Hello. Decided to start a diary. I figure now is a better time than later because Im on Christmas break. Forgive me in advance if I cannot put entries in as much during regular school session.
My name is Dana and I started my premed studies in the summer of 2002 at the age of 27. I guess I should start out by giving you a little background and how I ended up where I am now.
My mom got married at 19, had me at 21 and divorced my dad at age 2. I have 2 sisters, and older and a younger. My dad was an abusive alcoholic, drug-addict, burglarized homes, banks etc--this lead to the dissolution of their marriage. My mom came from a very religious family stricken with poverty. I only really know my maternal family. My grandpa worked in cotton fields since the age of 7, so he had little schooling and is illiterate, my grandma was at foster home to foster home for reasons I will not go into because I would just confuse you. She ended up only competing the 8th grade so she could raise her younger brother. Well, you know what they say poverty begots poverty, and so it did.
Although I grew up in poverty in a single-mom home, overall, I was happy. I learned to work hard, and get my ownself out of mishaps--how to survive. We never owned a car, a phone, a microwave, a vacuum until my teenaged years when my mom could afford to work and with the help of a 5 yr boyfriend. I had/have a great mom she has shown me how to be strong and courageous.
No one really gave me any high expectations because from where I am from, nobody really knows or understands the education process. I would be considered the shiniest penny having only completed high school. My own expectations were higher than that, I dont know where it came from that is just the way it was. Success to my family was making it week to week and I suppose if that is a person's goal because one doesnt know of any other,that is okay until and if that person learns of another alternative.
My grandma worked as a nursing assisant when I was growing up, and at that time, you didnt need a HS education. I remember hearing her talk about things like "a cough, and the heart going bad" and I was always sooo very interested. I always liked helping her with ailing family members but most of all, I liked making them feel better. I thought at an early age I wanted to be a doctor, but that was almost unheard of in what was my world, so it was not even considered.
Like so many others in my family, I too, became a teen-aged mother in my senior year of high school. I took the SATs, graduated and went on to college with nursing in my mind. I had no car, no computer, no descent clothes, was a good new young mom, and didnt know how to succeed at fullfilling every role at such a young age and at the same time be successful in my educational goals. Of course, part of it was immaturity. I did overcome these obstacles and learned from my mistakes. Too bad my transcripts of that first year in college cannot be erased. Ugggh. My GPA may have been a 1 point something. I completed some prereqs and got accepted into the nursing program. I excelled and boosted my GPA up to a 3.3 when I graduated my associate's program. Before graduating, I remember going to see a premed advisor, telling me what classes I would need to take to get into med school. I still at that time had no confidence in myself, and thought I was no genius and could not even attempt clases like organic chemistry. People like me just didnt make doctors.
I will end this long blog here and continue next time.
During my time undergrad in nursing I was mostly a single mom. What I mean by mostly is because my dtr's dad and I were having issues but we reconciled our differences and married right before I graduated from the nursing program at the end of 1998. I was 23 years old. He had already had 3 kids before we had any kids, he had been a single father working his butt of for low pay because he had lost his previous job. He decided to go to trade school and after roughing it out he is a journeyman ironworker making a decent pay. Anyway, I took my boards that March of '98, had our 2cnd born in May, went to work that June as a RN...then had another baby in August 2000 making our total number of kids a half-dozen, yes, you read that right. There are 6! We have 5 boys and one girl. Let me tell ya, there is never a dull moment around here (and never a quiet one at that!).
As I started working as a RN in the hospital, I loved my people job. I loved catching something serious about to go wrong when my knowlege base let me. That was the problem, I yearned for more knowlege to understand what was going on with my patients as far as more symptomology, labs, why things were happening, and what to do to fix it/them. Something beyond the scope of my education. I remeber talking to one of the nurses from ICU who was pulled to come work on our cardiac/step-down unit one night. Her name is/was Julie. We had a serious talk about what our true goals were, it seemed like a real heart to heart. I told her that I always had wanted to become a doctor and that someday I would have enough courage to go back and give it a try. Her goal was loose a lot of weight, she had been depressed over her weight and talked about wanting to do something about it. It is funny that we had only seen each other in passing, or on the occassion I would get pulled into ICU and we had this heart-pouring talk. Years had passed since I saw her again. She transferred to ER.
When my youngest was 11 mos. old, he suddenly became very ill, pale, had fast respirations, became lethargic and would not stop throwing up. He had eaten well and had a BM earlier in the day, then bam he is sick. I normally will wait to see what happens over a 24h period but a feeling came over me of doom, so I took my son to the ER. Julie was working in ER, I pleaded with them all (including the doc) that something was terribly wrong, I was going to be sent home when my son had a large stool in his diaper full of blood. It ends up he had an intususcepted bowel and it had been collapsing for at least a week because of how much of his bowel was telescoped inside itself. He had no previous symptoms that were noticeable. The doc told me that blood in the stool is a late sign. I rememebr Julie introducing me to the doctor coming on and saying, "Dana arent you in med school by now?" I shook my head "NO". I think it was then when I felt like all this time I was letting myself down, not even giving myself a chance. Anyway, my son was transferred to a specialty hospital, he had surgery, and thank GOD none of bowels had necrosed. He did well.
After I got my son better I kept pondering over me going back to school. I talked with my husband who was supportive. I enrolled in school in the summer of 2002. I was so nervous about it all. A nurse had flat out told me at work when she overheard me talking to a friend of mine from across the station that there was no way I could do well with all those kids and that basically I was something to laugh at for just even considering it. I was so embarrassed and could not believe her audacity. But I realized the type of person she was and tried looking over it. I suppose it would seem more undoable to a person who never had it hard. She had lead a priveleged life. She doesnt know what Im capable of, nor has lead the life I have had, I am used to working harder to acheive the same things that many people take for granted and that even some are given.
Before I start again I would like to clear something up so that Im not misenterpreted. I am not hostile toward those born "better off" than I was. To some degree everyone has to work hard to reach their goals. Anyone who has the motivation and ultimately reaches his or her goal has my respect no matter what that goal was big or small. Having said that, I will continue where I last left off:
I guess I cant really blame anyone for not believing that I could reach such a goal with this many kids. Let's face it we have lots of kids. When I reach medical school however, they will be about 18, 17.5, 14, 13, 7, and 6. To me that is not as bad as it seems. To me, the hardest part of having to juggle this all was starting premed when my youngest were 1 and a 1/2 and the other just having turned 3. I still work part-time, sometimes, very part-time.
The thing that bothered me a lot is going from such very little undergrad debt and making great money to returning to school, being broke, and in the end of undergraduate alone multiplying my debt probably times 4. And still not being guaranteed I will be accepted into med school. Guess you have to take risks. Boy am I risky. (Im a saggitarius).
So anyway, like I said, I started summer session 2002 and took political science and communications. I got A's. That still wasnt a comfort, it didnt guarantee how I would do well in the upcoming semester--full-time with all the kids, work, etc. That first fall semester I earned all A's. I then enrolled for Winter session 14 credits. I was feeling brave. Well, school was going to start Monday and on the Sunday night before my daughter suddenly has severe abdominal pain that I knew from my own experience as a nurse was something more than gastritis. I took her to the ER, she presented as an appendicitis case. Her CT showed an unusual finding that didnt seem to fit appendicitis. She was admitted and the next day has an pelvic ultrasound they found a large mass about the size of a large orange on her right side where normally a girl's ovary would be. The surgeon prior to this finding said he doubted it could be torsion of the ovary because she was not in constant pain. She was sent to the same specialty hospital as my son and went immediately to surgery. She in fact did have torsion, was beiginning to get peritonitis from her fallopian tube being twisted and having resulted in necrosis. She lost her right ovary and tube at age 9. Pathology results were benign, although they could never tell us what exactly this growth was that originated on her ovary. We knew it wasnt cancer, however.
So I missed school, and coincidentally my mom just so happened to have gotten laid off for 2 weeks, practically as soon as we returned home from the hospital. This allowed me to attend school, and have my dtr taken care of by her most favorite person in the world (besides me, of course!) See, God works in mysterious ways.
I ended up recooperating, didnt drop any classes, and again, received straight A's.
That summer was then uneventful until July when my second to the youngest developed escruciating abdominal pain. Two-weeks prior he had a GI virus. He was admitted with what they thought was an ileus, then thought it was intermittent intususception, we were sent to that specialty hospital 150 miles away that my other kids had been treated at. It resulted in a 3 week stay running test after test. To make a long story short he had mesenteric adenopathy from that virus he had contracted. He was in and out of the hospital from that point on for hydration. He had these spells of abdominal pain, became very thin because he was afraid to eat because he would hurt. So I missed school on and off for a couple days here and there to be with my son when he was admitted. Everything finally did subside this past March, and he has gained 10 pounds. I love seeing him scarf down food. The best moment in my life though was seeing him eat a McDonald's cheeseburger at Riley's Hospital for Children when he was finally allowed to eat after about 10 days of being NPO. I still remember it vividly. I had put him in one of those red hospital wagons with the IV poles and we went straight to Mconalds that was inside the hospital. After getting him that burger we went out front so he could satisfy his hunger while breathing in that warm, summer, fresh air. It was a magnificant sight. Who would of thought such a thing would be considered so spectacular and pleasing?
Somehow, I managed to maintain a 4.0 both semester of that year. One thing I am compelled to believe is that Im not alone in this endeavor. I obviously have a higher power looking out for me.
So anyway, so far I have continued to make A 4.0 every semester. As it stands right now, for my prereqs, I only have Ochem II and Physics II left to take. I will finish my degree next year. I will have a bachelors in liberal studies with my areas of concentration in biological science and because I have an associates degree in nursing, some of those credits will transfer over to this degree making it, by technicality, an area of concentration. I think I will be graduating with around 160ish credit hours, maybe more. It is a good thing though because I need them to pull up my overall GPA for my horrible 1st year. Now my overall is 3.75ish (waiting on my report card to see). The moral of this story so far is not to try and brag about my accomplishments but maybe to serve as an inspiration to someone reading this--to give them hope and let them know even when things seem impossible, if you set your mind to it and believe you can accomplish many things. You really can. Im no genius, no superwoman, just a person trying to accomplish something I was never considered or expected to do.
To put things in perspective, I will take the MCAT in April, hopefully my scores will be good enough. I will graduate in May 2006 and should matriculate into medical school in the Fall of 2006. Many people ask me who are unfamiliar to this process where I will be attending for medical school. I just simply say, "Whoever will take me." I know that is not the kind of attitude to have but at the same time Im not going to pretend I one of the most competitive applicants. I will have no research and my extracuriculars are limited because of my family. One thing that is in my favor, even before I went back to school to try and become a doctor, I had been a volunteer english-spanish translator for 3 or 4 years at the hospital I work at. I love doing this. It works out well with my busy schedule and often times I dont have to leave my home and do it over the phone. I can and have recieved phone calls through the night and wee hours in the morning. I wont complain. I love knowing Im helping someone and besides, it feels good to be the one giving instead of receiving for a change!
Just in case you all are wondering, Julie, the nurse I mentioned did lose all the weight she wanted to lose. She looks and feels fantastic, you can see it in here eyes and her smile. My kids are doing great too. No major illnesses or any surgeries. I am thankful for that. Pathdr (mommd member) has said in the past that some of the things I have gone through is "character-building" and if she is correct, I should be a person with great, strong character by now!
On a more recent note, my husband just met his biological mother on the 19th, they hadnt seen each other in 35 years. We then met his biological half-brothers on the 23rd over Christmas dinner. To our suprise and theirs, we live in the same city. It was exciting. I was able to put a face to part of our chidrens genetics. It was/is a great thing for everyone.
I can tell through my husband's actions, a void had been filled. It is great to know too, that I could be part of making someone's Christmas the best they have ever had--hubby's biological mother.
One last thing, dont mind my spelling or grammatical errors, I never use spell check in posts and most the time Im being interrupted while typing. I think it has been legible though!
I feel like I have so much time on my hands being on break and all. My husband was laughing at me the other day. I walking around the house looking as if I am "lost" according to him.
Im supposed to get my hair professional colored today with a trim. It is a Christmas present from my husband. I havent cut or trimmed my hair or anything in 6 years. It has gotten pretty long. Ive never been high maintenance. To tell you the truth, I feel bad about making the appointment and spending over 50 dollars on something so silly. I could use the money elsewhere for more important things. Im tempted to cancel, really tempted. My husband wants me to do this. Im not afraid of change or anything. I just dont like the whole spending that much money on something that really doesnt matter. Christmas present or not. I would like to do this but I feel guilty.
It is up in the air on whether or not I will be taking a prep course for the MCAT. If Im going to make a way to pay for the class, Id better decide quick if, Im in fact, going to take the course. Class starts the 30th of January. It is a lot of money too, but Id feel less guilty about spending on money as important as that.
Well, I did go through with it. I made it to my appointment at the hair stylist. It took like 4.5 hours. My goodness. I still feel like that money could have went somewhere else. Oh well, you only live once right?
I had lunch with a friend yesterday. She's a 1st year med student at my home school. She actually gave me all her princeton review stuff from the course she took in 2003 plus more study materials (she went to the same undergrad university that I am). How nice, that saved me a lot of money. The only condition she gave me upon giving me the stuff was that I had to beat her score. I dunno, I will try my best anyway!
I also got my passport-type picture taken for the MCAT yesterday...let's just say the timing was right. She also told me that she could get me an application for prosecting the cadevers for a couple days at the medical school this summer. I think this would add a positive to my application. I have taken gross human anatomy already, so Ive already worked with cadavers and know how to remove, shall I say, the dermal layers--to be more tasteful in my writing. I also maybe able to attend one of her classes PBL sessions. Wow. Anyway, a BIG THANKS out to this friend, she has helped me in so many ways and has given me a lot of insight and opportunities (even ones she never had as an undergrad). She is such an unselfish person.
I also have decided that I will not be taking a prep course. It is really a lot of money that I really dont have. Through advice of people, (some through mommd) since I do have a lot of materials, I think Im motivated enough, I will be studying on my own. Ive been studying a lot since break. I do wonder, however, how things are going to pan out when classes begin. I am dropping lighter, but Im taking ochem 2 lecture and physics with the lab. The way my ochem professor is, and with the difficulty level of those courses, my plate is going to be overflowing. I just gotta keep my head up and keep fighting and stay on schedule. If I dont do well the 1st time around on the MCAT (which I will do whatever I can not to have to retest), I then may really consider taking a prep course over the summer. We will see what happens.
Ive never had any pets, well, especially not a dog. One of my friend's dog had puppies the 1st week in November and I decided to get the kids one of the puppies. They are mixed with collie,husky, and lab. This paritcular pup I picked out is the runt. On Christmas, I put the pup in a wicker basket with a knitted blanket. I tied this large red velvet bow with gold lining around the pup's neck and slid the basket under the tree. I woke the kids up and lead them to the tree. My were they delighted!! I could only keep her a few hours because my friend didnt think she was ready to go just yet being the runt and all. She is ready today and soon Im picking her up. She is a beautiful dog, she is chocolate brown and has blue eyes. We have named her Talullah (pronounced tah-lou-la). Isnt that a cool name? I know I will regret this once I start seeing poop and pee around the house or if/when she chews up my couch or my favorite pair of shoes! What have I gotten myself into?
Overall, the kids are going to be happy that they finally have a pet.