My eyes narrow to focus on the words taunting me from the bright screen. My unruly brows furrow deeper, carving a marked crevice into my forehead. A Uworld question directly confronts me. In the far recesses of my mind, I try to imagine where I saw that rare artifact of knowledge. Was it in First Aid or my notes or did I hear that from Goljian, King of Pathology? My mind draws a blank. That seems to be happening a lot lately. As I force myself to march forward against the onslaught of Uworld questions, I realize that my medical school knowledge is buried way too deep or I forgot where I hid it. Either way, I lose. Uworld always wins.
This has been my life for the last few months. Every night I do Uworld questions and read my First Aid, practicing for my upcoming duel against the great nemesis of all second year medical students: STEP 1 (the first of three Boards exams required to complete the United States Medical Licensing Examination, or USMLE) I will be honest. After all, I agreed to write this blog so all of you who may be interested may catch a glimpse into the highs and lows of medical school. The months leading up to Step 1 are a definite low. I will not pretend and say things are going great and that I am ready to slay the dragon. No. Everyday I study for my classes and then study for Step 1 after that. 15 hours a day. Easily. Do my practice questions or tests reflect that effort? Not even close.
Signs and Symptoms of Ingrid’s Low Point: 1. Went to Stater Brothers on Thursday evening to buy ice cream and eat my pain away in pajamas 2. Went to study at Olive Ave Market on Friday and realized I was wearing a shirt that I apparently already wore since there was a beverage stain right in the front and middle… 3. Forgot to check Anthropologie’s website on Tuesday (that’s the day that they update all their sale items to their website). This is perhaps the most troubling sign. 4. I want to eat all the time: Kettle corn, shortbread windmill cookies and yogurt covered pretzels are my food medications at this time. 5. My eyebrows are out of control.
In spite of all this, life is not all bad. God has sprinkled my life with bright spots to keep me going. First, His presence strengthens me day by day. When I am discouraged, He keeps me going and I can rely on His promises to get me through. My husband, Devon, has been very supportive. He’s even taken up grocery shopping, making salads to ensure I get my 5 servings of vegetables and antioxidants, and cleaning the house for my mental health. Last Sunday was the last day of spring break, and I took the day off from studying. Sort of. Devon and I drove down to Orange County listening to the sweet sounds of Papa G (Goljian) playing on the sound system. As his crooning voice explained the ins and outs of neoplastic diseases, we arrived at Bruxies to eat waffles and shop at Fashion Island. Later that afternoon, we drove to Little Saigon in Westminster and got 1 hour massages. I felt sorry for the poor Chinese man who had to work out all my knots. All that relaxation worked up our appetites, so as we sat by the window booth watching the rain fall, a bowl of steaming lemongrass pho was placed before us. Great food and scintillating conversation with my best friend. Thoughts of Step 1 were far away. Perspective at last… Ready for the last quarter of second year.
A week later, its time for church. The clock tells me I’m late. And yet, my wayward eyebrows scream to me from the mirror. Be on time for church or groom my eyebrows? I decide to do the public a favor and groom the hedges. So although I am late, all of you should thank me….You’re welcome.