Oops. Its accidentally been six months since I posted.
I notoriously only post during or immediately following life transitions, usually on the nights I can’t sleep and mostly for journaling purposes. Since I don’t have the balls to post my 30 million word draft laying the facts out to these crunchy-granola-essential-oils-non-vaccinating moms and I don’t really have any real earth-shattering-career-in-medicine-advice for anyone, I will continue to just post my actual life for my own therapeutic benefit.
Such is the case tonight, holed up in a hospital call room at 3 AM
Tonight I’m up because I finally was able to sleep all day preparing for this night shift, but in general recently, I’ve been kept up at night for two very big Big BIG things coming up shockingly soon.
1) I’m getting married in
54 days 43 days.
2) I’m feeling self-induced pressure to pick a specialty. So that after 20-something years of school, I can finally decide what it is I’m going to be when I grow up.
I feel like no one will be shocked to find out that I find wedding planning to be stressful. I’ve dreamt more than once that whoever does my nails right before the wedding, manages to stain my entire distal phalanges black with that soap they make you dip your fingers in. At times I feel like spending the money and doing this big show and party is something I could take or leave as long as I have Dru in the end.
Like everything else I worry about, it will be here before we know it and I’ll wish I had worried less and enjoyed it more.
When I started med school, I came in expecting that the rest of my life had to be put on hold, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. As far as experiences go, I can’t even explain how much more life has been packed into these two and a half years, and how much more I’m sure there is in the one and a half years until residency.
I see the experiences Dru and I have gained in the pictures from first year of medical school to now. We look older- sure, but we look more confident too. We look like we’ve come into our own. We look and talk like the medical students I shadowed in undergrad at a free clinic; competently getting histories and examining patients, managing meds and talking to attendings, about to enter residency. I remember being in awe of them and feeling like I would never be that smart and smooth, navigating through life and death situations and pimp questions and nailing procedures without hands shaking and voice-cracking.
I see the experience we’ve gained in how we treat each other. I can’t see myself belonging with someone that is not in medicine because of how much we just “get” it. Over the holidays, I was working and we had plans to go see my family. I got off my shift that day after watching a preterm baby die, and the plans changed immediately without me having to say “Let’s not go yet.” I cried for an hour, telling the story, the diagnoses, the labs, the meds- and he gets it. Nothing had to be explained. We knew the medicine and why it had happened, and we knew I just needed a minute.
Like I said, the opposite of what I expected when I matriculated has happened. Life has not just “gone on” in medical school. It’s not just passing me by while I sit stagnant in a classroom. Even when I was in the classroom, everyone is doing important things. Classmates have had kids, got married, moved houses, and gained and lost more relationships than I can count. The part that amazes me most on rotations is getting to take part in other people’s important experiences everyday.
Like a breastfed baby’s growth curve, life experiences increase quickly in 14, 15, sometimes 16 hours shifts. It shockingly still comes fast on days that I am off work, reading medicine and watching boards videos. It feels fast when I’m paying bills with loan money, and when I’m booking a DJ for the wedding, and when I’m cooking for multiple roommates and our significant others, and training for 10k’s and babysitting my sisters’ babes that aren’t hardly even babies anymore. The more I juggle, the more I feel like I actually may come out of this as a doctor. It’s not all-consuming like I expected. Doctors have way more life than just doctoring, and so do the med students.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel behind sometimes. I feel like parts of life are on hold until I get through this thing. I feel as though I’m falling behind my peers in life stages as I see houses bought and baby bumps growing and jobs changing. And while I have yet to do or have any of those things, there are other things I have accomplished.
I scrubbed into a surgery a few months ago on a 25 year old female having her tubes tied because she’s had 4 kids already and she wants to be done. I’m watching us permanently sterilize this girl wondering if I’ve missed the baby train.
On the other hand, I too, am 25 years old and was first assist in that surgery.
You win some, you lose some.
I’ve held a dying woman’s hand. I counseled a teenager on her depression and watched relief wash over her face as I reassured her that its not normal that she feel so sad all the time and that there is help for her. I stayed late to bottle feed a baby in the NICU with no family to visit him. These things are important and they are a part of my reality just as much as they are my patients’ realities. They are a part of my life, and I’ve matured as a human because they allowed me to be a part.
Now to my #2 worry
Medical students are surprisingly active in online forums and social media for how much they actually should be reading. Just look at medical students on twitter or studentdoctor.net. Everyone’s got an opinion, advice, this magical pathway to getting into “x-y-z” specialty and the best programs and CV’s and interviews tips. Ugh… the med school application process nightmares are coming back to haunt me. It never ends.
It seems like every attending, resident, and classmate all have an opinion of what I should do.
I’ve thought I wanted to do OB/GYN since I was in 8th grade. I read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” from cover to cover.
In seven months of rotations though, I’ve learned some more things about myself.
I’ve learned that I still love OB/GYN, if possible more than I did at the ripe age of 13 when I watched my nieces grow in my sister’s belly.
But as far as picking a specialty goes, its not that simple.
I still love women’s health. I LOVE babies. I like the way breastfed babies smell. I love young healthy people. I love kids. I love old sick people. I love non-compliant patients that remind me of my ornery, stubborn dad. I hate night shifts. I hate not sleeping in my own bed. I hate not cooking my own dinner. I want my own kids to know who I am. I want to pack their lunches and see their dance recitals. I don’t particularly like the smell of the hospital. I don’t like listening to nurses talk about their dieting, the same as how I didn’t like listening to nursing students talk about their dieting in undergrad. Go figure.
Still reading? Here’s even more things I hate and love…
I hate hospital food. I hate OMM. I love keeping people out of the hospital. I like when I know what I’m doing. I love treatment algorithms. I like telling teenagers not to screw their lives up. I don’t like watching people die. I like improving people’s lives. I like guessing what medicine patients are taking when all they can remember is the first letter. I like figuring out what birth control people should take. I like talking to moms about their kids. I like educating patients. I like cleaning out ears. I like procedures. I love vaginal births where nothing goes wrong. I don’t like surgery. I hate pain management. I love clinic. I don’t like 8 year old boys with ADHD. I like free pharmaceutical rep lunches. I like helping people lose weight with actual science (aka not how nurses diet). I love educating my patients. I hate musculoskeletal complaints.
If anyone has a specialty-determining algorithm that gives me all of those things…. hit me up.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from applying to medical school successfully, its that it isn’t cut and dry. No two applications are the same. There’s more than one way into med school, and it sounds cheesy but you have to follow your heart. There were med schools that were right for me and med schools that weren’t right for me. The same will be true for residency, and just because you can get into a residency doesn’t mean you should go there. I know I’ll find my niche. Dru will find his and we will be in the same zip code some way, some how, come hell or high water. I know God has the right plan for us and we will make it work. I know we both love medicine and each other and our families and that I need to quit worrying and go write my morning progress notes before my resident wakes up.