Two weeks down, nine weeks to go. It’s certainly too early to be counting down spring quarter, the last of my second year. But I can’t help it! Once the quarter is over, my classmates and I will be halfway done with our education at ICO and even closer to reaching our visionary goals. But let’s backtrack a bit and talk about what’s been going on here so far.
When winter quarter ended in mid-February and numerous sighs of relief were expelled at the end of our last final, all you could see was happiness–a weeklong break was upon us! In celebratory fashion, my friends and I toasted cherry pop sugar cookies and grinned from ear to ear. When night came and rest was somewhat caught up on, we headed out to Eataly, Mario Batali’s 63,000-square-foot food emporium. Housing a market with more than 10,000 gourmet items as well as 23 eateries, Eataly opened its doors to much fanfare last December in River North. The venue was buzzing with hoards of customers and the lines were long, but the payoff for all the waiting was worth it–I’m still dreaming about that hot crepe oozing with chocolately goodness from the Nutella bar.
My classmates and I are taking six courses right now: Ocular Pharmacology, Ocular Disease, Physical Optics, Physical Diagnosis, Optometry Seminar and Microbiology. We’re in the third and final quarter of the Pharmacology and Optics sequences. In Pharmacology, we’re now focusing on the drugs we’ll be prescribing to our future patients. Optics course is looking a lot like physics right now.
Chicago’s Michigan Avenue is famously home to the Magnificent Mile, the city’s toniest shopping strip. Go five miles south on Michigan and you’ll find ICO. Something else you’ll find: a plethora of great restaurants. Below, four of my favorite dining experiences on the Windy City’s best-known street.
My highlight of 2014 so far was a trip to Waffles! It’s a delicious retro-style diner just over two miles from campus in the South Loop. From campus, hop on the #4 bus headed north and you shall be there in about five to 10 minutes, closer to five. I ordered the red velvet waffles (served with an unbelievably good whipped cream cheese topping), and my friend had the Mexican chocolate waffles. Unfortunately I didn’t ask my friend for a bite so I can’t tell you how the Mexican chocolate waffles tasted, but it’s worth a trip back for the red velvet waffles alone! When I went on a recent Saturday morning, there was no wait–a nice surprise. And, the service was great.
1. You start collecting everything that has an eye chart or glasses on it
Even before hipsters or the “nerd look” became cool, optometrists have always been on the lookout for glasses everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if all of us have owned an optometry mug or two at some point. Just how many shirts with glasses on it could I need in my lifetime? I don’t know, but what I DO know is that I will probably spend a good portion of my savings on optometry-related pieces for my wardrobe. I almost bought a bottle of wine with an eye chart on it, and I don’t even drink wine. I have at least four rings with glasses of different styles and colors. My roommate has earrings with an eye chart on them. It’s an addiction, I don’t know how to stop it, but I am secretly quite proud of it.
2. TV isn’t the same anymore
I was watching “House” and noticed that Dr. Foreman was holding an ophthalmoscope funny. Silly Dr. Foreman, his finger should be on the dial so he can focus on the optic nerve! Even while we watch “Friends,” in the episode where Rachel goes to see the eye doctor (Google Rachel at the Eye Doctor for the video), you’ll notice the optometrist uses a slit lamp and pretends it can deliver a puff of air. Things I could overlook as a naive first year can no longer escape me. I noticed I started getting satisfaction from correctly guessing what ailments the characters had. I distinctly remember yelling at the TV, “THIS GUY HAS A TIA!” (transient ischemic attack) right before the doctor diagnosed the same thing. Sure, all my non-optometry school friends have no idea what I just said out loud (a little too loud), but hey, I felt pretty smart. I don’t think I could get much more nerdier than that. I guess that’s one way to apply the knowledge I learned at school.
So most students at ICO are taking finals right now. (As a fourth year, I’m done with all that.)
I’d commiserate and cry tears of empathy, but I’m not sure I can spare the energy.
As most of you know, Chicago and much of the country is under what may be called a deep freeze.
The great lakes are frozen over. Your legs haven’t seen sunlight in months, you aren’t entirely sure what T-shirts are anymore, and you can pop your head into the freezer for a nice relief of warmth.
If a Calgarian is complaining about the cold, you know you’re in trouble.
Here are some tips to help you stay warm in this bitter, bitter cold.
So you know that class in optometry school that you just never understood?
The one that, despite your best and most earnest of efforts, you dramatically bombed?
Well, mine was Vision Rehabilitation (the artist formerly known as Low Vision).
It’s not like I suck at optics, but for some reason, when VAs aren’t recorded in Snellen fractions my blood vessels seize up and I just pass out. For once I’m not exaggerating–I legitimately have an awkward fight or flight reaction that results in me on the floor. Let me summarize a few of the salient points I get confused about:
- I don’t think I’ll ever know how small 0.4/2M is.
- I will never understand what distance you move the hand-held magnifier away from your face to get a clear image.
- And don’t even get me started on Feq and how to calculate it
(A vast majority of you are scoffing because those things are so extremely basic for you. I commend you for being too cool for school. To the select few that share my low vision terror: Rest assured, we stand united.)
Anyway, it’s no surprise I headed to my first shift at Chicago Lighthouse with extreme trepidation. The Lighthouse is an organization that serves blind or visually impaired patients, and it’s home to the oldest low vision clinic in the country.
“What did you study and how did you prepare to apply?”
Across the roundtable from me sat a second year college student–wide-eyed, curious and ambitious. She was considering applying to healthcare professional schools and was seeking my advice. In response to her question, I told her and everyone listening in that I majored in biological sciences and took classes to fulfill my prerequisites that included biology, chemistry, calculus and so on. In addition to the required courses, I took other classes that interested me like theatre and virology. She followed up by asking about the clubs I participated in and other commitments I had while in undergrad. I was in Mission for Vision, a club focused on eye care. Outside of school, I worked in a corporate eye care center and later in a private practice to further immerse myself within the field.
After answering the student’s questions, I was met by the nods of eight others seated with us at the large dining table where we shared lunch. We were all taking part in a program last month called Taking the Next Step, an annual event hosted by my alma mater, the University of Chicago. During the event, alums of the university like myself interact with second and third year students and talk about life after graduation–what we’re doing now and how we got there. Students at the event attend two sessions: a formal lunch where they share a table with one or two alumni, and a group panel where they can ask established professionals about their career paths.