Thanksgiving

Finally, after the blur that was HB2, were we able to take a break from the seemingly relentless routine of class / anatomy / studying to celebrate Thanksgiving.  I split out of CT and drove home to Jersey Tuesday night after a face-stuffing meal at the potluck at RB’s house.  It was good to be home, and it was good to sleep.  I always like Thanksgiving because it’s an intimate dinner with my brother, mom, and dad.  It’s simple and relaxing, which is just what I needed.  And of course mom cooked up a delicious meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, rolls, spoon bread, “pink stuff” (still not sure what exactly it is but it’s delicious), cranberry sauce, and of course pumpkin pie.  Amazing.

Plus in honor of tradition we went Christmas tree hunting the Friday after Thanksgiving up at the tree farm just past Skylands Park.  Normally we have no trouble cutting down the tree, but this year was different.  I have no idea what it was, but it took forever to get that thing down.

But now I’m back in CT for school, and we only have three weeks of class before winter break.  But my weekends will be busy, as my friend RM will be out this way this weekend, and the weekend after that is the Santa Speedo Run.  I’m still waiting to get my speedo in the mail.  I’m a little nervous as to how much of my whiter-than-white skin will be showing, but it’s all for a good cause.

Sigh… just two weeks to get into speedo-wearing shape.

Catch-up

Holy crap I haven’t posted to my blog in a while.  I should probably catch you all up.  Let’s see, since we started HB2 in school I had a couple of weekends free to travel up to Boston.  One weekend I went up just for fun, and the following weekend I went up for Head of the Charles (HOCR).  I got to see my buddy CH, and honestly after spending so much time indoors studying for the HB1 exam it was nice to just be in Boston and walk around outside.  I met up with my old roommate ER for a drink (turned into pitcher after pitcher) and then grabbed some much-needed delicious brunch the following day at Grafton Street with SR.  So good.  Then during HOCR weekend I got to see my old crew buddies and watch on as some of them raced in the Alumni 8+ event in the HOCR before watching some more races and hitting up Border Cafe with the Westwood crew.  Plus I got to catch up with ER again and see JJ and ML.  All in all, it was good to see everyone.  And it was great to get out of Farmington for a couple of weekends.

And can we talk about this October snow storm?  What the hell?  Even after strategically parking my car for the night of the storm I still woke up the following morning to find a branch resting on it (but thankfully no damage).  But falling asleep that night was eerie because you could hear distant (and nearby) branches snapping off trees and crashing below.  Branches and trees are down all over the place, and the whole northeast half of Connecticut is pretty much entirely without power and heat.  There are only a handful of people in my class that have power.  Let me be the first to tell you that it’s pretty chilly sleeping at night.  Last night I had to dawn sweats, a hat, and socks to stay warm underneath my blanket and comforter.  But it wasn’t too, too bad.  I mean, we’ll survive.  Right now for electricity and internet (and heat) we all hang out at the health center (not like that’s anything new).  But hey, it’s the whole half of the state, so we’ll just have to be patient and wait for the CL&P crew to get us all back up and running.

And to think we probably got the worst storm of the season in October.

Boston

Boston.  My city.  I miss it.  I’ve been getting insanely homesick and want to get back, visit my friends, and go out and have a good time.  Let’s just say life here in Farmington is, well, different and it’s definitely taking me some time to adjust.  I mean, I love my classmates, but still some of my best friends are back in Boston and I miss them.  And I miss the nights where CH and I would “have a drink on the Esplanade” and then wind up at Eastern Standard at 2:00am on a Monday (or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday) night for $3 shift beers and some late night treats.  Hell, I miss just wasting away an entire Saturday bumming around downtown with CH.  I miss relaxing with the old roomies out on the porch as the sky turned that purple-orange-pink of a summer sunset.  I miss raging to the 80s cover band Fast Times with all my BC friends down by the Garden as the memories of the night began to blur together.  And I miss the city.  Sure, there are the “fun” parts like the T shutting down early, crazy Red Sox traffic, and stupid, cracked-out BU hipsters, but all in all I love Boston.  Over the six years that I spent there during school years, the summers in between, and my couple of years of employment after graduation, the city became my home.

I first left my hometown of Byram, NJ to go to college at BC.  I remember visiting the campus for the first time after I was accepted and I was instantly obsessed.  Coming from a small high school I hit a point where I wanted to (and needed to) reinvent myself, which is why I moved out of the state and wanted to go to a school where I didn’t know anybody.  I wanted a fresh start.  I literally wanted to leave everything (but not everyone) behind.  In fact, the song “Boston” by Augustana was like my personal anthem, particularly with lyrics like, “I think I’ll go to Boston / I think I’ll start a new life / I think I’ll start it over, where no one knows my name.”  I just needed to get out, I needed to challenge myself, and I needed room to grow and to figure out who I was (as cheesy as that sounds).  And together BC and Boston allowed me the freedom to become the person I am today.

I remember the moment when I fell head over heels in love with Boston.  It was sometime when I was at crew practice and I was out for some reason, so I was put in charge of filming the rest of the guys to check out their rowing technique.  But it was early, probably sometime around 6:00am when we reached the basin of the Charles River.  The sun was rising above the Prudential and Hancock buildings, and it was absolutely gorgeous.  The sun was so bright it was blinding through my sunglasses, and the shimmering yellow-gold-white reflection off the water was breathtaking.  Absolutely breathtaking.  At that moment I was in love.  The Boston skyline was so beautiful right at that moment, how could anyone not love it?

I already have plans to make it back for the weekend of the Head of the Charles to reunite with my old crew buddies and enjoy a weekend of freedom after my first exam.  And honestly I can’t wait.  It’s the light at the end of my seemingly long-ass tunnel.  I’m almost even contemplating going back the weekend before HOCR just to do everything non-crew related and actually be able to go out and visit everyone that I can.  But that’s still up in the air, because who knows what sort of celebratory festivities may be occurring that weekend after our first exam down here in CT.  But regardless, I’ll be back soon enough.

Oh Boston, how I miss you.

(And Flickr’s being stupid, so here’s the full-size picture of the sunrise I was talking about.)

Injections

Well, you have to learn at some point I guess, right?  I mean, giving injections and shots is kind of like Being a Doctor 101.  So of course we get to practice giving injections to our very first patients: our fellow classmates.

Part of the curriculum here is to take PCM (Principles of Clinical Medicine) which corresponds with SCP (Student Continuity Practice).  Basically we learn about all kinds of stuff in PCM in the classroom such as interviewing skills, ethics, and all that kind of stuff.  But then in SCP we actually get to go off-site and practice our skills on real patients (with guidance from an actual physician, of course).  So far we’ve only been learning the basics in PCM, and I’ll be finding out my SCP placement sometime early next week.

So anyway, this past Thursday my PCM group got to learn some of the basics like checking vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate).  But then we got to the fun part: injections.  We started by practicing intermuscular injections (you know, those fun shots that go straight into your arm) on pieces of chicken.  That was all well and good, but then came the fun part.  Intradermal injections on each other.  Yup, time to not suck and stab my classmate / “patient” multiple times.  Using some simple saline we all injected each other without too much harm and only a little bit of blood here and there.  I’ve injected mice before in lab experiments, but injecting a human being was kind of weird.  Plus it was my classmate, so yeah, weird.  But still fun to actually be learning real doctor stuff for sure, and apparently us eager and naive first-years get recruited to administer flu shots (or so I’ve heard).

Get ready to get shot up, world.

Reality

So today at work my phone buzzed violently, and when I checked I didn’t recognize the number so I sent the call straight to voice mail.  It was like an automatic reaction.  I hate answering calls from random people and then getting annoyed with having to deal with something at their convenience, not mine.  I’d rather call back on my own time and when I want to take their call.  Plus half the time it’s someone calling from this program set up by my health insurance for people with chronic illnesses, and honestly they only tell me information I already know.  (Yes, I know to take my medication.  Yes, I know to get a flu shot.  Yes, I know to see my doctor on a regular basis.)  So today when I didn’t recognize the number, I didn’t think anything of it.  So I swiped up on the screed to decline the call.

But then at lunch I figured I’d check to see who it was, mostly because there’s this little icon on my phone screen that doesn’t go away until you actually listen to the message.  That little icon really annoys me when it’s there.  Well, it turns out that the message was from a nice woman at UConn calling to ask for (get this) my sizing for my white coat.  Yeah, my white coat.  Because I’m going to med school.  It was a holy-crap-this-is-really-happening moment.  I was stunned.  I mean, I knew it was going to happen, but now that things are really moving forward and things are being finalized, going to med school is becoming more and more a reality.

Now I just need to find an apartment.

Launch

Alright I gotta be real for a second.  I’ve got a lot of friends who have blogs, and to be honest some of them are pretty dang good and I enjoy reading them on a regular basis.  So I’ve decided to join the masses and start my own.  I’m not going to have a theme because I feel like it’s too restrictive, and there’s more interesting stuff to life than focusing purely on one particular topic.  I want be able to write about things that I find interesting to write about.  Seems pretty blatantly obvious, but that’s exactly why I want to have an open, honest blog.

So basically here’s the deal.  I’m a 24-year-old living and working in Boston for one last final summer before heading off to pursue my dream of getting my MD/PhD at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine (that’s what’s up).  As a graduate from Boston College in 2009, I’ve sort of fallen in love with everything about Boston, from the crazy drivers who essentially ignore all traffic laws, the reliability of the Green Line (yes that’s a joke, you can laugh), the way the Citgo sign lights up Kenmore at night, eating canolis from Mike’s Pastry down by the waterfront, to just chilling out on the Esplanade along the Charles River.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate and cherish my roots of growing up in good ol’ Byram (NOT Sparta), New Jersey, where no, there aren’t sewage plants and run-down industrial buildings next door.  Rather, home for me is on a beautiful small lake where the waves of passing boats lap in rhythm against the dock and bulkhead, where the swans and ducks bob for food with their butts in the air, an occasional fish breaks the surface to snag a dragonfly, and where Mom still greets me with something freshly baked right out of the oven.  It’s a rough life, I know.

But I don’t really like to let anything define me.  There’s not one part about me that’s “who I am,” so to speak.  There’s more to me than just science nerd, marathon runner, BC alum, Crohn’s patient, hockey fanatic, or professional badass (just kidding on that last one).  Sure, they contribute to my life, but picking out a single one of them doesn’t really define who I am.  That’s why this blog is going to be whatever I want to write about at any given time, of course with contributions from some of the bigger things going on in my life.  Just as my life changed when I moved to Boston to go to BC for undergrad and I knew absolutely no one up here, I’m doing the same thing again in a few months when I move to Connecticut (for the next seven to eight years of my life OMG).  I’m 24.  I’m young(ish).  I’m fortunate to have some fun experiences with friends while still pursuing my professional dreams.  So it’ll be fun to share stories and experiences from my life on things that I find interesting to write about.  Enjoy.