August 10, 2018

After a long flight

Hi there! I recently got to spend a month in my childhood hometown on the other side of the world. During my time there, I re-visited the courtyard housing unit where I grew up and the pre-school where I used to run around in. I grew up in a place without air conditioning for a long time, poor plumbing, and dirty sidewalks littered with trash. At the same time, I grew up with the freshest local fruit on the table after dinner, nighttime walks through the lit-up street markets, and a home filled with love and kindness.

And as I learn more about the ever-changing world I'm living in now, I realize there's never enough love and kindness to go around. Kindness towards ourselves, kindness towards others, and even kindness toward our earth. We grip so tightly onto material desires and markers of rank, that I think we're pushed into a tangled darkness of our own making. Stress, complaining, and always trying to fight -- against those who've wronged us and against our own bodily limitations -- we push away our own ability to love and heal ourselves.

These are the sort of thoughts I've been thinking of. Maybe I am too sensitive and take negative energy too personally. However, I think the world could be a better place to live in with a little more forgiveness and love.

June 28, 2018

A quiet end of June

Been a while since my last post! Third year has come and gone, and I have never been more happy to see it passing. There were many times this year where I felt like a robot, going through the motions of getting up, working, studying, going to sleep, without any time to think about leisure or working on my hobbies. I'm hoping to spend some more time next year savoring time for myself again.

On reflection, here are a couple things I did do though:

- Fight My Way! (k-drama)
- Chicago Typewriter (k-drama)
- Mrs. Maisel (comedy series)
- Ali Wong's Hard Knock Wife (comedy)
- Sweet Bean (movie)
- In This Corner of the World (movie)
- Yotsuiro Biyori (slice-of-life anime)
- Hamilton (live! with Wayne Brady as Aaron Burr!!)

- Essays in Zen Buddhism, D.T. Suzuki

- Daniel Boone National Forest!

This year's been hard in so many senses. I didn't always get the grades I hoped for, I offended some patients, I had trouble keeping in touch with friends and family, I gained weight from stress-eating and sitting around studying, and on and on. On the other hand, I've grown more as a person. I can handle more stress than I ever thought possible with minimal anxiety, I have become more forgiving of my own mistakes and learned how to recognize and work on my weaknesses, I have made so many patients smile, and I have given my best in almost every situation.

I certainly wish I could be better at carving out time for hobbies sometimes, but in the end, I'm pretty happy with how things have turned out. As I'm preparing materials for my residency application and thinking about the future, I realize I'm never going to not be busy and probably never going to not be under some stress, as long as I'm on this career path.

In the past few years of my life, I've picked something to hone in myself usually around the beginning of a new year, or during times of big transitions. Last year was becoming more forgiving of myself. The year before that was becoming more peaceful. Prior years have included becoming more efficient, more graceful (until I realized I'm graceful in my own way), and even included "having more opinions" (which I'm now okay with not having too many of them - better to be able to see both sides of the story than not). As you might see, the topics I pick are more like reflecting touchstones for thinking about questions like "what does being peaceful mean to me? why is peace important?" rather than strict goals.

So I think for my last year of medical school, I want to focus on developing who I am outside of medicine. Is there a nice, compressed word that encompasses that theme? Or can I call it "exploring beyond workaholicism", "embracing my weirdness", or "fighting for my right to be super quirky!"?

Sometimes, I feel like an empty shell when there's no work to do. I'm directionless and more often than not, a little cranky too. I'd like to fill that space with things I used to love like.... composting!! And knowing that my food waste will help grow tiny little plants into big plants! And visiting gardens, writing poems, allowing myself to be a little squirrel-y again, and so on. Maybe the word I'm looking for is just what's 'fun' again?

February 12, 2018

Having a relationship in medical school

Valentine's day is almost here, which I almost forgot about until our medical school sent out its monthly mental health newsletter. This month, its featured article was about falling in love, not with a person, but with medical school. What.

I've seen medical schools take sides in this 'maintaining personal relationships' issue. During a visit to one medical school, the dean promptly said "There is no time for relationships during medical school. And don't get married during medical school." Another school said, we understand that while medical school is rigorous, it certainly shouldn't be all-consuming. We want you to have support and live your life while in medical school.

I wish that our newsletter presented two sides of the relationship story too. Sharing with our class an article about focusing on medical school as your 'one true love' right before a day celebrating romantic relationships is sorta weird and gives me all sorts of unhealthy vibes. I guess it truly depends on your definition of what's unhealthy. I value family and my partner first, not the medical school community, and would go crazy trying to socialize with classmates outside of school. Then again, I'm a rather introverted person, and we're in the minority in the world and especially in medical school.

Basically, though, the author was right in the sense that you can't do everything in medical school. You can't balance schoolwork, maintain a social life, be optimally healthy, and maintain a relationship without something messing up sometimes or sacrificing a huge chunk of one of them.

February 9, 2018

What I've been reading

- #243 The Finally! Show
ASMR cooking
While there are days that I question whether I should have gone into medicine, I am grateful of how much this career has taught me about impartiality and test of remaining neutral in the face of disagreeableness - whether that be of treating a patient with different (and vocal) political viewpoints or treating a patient who has just soiled herself, urine splashing onto your shoes as well, and having to quickly dismiss my own visceral disgust in the face of human-ness.

The Minimalists movie
In Defense of Food movie
I left H alone this week to do the grocery shopping and he came back with Costco-sized amounts of canned tuna and white bread and 4 frozen cheese pizzas. (Along with cucumbers, spinach, and tomatoes) - food in moderation!

^pre-New Year's Eve

Post-New Year's Eve

I've been keeping myself busy, busy, and busy! Just how I like to be -- learning new things every day and getting to practice how to care for patients.

Here's a list of animated movies I love and hope to re-watch soon:
1) Paprika
2) The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
3) Summer Games
4) Kubo and the Two Strings
5) Wolf Children
6) Anything Studio Ghibli

I'm planning to watch The Boy and The Beast, also directed by Mamoru Hosoda who directed movies number 2, 3, and 5. Not to mention Digimon: The Movie, which was one of my favorite childhood movies ever!! That smooth animation, those colors, the action scenes. =^.^=

On the anime TV shows front, I am excited to hear that Aggretsuko is coming to Netflix!

Other artists I love
8) John Singer Sargent
9) A. J. Casson
10) Jeon JongUk
11) Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
12) Walter Everett
13) And a 19th century architecture illustrator that I cannot find the name of at this moment. It'll come up on my Tumblr sometime, I'm sure...

The snow has been coming down heavy. It remind me of Netter's classic picture for stable angina - middle-aged man clutching his chest in the wintery cold, gusts of snow blowing by as this coronary arteries vasoconstrict, oh no! A reminder to eat a heart-healthy diet!

Stay warm and safe to all those facing terrible weather. :)

October 7, 2017

Comparing yourself to others

Looking at the heavy-hitters in the medical field never fails to spark in me both a sense of admiration and of dread. Physicians who take time to teach the general public about medicine (Atul Gawande); physicians who devote their lives to the raising up communities (Paul Farmer); physicians who make the most out of their dual degrees (Anoop Raman, see article below). [For some reason, I'm unable to summon up a female physician's name. Whether this is due to my limited knowledge or some deeper challenge that women face, I don't know.]

Hearing their accomplishments makes me reflect on my own and I feel that I pale in comparison. My heart beats a little faster and I imagine that stomach drops an inch or two - anxiety starts to gnaw away at me. My brain starts to list out my every failure and a vicious cycle of feeling sorry for myself begins. A voice inside me says, "I don't work hard enough, I don't care for others enough, and I am certainly not smart enough!". I've been working on squelching this voice through journaling and mindfulness techniques, but I haven't faced it head on.

Because my current rotation is psychiatry, my concerns about comparing myself have been at the forefront of my mind. I recently learned about cognitive-behavior therapy, a technique for addressing distorted thoughts about yourself and breaking the vicious cycle of negativity. It's not enough to simply say to yourself, "Stop it! Stop comparing yourself with others." If this was the case, therapists and doctors could cure everyone within a month or two. "Stop deluding yourself!", "Stop late-night snacking!" And they'd probably stop wars too.

Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) is based on a trifecta of thoughts, actions, and emotions. One way of looking at how it works is that our negative thoughts leads to actions (or poor behaviors) that reinforce our emotions of feeling bad about ourselves. CBT, combined often with pharmacotherapy, has been shown to have great success in treating those with anxiety disorders, a group of conditions that include OCD, social anxiety, and PTSD. Here are the general (and very logical) steps involved:

Step 1. Identify and challenge problematic thoughts and beliefs
Step 2. Create pleasant activities that challenge problematic beliefs, like calling a friend for someone who believes no one likes them
Step 3. Extended exposure to anxiety-eliciting stimuli to decrease our panic response

While I'm on this relevant rotation, I'll be trying out some self-CBT in order to work on my bad habit of comparing myself with others. In my last rotation, family medicine taught me about motivational interviewing, a technique for building up motivation in patients to change their habits for the better. By working on both these techniques, I hope that I'll be better at encouraging patients to take good care of themselves!

Few things I've been reading: "Common Questions About Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Psychiatric Disorders"
*Note that it's likely that psychiatric disorders or mental illness is really a spectrum. There's no clear black or white status of yes, you're mentally ill vs. no, you're just maladjusted. We all have positive things to gain about becoming self-aware of our mental health. :)

September 30, 2017

What I've been reading

Hi, quick and messy message as I fly by the blogosphere. I've finished up my family med rotation and my thoughts have been trending more and more toward doing a family medicine residency, and less and less toward specializing. By becoming a family med doc, I'd be doing the type of medicine physicians centuries ago only wished they could do. There's so much information out there, so much new medicine and technology, that it's exciting to be someone that can synthesize all of that for patients.

True true, we humans make minor impact on day-to-day basis but we should still strive to be minimally impactful on our world's resources.


I have this funny dream that one day I can publish a book of poems, so that led me down the Google rabbit-hole of checking who else balances writing and being a physician. Turns out, it's men for the most part.

Which led to me to read this.

The actions of our President continue to astound and shock me, and it seems to have placed many good folks in politics in tough situations.

6. 99% invisible
- El Gordo: expensive lottery tickets lead to whole towns being lifted economically upward, neat!

7. NYT The Daily
- Friday, Sept. 29, 2017: pleading insanity for murder and mental health stigma

8. This American Life - story on Proudboys

9. Finished Rumi and Slice of Life :) Going to try working on my speedreading because I am feeling that FOMO on missing out on knowledge!

September 10, 2017

What I've been reading

I'm taking a hot minute from studying to write an update. I'm under self-induced stress to meet several deadlines, because me being me, I pushed them all to the last minute. However, I like to think I work better under pressure. ( ´ ▽ ` )b

While I was busy ignoring what I needed to do, I read some stuff and cringe-watched my way through some other stuff. Stuff!

AO3's KakaIru Archive, and doujin
I never really understood this pairing. During high school, I was swept by the major ship at the time - Naruto and Sasuke! And I have to admit, not a fan of any of Kishimoto's female characters (except for Anko). All things have changed. I love the world-building Naruto lends itself to and I love that both Kakashi and Iruka are sane adults who have no revenge plots brewing in the back of their heads. I'm still not a fan of Kishimoto's portrayal of women in Naruto, but that doesn't mean I don't love who they could be in another fannish world.

I recommend any fic written by pentapus <3.

NYT No Benefit Seen in No-Salt Diets
In fact, there may be increased risk of heart disease from the rise in triglyceride fats, more insulin resistance, and increased sympathetic nervous system function. Salt in moderation!

NYT Taxing the wealthy
We used to have a 90% tax for those in the highest income bracket, and we were all happy with it until some president (cough Johnson) decided to start a movement toward lowering it. Now we're at about 40% for the highest income bracket. Not to mention the offshore accounts most wealthy folks stuff their extra cash in. Money in moderation!

The King's Woman
Not recommended. Way too much dubious consent and outright nonconsensual advances going on in this series. :/

Okay, back to the hole from whence I came.