Disclaimer: this is one of those terrible posts where I talk about my personal life and relate it to crafting and do all that awful navel gazing jazz. Hopefully I won’t sound incredibly miserable, which is how, at least to my untrained eye, the overwhelming majority of medical student blogs sound.
What is this? It’s a princess seam. It’s a princess seam on an inside-out bodice of a dress that isn’t even finished and the insides aren’t even that pretty. So why am I showing it to you? Because 2 years ago, when I sewed the exact same princess seam using that same pattern, it took me about 6 tries to do each side. That thing was an abomination. I cried, I swore, it took me two weeks to finish the bodice because I kept putting it down out of frustration, it made me want to quit sewing when I had just barely started. I kept going though, and was rewarded with two princess seams that only had a noticable-ish pucker or two. So when I chose to sew this particular pattern, I approached the princess seam with that baggage in my mind. But you know what? It didn’t suck. I had gotten better at sewing, which is hard to notice when you try so many different patterns that require different things (and you also just don’t have the free time to sew a lot). It only took me one try to do each seam, and dang, they looked pretty darn good if I do say so myself. They looked so good that I went ahead and decided to just self-line the bodice rather than do those godawful facings. Every now and then it’s good to have a win to make challenging yourself worth your while.
Maybe you know, maybe you don’t know, but my third year of medical school has been under way for about three months now. I just started a research month, which means there will be lots more time for posts and crafts (woo!) but I still feel like I’ve done a lot. (And enjoyed a lot, which is surprising.) I’ve done my pediatrics rotation, and while it may be calling it early, I really liked it a lot and that may be what I do for forever. Eeep. I also just finished obstetrics & gynecology on Friday! Will I go into OB/GYN? No, but I have had some pretty cool experiences. I pulled a baby out of the place where babies come from and I didn’t drop it, I saw some seriously rare stuff, I have seen some seriously sad stuff, and you can bet your britches that I have seen a lot of vaginas (and not once have I told a patient that I was about to put my fingers into my vagina, so let’s count that as a major improvement from a mere six months ago). I’ve also really bulked up my Spanish vocabulary, but it’s all words about urinary incontinence and vaginal discharge (flujo vaginal, if you’re feeling nasty, Senora Jackson).
The first two years of medical school were miserable. Mentally, emotionally, physically, everything-ally. I did work I wasn’t proud of, I constantly felt stressed about my future and even more stressed about burdening those around me with those feelings, I became very socially anxious, and I spent more time than I’d like to remember in bed with a migraine. Needless to say, I questioned why I was in medical school in the first place. For a long time, I was convinced I had made the wrong choice (am I now convinced that I made the right one? nope, but I’m still here, so I’d like to think that counts for something) and I spent a long time looking at other grad programs, job options, and just daydreaming about what my life could be like free from the miserable future I melodramatically believed that I had boxed myself into. In case you’re curious: my imaginary dropout scenes were approximately as dramatic and fabulous as that of the Weasley twins’, but instead of opening a joke shop I would go on to become an international craft-gymnastics-cat blogging sensation. Hey. Crazier things have happened.
But I kept going. Not sure why, but it probably had a lot to do with my amazing boyfriend and the other people who cheered me on even when I didn’t deserve it. And now I’m here, and you know what? It doesn’t suck. Sometimes it’s even fun. I can feel myself getting better and learning, which is a very cool, strange feeling, possibly the only thing stranger would be feeling my hair or fingernails grow. In the end, will medicine have been the one and only career for me? Probably no, but I’m okay with sticking around and helping people out.
TL;Dr. (see what I did there?) – I am finally coming out from that dark hole that consumed me for a very long time. Things aren’t perfect, but they’re getting better, and that is my message to everyone who might be in a similar boat. It’s good to be reminded that you’re not wasting your time, that you can improve, and that things can get better without you noticing it until all of a sudden boom! You’re kind of excited about the next day.
Do I worry that saying these things will bar my entry into the residency program of my choice? Yes, but then again, if my top choice residency program doesn’t acknowledge that burnout exists and physicians sometimes end up in dark places needing to care for themselves, then I maybe shouldn’t have made that my top choice program.