Failed Diets, Energy Drinks, and Dead People
Monday, July 23, 2012
I’ve spent the past 73 hours snorting the pungent scent of formaldehyde, watching lectures with my eyelids half open with my chin on my desk, and praying. I’ve scraped through cadaver fat, held lymph nodes hardened from cancer in my hand, and gotten bone dust in my nose from sawing a human head in half. I’ve listened to the “lub-dub” of the chest and neck, rapped on several of my friends’ backs (and a milk carton for practice) to hear the high, hyperressonant sound of healthy lungs. I’ve discovered the magic elixir of Monster energy drinks. And I’ve held a human heart in my hand. Ours had a triple bypass, and you could still see the little blue “x’s” of the remnant stitches someone had artfully attached to make this life last a little longer.
Medical school is utter exhaustion followed by a few, brief periods of relief (which we call sleep).
I sullenly have to admit that in the midst of this hurricane of information, sometimes I’ve lost track of why I worked so hard to get here in the first place. I’ve wanted this more than anything. But when I see the sun shining outside my window, the opportunities that would await me if I had the chance to step out of my door and try or go somewhere new—anywhere—or to meet anyone, or to really do anything but live within these walls, I wonder if it’s worth it. My skin is pasty pale. My legs want to go outside and take a run in the forest around Tallahassee. And I might be able to see past the first semester anatomy course if I thought there might be an end to the madness. How could that be, when physicians barely have enough time to see their patients? How, when someday I hope to have a small family that will also demand my attention, kids that may pull at my heartstrings when they’ve called home sick from school, and I can’t get them immediately because have patients who are depending on me too?
I love the body, and I can’t wait to take care of people. I never realized how truly sacrificial a vocation this is, but I think that it’s important that I understand it. You have to either love the career, or you’ll spend it in utter misery. I’ll be the former…as soon as I learn to find some level of balance.
In the past two months, I’ve learned close to 4,000 new terms. I can pick up on subtle symptoms that I never would have before medical school, like how much eye problems or slight face deformities could be signs of big underlying problems. How the nose is such a perfect route for fixing brain problems. How a simple dry cough could indicate a much bigger problem in the heart. I think I look like I’ve aged maybe five years or more, but my brain (if not the rest of my body, which is suffering from caffeine, sugar, and this new sedentary lifestyle) is more ready and willing to learn than ever before. I’m still awed and fascinated by the body, but I’m also terrified by its complexity. How on earth can anyone remember all of this? And if we don’t, how can we expect to properly take care of our patients?
Well guess what sugar? You got yourself into this for a reason, and after this test, where you somehow pulled it together and thought clearly through every clinical problem, you’d better realize that half of the survival game is attitude. I made it. I was one of the 140 out of 4000 students who got here, and it wasn’t because I’m smart. It’s because I truly want this. I LOVE the doctoring course, even if I’m not a fan of hanging around with the dead bodies, and I’m in love with God’s craftsmanship. There’s just no greater evidence of His work than looking at the intricacy of development and the human body, and I’m honored just to get to see it. And I’m incredibly grateful and indebted to the people who sacrificed their bodies after their death for me to learn.
I will survive this, and I will work on finding a balance. I only get this one shot at medical school, and I’m going to take it and run with it. I CAN DO THIS!
Now, off to enjoy a few hours of post-test freedom before digging into the guts (abdominal cavity) tomorrow…to the gym!