GLUE: 6 Month Anniversary

Six months ago was my first day of med school!!!

I know you haven’t heard much from me in a while, and I wish I had a good reason for that. However, the best I can come up with is that nothing’s happened. My days mostly consist of lectures, labs, and never-ending studying. I promise, you haven’t missed much! Last week we had a ginormous anatomy test (covering ~30 lectures!) and then the rest of the week was pretty chill. This week is kind of the same, and time normally spent in lecture is instead free (study) time. Personally, I dislike the lack of concrete responsibilities. I thrive off of schedules and deadlines. Well, maybe not thrive, but my motivation is certainly better! I also just get nervous when I feel like I should be doing something but don’t exactly know what. I have a hard time just sitting in the library and studying for hours on end. I’m usually ok for a few hours, but then once I break my concentration for lunch or a meeting or something, it’s really hard to get back into the groove.

I actually had no classes today so I’m trying to study for my standardized patient (SP) on Friday. This will be our fourth one, and instead of 40 minutes we’ve been cut down to 30. It’s still more than next year, when we’ll be expected to complete 2 “encounters” in the same amount of time, but at least then we’ll be allowed to do a focused exam.

(A focused exam means that we’ll just have to examine what the patient is complaining about. For example, if they present with a sore throat we can limit our examination to that area of the body.)

For now, however, even if the person has a sore throat we still have to do, say, an eye exam. And on top of vitals and HEENT (Head, Ears, Eyes, Nose, Throat) they’ve added a complete thorax and abdominal exam. Like, I don’t think I’ve ever had this thorough an exam done to me. Has anyone ever heckin’ measured my spleen??? I don’t think so!

Every day I feel like I’m questioning as to whether I’m really cut out for this. Or if it’s even the right career for me. Sometimes I think I’m going to be so good at it one day. And the next I wonder if I’m going to enjoy the job at all.

I suppose I shouldn’t be complaining; I know this stuff is important to learn and that it really is clinically relevant (at least most of it, anyway). It’s just hard to see the forest for the trees right now.

And that’s why you’ve been getting radio silence.

A couple of fun things have happened in the past few weeks, however, so here they are!

  • I was “elected” (given the position of?) president of the Med-Peds club for next year! Club leadership is a bit shifted in med school because the second years are getting ready to take Step 1 (the first set of board examinations) and will then be starting clinical rotations, so they need the time freed up. I’ve never “presidented” anything before so I’m hoping this isn’t actually as hard as it seems! Luckily, it’s a pretty small club as it is, so if I can make it just a little bit bigger/better, I will have been successful!

    SIDE NOTE: Apparently Step 1 (actually part of the USMLE, the MD boards) is going to become pass/fail instead of a number score in 2022. DO students have the COMLEX, but most of us end up taking both just because of the way residency is set up. (That’s changing too, but I’ll save that for another time.) There’s concern that this is going to hurt DO students, who often relied on the USMLE to show that we are just as capable as the MD students. (Which we are, obviously.) Regardless, it’s ultimately just going to put more emphasis on Step 2 for all med students, and I am Not Pleased.
  • PCOM’s gala was last weekend and my sister E came to visit and went with me! It was nice to be out with actual adults instead of incorrigible high school or college students for a change. The next day we went to the Liberty Bell (underwhelming, I assure you!) and then walked wayyy to much of the city of Philadelphia, an activity I do not plan on repeating any time soon!

Well, back to trying to figure out how to palpate the heart through the chest wall.

Yay.

Not giving up this easily,

Bridgette ❤ ❤

I don’t have 2020 vision

No one can say what the next year will hold. As you may remember, I always get existential and vaguely depressed at New Year’s. It doesn’t help that classes start back up again tomorrow and I’m a bit worried because I didn’t do well at all on my first anatomy practical. Essentially, I forgot to study for half of it. And now I have to figure out how to not let it happen again and I hate that part.

And I keep spending an inordinate amount of time at Mass thinking about what I would do if someone collapsed. There are so many old people there. For how many times I’ve gone through CPR certification it’s seemed like there would be more people randomly going into cardiac arrest in public places.

I feel almost obsessed with knowing where the AED is kept where ever I go. Which person I’m with I would have call 911. Could I even do compressions hard enough to pump the blood around someone’s body.

Would I have been able to save him?

Is that the doctor I’m going to become? Will I blame myself for every bad outcome? Every death?

I never thought impostor syndrome would feel like this. But then again, I’m not really sure what the other options were.

I feel like I’ve bamboozled someone into letting me into med school. Everyone else outwardly appears to have this studying thing down. I’m rubbish at memorizing muscles and the nerves that innervate them and what they do. I zoned out in PE class every time a muscle was mentioned. I don’t feel smart enough to make it into a med-peds residency in a few years.

Logically, I know this is not the end of the world. I realize that it’s one test and I didn’t even mess up because of a misunderstanding of the material. Memorization of muscles is not always important in the daily treatment of patients.

I achieved so much last year! Traveling to Europe for the first time, starting med school and surviving the first trimester, starting gross anatomy lab.

The annual game of looking ahead.

Being 25% of a doctor.

Starting to study for boards.

Getting clinical rotation placements.

Hopefully some acting.

Meeting a friend.

Onwards and upwards,

B ❤

The Night Before Anatomy Lab

The smell of formaldehyde always reminds me of a set of markers I had as a kid. They were little animal heads with round bottoms.

My dad is a dentist. I have grown up hearing stories of “George” and of the callous pranks pulled by his classmates that would never be allowed today.

I used to not want to be a doctor because I didn’t want to have to dissect a human being.

I’m nervous. I’ve done pigs and rats and even leeches but never a person. They let us pull back the white muslin sheet. Even through the clear plastic bag he looks so human and so kind. He gave his body for me to learn. It would be disrespectful to ignore his final gift. He still has stubble on his chin. How do his arms look so alive but the rolls of skin around his armpits looks so dead?

How will I be able to make a cut down his back tomorrow? How will I begin to disassemble him into a bag of flesh and organs? We will destroy what is left of him and then he will be burned. He asked me for this. As a doctor I am here for the good of the patient. I have been given the responsibility to respect them in both life and death. I feel like I’m not qualified enough for this responsibility.

The last enemy to be destroyed will be death.

1/12th

I don’t know what I want to write. I’ve finished one trimester of med school (1/12th!) and feel like I should have some sort of “update,” but I’m not sure what exactly that’s supposed to entail.

I’ve finished my Cellular and Molecular Basis of Medicine (colloquially “CMBM”) course last week and have been home in Rochester, NY between terms. Normally, med school curriculum, including that of PCOM, starts with anatomy. However, the formaldehyde levels in the dissection lab were too high, so Structural Principles of Osteopathic Medicine (“SPOM”) had to be postponed while the ventilation was updated. There was a rumour that we were going to have to go to Jefferson if construction wasn’t finished but, luckily, that’s not going to be an issue and we’ll be starting in on Monday.

I’m actually quite nervous about anatomy lab. I was a biochemistry major, so I have very little dissection experience (I’ve done a fetal pig in HS, then a rat, sheep heart, cow eyeball, multiple leeches, and sort of a frog in college). More than that, however, I’m anxious about the responsibility.

We will be working on actual people who selflessly donated their bodies to us. Even though they’re dead, I just don’t feel qualified. Like I need some sort of special training before I’m worthy of being entrusted with the body of another human being.

I hope this doesn’t sound callous. I just can’t find the words to express how important this is to me.

(Also I hope my classmates take it seriously and I don’t have to have a throw-down with anyone about being respectful.)

OK, back to last semester. (I’m going to be using semester and trimester interchangeable, I guess).

Since my last post, I have had my White Coat Ceremony (!!!!) and carved a pretty rad pumpkin for Halloween (see below). I ALSO then proceeded to get to church what I thought was half an hour early for All Saints’ Day Mass only to find myself locked out in the cold until the church opened at 6, an hour before Mass.

White Coat 10/5/19
Baby’s first pumpkin!
RISE!

Not sure why I thought that last sentence was necessary, but I think it’s cuz I was traumatized, as you can tell by the pic to the right! ;D

Oh, yeah, my roommate and I sort of rescued a cat! That, however, is an adventure for another time, but she has been (sort of) re-homed and is (unfortunately) not living with us.

Now getting back to actual school.

Classes were hard, not that I expected anything else. The normal med school analogy is “drinking from a fire hose,” but I liken it more to bailing out the Titanic with a thimble. You think you’re on track with reviewing lectures, but then the next day you just get three new ones, making it almost impossible to get ahead or even just keep pace.

Just replace “doggo” with “kitteh”

Most days I just end up asking myself if I really want to be a doctor, and, most days, the answer is “not really.” Taking time off between college and grad school made me realize how much I actually hate spending all my time studying. But then being home this week made me realize how much I actually sort of enjoy it.

I’ve never really been great at sports due to my heart condition, and I once told my mom, probably in middle or HS, that “school is my sport.” And it is. I’m (fairly) good at it, (kind of) enjoy the exercise, get better with practice, and have good days and bad days. I thrive on the routine of it all. It gives me some sort of purpose to my life.

So ultimately, school is kinda fun. I’m also getting more involved in some clubs, which are nice especially because they give me a chance to learn some hands-on skills, making classroom learning a little more palatable. Let’s just say I could hypothetically place an ng tube, but you probably don’t want me to! I was especially excited the day I went to EM club’s sim lab and knew about digoxin toxicity. Well, I at least knew it was a thing. (s/o to the docs at work who let me try to soak up medical knowledge like a sponge for a year!)

Pediatrics Club also had a day where we got together with a Girl Scout troop to practice interviewing kids. Honestly, I think I got more out of that experience than my official SPs. I think it was because I knew I wasn’t being graded, and I was able to focus on actual patient rapport instead of ticking all the boxes of a rubric. The girls were SO CUTE!!! And it was the first time I got to wear my coat after getting it monogrammed, so that was extra special because clearly I have so little joy in my life! 😉

I think that’s just about all I’ve got for now. I’m going to try my best to write something every week this semester as a “self care” thing. I also want to have a more comprehensive and accurate record of my feelings, as opposed to something like this post that I been postponing for at least a week. I’ve had some time to process these feelings, but I don’t need a record of filtered emotions. I want one of the raw emotions. So I guess the problem there is that I don’t always have words for my fresh emotions.

Well, I guess we’ll all see what happens! If you have any questions that you think would make a good post to help me with this goal, please tell me I beg you!!!

Get your flu shot, everybody!!!!

(1/12th Dr.) Bridgette ❤

Improv

“Hi, my name is Bridgette K. and I’m a first year medical student working with Dr. Bidey. I’m going to be asking you some questions and taking your vitals if that’s ok.”

That was six weeks ago, during my first standardized patient encounter. Those words were spoken by a much more enthusiastic Bridgette.

Since then I have survived two exams (the most recent with not too much room to spare), a large quiz-midterm thing, and my first OMM practical exam.

I can take a manual blood pressure (sort of), attempt to treat your congestion or ear infection with osteopathic manipulation, and possibly be able to find the macula in your eye.

I have accidentally fallen asleep before a lecture and woken up half an hour later, much to my embarrassment.

I’ve learned you can throw a clot to you intestines, not just your lung or leg.

I can tell you about vitamins and a handful of lysosomal storage disorders.

I don’t like studying in the library too much anymore.

Am I happy?

I don’t know yet.

Deep breath.

Keep going.

~BEK

‘Twas the Night Before Med School

And all through the flat
Three Creatures were stirring,
And one was a cat!

Stethoscopes hung ’round necks with care
In hopes that SPs soon would be there.

Students were seated all hunched at their desks,
While visions of anatomical landmarks danced in their heads.

My roommate at the pool, and I in my books,
Were settling down for the hardest thing yet,
When deep in our chests there arose such a clatter:
Our hearts were both pounding a fast pitter-patter!

Away to the kitchen I flew like a flash,
Tore open the ‘fridge and realized I was going to need more fruits and veggies because peanut butter and honey on a tortilla is not a very healthy snack.

(Also I just finished my jar of pickles so that’s going to be a problem)

The sun on the breast of the hot summer day,
Gave an aura of freedom despite the dismay
.

When what to my wandering mind did bother,
But a another e-mail and a call from my father.
With several hours more between me and my class,

I knew – for a moment – I had to chillax.

Guys, I tried. I really did. In my imagination I completed the whole poem and you were all blown away by my tenacity and ingenuity.

Guess you’ll have to be satisfied with my orientation exploits instead.

Here’s my class’s vision statement that I got to help write! You can tell it’s a Bridgette K. Original because it mentions inherent human dignity!

This shirt was absolutely ruined after I essentially swam home in it (i.e. pouring rain and flooded sidewalks) and then slipped in the mud. The experience was exhilarating but I did like the shirt…

While I successfully intubated this guy I definitely broke his teeth…good thing we get to practice first!

While that was TOTALLY RAD and sort of made me rethink considering emergency med, my personal favorite activity was DELIVERING A FREAKIN’ BABY BECAUSE I UNDERSTOOD SOME FEMALE ANATOMY!!!

***progress pics available upon request! 😛 ***

Well, class starts in 9.5 hrs!

Good night from your favorite M1 (!!!),

Student Dr. Bridgette (and Hermia!) ❤

“I am not afraid; I was born to do this.”

St. Joan of Arc

“Walk In Your Shoes”

OK, for some reason for orientation I have to write about a pair of shoes I have.

Yeah.

I picked the boots I wore to the Globe Theater in London, and since I still haven’t done an England post, I decided I could kill roughly 1.5 birds with one stone. Pardon the slightly impersonal tone; this is being written for people who know nothing about me.

Notice I am indeed wearing shoes (and dressed as Thirteen)

For as long as I can remember – which, frankly, probably means since middle school – I’ve been obsessed with England. I’m not really sure why but, I think at the foundation is a sheer appreciation for the history of the tiny country. As well as an appreciation for various forms of entertainment that have been produced there: Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Shakespeare, etc.

I was supposed to do a semester abroad in London during college. I started planning this freshman year and was SUPER excited about it! As a science major, it was hard to leave campus for a semester (especially at a smaller school, because there are certain classes you need to take and they’re only offered at certain times), so I worked by butt off to make it work. Unfortunately, the semester before I sort of had a mental breakdown and wasn’t in a good enough place to leave the country for several months. I’m still sad it fell through, but I was finally able to make it there this past May!

My two sisters and I hit a lot of landmarks: Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, the Tower of London, Oxford University, and the “Clink Museum” to name a few. But my absolute favorite was going to the Globe Theater to see King Henry IV, Part 2! Shakespeare is another one of those things that I can’t fully explain why it brings me joy. The language is just always so beautiful, and the plays speak so much to the human condition. Also, as an actor myself, watching the sheer skill and passion the cast brought to the stage was an absolutely amazing experience!

Oh, yeah, I also chose to dress up as the thirteenth Doctor, because I’m cool like that. I may have gotten blisters from walking around in my old black combat boots all day, but it was definitely worth it!

Well. That doesn’t really talk about my shoes but I don’t think that’s really the point. Hope this is acceptable…

Cold Feets

“Cold Feets!/ Cold Feets!/ Brother, you got cold feets!/ You can make ‘dem cold feets hot/ with a little rhythm!”

Robert, The Drowsy Chaperone

So I moved into my Philly apartment last Saturday and my parents left on Sunday. In true Bridgette fashion, my bike tire got squished in the car and we couldn’t get it re-inflated, so I was kinda left a little stranded. Luckily, it only takes about 5 minutes to walk to Target from my apartment, so I’ve been able to run out and get food every day. I never realized how much food my family just has stock-piled, and it takes time to build up your reserves!

I’ve spent most of my time at the absolutely GORGEOUS POOLS at my apartment complex! There are three of them (plus two hot tubs and assorted decorative pond-like structures that I suppose one could go in, though I haven’t tried it yet), and the deepest they go is 4.5 ft. Oh, and I think it’s kept at a constant 85 degrees Fahrenheit! I’m trying to get as much use out of it now before classes start on August 12th, because I know I won’t be able to get down there after that. I really think my mom should come down for a visit and she can park herself there while I study! 😀

I tried to get a cat on Monday, but I got there and then found out I needed to submit an application before taking a new friend home. However, I just got approved today so hopefully I will have a smol cat son on Saturday! Personally, I’m still kinda hoping for Dave!

Tuesday my roommate and I parked ourselves by the pool. I became a lobster. It hurts. Oops! Despite the pain, I then walked myself to Target and bought a new bike. It has a basket and a little rack on the back for all my groceries! hehehe

Yesterday, I practiced biking over to school for the first time and then wandered around the main building for a little while. I was especially interested in the collection of skulls out on display!

My personal favorite! Notice the worn-down jaw bone, lack of teeth, and the burr hole drilled in the top!

Then I came home and took a four hour depression nap.

Great.

Just great.

We’re gonna start this way, Bridgette?

Really?

After I woke up from THAT disaster, I did some thinking – and a tiny bit of crying. I ultimately don’t think it was a true Depression Nap (my record is six hours). Or at least not completely. I know this week has been rough just because I essentially have nothing to do, no where to go, and not many people to be with. I’m stressed and anxious. I’m constantly wondering what I’m doing here. This is going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and it’s really not going to get any easier. Sickness and death don’t stop once you’ve learned the mechanics. You just get put into battle.

Already I’m forgetting why I’m doing this. I’m not doing it just for me. I’m becoming a doctor to better serve God by loving His children here on earth. It’s My Own Apostalate.

Anyway, today I spent a little time in the PCOM library and then down by the pool and then biked to Target. I feel a lot better because I didn’t stay inside alone all day. So I guess I’ve almost made it through the week! Tomorrow I’m going to try to bike to St. Bridget’s Church!

I’m almost more worried about next week than this one: four days of forced extroversion with alcohol-enhanced frivolity every night. My FAVORITE! (*note the sarcasm*)

Anyway, I think think this is going to be my last post in my “pre-med” category! I think it’s fitting because 3 years ago my life was pretty much changed forever:

Thanks, SnoopChoot!

On your mark,

get set,

GO!

Bridgette ❤

What is happening to me it’s late and I’ve already lost control of my life

It’s almost 3:30 in the morning. I tried going to bed two hours ago. My parents and I are leaving for Philadelphia in about 24 hours (more like 28 but who’s counting certainly not me) and time is simultaneously going too fast and too slow.

It seems like I’ve been sleeping less and less; even my inevitable daily naps are shorter. This better not mean I’m going to have insomnia for the rest of my life! Heheheheh

Despite my anxiety manifesting itself as my body refusing to shut down when it’s actually appropriate, my spirits are better. I’ve been able to let go a little bit and have realized that it’s not like I’m moving to the moon or something. There’s literally a Target like 30 seconds from my apartment! I can pop over for the smallest amenity forgotten in the shuffle!

Also (dare I say it?) I’m actually starting to get a tad bit excited. Mostly for my own stethoscope. And my own cat! But it’s a start.

Now if I could just get some sleep!

A very tired,

Bridgette ❤️

P.S. Protip straight from my cardiologist: Fontan patients (such as myself) only have a single S2 sound. That’s a tip, kids! Write it down! No pulmonary valve! RT to save a life (like that of the unsuspecting peds resident I got to guinea pig for)! Heheheheh (Also I can’t explain all of that please give me several months)

P.P.S. What else can I write about while I wait for myself to actually get tired…the light of my phone probs isn’t helping… I guess I’ll just post some memes. That’s always a good idea, right?

#mood

Are you excited?

No; I’m h*ckin’ terrified.

The two years I didn’t want to wait to go by have become two weeks.

I’m leaving a job I love.

In a few short months I will literally be cutting someone open to see what we look like inside. (Gotta wait until the anatomy lab ventilation is updated.)

I’m moving to another state in a week.

I bought sheets today but I don’t have renters insurance yet. Or a bed.

But I’ve looked at possible cats.

Admissions keeps sending out surveys.

Panic is hitting The PCOM class of 2023 hard. Not the sheer terror that will be starting residency in four years’ time, but chaos all the same.

It started off with the whole “hi guys you need to buy like $600 worth of instruments!” Can you believe one of these bad boys is $500???

I still have to buy one.

I need a list of all the stuff I have to do.

I’m not excited yet.

I’m so scared.

Freaking out for the rest of my life AKA gosh golly what have I done,

Bridgette ❤️