The Half-Way Point

I should have predicted the extreme stress I would be under during these last 2 weeks of April and foresee that I would likely disappear off the face of the blogging world…  Twelve final exams in two weeks is pure insanity.  In undergrad, the max number of exams people tend to have are around 6 and usually those are spread out over two weeks.  But twelve?  It’s like they’re trying to destroy my adrenal glands.

So far I’ve survived week 1.  We wrote 6 of those bad boys in 4 days.  I like graphs so I plotted my perceived stress over the past week.  It’s been very up and down as you can see.  My scale goes from 1 – 10, 10 being the most stressed I could possibly be and 1 being, not stressed at all and quite relaxed.

I started the week off right.  Did some yoga, bought groceries to last me the next two weeks.  I even moved into Residence at school.  I thought I would save precious hours of commute-time to and from school and turn those into last-minute cramming sessions in the mornings, and time to exercise in the evenings.  This has virtually transformed my exam experience.  Great idea!  I had some very productive studying with friends and was feeling pretty good about myself on Saturday.

Then Sunday rolled around and the stress increased.  The day before an exam is never a good time.  Especially when the next day means the weekend is now over.  When you have a weekend, there’s this sensation of having endless amounts of time to study.  You tell yourself: “It’s okay, you have the WHOLE weekend.”  But then when Sunday evening rolls around you’re suddenly thinking: “Whoa, weekend is OVER, the exam is TOMORROW…what happened!?”  So by about Sunday I worked my way up to a 6.5 on the stress scale.

As you can see from the graph, my stress levels went up and down quite frequently.  I can attribute the low stress levels to a few things:

Stress Outlets:

a) Yoga

b) Running on the treadmill at school

c)  Tears.  Yes, there have been tears.  For the most part, I held my sh*t together this week but I had my moments.

d)  The night before my scariest final, I will admit I dipped into an emergency store of Nutella and devoured a spoonful of chocolatey goodness like a junkie getting their fix of cocaine after staying clean for months.

e)  A long list of vitamins, supplements, herbs and homeopathic remedies.

Nice things people did for me that made me feel better:

a)  My wonderful sister brought me my favourite brown rice pasta that she makes.  Enough to last me the week!

b)  She came back later in the week with lasagna.  As you can see, food helps me cope with stress.

c)  Cecilia De Martino.  How to describe the greatness of Cecilia De Martino?   To sum it up, I’m pretty sure there are many people in my class who can attribute their passing courses to her study notes.  She makes these amazing summaries and charts and shares them with everyone in the class.  It amazes me that she finds time to make these notes consistently for almost EVERY class (we have a lot of them!), but it also pleases me that she willingly shares with all of us.  Not everyone is willing to do this, but she gladly emailed me chart after chart, summary after summary this week and it’s made a tremendous difference.

d)  My study group.  These people are the ones keeping me sane most of the time.  Sometimes they literally hold my hand and help me through tough times, and sometimes it’s just the fact that I know that they’re there that gets me through.  Every one of us has taken turns leading the group to success at some point or another and no one ever gets left behind.  These guys make studying more fun, more tolerable, and a lot more productive.  Without them, I’d probably have spent the whole week alone in my room with my fingers covered in Nutella, tears down my face, and not getting very much done at all.

e)  Sweet messages from my boyfriend.  We live quite far from each other so I don’t get to see him as often as I would like to (probably a good thing during this marathon of finals), but throughout the day he often checks in on me to see how I’m doing, and constantly reminds me that I can totally do this and that I will succeed!  I’m so grateful to have that kind of support 🙂

Basically throughout the week, despite the ridiculously high levels of stress, I managed to come down from them in the evenings.  This was possible pretty much up until Wednesday evening when I, as well as everyone else in Third year, was cramming my face off for two exams.  The scarier of the two was an Asian Medicine practical in which we were required to read a case, diagnose it in traditional chinese medicine terms, select an appropriate list of points used to treat the condition, justify why we were choosing them, then needle them on a partner.  The amount of preparation required to succeed on this exam was so daunting and stressful that it literally led my stress levels to quite literally sky-rocket off the chart.  I felt like every 10 minutes I suffered from mental turmoil that made me think I would fail… In the end, I nailed my diagnosis and my points and everything was fine.

The nice thing however was that the next day, today, is Good Friday and we have no exams.  So I’m mostly focusing on recharging, I did some yoga in my room, and am getting as much sleep as humanly possible while I can.  My dad will be visiting my sister and I for Easter so we’re both very excited to spend some time together as a family again.  The next week will likely be just as draining, but I’m hoping to continue with the yoga and hoping everyone keeps being nice to me so I can continue to survive and push on to my internship in May!

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$25,000

Day 56

I had a dream today that I went to the bank to use the ATM, and instead of giving me back my debit card at the end of my transaction, it gave me back this really long plastic card that told me to reinsert it to see if I win anything.  So I was like …okay?…I reinserted it.  IT GAVE ME BACK $25,000!!!…in $5 bill increments.  I collected them in stacks and rammed them into my purse and then ran the hell OUT of the bank before someone could tell me it was a mistake of some sort. haha.   Man that’s a nice way to start the morning!  Unfortunately I did not win $25,000 but I still kind of feel like a winner?  So I’ll just hang on to that awesome feeling for as long as I can today.

I’ve never gone this long without posting something.  It’s almost been a whole week!  Eeep.

Since then I have virtually transformed my leg strength.  My legs have always been fairly strong, but getting my new bike was a rude awakening as to how much further I have to go on the leg-strength-meter.  Being a Windsor-girl I am used to riding a bike on completely flat terrain.  There’s no coasting downhill, or struggling uphill…there ARE no hills.  The first day I rode my pretty blue bike to school I was terrified to learn that north of Eglinton on a bicycle is like taking a trip to Cedar Point.  The ride up the hills were slow and creepy and the rides downhill well…. you could hear little screams all the way down all of the major hills I rode.  Now that it’s been a week or so with my fabulous new bike I’m proud to say I’m getting accustomed to it, and in fact, the other day I only had to get off my bike once to ride it up those steep hills, unlike the first day when I had to get off it maybe 6 times.  HEY! It’s HARD with a one-speeder!  Now I know why people get bikes with GEARS on them!

In general, I’m trying to stay calm and positive with exams around the corner.  I thought I had eleven starting next week…there’s twelve.  I’m also finding that instead of just being able to sit down and study for finals, my school is virtually throwing every possible stressor at all of us.  The last day of in-class studies (EVER) is tomorrow and some of us are still doing practical exams, we all still have to hand in our last assignments, and there’s these little constant reminders of things we don’t want to think about…like preceptoring hours and the fact that we have up to the last day of final exams to submit our required 50hours before entering Clinic, or notices from the Library reminding me to pay my late fee that I’ve strategically been avoiding since approximately 2.5 years ago.  I feel like there’s only so much I can fit in my CCNM basket, and it’s been overflowing since, well, honestly? first year.

The goal for now is to just make it to my 4th year clinic internship.  There’s a lot of things that can go wrong and prevent me from starting on time in the meanwhile, so hopefully I can just check off all those requirements from here until then!

 

Out of Commission

Day 52

Today was interesting.  Rode my bike to school.  It was quite nice and the weather was lovely for it.  I went to class and had a rather intense work out with my friend afterwards, and …shortly after that I started getting signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion.

I’ve been prone to this since childhood.  If I work out too hard, I overheat and start feeling dizzy, get a massive headache, and feel pretty nauseous.  I obviously also get incredibly hot and it usually doesn’t go away until I either fall asleep or a few hours pass by and I cool down.  It’s annoying because it usually means I’m out of commission for the rest of the day.  Not convenient when I have final exams coming up and was hoping to get some work done today…

The heat exhaustion doesn’t only happen if I work out hard, however.  If I just stay in the sun for too long, that’ll do it too.  Being a student of naturopathic medicine, there are explanations for why this happens to me but western medicine has never really helped.  I remember asking my family doctor about this and why it keeps happening to me…he had no explanation as to why it happens, he said to just drink more water but I know that’s not the cause of this.  I was hoping to gain some knowledge about my body’s physiology that would explain why I have a difficult time regulating my temperature while others don’t.  Hydration levels will certainly play a role in this, but I don’t think it can be the sole explanation.  In fact, today I was very well hydrated when this happened.  Come to think of it, hydration is not normally a major issue on days that I get heat exhaustion.  In terms of Asian Medicine, I constitutionally always display a picture of heat.  For example, I’m always warm to the touch.  While most of my friends have to warm up their hands before performing physical exams either on each other or on patients, I’m always warm and ready to go.  The thing about having excess heat in the body is that I’m pretty much always maxed out on heat levels on a daily basis.  So it makes sense that throwing on additional heat will throw me over the edge in a sense.

Regretfully no yoga could be done today due to my being completely out of commission, but I’m glad I got to enjoy a good bike ride to school.  Unfortunately my bike is still AT school.  I hope she’ll be okay all alone by herself at night!

 

Toilet Paper Dispenser Attack

Day 50

Gratitude:

Pretty much every time I use the washroom at school, I get attacked by the toilet paper dispenser.

Something is missing on it that locks it shut so every time…without fail…I pull some toilet paper down and this whole dispenser comes falling on me.  For some reason I continue to go to the same stall, and time after time, I forget that this will happen.  Today, some wonderful soul put three pieces of tape that have actually held it in place and for the first time in what must be months, I wasn’t attacked by the toilet paper dispenser.

I think the fact that THIS is what I’m grateful for today speaks volumes to the kind of days I’ve been having lately.  Let’s just say I’m really excited for May and cannot wait for April to be done and over with!

Meditation:  I didn’t meditate yesterday and I’ll tell you why.  Yesterday was the first day since Sunday that I actually slept.  Mind you, sometime between Sunday and Monday I took a one hour nap but then continued to write papers and assignments.  A one-hour nap does not constitute sleeping in my books…So last night when I made it home, I laid down on my unmade bed from the morning, fully clothed, lights on, laptop on my chest.  I closed my eyes for a second, and when I opened them again it was morning.  I was in the exact same position, still fully clothed and even my lights were on.  Goal for tonight, go to sleep in darkness and in pj’s!

Adjustments for the month of April: So, considering I’m barely sleeping anymore, have sold my TTC pass in order to ride my bike to school and have introduced a new 20km daily commute to my life, I decided something has to GIVE.  Instead of quitting on my daily yoga, because let’s face it it’s one of the only things in my life keeping me semi-sane and I LOVE it…, I’m going to adjust my blogging.  I’m finding that squeezing in the yoga everyday isn’t actually that hard, but making time to blog about it when I have a hundred assignments to write and even more finals to study for?… yeah that’s starting to be a challenge.  So for the rest of April my blogging will probably look a little more different and probably won’t follow the typical daily Gratitude, Meditation, Yoga, Food Awareness and Nature Appreciation style.

So for now, I’ll leave you with a little mantra Eoin Finn himself gave us to meditate on in class back in January…It’s pure gold.

“I came to move, I came to feel…

I came to groove, and learn how to heal…

I came to remove the crust from my heart…

So as I age, I’m not a grumpy old fart.”

-Eoin Finn

Make it stop. Please. Someone, make it stop.

So basically…I’ve been awake now for 38 hours and 20-ish minutes.

I would write about yoga and meditation and all that jazz, but I’m a little bit too delirious to put coherent sentences together.

Why am I even still awake you ask?  CCNM.  This is CCNM’s fault.  I’m pretty convinced it enjoys inflicting pain on all of us students.  I bet the school laughs while we write exams.  When someone is torn between answers A and C on a multiple choice exam, it just laughs for hours, I bet.  When we walk around looking like zombies, popping Rhodiola pills, and Bach Flower Remedies, it’s literally “ROFL.”

The sad thing is that even though I’ve been up all night last night working on assignments, I still have to finish two assignments that are due tomorrow.   And when those are done, I still have MORE to write.  And when THOSE are done, I’ll have 11 finals I get to START studying for.  This will be a fun experience…for both myself…living through this, and for whoever gets to mark my work later.  Good times are to be had all around.  This should be especially fun for my sister who will witness a somewhat bipolar transformation take place.  I’m slowly transforming from a generally happy, lovely person, into a bitter, melancholy, angry soul.  I think I might have to up my dosage of yoga to keep things in check.

Since this post is generally already quite random, I thought I’d take a second to comment on one of my biggest pet peeves.  I *hate* it when you’re about to get ready to either start an all-nighter, or tackle a big project that will take a long time, and all you can hear in the next room is SNORING.  There are people in the next room, SLEEPING.  IN TOTAL BLISS.  NOT FAIR.  Right now that person is my sister.

It bothers me when I hear her snore from the other side of the wall.

It also tempts me greatly….to go into her room ….

and cuddle with her….

The past two days

Days 44 and 45

Gratitude:  Grateful today for beautiful weather so I could ride my bike happily.  Yesterday I was grateful for friends who give the best hugs ever and know exactly how to tackle and beat down the stress that’s eating away at me.  Right now, I’m grateful for whoever is playing the saxophone so soulfully in my apartment building.

Meditation:  Totally did not meditate yesterday.  Meant to do it before bed, but instead passed out while doing assignments at my desk and I guess I crawled over to my bed in my sleep because I do not remember getting there.

Yoga:  Yesterday I did thursday’s class–the easier one of the week.  It’s a Restorative Class so it’s not the most intense.  Just what the doctor ordered towards the end of a wild week.   Today I was going to attempt going to a studio like I set out to do everyday this week, but as with each day this week, that plan failed and instead I did Friday’s class which was quite nice.  It’s Stretch and Strength day.  So definitely more push-ups than I care to do…but still good!

Food Awareness:  Going to start a detox next week with my intern at school so I’m mentally preparing myself for that.

Nature Appreciation: Mentha piperita…this is Peppermint.  Most people are familiar with it as people often drink it as a tea for gastrointestinal complaints or to help calm the nerves.  It can be quite helpful with intestinal colic, flatulence, nausea related to pregnancy or motion, and in ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s (when taken as enteric-coated capsules).  It’s also useful for fevers, colds, nasal and sinus congestion, and headache (especially if it’s caused by digestive reasons).  If you’re feeling hysterical, stressed, tense and anxiety-ridden (like ME right now), this is the tea you want to be taking.