Today I fly out to D.C. to interview for the second time at a civilian family medicine residency program. It has been such a horribly long time since writing – I am utterly ashamed! However, I will attempt to fill you in…
So Andy, my darling, lovely son is now almost 1-year-old. He has grown and grown each day, despite my best efforts to freeze his cuteness in time. I keep telling him each day, “this quite possibly is your cutest day ever, it’s all down-hill from here!” but he just laughs and with a smirk turns back to his block-banging, kitchen-drawer-picking, glad-ware-tossing, outlet-searching activity.
The boy is now a clapping, blabbering, crawling-almost-walking 11-month and one week old, he’s been missing his Daddy now for about 3.5 months, as he was deployed to Qatar, a land so seemingly far away that I almost feel as though he’s in a different universe all together. He is to return in about 3 months from now, and I cannot wait for that moment! I just wish I could have a date so I could book a flight to meet him when he gets back to this continent!
The talk of the day is the new president, but I of course wish to avoid all discussions on the matter as I am, like so many, utterly dismayed at the bloodbath that we have witnessed thus far on the subject or anything related. I did vote, via absentee ballot, which I do prefer, as I can avoid the lines and inconveniences of voting in person. I supposed I would like to say that we were little activists this year, about a month ago when my dad asked that my mom and myself support the Miami Valley Women’s Center in some pro-life work: we held up some signs and stood in silence and prayerfulness along County Line Road on a Sunday afternoon – it happened to be gorgeous outside, so that was a pleasant surprise-blessing; in addition, I bumped into a high school acquaintance while participating – the perks of being back in my hometown!
My talk of the day is Family Medicine Residency application! I can’t get over the intricacies of the process! It brings me flash-backs of my medical school application days – different, however, in that I feel (somewhat) more assured in this process. I feel slightly more confident than I felt when in the medical school application days, as I have the military match options open to me in addition to the civilian options, and my board scores are slightly above average. All of this helps, however, I, of course, have found reason to fret despite this. Though it should be enough to get into any residency program, the fact is, that I very much hope I get my top choice, because it would be the best option for our family situation. Everyone in my family and friends circle have been every bit as supportive as a fourth-year medical student and new-mom could ever ask. I can’t give thanks enough! But anyone who wishes to cast a prayer towards the heavens on my behalf is more than welcome 😉
Applying to a military residency is a special beast one has to take on. The good news (for anyone hoping to do so) is that if you schedule your auditions. manage to get to them, and finally manage to do relatively well at them, you’ve already won half the battle! This is because the residency military programs all talk to each other, and your good efforts in one group of people will be talked over to the others. Next, if your application is somewhat competitive (board scores, medical school performance) you’ve won another third of the battle… However, the major downside, the is the mysterious other part of the battle, which you can’t possibly participate in because it’s out of your hands. In the military match, we are told there is a “points” system through which you are ranked and to which your preferences are assigned accordingly, and which is variable from year to year. It is said to take into account your school performance (Dean’s letter, Med School Transcripts, Letters of Recommendation, volunteer hours/leadership roles and other such activities completed during medical school), board scores, interview performance evaluations, any research work, and finally, your prior military service. But there may be other variables and unknown weight is assigned to each item. For most HPSP’ers (medical school scholars, or Health Professional Scholarship Program’ers), you will get no points in that last category, whereas other, more experienced military residency applicants may get a significant number of points, putting them miles ahead of you, meaning if that type of applicant wishes to have the same thing you want, you will not get it, unless of course there are enough spots for both of you to get it. Does that make sense?
Anyway, that’s the military match beast, to which I have applied months ago, and in regards to which I have done just about everything in my power to do. I now await the fruits of these efforts to come to fruition on December 7, a significant day indeed. This is the military match day, and on this day I will know if I have gotten my first choice military location or my second choice, which is the broad category of the civilian residency. I wait on baited breath, though I am attempting to take deep breaths. Pearl Harbor day. This is also the day after Andy’s 1st birthday. This is also a Wednesday…which is a less important fact to note. December 7th. Ugh.
In the mean time I am momm’ing, applying and interviewing for civilian residencies, and yes I’m still doing “school” – which currently involves doing my clerkships at various clinics and hospitals within the Dayton area. My most recent mom-event was yesterday, while taking Andy to daycare (which I usually don’t do, because my parents have so graciously taken that responsibility from me), I was loading him up into the car, had him clicked in, was just about to lock him up and proceed with entering the car myself, when I glanced at his cute little face and noticed the rather ominous symmetrical red rash encircling his mouth. It looked to be certainly allergenic – “oh my goodness,” I panicked, “what if he’s going into anaphylactic shock?” But here he was smiling up and down and giving me this look like “whyyyyyyy are you looking at me like that?” In my head I’m like… It’s nothing… it’s SOMETHING!… it’s nothing … IT’S SOMETHING! … I quickly consulted my mom who was also mid-her morning departure to work… and the panic escalated. After the two of us inspected him for a minute or two, the rash not changing and Andy’s bewilderment at our close study of his face increasing, we decided it was most likely going to be ok, and took him to daycare, explaining to his providers that I wanted to know right away if his condition worsened in the slightest, which it didn’t.
But oh that did give me a fright for a moment there. I did some show-and-tell with some people at the Dermatology clinic at which I was rotating when I arrived that morning; I waved around the photo and explained that the rash cropped up immediately after feeding him oats, with a little bit of pear sauce and a douse of cinnamon. That was when one of the medical assistants chimed in, “oh my daughter used to do the same thing whenever I gave her cinnamon.” Maybe it was that… I did accidentally pour more into his oats than I had intended and hadn’t mixed it in very well and it sat on his skin (as his food often does) during most of his breakfast time (about ten minutes I would guess). The dermatologist took a glance, “you can put a little hydrocortisone cream on that.” What I love about working in medicine!
The rash was completely gone when I went to pick him up.
I am currently working on weaning Andy – it has had its ups and downs so far, he still nurses at night and in the morning, occasionally if he wakes in the middle of the night he nurses for c a minute as well. And I’ve managed to go from pumping twice a day, about 4-6 ounces each time to once per day, about 3-4 ounces. So my body has done a good job adjusting. Now I have to adjust my appetite and self-control with foods! I am currently riding 1st class, thanks to my sweet generous hubby who so sneakily purchased these high-end seats for me when I requested him to reserve my flight for me! As such, the stewardess has just offered me a basket of sweets and of course I grabbed the first chocolate thing I saw – a cookie with chocolate and caramel layers inside – nom nom nom! … MUST RESIST EATING THE SECOND HALF!!!!!
Another change my post-partum physiology has brought about, oh so unfortunately, is migraine reinstatement. I was down to 1-2 mild migraines per month while I was pregnant and even for a few months after Andy was born. But in the last 4 months, my migraines have regained their previous status-quo and I am back up to 4-6 per month, with 1-2 of them being quite debilitating. With the weaning of Andy, I may start to consider prophylactic medications for these horrid things… I just hate the idea of being on a medication every day… and the side effects to most of the choices (tricyclic antidepressants, anti-seizure meds, Beta blockers, muscle relaxants) are not so great (constipation, fatigue, concentration issues… yeah not cool). Oh boy. Guess I just need to get pregnant again haha… ha ha… ha.
Not to lament excessively about life and it’s recent downs, I do know that I have lots to be thankful for and I consider my life and its activities of late to have been pretty adventurous and exciting! But let me describe to you both the good and the ugly. June and July were an incredibly stressful couple of months, whereupon I finished 3rd year clerkships going out with a bang on ObGyn, during which time, James left me as he “PCS’d” (changed work locations in the Air Force) to the D.C. area; in addition to the emotional toll of moving out of our quaint little home apartment and away from my hubby, during this ObGyn rotation, I had to work very long hours and felt extremely misplaced and uncomfortable for much of the time. Next, I joined my hubby in the DC area, to study for and complete my board examinations. After this, I elected to do an “AI” or “Acting Intern” rotation at Georgetown University/Providence Hospital, which was almost totally draining after various respiratory, stomach, and breast infections, long hours, and a crazy long daily commute in and out of D.C. traffic. To top it off, James was deployed to the lands far away during the second to last week of this already stressful rotation, having received a very last-minute notification. This caused not only emotional anxiety of his sudden departure, but also induced some crazy scrambling of phone calls and meetings to arrange rather desperately to revamp the child-care and travel plans for the ensuing months.
I recall the palpitations as I packed up my bags as I wrapped up this rotation, fretting there was something I’d forget. I was preparing for the next step in Andy and my journey: an audition rotation at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
To the beautiful beaches of Florida! Getting there was fretful. I had a small break-down when I got to check-in and was told that I would have to check my stroller because it was 1.5 lb over the weight limit for carry-on, thus I would have to cart my 23lb baby throughout the airport, into and out of bathrooms, while also juggling my already bursting-full and heavy backpack and duffle bag. The world seemed so cruel at that moment! Things cleared up though, and setting him precariously down on the family-size bathroom floor (though he didn’t like it one bit) and hoisting him through the Starbucks line wasn’t so bad after all (I know, first world problems, right?). Also, my mom so astutely reminded me that I have access to the all wonderful USO, and I took advantage of this during my layover! A young girl in the marines sat with me there and told me about how she ended up with appendicitis during training and was out of commission for quite some time due to the complications following…crazy! Andy just concerned himself with the abundant toys during this time, and before we knew it, it was time to board our flight to Fort Walton Beach, FL!
When we finally arrived, several more things when wrong before the end of the day; I about lost it when I was pulled over for going 15 over on the base, but then I was so very graciously forgiven, maybe it was because I eeked out that I was brand new to the base, but probably more likely it was because of the fact that I had a baby screaming bloody murder in the back. And again, I thought I was at the end of my rope when I got to my hotel at 8pm Florida-time/9pm Andy-time and there was no crib and no one to deliver one to the hotel from the office (a ten minute drive away). So then, I summoned help from a friend from Ohio University, who was also on the base since she too was doing an audition rotation, to ask her to pick up a crib from the office for me. She so kindly did so, only to find the crib was broken. So that night Andy slept on the floor and woke up over and over, once, only to be found screaming after having rolled himself under one of the living room chairs. Poor little guy.
However, the next day, after dropping him off with this amazingly nice provider, who also happened to be a wife of one of the Family Medicine Residents, I was greeted by these warm, friendly people; and within a day, I got an offer from one of the residents to come stay with them instead of at the hotel. I couldn’t believe my good fortune! So for the rest of my stay I was at this completely awesome apartment, with a breath-taking view of the gorgeous Choctawhatchee Bay,
hosted by two of the third-year family medicine residents (married, and apparently 17 or so weeks pregnant at the time!) who happened to love to cook (yay!) and also happened to have two rooms complete with diaper genie (a disposal apparatus, if you haven’t heard of this, it will change your mommy life…) and a crib to spare; they also had an adorable son Wesley who was not yet 2 years old. Andy and myself (and my parents, while they came in town to help me watch Andy during the week in which I had to work on the in-patient service) were well cared for by these people, and had such great company!
Family came to visit… and also help with baby-care!
And I got to stay the night with my best friend Sarah – twice! As she lives just over 2 hours away from the base!
The residents and faculty were so extremely kind and friendly, they functioned so well together, and they held beach volleyball gatherings and went to trivia weekly…it was a dream place to work, I wanted so badly to rank Eglin Air Force Base as my # 1 preferred program, but alas in the end, I concluded after much deliberation that the location was a poor family-life choice; it is not worth the risk of James being stuck in the DC area with Andy and me worlds away for a second year in a row. Oy the despair! But it was glorious while it lasted!
Next, we had some more plane-hopping to do… to get to my audition at Fort Belvoir, which is in the Alexandria/D.C. area. Beautiful campus. On this rotation, I found the residents to also be very warm and friendly. It is a tri-service (meaning navy-army-air force) residency, so it opened my eyes to some differences and interesting things about the other branches. I received many visitors while staying here as well, with many retreats back to the Maryland bungalow (James’ now vacant apartment, as he has left for deployment) on the weekends! It was nice to have the visitors once again, and felt warmly welcomed at this base as well, however, there was also an underlying note of extra stress, as I had to simultaneously attempt to work on my civilian residency application/personal statement/letters of recommendation.
For these reasons, I was exceedingly pleased to head home to Dayton at the end of this rotation, thus marking the end of audition-traveling as a single mom. So much can be said for those who manage to care for their children without the help of a spouse or other family. I don’t know if I couldn’t have retained my sanity without the help that I did get on the weekends and during my in-patent weeks during auditions. (THANKS MOM & DAD!!!)
I am also so very thankful to be done with boards, this too was a very stressful event, and I am so glad to have gotten through it. It is amazing how I always look ahead at these events and trials through a very skeptical lens, and yet, somehow, with so much help and support of course, I still manage to get through it all. As I remind myself so often – I know that I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. I just need to be reminded of this over and over.
And with that I will close this insanely long post even though I feel as though I have so much more to share! Best wishes to everyone in the coming Thanksgiving Holiday, my prayers are with you all!