Monday, April 16, 2018

Half way?!

In my last post,
Jason was four weeks from taking Step 1.
It was a long road to that exam,
but we survived and Jason did great!!
The anxiety leading up to the exam,
and then to finding out his score was intense!
After his exam,
he had to wait 3 weeks to get his score back.
We knew the email would come at 8 a.m.,
and I knew I wanted to be with him when he checked his score,
or at least be able to see his face via Face Time.
But on the day that his score was supposed to come in,
he had to be in a simulation class at 8 a.m.
They are in small groups,
practicing procedures on the simulation dummies,
and it would have been noticeable if he was either late,
or video chatting.
He had a half day that day,
and selflessly said he would wait until he got home to look at his score with me.
-1 p.m. it is!

But...
I couldn't wait.
At 7:59 I logged into his portal and looked at his score.
And then I cried.
I was so relieved, happy, excited, grateful, humble.
I knew I wanted to surprise him in some way,
so I bought some balloons,
butcher paper,
and some paint,
and me and the girls made him a giant banner with his score on it.
I recorded his reaction.
It was pretty great.
I felt a little bad for asking him to wait to look at his score,
and then I felt a little bad that I looked without him,
but it was totally worth it.
And he even said,
it was way better than finding out at school via his phone.
Wouldn't you agree?

 

Now that it's over {finally!},
and he's also done with his last block of his 2nd year,
(which was a dream by the way-
there were no tests during this block,
which meant no studying,
which meant lots of family time,
which meant happy mom),
we are officially half way done!!

Today is his first day of third year.
Third year marks the start of clinical rotations.
He will do 6 'core' rotations this year,
the same 6 that every other third year medical student in the country will also do.

Internal Medicine (12 weeks)
Pediatrics (6 weeks)
Family Medicine (6 weeks)
Surgery (12 weeks)
OB/GYN (6 weeks)
Psychiatric (6 weeks)

He will be at different hospitals and locations for each rotation,
and even multiple ones during the longer ones.
For internal medicine for example,
he starts at Maricopa Medical Center in inpatient,
then he will be in Show Low for a month,
and then finishes at St. Joes in outpatient.

For his surgery clerkship, 
he was able to choose some electives,
to gain some exposure to other fields of surgery,
and to break up the long rotation. 
He will be doing urology, plastic surgery, and trauma,
in addition to the required general surgery.
The electives are 2-4 weeks long each.

Rotations are a way for students to get an introduction into different areas of medicine,
so that by 4th year, they can hopefully narrow down what kind of doctor they want to be.
In 4th year, 
he will have to do an emergency medicine and neurology rotation,
but then the rest of his time will be spent taking elective rotations,
and apply and interviewing for residencies.

I have heard mixed things about MS3.
Some say it was the hardest year,
some say it wasn't so bad.
This is where the hours get long,
and the students are exhausted.
But this is also where they are putting to practice everything they've learned 
the last two years.
The patients are real,
they have actual problems,
and they will play a role in their care-
which is completely more fulfilling than cramming knowledge into their brains at 12 a.m.
Some 'real world' application to all those long nights of studying.


He will be gone for 4 weeks while he's in Show Low.
Which will be during summer.
Which will be when my kids are out of school.
Which means...
SOS.

But we will survive.
I remember his long weeks on call with DeWitt Equipment-
especially during the summer.
And it was all okay.
It was always okay.
And if one rotation feels hard and long,
the next one usually isn't as intense-
so hopefully,
with some luck,
I'll make it through summer with some dignity,
and maybe even a few shreds of sanity remaining.






Friday, February 9, 2018

In case you want to know...

Jason is taking a big test in one month.
Scratch that.
A huge test.
The USMLE Step 1.
Or just Step 1.
Or just Step.
{It's also called boards}

It's been on his mind since he started school basically,
and studying for it began at the beginning of second year.

USMLE stands for United States Medical Licensing Exam.
It's a three step exam for medical licensure in the U.S.
Step 1 is taken between second and third year of medical school.

It's a one day, 8 hour test.
Seven 60-minute blocks.

And the score determines a lot.
Like, a whole lot.
In fourth year,
Jason will start applying for residency programs,
and it is known that the score is what the residency program directors say is their most important criterion in selecting graduating medical students for their program.
(Because it is the only standardized measure of all applicants)

And sure,
there are other factors that hold weight on the application.
Letters of recommendation.
Grades on rotations. 
Research.
But for the most part,
there is an "average" step 1 score for most specialties,
and if you score below that average,
you may have to do some other things to beef up your application.
If you're TOO far below the average for that specific specialty,
well... you're sorta out of luck.
It's time to find interest in another field of medicine.

Several months ago,
we hosted an internal medicine resident
interviewing in Arizona for gastroenterology fellowships.
He said he went into medical school KNOWING he wanted to pursue orthopedic surgery.
But because he didn't score high enough on Step 1,
he had to choose something else.
It took him a long time to come to terms with giving up his dream of orthopedics,
and of being a surgeon in general. 
And that he still has moments where he wishes he could spend his days in the O.R.

It's kind of crappy that so much weight is put on this ONE test,
especially if you're initially drawn to a specialty that tends to be more competitive.

However,
the good thing about taking the test now,
is that Jason will know his score before he starts rotations.
If there are specialties that would maybe be a stretch to match into,
he will know that beforehand,
and be able to keep his mind open when being exposed to other fields of medicine. 

Okay, back to Step.
The more competitive the specialty, the higher the averages:
Orthopedic surgery (245)
Urology (243)
Plastic surgery (245)
Dermatology (247) 
Neurosurgery (244)
And I'm sure there are others I am missing.
{A passing score for Step 1 is a 194 by the way,
and the national average is 228.}

Most of the competitive fields are surgical.
Most, but not all.
(i.e. dermatology)
And Jason,
like the gunner he is,
wants to pursue surgery.
And at the moment,
 is semi-considering urology.

He is open to other surgical fields,
and even non-surgical fields if he finds what he loves outside of the O.R.,
but he says he is making urology his goal because it is competitive,
and he would need a stellar step score.
So he's setting the bar high for himself.


Jason takes Step 1 on March 6th.
A little less than 4 weeks from now.
He studies 9-10 hours a day away from home,
comes homes and spends a little time with the family,
and once the kids are in bed,
it's more flashcards and videos and review.
We are in full study mode over here.
A even I'm starting to feel the stress of it all.
It's very hard to be in a place of no control.

I honestly would be okay with whatever field of medicine he chooses,
surgery included,
if that's what made him really happy.
My hope is that his score will give him the ability
to choose what he loves- no matter how competitive.

25 days and counting!

(a normal sight around here)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

2nd year down

Woah.
2nd year is over.
That is nuts.
And while it seems like he started medical school FOREVER ago,
I also feel like we got here so incredibly fast.

Second year has been exponentially better than first.
And I am grateful for that.
I thought I went into medical school with very low expectations,
but for second year,
I lowered them all the way down.
And then got rid of them all together.
They didn't serve me last year.

After coming out the other side that was first year,
I realized that I had been suffering from postpartum depression.
-No wonder I felt like hell-
Noticing that the changes within me were not JUST because my husband had started 
a demanding career path,
was like a light switched on.
It all made sense.
The thoughts and emotions I had been having made sense.
I could finally put a word to what I was experiencing.
And I found peace in that.

As time trudged on,
those thoughts and emotions became less severe and less frequent.
And I felt more like me.
Little by little,
normalcy came back.
Happiness came back.
Energy came back.

And now that second year is over,
and I reflect on the last 7 months,
I know there is still so much growing to do.
And lucky for me,
the road we are traveling will provide many opportunities to do so.
I also know that I have been blessed.
So many tender mercies from my Heavenly Father,
that keep me moving forward in faith.

Last week,
Jason and I went to the temple planning to do a regular session.
But when we checked in,
a small sign on the counter read,
"Temple patrons needed for sealings."
I pointed to the sign and asked Jason if he'd like to do that instead.
After thinking about it for a surprisingly long time,
he said "Sure let's do sealings."

And during that hour,
in that small sealing room on the third floor of the temple,
sitting next to Jason,
I had a profound spiritual moment.

There have only been a few times in my adult life,
where the Spirit is so strong,
that my entire physical body feels heavy.
Like I am completely grounded into the floor.
It starts at the top of my head and travels to my feet,
and then for a few moments,
I feel unmovable.
It is far different from other times that I feel the presence of the Holy Ghost.
It is hard to explain,
but those moments are unique and special,
and I feel so incredibly close to my Father in Heaven.
I am completely certain that He is aware of me in right then.
And in that moment,
in that small sealing room on the third floor of the temple,
sitting next to Jason,
the Spirit spoke something so very special to my heart.
And I was so very happy.
And so very thankful that Heavenly Father knows me so well,
and clear by the impressions I felt that night,
has a complete and beautiful plan for me.

The adventures are just beginning.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Bench

Something kind of awesome happened to me Friday night. 
And since I use this blog as a journal of sorts, 
I wanted to put it here.
For safe keeping.
And maybe so I can look back on it one day,
when skies are stormy,
and clouds are gray,
and life is hard and heavy.

Friday evening, I dropped Camden off at football practice,
dropped off the girls to my mother in law,
and headed to the Mesa temple.
A temple I have not been to in 5 years.
For a brief moment,
I considered going to the Gilbert temple,
but I was in a hurry.
And it was farther.

I pulled into the parking lot at 4:16.
If I hurried, I could still make the 4:30 session.
Practically running, I bolted through the front doors and handed the temple worker my recommend.
As soon as I rounded the corner into the lobby,
images flooded my memory.
And my gait slowed.
Almost 10 years ago, 
I was here.
In this exact foyer.
Walking with my mom,
anticipating tonight's endowments,
and tomorrow's wedding. 
I brushed the lingering thoughts away.
 I still needed to hurry.

I walked to the dressing room and quickly changed my clothes,
it was 4:23.
I was going to make it.

When I finally sat down in the chapel,
it was just me and my thoughts.
The memories flooded my mind once again.
It all started here.
Right here in this temple.
Starting on the path that would lead to the lowest of lows,
crushing heartbreak,
sleepless nights,
and an uncountable number of tears.

As we left the chapel,
and headed for the stairs,
a bench caught my eye.
I knew that bench.
It was the same bench I sat on almost ten years ago.
A twenty year old, 
hand in hand with a man who was about to become her husband.
The memory so vivid,
it was as if the decade of time passed had not faded it at all.
I smiled to myself.
So young.
So eager.
And so in love.

I finished the session,
walked through the celestial room almost without stopping,
and made my way down the staircase.
I headed down the ramp back to the women's dressing room,
the same ramp,
the sealer asked the new Mr. and Mrs. Patterson to walk down together.
At the end of the hallway,
I saw myself in the giant mirror.
The same mirror,
the sealer asked us to stop in front of and see the eternal family we had just created.

This time though, 
I walked down that ramp alone.
And about halfway down,
looking at myself in the mirror,
an intensely overwhelming love filled my entire soul.
My Heavenly Father's love.
He was proud of me.
The girl I was as a new bride that day,
was not the same girl I was looking at Friday night.
The words, 
as clear as if someone had spoken it,
filled my ears,
"Look how far you've come."

So maybe the marriage that started here ended.
And maybe I didn't have the life I imagined having as I sat on that bench as a young bride.
And maybe those years spent in the trenches were the darkest times of my life.
Maybe so.
But here I am now,
faithfully putting one foot in front of the other,
doing my best to deserve the life I've been given,
and feeling so much gratitude for the path I have taken.

I would not be me,
without that dream-filled bride,
 sitting on a bench.



Friday, May 19, 2017

One year down

Can you believe it?
We made it.
Halle-freakin-lujah.
Is my hair grayer?
Check.
Is my face wrinklier?
Check.
Am I sassier?
Check.
Did I learn a heck of a lot about myself?
Double check.
Am I glad it's over?
Triple check.

I've heard the first year is the hardest.
I'm hoping that's true.
I was talking to a fellow med school wife and celebrating our accomplishment of making it through.
I tried to tell her WHY it was so hard.
And I honestly could not even narrow it down into actual emotions or words.
Failed expectations maybe?
I'm not sure.
Missing our old life?
Probably.
Seeing changes in Jason that I wasn't ready for?
I think so.
But it's over,
and I'm done trying to figure out why I'm so relieved about that.
I'm closing the book on it.
And moving on.
And letting it go.

This year wasn't hard as a mom.
Or a friend.
Or a daughter.
It was hard as a wife.

My misery,
I am certain,
was of my own making.

I laid in bed the other night,
reflecting on the last 11 months,
and the the thought came to me:
"I wouldn't want to be married to me."
Maybe before school,
but definitely not now.
I was embarrassed at the wife I had been to my husband. 
In looking forward to year two starting in just 6 weeks,
I'm focusing my attention on making it better.
How can I be a better wife?
How can I be more supportive?
How can I make myself happier and meet my own needs better?

Here are the goals I have set for myself,
to hopefully answer those questions. 

1. Drop all expectations except he be there for me to love.
What causes my happiness,
is not about him.
It's about me.
My feelings,
My thoughts.
It's the only thing that could make me feel happy.
Wanted.
Loved.
All of it.
It's an inside job.
The only thing I expect of him is that he let me love him,
and he doesn't even have to do that.
There's no letting.
I'm just going to.
No matter what.
His only job is just to be there for me to love him.
And he doesn't even have to be here,
in my physical presence.
He just has to be.
I'm going to love him.

2. Brainstorm love everyday.
How can I love him?
What do I love about him?
Look for something to love,
then increase my love about it.
Start at the top of his head,
and look for everything I love.
Brainstorm love about his physical appearance.
About the little things he does.
About the funny things he does.
The story you tell,
the thought you think about that thing,
will determine how you feel about that thing.
That thing,
for year 2,
 is Jason.
So I'm going to tell myself a good story,
and then make it even better.

3. Be the wife I want to be.
I want to do so many more things than I'm doing.
I want to say so many more things than I'm saying.
Be kinder.
More loving.
More giving.
More forgiving.
Who do I want to be as a wife?
Decide.
Then be it.

4. Let it go.
Pick no battles.
You know the saying,
"Pick your battles"?
What if I picked no battles?
What if I just let it go?
I mean,
who really cares about that thing?
Does it really matter in the big picture the stupid things I get angry about?
The things I miss an opportunity to love about?

5. Make my own happiness and meet my own needs.
Hello, adulthood.
My happiness is my responsibility.
You know the mentality that you're supposed to tell your spouse what your needs are,
then expect them to meet those needs?
Yeah, that's not really fair is it?
To us, 
or to them.
The expectation that we put on our spouses is ridiculous.
"Hi,
do you want to get married and take responsibility for every feeling I have,
for the rest of my life?
That would be great."
And then we're having a hard time we tell them,
"I'm having a hard time being happy myself.
It would be great if you would just make me happy.
I can't do it.
But if you could just do it,
 that would be great.
I'll stop being mad at you as soon as you make me happy."
And all of the sudden,
if I have to meet my own needs,
I notice I have a lot less of them.

6. Stop complaining.
Whenever I say this,
I hear my Dad's voice.
Complaining gets nothing done.
It doesn't serve me.
Or my relationships.

7. Remember he could die today.
Morbid, 
I know.
But I do think about this a lot actually.
Because really,
if he did die today,
would any of this matter?
What would go unsaid?
Did I give him a hug and kiss goodbye as he walked out the door?
What would I miss?
All the little things,
that make up the big thing.
Celebrate his greatness.
Celebrate his greatness 
for him,
and with him.


I have so much growing to do.
And maybe that's why I am set on this challenge of med-school wife.
It's not for the faint of heart.
It has stretched me.
And tried me.
And pulled me in so many different emotional directions that are hard to describe.
I am still learning.
But aren't we all?
We are given a challenge,
and the hope is,
in spite of it all,
we rise.

Year two will be better. 
Not because our circumstances will change,
because well,
they won't.
But because I will make it better.
Me.

Hello, adulthood.




Monday, February 13, 2017

Showing up to the curriculum

6 months.
It's been 6 months since I last posted.
If I keep this up, I only need to post 7 more times before Jason's done with medical school!
Life has been, well,
busy.
Too busy for a while.
But now, after family picture season has ended and the holidays are over,
it's back to a manageable busy.
Every week I think,
okay NEXT week will be relaxing,
NEXT week I'll get to the things I've been putting off,
NEXT week I'll go get that gym membership I've wanted since October.
Next week.

But next week comes and things get scheduled,
and it's ever as busy as the week before.
But with 3 kids,
a husband in medical school,
two part times jobs,
a church calling,
and a house to keep up with,
I don't think my hoped for "NEXT week"
will ever come.
And that's okay.

The ebbs and flows of this medical school journey have been...
surprising?
Maybe that's not the right word.
Maybe... Unexpected?
I wrote before how I was struggling to find my new normal in our new life.
I thought, 
once I can get myself to an emotional space where I've accepted this life,
and even find happiness in it,
then I'll be okay and we can all move forward together.
And for a while,
I thought I was there.
Things were better.
I was happier.
...Normalcy...

But then a hard week of school would come,
or expectations wouldn't be met,
or schedules would change last minute and leave me scrambling.
And I'd have to re-adjust.
Then re-adjust again.

And so it goes.
Some weeks are great,
some weeks are hard.
The hard weeks are where self-pity starts to creep in.
And most of the time, I don't notice it lingering in my thoughts.
But it's there.
Festering and growing.
Usually, until things look up and life feels more positive. 
And it quiets down for a time. 

Recently, I started listening to podcasts.
And have found a few that I really like and listen to weekly.
There's one that's been especially helpful to me. 
The host is Brooke Castillo.
She's relatable and honest. 
Last week, her podcast was titled "Self-Pity"
Perfect.
Just what I needed.



The definition of self-pity is excessive self absorbed unhappiness over one’s own troubles.
Self-pity is one of those emotions that is not useful to spend any time feeling. 
It robs me of my accomplishment of taking action. 
It thrives on claimed helplessness.  
It whines and complains. 

Sometimes I hear myself whining (mostly in my head) and I feel sorry myself, 
thinking I’m entitled to more, 
yet I don’t want to take the action to get more. 
But I can’t feel sorry for myself and indulge in self pity 
and also take effective action at the same time. 
I’m either doing one or the other.    

Brooke Castillo said, “Instead of thinking that someone or something should give you more, you have to start owning that everything you have is your own creation. No matter what happens in the world, it’s supposed to be happening. When I tell myself, ‘These things shouldn’t be happening in the world, or these things shouldn’t be happening in my life, or these things shouldn’t be happening in my business’, then I all of the sudden feel powerless and feel sorry for myself. But when I understand ‘No, it’s all happening for me, this is part of the deal. This is all part of our curriculum in the world’, then I show up in a very different way.”

If I signed up for a class at Yale or Harvard University, she says,
I probably wouldn’t expect that class to be a breeze. 
Probably not an “Easy A”. 
I’d probably plan on going to work. 
Showing up, 
paying attention, 
using my own mind, 
being creative, 
applying it. 
I’d plan on it being challenging. 
And then when it was, I could think, 
Bring it
I want to earn my degree. 
I want earn my A in this class. 
The harder it is, the harder I’m going to work. 

OR… 
I could choose to indulge in the opposite side of this scenario. 
The harder it is, the more I want to quit, 
the more I want to go to a different school, 
the more I want to stop going to school all together. 
So, am I believing that I’ve signed up for this medical life and that the harder it is, 
the more I can grow, 
the stronger I can become, 
the more I can evolve? 
The harder this journey is, the more I’m going to learn and apply myself?  

And sometimes I think, 
"Well can’t I just have an easy life?” 
And that would be great, except I don’t think our lives should be easy-
 I don’t think that’s the point. 
So, I can either feel sorry for myself that my class at Yale is so difficult, 
or I could think, 
Of course my class at Yale is difficult! 
That’s what I signed up for. 
I’m ready! 
I’m capable of this.
 I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t capable of it.

Instead of thinking of all the things I don’t have, 
or things that should be different, 
or thinking I’m the victim in it all, 
I can think 
“No, no- this is exactly what I should have, 
based on who I am 
and how I’m showing up in the world.” 
And then I feel more complete which in turns helps me create more abundance. 
I can love owning what I’ve created for myself. 
And that includes all of the abundance that I’ve created for myself, 
and all the things that aren’t as good as I want them to be. 
But if I’ve created them, I can create more. 
There’s nothing to feel sorry about. 
What’s meant to happen, does. 
So instead of thinking, 
“This shouldn’t be happening!” 
I think, “Of course this is happening. 
This is my assignment today. 
This is what my ‘professor’ of my life has assigned.
 I’m in. 
Let’s do this. 
Look at what a good student I am. 
Look at what I’ll create. 
Look at how much I will learn. 

While taking my class at Yale, 
I could sit and complain about how hard it is, 
“There’s SO much work, it’s SO ridiculous, what we’re expected to do is unreasonable!”

Or I could say 
Bring. It. On.
Things are supposed to be hard and challenging. 
There’s supposed to be discord. 
That’s what the world is about. 
That’s why we come here. 
There’s supposed to be contrast. 
There’s supposed to be conflict. 
There’s supposed to be suffering in the world. 
How do I know there’s supposed to be suffering in the world? 
Because there IS suffering in the world. 
I can either suffer about the suffering, 
or I can focus my energy on creating more contrast to the suffering. 
When I feel sorry for myself, 
when I victimize myself in my own mind, 
I contribute to the suffering instead of the opposite.

There's no use for self-pity. 
There’s no reason for me to feel sorry for myself. 
I don’t need to compare, 
I don’t need to exaggerate, 
or create drama, 
I don’t need to think I’m less than. 
Instead, what I need to do is go and get mine. 
Prove it to myself. 
Show up to the curriculum that is my life today and even if it’s hard, get it. 
At the end of this journey,
 this 10 year journey if he decides he wants to become a surgeon, 
if people say, 
“Whoa that must’ve been hard” 
I can say, “Uh, yeah it was hard! Heck yeah it was hard!” 
Because it was supposed to be hard.
Because I was supposed to learn grit.
And how to get through the hard stuff.
And how to handle a challenge. 
And to feel accomplished at the end of it. 

And in the future if something unexpected comes, 
I won’t freak out because my life’s been easy my whole life, 
I’ll be able to say, 
“This is a crazy thing that’s happening, 
but I can handle it. 
Because I’ve practiced handling hard things”

We are only eight months in to this crazy long road.
We just barely started up the mountain.
Harder times are inevitably around the corner.
But as I self reflect,
and self correct,
and stay in tune with my Heavenly Father,
I am becoming more of who I want to be.
One very very small step at a time.