finals + life update

The past week or so has been pretty hectic with my birthday, going to a talk by Paul Farmer and finals so I thought I’d just do a general update on all that. I’ve never been a big fan of making a big deal about my birthdays. I’ve just always felt like it’s more a day to celebrate my mom, because she’s the one who worked so hard all those years ago. But with the madness that is finals week in medical school, I wanted something to look forward to. At midnight, hubby gave me my presents and a wonderfully hilarious card. After class we went to this bakery/coffee house near campus. Other than the fact that it closes super early, it’s a really nice place to study during the week. It’s kind of hidden so doesn’t get too much traffic and they have big tables (and outlets!!).

After a couple hours of studying and responding to birthday messages, we went to one of our favorite seafood restaurants near our place. I wanted to spend some time with family/friends and I had invited a few people the day before and they allll showed up. I felt so incredibly loved being surrounded by some of the people who mean the most to me in the world. Best friend is here for a couple months to finish up her degree so it was great seeing her and other best friend got engaged the weekend before so it was soooo nice seeing her too (can you spot that gorgeous rock!?)!

One of my biggest fears with choosing a career in medicine is that it seems like everyone inevitably gets jaded at some point in their career and loses sight of why they wanted to all this in the first place. Some days I feel like I’m slipping into that ‘let’s just get this done’ mentality and I’m afraid of what it’ll be like during third year. Studies have shown that medical students lose their empathy most during the third year when they start clinical rotations. But as I was attempting to cut the completely frozen ice cream cake that night, I realized that if I continue to surround myself with these amazing people who love me more than I’ll probably ever know, I’ll be okay. They give me the hope and strength I need to remember that being a healer comes from a place of love.

The next day, Paul Farmer spoke at my alma mater and while I probably should’ve stayed home to study, I couldn’t give up the opportunity to meet one of my heroes and someone whose work got me through a lot of late nights of studying in undergrad. If you’ve never heard of Dr. Farmer, I highly recommend reading Tracy Kidder’s biography Mountains Beyond Mountains. It’s a really incredible read and if you’re interested in going into medicine, it’ll remind you of the incredible need in this world. Of course I totally geeked out as he was signing my copy of Pathologies of Power.

Our conversation went something like this (yes, I was actually this big of a dork in real life):

Dr. Farmer: So what do you study here?
Me: Oh, I went to undergrad here. I’m currently a medical student at UC Riverside.
Dr. Farmer: Oh! Well thank you for coming out here for this.
Me: Well, it’s not every day that you get to meet one of your heroes.
Dr. Farmer: Well, thank you for saying that.
Me: Well thank you for being someone worth considering a hero.

Seeing that I had a world renowned infectious disease physician sitting in front of me, I then asked him for advice on my upcoming microbiology final. I told him that I was jealous that he had it ‘easy’ because he actually saw all these bugs in real life so it was easy for him to remember. During his talk, while he put up a list of various pathogens, I got a little shout out and good luck wish (yes, I fangirl-ed reaaaaally hard in that moment).

While it may not have been the most responsible thing to do, I’m so glad I went. Meeting him in person, and having this weird realization that he is actually a ‘just’ human being, was so powerful.

The rest of the weekend was just full of studying. As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, this block has been really tough for me because of all the memorization. I definitely adjusted my study strategies accordingly but I think the biggest hurdle was getting over my test anxiety and building up my confidence.

  It finally started to feel like fall this weekend and I jumped at the chance to snuggle up in my oversized cardigan. I studied outside for a couple hours when the rain let up and the fresh air just felt soooo incredible. I definitely want to get some chairs and a small table for our balcony so I can study and read outside when the weather is nice.
I started practicing hand lettering during my study breaks. Definitely have a loooooong way to go but below is one of my favorite lyrics from Mumford & Sons’ song Awake My Soul.
I got really tired of studying at my desk so I moved all my stuff to our small dining table in the nook by the kitchen. As I keep saying, I’ll have a post soon on home decor and how to decorate your home on a budget. I finally have all the frames in our gallery filled with photos I’ve taken during our travels. The black and white painting above the flowers I purchased while in Haiti a couple years ago and finally got around to framing them a few months ago.   I love having fresh flowers in our home whenever possible. These lovelies were a birthday gift and I loooove love the fall colors.

My birthday present from hubby came in the morning of finals (yes, I may have ‘requested’ a couple things this year…). This ring is from an Etsy shop called A Poet’s Home. I stumbled upon the Sylvia Plath’s quote ‘I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am’ a few months ago and I completely felt in love. I love it because it reminds me to take a step back and just appreciate the life that I live and because it’s a reminder of why I’m doing all this: to keep as many hearts (both literally and figuratively) beating for as long as they’re meant to.

The first day of exams went alright. I definitely worked on mindfulness and took a minute every time I felt myself getting anxious and it really helped a lot. I dressed about as comfortably as possible and of course had on my ‘Bismillah’ t shirt by 5ive Pillars.

Monday and Tuesday were the didactic exams that covered the material we’d learned in the classroom. After finishing my test on Tuesday, I came home and was profoundly confused about what to do with all this free time hah. I ended up just going with the flow and catching up on Shondaland, folding clean laundry, taking a perfect nap and enjoying delicious ice cream with a couple episodes of West Wing before prepping for the ear, nose, throat exam the following day.
Wednesday morning, we had a mini OSCE where we interviewed a patient and performed a physical exam. This year, they’ve added a component where we now also present the case to our attending right after with an assessment and plan. Talking to patients has always been my favorite part of medicine. Sometimes when you spend most of your time buried in books and powerpoints, it’s easy to forget why you’re doing all this. And then you talk to a standardized patient, and even though you know the encounter isn’t real, you remember. You remember that one day you’ll have a long coat and it will be real & you’ll actually be able to help someone heal. 

After clinic yesterday, I drove up to Dublin with hubby for a mini getaway. We’re going to be spending time with our cousin and his family, doing some touristy things and seeing friends we haven’t been around in a long time. I’m so looking forward to a few days of eating delicious food, reading tons and looking through my lens again.

And while working on this post, I got an email that grades were up. I worked up the courage to check and I PASSED this block!!! I’m so incredibly grateful to all the people who have prayed and sent out good vibes into the universe for me. And now I can actually enjoy my time in Northern California!

2 thoughts on “finals + life update

  1. I’m super jealous you got to meet Paul Farmer! I had to read Mountains Beyond Mountains my freshman year of college, and it really influence my mindset on what I wanted to get out of a career in medicine. What an amazing opportunity!


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