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End of the Road

October 14th, 2014  |  Published in Life  |  14 Comments

Damaged Jetty by Michael Coghlan

Damaged Jetty by Michael Coghlan

I haven’t updated this blog in ages; almost an entire year has passed since I have sat down to write anything personal. The main reason for this is that I quit my postbac program. Quitting the program was a decision I made after having my sweet baby because I wasn’t comfortable with the caregiver I had chosen and I had medical problems following the delivery. I would return home from class to find the baby had not been fed and cried literally the entire time (probably because she was hungry.) I fervently researched other caretakers, but a second problem surfaced. Post-delivery I had incredible pain which I was not expecting in the least. It went undiagnosed for a while but finally the doctor realized I had a mild pelvic prolapse and extensive scarring. The pain was so ridiculous, that the only time I could sit in class was when I was on Percocet which quickly ran out and my doctor refused to refill. The rest of the days were excruciating. One of my classes was 5 blocks away from the other one and the walk was torturous. I would arrive there sweating and totally sore. I had to bring one of those stupid inflatable “doughnuts” to sit on in class, but it basically did nothing to alleviate the pain. I spent the entire class fidgeting and sweating from the pain, unable to even focus on the lecture.

 

Anyways it came to the point where I realized that I was completely incapable of doing this. Probably after flunking my embryology exam because I was unable to study since I had no one to help me with the baby and I spent most of my time lying down trying to avoid pain. Embryology is easy and a medical school class so I was feeling like a total loser at this point. Eventually I told my husband that I would no longer be able to do the program and he was surprisingly accepting. I decided to drop everything except my online class, but unfortunately realized my physical and mental limitations after the add/drop date. My transcript is probably full of Ws. My obstetrician had long suggested I not continue grad school and have a baby and wrote a letter to my department giving a medical excuse for discontinuing the program. I don’t even think the medical excuse was acknowledge and honestly I don’t even want to look at my transcript because I am 90% sure there are Ws and that is just too depressing to think about. Quitting was a relief in one sense, like I literally felt the mental anguish melt away. However, I was disappointed in my inability to do what others before me had. Staying in my online class meant I could keep my financial aid, which was a lifesaver since my student loans were the only thing supporting our family. My husband, with his college degree, was unable to get hired anywhere as hourly labor, so we were in a pickle.

After quitting, my husband pushed me to go talk to someone in the medical admissions office about what my next options were. I really did not want to do this because in my experience medical admissions people generally aren’t interested in talking to people to whom they haven’t extended an offer admission. I refused multiple times but he is one of those people that annoy you relentlessly until they get their way. So in an effort to shut him up, I went to the office. This visit with admissions was humilating and annoying. I don’t even remember what I spoke to her about in totality (the result of time passed and likely the incredible pain I felt while sitting in the office.) But I do remember her telling me that there was an M3 at VCU who had a kid or two and was doing fine but had tons of family help (which she kept stressing during the conversation.) She told me I need to figure out what I’m doing and make a plan, which was really annoying at the time because I still wanted to go to medical school. Then I said something (in an effort to show that I was serious) that I wouldn’t apply and then try to defer to stay home with the baby another year, and she (what I perceived to be) rudely replied that I cannot defer for that reason. I wanted to jump up and scream of course not, I just ##$%@ said that. But inside I smiled calmly in response(likely with daggers in my eyes like a crazy person, but whatever.) Anyways this was unpleasant.

All in all quitting the postbac was unpleasant. So I couldn’t even tell anyone for what felt like forever and then I eventually broke down and let the cat out of the bag. Then I stewed in misery for a few days and cried about it. But I got over it. Especially since I had a cute baby to hug and take care of all the time.

I didn’t even do as well in the postbac as I had wanted to. I was constantly struggling to juggle my husband’s needs with the postbac. He was unemployed for most of the duration of the semester and multiple times I would help him format his resume, prepare for interviews, practice video submission interviews, etc. I had to coordinate a move in the middle of the semester, and was responsible for all of the cooking. Not to mention I was incredibly fatigued all the time and could hardly function or focus.

I recently found out I have subclinical hypothyroidism and now with the help of thyroid medication I am surprisingly alert and actually able to function on less than 12 hours of sleep per day for once in my life. I’m really amazed at the difference a little pill can make and wish I had realized that I had this fatigue-problem sooner. I’ve always been an incredibly tired person but never realized it was a medical condition. I keep wondering what my grades may have been like if I was taking this medication…I probably would have been able to get out of bed and attend class more often. Even back in college I struggled with what felt like insurmountable fatigue. Most people were probably not attending class because they were hungover, but I was just exhausted all the time. Before taking the medication, getting out of bed felt like when you get up after a hangover (or if you’ve never had a hangover just imagine getting out of bed when you are severely dehydrated.) It was miserable, basically. But now I can practically leap out of bed even after 2 or 4 hours of sleep. It is a medical miracle, ha ha! Actually getting treatment was a challenge because most physicians only decide to treat you based on lab results and not on symptoms. I threw away about $300 on a doctor who told me I did not need thyroid medication before seeing a second doctor who offered me a low dose that changed my life. If you are like me, keeping shopping around until you find someone who will take a gamble on a low dose of thyroid meds!

I’m sure a lot of this writing sounds regretful and resentful, but I came to term with my decision and academic mistakes long ago. I really enjoy hanging out with my daughter. She keeps me very busy but is such a joy in my life. I am still in awe of other women who manage to balance motherhood and their medical careers, whether they are in medical school, residency, or are practicing physicians. I think the problem is that I am one of those people who is not capable of juggling a demanding career and motherhood at the same time. I did not realize this until I had a child, but now I know. I am extremely attached to my daughter and enjoy all the moments I have with her. My husband and I hope to have another child someday, and once the baby days are over I will certainly be seeking a career…

However, I am nearly certain any hope at medical school is gone. My downfall was partially due to circumstances outside of my control (medical problems, unhelpful child caretakers) and partially due to my own nature (overly-attached to child, need to appease husband, lackadaisical study methods).

My advice for persons who intend to follow a similar path

1) hire a non-family member to take care of your child and interview them extensively
2) if you have a romantic partner force boundraies on them to prevent their needs from overtaking your life
3) prepare for post-delivery complications (c-section recovery, pelvic prolapse, etc.)
4) keep careful note of the add/drop date and be prepared to drop if you need to (but hopefully steps 1 & 2 will prevent that)
5) get evaluated for hypothyroidism if you are mostly unable to get out of bed or have to sleep a lot (apparently it isn’t normal)
6) keep your eyes on the prize! lots of women can do this!

So what are the plans for the blog?

Well, I can’t dissolve it; this is the fruit of years of effort and time. I’ve always enjoyed interviewing people (my favorite person that I have interviewed is Jay Sean, the singer.) So, I intend to have a small installment of interviews with women of various ages and backgrounds who have children and a career in medicine. Additionally, I will be including other interviews; I have mentioned in the past my intent to interview a medical resident who has successfully secured a US medical residency after attending Caribbean medical school, and I also have an exciting interview coming up that is with a DO Surgeon-turned-Emergency-Medicine physician. So stay tuned and let me know if you have an interview requests or a desire to be interviewed.

My journey ends here, drowning in a sea of Ws and my own undoing. I’m sure there are many many people that will say “I told you so.” Years ago I was so adamant at proving them wrong, but now I don’t even care. I made my bed and will lie in it. I am perfectly happy where I am now, taking care of my sweet baby 24/7. I may have made many academic mistakes, but I have no regrets.

Que sera, sera.

Responses

  1. Zzzzz Aaaaaa says:

    October 18th, 2014at 9:00 pm(#)

    Why do you call it ‘end of the road’? It never is. Your journey doesn’t end, it continues; you aren’t dead.

    If this is something you truly wanted, then I’m sure you are aware that you can still get where you want to be.

  2. Jennifer Isaacs says:

    October 25th, 2014at 1:07 am(#)

    Well that is true, I’m not dead. But I’m not sure if I want to continue this premed thing anymore. That would require doing another postbac since I only have half of one. Acquiring more debt (and the debt I have now is already pretty crippling)…. But since I know I don’t want to be premed right now I think I can safely say the road ends here unless I decide to jump back on the premed train. I currently don’t see that happening, but if I do I would surely update this space!

  3. Leong says:

    October 19th, 2014at 2:39 am(#)

    Don’t let a child interfere with your dream. I can tell you still want to become a physician and you will never forgive yourself for not giving it another shot.

    Do you really want to be a housewife your entire life? You’re better than that.

  4. Jennifer Isaacs says:

    October 25th, 2014at 1:06 am(#)

    Lol I don’t know what I want to do right now, but I wouldn’t describe my daughter as interfering with anything. She’s great and I’m enjoying her!

  5. ANONY says:

    October 23rd, 2014at 12:34 pm(#)

    Not many people really understand the extent of the hardships we have to endure to even get considered for admission. I have cried with you reading through your blog, and I am truly sorry for the way things ended. You are stronger that anyone I have met, and I know it make you successful in whatever you decide to do.

  6. Jennifer Isaacs says:

    October 25th, 2014at 1:05 am(#)

    Aw you’re so sweet. I feel though that people have gone through many worse things than me. I have a happy healthy family and everything is good! I’m quite lucky 🙂

  7. Andrew says:

    November 23rd, 2014at 4:41 pm(#)

    Don’t give up. Instead it might be a sign for you that maybe now isn’t the time. Raise your child and when they’re a little older, you’re mature and experience (balancing marriage, children, and household), think about medical school. There is nothing wrong with focusing on raising your children (it is an admirable thing) but do not use it as an excuse to give up on your dream. If in time you have found that your dream of medical school has changed; that’s fine. However, if you just give up, you will end up regretting it. By the way, I was a reapplicant that almost gave up and will now be ending medical school next year. Sometimes rejection and failure is the thing we need to strengthen ourselves and develop as human beings. Regardless of your future, I wish you and your family the best. God bless : )

  8. Jennifer Isaacs says:

    November 26th, 2014at 12:32 am(#)

    Thanks for your kind words! Congrats on ending med school and your future doctor-hood 🙂

  9. Ctr says:

    March 11th, 2015at 8:14 pm(#)

    You achieved a 30 on the MCAT, better than 80% of pre-meds. You are more than capable of being a physician – NEVER throw your dreams away.

  10. Mon says:

    November 3rd, 2015at 10:36 am(#)

    Je

  11. Mon says:

    November 3rd, 2015at 10:41 am(#)

    Jennifer you are AMAZING. Here is my story: you and I have the same exact GPA trend and similar numbers. Our MCAT is almost identical. I made sure to write on my app in additional comments that my undiagnosed Hashimoto’s/hypothyroid threw me off. I ended up doing an MS program and posting a much much higher GPA than our 3.00ish cumulative undergrad. Here’s a smorgasbord of what I’ve been told: 1. your MS will be looked at to help your case 2. your MS GPA won’t count bc it’s only 30 hrs 3. MS > postbacc 4. any post graduate effort is meaningful
    That being said.. I think simply taking higher classes is totally fine, granted they are upper level. If you don’t want this to, I don’t think this has to be the end of your road bc your persistence is so inspiring. Also at this point, you’re a nontrad and your story as a mother working her butt of to get into medical school is awesome – I think you deserve it and encourage you to look into your state school (they tend to be more understanding). Thank you so much for sharing your journey

  12. Jennifer Isaacs says:

    January 16th, 2016at 3:19 pm(#)

    Hello! Hashimoto’s is terrible…I just met someone who had it recently and she had a thyroidectomy. Luckily I just have hypo 🙂 My discussions with the medical schools to which I wanted to apply overwhelmingly told me to take a premedical postbac instead of a MS so that is what I did. At this point I’m still not intending to apply to medical school but I’m hoping to continue to maintain the blog and allow others to share their stories here to be resource for other students.

  13. PRSTN says:

    November 15th, 2015at 1:58 pm(#)

    Wow, I did did a search and it led me to your blog. I read the post about you starting your postbacc at the same school I’m going to finish my BA at. I got so excited, then I saw your pregnant and premed post and I thought it was too good to be true. My baby is turning one at the end of the year. Finally someone that I can relate! And then… This post. It makes me so sad that you’re just giving up. And your husband, (based off this post alone) is a shitty husband. I would have never let my spouse quit! I would be working nights, so that my wife could take her classes and study, while I stay with the baby during the day. I don’t want to come off too harsh, because I really don’t know what the situation was. But, gosh, it just makes me so sad.

  14. Jennifer Isaacs says:

    January 16th, 2016at 3:22 pm(#)

    Don’t be sad! His careers goals have to be considered too…not just mine 🙂 It’s tough to survive with a family of 3 on a minimum wage night shift income. At one point he was working two full time jobs and only slept 2 hours a night, but we’ve made it through that point now. You should check out she is quite inspirational…Harvard grad, mother, and wife. Her life is absolutely photogenic and her happiness is infectious. I think one needs a particularly strong personality to become a medical student/doctor and parent and unfortunately I am not one of those people.

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