Monday, December 21, 2009

New Semester... and some new goals

So, if taking on this dream of mine isn't enough, I have decided to (again) tackle weight loss.  Actually, I should say fat loss... there's a difference.

Anyway, I bought the P90X program shortly after my first 12 week personal challenge (Jan-April... lost 35lbs) and was happy with it, but I got lazy and complacent.  Now that I've regained 25lbs, I'm ready to get back in the game.

It's actually nice to know I can lose 35 pounds in a healthy way in 3-4 months, and 8-9 months to gain 25.  The numbers are in my favor.

School is going well so far, I'm taking three science classes this semester.  Chemistry remains about the same, but Genetics and Zoology are X-factors.  I feel like I understand the material presented in lecture, but the book is not utilized AT ALL in either class, so it's difficult to determine what to study or concentrate on in preparation for the exams.

All of the first exams will be after the Christmas break 2 weeks from now.  I don't understand the logic in scheduling exams AFTER a break.  All I can do is keep my eye on the prize, and keep my head in the game.  I studied Genetics tonight, and I'll concentrate on Zo tomorrow.

I'm a quarter of the way through the semester already... it's seems to blow by.  Well, that's all this time.  Happy holidays!!

FYI - Starting out at 229lbs as of today.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fall 2009... bites the dust!

I am happy to report that my first semester back in school is done!  Here is the reflection of three months of hard work:

Chemistry I:   A+, 105.5%
Sociology:   A+, 98.95%
Eng Comp I:   A+, 99%

This is a huge accomplishment, if only for my mental well-being.  I can do it.  I've proved it.  Now, it's time to step it up, start anew, and make every day count.

Winter 2009 Schedule:

Chemistry II
Human Genetics
Eng Comp II

I'll be back to post my progress.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Screen Name Change

I decided to change my screen name because it was very similar to some others on blogs that I interact with regularly.

So, DocToBe is now Mr. C!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

One down, six to go

Well, my first semester back will officially end on Nov 19th.  Unless I get seriously sick or die, I will end my first semester with and A+ in each Comp I, Chem I, and Sociology.  Since 8hrs is full-time status at my school, I will also be eligible for the Dean's list.

I am very excited.  I have worked hard this semester and it shows.  I am looking forward to Winter term: Zoology, Human Genetics, Chem II, and Comp II.  I'm stepping it up a notch here, so I will have to be extra focused and really work at managing my time.

However, I am looking forward to the challenge, and I expect to be gloating again with good news in March.  I now have one semester down, and only six remain until I graduate (hopefully May 2011).

Bring it!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

To my kids:

First, and last, I love you.

I hope that you will read this journal someday, and know that all of the sacrifices your mother and I have made, from this day until then, were for you.  I hope that you will see and understand my passion for helping others, and that I could never have lived my dream without the inspiration I derive from you.

I hope I will have raised you to see the good in and expect the best from others.  I hope you will consider the less fortunate, and strive to do extraordinary things for ordinary people.  Give.  Be thankful.  Tell the truth.

Never underestimate the value of your mother to me or to you.  She is more worthy of your respect and love than I could ever describe.  I pray that you will all be fortunate enough to find someone who will love you so completely, and with unwavering support.

Have faith.  Dream as big as you can, and let no one bring you down.  Enjoy nature.  Love and support each other no matter what.  Forgive.  Be silly; in public and private.

Call and visit often.  I love you.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Why is is that people always want to bring you down?  There is a guy at work who I run into periodically in the course of the day whose wife will be graduating from the local public university in May.  She is scheduling interviews for medical school as we speak.

Up until yesterday, I have been sharing pieces of my plans with him, and inquiring about how his wife is doing.  Yesterday, he asks me if I'm sure that the classes I'm taking at my (smaller, private university) will transfer to her school.  Honestly, I had considered transferring after the first semester, but immediately realized how much I liked where I was once I got started.

Anyway, I said that I was sure they'd transfer either way as both schools have the same accreditation.  He gave me a strange look as he said, "You'd better check into that.  My wife checked it out, and she doesn't think they will transfer."

Ok.  First, who the hell cares?  I don't plan on transferring now anyway.  Second, he said it in the way that a little kid might gloat about how much better his backpack is than yours.  Can insecurity reduce you to passing judgement on someone you don't even know?  I've never been anything but supportive and hopeful in my comments about his wife.

I didn't accuse him of this... who knows, I might have misread the situation completely.  However, I have noticed that I get ALOT of half-compliments and skeptical encouragement from people when I tell them what I am doing back in school.  Granted, I have a working-class job and a working-class income, but does that automatically imply that I must have a third-class intellect?

This kind of crap, while irritating, just makes me more passionate about my goals.  You don't have to support me, but PLEASE, don't waste your breath projecting your own hang-ups onto me;  I've got enough problems of my own without having to deal with yours.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Small World

    At work yesterday, I happened to get a student taking refresher trips.  Just to clarify, my "student" is in his early 50s.

    While waiting for another job to finish ahead of us, I whipped out my Chemistry book and began to study.  He made a comment about his wife taking it years ago for her Nursing degree, which naturally got us talking about the medical field and my aspirations to become a Pediatrician.

"Really?" he replied, "My [relative] recently finished her residency in Peds at Johns Hopkins.  Would you be interested in talking to her?"


Obviously, I expressed interest, to which he responds, "Give me your phone, we'll give her a call."  At this point, elation turns to anxiety and nerves.  I know he means well, but I am wary of making this intrusion upon her unannounced and without her consent.  Visions of a very polite, but inwardly ticked doctor begin racing through my mind.  Not the first impression I'd like to give.

Mercifully, she does not pick up, and I am able to explain that I am not sure this is the best idea.  "Don't worry, I've been taking care of her mother for many years... she'll be more than happy to talk to you."  Upon the second unsuccessful attempt, I explain that she probably does not recognize the number, and will not answer.

"I wish I knew her husband's number," he begins, "he's a doctor at Johns Hopkins too... a professor, I think."  At this point, I am dying.  What are the chances that I have run into this man today.  Both of us damp from working in the cold and rain, discussing how to get me into contact with two doctors associated with one of the most prestigious medical schools in the United States?

Long story short... we are unable to get hold of her before the end of our shift, but he promises to call her this morning and get me in touch.  Sure enough, I received a voicemail from him with her cell number.  He says that he talked with her, and she would be more than happy to talk to me anytime.

Cloud 9.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Ladder

If I've learned anything from my success in losing weight, setting goals is the most important ingredient.  So, I'm creating a plan that will outline my path to becoming a physician and dubbing it "The Ladder."

Today, for example, I sat down and listed all of the courses remaining to earn my BS degree.  I created a table that included each quarter for the next three years, and assigned each course to get an idea of how rigorous my schedule would be to graduate by 2011 or 2012.

I'll have to talk with my advisor to refine it, but it's a good start.  Not only does it give me direction, but it also makes obvious where I will have more time to devote to volunteering, shadowing, MCAT prep, etc.

Next to setting goals, the next most important key to success is accountability.  This blog is part of that accountability.  I've found that the more people I tell about my goals, the more I feel a responsibility not to let myself (and everyone else invested in my success) down.

I encourage you to develop your own "ladder" to success... you will be surprised how much it contributes to your focus, commitment, and (hopefully) ultimate success!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The latest in a rash of irrational, stress related illnesses I seem to be contracting... ismyschoolgoodenoughitis?

This disease presents itself at least once a month, and worsens with news of particularly good grades.  It is the constant worry that my college is somehow sub-par, and that my transcripts will be good only for the amusement of the adcoms to whom I (eventually) submit an application.

The university I am attending is an accredited, private institution in my state.  However, it is known to most  people mostly due to its focus on online education and curriculum geared toward adult learning, corporate-focused degrees, and graduate degrees in business.

Don't get me wrong, it doesn't have a bad reputation... and that is kind of the problem.  It doesn't seem to have a reputation at all as an avenue to medical school.  I am enrolled in their Biology program, and I have to say that I LOVE IT!  Having been to the state university years ago, I can appreciate the smaller class sizes and the more approachable feel of the faculty.

I guess my worry stems from the fact that I expected school to be much more impersonal, difficult, and competitive.  This university is none of those things.  Well, it is difficult, but I am working my a** off to make good grades.

I also worry that even though I'm making outstanding grades now, those I earned 10 years ago were not always as stellar.  Honestly, after the second year, they were pretty much crap.  I am torn between retaking every class I've ever completed, or simply do the sciences/math and hope an adcom will see the substantial improvement.

See, I am such a headcase that I have already slipped into another malady for which I'm too tired to invent a clever name at the moment.  Well, I got rained on all day at work, so I need to strip down and get some sleep.  Tomorrow will be a better day... or at least a different one.

I have a follower!

It's been a while since I've updated this blog.  I've been spending more time reading other blogs than tending to my own.  I guess everyone else's life seems so much more interesting :)

Imagine my surprise to find that someone is actually following my blog!!!  You know that feeling you get when you walk to your refrigerator naked at midnight to get a drink of milk (from the container... you know you do it, too) and realize that your neighbor has decided to pick that exact moment to look across into your kitchen window?

It's not so much a feeling of violation, but one of embarrassment at not being sufficiently prepared for someone to see you naked at that particular moment.  Writing, in many ways, is like a window to the soul, and I feel embarassed for having left mine look so flabby and weak.

So, dear follower, this is my promise be a bit more presentable next time :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

First round of tests complete

Three weeks into my first term back, I have proven to myself that this is where I belong.  Hours of hard work and diligent study have yielded the following:

Comp Exam 1: 98%
Sociology Exam 1: 100%
Chemistry Exam 1: 110%

I feel invigorated again... the cogs in my brain are beginning to turn again, and I find myself with a new optimism toward life.  If there is an area I'm lacking, it is the same old independence syndrome that I've had my whole life.  I need to be more sociable... I can be serious about school AND socialize with classmates.  I'm not concerned about being popular, I just want to challenge myself to reach out and make connections while I am here.  I have found that one of the most challenging aspects of adulthood is making new friends and long-term connections with people.  It comes so easily as a child.  There are no role expectations, or statuses to live up to, so children are more apt to accept each other and be interested in each other's lives.

This is a difficult thing as an adult... we are much more selective and attempt to consider how people will fit into our social structures.  This leaves an awful lot of diversity out of bounds.  So, my challenge to myself (after kicking ass in class) is to actively invest myself in the people around me.

Anyway, I took the fam out to Red Lobster today to celebrate.  Mary (my 3yr old) shared a pound of crab legs with me.  Well, she ate most of it.  Life is good.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

So far so good...

School is great so far.  I'm really enjoying chemistry.  I'm sure the fact that I'm prepared for each class helps.  I find myself hoping that we'll get points for every little thing.  I'm looking forward to homework, tests, and quizzes just so that I can rack up points.  It's strange.  I never viewed school like this before.  It's fun!

Anyway, they just posted the schedule for next quarter.  I'm hoping I can get them to make an exemption for me to take 4 classes.  I'm pretty sure I can take Oral Communications and Comp II without a problem.  Not sure if they'll allow Chem II and Genetics (even though genetics doesn't have a lab).

For those who don't know, my school has 4 quarters per year instead of semesters. However, they all have an online component which allows them us to get a full semester of credit for a quarter class.  It's sweet, but very fast paced.  You cannot afford to fall behind, hence, the 9 cr hr limit per semester.

I also found out today that the school is doing so well that they are going to build a few more buildings on campus this year... pretty impressive in a recession.  My chem prof said bonuses last December were 18% of salary.  Nice.

I love school!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Impressions

I have been to each of my first three classes now - English Comp., Sociology, and Chemistry.  I am surprised to find that they are all much less intimidating than I had imagined.  I feel like my preparation (reading the first two chapters of each book) has been more than adequate.

I have also noticed that there are markedly more international students.  There were three students from Nepal in my Sociology class!  I think it's great that there is such a diversity of students.  I guess I would have expected it more in a big public university as opposed to a smaller private one.

Chemistry is, hands down, the best.  The instructor is personable, approachable, and is obviously interested in making the class enjoyable.  Having completed his undergrad at a large public university (UNL), he stressed how unique it was to have a class of less than 20 students as opposed to an auditorium of 200+.  I just finished the first online quiz... 100%!!!

Surprisingly, I have the most apprehension about the English class.  I consider myself a better-than-average  writer, but I'm a little self-conscious about sharing my writing with classmates.  I don't know why.

Anyway, so far so good.  I'm on my way!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ready, Set, GO!

So, this is my very first post!  I am what most people would refer to as a "non-traditional" student.  Basically, that means that I live on my own, have a family, and real responsibilities:)

I went the traditional route (one upon a time), but dropped out to start my own software/web programming business.  While this continues to be moderately successful - it provides me with spending cash - I have been working full time as a switchman/conductor/locomotive engineer for the past 5 years.

After a trip to the OB/GYN with my wife last month... I said "Hey, why don't I just go back to school and become a doctor?"  Within a week, that unlikely seed has matured into a completely unreasonable, insane, passionate desire to pursue a career that may allow me to make a difference in peoples' lives.

I immediately went into hurry-up mode, and enrolled in a local university.  I begin classes on Monday, Aug 31st and I CAN'T WAIT!   I am essentially starting from scratch as a Biology major, and I have spent the last week combing the first couple of chapters of Chemistry, Sociology, and Composition.

The school I am attending is quarter-based, so we have essentially 4 "semesters" per year.  I believe the norm is to 3 quarters on, one off.  But, I think I can shave about a year off my pre-med/undergrad time if I take a full load for all 4 quarters.

Anyway, my purpose here will be to document my experiences, challenges, and successes to inform (and possibly inspire) any of you out there who are dreaming of a career in medicine.