Saturday, December 2, 2017

Alive, Well, & Wondering

Of course, I am wondering.  Querying/googling "Bombed MCAT, retake?" and find?

Lots of people score worse than I did.

Lots of people scoring worse than I did, retake, do well, get into med school.

Am I going to be one of them?  Don't know.  I vowed I would take time away from SDN, reddit, and anything med school related... but that life thing.

Son ended up in ER a few weeks ago.  Doctor asked him what he thought was wrong and son said, "Maybe I have a kidney stone?"

Doc asked son, "What makes you think that?"

Son, "well, my mom" pointing to me, "thought that might be the case."

Doc looks at me, "What made you think about kidney stone?"

Me, "Well, to be honest, I was just a dumb premed so... please don't ... see, his pain is in upper quadrant, below the rib, and specific; when pressure is put on it, the pain doesn't end so I figured it wasn't kidney infection... Also, he's not running a fever; intestines aren't there, appendix is lower, he's not having trouble breathing/eating/drinking and isn't peeing blood... so lungs good, heart good, I figured only thing left was kidney stone."

Doc, smirking at me, "WAS a premed??"

Me, with a combo of dust/onions in the air, "Yeah.  Was."

Doc, "You sure?"

Son, "Nah" groans, "She'll retake that damn thing."

As I waited for the CT scan to be done and son wheeled out of room, it was the first time in weeks that I felt at home, where I belonged, where my heart is, where my passion lies.  I saw sick people wheeled into rooms, talked to the nurses about their roles in ER, docs who make it in the ER (no interest on my part), about the lab results...

If I were 43 instead of not 43, there's be no question as to what I'd do.  But the calendar doesn't lie.

Son turned out to be fine with severe back spasms, thankfully.  He was put on some pretty heavy duty meds to help his body relax and recover; doc told me to retake the test.

We'll see. In the meantime, I've found Pennsylvania to be gorgeous (client in Pittsburgh area) and driving from PA to DC?

Sublime!  We're moving to DC in the spring, hopefully before cherry blossoms come out.

Found a cabinet maker went out of business and left his entire inventory behind in a warehouse.  It was all listed as "construction material" by the warehouse owner, so I came by and took "a lot" ... projects await me when I return home (currently on 12 day road trip PA - DC - MD - PA).

Life does go on... we'll see what ends up.  I'm fine.  I know when I took the test, after the delays, Irma, and $36,000 contract ending 2 days prior that I simply did not care about the exam.  And that coupled with adderall and no food and no hydration = disaster.

No excuse.  Maybe just a sign.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Life always works out the way it's supposed to, I'm told.  A few years ago, my love fest with all things Tampa Bay Lightning, Mr Vinik's amazing organization, I mean hockey club started.  Of course, that was swiftly pushed along with the addition of a certain Ranger, Boyle.

Boyle.  That guy. That guy who rattles up Abdeldaker's knickers, acts like jumping fish out of water while sitting in the penalty box vexing the Penguins Letang, giving Dotchin the "atta boy" when Dotch was sent to the penalty box and all over a great man, player, husband and dad.

In buying my first jersey - ever - it was Boyle that I wanted.  The shop downstairs in Amalie said they didn't get many requests for Boyle.  I found it odd... but then again, I never am the #1 fan of the #1 players on any club (hockey, football, hoops, or potato throwing).  I love the grinders, the diggers, the blue collar chuggers.

That embodies Boyle.

My longest post about him is here:

Last December, my tickets were on the blue line across from the bench, five rows off the ice.  With the team imploding without it's Captain Stamkos and many others, I kept tweeting to Boyle, "Step up. Your time. Your leadership."  Not that I had any part of it, but he did.  I also tweeted the Bolts, "Boyle should get the 'A'" for Alternate Captain.  Not that I had any part of that either, but he got it.

At the end of every game the 3 stars of the game are announced with players coming from just one club or both.

Boyle got the 2nd star of the night.  He got to give away a puck, signed by him.

I'd been asked by club management if I wanted to meet him at one point and while I can be outgoing at games, I'm rather shy in real life tending to stand in a corner and watch.  So, I always said no thank you.

But on that night with those 2 stars and a puck to hand out, Boyle skated across the blue line, across the rink like no one else ever does, looked right at me, and tossed up the puck.

My shyness kicked in along with my Minnesotan roots that told me to be polite and let the guy in front of me nab the puck.  (Guy then asked me who it was... insert big frowny face.)

That is maybe one of my only regrets from that hockey season, well, and that in all my #OldSignHag signs, I never did one for him.  Bishop, Stammer, Cally, Brown, Vasy all got signs but I wore Boyle's jerseys (white, blue, black depending on the night) so I figured that was good enough.

So, of all the signs I did (see below)

First game of the season when Callahan teased Stamkos that after signing, Cally knew who was buying the Arby's for the guys.  It became a running joke.

Bolts playing the Panthers begged for this sign!

Star Wars night

Hockey Fights Cancer Night

Stamkos went down for what became the entire season.

Marty St. Louis retirement

Vasy holding up after Bishop went down.  Team struggling, sagging, weary. 

This last one traveled with me for the rest of the season until... well, until Boyle was traded to the Leafs.  I stopped going to games, sold my tickets, watched from home.  This sign went to Minneapolis for the Wild v Bolts game and ended up in a video done by the club.  I wanted to ... 

Of all the signs I did, there was never one for Boyle.  Until now.  

Brian was diagnosed with CML sometime over the summer while going through camp with his new club (insert sad face):

 New Jersey Devils

Oh, and he's cleared to play!  Back on the ice, with his new club nonetheless, #BoyleStrong.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017



I think that's all she wrote, folks.

Thank you for following all these years, thank you for supporting me and encouraging me to "Not stop" but I think, I must.

The MCAT is NOT hard, NOT a beast, NOT undoable.

However, rescheduling it 3x due to circumstances outside my control (Irma, for instance), waking up late (never a good sign), driving like a bat to get on site without food or hydration (Adderall almost requires it or I get loopy in the head) ... well.  That all leads to no bueno in the score department.

I believe I'm capable of 515+ and that's about what I need to be a solid candidate.  However, maybe I'm just deluding myself to think that and honestly, it's time to stop.

School has been a most excellent adventure.  People who told me I was dumb or not a hard worker or Joe Van Kirk, wherever you are, "not driven enough" well, guess what - that fancy 4.0 through all my pre-reqs plus an A+ in physics probably proves I do have my drive... and I can/did compete with my younger peers.

But, I kind of want to relax a little, just work, play with the dogs, redo furniture, sand new wood to a nice glossy finish, and live.

I'll probably leave the blog up for a few weeks but take it down on October 31.  Seems sort of fitting.

Thanks again for everything!

P.S.  About that furniture redo - sample below:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

It Is Done

Oh, the people to thank; the ones who will know, the ones who may not, the ones who should.

Chris - you have been one of my favorite people on the planet for probably 52 years.  I love you more than you could possibly ever know and thank you so very much for always being by my side whether it was physically driving up to Duluth when Austin died, or housing me when my only grandmother passed, or kicking my butt a few years ago.  Cuz, so many people tell you you're the greatest you don't need me to add to it but really?  I've always looked up to you and aspired to be "More like Chris!"

Dr. Siliciano - oh, Dr. S; that humiliating semester when my house, and then the... and then the issue with... and then... and yet, somehow, you never lost your faith in me, or maybe you did, but being you, never let me know.  I long for the days of Moos and 3021; of LB and MM, and your funny sports car stories and slugs; the stories of shuttles and slugs; and funnier demo's that no youngen' will take on. How I got to be so incredibly lucky to have you for 2 classes, I will never know. Know that every time I probably exasperated you with my questions and concerns and my internal looking-glass-self speak, you quelled the fears, supported my hopes, and whether you knew it or not, you stopped the tears from falling on my way home.

You may never know how much it meant to me to sit in your office and ask if it would be okay to take your 3021 class, knowing full well how disappointed you had to be in me for dropping the 1xxx on the last day, with an A- ... and then I got that "B"... there are few people who's perspective I trust more than yours, who's opinion I value more than yours... very few.  When I look back on my life, you are up there with my 4th grade teacher who for the first time told my parents I was not bad, but bored.  Just like him, you've encouraged me, laughed with me, gave me the hard truth when needed, and provided an example of what leadership really looks like.

Dr. Schlotter - oh, the other Dr. S; yah, you told me to call you Nick but, you will always be my mentor, my leader, my professor, my favorite gen chem guy.  During the horrors of early 2010, and then in April when Storm... you kept nudging me forward, kept telling me not to quit, kept telling me you had faith in me even when life and all that it was tossing at me said to give up.  The day we spent with lattice structures until I could do them blindfolded, the days we spent talking about how I could learn to study more efficiently because frankly, I never knew before.  Those days when the house was crawling with centipedes and maybe you don't remember, but you gave me some spray that would kill them ... and thankfully, not me.  You helped me survive that dark spring giving me enough lift to continue on (though, really?  an 89% is a B"!"!"!"!"! :) ).

Dr. El-Rady - did you think I'd forget you??  Remember, I heard about you before ever stepping foot in FL let alone USF!  Dr. S above "forced" us to watch your transcription videos (which might have been handy today, btw :D ).  My first class with you was intimidating as I worried if you're that smart and putting together videos, are you approachable?  Some PhD's get big heads and think we little people are too insignificant to spend time with unless during office hours.  Like the two above you, you ALWAYS have time for students, not just me.  I hope you know, or at least you do now, I hope the next non-trad premed you get feels as blessed as I do to have had your classes.  Those talks walking back to the building about research, and current events, or just kids.  Your willingness to kind of kick me in the seat when it was very apparent, I was slacking a little, propelled me forward: to grind a little more, to want to improve a little more, to help others a little more.  Your stories of your home and the things you've seen in your life, are scorched in my mind.  Your faith in me, despite my "length of life traveled" has meant the world.  That one day you said, "You are a far better student than most of your peers simply because you will not quit" helped me work just that much more. And that day, you emailed me offering to write an LOR, I'm not sure you knew until now, I wept.  Floored.  I'm sure you write a zillion of them but I didn't think me worthy, didn't think me impressive.

Dalai - whether you knew it or not, you inspired me with your stories of afar, your kids' own success, your funny anecdotes about life in the hospitals/clinics, sharing of PACS nightmares, and of course, the beloved Doc Vader.  When I've needed a funny to cheer me up, in the midst of all the chaos, you gave me a light upon which to set my gaze and follow.  Please let Mike know, I'm thanking him too :)

Bill - in keeping your anonymity private will only say without you, I'm not sure I'd be in a place to type this out.  When last year was so dark, so utterly bad, you stepped up and in sharing time with Gman and helping us survive, you gave me the lift I needed to fly again.

Thank you.  Thank you so very much, the six of you, for all you've done whether you knew it or not.  Thank you for not laughing at me, or telling me to quit.  Thank you for not eye-shaming me into feeling guilty that I'm wasting time or haven't gotten my ducks in a row yet (I'm looking at you, Dr. Siliciano!).  Thank you for listening, encouraging me because finally, I can truly, unequivocably say:

The MCAT is done.  God willing, the next formal exam I take will be Step 1.

Tonight, I had to remind myself:

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Time Away - Time Spent Wisely

Each year in late April or early May, I get bombarded with requests to review personal statements for the med school application cycle.  It's an honor to be included in people's lives at a most anxiety ladled time with their most personal stories of "Why Medicine" and often with non-trads, "Why Now?"

This year, I took a break.  Helping others is, at my core, who I am.  Almost like I can't help myself from stopping to forward my own life to help someone else conquer their dreams.

This year, it had to be different.

This IS my last app cycle.

Cycle #1: ill prepared, WTH was I thinking trying to take the last pre-2015 MCAT without physics 1 or 2????  Seriously!?  dumb.

Cycle #2: prepared for the cycle, everything ready but "life" intervened, I got sidetracked helping others (my choice), and as my NP told me a few months ago, "Just excuses, really.  You're afraid of the MCAT."  She was right.

Cycle #3: I'm here. This is it.  I may be considered "late" because I won't be complete until mid-August but, I'll be complete.  I'll have taken the MCAT, taken the extra courses, and stabilized my life (thanks to the hospital group I'm about to start working for).

The point to the above is this:

Never give up.  If this is what you're meant to do, then do it.

I've waited almost 30 years to complete an app cycle.  This year, I will.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Left Kidney - Hope

When I was young, my parents made me attend and become a Job's Daughter as my dad is a Mason and Shriner and my grandmother was the Grand Worthy Matron or something like that of the Eastern Star.

Back when I was growing up, those organizations had some meaning as they collectively raised money, built buildings, helped the poor and more.

Job, of the Bible, suffered greatly.  It seemed no matter where he went or what he did, suffering followed him.  Through all of his life, however, he never lost his faith in doing what was right.  In learning about Job's trials and tribulations, we young ladies were taught to overcome, to never lose our faith, to believe... in something bigger than ourselves.

That has held true in my own life from the abusive home I was raised in to the loss of my first son to SIDS to being disowned by my own parents to decisions I made in 2007 that destroyed whatever wealth I had accumulated and subsequently, my living son's and my life.

I never lost faith.  In registering for classes to become a doc, I had a purpose each day.  That purpose was to serve those who needed medical care the most in the most desperate of ways.  Having been "earth core dirt poor" as my son told me, not only do I empathize with those less fortunate, but I've truly walked in their shoes.

As a student I got to watch hockey for free; nothing like Gopher or Bulldog hockey!  Once in awhile, I went to Wild games but really, my heart never pitter patted for that team.  Somewhere in there a certain Ranger was on TV, doing "his thing" that he did when younger.  I loved his feisty attitude to protect his fellow teammates from harm, from people like Marchand.

In 2014, it looked like things might turn around for me.  Got a great contract with a local company integrating their $300M acquisition for all finance, legal and sales systems and processes.  I saved money, paid for my parents' living expenses, and hoped with the current CFO it would become a permanent job.

Tickets for the Tampa Bay Lightning came and, that Ranger, now played for the Bolts.  He brought that same zest for his new team that he displayed with vigor in NYC.

Having friends who played in the NHL, I never really thought about buying a jersey with a name emblazoned on the back...

But Boyle got put on the 1st jersey I ever purchased.

During 2015, when that role looked like it might become perm, the CFO was pushed aside for a new guy and my life changed over the course of that year, and 2016.

Many times I've said 2010 was the 2nd worst year of my life only preceded by the worst year, the year Austin died in 1986.

But 2016 was definitely worse that 2010.  There were days where my son and I didn't eat because what food we had, went to our dogs.  Jobs lined up, but contracts ended because a Chinese company bought the client...

Suffering.  And hope.

Someone who knew my situation gave me tickets to a playoff game for the Bolts v Detroit.  Figuring the seats were nose bleed, I was ill prepared to see the game I did.

Of course, it helped that #11, Brian Boyle was still with the Bolts... and he has this thing with Abdeldaker... the chicken dance.

I laughed, cheered, clapped until I cried.  For 3 hours, I got to forget.  My son got to forget that when we got back home, there was little food and hope was running out.

Bill had purchased the tickets for my friend but I thanked him for doing so because I got to enjoy the game.  A few weeks passed and Bill hearing about our situation, bought more tickets to games, sent me tickets for the Storm, sent money for food, and sent me a signed Boyle jersey.

Each gift, I hope somehow he knows, I was eternally grateful and equally gracious.  As the summer came, Bill was given a date for seat selection for the season ticket members of 2016 - 17.  I didn't know why he sent that to me and didn't go.  He asked why I had not and demurred.  The truth was, I don't expect anything from anyone in life and if he was thinking he was going to purchase full season ticket membership for my son and I, ... just couldn't.

The Lightning, however, are #1 in all 4 major sports as listed by ESPN for a reason.

They called me.  Not sure how they knew but they called and invited me to come to a seat event.

Before we went, Bill asked what I wanted for my birthday.  Like seriously, the man did everything to keep my son and I fed for a couple of months while I got on my feet... there was nothing I would want for or need from him.  I had no means to pay him back, though if I can/could, I will.

At the arena, we toured, talked and I learned more about that player.  That player named Boyle.

I'd heard he was a good guy but the Lightning staff told me his first date with his wife was a church service.

My heart melted.  Not only was he a great teammate but apparently an excellent boyfriend and now husband and father.

At the end of the tour, I was asked if I wanted to be a full season STM (season ticket member) and was given the monthly payment to have the seats.  At the time, I had an incoming job and was also thinking, maybe, if Bill asked again what I wanted for my birthday, I'd just say the down payment on our seats.

Events unfolded and suffice to say, I never asked Bill.  Too embarrassed to do so... too utterly thankful for everything he'd already done.  Completely. Overwhelmingly. Thankful.

The season started; Stammer got hurt.  My tweets to the team, and #11 Boyle... were numerous and often.

From Eric Thomas the Preacher Man motivational videos to stupid signs before the games... the season was hard.  As fans of the game, and the team, we never missed a national anthem or a last horn, no matter how bad the blowouts or how great the wins.

We stayed.  As I mentioned in another post, I feel like the Bolts' players' hockey mom.  I love these guys... like a mom.  So stinking proud of what they overcame this year.

Then as the team was rising again, with Boyle as the de facto leader on and off the ice... lightning struck and thunder killed my heart and soul.

Brian was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It made no sense to me.  He's not ever going to be Crosby or Langenbrunner or ... he's just going to be the guy who does everything he can to help his team win.

My tickets went up for sale on Ticketmaster per the NHL agreement.  The Boyle jerseys were washed, hung to dry, and put in the back of the closet.

I stopped watching games for a few weeks.

See, Brian he epitomizes everything I believe a pro player should be and in being traded was gracious then too.

Gutted.  Again, I love the entire team... but Boyle... Boyle was the reason I laughed, Boyle was the reason I came to love the Bolts.

For a fan, it is the name on the back of the jersey, not the emblem on the front.  Boyle led me to the Bolts...

And now, he was gone.

Eventually, I was asked if I was going to renew my STM and given I have no money to do so, I made it clear I'd have sold my left kidney to renew if Boyle was still on the team.

Invited to a local, small town hall with the team's leadership assistant general manager and SVP Marketing, I had one simple thing to say:

"Bring him home."

A few weeks passed - you know how in life there is a kindredness between people without any real understanding of why? - well, I give you this on Brian Boyle from Toronto:

Brian Boyle & Faith, Family, Hope

I sat in tears.  His brother died 2 months after my 1st son passed of the same thing. SIDS.  Too. Close.  I never knew even as I wrote to the team on this blog (though who knows if they read it) about my own son passing away and the hockey stick that was signed by the greats of UMD and buried with my little guy.

"Bring him home" I tweeted to the Bolts.

The Leafs made it to the playoffs, made a run at Washington... and there was Boyle.  Doing the little things to help propel his team forward that don't show up on a scorecard.

The Leafs were eliminated.  And given contracts and NHL things, I know the Bolts can't comment on anything related to players until late June after the Vegas draft and the players are done.

But that didn't stop me from writing to the Bolts, "Bring him home."

To be fair, I didn't even know (how would I?!?!) if Boyle wanted to come back to US.  When the trade occurred it sounded like he was shocked.  Who knew if he'd want to return to the team who he'd done everything for and then was thanked by being traded off his team, away from his friends (Heddy, Cally - who wears 24 for the Bolts and the number that Boyle chose for the Leafs jersey).

Who knew?!

Pictures speak a 1,000 words.

That's him, #24, in a weird Maple Leafs jersey.

He wants to return to Tampa.

"Bring him home," I said.

It looks like he's coming "home" to US, to the fans who love this guy, his character, personality, and integrity.

Whether I can renew or not, remains to be seen.  It is doubtful but if Boyle returns, my kindred spirt that I will likely never meet or really know, if Boyle returns... I still have my left kidney.

(EDITED: This is what I thought on 4/26/17 when the post was originally written; all tea leaves, indications, rumors, whispers, and tarot cards pointed to him returning... and of course, there was always my hope.)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Dreams That Won't Die

Those pesky Tampa Bay Lightning.  Season started off with very high (think Lord Stanley sitting in FL getting a nice tan) expectations.  Even with Ryan Callahan expected out until Nov, the team was expecting to compete at the end for the cup.

That shiny silver thing... brought out for Marty St. Louis' number retirement back in January.

Then, however, Stammer got hurt.  Eventually, nine of the team were called up from the AHL and the joke became, we were not the Tampa Bay Lightning but the Tampa Bay LightCuse (Syracuse is the AHL team for Tampa).  Erne, Peca, Vermin, Witkowski, Dotchin... the list of AHL'ers playing with the Bolt was lengthy.

As was the losing streak.

Cally came back before he was healed from labrum surgery to try and help.

Boyle.  Ah yes, #11... stepped up... did everything expected... asked of... then... was traded.

After almost two months of being asked if I was going to renew for next year, the team leadership held a town hall.  Season ticket members not having renewed, and apparently fairly vocal about concerns, were asked to attend.

I was one of them.  I'd been vocal before Boyle was traded about my concerns with him being an unrestricted free agent and what the team was going to to do with him.  I felt, still do, that Boyle needs to retire a Bolt.

While much was said and most of it things I won't repeat here, I will say there is a reason the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Jeff Vinik himself, are lauded as the #1 team and person in the sports industry.

Bar none.  We were treated to inside information (as much as could be discussed without signed NDA's in place), we were treated like we mattered.

Questions were asked and answered... even a 9 year old girl's question regarding the trade of Bishop (whom everyone expected last summer).

It was something I've never seen another organization do.  CARE about the people who pay for the seats... who pay, stay, and cheer for a team (I'm often hoarse!).

What made the night even better was this:

Chicago's fans are known for being vocal, voracious, if not arrogant in their expectations of beating other teams.

But those pesky Bolts' players had other ideas.

Teams expect to beat us, to knock us out of the playoffs despite still missing our top two players, having traded our number one goalie, and the fan favorite Boyle...

Teams and their fans expect us to fold.

But this team... they have a dream.

A dream to prove the naysayers wrong.

They are still the Bolts... and I'm lucky enough, for another 5 home games, to be their Thunder.

BTW - Chicago 4, Bolts 5 in overtime!

Dreams don't have to die even when faced with seemingly unsurmountable odds.

I can relate to that feeling.

Monday, March 20, 2017

For Steph

A few years ago, back in Minnesota for a project there was a great dane who slipped out of her collar while being turned over to her new adopters.  The great dane rescue sent out messages asking for help to look for the girl in the suburb where she'd slipped away.

I'd known Steph from group meetings every fall for the annual picnic.  We'd all get together with the rescue Danes or, the not-so-rescued Danes (purchased from show homes).  That's where the last picture of Storm was taken (his story is on the left hand side panel).

Steph and I bonded over looking for the girl.  Hours in mosquito infested streams, back lots of soccer/baseball fields (hey! no snakes!!!), bike trails and back yards of homeowners who'd called to say they'd seen her.

Eventually, the poor old great dane girl was found alive.  Fed, medicated, and loved up she got her forever home.

Time passed, I moved away.  

Two years ago or so, Steph wrote about her car accident on the way to FL.  Great danes in tow, then into the ambulance, then to FL... she got home to a message saying to call her doc to discuss the X-rays from the accident.

This past February, I took Steph to the Wild vs. Bolts game.  It was not a trip I could well afford but in asking her if her husband would want to go if I could not make it up there, her response said everything:

"It was more about spending time with you, than the game."

I went to St. Paul and watched the Bolts lose in overtime to the Wild.  That was okay.

Steph cheered, clapped, and smiled for 3+ hours - mostly for her team, but some of it at me (I'm a little loud when cheering for the Bolts and Boyle - but I won't digress here on that player!)

Wherever the conversation went, I followed.  She led, I responded.  She talked about her treatment plans, and options; she told me her bucket list (one of the things was seeing a Wild game - thankfully, I got seats in lower level behind the Bolts' bench).

She talked about wanting to get to Hawaii, and onto a cruise.  She talked about watching her grandkids then yet to be born grow up and become toddlers.

The only time her voice caught - reality setting in - was when she talked about the 8 months it took for her hair to grow out after chemo and that the idiot who cut it off didn't realize it might never... and then her voice cracked.


Advanced Stage IV ovarian cancer diagnosed two years ago.

The Wild won, she drove me back to the hotel and we talked some more.  Treatment options if the current regiment wasn't working.  Last chemo in Feb, PET scan to follow 3 weeks later.

My heart is heavy.  Tonight, I leave this for Steph.  

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Visual Cues - Helpful Memory Tricks

Was asked how I do posters for my office at home in prep for the MCAT physics, gen chem, orgo and biochem pieces.

Below is what I wrote on the Post-It Note, poster sized sheets in my office.

It's not like "memorizing" as it is seeing it daily just lets it all sink it.

From Amazon, I ordered this:

Here's the link to Amazon (cheaper here and I got 2 packs because ... well, because!)

Side note: if you do not currently support an organization via Amazon, please consider the Ryan Callahan Foundation which directly supports childhood cancer.  He is a Tampa Bay Lightning player, currently on injured reserve, and he donates a lot of, if not all of, his time to fundraising for the kids.

To do this, just click the link when it asks  you for a charity.  It costs you NOTHING! But Amazon donates :)  Win-Win...

Okay, so, you've got the stick-it poster page, and now what?


That's not my complete list but it is part of it.  Any formula that I routinely miss something, or units that I'm unsure of went on these sheets.  It will get better organized in the next month or so and consolidated down to a shorter list.

Also have the same thing for gen chem and orgo.

For biochem, I draw in a sketch book like this:

For biochem, I have all AA's along with the 3 and 1 letter abbreviations and associated charges at physiological pH, all metabolic pathways as listed in the AAMC MCAT guide (the 87 page thing).

Any questions, please drop me a comment.  Here to help!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Retaking + Reapplying = Gut Check

If you've arrived here it's due to meta data tags for retaking MCAT guidance, advice, how-to's or you're reapplying this upcoming cycle is most likely June 6, 2017 though no official date appears on the site or their calendars or their Twitter account.  I base that date on prior years' submission dates.

That said, in early May 2017 the AMCAS application will be OPEN for inputting of your information if you have not already applied in another cycle.  Kudos to the AAMC, they don't make you retype the entire application if you've applied in prior years, you have to update the information if necessary (address, courses taken, etc.).

Here's is a good timeline for the AMCAS application:

1.  NOW! Obtain your transcripts from every school to which you've ever attended.  ALL of them. Even if you attended, dropped out, got several F's, you need to obtain the transcript.  The National Clearing House will be used to validate the transcripts you submit and verify all schools associated with your name on the application are complete and accurate.  So, if you have bad/terrible/horrific grades (like me from decades ago), don't try to skirt the process.

You will be found, and your career in medicine is very likely over before it began if you cheat.

2.  When it opens, create your account and start entering the information from your life and those transcripts you have in your hand or folder or wherever.

If you are reapplying, this information is already in the application (Thank you, AAMC!).

The transcripts you have in hand or not valid for the AMCAS itself.  You have to order those and have submitted to AMCAS.  Once you fill in all the courses from each school, you will be asked if you want to generate a transcript request for the schools you list.

Answer yes to the question of transcript ordering.  Please know - some schools don't require the form but once you click on the link, it sends you to another site where you order the transcripts from there. Easy/peezy.

Get them ordered when the AMCAS application opens.  Don't delay.  Trust me on this!

Why?  Because the AAMC will have your transcripts in hand when June 6, 2017 rolls around and be able to verify and process your application immediately.

There is an individual on a certain premed forum who did this last year. Submitted on day 1, hour 1 and was verified in less than 30 minutes.  30 minutes!

What difference does that make?

Every school to which that individual applied received his primary application the same day.  Think about that for a second.

In the 100s if not 1000s of applications that admissions committees will see, many do not get seen at all.  I was once told that the school that received over 2000 applications simply took every 10th or 15th application and reviewed it. If that occurs, it's a crap shoot whether or not your application even gets seen by the committees or primary reviewers.

BUT if yours is literally first, or first day?

They were alerted someone's application was processed and verified.

1.  That's incredibly organized (+)
2.  The decision to become incredibly organizes is solid (+)

Also, it allowed that individual to get the secondaries and have them submitted before many/most ever got their primary application verified.

Talk about standing head and shoulders above the competition!

Retaking The MCAT

This sucks, doesn't it?  Maybe you got a score you didn't like, maybe you took the test and voided it at the end (like someone else I know).  

If you are retaking after just receiving your score, this section might not really apply to you.  It's more for the rest of us who took some time away to consider, "Do I really want to go to medical school?" and have arrived at a resounding "Yes!"

The question oft asked is where to start because the materials from AAMC are not exactly new though this is true for those of us who only tested on the new test.

Here's my plan and though some AAMC materials might be repeated from prior test prep, it's still going to be useful in honing the strategy.

1.  Buy the AAMC complete bundle pack including the flashcards.  Flashcards from the AAMC might seem like stupidity but I find them to reinforce concepts that I already know by asking the questions in a weird way OR they pinpoint concepts/theories I'm not as familiar with (hello there sociology!).

2.  Buy the EK FLs 3 & 4, skipping 1, 2 and 5.  There is a large spreadsheet "out there" that has the tabulated all prep companies and AAMC tests along with break out scores for the AAMC along with final MCAT score received.  Of course, n - 1 because the spreadsheet only contains data for those who've entered it.  Remember that - many/most do not enter their data, especially those who did poorly (thank you to those that do!).

By and large, EK FL 3 & 4 are giving high ratings by users as most like the real MCAT and most beneficial to understanding how to take the test.

Kaplan, TPR are known to be the worst at full lengths being too detailed, too underscaled and therefore, soul-crushing.  They are, however, good for understanding content knowledge.  Just remember, the MCAT doesn't test content knowledge so much as it tests thinking.

3.  Coursera offers a course called Physiology and it is taught by Duke University professors both of whom teach at the medical school.  This course is FREE unless you want a certificate that says you passed all requirements.  I'm taking it for free.

That said, I'm also doing all the work as if I were in a real classroom; all notes, all PowerPoints are printed out, written on; all questions asked/answered are written down; all exams are printed out and completed before turning it.

I don't expect the course to be equal to the real class onsite at Duke, but am finding the information provided to be significant enough to help with anything systems related.  So far, it's been excellent.

Next up is scheduling.

4.  Every week, take a full length exam on accommodated/untimed mode.  For each question that is wrong, I will be writing my topic down on a sheet of paper to review after the full test is complete, on the next day.  These will be done on the weekends so that during the week when time is more scarce, I can use those days for content review.

5.  Every day, I will do CARS passages from Khan Academy starting with 3 per day and ramping up to 7 per day by early April. I test on April 28.

6.  Every night before I turn out the lights, I will go through the AAMC flashcards and the 100 page psych/soc doc floating out there.  In addition, I have a spreadsheet that I go through that has various theories, hormone types, etc.

My goal score is 516+ because my 30 year old grades are... horrific.  While my current grades are pretty solid, I want/need to make sure that any admission officer that sees the old stuff, sees a great MCAT score.

Will see how it goes!

Last, if you are looking for alternative online videos related to premed/MCAT prep, I 100% endorse this guy and his site.

To me, they are much better than Khan Academy, though I do like KA as well.

Best of luck!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Moments When Google Analytics = Ostrich Chased By Cheetah

Well, hello there, Mayo!

And with that, my heart dropped.

Quickly scanning all my posts while simultaneously remembering, I don't do controversy, and while the blog is very personal, it was started to give other non-trads a place where they could read, pick up some tips/tricks, and see that if the medical school path is for them, nothing is insurmountable.  Not everyone gets onto, or through, this path unscathed and without some deep soul searching.

Still, it was Mayo.  My #1 choice school. Family. Friends. Home.

As a little girl growing up in Rochester (and Duluth), Mayo was my 2nd home.  My great aunt worked there for ... the namesake of the facility.  I still have her leather kit with the name emblazoned on it.  Her name, my family's name, is in the museum.

And there was on the Google Analytics dashboard.

Because of that, it prompted me to remind all other premeds to be very careful with what you write, how you frame things, and where you post.

That fun trip to Cabo with 6 co-eds was a blast but I'm not sure the medical schools need to see you drinking out of a beer bong or playing beer pong.

This past election was full of ways to blow up Twitter, FB, Insta, etc. with your personal views on everything but of that, I'm positive no one needs to see that, or know.

I'm okay with whatever pages Mayo read here.  The stories are real, deeply personal and continue to provide the insight into what drives me on this path at the age of 52.  If that causes a med school to reject me, I'm okay with that.  Another school will accept me (I hope).

However, I'd be lying if I didn't post what went through my head when I saw Mayo:

Monday, February 13, 2017

Mentors, Cheerleaders, And Path Finders

This is it.


I've said that before, I've said that I would, I could, I should.  I tried, and quit. I tried again, and voided.  I tried and ...

On April 28th, I will take the MCAT for real, for good and be done.  Whatever my score is, I will accept.

Going to give it all I have, let the pieces fall where they may.

But I am going to give it all I have.  I tell that to my hockey team all the time.  Just give me 100% and I'll be happy with whatever happens. (It's a professional hockey team that likely cares about my non-trad, premed life or the stupid signs I hold at games - but I still tell them in tweets and posts, give me your best!)

Funny how saying that feels when hoisted upon my shoulders, in my life, with MY career at stake.

June 6, AMCAS opens for applications.  This year, I will have my score.  This year only LORs will be required.  This year, it will be fire and forget.  This year, I will complete an entire cycle and if rejected by every school, will accept the outcome.

Mentors guide a premed on the do's/don'ts and OMG - PLEASE delete that :) (Hi Itsa!)

Cheerleaders help you remember to smile and have fun, relax and that you can do this! (Hi Cousin! Hi Steph!)

Path Finders - these are the folks who blazed the trail before me.  The 57 year old PGY-3, the 56 year old MS-2, the 53 year old MS-1... my path finders, my trail blazers; the women I aspire to be like.

But until 4/28, (love Heath Ledger!)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

You Know

Who I am.

Night after night, I stand at the ice, holding some sign.  Some funny, some just simply state:

"I Believe" ...

I do. Really, I do, guys.

Almost 30 years ago - yes some of you weren't born yet - 30 years ago, I buried my first son.  He was 6 months old, a SIDS baby... I buried him with a University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs hockey stick signed by Hully, Watson, Kurvers, Sprenger, Mason x 2, and a few others.  My son was the son of the 'Dogs... my roommates married those guys (or some of them) and helped me get the stick signed. I've always been a "hockey mom" :)

Ya'll are like sons to me though we may never meet in person.  I feel like the Bolts Mom, cheering you on as if... he'd lived.

So, I continue to believe in you.  I continue to stand in the stands and cheer, and wave my thunder clapper, and hold dumb signs.

I continue to believe in you because...

1. you're really, really good men ON the ice and more so, OFF the ice... you're men I'd believe were good people no matter what; you're men who, I'd have hoped my son would be like had he lived... strong, fierce, honest

2.  you're really beaten up; no one in their right mind thinks it is okay to come back from adversity time after time after time after time at the highest levels of a very competitive sport with refs (let's face it, O'Hell should be fired and fined)... but you guys do.  It's one thing to come back once or even twice.  But 3x or 4x or 5x?  My blog is filled with the adversity I've struggled with to become a doc, in the hidden alcoves of my home. Can't imagine having to do so in the press and the (bandwagon) fan pages of Tampa.

3.  you're really great fathers, husbands, boyfriends, teammates, and friends - no doubt those who really know you see that as well.  I do.. from the 5th row in 117, each and every home game.

And hopefully, on Feb 10th, I'll see you in MY hometown, St. Paul to cheer the guys I believe in, at my home arena, in front of my friends who own the team, in my white / blue Bolt emboldened jersey (with Boyle on the back of course) sitting behind MY Bolt's bench...

Because I really do believe in you guys.  And as a mom, I'm so stinking proud of you for enduring this horrific, injury laden season.

You go be the Bolts, I'll hopefully get to be your Thunder in Minnesota...

I'll drive 1600 miles cuz

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Martin St. Louis - Retired Jersey Night

On a non-trad premed site, makes you wonder how the heck that's even relevant.  Right?

The organization retired MSL's jersey number on Friday night in a ceremony full of gloried videos showing the Lightning winning the coveted Stanley Cup in 2004, MSL hitting the backside of the net in double overtime against Calgary in Game 6 (in Calgary) to force a Game 7 back at home in Tampa.

When Tampa won the Cup, I was living in Minnesota, with an "individual" that's devoid of the term human.  He was from Calgary and in that vein, he was particularly angry with me when I cheered for the Bolts (always been a fan of underdogs - aren't we all?) and was forced to cheer for Calgary lest I feel his wrath.  Literally.

Fast forward 12 years, now a full season ticket holder for that club that beat the Flames, sitting close the ice, the memories for the fans were displayed.

The honors and accolades for this Martin St. Louis (Mar-Tawn Saint Louie) flooded everywhere.

People spoke, some joked, Stammer got a standing ovation (he's on long term injured reserve due to a torn meniscus and dear God of all things, please get him ready on time!).

Marty took the podium.  Chants from the rafters came loud, proud, and consistently:



He thanked the crowd and then thanked a plethora of individuals who'd impacted his career.

Then he got into his life.

How he made it to the NHL.  How he THRIVED and greatly succeeded in a league where smallish men are the water boys, not the Captains.

In talking about his late mother, this grown man openly wept.  19,092 people wept with him.  The raw emotion of what his mother meant to him not lost on anyone in the arena.

He laughed a little more, told a funny story and somewhat ended with this:

If you have a dream, don't let anyone tell you, you can't.  Because I'm telling you, you can with hard work, perseverance, determination and heart.

My eyes watered up again and my son put his arm around me, whispered, "See?  Even the great ones tell you the same thing. Don't stop, Mom, just don't stop."

At a hockey game, in my new home town, retiring the jersey number for a man whom I really never saw play, the message was clear.

Do. Not. Give. Up.

Thank you, Marty.

Not for the cup but for the wisdom, for your life's story about ignoring the haters and naysayers and showing them.

You showed them, Marty, you showed them!

To MY Bolts:

I have no idea what it's like to play in front of 19,000 people with the expectation that that silver trophy will come back to Tampa.

I have no idea what it's like to have people rant about you, your teammates, your coach online in forums, tweets, and newspaper pages. I do know they are wrong about all of that.

I have no idea what it's like to not know who will be playing next to you in the next game, or next shift and clearly, no idea how that lack of consistent chemistry relays into the game.

What I do know is this:

Life will ALWAYS give you a poopy hand at some point.  You guys have been decimated by injuries, penalties (deserved or often not).

Life will ALWAYS make you question yourselves and your path.

Marty didn't give up on his 2004 team, don't give up on yourselves.

WE, YOUR THUNDER, we believe. We believe even when things are shaky, uncertain, inconsistent.

Just like I believe in my path and my future, I believe in you.

Go out there and start the path to bringing that silver cup back into Amalie.

It looked pretty amazing on that platform, didn't it?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Those Professors of Mine

I'm blessed.  2016 is in the rear view mirror and like some bridges that need to be torched, 2016 as the 2nd worst year of my life, is in ashes.

Starting the new year off appropriately, I logged onto my local university's email system to find lots of spam from the bookstore AND...

an email from one of my professors.  Dr. E.

For those wandering and pondering the course through premed as a non-trad, I can only say, let the little things keep you afloat, the little emails that let you know people who've taught you, and walked with you, believe in you.  It's never the big things in life, it's always the little things.

Like an email.  :)

2017 is going to be great!