Monthly Archives: November 2012

Endings and Beginnings

We survived. We all survived the end of I&I and are ready to push onto something other than bacteria and viruses and fungi for a while. We’ve moved onto the cardiovascular unit. And I think the heart is incredible, so I’m excited. Which also means we’re back to having class…from 8-3. Which is a change I could have done without, but oh well. I’m so excited to have successfully finished what a lot of people consider the “hardest” block in med school that nothing can bring me down!

In all this new found free time, I’ve also picked back up BJJ. The day after I&I ended there was a tournament up in MI that I went to and supported my team, and they did awesome. It gave me that push to want to train harder and smarter and become better every single day in BJJ. So that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m training harder – I make myself roll at least 4 matches in a row without a break to get myself back into shape (which I am definitely not in considering I ate nothing but junk food and sat in a library for the past month…). And you know what? It is slowly but surely paying off. No, I’m no where close to being good. But day by day I’m less and less bad.

Today was open mat, and I happened to be the only white belt among really great world class blue and brown belts. And you know what? I can hold my own. Was I forced to tap out? Absolutely. But I also was able to advance positions a few times (or at the very least, escape out of some really bad positions). And there is no greater feeling than a higher belt telling you that you did an awesome job. 

So needless to say, my life feels like it’s back on track. I’m happy, healthy, and so grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. I’m thrilled to be pushing forward in med school, knowing that in 7 months I’ll finally be learning from real patients in a hospital setting, and I’m pushing forward in BJJ. This year I hope to compete in several tournaments and slowly work my way toward being a champion. The other day someone asked me when I would give BJJ up – if it would be before I took the boards, during my clerkships, or when I was done with med school. I looked at them and told them I would quit when I could no longer physically or mentally train. I don’t ever plan on quitting. I can picture myself one day getting that black belt tied around my waist, and I will work for it every day until that day comes. It will be a long, hard journey. But I figure, I’ve got the attitude of a warrior. Every student in my medical school does.

To happiness, medicine, and BJJ. For endings and new beginnings. And to all other warriors out there in medicine and BJJ, keep on fighting.


Perseverance & OSS

Well we are currently in the midst of some of the toughest weeks I think I’ve ever had to face (these don’t even come close to “finals” weeks in college). A grueling 12-15 hours of studying for almost 2.5 weeks culminating in 60% of our grade for I&I. Why is it necessary to study 12 hours a day, you ask? Because the exam covers well over 1500 pages of notes, plus two full books on disease case studies. I’m not even sure if 12 hour days are enough to get through it all. But in the end, I know that my classmates and myself will prevail!So in the midst of all of this, I thought it was incredibly applicable to title this post perseverance. Because this has been a marathon, not a sprint, and we still have 5 days to go.

Side note… if you think you have any kind of bacteria/virus/parasite/fungus/immunological disorder, come find an M2. We’ll be happy to diagnose you.

I’m not sure there are people in the world who truly understand the amount of dedication and perseverance it takes to make it through medical school, unless you’ve been through it yourself. Picture yourself sitting down at a table (or cubicle) in the library at 8am and only leaving your seat for bathroom breaks. You packed your lunch and dinner (and made sure it was food that didn’t crunch when you ate it) and plan on sitting at your desk until 10pm. Without talking to another person and without looking at your phone. I’m not sure the majority of the world could do that… and for extended periods of time too. I’m not saying that no one else could, I just recently have been impressed with the amount of dedication and perseverance shown by my classmates doing this exact thing. 

In BJJ, there is this saying “OSS” that floats around everywhere. And I’ll admit – I had no idea what anyone was talking about for quite a while. Until one day, while reading a BJJ blog, I had discovered its meaning. OSS or “ossu” means Oshi Shinobu – which translates into “persevere under pressure”. It’s all about never giving up, and having the determination and motivation to withstand whatever is thrown at you. It’s all about the idea of inner strength. 

How appropriate! I feel as if I should write OSS all over every page of my notes to remind myself that even the hardest and most trying times eventually end, as long as you have the strength to endure it. 

Unfortunately, these 12 hour study days haven’t been extremely conducive to training recently. Though I did get to go Friday night after our exam, to work off some stress. There is a physician at my gym – very close to getting his black belt – that actually attended the same medical school I’m currently at. And guess what?! He not only survived med school – he worked his way toward the incredibly prestigious BJJ black belt. Now if that’s not inspirational, I’m not sure what is.

So to all my fellow classmates, keep it up! I’m proud of our class and how hard we work every single day. And to everyone else, no matter what you may be doing in life, make sure you do it with the perseverance and motivation that it requires. You will never be great at anything unless you truly put your heart and soul into it.


Back To Basics

What I’ve recently realized is that sometimes we’re in such a hurry to be “extraordinary” that we often forget that the most advanced techniques come from a strong base of basics. Take, for example, medical school. We started off in biochemistry – the building block, and are now in infection & immunity, a class I would consider to be advanced. However, the other day when studying I realized that simply memorizing these big “fancy” medical words weren’t going to make me a great doctor unless I actually understood what they mean- which meant going back to the basics. I don’t want to become the kind of doctor that can throw out all the medical jargon in the world, but cannot for the life of them have a regular conversation with a patient. Basics. A med student can get so wrapped up in the books and being sequestered in the silent library that they forget something as simple as how to communicate effectively.

This was true not only of med school this week, but of BJJ. We went back to the very basics this week – learning how to survive and escape. Something most white belts learn their first week of training. And yet, every week after that first week you are given 4 techniques a class, and if you go to 3 classes a week, that’s 12 shiny new techniques that you’re not only supposed to remember, but are also supposed to know how to put them into your game. Let me tell you, I’d like to think I have a fairly good memory, but I can barely remember what we learned 2 weeks ago. So when we were repping the basic moves, I all of a sudden realized that I hadn’t been using them. I had gotten so bogged down in trying to remember all of these advanced techniques that my entire game was suffering from lack of basics. There’s no way I am going to be able to get into a superior position or work toward a choke if I can’t escape a bad position. It’s all about basics!

So I’ve decided to take a step back in all aspects of life. Your foundation of basics is important in everything. Some days when I wake up, I feel so defeated and stressed by school that I forget why I’m there in the first place. The same goes for BJJ – after I get tapped out by a higher belt several times in a 6 minute match it’s easy to want to give up. But you stand up, brush yourself off, and start at the beginning – survive and escape. 

This has been the quote I’ve decided to live by this week by – 
     “Sometimes it’s a cry of joy, sometimes it’s a roar of despair. Once you walk on that mat, you know you have only two ways out – victory or defeat. How much of yourself you put into it everyday helps defining which one it’s going to be. So, how much did you put today?”

 It is true not only of jiu jitsu, but also medical school, and whatever else your goal is in life. If you want to be the best at BJJ, get a great residency, run a marathon, or be in a relationship you will either succeed or you won’t, and the choice is up to you. 

Side note…. On Friday there is a female only open mat for BJJ up in Michigan. Girls and women from all over come to train together and inspire each other to continue being a fighter in all aspects of our lives. They are there to let you know that, while you may be the only girl in your academy, you are not the only girl out there who loves the sport of jiu jitsu. And that girls can be just as strong, fierce, and athletic as men. I am incredibly excited. 

So, make sure you leave everything you have “on the mat” every single day. Every night you should feel like you did everything you could to make yourself a better person and that much closer to reaching your goals. But also remember it doesn’t have to be doing crazy complicated things. You want to run a marathon? It starts with running a mile. You want to be a great doctor? It starts with having compassion and understanding. Getting to the point where you can run 26.2 miles, or being able to diagnose patients using all the knowledge you’ve gained is the endgoal… but somedays you need to remember it only takes one step to get moving toward your dreams.

So here’s to you, dreamers. One step at a time.