About Ariana

I'm a first year med student at Loma Linda University in southern California. I love the beach, snowboarding, traveling, chasing food trucks, and playing cello, just to name a few. My philosophy is that if you want something badly enough, you can and will get it (possibly with a few bumps and bruises along the way).

Dirty Pop

Ariana, Third Year Medical Student

“Pop!” “NoooOooooOo!”

Those are 2 of the sounds you never ever want to hear come out of your body.

Of course THAT guy tore his ACL, his BMI is 35. And yeah, she’s on her 3rd marathon,  an injury was bound to happen. But me? I’m (or at least trying to be) a healthy young woman that exercises regularly and eats lots of fruits and veggies. It won’t happen to me. I’ve never had an injury before even though I love doing adrenaline-rushing things. Invincibility must be running through my veins.

But of course it happened to me…New Years Day, I got a group of friends to play a fun game of flag football. If you know me, I LOVE playing flag football, in the sand, in the grass, on the turf, it doesn’t matter. But 2 hours later…”pop!”

There I was, imagining myself in a wheelchair or crutches trying to get vitals on a patient in time for rounds. How would I survive rotations as a cripple? Thankfully I appeared to only have had a knee sprain and just had to “conservatively” manage it. This includes RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), and gradually increasing the mobility of my knee through stretching and low impact exercise AKA swimming.

Fast forward 3 weeks and I am still slightly limping with a knee sleeve, but it could be far worse. I had a small glimpse into what life could be like without a functional limb and boy is it scary. I can almost imagine the agony a star athlete feels when his/her knee gives out and the only thing they’ve known for their entire lives, their masterfully sculpted body, is snatched from them. Sadly for them, a few million $$$ goes as their knees go. And so the road to recovery tends to be a long and treacherous one but if done with patience and care, can lead you right to where you started.

The lessons I learned from this is:
1. Always STRETCH before exercising. The one time you blow it off, you will regret it…
2. Be grateful for each of your limbs and get MOVING while you have the ability to.
3. I FAIL at using crutches. It really shouldn’t be that hard but it just feels so awkward and that bar really digs up under your arms…
4. I WANT MY KNEE BACK! You really “don’t know what you got till it’s gone”…

Where’d You Go

Ariana, Third Year Medical Student

Let’s just state the obvious…I am not very good at keeping up with this blog. That said, I haven’t forgotten about it and I wanted to live up to the high standard set by my fellow bloggers by producing polished, high quality writing. Then I realized this is one of the few times in life where quantity is more important than quality so here it goes…

The last few months have felt like years and lots of things happened in my life: passed Step 1, took a trip to China with some classmates, saw my cousin get married in Jamaica, finished rotations in Peds, OB GYN in East LA, Family Med in the Palm Springs area, and Internal Med (in progress) partly in Kettering, Ohio. 3rd year of med school has been a mixed bag for me. I enjoy the opportunity to be immersed in each specialty and actually feel like part of the team that takes care of real live patients. These people are no longer footnotes in 600 page textbooks, but actual human beings. I know, scary! I am actually making decisions that impact the delivery of care to patients (under the supervision if our superiors of course). “Mr. John Doe, your BPs were too high today so let’s increase your Amlodipine from 10mg to 20mg a day. Would you like that mailed to you or do you want to pick it up in the window?” That’s me talking! An almost-real-doctor!

The downside to 3rd year is this growing feeling of incompetence that follows me down each hallway in the hospital. There is a culture in medicine where students and residents are taught through questions: you are asked questions that may or may not be a part of your expected knowledge base and put on the spot in front of the whole team (up to 8-10 people). Now this might just be me, but when someone asks me a question, no matter how easy it is, I curl up into a little ball with my tail between my legs with a deer in the headlights expression on my face. Not a pleasant sight…

Also, there is a “game” to clinical rotations. To play the game you have to be the shrewdest of people and adept at a certain level of flattery. Fortunately or unfortunately, we are not graded heavily on the evaluations written by residents and attendings which encourages behaviors like: individually labeling home-baked cookies almost every day for 3 weeks, buying coffee, bringing home made ice cream, asking hundreds of “let-me-show-off-my-exceptional-knowledge” questions, volunteering to follow several more patients than your classmate, etc etc. You have to act overtly interested in everything that happens otherwise it looks like you don’t give a hoot… Some people are amazing at the game and they get a downpour of flattery. I unfortunately am not too skilled at the “game” leaving me discouraged more often than not. “Hello, does anyone notice anything I’m doing here??” But then I put on the “pineapple shades” and hope that I’m growing thicker armadillo-like skin. And I remember that I wise person once said…”this too shall pass.”

2014 came with a bang and I will definitely be blogging more! Please let me know if there’s anything in particular you want me to write about, otherwise it’ll just be blabbing on about whatever comes to mind :) Hope everyone had a Happy Holidays!

-Ari

5 Must Haves of MS2

I have finally returned from my 3 month or so hiatus. What happened since my last post? 2nd year happened… Need I say more? Well, In order to keep this post longer than a few sentences, I will provide future 2nd years (or 1st years) with a list of 5 essential MUST-HAVES that have helped me survive the 2nd year Apocalypse thus far:

1. Reusable, Durable, Multi-use Friends

The kind that you can use to study with, sit next to in class with, workout with, eat AYCE sushi with, jump into ice-cold water with, and sing “Dynamite” at 2 a.m. with.

2. Multi-colored pens

The more the merrier :). If you are a visual learner like me, you are going to be constantly clicking away during class as you switch from a black to red (something pathologic) to blue (mechanism of a disease) to green (medications for treatment), etc. You also look (and sound) smarter in class because you are furiously filling up your page with “beautiful” doctor-like handwriting.

3. Comfy Blanket + Eye shades

If you are lucky and are able to snag a study carrel (room) in Alumni Hall, you will also receive the rights to the “couch”! Now, no couch is complete without a suitable blanket. My personal favorite is a svelte, smooth Calvin Klein blanket from Costco. It will serve wonders when paired with your favorite eye shade as you drift off into a “30-min” power nap. Studying for 12+ hrs a day can become exhausting, so you will definitely need the energy boost.

4. Hot Beverage of Choice

I have recently discovered the wonders of hot water and lime/lemon! It keeps me awake through even the most mundane of classes and almost through the post-lunch-mental-crash. For the latter, you may need a bag of Green Tea or a trip to Starbucks.

5. High-quality Earbuds/Headphones

As you hammer away at your Pathophys and Pathology, you will realize that talking to yourself in silence is not nearly as cool as bobbing your head and tapping your foot to the latest Justin Bieber  song. Hey, in the event that you remember to stop studying and take care of your own body, you can use them on your run around campus.

Hope that these come in handy for you, because they certainly have done so for me (especially #1)!

Summer of…RECHARGE!!!

For the past few years, I’ve been hearing how each summer would be my last real summer. This year seemed especially true since next year will be Step 1 (boards) time and from then on our schedule will be ruled by the hospital. In the words of a friend of mine who just took boards, the summer after 1st year is when I should be sure to “live life like there’s no tomorrow!” Carpe diem, er, YOLO? I know, it has become quite cliche and annoying but when you come to a situation where you are contemplating whether or not to actual do something out of the ordinary, it can give you the extra little push off the edge, if you know what I mean.

So, how did I spend the “last summer of my life?” Well, I decided to do summer research at LLU! I worked in the radiobiology lab where we looked at mice brains, analyzing the effect of rmTBI (repeated mild traumatic brain injury) on brain tissue (white and grey mater). Yes, it was tedious at times, staring at a computer screen and drawing boxes and lines on brain pictures. But overall, I had a good time meeting new people and exposing myself to the world of research. It was my first research experience and I gained a new appreciation for all the work that researchers do. To me, it is like a blind mouse trying to sniff its way to the block of cheese. Sometimes, there will be mouse traps along the way. Or even worse, there may be crumbs sprinkled along the wrong path. You spend weeks and months, even years following the possibility that your hunch might be correct. Medical school comparatively seems so much easier! At least you know that, to a certain extent, the amount you study will correlate with your performance. The finish line is somewhat in sight and you have the means to an end.

The summer research program comes with a stipend (an added bonus) and since it’s 8 weeks long, I had 2 weeks of real summer. I decided to spend it 13 hours away, in Taiwan! I met up with a classmate and definitely had the time of my life. It was nice staying in only one country for 2 weeks instead of hopping around every other day (i.e. EuroTrip). By spending so much time in one area, you get to truly “immerse” yourself in the culture. If you love food, nature, hiking, and night life, I HIGHLY recommend Taiwan. Most if the time I was in the big city of Taipei, but there is much more to see in Taiwan and it is one of the places I will have to visit again. It is the birthplace of Boba milk tea and shaved ice. Taiwan has everything from natural sulfur hot springs, beautiful mountains and lakes, and tall skyscrapers (Taipei 101 was the tallest building in the world a few years ago).  The subway system is the most convenient one I have ever used and everything is so cheap! I could write endlessly about how awesome Taiwan is, but I will spare you the pain of watery eyes and I’ll show you some pictures instead.

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Second year starts in less than a week…OH MY GOSH, school starts in 1 week?!?!? I will certainly miss waking up late, blasting “One Direction,” road trips up and down the west coast, dusting off my cello, etc. But this is the last exclusively academic year of my life and I am ready to take on the challenges of second year. With a schedule that consists of Pathophysiology, Pharmacology, Pathology, Neuroscience, Psychobiology, I am bracing myself for a tumultuous 10 months. Here goes nothing!

2011 in Review

Ariana, First Year Medical StudentI remember writing a blog post on the last day of 2010, still on a high after receiving the acceptance call from LLU, saying how 2011 was going to be the “biggest” year, thus far, in my life. It’s amazing how much has happened in the past 12 months. There were several periods where I didn’t think I would accomplish what I was shooting for, but for the most part, everything seemed to fall into place. So here is my not-so-generic 2011 Year in Review:

Craziest Adventure:
Backpacking thru 12 cities in 27 days in France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy. Racing to catch trains, getting lost in a foreign country, and staying in shady hostels, essential parts of backpacking, are things that EVERYONE must experience at least once in their life. There are things that you just need to experience in person. The culture, the vibes, the food, the smell, the sights. You can’t get that from a book or a photo. Go out and see the world; you won’t regret it.

Most Ridiculous Moment(s):
Being called “Jackie Chan” several times in Europe and being “rescued” by a lifeguard at Balboa Beach. The Jackie Chan thing was, at the time, pretty amusing to me but is harshly racist in hind site.

INVINCIBLE feeling:
I was riding a “high” for quite a while after my senior cello recital. I’m not a great performer by any stretch of the imagination, but being able to share something that I’ve worked on for 12+ years of my life (taking lessons) with friends and family was something I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Most Exhilarating Moment(s):
Standing atop of the “Arc de Triumphe” in Paris and seeing an amazing view of the “City of Lights” at night, jumping off a 10-15 ft. platform into the sea in Nicè, and hiking and swimming in the Cinque Terre in Italy.

Stressful “Pulling-Hair-Out” Time:
Toss up between preparing for my recital, planning a detailed itinerary for a 27-day Europe backpacking trip, and taking my 1st set of med school exams. The difference is that the first 2 had a tangible reward at the end of the stressfulness. Med school stress? Not so much. It’s more of a continuous stress that will probably never really go away. Some say 3rd and 4th years are better but it’ll just be a different kind of stress. Not being able to reap the “fruits of my labor” is tough and something I’m still getting used to.

Thing I’ll miss the most from 2011:
Traveling and Music. I LOVE traveling and I’m not sure when the next time I’ll be able to wreak havoc across the world for pure enjoyment will be. This coming summer is what many call the “last summer of our lives.” But I will most likely be in a lab, researching who knows what. There is so much more to see in the world and I will definitely go when I get the chance to (after graduation hopefully?). Music is also something I will sorely miss. I practiced so much in 2011 (mostly cramming for my recital) but I loved it and the stress of juggling all the performances and rehearsals throughout the week is something I will never have again to that extent.

Biggest Lesson(s) of 2011:
I learned that hard work truly does pay off (with the exception of med school). Another thing I learned was to appreciate the boring, mundane things of life. You don’t have to go to a different country, or even a different city to see something beautiful and amazing.

“Life is something that happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” ~John Lennon (“Beautiful Boy”)

This quote sums it up perfectly. Life is seeing a friend for the 5th straight day or watching the sunset or talking on the phone to your family. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it.

So 2012 is here, and there is much to fear (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist). I tried my best to catch up on politics this break and figure out who I want to be President of the United States. My relatives were adamant about not re-electing Pres. Obama for obvious reasons. I have never voted before but I will vote this time since it will probably have a direct effect on me and my financial status/burden in the upcoming years.

I decided to go big on New Years Resolutions this year. I want to learn Spanish this summer, become comfortable in the kitchen (cooking), read and learn about finance and economics, read read read more, do well in school (of course), and tons of personal well-being resolutions. It’s a long list and seems quite ambitious but, as Les Brown once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land among the stars.”