General, Life, School

Hello, again!

09.27.09 | 6 Comments

I promised myself going back to school that I would cut down on the tweeting, facebooking, and general internet piddling. Weekly Flickr and blog posts were acceptable, but no more. As it happened, I barely uploaded to Flickr and (obviously) posted nothing here. I was significantly less attached to the computer and my phone and more engaged in my work.

And it paid off.

I passed all my exams and even HONORED developmental anatomy. HONORED IT. There’s honor, high pass, pass, and marginal performance. I’ve never done anything more than pass before. In med school anyway. I had high expectations of myself, most of which I met. I plan to do better in my other classes next block (which is only a short month away), but I’m considerably more confident of my abilities than I was when I started. Forgive me if it sounds like I’m bragging, but this is what I have wanted for a very, very long time.

The first week was rough; I won’t lie. I had prepared myself that it would be difficult seeing all my former classmates in their second year capacity while I was again upstairs, meeting my new classmates, going through the same motions, with all the awkwardness plus some. But it was worse than I expected. I felt stigmatized by the incoming kids, even though there are many from last year in a similar situation as mine. Each class has its own personality, and I truly love my initial class. I was still, after having seven whole months to deal with the reality, grieving. And I was embarrassed. So embarrassed. For many reasons that are not known or obvious to my former and current classmates, I did not perform. I just couldn’t hang. I felt that the new kids looked at me with a janky eye. Last year’s classmates, legitimately concerned and very sweetly supportive, seemed to pity me. I feared for the next person who cocked their head and said, “How ARE you?” in a tone that could be considered condescending, even though I’m sure it wasn’t meant that way. Every time I saw an old friend, I was reminded I wouldn’t be in their classes, and every time I met someone new in my class, it seemed they were familiar in some way, but, best case – slightly less cool than people I already knew, and worst case – out and out rude. This was my perspective.

Failing last year was traumatic. Dealing with that was like reliving the cancer. Honestly I was more upset about that than the cancer. Maybe that’s ridiculous, but it’s how I felt. I was so angry. With cancer, it’s something that happened TO ME. This I felt I did to myself. There were circumstances out of my control, what with the storm and all, but everything else was up to me. And I let myself and those around me down. I felt like I lost another year of my life.

And for about three days I was miserable. Excited to be in school and grateful for the opportunity to try again, but just miserable. It was weird.

Then I had an attitude adjustment. Instigated by Dr. Oakes’s talk during our AMWA meeting, I felt like I had been… not slapped, but restrained. You know how when your toddler is freaking out and tired and fighting sleep and generally a danger to herself and others, and you just have to hug her really tightly and speak softly but firmly and wait until she gets it? That’s what happened. I’ve heard that message a few hundred times since I had to take a leave of absence. I’ve heard it from those who love me and from myself. Repeatedly. I’ve taken it to heart. But it never lasted longer than my own self absorption.

This time I just wanted to feel something different. She was talking to a whole lecture hall full of people, but every word applied directly to me. So something sucky happened. Now deal with it. The past is the past; you can’t change it now. Let go. Give it away. Quit wasting your time being miserable. You’re still here.

Something clicked and I stopped passively hearing it or telling it to myself. I thought it. I became it. I’M STILL HERE.

And so I worked. I learned more those first ten days than all of last fall’s semester. I have never known academic focus like that. (Oddly, the actual grades were better before I had this focus. 😉 That was before med school.) I learned what works for me – what I’ve always known – that I learn the very best, initially, alone. But I do need other people to keep me on my toes. I have a fantastic main study partner and several others willing to help when I have questions, all of whom I thank tremendously.

Of course I’ll never be able to thank my family enough for their support. Joel’s parents saved us this week – with Zoe sick for almost three weeks now, Joel and I on the brink, they drove down and truly saved the day. Had I not seen the physical car, I’d think they flew here with their capes. Though perhaps they hoisted it on their pinkies and flew anyway – I’ll never know.

There were ups and downs this block, and I’m sure before I’m done with this semester or this year or residency or my career, I’ll have more of those moments were I wonder why I’m doing it. But I’m going to be the best doctor that only I can be. I may come to like my colleagues better and laugh about my initial impressions of them. I probably will. Maybe I won’t. I really don’t care. What other people do think or might think about me isn’t much of a concern. I’m putting my energies into what works for me and my family, what gets us though these hurdles whole and happy.

Tomorrow a new block starts, and I’m doing it all again. Hopefully I won’t fall off the face of the Earth this time. Maybe I’ll tweet less and put it into here. For now, I’ll share what I found via my friend’s blog. Our Deepest Fear by Marianne Williamson. I need to read it every day.


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