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Journey to my white coat


Deku
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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

Edited by Deku
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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. 

Edited by Deku
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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.

Edited by gtbC
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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. 

Edited by Deku
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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. ? 

 

Edited by Deku
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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.

Edited by Deku
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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!

Edited by Deku
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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!

 

Edited by Deku
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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.

Edited by Deku
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1 hour ago, Deku said:

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.

I also saw joker! What did you think? I have mixed feelings. 

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1 hour ago, BooksandTrees said:

I also saw joker! What did you think? I have mixed feelings. 

I loved it for the most part! Obviously the cinematography was beautiful and Joaquin Phoenix's acting was fire, but I also really liked the overall message. I do feel that we as a society have really failed to help the mentally ill, and the movie did a good job of reflecting the lack of empathy and assistance for those kinds of people. How about you?

Edited by Deku
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8 hours ago, Deku said:

I loved it for the most part! Obviously the cinematography was beautiful and Joaquin Phoenix's acting was fire, but I also really liked the overall message. I do feel that we as a society have really failed to help the mentally ill, and the movie did a good job of reflecting the lack of empathy and assistance for those kinds of people. How about you?

I agree with everything you said. I just felt like there was something missing and I can't tell what it was. I'm having a difficult time putting it together. I think he was the best live joker I've seen. He was true to the comic. I was kind of disturbed by the murders even though that's what he does in the comics as well. I just felt like the plot was missing something.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Day 0. Again.

Oh boy, what can I say. I just can't seem to get anyting going. I just lost another week to gaming, and it was so scary this time. I barely went to work, and I hardly ate, drank, or slept for 9 whole days. It was just like college all over again. I really felt like I had no control over myself at all.

I really hope that this is my final relapse, because this is it. My med school dreams are literally hanging by a thread right now--I'm not doing well at work, I haven't volunteered in almost a month, and I haven't made any progress on my personal statement or exam prep in over a week. I think I can still turn it around but I have to start now--I'm just about out of money now and almost out of time. It literally is do or die at this point.

Reflecting on my relapses, I think the best thing I can do for myself is to literally force myself to go to work every day. The commute sucks and the environment isn't the best, but at least I know for a fact I will not be gaming while I'm there. I believe that a good night's sleep will go hand in hand with that. It's too easy to just wake up in the morning and rationalize that I'm just too tired to go, especially when there isn't anything for me to do that day. Staying home has ALWAYS led to relapses (unless I spend the day at the library), so I think that's someting I definitely have to avoid going forwards.

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Don't do it on willpower alone, it's going to tear and break sooner or later. Try and build little tricks and systems and deals with yourself to make sure you cope. Don't white knuckle it, that's a bad tactic.

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Agree with the above poster. When you have the mentality of “do or die” it puts your body in a fight or flight response. You will learn this in med school... how you need to stay calm and cool during stressful situations. 
 

Stay present and grounded. Have compassion for yourself. 
 

Have a beautiful day my friend. 

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Day 1

My mind was so restless last night that I just couldn't go to sleep, and by the time I finally drifted off it was just after 2 in the morning. When my alarm woke me up at 6 I was so tired that all I wanted to do was quit my job, quit my life and just go back to sleep again. I'm really glad that I managed to find the discipline to put on some clothes and get some exercise in before going to work. That's huge. I'm going to need a lot more of that strength going forwards.

Today was a rough day at work. It was my first time running flow cytometry by myself and I had all kinds of issues that I was not prepared for. But I guess it's a learning process, and I will have lots more opportunities to improve myself moving forwards. I also had a meeting with my PI today, and she heavily insinuated that I have not been working hard enough. She then gave me about a million things to do in the near future. This is technically what I wanted, so I guess I should feel thankful. I'm very glad that she's giving me the opportunity to earn my letter of recommendation and a paid spot in the lab for the next year. It's another opportunity, and I going to do my best to make an impact and improve the work that I'm involved in.

@Phoenixking @Icandothis Thanks for the comments. I think that you're absolutely right. I may honestly be just taking on too much right now, and I realize that trying to push through an obstacle that I'm just not strong enough yet to deal with is only going to burn me out and lower my self esteem--which in turn just fuels my relapses and urges to quit. I'll do my best to drop weight where I can and add fun to my life on a more regular basis. 

 

Edited by Deku
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Day 2

It's going to be a corny one because I really need to pump myself up right now after a pretty difficult period of time. Thanks for bearing with me.

The situation at work is starting to become really, really bad. Now that my mentor's on maternity leave I've had to run a lot of her experiments by myself, and I clearly am not ready for such a responsibility. As a result I've really bungled the data collection of a lot of experiments that took months to set up. I'm sorting through the mess right now but...it doesn't look good. I really need help, but I'm honestly too scared and embarassed to ask for it because that'll just add to my reputation as the village idiot. And to make matters worse analyzing the suspect data by myself is taking a really long time, and that's setting me behind all the other things I have to do at work. I just don't know what to do. It was just a really frustrating day today, and probably one of the worst I've had at this job. After beating my head against my desk for hours I decided to just go home early, and ended up just lying in my bed thinking about just how much I want to quit my job and this lifestyle. There have to be other ways to get into medical school, right? But in my heart I know that I have no chance of becoming a doctor, or even a version of myself that I can be happy with, if I can be defeated by something as small and inconsequential as this internship. And so I'm gonna put my nose to the grindstone and work as hard as possible to understand this stuff, and if I'm going to be fired then at least I'll walk out with the dignity of knowing that I tried my absolute best. I know I can give more than what I've been putting out--after all, I got a 3.97 gpa last year in subjects that are highly relevant to this lab's work. I just have to believe that my many mistakes in this lab have been because of a lack of real experience, that they are merely growing pains expected to come with a transition from the classroom to the workplace. I just have to believe that there is something greater waiting just around the corner for me, if only I can make it through this dark period. 

I wish my life could be an anime, where I go from zero to hero in a smooth progression, with nothing but a few training montage clips and a whole lotta plot armor. I wish this journal could just be a perfect journey to the life of my dreams, with me blasting through everything without any complications or setbacks or days spent contemplating my life decisions. I wish my journey could have been more interesting and inspiring for others. But I guess I'm starting to realize that's not how life really works? Life is full of imperfections, and mistakes, and fuck ups. That's just how it is. And if I run away every time these things happen, I'm going to spend the rest of my miserable existence running. And that's not how I want to live.

Wish me luck guys. I'm going all out!!!!

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Edited by Deku
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Fuck guys it’s over. I’m so sorry.

Got removed from my internship a few days ago and the shock still hasn’t really worn off yet. The reason was because of all the mistakes I’ve made, and all the days I missed (due to playing games).

With that I lose so much. Two letters of rec and a ton of time at the very least. I don’t really know what to do now. I still want to keep fighting to get into medical school, but...I just don’t know if I can do it anymore. I’m just so disappointed in myself for blowing this golden opportunity. I spent the last year setting all this up for myself beautifully and in the blink of an eye it’s back to ground zero again.

I’ll think of something but...man. This really sucks.

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