than there are seats. And that I may end getting rejected again since I am unsure if my GPA will be competitive enough. But, now is not the time to let my uncertainties get to me. I have my fighting spirit back and am glad to say I'm back in the ring, Bellboa style :)

Saturday, 14 May 2011

You know what I can't wait for?

Sunday morning :P

Just a smalltowngirl

I remember one day in high school very well. It was lunchtime and I was walking down my favourite hallway at my old high school. The hallway was called Echo Hall. It was such a cool place. If you were walking down that hallway with relatively few people you could hear your voice echo down the hall. But what I liked the most were the murals which grazed its walls. Very bohemian, trendy murals almost like graffiti. I remember one black and white painting of Kurt Cobain that I would always stare at because it was so well done. Every time I walked past it I would sort of hum "Smells Like Teen Spirit" in my head.

I have derailed :) Back to my first sentence: I was walking down echo hall one day with one of my good friends. She was holding a cup of coffee and looked so trendy, very metro. And I said to her, "Wow, A. You're such a city girl." Her and I both laughed. I think we both sort of realized at that moment that our town was too small for her. However, I came to the realization that big cities are not for me. Even now, we both remember this. I'm not too sure why it's such a profound memory for me, but when thinking of the future and where I want to end up one day I always come back to it. I certainly don't want to limit myself by giving up opportunities that lie in places that I am scared of. But, I also want to stay true to myself and give back to my community which has helped me out so much along the way. Whenever I go back home, I love to visit my old high school and catch up with my old teachers. I always make sure to walk down Echo Hall humming "Smells Like Teen Spirit" when I visit, even though I'm 22.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Blog was down! Should be back on track now. And message for applicants.

Hey everyone,

Sorry but blogspot was not working today and for quite some time yesterday! It even deleted a great big post I had written for you all. What a freaky Friday...

I just wanted to say a big congrats for everyone accepted into medical school today! Glad to see some really great applicants get in, but very heartbroken to see that some amazing applicants were either rejected or put on the waitlist. It really shows me that there really are way more qualified applicants than there are seats. But still, I am shocked to say the least that UBC and other medical schools have turned down some truly amazing applicants.

If you need someone to vent to, I'm an email a way and I won't judge. I don't even have to reply if you don't want me to. Email: jasmine.cat.33@gmail.com

I've had those feelings too. This was most definitely a msg on the serious side, but I will let you all know I'll be back to my usual, dorky, bubbly, strange self tomorrow.

Take care,
C

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Little Triumphs

I love little triumphs. For instance, today I forgot it was garbage day entirely. I woke up, and it dawned on me that this morning was a little bit different. And I couldn't put my finger on it until I realized that yes, it was garbage day. And, oh noooo! It could come at any time. I put on my ugliest pair of pants, ran outside, sluggishly struggled to put the can at the end of the driveway. Unfortunately, there was a large puddle in front of my house and a speedy car thought it was fun to humiliate me in front of an audience of just himself by splashing my with muddy, oil ridden water. But even though the water hit me body, the splash did not humiliate me at all. Because I had made garbage day. And I was triumphant.

Monday, 9 May 2011

A bit of randomness: I have Lexical Gustatory Synaesthesia

I'm letting you all know of a very strange condition I have. It is called lexical gustatory synaesthesia (LGS). It is a very bizarre condition, and I did not even know I had it until my boyfriend called me up one day. I thought everyone had it, but I remember reading somewhere that it is extremely rare: only 1 in 50 000 people have it. The convo went a little something like this:

BF: "Hey, you know that weird thing you have?"

Me: "Ugh.. I'm short?"

BF: "Not that."

Me: "Well then..."

BF: "You taste words when you hear them. Or see them."

Me: "And you don't?"

BF: "You have lexical gustatory synaesthesia. What does the word synaesthesia taste like to you?"

Me: "Salt! And you?"

BF: "Nothing."

So that's pretty much it! I actually taste words when I hear them. Some words even have textures. Here's a short list of words I hear and their taste (not a comprehensive list, but just to give you an idea):


  • words with a heavy "s" sound = salty
  • words with "puh" sounds = apple sauce
  • earwax = the worst taste of all
  • chocolate = deep watery word that tastes like chocolate
  • words with "ju" sounds, like "jub jub" or "juice" = jub jub candies
  • crackers = buttery saltiness
  • words with "ka" sounds = creamy
  • chicken = chicken 
The most distracting sound is the "s" sound. It is so common, and I always have a salty feeling on my tongue after hearing it. The most annoying sound is "chicken" as I am a vegetarian.

I also have another form of synaesthesia. Numbers always have colours, and some have personalities. 
  • 1 = black
  • 2 = blue
  • 3 = green
  • 4 = red (always angry)
  • 5 = blue 
  • 6 = brown
  • 7 = yellow (always happy)
  • 8 = black
  • 9 = green (angry, horrible number)
Bizarre, I know. But that is why I blog: to entertain you with strangeness.

Jasmine, update

I nearly passed out right now. Got a phone call from my vet and heard the words, "no tumour!" and a few other that I can't remember. Ah, I'm so happy!!! She is recovering from a bone infection right now, and I hope to see her get better. The infection is tolerable. The tumour would have been horrible news. Today, I am relieved and so happy.


Sunday, 8 May 2011

If this doesn't make you want to try out tennis, I don't know what will


For those of you who don't know me too well, I am a big tennis player/fan. I hope you enjoy this.
Disclaimer: Tennis player are silly. Especially Djokovic.

The Importance of Mentors

Sometimes, I become very surprised at how cold and distant some medical school applicants are. To some, the application process is all about grades, grades, grades. It is not something to enjoy at all. And, I've talked to many applicants with those sorts of sentiments. Granted, they will eventually get to where they are going since they are so incredibly driven. But I think this mentality is unhealthy. I have seen some premeds break down due to stress: this is especially disheartening since, in the grande scheme of things, we are only beginning our journey.

I think one has to evaluate what the purpose is of getting into medical school. I personally know others who were so consumed with school work that they did not pursue areas of interest outside of school. I am lucky to have grown up in a small town and have a need for community. I like to help others because I have always been this way. It didn't simply develop the day I decided I wanted to become a physician. It is the reason I want to become a physician.

One thing you'll notice is that people who give their all, not just academically but in life, will be noticed by others. Being inquisitive, courteous, and helpful has always attracted people to me in life. I actually did not seek out many of my mentors that have helped me so much these last couple of years during the application process. Some have actually noticed me first.

Mentors are so important to have, I can not express that enough. My mentors have given me the confidence that I am on the right path and should stay on it. I have also felt the compounding pressure of trying to gain acceptance, but one of the reasons I have not let it get to me is because I have others who believe in me. I've built very good relationships with others around me, especially my professors, research supervisor, employers, and even medical students. The advice they've given me is invaluable and I treasure it.

If you do not have a mentor, I urge you to find one. No matter what field you are interested in, not just premed, mentors are there to help guide you. Through your own mistakes, whether they be professional or personal, a good mentor will be there for you. They have gone through ups and downs similar to those you are currently experiencing and will try their best aid you. And one final word: a mentor is not just present for you to use a good reference letter. They are much more than a piece of paper, and their presence will always be with you, in some form.

Good luck,
C

Friday, 6 May 2011

A bit overwhelmed

For some reason, I feel a little bit overwhelmed today. And I don't know why. Just about every single day of the year, I do not feel this way. I never have any feelings of time running out of my reach, or that things are spinning out of control. I'm only 22 after all, and I am graduating with my first degree (BSc.) in a few weeks. I usually feel like exploding with happiness. I'm usually a pretty positive person. I hope you can tell this from my other blog posts. And I have a feeling it is because of my Dad whose positivity is beloved by everyone in my small hometown.

I think some days, you just sort of feel like things are falling apart. As I've told you all, my cat Jasmine is having health complications. I haven't even begun talking about what my family health problems have been like the last few months. And with many med school applicants knowing the certainty of their journey towards being a physician, it makes my uncertainty the future much more real. At least it does today.

The Persistence of Memory, Dali, 1931 
Last night, I dreamt I went back to my hometown and was at my old high school. Everyone was older and looked fantastic. For some reason, no one wanted to talk to me and I thought that was odd. Even my closest high school friends would turn their heads away from me. I felt like everything was spinning out of control. In my dream, I remember feeling nauseated and running to the bathroom. I looked in the mirror and everything about me seemed to become distorted. And I realised why everyone was appalled by my appearance. My face looked like it was melting away.

That dream has really gotten to me. I decided to write about it because I wonder if others have had dreams like this. Where it seems like you are inferior to others around you. I don't know, maybe it really is my subconscious feelings of wanting to catch up to other medical applicants.

I'm not sure if that is what's going on. I am not Freud :) But sometimes, I think these sort of feelings do catch up with me: whether I want them to or not. I don't think there is anything wrong with feeling this way. On the positive side, it means that I have a goal in life and know that I want to make it there on day. I think it is normal to have doubts about yourself, to be fearful of uncertainty, and to want to do your personal best.

The road towards becoming a medical student is a very long one. And, even after that there is a lot of sacrifice to be made. Persistence and stamina are virtues I am lucky to have. Some applicants who have gotten in this year have tried many times before earning their acceptance. Knowing that they were able to do it, even after feeling like giving up many times inspires me to press forward. Having great mentors around me is also a gift. And until I get there, I know that I have others to help guide me forward. I will get there one day. I'll never give up.

Addicted to research?

Over the past couple of weeks my research supervisor, a brilliant neurologist who attended UT for her medical education (which I lovingly praise as the Canadian equivalent of Harvard), has recently given me lots of responsibility and... I love it. I recently finished editing a document to be sent to the REB (research ethics board). And I was so insistent on perfecting it. I had this sort of rush of energy talking to my boyfriend about what I was writing, how much fun it was to look at papers, and how cool it was to make checklists in Microsft Word 2010.

Readers, my name is Cerena... And I am an addict.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Vesalius and da Vinci: contributions to anatomical artwork

I'm sure you all have guessed that I am a big fan of artwork. Some of these pieces may be graphic, but they are all amazing works of art in my opinion. Enjoy :)

The images below are present in Andreas Vesalius' (December 31, 1514 - October 15, 1564) revolutionary book, De humani corporis fabric (on the fabric of the human body). Vesalius was born in Brussels, Habsurg Netherlands. He was only 14 when he started higher education attending the University of Louvain in the faculty of arts. He became a student of medicine at the age of 18 at the University of Paris and earned his doctorate at the University of Padua. His most significant contribution to medicine was his work, Fabrica, which he published at the age of 28. Vesalius' work appears to be quite shocking at first glance, and becomes even more cryptic when one is told the true nature of his anatomical models. He would illegally hire his students to dig up corpses after dark in order to acquire the corpses. He would then have them dissected, would fashion them in allegorical poses, and hired artists to draw his models for Fabrica

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/historicalanatomies/
Images/1200_pixels/Vesalius_Pg_174.jpg

De humani corporis fabrica libri septem Vesalius (1953)
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/historicalanatomies
/Images/1200_pixels/Vesalius_Pg_165.jpg

De humani corporis fabrica libri septem Vesalius (1953)


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb
/e/ee/Vesalius_Fabrica_fronticepiece.jpg/255px-Vesalius_Fabrica_fronticepiece.jpg

De humani corporis fabrica libri septem Vesalius (1543)

I have included anatomical artwork by Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1942 - May 2, 1519). Born in Vinci, Italy, Leonardo was not just an artist, he was also heavily involved in the sciences. He was a true polymath, and had many fields of expertise: geology, architecture, music, engineering, mathematics, writing, painting, and sculpting. Leonardo is one of my major forms of inspiration as he did not limit himself by any means. He challenged himself and, in my opinion, was one of the most creative minds in history.
http://www.caroltorgan.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Leonardo-hands.jpg
Leonardo da Vinci 

My experience writing the MCAT

Warning: This is not intended to be an uplifting story about writing the MCAT. If you'd rather read a blog about how amazing writing the MCAT was, you're free to go find one now. If you are about to write the MCAT, and to keep your morale up you'd rather watch Rocky and get yourself pumped up, by all means, DO IT. But, if you want to read about someone screwing up so bad that it makes you feel better about writing the test, then you might just want to read my story.

My Story

Mmm... calories...
I flew to Vancouver to write the test, a city I really enjoy to visit. I had to stay at a hotel and decided I wasn't going to study the day before writing the MCAT to ease my mind. In theory, this would have been great, logical, even highly advisable... my brain was hoping that I would do this, but my nervous system wouldn't let me. I started to furiously go through my organic chemistry notes. I have no idea why I did this. I'm an organic chemistry TA and that was the section I understood the most. Maybe it was because I knew the material so well, I wanted to keep myself in high spirits before the test. I’m not sure why, but I studied that and that alone. Here's another tip I was given: eat a nutritious meal the day before the MCAT, full of veggies and brain food. What did I do? I ordered a massive cheese pizza from Pizza Hut. I think I ate the whole thing out of nervousness (and I'm pretty tiny). I studied the material and devoured my pizza. When it was around 11 PM I tried to get to sleep.

Dear readers, make sure you get a good night sleep the night before the MCAT. I am sure it helps quite a lot to be well rested. However, when it comes to sleeping, I have on-and-off periods of insomnia. Most of the time it is well managed, but when I am stressed out, sleeping is impossible. I remember trying so hard to fall asleep the night before the MCAT that I was telling myself to fall asleep. Note: that does not work. I tossed and turned in the hotel room, became increasingly bitter about how noisy and bright Vancouver is at night, and chaotically swallowed about 8 St. John's Wort tablets in desperation. Restless, I went to the hotel bathtub and put some sheets and pillows into the tub. This was around 5 AM and I was to write my test at 8:30 AM. I needed to get some sleep, and this strategy allowed me about 1 hour of it. Before I knew it, I was up, dressed, and in the taxi cab.

I was so confused...
Dear readers, it sounds simple, but this is so important: know where the testing location is. I had no idea where the testing location was. Sure, I read the printout that stated the location, but I was hopeful the cab driver would instruct me where to go. I landed in front of a mall, which was bizarre to me. I had never written a test in a mall before. I thought to myself, am I supposed to write the test in a food court?! At this point I was totally lost, I think I gained about 10 grey hairs, and I only had 45 minutes to find the location. I walked up to the mall doors, and was stunned to find out the mall was closed.

How could it have been closed?! The test was in 45 minutes! I really did not know what to do. I searched the mall for an entrance. I contemplated breaking down the windows to get in. Luckily, I was let in somehow (this escapes me for the moment – I hope I didn’t resort to a B & E), and I was left to search for the testing center. Once inside, I was very calm. I needed to find the station location and I was going to.

So, I found the testing centre and was checked in. You even have to do a thumbprint, how CSI of them. There were several other premeds around me that were about to write the test. Some were quite nervous, some were calm and collected, and others had a smug expression on their face. Smug premed A said to smug premed B in a very loud and obnoxious voice, "I've written this test once already. I'm really hoping I can bring up my 40 S." This infuriated me. For those who are unfamiliar with the MCAT, a 40 S is nearly a perfect score. I am quite content if you think I am horrible for doing this, but I remember glancing at smug premed A and telling him with a faux worried expression, "Well, that would suck if you screwed it up again, huh?!" He stopped talking. Exactly the effect I was going for. One girl beside me even awarded me a fistpound.

We all walked into our testing stations and I sat down in front of the computer ready to write  err digitally enter and/or type my answers for the test. They gave us these funky headphones to wipe out the distracting clicking noises of neighbouring keyboards. I found these bizarre things to be helpful; however, I tended to get sleepy whenever I placed them atop my ears. I developed a system where I would wear them until my eyes became heavy then immediately remove them. This worked quite well.

The first section of the MCAT is physical sciences. Now, I had not taken physics II and was hoping my summer studying would aid me. Ha! How optimistic of me. The entire section was a disaster. It was like if a political leader were to wear a "Global warming is a lie" t-shirt a G8 summit. Terrible analogy, I know, but all I can say is that it was not good. I remember laughing to myself and guessing every second answer. The questions looked foreign to me. And by the end of the section I was so mad at myself that I left the room and wasn't about to go back. I was convinced I had failed it. I was tired. I was fed up with myself. I felt like my application was going to be discarded by UBC and there was no hope of having my file reviewed that cycle. But I decided to go back. I remembered one of my friends telling me she felt like she failed the test too, but the beauty of the MCAT is the fact that it is multiple choice type exam. Realistically, I had no idea if I had failed it. I had to suck it up, go back in there, and finish the test. And I did just that.

I flew through the next three sections. When I felt tired, I just pinched myself and went on. I was determined to do my best at the other sections and forget the first one. By the time I was done the test, I felt relieved but I had an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. That feeling lasted until I received my results. I remember seeing other premeds coming out of the testing center crying and hugging each other. For those of you who do not understand test anxiety and think to yourself, what is the big deal: the MCAT is just one test. All I can tell you is that test anxiety is real and it is difficult to keep under control. For those of us with test anxiety, a test is not just a test. Adrenaline levels are in overdrive. It is very hard to control your thoughts. While it has gotten better it is still there just like any other imperfection you`d rather not want the world to see. I understand why those girls were crying after writing the test. These things can creep into your psyche.

A day goes by, a week goes by, then a month goes by and the results are finally in. Did I fail the physical sciences section? Am I ineligible to apply? What was going to happen? I click on the link to see my results and I stare in shock. Physical sciences was my best section! It felt like all of that work paid off, and I was so grateful that I did not walk out of the testing center and pressed through the test. I was elated and so happy to apply that I released my scores that day. I hope this gave you all a few laughs, and if you are about to write the test, one final piece of advice: just do the opposite of what I did and you should be ready to go :)

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Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Jasmine had her surgery yesterday...

And it went smoothly. Her tooth was removed and she seems to be doing well. She's a very tired cat right now. Unfortunately there might be some other complications she faces. She may have a tumour in her jaw. It's quite hard to handle all of this shock at once. She was so healthy, and after taking her to the vet I found out she has hyperthyroidism, needs dental surgery, has been fluctuating in weight, may have an infection or a tumour... all of this within a month. There is some good news. She is responding well to treatment! Her T4 (thyroxin) levels are well within the normal range (the tapazole has worked tremendously well, her levels were unchartable beforehand) and she is eating a lot better (she's gained 1.5 lbs!), probably due to the pain relief medication, metacam, also known as meloxicam, a COX-2 inhibitor for all of you pharma lovers. All three of her medications (tapazole, metacam, and antibiotic) are administered orally. I found that the easiest way is to administer the meds via syringe, which the vet has said should be a great thing to do as she receives the medication directly, none of it is lost in her food.


Does anyone have any creative ideas for giving pets medication? I've heard of little kibble pockets you can put meds inside of. If you have any tips, I would greatly appreciate a comment.

Thanks everyone, time to give Jasmine her meds <3
C

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