A Month of Love

As Step 1 nears and anxiety escalates, I often find myself looking at the negatives. Like, I’m never going to finish all of these UWorld questions!! Pathophys will be the death of me!! And other catastrophic thoughts that only serve to destroy my productivity and self-esteem (don’t think of such things!). But I wanted something positive to look back on in this experience, and the end of February seemed like the perfect time to do that.

The first weekend of February was a golden weekend, and it marked the end of the 4th test cycle (woohoo!). That Saturday night, a group of my classmates had a game night of Trifecta (Taboo and charades combined). I laughed SO HARD. So hard I couldn’t breathe. While imitating Donald Trump, hula dancing, pretending to be a potato, and acting out old musicals, we all temporarily forgot the stress of the last test cycle.

The next evening, a friend and I visited an Escape Room in Redlands. We worked on puzzles with two strangers and escaped the room with minutes to spare. I had a blast using my mental abilities for something other than medical school for a change.

On February 8, one of my friends celebrated a birthday, and a few of us surprised her with some macaroons and balloons. She was studying at home and was so happy to see us! While at the bakery looking for her gifts, I nibbled on some sweets too, which always makes me happy.

During that week, one of my classmates had a healthy, handsome baby boy. A few days after giving birth, she brought her baby to class so that we could all look at his angelic sleeping face. He was a sweet reminder that life is so precious and that many wonderful things can happen during times of distress.

That Friday night, we had a class vespers at one of my classmate’s lovely house. His parents were so kind and welcoming. We had fantastic Indonesian food and home-made cookies and heard two of our classmates share their testimonies of their journeys with Christ. We also made Valentine’s Day cards to hand out to a neighborhood in San Bernardino.

February 11 was Caribbean Day (part of Black History Month celebration) at Kansas Ave. SDA Church. A few of my friends were on praise team that day. We celebrated the many cultures of Caribbean countries. Many church members were dressed to represent. The music was lively and uplifting. So many colors and beautiful people! And delicious food for lunch!

That night, our class had a documentary showing for a fundraiser. We raised hundreds of dollars towards our class project — Koidu Clinic in Sierra Leone (check it out here)! Also that night, a friend’s church had an Acoustic Night during which lots of old and new love songs were sung and played. I was sitting next to a special someone that night, and the whole event simply felt like a dream.

100 roses!

Valentine’s Day was a big day because I had been planning a rose fundraiser for the class project. I and a few friends (and a far-away expert florist) worked hard to get them ready for distribution. This was the giving day, and it was a success! Everyone was so happy to receive them. Valentine’s Day was off to a good start.

The day got even better when I went to my car. I was greeted with this! A “I <3 U” message on my steering wheel, a solar powered dancing plant, snacks, and chocolate. I felt so loved and special.

The weekend of the 17th was a big one for the M1s. Friday night was the class’s dedication, and I saw my first year friends receive their LLU Bibles. I was so proud of them. The next afternoon, an M1 friend invited me and other friends over to his place for lunch with his parents who were visiting for the big weekend. We played Trifecta with his parents, and now I know where my friend gets his hilariousness and competitiveness from!

That Saturday night, a group of friends and I went to Round 1 in Moreno Valley and had a karaoke night. We sang to Beyonce, Journey, Phantom of the Opera, Usher, and Disney songs. I saw the true fun (slightly crazy!) side of my friends, and it was so refreshing!

The next day, Sandi Patty performed a concert at LLU Church. She was overwhelmingly amazing!! I have never seen her perform live, and I was blown away! The day after was President’s Day, and I was able to spend it with my family. The moments when all five of us are together are few, so we always make sure to involve food as well.

In the days that followed, I went to Street Medicine, gave advice to high school students at a CAPS event, ate at an Indonesian restaurant with a few girl friends (girl’s night out, we called it), spent time with an uncle and aunt visiting from Colorado. The School of Medicine had a special vespers during which an experienced panel discussed the topic of relationships (oo la laaa, I know).

The end of February was capped with a visit under the sea – to The Little Mermaid! I experienced it with a very special friend (yes, the same one who went to Acoustic Night with me and decorated my car).

In the end, although the time between these events were filled with classes, studying, stress, and Step 1 anxiety, the good still outweighed the bad. I still had friends and family who cared about me and reminded me that there is life outside of medical school. I still had weekend time to enjoy extra things. There were still so many things for which to be grateful. In the end, it was still a month of a lot of love.

PSR SM Retreat

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Just over an hour away, we rounded the mountain curve to find Pine Springs Ranch before us with teepees, covered wagons, cabins, and a cozy lodge. It was time for the School of Medicine annual retreat.

It was a time for celebration. First and second year students had just conquered their first rounds of tests.

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It was a time for fellowship. Third and fourth year students were able to see friends from different tracks.

It was a time for relaxation. Students, faculty, and family took a break from the books or wards or both to play Frisbee, go on nature hikes, or take much-needed naps.

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It was a time of fun, laughter, and amazement. The talent show consisted of medicalish comedy, a Capella Pentatonics, and acrobatics that-although they didn’t need it-made you glad there were so many doctors in the room.

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And, it was a time to rejuvenate spiritually and remember why we chose medicine. In Sabbath school, students recapped their summer trips of healing ministry in Chad, Thailand, Nigeria, and other areas of the world.

Overall, the weekend was a time of memorable moments.

Seeing the Sunlight

Michael, MD/PhD Student

Over the weekend I visited the Upland Lemon Festival. Lemonade being one of my all-time favorite beverages, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Due to long days in the lab and things to do around the house, I haven’t spent all that much time outside lately. I pushed the concerns and worries to the back of my mind and simply enjoyed myself, exploring the various booths and sharing funnel cake with my wife. Sure, it was hot, making the lemonade that much more refreshing.

Perhaps this combination of mental state and vitamin D synthesis explains the near-euphoric feeling I had wandering around the festival in the bright sunlight. I closed my eyes, spread my arms open, and twirled around, feeling the warmth on my skin.

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My Christmas Break

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Snow. Even though it can be found only an hour away, blanketing the mountains that border Loma Linda, I sometimes miss walking outside to find a blanket of fresh white powder. That’s one of my favorite parts about traveling back home for the holidays; frolicking and playing in one of nature’s gifts. Christmas is well over a month behind us, but many states across the eastern US are still seeing plenty of snow. So as I sit here and wonder what it would be like to attend medical school in the midst of a blizzard, let me show you a little bit of how I spent some time playing in snow:

I had made that video for my family so it’s a little bit on the longer side, but I thought it might be fun to share with you as well, just so you know med students still know how to have fun every now and then!

Flash forward to the present and it’s business as usual: memorizing antibiotics, learning the inner workings of the kidneys, and trying to boost my q-bank average. A few days ago, we were given the opportunity to choose the order in which we’d like to rotate through each specialty during our 3rd year of medical school.  It was just another reminder at how fast this year has been been progressing, and how we are merely moments away from working in the hospital. I am beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel…

How To Have Fun

Kari, Fourth Year Medical Student

I’m going to admit something that makes me feel kind of lame: I think I’ve sort of forgotten how to have fun.

The swing at the playground by my apartment.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely enjoying my life, but these final months are kind of a weird time in our lives. We fourth years are pretty much done with interviews (see my post on that here), and lots of us are doing electives that are of interest to us.

Now when I go to work I’m excited to be there and when I come home, sure I’m reading on my patients, but I’m not trying to keep up with a mountain of classes or study for a Board and there’s nothing left to do for applications but wait for Match Day in March.

And so I have free time.

Like, daily. 

What? Yes it is weird.

We worked really hard to reach this point. Long long hours in the hospital, overnights, never seeing the sun, so many tears shed over Pathophysiology––I know it’s not just me––and so much stress and travel to get that rank list ready.

And now I find myself startled by the small amount of stress in my life. Which looks SO silly when I type it, but it’s really brought home for me the fact that it’s been a long time since I had time for fun hobbies and I’m not even quite sure of what I really like to do. But I am completely caught up on quite a lot of TV shows right now, and I’m doing my best to try new things.

I might be mostly alone in this, but in case I’m not, I just wanted anyone else who’s feeling this way to know that it’s okay that we don’t remember what we used to do to have fun––we’ve been busy.

And now?

I get to see my friends outside of the hospital AND I get to see my husband.

I’m training for another half-marathon. This was the view from Smiley Heights on my run this morning.

I also bought a fish. It’s a baby betta. If we don’t kill it, it’ll grow up. Her name’s Victoria Dragonslayer, but I really have no idea if she’s actually a girl.

And sometimes I bake. I got out the Kitchenaid Mixer we got for the wedding and it made some sweet banana bread.

These are mostly things I’ve liked to do throughout my time in med school, and I feel weird but completely blessed that I have some time for them as we come up towards the end of these 4 years.

After all, residency will come soon enough.