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Deku

Journey to my white coat

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A year ago, having just spent an entire weekend cooped up inside my room gaming, I decided that the time had come to create a journal and start living my life seriously.

Since then all kinds of crazy things have happened. I finished my grad classes with a 3.97 gpa, got a research job at Stanford University, did hospice volunteering for 8 months (and counting!), went on a few dates, joined a cult, and climbed a fat mountain! Among other things.

Ironically I did spend all of this weekend cooped inside my room, but thankfully it wasn’t due to gaming, or even the internet. I’m excited to announce that I’ve finished the first draft of my med school personal statement!!!! It’s still hot garbage, but I’ll have until June to continue to work at it and make it better. I have to admit that I’m tearing up a little as I type this because I never really thought I’d get this far. 

I could use all the help I can get, so if anyone would like to proofread personal statement alpha please don’t hesitate to let me know! 

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11 hours ago, Deku said:

I’m excited to announce that I’ve finished the first draft of my med school personal statement!!!!

Congratulations man! That's awesome to hear and how far you have come in one year! Here is to continuing on to the next year and all the hard work with It! You got this!

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Hey it's been a long while, guess it's time for a rather overdue update. 

Whenever I disappear like this it's safe to say that I relapsed, and this is exactly what happened to me this time, yet again. I've made all kinds of excuses about why this happened and why I've been gaming on and off for the past three weeks, but the truth is that I guess I'm just not as mentally strong as I thought. Work is brutal, and going to the library afterwards to work on my personal statement or study for the MCAT only adds to my stress and exhaustion. When I get home I'm super burnt out, and all I really have to look forward to is another day where I get up at 6, go to work, and do the whole thing all over again. And so one day I somehow talked myself into playing one stupid game of League of Legends, and here I am 3 weeks later. It's crazy how similar gaming addictions can be to smoking or drinking. All it does is take one really rough patch to push me over the edge, and in the blink of an eye weeks have gone by, and I'm left with nothing but a messy room and the realization that I've lost countless hours that could have been spent on sleep, work, or literally anything else.

This relapse has really shown me that I need to find some kind of creative outlet in my life to allow me to relax on a somewhat regular basis. I guess that will be a priority for me to think about in the next few days.

The silver lining here (if there is any) is that I've still managed to have some semblance of productivity, despite the games. I haven't missed a day at work yet, and MCAT studying is going slowly but steadily. Personal statement alpha got ripped a new one, and rewriting it is taking a lot longer than I thought it would, but it's getting there. To those of you that were kind enough to volunteer to read for me, I will be sending those out to you shortly.

Oh, and I did make it to the top of Mount Whitney, but I clearly didn't prepare well for the climb and it showed. I don't consider it a victory at all, but to those who are curious what the view looked like from the top of the continental United States, here's a picture.

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This is the fourth relapse since this journal started. The fourth relapse since I made a promise to myself to purge that disgusting addiction that ruined my life.

It was scary to write that thought and come to terms with the realization. It makes me wonder if my addiction is something that can ever be overcome. It makes me wonder if I'll ever be able to truly work hard and become the best possible version of myself.

I guess all I can really do is learn my lesson from this one and hope that there's no relapse number 5.

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Holy shit. For somebody who relapsed, you still accomplish a lot of crazy shit! 😮 And yes, you CAN get over the addiction. But it's kind of like losing a loved one. I once read a great metaphor for losing a partner or close loved one and it reminds me of overcoming addiction. You see, it's like getting shipwrecked. In the beginning, you're safe and sound on a big, nice, comfortable boat. But suddenly the storm sets in, the waves turn into huge fluid mountains that come crashing down and suddenly, the nice ship is torn in two, the pieces get torn asunder, dragged to the bottom of the ocean and every shred of what used to be a semblance of your life is turned to splinters. And there you are, in the middle of it. In the icy, cold, dark night, trying to stay afloat, clinging onto a piece of driftwood, trying not to go under. And it takes time. You have to hang on. The waves will come crashing into you systematically, over and over again. The storm doesn't let up soon. But you have to keep fighting. Maybe you'll let go and get swept away. Hopefully you find another piece of driftwood, maybe a bigger one this time, or a helping hand. And maybe this second or even if it's a third time around you learn to hang on better, and you keep fighting the waves, the darkness and the storm. And it will take a while, but after the 100th wave has hit, you notice it didn't hit as hard as the 99th one. And the 200th wave that tries to beat you off is even less. You might slip off again, you're only human and everything is wet and cold. It's still a struggle. But after wave 900 you notice that it's not so dark anymore and the water has dropped in level. After a gajillion waves, you'll be able to stand in the water, and it will still hit you, every so often. But after all that time it's only a couple of splashes on your knees or shins. You've had worse.

So what I'm trying to say is that it doesn't really stop. But the way you deal with it and how strong you are and how much help you accept. That is something you have influence over.

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11 hours ago, Deku said:

And so one day I somehow talked myself into playing one stupid game of League of Legends, and here I am 3 weeks later. It's crazy how similar gaming addictions can be to smoking or drinking. All it does is take one really rough patch to push me over the edge, and in the blink of an eye weeks have gone by, and I'm left with nothing but a messy room and the realization that I've lost countless hours that could have been spent on sleep, work, or literally anything else.

Can definitely relate to this. It's a slow cooking process, you think you have it under control at first.. So you might as well push it a little, right? Suddenly you're back to a pack a day a couple hours a day or even worse, not even noticing how most of your thoughts are relating more and more to video games.

You've realized it, though. And not only that, you've started to tackle the addiction again! You seem to have a good attitude about you, if you keep all your efforts up I am sure you'll overcome the addiction once and for all eventually. It'll be a difficult path, you know that, but every path inevitably leads to a destination.

What I'm trying to say is, you got this.

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Hey @Deku ! It' been long since I saw you.

On 9/10/2019 at 10:08 AM, Deku said:

Whenever I disappear like this it's safe to say that I relapsed, and this is exactly what happened to me this time, yet again. I've made all kinds of excuses about why this happened and why I've been gaming on and off for the past three weeks, but the truth is that I guess I'm just not as mentally strong as I thought.

I also relapsed as well since my exams (in May) were over. I am currently playing games in moderation, but sometimes, my playtime can go overboard. In some days, it is not a struggle, but in others, it is.

On 9/10/2019 at 10:08 AM, Deku said:

This relapse has really shown me that I need to find some kind of creative outlet in my life to allow me to relax on a somewhat regular basis. I guess that will be a priority for me to think about in the next few days.

I agree with this. Even until now, I feel like I want to get creative and doing activities like writing, drawing, and dancing. However, gaming can be one of the causes of why I don't do those hobbies that often, describing them as "writer's block" or "artist's block." I don't know if you actually like doing the activities I mentioned before, but if you don't know where to start, this can be a great starting place. You can add your own hobbies (other than gaming) from this.

I hope that you succeed in overcoming your addiction. 😉

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Day 1 and 2: 

People at work have been treating me super well recently and it makes me feel weird, because I know I haven't really done anything to deserve the treatment that I've been getting. I haven't made a colossal mistake in almost a month now, but I feel like that's less a product of my own merit than a result of people (especially my mentor) just not trusting me with anything major anymore. The original plan when I got picked up was for me to independently work on my mentor's project when she went on maternity leave at the end of September, but to my understanding the plan has shifted so that I'll be doing rather menial work under very close supervision from the other lab members instead. It's gonna be a boring four months once she hits maternity leave.

It's all good though, because I know I wasn't ready for that kind of responsibility, and this leaves me more time to studying for the MCAT--which is in reality the biggest priority anyways. Even if I do horribly in this internship it doesn't have much impact on the big picture of my med school applications, because I can always find research experience elsewhere. But screwing up my MCAT would have catastrophic implications on my ability to get into med school, especially with my crappy undergrad grades. So while I'm disappointed that research at Stanford isn't going well, I'm thankful that it's allowing me to focus on what matters a lot more.

Fortunately MCAT studying has been going really well. Days at the lab have been really chill now that my responsibility has been nerfed to the ground, and that means that I've probably spent 8 hours a day the past week studying for the MCAT, if not more. The amount of content I need to know is straight-up staggering but I've discovered that flashcards can really cut down on the amount of notetaking I have to do while simultaneously increasing retention of information. Meaning that I don't feel as burnt out while studying, but at the same time find that I can remember more information at the end of the day.

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Days 3-9:

I haven't relapsed I swear!! My family had its biannual get-together last week, and because of all the relations asking me to spend time with them over the past week I've gotten fuck all done. But again, fortunately, no relapse!

Something exciting happened yesterday. My mentor and I had a meeting with the PI of my lab, and somehow not only did she say that she would love to have me back last year (given our ability to secure funding), she also offered to write me a letter of rec for med school!! That's 3 letters of rec now, and just 2 more that I'd like to get before applying. 

My mentor is due for maternity leave next week, so I got her a little present (A gift card to a baby store...LOL). I thought it was kinda lame, but I think she loved it! At least enough to write me a message saying she thinks I've been a big help and that she hopes I'll get into med school. I guess it's the thought that counts, as they all say.

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20 hours ago, Deku said:

My mentor is due for maternity leave next week, so I got her a little present (A gift card to a baby store...LOL). I thought it was kinda lame, but I think she loved it!

Gift cards are never lame for baby stuff. As someone who has had friends have babies as well as going to be attempting soon to have a kid of their own baby stuff is expensive! The worst part is once the baby grows out of it, well, either donate it or save it for the next kid. While getting knocked down is tough you always get stronger on the way back up you got this and I can't wait to see what your future holds!

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Glad to have you back onboard man. And agreed with everyone else - you do an incredible stuff even when relapsed!

I wouldn't look at it as "4 relapses", I'd look at it as "I spent only a few weeks over the past year gaming". That's a huge win and it'll just get better from here!

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Days 10-15:

I drove over 16 hours this weekend from the Bay Area to San Diego to help my sister move into college. As a result I got fuck all done again...but hey, at least no relapse!

My mentor at Stanford had her baby on Saturday, so my workload has suddenly dropped off a cliff.  I'm pretty bored at work now, but on the bright side I'm finding myself with so much more time now to work on stuff for medical school, which is probably exactly what I needed. Glad things have worked out!

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Back to Day 1 again.

It's so easy to not post on here when things aren't going well, and to be honest season 2 of this journey has been a real struggle. There hasn't been a whole lot to do at work recently now that my mentor is on maternity leave, so it's so easy to rationalize going home early. And when I'm there, it's just as easy to rationalize watching a movie or even gaming. Yesterday was a scary day because I didn't go to work and stayed home playing League of Legends instead. By the time I came to my senses the sun was already setting and an entire day had almost gone by. It felt like my college days all over again. My med school dreams felt incredibly far away.

I talked to my sister yesterday. She's entering her second year at college, and is doing really well in her laboratory job, so I figured I'd ask her for any advice she had on how I could improve my situation at work. She helped me see that I have a really defeatist attitude right now in the workplace that's resulting in a vicious cycle--because there's not much to do I get less involved, and because I get less involved there's less to do, and so on. She suggested that I take advantage of this dead time to read papers and learn lab skills in order to increase my value in the lab, so that when work does show up I can hit the ground running. I think that's a great idea and I made myself the goal to go to work every day and spend at least 4 hours reading papers or learning skills.

Today I spent a couple hours in the mouse room refreshing how to handle mice, and practicing a new technique for the first time. I'm absolute ass at it, but I scheduled time with the mouse technician for more practice tomorrow, so hopefully I improve in time. I'll go to a joint lab meeting for another hour to hear about another group's research project, and I'll spend another hour reading papers about AML xenografts. Four hours. Hopefully if I can keep up this productivity over the month of October I'll come out on the other side at least somewhat useful.

I realize I never really made coherent goals for season 2, so here are just a few that I came up with at work today:

-Go to work every day (except on hospice volunteering days) and spend at least 4 hours there doing labwork or learning skills/reading papers

-Spend 40 hours a week working on medical school stuff (personal statement, MCAT)

-Hospice volunteering at least once every two weeks

-Running or working out at least 3x a week

-Reading books about the medical profession on the train. I know which one I want to start with--Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. It's such a beautiful book about what it means to be a doctor in a world where most patients present with problems that are uncurable--such as cancer, chronic conditions, or simply just old age. It's one of my inspirations for becoming a doctor and I find myself coming back to it year after year.

-Make time for friends--hang out with someone at least once a week to reduce burnout

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Day 2.

I was running late and forgot to bring Being Mortal onto the train today which was unfortunate, but on the bright side I did put in my 4 hours of labwork today. I did lab stuff for an hour, read a research paper about AML xenografts for 2 hours, and practiced mouse techniques for another hour. Did my first successful retroorbital injection today, that was awesome!

Going hiking tomorrow night. Now that I've climbed Mt Baker and Mt Whitney it's become clear that hiking and the outdoors in general is taking up a increasingly bigger part of my life, to the point of becoming something that could realistically replace gaming as the backbone of what I do for fun. I really think doing one or two big objectives a year (on a similar scale to Baker and Whitney) would give me something to be excited about and work towards in my free time, and it would be financially feasible even with my pittance of a salary. 

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Do you hike with other people? I re-read your blog recently and it seems like your church group really helped you develop in a way you liked, and if you're struggling I wonder if something similar to that group might help now.

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@gtbC I usually hike through meetup, so it is with people, albeit a rotating cast of sorts. So it's great for meeting acquantainces and networking I guess, but not as good for making real friends. I totally hear you on the church thing. Being in a cult was a weird experience for sure, but there was no shortage of opportunities to keep myself busy and social. I definitely do miss having something like that in my life.

Day 3 was a bit of a quiet day. I had a meeting with other people in my program in the afternoon, so I took a day off and went to the dentist in the morning. In said meeting we spent a lot of time sharing our experiences in our internships, and I was a bit dismayed to find that other people in my program are staying busy, learning alot, and overall are just having a blast in their respective laboratories. (While I've struggled a lot with making mistakes and finding enough work to stay busy). I'm a little disappointed with myself to be honest, and more than a little stressed out at the realization that if I don't work harder I am going to be left very far behind. Honestly I was a bit depressed so I went to bed really early last night, maybe around 8 or 8:30.

It's the morning of Day 4 now, and I have a lot to do. I'm trying to wrap up at least the rough draft of my personal statement this weekend so that I can throw the entirety of my weight into MCAT studying and being useful at work. I've struggled a lot with productivity this season, so I've decided to start working in the open study area of my library again. Working there all the time was super essential to helping me get the grades I did last year, so maybe it'll help me out again in my time of need. At the very least I won't be gaming there knowing that everyone can see my screen. 

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Day 4 

Starting with the good news--I went for a good run today, I drank enough water (been using this app to make sure I'm hydrated and it's honestly been wonderful), and I didn't relapse.

Now for the bad news--today was much less productive than it should have been, as writing this essay is simply taking way too long. My writer's block is absolutely killing me; I would consider myself a decent writer but I cannot articulate why I want to be a doctor to save my life right now. Everything I write seems so corny and cliche, and just doesn't feel like me. It's a bit of a frustrating experience. I'm going to put in a good day of work tomorrow to see where I can get myself, but if that doesn't work I need to shift gears and start attacking the MCAT.

Wish me luck guys, I'm gonna need it ._.

 

Edited by Deku
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Your journal is truly inspiring man. I relapsed a couple times in a row recently but got a little streak going on as of late as well. Reading your logs and posts has kept my morale high. Keep up the good work!

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Hi!

Just write why you want to be a doctor here and then maybe we can help you? Or at least encourage you! 

Sometimes if you just start writing something, anything really.... eventually the right words will start to come out!

Good luck my friend!!!!!

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@RB1 Thanks for your kind words friend! Really brought a smile to my face today. I know I've been in a bit of a rut recently, so the fact that people take the time to read and find nice things to say is just incredible. Thanks again 🙂 

Day 5

Today started out as an incredibly unproductive day. I woke up late and spent way too much time eating, watching anime, catching up on youtube, talking to my parents etc. It was really demoralizing--I mean my back is pretty much against the wall at this point, shouldn't I be able to perform?--and for a few brief moments I even considered quitting everything, running away and living out the rest of my life as a lab tech. I'd have to live with my own failure forever, sure, but at least I wouldn't have to deal with the constant stress of my current life.

It's corny, but what ended up getting me out of my rut was a motivational video on youtube--specifically Ray Lewis' 52 cards speech. I've listened to it so many times in the past, but for some reason it felt like he was speaking directly to me today. I could almost visualize how close the victory is now--just a few months of hard work away--and I realized how much of a pity it would be if I walked away at this moment. All I have to do is put my head down and bulldoze through all the stress of this period of my life...and it will all be downhill from there. After that revelation it was pretty easy for me to start writing, and within an hour I had finished the section that had stalled me for over a week. The pity is that I still have a little ways to go...but I think I can get it done tomorrow if I attack it with the mindset that I will get it done, no matter how much it hurts. Thanks @Icandothis for the tip btw--I made a text document and literally just started freetyping my thoughts out, and it really helped me get the creative juices flowing. 🙂 

 

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Day 6

My work at Stanford continues to be extremely light. Yesterday I had an idea about how to give myself more work, but unfortunately that didn't end up panning out. So it's back to my usual routine of finding 4 hours of stuff for myself to do. I will say that I'm finding working for myself to be a LOT harder than doing things for someone else, but at the same time I'm finding an odd sort of satisfaction in it. It's really difficult to be self-motivated enough to fill in my own schedule, but it's definitely nice to learn a skill or finish a paper and realize that I was the sole reason that managed to happen. I dunno, just something I've observed.

Stuff I managed to do today:

-I read a chapter of Being Mortal on the train today.

-I read a paper about different kinds of humanized mouse models that can be used to study AML. It gave me a lot of background about the mice we're going to be using.

-I found more work for myself to do--awesome! 

-I made some good progress on the personal statement. I believe that the framework is in place, but I need to fill in the blanks now.

-Got plenty to eat and drank enough water.

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See! That’s awesome! Just remember everyone is experiencing the same mental blocks and fears as you.  You are not alone is these thoughts/feelings.  Just notice the fear, but do it anyway!!! 

Congrats on your progress. Have a beautiful day! 😊

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I'd say use the time you are getting. My girlfriend made the mistake of asking for more work at her job and now she is totally overwhelmed. But she can't give the load back because she asked for it herself. 'Having nothing to do' is a gift, man. Spend those hours wisely 😉 

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@Phoenixking LMAO! Point taken. Since I'm trying to get a nice letter of recommendation and potentially employment at this lab while I apply to med school I do feel that I need to make sure I'm at least being useful. But I also definitely think that you're right in that I can't ask for too much work. Gotta really thread the needle there and find the right balance I guess.

Day 7 was a pretty good day at work. I spent my four hours running some experiments, and went to dinner to celebrate my grandmother's 94th (!!!!!) birthday. Not a whole lot done but at least no relapse happened. I didn't drink enough water or get enough sleep either, so overall a below average day.

Day 8 I woke up feeling completely wiped due to not having enough sleep the night before. The temptationto take it easy and stay home was overwhelming, but I got myself out of bed, did a good hygiene routine and made it to work on time. I consider that a victory in itself! Today was largely spent analyzing the data from yesterday's experiment, which was...tedious. I wish I learned more when my mentor was still here and asked her more questions. Luckily she's just a quick email away.

Going to a talk about the role of stem cells in Acute Myeloid Leukemia tomorrow at the literal crack of dawn. Should be fun!

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Day 9

Went to the talk on AML for 90 minutes, read a paper about humanized mice for another 30 minutes, and did data analysis for the rest of the time I was at work today. I gotta say the 4 hour rule has really saved me at my workplace. I used to be so bored and painfully not busy every day, but now that I have to read papers and practice skills I'm finding that my knowledge base has significantly improved--and with it, my interest in the lab's work. 

Still having trouble going to sleep on time, and haven't worked out at all this week. Both things to improve on for the future. But I would tentatively call this week a win!

 

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Aw crap, missed a bunch of days on here again. Wonderful! I'm just going to transcribe put up the raw notes that I have for each day so that I can catch myself up quickly.

Day 10: Went to a rodent aseptic surgery class, left work early and got lunch with friends. Went on a night hike of Mission Peak with my parents, and did med school stuff for a few hours afterwards with the help of caffeine. Overall a fun day!

Day 11: Spent a day with my dad and watched Joker. Also watched the new episode of My Hero Academia.

Day 12: Spent the whole day working on medical school stuff. Took a break to watch the niners absolutely stuff the Rams! Decided that I would like to run a triathlon and spent some time today on the internet looking up training plans. I think working towards an entry level race could be a viable project that I could do during this period of time if hiking proves to be too big of a time investment.

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