Do the Thing

Saturday, October 7, 2017




"You're such a badass!"

"You're amazing."

"I wish I could do everything you're doing."

"You make it look so easy."

"I don't know how you do it."

Here's the thing: Neither do I.

All of these statements have been said to me at one time or another in the last 18 months or so, usually with regard to the fact that I was either pregnant and in med school or that I had a baby and was in med school. I know I should probably just take the compliment, say thank you, and move on, but it actually kind of makes me uncomfortable, like I'm some kind of imposter. Because seriously, I have no idea how I'm doing it. I barely know what day it is most days. For real.

If you're playing the home game, you've realized that it's been a minute (ahem, a month and a half) since I last posted. Since then, much has changed. Much has stayed the same. I finished my ER rotation and I'm still really bad at putting in IV's. (Shout out to all the nurses out there who put in IV's like, 900 times a day. You're all heroes in my book.) I started and finished my Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine/Pain rotation, and it was truly painful. There were 18 students on a rotation where we barely had enough doctors to support half that many, and so it was a lot of standing around NOT leaning on walls, lest we get yelled at for smudging them. (Not kidding.) I am 2 weeks into a Medical Genetics rotation that is proving to be far less interesting than I originally had hoped, but at least I'm learning something and my attending is nice and no one cares if I lean on a wall every once in awhile. Oh, I also applied to residency, then promptly threw up and passed out from anxiety. (Okay, maybe not that last part.)

The tiny human is still alive and being a tiny human. She's really amazing, and most days, I still can't believe that I'm her mom. Sometimes, that's because she is so sweet and adorable, I can't even believe she's real. After all the heartache it took to get here, this miracle rainbow of mine just seems too good to be true. Then there are days that I can't believe I'm her mom because I put my keys in the fridge, I lost my brand new prescription sunglasses, and I can't find my phone because I'm holding it in my hand. Like, who let me procreate here? Who rubber-stamped that decision? Oh, me? It was me? Well, that explains a few things. (What it doesn't explain is why my keys are in the fridge.)

Usually my answer to, "I don't know how you do it," is to quickly stop myself from saying, "Shhhhh, don't tell anyone, I'm totally making this up as I go along," and instead I say something to the effect of, "Well, I'm just... doing it!" and then I laugh nervously and change the subject. I also tend to bring up Ken, and blame (attribute?) the entire success of this operation to him. To a certain extent, that's actually true. I literally (and I mean that in the actual definition of the word, not that messed up new way that people use it) could not do this without him. Ken is the reason I have clean clothes and the reason the house is vacuumed. He is the reason dinner is made most nights and the reason we have food in our pantry. He's the reason I'm not curled up under our kitchen table in the fetal position, rocking back and forth, crying about how life is uncertain and how I am unsure whether I can go on like this. (Okay, that's actually never happened, but it is a real possibility, people.

It's especially been a real possibility as of late. I don't know why, but my anxiety has been terrible. Okay, that's a lie, I have a pretty good idea why it's been so bad, and that reason is fourth year of medical school. They say that 4th year is supposed to be the FUN year, but they (Who are they? We may never know.) must be talking about after March, once you have that letter in your hand that says where you've matched for residency. Until then, it's constant flux. I'm in 4 different places over the next 4 months on 4 different peds specialties, which is great and I should learn a ton, but it means constant transitions. Learning a new hospital, figuring out how to use a new EMR, learning how to present to a new attending, all while trying to impress whoever you're in front of because these are audition rotations and with any luck, they're supposed to help get you interviews. On top of that, I'm now obsessively stalking my own email and ERAS, waiting for interview invitations, so I basically have a psychotic break every time my phone vibrates. I'm really fun to be around now, you guys! 

And I know that I am not alone in my plight and that every 4th year med student out there is probably feeling similarly, but my anxiety is having a field day. I'm not even anxious just about residency and matching; it's actual, honest-to-goodness generalized anxiety. As I explained it to a friend the other day, "You know how sometimes, you get a rush of adrenaline like you're about to go into fight-or-flight mode? Well, it's like that. Only all the time. I'm about to go into fight-or-flight mode, but there's no bear that's about to eat me. All day, every day, from the minute I open my eyes to the minute I fall asleep, I'm on that edge."And don't get me wrong, I'm glad there isn't an actual bear who is about to eat me. I'd just like to reserve this feeling for such a time where it makes sense, like if I were about to be eaten by a bear, and not because I have to drive my car or leave the house. Like I said, super fun over here! ::confetti::

So, how do I do it? I get up every day, no matter how reluctantly, and I do the thing. Sometimes I have to bribe myself with chocolate chips. Or coffee. Or whatever the thing is that will get me out the door to do the thing. But I do it. I do it because I'm paying a lot of money for the privilege of standing around, not leaning on walls, theoretically learning how to be a doctor. I do it because I'm so far into this, I can't quit because I have too much debt and nothing else I do will pay me enough to eventually someday maybe pay it off. I do it because my family is depending on me to finish this damn thing. I do it because my daughter needs to know that she can do the hard things. I do it because it's all I've wanted since I was 9. I do it because I don't really have a choice; it's in my blood.

I haven't watched Grey's Anatomy in a really long time. Like, not since season 3 or something. This quote always sticks with me though, 

"I mean if life's so hard already, why do we bring so much trouble on ourselves. What's up with the need to hit the self-destruct button? Maybe we like the pain. Maybe we're wired that way because without it... I don't know. Maybe we just wouldn't feel real. What's that saying... Why do I keep hitting myself with a hammer? Because it feels so good when I stop."


Here's to doing the thing. 

Unrelated PS: Should I go back and rewatch all of Grey's Anatomy? Someone make this decision for me. I have no brain cells left to do it myself.




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