the final leg : on fellow year three

Friday, June 27, 2014 |
monday marks the start to the last leg of a very long journey.  a journey far greater than i had imagined it when i made the decision to apply for medical school many wrinkles and under eye circles ago.  i entered college as a psychology major (isn't that what all children of psychologists start with?) and to this day find it fascinating.  but it was in the spring of my freshman year that i took a class in "Spirituality and Health" and decided "this is it!".  i remember the heavy humid heat that hung in the air as i walked from my evening class to my cramped dorm room with the sense that i had it all figured out (HA!).   i remember deciding on that walk that being a medical doctor was what i was meant to do with my life....a far cry from my childhood plans for a life as an ornithologist.

in retrospect i had absolutely no idea what being a physician really meant.  how incredibly difficult, how mentally and physically grueling (ahem, 70+ hour weeks while 38 weeks pregnant with a toddler at home! you survive that, my friends, and i'm fairly certain you can survive anything!), how indescribeably fulfilling it is.  perhaps if i knew then what i know now i would have been too afraid to embark on this journey.  i'd love to think otherwise but there is a small part of my heart that feels it to be true. for that, i'm forever grateful for my naivete.

i wrote THIS post after completing my first week of fellowship.  funny how it feels like a lifetime ago when i think about how much has happened in 2 short years.  funnier still is how the observations i made after just barely getting my toes wet stand the test of time.

four years of medical school, three years of residency, and now 2 years through a 3 year fellowship in Hematology/Oncology (blood disorders & cancer) it's time to write the final chapter of what has arguably been the most formative 10 years of my life (to date). 

so here goes.

being a heme/onc fellow is HARD: while getting to this point was preceeded by many years of preparation, these last 2 years of fellowship have been tough!  they've changed me, my mind and my heart, in ways i never knew i could grow. the ways in which it has changed me professionally are not necessarily shocking.  steep learning curves of medical knowledge, how to interpret the deluge of studies and tests ordered, forming differential diagnoses, medication management, reading medical literature and applying it to the person sitting in front of you, the list goes on... the ways in which it has shaped me personally are what i will truly grasp onto for a lifetime.  mostly because of the following....

people are INCREDIBLY resilient, including myself.  if i had a nickel for every time i met someone who had every single reason in the book to be angry or just plain sorry for themselves...well lets just say there's no piggy bank big enough. EVERY single day, i am amazed at the strength and positivity people are able to muster in spite of adversity and challenge, big and small.  every single day i thank god that i get to be reminded of how fleeting time can be.  i thank god that i get the chance to spend time with some of these folks because they teach me more in simple random moments than i think i could ever possibly teach or help them.  in a day in age where all we hear is bad news on TV...i want you to know that there is still so much love and good in this world.  i see it in the faces of my patients, their families, the people i work with, my colleagues, my friends.  it's there i'm telling you. 

if i've learned one single thing in this process it is this : life is about human connection.  it's really that simple.  it's not about chemotherapy plans or caring for a bleeding hemophiliac.  my profession calls on me to know how to handle these situations and this is a good thing....a tough job but someone has to do it, right?  what i've learned though, is that life is about simply being present for people....sometimes complete strangers.  particularly in the dark, scary, and uncomfortable moments.  in the moments when life has broken them down or placed them in a scenario that they are too scared to face alone.  life is about being there for those moments.  it's about the honesty to say "i may not know how this is all going to turn out, but you aren't going to have to do this alone."  

and that description doesn't just apply to those of us who are physicians.  i think it's something that anyone can do.  being a doctor, for me, has been a way to practice that unbelievably humbling art every single day but don't for one second believe that it's something only we are capable.  i think that we can all be healers for one another regardless of the letters behind our name.

i've learned more about myself in the past 3 years than any.  i have so many weak and vulnerable spots but i'm stronger than i think i knew when i started out.  i love my fellowship family and there's not much i wouldn't do for the group of people i have been blessed to work with this past 3 years.  our work life is so rewarding but it does weigh on our hearts at times...ok, alot of times.  i've gotten the chance to walk this path with some pretty awesome people, some of whom i now count as my closest and dearest friends and i wouldn't trade that for anything (human connection remember?!).  be thankful for the amazing people in your life, for real you guys.

speaking of amazing family: they still have that magical ability to make any day, no matter how catastrophically awful instantaneously better.  they are everything to me and the reason i get out of bed in the morning.  they make me a better person, a better doctor, a better me.  i truly do not know where or who i would be without them. and i don't intend to ever find out. i love you guys so so much, more than my simple jumbled words could ever say.  thank you, THANK you for always being my anchor.

weekends off still really rock and coffee remains the nectar of the gods.  since first year i've started drinking my coffee black...i don't mess around anymore.  next step : continuous infusion.

last but not least.....i still REALLY really love my job.  i learn at least one new thing every day. i'm never the smartest person in the room. i work with phenomenal people who make me smile and laugh and cry and believe in the good things and see the good even in the bad. i get the chance to help heal broken bodies or on a really good day a broken heart.  sometimes if i'm really lucky, i get to help heal both. what more could i possibly ask for?

so here's to the final leg...what an adventure i know it too will be.


Post a Comment

Newer Posts Older Posts Home
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...