Monday, July 11, 2011

Statistically Speaking

I reclaimed my life a few weeks ago. After three months in academic quarantine, I finally took my medical board exam. The boards are a Faustian rite of passage crafted by some black angel of medicine—an 8-hour standardized test designed to crush your soul in preparation for clinical rotations. Or in the words of the masseuse I visited afterwards, “Holy cow. Why do they do that to you guys?” But I forded the river, kept my oxen alive, and lived to see Oregon without too many of my kids dying from dysentery (see below). So for this, I am grateful.
To be sure, there are plenty of things I’d rather do than reminisce about 3 months in preparation for multiple-choice hell. But in the same way a masseuse might untwist the knots you’ve accumulated in your back, I thought reflecting on some of the highlights and lowlights (they are the same thing) of studying could purge myself of some pent-up demons. So I present to you my stats:
Money spent on coffee in 3 months: $95.58
Plants that died because I forgot to water them: 2 small plants, 1 tree
Plants I am going to buy in the near future: 0 (lesson learned)
Hours spent listening to Jay Z’s “Dream” on repeat: 18.65
Practice questions/cases seen: 4073
Practice patients that I killed: 861 (disproportionate numbers died from misdiagnosed infections or drug-related mismanagement. It was devastating losing the little ones.)
Most consecutive hours spent in the library: 16 (This was an accident. And a tragedy. Tiffany dropped me off on this fateful morning, got held up late at work, and as a result, I was stranded without a ride home. A resident who was studying for Step 3 shared a desk with me for 12 of those hours. As he left he wished me luck, eyes glowing with pity.)
Books I read outside of board-review texts: 0
Time it took me to finish my first book after taking the boards: 2 days
The feeling of picking up that first book in 3 months without having a highlighter in the other hand: priceless
Highlighters that gave all their juice to my cause: 4
My favorite color highlighter: trusty neon yellow (this guy is a warrior)
My favorite pen: blue ballpoint at first, red later on (the color of rage)
Recently, I’ve been fighting to reclaim those parts of my life that I’ve forfeited for many months. Because by mid-June before my test, I had gracefully spiraled into a deep, dark place where the light of perspective no longer shined. I found this the best place to study. At one point, I even confided jokingly to a friend that I would sacrifice my firstborn for a respectable 3-digit score. We laughed even though we both knew I was mental. I’m trying not to be mental. I tried frantically after my test to pack in enough time in the sun, the waves, and the company of friends and family before the start of my third year. Naturally, third year started without regard to time spent doing happy things. So for now, it’s back to the coffee, the highlighters, and yes, the library. Back to chasing heftier stats and higher scores. It seems like all I can do is clutch whatever brief moments of sanity I am afforded and grasp on tight to perspective even as I slip from one relapse to another. I guess I'm okay with that. In fact, I'm grateful for it. Maybe I'm mental.


  1. JAY OMG. You made it to Oregon (for a short and glorious period). I am so jealous. I am currently making my trek. I lost (and I just counted to make sure) 2 pens, 9 highlighters, and 1 white out to dysentery and exhaustion. I can't wait until the end of this month. I hope my pens, highlighters, and white outs didn't die in vain.

    Life would be fantastic if we could've studied together!! Why??? Because yellow highlighters and red pens are the WORST and you would've had the opportunity to inherit my supply. I force myself to use them, because they come in the set and I shouldn't be wasteful, so I would've much preferred to give them to you. Also, I have a car to bring you home after hour 10 (let's face it, I'm going to start crying anytime after that). And I've been watering my sister's plants while she's out of town so maybe Plant #2 would've been able to survive a little bit longer. But it's kinda good we didn't study together bc I remember quite clearly you sucking me into facebook games and me not being able to withstand your power-steamrolling-studying-techniques.

  2. Haha. Good post. You were made for this, man. What a dominator. May the dead practice patients and highlighters yield many fruitful results in the future!

  3. I giggled and laughed. Thanks Jay for knowing how to write that nightmare off into a compressible and funny post.


The content of this site is owned and copyrighted by its author Jay Zhu, including all comments & messages ©2012