Caterpillar Legs.

I am officially 50% a doctor. Stepping into medical school I was always burning with the questions of what would fill my mind at the end of it all and how this journey would change me. Here’s the answer so far:

  • I learned how to use a stethoscope, recognize heart failure, what fibromyalgia is, and how to delineate sepsis from the flu.
  • I realized how much I can learn if I put my pen down and listen. I do not need notes or papers, because they will not be there when I’m taking a test or with a patient. I learned to write down nothing, to absorb and retain things in my mind instead.
  • We can practically hear the whirring of the machines constantly at work behind an eardrum, but we still know so little about what actually goes on in there. Yet we have careers built on knowing everything about the numbers on wall street, and we even have careers built on creating numbers to analyze those numbers – all for an imaginary financial system filled with imaginary symbols of things that don’t really exist. I find myself looking recognizing this contrast a lot – and I’ve learned to value the soft dirt beneath toes or the pulse in warm skin and the trueness of real things.
  • There is absolutely nothing more beautiful than this crazy world of medicine. We get handed the next link in this chain that goes back to Aesculapius standing in a Greece temple in 350 B.C. or hotels serving as hospitals in England in 1622, and something about that feels magnificent and sacred.
  • Sometimes I feel like medical school is just like being given a pair of x-ray vision-type goggles. You begin to see things others cannot. Vomit with black specks is no longer such. It’s upper GI bleed, possibly a curved bacterium that has burrowed in the small curvature of a stomach.
  • I think we are built from the tiny moments in our lives.  Riding the bus home, standing in line, the in-between gap before your next duty. I’ve realized the beauty of these grains of time.
  • I’ve seen where medicine can so easily help (a simple tube of cream to a patient with atopic dermatitis who has scratched their skin open during months of sleepless nights), and I’ve seen where medicine falls short (we don’t know what’s causing that, describe your worsening angina for me again, you have to get your blood sugar under control first).
  • It takes at least 3 wrong attempts in answering something before I even begin to really understand it.
  • There is something very broken with the education system, and I am an intent on changing that somehow. But that will be a story for another day.
  • Life sweeps you away the second you let it. If you didn’t solidify your beliefs and morals – like really tie those loose threads and secure them – life will unravel them faster than you can reach. Medicine is especially dangerous for it’s ability to smear white-black boundaries into a grey smog of right and wrong. Dig your roots.
  • I realized doctors are detectives, every word is calculated, and the good ones can extract the keys to a diagnosis in that 15 minute window because of it. The ones who never polished this skill, who can’t scratch past the surface, live in loops of increasing doses and idiopathic this or that.
  • I am just a thin membrane wrapping organs. An air bellow puffing wind. Nucleic acids fighting with each other. A thousand genes that were somehow read, translated, strung together, and folded correctly. Every single one of us – we are just a single oxygen molecule slipping off hemoglobin, an electron passing from inside to outside, a phosphate group popping on and off. T
  • I’ll admit I didn’t believe it, but you really can run on four hours of sleep and remember that entire book.
  • I realized that somehow I lived 23 years of my life without knowing much about the huge red pipe running down our back, or the different kinds of cells that bubble out of our bones each minute, or how every human on this earth created the same 9 holes in the exact same spot in the bottom of their skulls while they were asleep inside a belly.
  • I learned a lot about myself. I saw how hard I’m willing to push myself, watched myself make conscious decisions about who I choose to surround myself with, and read the things that my younger self had engraved into my subconscious.
  • I learned a lot about other people. A sentence I read years ago in a book with no cover has popped into my head a countless number of times, and each time it’s more loud and true: “We are all just satellites, waiting to be heard and received.”
  • I realized that emotions are organic. You can nurture them but you can never fault them.
  • Nothing lasts as long as you think it will. Little hands staying little. Pain. Bliss. Confidence. Certainty. Which brings me to my two goals stepping forward in the other half of medical school:
  • Be fearless in failure.
  • Be fearless in the unknown.

 

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