Thursday, November 3, 2011


I've definitely been slacking when it comes to blog updates, but I often feel as though I have nothing meaningful to post.  I completed my midterms in spectacular fashion with all A's and all A averages in my classes.  With that taken care of I'm settling back into a lull before finals.  I've registered for Spring 2012; Spanish, Bio + Lab, Drugs & Behavior, and Statistics.  It shouldn't be too difficult and I'm looking forward to ditching all these writing emphasis courses.

I took a little trip down to Tallahassee last weekend for a tour of FSU's main campus and College of Medicine.  I had an absolute blast!  I wandered around campus for a while and met some cool folks, toured the Psychology department and Medical department.  I decided shortly after arriving that I definitely wanted to complete my undergraduate studies at FSU and will be transferring Fall 2012 or Spring 2013.

Campus pictures:
Florida State University
College of Medicine

Florida State University
Psychology Department

Osceola & Renegade: Unconquered

Monday, October 3, 2011

Up's and Down's...

First the down.  Both of the individuals I've been volunteering with passed away last week.  I got a call early in the morning that they were gone.  At first I didn't know how to react, I was just sort of numb.  They weren't family and I hadn't known them for long, but I liked them.  I learned about their lives before being admitted into hospice care... favorite colors, foods, music, fond memories, funny stories.  In the short time I had spent with them I go to know them.  After the numbness subsided the guilt settled in.  I slacked off last week to recover from a cold and decided to skip my visits with them.  The reason I was volunteering was because they had no family to keep them company, no one to just sit by their side.  Some days that was all I did; show up, give them a hug, then plop down next to their bed in case they decided they wanted to talk.  Some days we did talk, and some times those talks made very little sense, and some days I just sat quietly and thought.  I feel guilty because I worry that their last week was lonely... Perhaps I'm over-estimating the effect of my presence.

The up's.  I got an "A" on my first philosophy paper!  I was stressed about the subject matter and felt that I failed to address all of the requirements of the assignment, but what a relief.  My teacher even left a little note on the last page about finding my blog.  I posted a rough draft of my paper briefly to let a friend read over and critique and my teacher stumbled across my blog, he even wished me luck in achieving my goals.  It was pretty cool.

My psych advisor is sponsoring a Psi Beta chapter at PSC and she invited me to join.  I'm hoping that Psi Beta will give me the chance to dig deeper into my major and add depth to my EC's.  I've never joined a student organization other than sports/band/newspaper in Highschool so this should be fun.

I met some really cool Chinese foreign exchange students on Saturday at a hospice event.  They've been here for about a month and it was an absolute blast to talk with them.  I learned some interesting stuff about their culture and shared some stuff about American culture.  I agreed to help them with their English and show them some of the area in exchange for some language lessons and home-cooked Chinese cuisine.  I'm feeling a semester off for a visit to China...  I also got invited to a hospice dinner with all of the local physicians who refer patients to hospice, which is an awesome chance to meet some doctors to shadow.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I am studying for the first time in my life and it's strange.

I've skated by with B's in my harder classes with little or no studying.  Last minute cramming, my usual tactic,  just isn't an option if I'm looking to retain a high GPA.  Right now I'm sitting at 3.7 with some semi-difficult classes behind me and non-existent study habits.  I've got chemistry, physics, organic chemistry, calculus, and some sick upper level science classes ahead so I need to get in gear.  I'm beginning to feel as though being intelligent enough to not study throughout high-school and my early college classes and still pass is really hindering me now.  As a 24 year old adult I'm having to learn methods of studying that should have been beaten into me years ago, and it sucks!  I was always so full of myself when I knocked a major test out with no studying when people around me struggled to study to earn a passable grade.

Luckily I'm tackling this problem early in the semester on a relatively minor test for philosophy.  So far; re-read chapters, re-read handwritten notes, made flashcards.  Next up: listen to the lectures I've recorded, re-re-read chapters, re-re-read handwritten notes, drill flashcards, dictate everything I have then listen to it again.  Anaximenes, Anaximander, Anaxagoras... DAMN YOU!

Tomorrow small math quiz, volunteering at Broadview, studying for Philosophy, then gym.  Goal: knock that first test out of the park on Tuesday.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Long-expected Update...

Let me dive right in... School has been a surprising affair this semester; and not just from the ex in one class trying to rekindle a dead romance.  I walked into my general psych class excited and staggered into philosophy class with a sense of dread.  As a psychology major and enthusiast I assumed I'd find psych to be the best part of my schedule, it is a fascinating and fun class, but found philosophy to be an absolute blast.  Day One in philosophy we jumped straight into such varying philosophical subjects as ontology, monism, atomism, and the pre-Socratic era.  Despite it being the first class we dug into some really cool ways of philosophizing and absorbing everything around us and the next week we did it again, with a focus on Socrates through Plato's writings.  Once a week seems like too little time to be studying even a introductory teaching of philosophy.  Definitely thinking about minoring in philosophy.

I spoke with Ms. Mosley about research opportunities necessary for med. school and she did a little digging.  She's going to get a research ICDM class added to my degree plan that will at least push me in the right direction for research experience.  I'll have the opportunity to take it next semester.  I also found out Ms. Mosley is my student adviser, she's a kind and brilliant teacher so that is a definite win.

Things on the volunteering front finally picked up today.  My first assignment was interacting with terminal dementia patients in a palliative care setting.  It was one of the most affirming events of my life since deciding to go full-throttle med. school.  Just to cover my butt and retain patient privacy I'm going to anonymize that individual.

The patient was surprisingly coherent and vocal when we entered the room, and we introduced ourselves as volunteers.  We explained to the patient that we would like to sit with them and talk, to keep them company, and the patient agreed.  After some discussion of the weather (Tropical Storm Lee) and other trivial matters the patient seemed to be getting tired and I was left in their room should they decide to talk more.  Though the patient was engaging and even funny, I felt oddly unsure of my place in the conversation between the patient and the experienced person who was with me.  My companion was very familiar with the setting and had far more experience than me, I think they recognized that fact and mercifully left me to struggle alone with the patient.  The patient drifted to sleep, then woke and decided to talk with me again.  I still struggled, I just couldn't connect any meaningful conversation or determine what purpose it should serve.  We had only just met, I was sitting at their bedside, close enough to hear them breathing, and I was talking like an idiot; going through the motions of conversation and failing.  We bumbled around at talking until it died away, and then I desperately sought out something to break the awkwardness.  I looked down at the bundle of papers in my hands; their care plan!  It had the patient's personal information such as height, weight, religion, etc. as well as a quasi-medical breakdown of their condition, prognosis, etc.  Short term prognosis, generic adult failure to thrive, and sensory handicap.  I asked the patient how they enjoyed the Doctor listed on their care plan; "Great, the Doctor really listens to me, I know I'm old and dying but the Doctor treats me like I matter and it feels good.  I don't have family that see me and the Doctor treats me like family."  I assume the patient hadn't received that same treatment from their last physician.  I asked the patient how they enjoyed the facility; "It's newer and I like having my own space.  They actually like seeing me and I know all their names."  I again assume that this hadn't always been the case for the patient. The conversation turned back toward the weather, because it had worsened outside the window not because of dementia, and then tapered off as the patient became sleepy again.  I thanked the patient for their time and asked if I could return soon, they agreed.

I walked out of that room reminded why I wanted to practice medicine one day: to help people like that patient.
And also how I wanted to practice: with empathy and a focus on helping.


*LotR reference in post title!

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Impressions...

My first impression back is complex.  I'm comfortable, focused, nervous, anxious, and, above all, awkward.  Awkward?  An ex is in my math class!  I did a fantastic job avoiding her in class but discovered she had parked next to me in the parking lot.  100+ spots and she choose the one next to my truck, a mixed signal given the "freak-out" she had when I split with her.  I managed to keep my head down and escape without incident.

On to more important matters.  I've decided to spend at least an hour every week in the math lab to ensure I am comfortable with the core concepts of algebra and geometry before the semester gets too heavy.  I'm capable of handling the class but I loathe math.  I'd rather cut the grass, scrub baseboards, stand in line at the DMV, you get the picture... Tomorrow I've got psychology and philosophy on deck.  I'm really looking forward to general psych. with Ms. Mosley.  I had her for Human Growth and Development and she sparked a passion for behavioral sciences in me.  I've skimmed over the syllabus and it looks like we're going to combine some of the basic concepts of human growth/dev. and sociology and dig deeper into science.  I'm planning on tearing into a Redbull, sitting front row, and gunning for that perfect grade.

I'm still waiting for the results of my second TB test before I get direct contact with residents at the hospice, for now I'm stuck doing mind-numbing training and secretarial work.  That being said I'm extremely nervous at the idea of interacting with terminal patients since I've never experienced that sort of loss personally.  I'm frightened that my response will either be too emotional or too dispassionate.  I'm familiar with the K├╝bler-Ross model, and what is expected of me in a volunteer capacity... but what about my personal response?  We shall see.

Goals for the week are to contact the science department head and see about research opportunities, cold-call some more physicians to shadow, and square away a regular schedule.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Here we go...

I've been a pre-medical applicant for some time, but this will be my full-throttle attempt at making a go at it.  Full-throttle in what ways you might ask?  I left a well-paying job, moved in with my parents, and abandoned the search for romance and a social life.  I traded the good and accepted the bad in the hopes that my path will eventually lead me to medical school and beyond.

Tomorrow is the start of a new semester and the first step in my journey.  Focus, breathe, and give it everything... And now, bed.