it’s hard to believe it’s only been seven weeks.
in those seven weeks, i’ve had two midterms, one final exam, one anatomy practical, a number of check-offs and standardized patient encounters, countless quizzes, and even a reflection paper (what). it’s currently the second unit of the semester, with the final coming up in 2 weeks, 1 day. when they tell you medical school is a marathon not a sprint, they’re not joking (well.. partially. it feels like i’m sprinting the marathon). when they tell you medical school is like drinking out an exploded fire hydrant, they’re not lying.
hours pass slowly, but days pass quickly; weekends, unfortunately, pass the quickest of all. mornings turn to afternoons to evenings to late nights without my noticing. the sun rises after i get to campus, the sun sets before i leave it. i am always acutely aware of what time it is supposed to be, yet horrendously oblivious at the same time – the same goes for the day of the week and the day’s date.
i feel like all i do is study. one lecture here is roughly one week of lecture from an undergraduate course. i read textbooks, pore over atlases (not one, not two… but three!), rewatch lecture (…or watch for the first time if i’ve accidentally overslept or not-so-accidentally skipped), stare at one slide of a powerpoint for 20 minutes before i realize i’ve retained nothing. oh, also. i lied – i snack just as much as i study. you need glucose to focus, i say as i open the fourth can of pringles this week. i’m getting kind of sick of sour cream & onion.
before i sleep, my routine consists of writing out an hourly schedule for the next day. “5:30 alarm. 6:00 actually get up/get ready. 6:30 school/study. 9:00 lecture/breakfast. 12:00 lunch. 1:00 PCM lab. 2:00 study one hour; lecture 1. 3:00 anatomy lab. 5:00 home/dinner. 6:00 study. 12:00 sleep.” do i follow this schedule to a tee? the answer lies in how many days before an exam there are.
i sit with friends, people who were mere strangers just less than two months ago, finding the most inane, borderline-inappropriate things to laugh over. i tell them i’ve never been trick-or treating. “but… today in lab while going around the tank collecting fat/ fascia in the bucket.. i could imagine what it must be like”. coping mechanism? maybe. i don’t think others would find humor in the the things we find funny.
pride rises from the strangest of “achievements”. i have a really good triceps deep tendon reflex on my left arm, if you want to practice on me. my standardized patient told me i was really good at being personable. i can remove fascia really quickly now – let me show you. maybe it’s because there is so little else to brag about at this point of my career; being in medical school doesn’t seem as big an accomplishment after you do some practice questions and the answers sheet is littered in red ‘X’s.
medical school is incredibly, unbelievably difficult. i’d be lying if i told you i haven’t sulked in misery at least once or twice (a month? a week? a day? an hour? lol) since arriving here. actually, to tell the truth, i’m writing now because of this semi-unshakeable feeling of discouragement i’ve had recently. it’s totally irrational, i know. it’s only been 7 weeks, and i’m also the one who’s spouting to my friends that this is “still the adjustment period”, that we still have so much room to grow. but it’s easier to give advice than take your own, you know? i feel dumb, i feel inadequate, i feel jealous. old habits die hard, and the comparison habit is especially strong in a place where we are assigned class rank and earn +/- letter grades. i wonder if anyone will ever be able to entrust their health in my hands one day – i sure couldn’t trust myself based on how i’m doing right now. it’s an active task, a daily fight, to curb those unhealthy thoughts and emotions. to remind myself that being here is an immense honor, a privilege, a blessing. that through the suck, it’s somehow really, really fun. and the fact that i made it here should indicate that i can make it out.
maybe in four years, i can read back and laugh at how sad i was, less than two months into first year (i know, so dramatic), and then i can reminisce the good stuff that came from these first seven weeks. performing OMT on a classmate for practice and it actually working. going to a coffee shop so many times the barista recognizes you and gives you a snack while you study. trying every single crab rangoon in town and creating an elaborate ranking system (instead of studying, whoops).
*i have to go back to studying and have no time for a conclusion, i’m sorry guys*