hacked by GHoST61

hacked by GHoST61 bize her yer TRABZON :*

hacked by GHoST61 - bize her yer TRABZON :*

Gone

F#@%.

Thursday night was unfolding like most Thursdays do these days, with me buried in my notes and my computer playing wingman with other class related materials on display. I noticed Safari slowing down to an unusual crawl. Tried to reboot, no improvement. Disk Utility reported a “minor” volume header problem with the drive. Rebooted off the Tiger DVD, ran Disk Utility….and discovered that my drive was no longer mountable. Tried to use the TechTool CD that came with my AppleCare plan two years ago, but ten hours of work resulted in nothing.

End result: realize that my AppleCare coverage expires on 4/23; take to Apple Store Friday night; get back on Saturday with new hard drive. All data lost.

Last backup: 1/1/07.

No, this isn’t the end of the world. We’re all alive and healthy, there’s plenty of food in the fridge, and our electricity isn’t going to be cut off any time soon. But much was lost, many articles I’d started and not finished, many photos that are now not even imitable, many documents that Really Should Not Be Lost (like 1040s). Plenty of moments I attempted to catch in writing, snippets of life that are probably impossible to describe perfectly, but are most definitely impossible to recount perfectly months later. Things I Want To Remember, Times I’ll Never Forget. Poof.

Now that the data are unequivocally gone, I find myself wondering if I shouldn’t have at least attempted to recover some of it with an off-the-shelf software product. I’ve never had luck with that route before, but I’m starting to think it would’ve been worth the $100 to find out. Then again, it might have been a waste of $100. I don’t know. Guess it doesn’t f—ing matter any more.

It’s been a shitty day for that and other reasons. Now it’s almost 1 in the morning, I can’t concentrate worth a damn, and I have an exam on Tuesday.

Good night.

Still Here, Perseverating

I don’t think it’s appropriate to post anything final at the moment, but it appears as though a decision has (mostly) been made regarding medical school. I will say this much — the benison of having a choice is not quite as perfect as I expected it to be, and decision-making at 28 is much different from doing the same at 22. I don’t really know where the appropriate compromise lies between idealism and practicality, but I hope we’ve found it.

2006

Things to remember from 2005:

  • Two pink lines in February.
  • Seeing the blip and hearing the thump of our baby’s tiny heart.
  • Taking the MCAT in April.
  • Taking three finals in four days, just like old times.
  • Holding my breath, submitting my AMCAS application.
  • Seeing the shadowy images of a real head, real torso, real limbs…a real baby girl.
  • Buying a new interview suit.
  • Learning that all of my hard work was worth it.
  • Watching a spectacle so common, yet so unbelievable and beautiful.
  • Holding our little Emerson for the first time, brushing her baby-soft cheek.
  • Learning to care for her.
  • Seeing her smile.

Things to look forward to:

  • Seeing her learn.
  • Closing up shop, blazing new trails.
  • Jumping into an academic hellhole…and loving it.
  • Building our family, step by step.

Another Year, Another Candle

The message, “Happy Birthday Father Blair,” was carefully scribed on a cookie and perched on the cake that my parents brought to our house last Sunday. As their well-meaning Engrish announced 48 hours early, today is my 28th birthday, marking yet another year of my existence on the planet. And what a year it’s been.

I was halfway through my classes a year ago, clueless as to whether my work was going to pay off in the end. I was rightfully proud of my postbac grades up to that point, but my undergrad record was still dismal and nothing could be done about it. The MCAT was too far away to be a top priority, but too close — and too important — not to add to my list of anxieties. Yeah, I was under a lot of stress. I was also happy, so much happier than I had been in previous years. It felt good to be busy again, but I’d been busy before; the difference was that I was finally taking care of myself, had finally found what I wanted and was working full speed to reach for my dreams. It was a daily struggle with textbook, problem sets, and exams, but it was a struggle I relished. Don’t get me wrong; it’s also nice to take a break from it all, and right now I’m being kept busy for entirely different reasons. I’m still as happy as ever. But there are days when I wish I was once again waist-deep in my coursework. I’m sure I’ll wonder what the hell I was thinking in another year.

A year ago, Kim and I had talked about starting a family, but (obviously) hadn’t actually started one yet. I’d be lying if I said it was an easy choice for me to make, and I pontificated on the subject in October. I’m still a little scared and uncomfortable with parenthood. I’ve always been excited about it, though, and I’m starting to understand why it’s just so cool to be a dad. Emerson shows little flashes of herself throughout the day, and those are the moments I remember when she’s asleep or when she surprises me in the middle of a diaper change. Sometimes I look at her and imagine her as a child, adult, mother. I find myself eager to see how she develops but hoping she could stay this small and innocent for just a while longer. I’m going to have a hard time coming home and having to study with her just outside the door. As a matter of fact, I’m less worried about my workload as a medical student than my ability to be a good father while also being a medical student. She’s going to be nine months old when I start, and I predict that I’m going to be a lot more interested in teaching and playing with her than I will be in the minutiae of human anatomy. At the same time, I think I’ll be consumed with my studies and extremely motivated to be a top student. This will be a challenge, to be sure, but I’m sort of looking forward to it.

My friends would probably say that I’m far too concerned with my age, and that I’m too young to feel old. Maybe they’re right. The truth is that I don’t feel old at all, but I am rather scared at the increasing speed of time. I can’t believe that I’ll be almost 29 when I finally start medical school, that I spent so many years spinning my wheels when I could’ve swallowed my pride and changed paths much earlier. I’m happy with the way things are now but I do regret the risks I never took, the choices I chose not to make over the years. I think this past year is evidence of what can happen when I learn to merely acknowledge the fear of the unknown, to take risks and choose the paths that aren’t always safeley lighted.

A Heroine and a Princess

Guys, let’s get one thing straight: Women are the most powerful beings on earth. If you don’t believe me, wait until you become a father.

(Warning: This story is perfectly family friendly, but it may be a little explicit for some.)

We headed to the hospital two Wednesdays ago (11/16) to start the induction process. We were registered by 7:30 that evening, and Kim got her dose of Cervidil at around 10. The idea was to let the Cervidil do its work overnight, hopefully leading to a cervix somewhat more dilated than Kim’s 1cm. Thursday morning came with no change, so Pitocin — synthetic oxytocin, the hormone associated with uterine contractions among other things — was begun and we proceeded to wait. Nothing happened until our obstetrician ruptured Kim’s water at about 1:30 that afternoon. We suspected something was happening when Kim’s contractions finally started to grow painful, and by 4:30 an epidural line was keeping her comfortable. Progress was slow, however, and Kim was only 3-4cm dilated by 7:00 that evening. That’s much smaller than we were hoping, but it was progress; we estimated that Kim would be ready to push by 2:00 am or so. I went home and grabbed a quick shower, then came back to spend the night at the hospital with Kim. We settled in for a nap, hoping that we’d wake up ready to push.

I was pulled back into consciousness just before 1:00 am; apparently Kim’s contractions were getting much stronger, and the epidural can only take away the pain. The pressure was increasing and Kim felt like she had to push, but we called a nurse to make sure. The verdict: only 6-7cm. For the next three hours, I let Kim strangle my hand as she rode through contraction after contraction (at two-minute intervals) trying her hardest not to push. Finally, at 4:30 am on Friday, Kim was nearly completely dilated at 10cm.

The first attempt went relatively well: Hold breath, push for 10 seconds; repeat two more times. This went on every two minutes for three hours, by which time Kim was at the ragged end. Gasping for breath, her legs were constantly shaking from the effort and she was no longer able to hold her breath for even five seconds. On the bright side, I could make out the very top of our baby’s head when Kim’s doctor used her fingers to expand Kim’s birth canal and inspect her progress. The doctor and nurse on call rolled Kim to her side, which gave her lungs more room to expand. We pushed for another hour. Towards the end, Kim’s obstetrician (who had stayed up with us since Thursday morning) had brought out the suction device and attempted to help with the baby’s progress. On both of those occasions, the top of the baby’s head was within an inch of exiting the birth canal. She just wasn’t close enough, however, and we’d all run out of options.

The obstetrician gave us the news quickly but gently: “Kim, I know you’re giving it everything you’ve got, and we’ve all tried so hard to make this work…. But we just aren’t as far along as we should be. We can’t risk the baby’s health, so we’re going to go for a C-section.” It only took a moment for the news to sink in, and it hit rather hard. Kim’s head dropped to the pillow, too exhausted to cry, but the disappointment was palpable. The doctor called for the C-section at 8:30 am; by 8:35, I was sitting by Kim’s head in the OR and the obstetrician had just made her first cut. What happened next is still a bit of a blur, but I very distinctly remember standing up just as the incision was made in Kim’s uterus and our baby was pulled out. She let out a lusty cry, a welcome end to 36 hours of work and perhaps the most beautiful sound we’d heard in our lives.

Emerson, meet the world. World, Emerson. Born on November 18, 2005, at 8:40 am. 6 pounds, 13 ounces, 20.5 inches, 9 and 9 on Apgar.

It’s hard to describe everything we saw and felt in those last moments. Like the anxiety I felt as I waited outside the OR while Kim was prepped and draped. Or, before that, the combination of relief and disappointment as the anesthesiologist rushed in to deliver a bolus prior to surgery. Even before that, there was the restlesness mixed with exhaustion and helplessness as I sat by Kim for 36 hours, holding her hand and trying to be useful. I did everything I could, but in the end, I know that Kim did all of the real work. It’s one thing to stay awake and play the moral backboard; it’s entirely different to be a mother. I have no words to describe what Kim must have endured, what mountains she climbed to deliver Emerson to her mom and dad. It was an awe-inspiring, life-changing experience, one I’m not likely to forget.

Emmy’s been out here for nine days now, and we’re slowly settling into a pattern. The first couple of days were just blurs; crying, diaper changing, feeding attempts, pain management, and trying very hard to get in an hour or two of sleep when we could. Kim’s incision is healing nicely, which takes the pain mostly out of the equation; everything else has remained the same. I never thought that four hours was a lot of sleep, but these days it’s the exception. And once again, despite my best efforts, nothing I do can compare to Kim’s patience and reserve. She’s the one who feeds Emerson 8-12 times a day, while somehow balancing the demands of her own body and all of the regular stresses of normal life. I can only take away so much of that workload. I feel guilty whenever I sleep through a feeding, or fall asleep before one is over. I feel like I can’t form as tight a bond with Emerson, and in somes ways I can’t; in other ways, I realize this is only a temporary thing. But once again, I’m reminded of the power that women hold in this world. I could never have done something so beautiful in my life.

Despite the lack of sleep and occasional frustration, we’re both very happy new parents. I’m working on posting some new photos, but as you might have guessed, there are a lot to process. Stay tuned! (I also can’t believe I have to work tomorrow, but I suppose it was bound to happen at some point.)

The Rest of the Story (so far)

Sorry for the brief delay. I’m going to wrap up the rest of my application process to date, starting with late September.

During my interviews at EVMS, we were told that decisions on our files would be made in a few weeks but that no formal acceptances/waitlists/rejections would be sent before the AAMC-requested standard date of October 15. We could, however, call the admissions office before then. I thought this was a rather nice touch; most med schools will tell you whether a decision has been made, but EVMS was willing to actually give you that decision over the phone. I had originally planned to call during the first week of October, but curiosity and pre-med anxiety took over and I made my first phone call on 9/23. “Sorry, no decision has been made yet. Try next week?” I waited very (im)patiently and tried again on 9/29.

“You will be receiving an acceptance in the mail on 10/15. Congratulations!” A smile spread over my face and my eyes crinkled up with joy. “You just made my year,” I said, before hanging up the phone and trying very hard to contain my excitement. I came home that afternoon to find that Maryland had rejected me pre-interview, but that didn’t matter so much any more.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am going to be a doctor after all. The crazy plan actually worked!

I was hoping my first acceptance would take the anxiety away from the rest of the process, but it didn’t and still hasn’t. I still want to hear back from the schools I’ve interviewed, and I’d really like to know where I stand with the six schools who have received all of my materials but haven’t said anything to me about an interview or rejection. (For the curious, those schools would be Cornell, UPenn, Temple, Jefferson, Hopkins, and UVA.) At the same time, I’ve learned that having to actually pick between a few schools is not as easy as I thought it would be vytorin 10 40.

Yes, I am fortunate enough to have a choice. On 10/15, VCU updated their applicant status page, and I logged in to discover that I was accepted in the first round. I received an acceptance letter from Drexel on 11/02, and I was emailed an acceptance from Wake Forest on 11/07 (last Monday). I haven’t heard from Georgetown yet (my fifth, and currently final, interview) but I expect to get something from them within the next week or two. I can’t believe it. I’ve gone from being cautiously hopeful in the spring to actually holding FOUR acceptances this fall, possibly more. It’s an incredible feeling.

So….now that I know I’ll be going to a medical school next fall, just where will I go? That question is still unanswered. I’ll get into some of the arguments for and against each of my accepted schools in a future post.

Ooops….so sorry for the lapse, folks. I’ve been rather busy, and I feel quite guilty for not updating my journal in so long. Of course, the problem with putting off updates is that the news keeps piling up, which only makes the task harder and makes me feel more guilty.

I have a lot of medical school news to share. In fact, I got an email the other day from a previously unknown reader who was curious to know where I was in the whole process. On the off chance that there are several of you anonymous readers out there, I promise to update you all very soon. First, however, there’s something a little more important that must be made known:

4-D ultrasound pic, 25-aug-2005

Our first indication was in early March, the way many couples find out — the home pregnancy test. “Wait a minute, there are two lines here!” Kim exclaimed, and there was much jubilation. She’d been ready and willing to start a family for some time, but I had been hesitant for a number of reasons. For one, I had felt supremely unprepared for fatherhood. I barely felt comfortable with taking care of myself; how was I ever supposed to take care of a vulnerable, impressionable little baby? Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, I had no idea what I actually wanted to do with my life. The frustrations of my previous career and the lack of direction for the future convinced me that I was not in a position to have any children of my own.

I promised Kim that I’d be willing to start our family once I knew what I wanted to do — once we had stabilized our finances, started our nest eggs, and all of the other things that people are supposed to do. All it really took, though, was for me to focus on medicine. Once I actually jumped ship and dove into my schoolwork, I started to notice little changes within myself. It was still a very scary experience to see and hold a newborn baby, but suddenly I felt a bit of excitement and longing at the same time. Cheesy commercials — the kind that depict children growing into adults, going to college, getting married — started to pull at my emotions when they’d never so much as grabbed my attention before. The thought that Kim and I could bring new life into this world, experience the miracles of development, birth, and growth, began to look less intimidating and more exciting. I finally realized that, while still absolutely terrified, having children might not be such a bad idea any more.

Of course, financially speaking, this is not the best time to be expanding our family. We cut our family income in half 18 months ago, we’re about to take on massive debt, and the first years of medical school are well known for their intensity. With less money, time, and energy than before, it may not be the “best” time to do this…but there is no “best” time. Part of my delay in coming around was based on the belief that I was not prepared enough for fatherhood. The truth is that I’ll never be prepared for fatherhood until I’m a father, we’ll never have enough money for parenthood until we’re parents, and we’ll never have enough time for our baby until we have one ourselves. What’s more, I don’t see how our financial or time situations will change appreciably for several years. I don’t want to chase after toddlers as a middle aged man, and I don’t want to be wheelchair-bound before they get out of the house. The time to start, therefore, is now.

I’m still terrified. But you know what? I’m also excited, very excited. I can’t wait to meet our baby, can’t wait to watch h__ grow and learn more about the world around h__. I fully expect there to be problems along the way, and I’m sure I’ll wonder why I ever wanted to do this. In the end, however, I know we’re making the right choice by starting now.

Oh, what’s that? Did I leave out something in that last paragraph?

We’re having a girl. She was rather coy about giving up her gender at the 20-week ultrasound exam. Our technician wasn’t able to figure it out; every time we tried, our baby kept her secret to herself — legs crossed, umblical cord in the way, whatever it took to hide her identity. The doctor was eventually brought in, but he didn’t have much luck, either, until the very last minute of the exam. Our baby did a little cartwheel with her legs, and in a split second, he saw what he needed to see. We confirmed it during the 28-week ultrasound and “4-D” ultrasound scan; the picture above is from that visit. She’s due 11/10, with a scheduled induction date of 11/17. Kim’s doing very well; she’s getting tired more easily, and going up stairs is no longer easy, but that’s all to be expected.

So there you have it. More news later; for now, I need to geet ready for the last F1 race of the season. Nothing like staying up to watch a live race being held in China.

Hmm, been a while since my last post.

I have about 10% of an essay completed about Kim’s reunion weekend over a month ago. I hope to finish it at some point, but we’ll just have to see. At the moment, I’m consumed with completing the first of my secondary applications. I suppose the downside to applying to 15 schools is that I will eventually have 15 secondaries to fill out, some of which have a number of short essay questions. It’s going to be a fun summer….

Ah, spring break. I desperately wish I could head south like a (stereo)typical undergrad and go nuts for a week. For some reason, this semester is turning out to be a lot harder than the last one. I wish I had more time to study during the week, but I’m not sure what that would get me; there seems to be a point beyond which my brain just shuts down for the day and refuses to work the way it should. I’d be fine with that if I could get everything done before that happens, but I can’t. As a result, I end up working until some very odd hours at a glacial pace, just to minimize the amount I fall behind.

So spring break gives me a chance to catch up and try to regain some control over the semester. I’ve got about a chapter and a half of physics and orgo to cover. The orgo exam next Monday gives me plenty of incentive to review everything we’ve covered so far, after which I’ll have four days to prepare for physics. Not too bad, except that I need to find the time to prepare for the MCAT.

Oh yeah, the MCAT…I don’t know what to think about it. Test day (4/16) is coming up, and I can’t say that I feel prepared at all. I feel reasonably secure in my physical sciences and verbal reasoning, and the writing sample should go pretty smoothly. That leaves biology. I’m really worried about bio. I feel like my first-semester bio class didn’t cover enough material for the test, and that it didn’t go into enough detail for some of the topics it did cover. That doesn’t help me very much with the questions that rely on outside knowledge. The passage-based questions are more doable, but I tend to get caught up in the passage or too excited/nervous to read my way clearly through it. I’ve read through passages just minutes after reviewing the related material, and I’m still getting a lot of questions wrong. I know this is just practice, but it’s disheartening. There are days when I’m just a step away from punching a hole through the nearest window.

I’m consoled, just a little bit, by the fact that this is all just practice. I still have enough time to reinforce the topics that give me problems. There’s also enough time for me to get accustomed to the passages and calm myself down enough to read them carefully. People also say that the bio section is getting more difficult every year, and that people who take advanced bio courses are at an advantage over the rest of us. While that won’t improve my score, perhaps I shouldn’t waste too much energy trying to ace it. Then again, my practice scores fall somewhere between dismal and marginal at the moment. The next few weeks ought to be very interesting, to be euphemistic.

Of course, test prep frustrations only combine with all of the other uncertainties and realities of the application process. I have no idea how much my undergrad record will affect my chances, and no one I ask can give me a positive or negative answer. Objectively, I obviously know that a higher undergrad GPA would be better. But how much worse is it that I have a subpar GPA from nearly six years ago? Will it matter at all? Will it absolutely preclude me from consideration at some schools? Even though I can’t do anything about the past, I can control the future a little bit. There are some interesting degree programs at Georgetown and other places that would probably help my admissions chances, but even there there’s confusion. Would it make any difference for this year, when admissions officers would only know that I’m enrolled? I wouldn’t have any grades to report until the next application cycle. And if my chances were fine without the program, then why should I spend $30k for something that isn’t necessary for med school admission? If I really should do it, then should I hold off on applying until next year? There are so many permutations, and some of them are much more expensive — both in time and money — than others. As with everything else about this process, I vacillate between feeling determined to succeed and feeling paralyzed by the odds. School work tends to lift my spirits, while MCAT prep tends to drive them down. Planning out my admissions strategy pushes me in either direction, or sometimes both.

…So anyway, I obviously have a lot on my plate this week. Aside from all the school work and test prep, I should begin to gather my other application materials. I also need to work on a personal statement, and it would be a good idea to line up some more faculty recommendations. Besides all of that, there are some things around the house that could use a little work. And with spring coming up, that list won’t be getting shorter.

Ah, spring break.