Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Unbreakable Vow

Can you believe it’s the last week of classes? Where did the time go? I feel as though I’m about to lose you, as our lives go flinging off in different directions. Before we get crazy with studying for the test that must not be named, we all owe it to each other to take a minute out of this day and remind ourselves of the responsibilities and commitments we have to each other.

I mean its basically like we’re all part a huge, slightly dysfunctional family and like it or not, you’re kind of stuck with us. No one does it alone (buck up my commitment phobic friends). So wherever you’re sitting right now, sign the pledge below. I promise its less of a pain than the Shiner’s paperwork. Sign it with your heart, or in your mind or with coffee or a white board pen. Sign it because doing this together is going to be way better than doing it alone.  

1.    When its late or you’re tired and you’ve been studying all day and you’re a lonely/hungry/grouchy/miserable mess, remember that 100 some odd people still think you’re pretty loveable. But maybe shower cause you’re also a little gross.

2.     We promise to never intentionally throw each other under the bus (metaphorically or otherwise). This includes but is not limited to: bringing in a paper without telling you ahead of time, stealing credit for work you have done, answering a question that was asked of you and/or otherwise being a jerk. We will do our absolute best to have your back at all times.

3.     We promise to help each other in any way that we can. You can borrow my extra pair of scrubs or my pen. Yes, you can have some of these gross fries I bought from the cafeteria two days ago. Sure, I’ll look up SIRS criteria for you. I’ll try to help you figure out how to use EMR or talk to a patient/nurse/attending. I’ll try to make sure you don’t hit your head if you pass out.

4.     If you find yourself being asked a question next year and don’t know the answer, we promise to try to whisper/ mouth/ telepathically communicate it to you if we can. There will be a million questions we don’t know, and I promise to never make fun of you or make you feel bad for not knowing something. In turn, there are going to be lots of things I don't know too. Let's try to learn together. Now what’s the Hep B prevalence in Laos? 

5.     We promise to always be available for you to talk to. No, its not weird if you call/text/message us. Tell me what’s going on. Tell me what I can do to help. Tell me what you’re feeling or how hard its been or anything else you want to talk about. We don’t mind, you’re not bothering us and its our responsibility to each other to communicate well and honestly...whatever time of day it might be.

6.     We promise to never ask you your score on any test or evaluation henceforth. You are not a number to us. Our only concern is your fun vacation plans or how you are taking care of yourself or whether or not you have more than just mustard in the fridge.

7.     If we get coffee, we will bring you some too. Its good JuJu—plus you look tired.

These are our promises. In a crazy world with an unrelenting schedule (please plan to be sick only 4 days next year, kthanks), it will be a little better, a little brighter knowing that I have your back like you have mine...promise. 

x. ____________Me_______        x. _____________You__________

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Like I'm Going to Lose You

I ate an entire bag of Hint of Lime tortilla chips. In my bed. At 11:30 at night. 

Maybe that’s why I had crazy nightmares. 

In my sodium induced sleep, I dreamt my parents had died. Suddenly and alone. I don’t remember the details of how I found out, but like many of my dreams I was in Med Ed, standing on the second floor breezeway. 

I decided I would send them a smiley face emoji text. I held my phone in my hand waiting for a response (because let’s be real, my parent’s don’t text anyone but me). But it never came. And in that moment--even though I was dreaming— it felt real. It felt like I had lost them forever.

Perhaps grief and loss are best to known to us through pining for communication. Just one little smiley face? Tell me you’re okay. Tell me you can hear me. Let me know you’re still there.

Knowing they would never respond, I felt as though someone had cut me open from carotid to iliac crest. I stood eviscerated on the second floor landing. An orphan at 30. 

I woke myself up screaming. 

I looked at my alarm clock. 4:03am. Way too early to call my parents, who were no doubt fast asleep.

Funny that I should have the urge to call them now. When I have neglected to call them for weeks and only make halfhearted attempts to respond to their texts. They mail me cute cards and cartoons they’ve cut out of the newspaper— and yet sometimes I barely read them, before throwing them on top of my pile of papers. 

My go to excuse is that I am busy. Medical school is my priority and exacts a price of free time and sanity. Besides, I’m doing this for us. As their only child, it will be my job to care for them when they are older. “I’ll put you in the nice nursing home,” I joke. 

The trouble is, I think I have time. Time to spend with them later. Time to make up for all of the missed calls and days when I can’t come home because…you know…I’m studying. 

How many times is enough to tell someone you love them? I guess the answer is always— just one more. 

I realize that my priorities have been a bit backwards as of late. Okay…okay…maybe a bit longer than that. And it took a Super Bowl snack to help me realize that the time I have with the ones I love is now. What a wonderful thing to be reminded of onValentine’s Day. 

My New Year’s resolutions (swear less, drink more water, and for the love of God to stop eating chips in bed) have long since gone out the window. So I’m going to make a new one right now. One that doesn’t include walking 10,000 steps a day. No, my new promise to myself is to talk to and spend time with my family. They are the reason I’m in medical school to begin with. I will make them proud, but I will also make time to listen about how crowded Trader Joe’s was or the cute thing that our dog did, or the weird cubicle mate my Dad has. Those are just as important as anything that could ever be on Step 1. 

As physicians, it will be our job to give people back to their families. We fight to give our patients healthy years so that they can spend them with the people they love. We recognize that this is what life is really about, and that’s why we work so hard to earn a degree. 

So do me a favor. Pick up your phone. Call your family. Tell them you love them. I think you’ll find, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Can I have your autograph?

OMG. I cannot believe you’re reading this right now. You are so famous! I’m such a huge fan of your work. Can we take a selfie for my Instagram? I know you must get this all the time. I mean how do you manage to make it out of the house without getting mobbed by paparazzi? I honestly don’t know how you do it. But it is such an honor that you’re reading these words.

I bet you never even thought that you would be famous right? I mean did you ever imagine that out of 67,000 applications to California medical schools you would be one of the 1,200 people to actually attend? How does it feel to live your dream? Also my palms are sweating. What can I say, you’re a little intimidating.

I hope that you’re having a lot of fun being famous. Goofing around, playing sports or music with friends, going out to eat at new places, taking silly photos and being in silly videos. Visiting the snow, having really wonderful and fulfilling conversations. Being famous must be kind of awesome. And I hope you are having the time of your life.

But its also a lot of hard work. Sometimes it probably doesn’t seem like fun. You must function under a great deal of pressure. You have obligations and projects, things to do and people to please. Think about how many people are counting on you. You stay up late and get up early and sometimes it must feel as though there is no rest- you hard worker you.

Famous people also have to go places and do things even when they’d rather not. Even when they are sick or tired or sick and tired as the case may be. Harry Styles (a member of the band One Direction—if you’ve been living under a rock) was infamously seen vomiting behind stage at a concert. You can’t really take a sick day—maybe a sick couple of hours, but that’s pushing it. You have to brush your hair and put pants on and show up for everyone who is counting on you. The price of fame I suppose. Damn you’re looking good in that white coat. Its so bright it hurts my eyes.

You have a pretty intense crew of hard core fans in case you haven’t noticed. How does it feel to have so many people cheering for you? We sometimes can’t see the effort behind your success—because you look so damn good doing it. If you need anything remember that your fans are always with you—ready to help however we can. And in turn you have to call them back, or text them and visit them or have them visit you (they will probably bring you food). Give them a shout out on Twitter every once and a while. Being your devoted fan is amazing, but it also requires dedication and commitment. You’re welcome. Your fans are also incredibly proud of you. Harry Styles’ Mom said in their authorized biopic This is Us, “sometimes you’re so proud, your heart could burst.” So remember, your fans have made you famous and we love you a lot. 

You might not be feeling very famous right now. You might not have even realized how amazing and accomplished you are or just how far you have come in your rise to fame. Maybe you’ve been feeling small, or questioning whether the work you do even matters.

Fear not my famous friend. Do you know who won the Pulitzer in 2012 or who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry? Can you name the winning Super Bowl team from 1999 or the musicians whose records went platinum or authors on the New York Times best sellers list? You can’t, can you? And don't google it you cheater. 

But do you know who rocks out on the fourth floor lounge in the mornings? Or who is always down to play basketball or foosball or ping pong? Who posts helpful resources or fixes your computer when it breaks? Who can you always count on to be there for a good venting session? Or to pick your lazy ass up? Or to dance party with you? Or to just hold you after a long day without expectation that you do anything for them in return?

These are the famous ones. And you are famous to me. I see your achievements. I see you leaving the library late a night and returning early in the morning. I see you show patience when it would be easier to lose your cool. I see you being a team player and encouraging others. I see you go out of your way to help. Every. Damn. Day. And I see your dedication to constantly learning and improving and growing. You are role models to your communities and to me.

Is it any wonder I’m star struck?