Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year...

We're closing in on the last day of the year, a situation which tends to make me reflective. It's been quite a year, 2011. This was the year that I started putting dreams to action, the year that things started to gel together and form a path forward. October 14, 2010 was the day I decided to go to med school. 2011 was the year it started to happen.

I started the year with a brand new plan, a chemistry and biology book, and a lot of hope. I learned early on that science was going to take more than what I'd always done. I studied, I cried, I lamented that I was supposed to be one of the smart kids. I memorized constants and equations. I bit off more than I could chew. I passed organic chemistry.

I tried volunteering in a hospital emergency room. The suburban campus was a bit too slow for me, and I felt like I was always in the way. So I tried a new approach and signed up for an EMT class.

I tried using my network of contacts and informants to secure a research position, but eventually just tossed my hat in the ring for someone looking for a "highly motivated undergrad" who decided I was the one.

I killed millions of yeast. I became so good at PCR that my PI decided I would be carrying out her PCR reactions from now on. I applied for my first NIH grant. I realized there are a lot of hoops to jump through, t's to cross, and i's to dot. The struggle continues on that one.

I fell in love with quiet little moments stolen between study sessions. I realized focus was more important than doing a thousand things at once. I withdrew from my first course - calculus - and realized that just redoubling my efforts was not always the way to succeed. Sometimes you had to go back down to base camp and try another ascent.

I rejoined the workforce in an entry-level position in a hospital. I fell in love with patient contact, and realized the power I had in just holding someone's hand. I worked on small talk, something at which I've never been very good. The weather, where are you from, what do you do, how about them 'stillers, all became di rigeur. The struggle continues still.

I came to appreciate people I had taken for granted. I fell in love with my husband again. My quirky little professor who brought me coffee while I toiled, who cheered me on from the side lines, who told me that yes, I could, even when I didn't think so. Who let me take his vital signs a bazillion times until I finally got the blood pressure thing.

I was more frustrated than I can ever recall being. Chemistry books became my constant companion, and people rarely saw my face outside of them. But even with this, I did not study enough. I did not commit enough time, and I did not do enough problems. So, for 2012, I resolve to study in a different way. I'm trying some new tactics, recording lectures, transcribing notes, focusing more, doing more problems. Less relaxation and tv, more actual work.

2011 was the year where I turned my life 180 degrees and committed all my actions towards one goal. 2012 will be the year where we move, full speed ahead, toward that distant horizon.

And all I can be right now is just thankful. Thankful that I'm here. Thankful that I get this chance. Thankful that I have this opportunity. Thankful for all those people who support me, who keep me going, who read my frantic texts about equations, who laugh with me, cry with me, mix chemicals and distill things with me, and let me borrow their notes.

Thank You.

The joy for me is in the journey AND the eventual destination. So thank you for all those people with me along the way, and for those people who believe I'll eventually get there. You all mean the world to me, and I could not possibly be doing this without you.

Happy new year!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

the dream

Passed my EMT practical exam, and in a few short hours, will pass the written. It's like throwing gasoline on a fire... exposure to medicine enhances my desire to practice it. The art of the patient history exam is like playing detective and problem solver all in one.

I've been working at the hospital now for a little over a month. I just work weekends, and while I come home exhausted, I often find myself looking forward to going to work. I even love the smell of the hand soap. I feel like a dry sponge, looking to soak up everything I possibly can, learn everything thrown my way, and talk to everyone who'll talk to me.

I still need to figure out shadowing. It's intimidating, trying to conjure up the cahones to talk to a doctor and ask. Who do I ask? What do I say? How does it work? The thing is, I really want to do it. I want to see what it's like. I want to spend a day shadowing as many different kinds of doctors as I possibly can. If there's something to be seen about medicine, I want to see it.

It's become an obsession, really. I wish I could say the same about organic chemistry. ;)