Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pentose Phosphate Oxidative Phase

Yes, I'm T - 10 until MCAT day.  Yes, I'm getting very ready to take it and be done.

Someone once said that the aging population should be thinking about retiring; am pretty sure they could not have meant me because that word doesn't exist in my vocabulary.  Not sure it ever will.

My goal is to serve humanity, to serve those who are less fortunate that I have been; who sometimes wonder if anyone cares.

I do.

I care that people in countries that are developing (or worse) don't have access to adequate healthcare. I care that our own US citizens go without healthcare, insured or not.  I care that our homeless do not feel comfortable in their smelly clothes and unbathed bodies to see a physician whom they hold on a pedestal.

I care, and I hope, that one day, they will come see me as their physician of choice; smelly bodies, unwashed clothes, unbrushed teeth and all.  There is a business model that will work for them; I hope to use it.  One day, maybe 10 years from now after a couple of years as a licensed physician.

Until then, I draw.  And I prepare for the biggest exam of my lift to date.

Here's today little nugget:  Pentose Phosphate Oxidative Pathway

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Oh Gosh; T - 15

The days are winding down and part of me is thinking, "Thank God!"  For the past few months, and if including the fast pace last year toward taking it, I've been at the MCAT for almost - le gasp - 2 years.

First it was to try and cram it in before the "BIG" change; you know, the one where the AAMC wiped out a bunch of physics (not really true) and took out a bunch of orgo - YEAY! (also not really true) and added in biochem YEAY (but holy mother of all things good) and added in psych and soc at the end because you know, once we're done with this little doodad, we might need a shrink!

Haha.  I digress.

The 3.5 hour test went to 6. 1.5 on chemistry and physics, 1.5 on verbal reasoning (CARS) a 30 minute lunch, then 1.5 on biochem and biology, wrapping up with 1.5 on psych/soc.

About that biochem, it turns up everywhere.  It turns up in chemistry physics under the guise of orgo but it's really, biochem.  See, in my orgo class we never covered amino acids or peptides or any of that sort.  Good thing I took biochem.

Tonight was my last section bank to go through.  I take them untimed, check every answer the minute I choose, right down why my answer was right (or wrong), redraw the graphs, add any salient points to help me as I review.

What do I note on the graphs?

Things like the slope where the [S] is > than the v.  That way, I know, the reaction is still pre-Km and Vmax is far off yet.  I note things like points of comparison, x intercept, y-intercept, commonalities between variables, ratios, and yes, I know the inhibitor graphs well.

With 15 days of pure studying left (14, really as the TH before my exam, I'm not doing much), I'm honing; I want to know the why of an answer choice thoroughly, I want to know if a variable is changed in some way, I can answer a different question.

And I'm reading the old verbal from the old AAMC tests.  I figure it can't hurt for CARS and who knows, just maybe I'll get lucky and one of them will magically appear on my exam.

But I don't believe in Lady Luck, I believe in hard work.

And I am.  And will continue to for the next 15 days.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

T - 16 to MCAT

Car accident this morning on the way to school.  Interesting because the lady in the light blue Kia Sedona, side swiped me and drove off.

Good thing I got her license plate at the stop light and called 9-1-1.

That's where things got, how shall I say this, "Interesting."

When the sheriff finally arrived, he asked what happened, took notes, got my driver's license, asked for my insurance information and registration (which I keep both electronically)...

Then things got stranger.

After some time, the two approached me and asked if I was the sole registrant of the vehicle (I am) and asked if someone else drove it (he does but infrequently, very infrequently).

They then went onto say that my driver's license had been suspended for two traffic tickets in another county... one which I have no idea where it is, or didn't until they looked it up and told me.

Apparently, my insurance was also listed as lapsed for non-payment despite that I can see the payments to Geico and the withdrawals on the bank side.

The sheriff was puzzled and asked rather, ahem, "harmlessly" ...

"Why don't you call the insurance company while we're sitting right here?"

Yeah, I know.  He was trying to make sure I was legit before giving my license back.  He was trying to confirm that I was either a legitimate good person, or some scum in an Escalade.

So, I called Geico, the sheriff stood right there.  The agent asked some questions, I gave him the information; the sheriff asked if he could speak to him directly, I handed him my phone.

A few minutes later the sheriff handed me my license and said something was rather screwed up in the state's system because apparently in December of 2015 and January of 2016 I got speeding tickets in a beach side community about 3 or 4 hours away.

Um.  I wish?  Because if I had, that'd have meant I was enjoying my life?  Not stressing?

Three hours after the idiot in the Kia Sedona HIT ME, I was free to go study for the MCAT.  It's now 4 hours past incident and I think, I may be able to finally focus.

No, I was not hurt but my Escalade has body damage where the idiot hit me, slid across the door and then drove off.

MCAT.  T-16.  Must focus.  Must prevail!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

T-17 to MCAT

Back at it this morning.

Digested my biochem section bank results from yesterday at home, in my bed, snuggled up with the great dane puppy/adult (she's always going to be a puppy but she is 2 now).

Will be drawing all the glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, gylogenolysis, pentose phosphate, and obviously the TCA, ETC and probably beta-oxidation processes today along with the standard AA's plus 3-letter and 1-letter abbreviations.

Is this hard?


It is time consuming and with my tendency to want to understand the why behind everything, it takes even longer.  My peers just want to know the right answer and move on.  Guess that is a bit of the difference between them at a normal college age and me, a not-so-normal college "kid" ...

This is my year.  I know it.  Can feel it.  Weird to have put so much effort into this to be at the door of the medical schools, about to take the MCAT and asking:

"Will you let me in?  Please?"

Stay tuned :)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Exhaustion Creeps In

This path, I've said, is not for the faint of heart.

Just when you think you're ready for beast-slaying (taking the MCAT for the non-medical people), just when you think you've mastered the graphs, tables, interpretations, nuances of every little enzyme in every pathway that relates to psychological and sociological phenomenon, the MCAT makes you feel:


Thanks Section Bank Biochem.

Yep, I thought I was good on the biochem - had the greatest professor ever (Hi Dr. S!).  He told the class a few years ago we'd be set and I would have been if I'd just kept up with it.  But I still am.

Over the past 2 weeks, I've spent more time in the library than I ever did in sum-total of my undergraduate years.  That's not saying much as the correlation to studying and my 30 year old GPA is 1:1.  Yes, I'm 51 and will be 52 when my application is considered complete at all 25 medical schools to which I've applied and no, I don't care much what people think.

BUT I am tired.

And it is worth it!

And then I came home to this:

Someone whom I met through life has become a dear friend along with his wife.  They've believed in me when my own doubt started taking hold.  They've supported me in ways I will never publicly disclose but without them... I would have possibly stopped (again).

With them by my side - OMG, I am so excited to take this exam, put it to bed, get this monkey off my back, slay the beast, and see what happens next.

I am also looking forward to a break - just a small one before I march into bench research, and cancer biology.  Maybe a small 2 or 3 day break, on a beach.  With not a single exam prep question, flashcard box, note filled binder, folder filled with graphs and pathways and enzyme mechanics (yes, I do get the LB and MM now) in sight, I won't even try to correlate a bird's flight with the volume of O2 flowing through it's wings or calculate in my head the pumping action of his heart or the pulmonary output of deoxygenated blood (pulmonary brings deoxygenated blood to the heart; it's the only artery to do so, all others go away).

With no flashcards, or iPad mini with loaded videos and podcasts and "MCAT" game (yes, they have them; they're lame but better than nothing); with no books, or graphs or laptop... I think I'llr remember what it's like to sit in the sun.

And be free.  If only for a little while.