Archive for April 2008

頭にくる – Frustrating Things, Part 2

April 29, 2008

Hormones are really quite fascinating. Surges and plummets in hormone levels can account for any number of conditions and/or behaviors. Too much of hormone A, too little of hormone B, and a person might just flip out. Well, I’m going to blame the fact that I burst into tears on a public street yesterday on the hormones. Because I couldn’t possibly have been that upset.

The saga of completing my visa application continues.  Having been transformed into a pincushion last week, I had to return to Dr. New’s office to receive official documents on which the results of my blood work and vaccinations were printed, have the visa forms filled out in triplicate and have a chest x-ray done, even though my PPD reading was negative. Dr. New was fairly obliging but the problem came when I requested a copy of the lab results (required by the visa application). Apparently, he couldn’t just print them out (despite the fact that he’d just read them off his computer screen) – I had to go over to medical records for a copy. And apparently, medical records couldn’t just print them out either; they have to send away for them (which takes 5 to 7 business days) and the records cost $75 a page.

With a deep sigh, I explained that I didn’t have 5 to 7 business days (my flight leaves the day after tomorrow) and inquired whether someone else could come in my stead and pick up the records for me. “Sure,” the medical records person brightly responded and gave me a form to fill out. Once that was done, I headed over to the x-ray section to have my lungs photographed. The medical assistant on duty was very pleasant until I handed over my insurance card.

“Oh no, we don’t take Aetna,” she scoffed. “They don’t pay their bills!”

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Vista, Dial-up and Other Frustrating Things

April 22, 2008

I don’t know how I tricked myself into thinking that 2 weeks was enough time to get everything together. I should have known that the universe would find a way to thwart my efforts to be productive.

My dad recently bought a new computer for the house. It’s a Dell Inspiron desktop running Vista. Vista is the Devil. The computer is not even a month old and Vista has been giving me trouble since I started using it. When I saw that Apple commercial spoofing Vista’s tendency to ask you to allow it to do every little thing, I thought it was an exaggeration. It is actually the truth. I kinda feel bad about trashing Vista like this but honestly, I’d rather run XP any day.

To make matters worse, Daddy’s still got us using dial-up to access the internet (he’s a no-frills kind of guy, one might say). Nothing is more agonizing and pitiful than having Gmail tell you that it can’t open your mailbox because your connection is too slow. “Would you like to open the HTML version instead?” it asked me. I suppose even Daddy realized how pathetic that was because he tasked me with researching broadband providers in our area and preparing data on which was the best, most affordable package. This is how things work at my house, folks.

The biggest hindrance to my efficiency in preparing has been the trials I’ve had to endure to complete my visa application. I’d liken it to the twelve labours but after today, I think Hercules got off easy. After procuring a Letter of Good Conduct from the Somerville Police Department (to prove that I’m not a crazy ex-con or something), I thought I’d be able to put the application in the mail on Monday but of course, things weren’t that simple. First of all, I wasn’t able to have the six required medical forms completed because I couldn’t schedule a doctor’s appointment while I was in Boston. When I tried to schedule one with my general practitioner in Queens, I learned that my doctor was no longer practicing (which explained my inability to reach anyone who actually worked in his office for over a week. The answering service finally took pity on me). I scrambled to make an appointment with a new doctor and was able to get one on Monday afternoon but when I went to the office to check in, I discovered that my health insurance provider was listing my coverage as inactive because they’d entered the wrong date of birth! At this point, I was desperate enough to pay out of pocket for the appointment ($165!!) but after an hour of calling the insurance company, their data center and the doctor, I was finally given the okay by the billing station and thus proceeded to wait an hour to meet my new doctor.

Dr. New was pretty nice, if a touch impersonal, but he perked up when I mentioned that I too was about to join the brotherhood of healthcare providers. I showed him my ream of medical forms and gave a sheepish smile, saying that I’d probably be able to avoid this sort of ridiculous paperwork in my future speciality (because babies don’t go to school). Dr. New assured me that it was no trouble at all to fill out the forms, but that I’d have to go to the lab for all the blood work and vaccinations. “Oh, okay,” I said. “Where’s the lab?”

“Right at the other side of the office. But they’re closed for the day.”

!!!!!!!

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Things I Will Not Miss

April 22, 2008

Back in Queens, trying to squeeze a month’s worth of catching up with friends and family into my 8 remaining days. Though I managed to move on short notice with very little incident, I was surprised by how reluctant I was to leave Boston. From the beginning, I had only considered it a place I was passing through and with that in mind, deliberately tried not to form attachments. There were times that I hated living in Boston and couldn’t wait to leave.  But on my last night, I kept wishing for another week, a few more days, one more chocolate chip cookie from Paradise Cafe, one more ride on the Red Line at sunset, one more moonlit stroll along the river…

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April is the cruellest month (for med school applicants)…

April 16, 2008

One of my pals from HCP wrote me the other day to congratulate me on my acceptance to Ross. I thanked him and cheerfully asked, “Where are you headed this fall?”

His reply: “No acceptances so far. Crazy huh?”

My brain: …….what?!?!?

This pal is one of the smartest people I know. He was my lifeline in physics and a go-to-guy during help sessions before orgo lecture. Not only is he ridiculously intelligent, he’s delightfully quirky and he got interviews at ALL the top schools, schools I didn’t even bother applying to because I knew I’d be competing with guys like him. And he’s still waiting????

Sometimes I forget that there is no justice in this world.

April is when everyone starts getting antsy. If they haven’t called you yet or plucked you from the wait lists, you have to face the possibility of reapplication – going through everything all over again, having to wait another year to finally start on your path.

Even though the logical part of your brain knows that rejection isn’t the end of the world and even if every time you’ve has been asked “What will you do if you don’t get in?”, you matter-of-factly respond, “I’ll reapply next cycle”, reapplication is a scary prospect. The self-doubt can be crippling and for some reason, advisors love to chirp, “Well, why don’t you consider a career in one of the other health professions?”

It’s like asking a groom who was stood up at the alter if he wouldn’t prefer to marry one of the bridesmaids instead.

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Why I Like Babies, Part 1

April 8, 2008

I adore babies. Not in the ‘all women love babies’ way. Yes, babies’ tiny toes and fingers are cute but what is most fascinating to me is how they develop, from embryo to infant, and how they learn to be little humans.

It was the end of my junior year of college when my youngest cousin Zaira was born. I remember this one time when Zai was a few months old and was just getting the hang of hand-eye coordination. She’d just begun to figure out that there was a way to convey objects from her hand to her mouth and so we’d place her pacifier in her palm and watch her slowly bring it to her lips, as if testing out the mechanism of movement. (more…)

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April 7, 2008

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Why medicine?

April 7, 2008

It’s the question every applicant dreads. Whether it’s an essay topic or an interview ice breaker, if you apply to med school you are going to have to come up with an answer to this one. It comes in many forms (e.g., ‘What inspired you to pursue a medical career?’ or the more blunt ‘Why are you here?’). Some people can condense their ambition into one or two sentences. Others struggle to articulate it in less than 500 words.

To be honest, I’ve never given a straight answer to this question. I’ve always given the noble, beneficent, soft-sell version of my desire. I want to save babies. I “picture myself in a white coat with a stethoscope slung around my neck making my rounds in the NICU, listening to tiny hearts, letting tiny fists squeeze my index finger.” Yes, I could happily spend the rest of my life doing just that. I can’t think of a profession that would be more fulfilling or more satisfying. However, these reasons are not the root of my passion.

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