September 2, 2017 § 8 Comments
I’m struggling to find the words to describe where I am at this point in my life. These past two and a half months have changed me. They’ve forced me to face parts of myself that I either never wanted to face or didn’t know even existed. I’ve had to evolve and grow all while embarking on some of the greatest challenges I have yet to encounter.
I’m in my final year of medical school and the idea that I will be a doctor this time next year is… paralyzing. It’s exciting, yes, but paralyzing at the same time. I’ve spent more than half of my life trying to get to this point and now that it’s finally here, I feel like I don’t know what to do with myself. Knowing that I am about to achieve THE goal leaves me feeling almost empty. Checking that box will mark the end of almost 20 years of doing everything I possibly could to make this happen. It makes me wonder, will anything ever even come close to that?
Since I last wrote, I’ve been re-familiarizing myself with… myself. All while studying for one of the biggest exams I’ll ever take. There have probably been more bad days than good days, but the bad days are becoming fewer and fewer as time passes.
We started sixth-year rotations in the middle of July. My first rotation is surgery, which lasts for about 8-9 weeks. I only have one week left now and will take my final exam on September 12th. I’ve really been struggling with how to balance everything on my plate. I’m planning on taking Step 1 at the end of November and that exam requires EVERYTHING from me. But I can’t give it everything. I have my final exams in surgery and obstetrics and gynecology (not to mention the rotations themselves). I have my thesis. I have teaching. I have applications for next year. It’s…suffocating.
So where am I now? What am I doing? What am I going to do? These are all questions I’ve asked myself almost daily since the beginning of June. If I’m going to be completely honest, this has not been an easy summer for me. Everything I thought I knew about myself, my life and my future changed. My foundation fell out from under me right when I needed it the most. I needed to be the best version of myself and I didn’t know how anymore. So, I slowly started picking up the pieces, forced myself to accept whatever I was able to produce – regardless of how small – and pushed forward.
I turned 30 almost two weeks ago. I really wish I could describe the feeling I had that day. I know that birthday means different things to different people, depending on where they are in their respective lives. For me, it meant everything. It meant saying goodbye to myself. It felt like starting over. Like stripping myself of everything I knew. Complete and absolute vulnerability and, oddly enough, strength. What made the experience even more “life-altering” was the fact that I celebrated it in the historic city of Acre, Israel with my best friend and his family.
In the days leading up to my birthday, I was in a constant state of reflection. With the way my life has developed, the multiple life paths I’ve entertained, the struggles I’ve endured to get here…it’s not uncommon for me to take a moment and think about where I am versus where I would have been. Whether sitting on the banks of the Danube with a bottle of wine, wandering through the crumbling barracks of Auschwitz, looking out over the fjords from Tåkeheimen, reading the names on the stone plaque beside a Sarajevo rose, or feeling the jasmine scented footprints of Muhammad at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, I always have the same thought: I wasn’t supposed to be here. In that moment, I think about all the points where the course of my life changed, all the decisions and challenges that brought me there and how rich and special my life is as a result. On the eve of my birthday, I stood alone on Amir’s parent’s balcony and watched the sun dip into the sea. As I sipped a glass of wine, I said goodbye to myself as I knew me in my 20’s and reflected on who I will become in my 30’s.
That trip changed everything. I had a moment in the car on the way to Jerusalem where everything clicked. Suddenly, I could see my future. I saw exactly where I want to be and what I need to do to get there. Every time my future has crossed my mind in the past two years, it’s been followed by absolute nothingness. It’s been a source of anxiety and fear and prevented me from enjoying the present. So when everything clicked, the feeling was indescribable.
Once I’ve worked out some details and made some progress with my plans, I will share them here – I promise.
Otherwise, things aren’t very exciting here. I pretty much only sleep and do practice questions. I’ve been sick since last week and my cough has been pretty extreme. Since I’ve been holed in my apartment studying, I didn’t even notice that I’d lost my voice until I went to the pharmacy to pick up an expectorant. When I opened my mouth to utter the first words I’d spoken aloud in three days, nothing came out. There were a few strange squeaks, followed by a long, intense cough. The pharmacist began to laugh. I laughed and coughed. Exciting stuff.
It’s off to bed for this one! To be continued 😉
June 20, 2017 § 4 Comments
So much has happened in the past two months that I hardly even know how to write this post. It makes me sad to think that there are memories that are lost or that will fade because I didn’t have the time to write them down here. This blog has documented almost every step of this journey – from applying to medical school to now. Though this year has a bit less documented than the others, I plan to continue it until the end.
The weeks after we returned from our trip to Ukraine were a complete whirlwind. I honestly can’t even organize my mind enough to put those weeks into words, so I think my only option is to describe these past months in photos.
Jannie’s 30th Birthday!
Huge day – LAST LECTURE EVER!!
Weekend of hell! I had 6 exams the following week and had already been cramming for weeks up until this point.
DONE WITH MY LAST EXAM PERIOD EVER! Still can’t believe I survived 10 exams in 2 weeks.
Dedicated Step 1 studying time – here we go!
What happened after all this? Well, a lot. After 8 years together, Skjalg and I split up. We love each other very, very much and will continue to be good friends. As he is off to Stavanger to complete his 6th year (and I am staying here), I’ve moved into a new studio apartment. The past two weeks have been a bit heavy, but now that the moving is complete and I am finally in my own space, I’m really happy. I whittled down all my belongings to the essentials, donated 3/4 of my clothes, gave away tons of my notes to one of my students. I tried to take only what I really needed. It is so utterly liberating to not be tied down by tons of things. With the recent changes in my life, my future is now a blank slate. I have no idea where I will end up after medical school, but I’m really excited for the year that lies ahead, for the challenges that await.
Here is my new place before I moved in:
And here it is “Biancified”:
Alright, back to studying I go!
April 20, 2017 § 1 Comment
After my last post, my streak started to suffer a bit (I either jinxed it, or I started getting a bit tired. Probably the latter!). I didn’t feel well this weekend, so I left the library early on Saturday and spent the rest of the weekend studying at home. I returned at 6:30 on Monday morning (in order to get in a full study day before picking up Baloo, who came home that day). I’m still so shocked at how many people are at the library. I’ve spent so much time studying at home, random cafés or hidden libraries that it’s like I have no concept of just how many people I go to school with. We’re probably a couple thousand across all the years and all the faculties Hungarian, English, and German). It’s been really motivating to study in the same building as so many similar students.
In the end, I ended up with 83 hours and 5 minutes towards obstetrics and gynecology studying over break. I honestly wish I had gotten through more topics, but I’ve come to accept that most of my goals are unrealistic and that I should be happy with any progress I am making. Considering how poor my studying was at the beginning of the break, I’m pretty satisfied with the turn-around!
This week we are in our trauma rotation. We started the day with four back to back lectures, then spent an hour in the emergency room and finally an hour practicing suture techniques.
On Tuesday, six of us stayed for our extra shift in the emergency room. Previously this consisted of returning to the hospital from 15:00-22:00, but today we were expected to just remain at the hospital until 19:00.
There was a huge queue in the emergency room when we got down there. In the main entry there were three stretchers with their corresponding two paramedics waiting to enter the exam room along with at least a dozen other patients. The next few hours were a bit of a whirlwind. Trauma doctors see an unbelievable amount of patients in a short amount of time. Each of the patients has about two minutes with the doctor asking them questions and examining them. Then wounds are bandaged, blood taken, etc., by the nurses. Then the patients are sent off to imaging or surgery. I really loved the dynamic, high-energy environment. Next week we have our actual emergency medicine block and I’m excited to learn more about it as a specialty.
In other news, Skjalg and I are leaving for Ukraine today! We are going on a medical screening trip organized by our university. We will be visiting various rural areas for a total of four days. Each of the English students is paired with a Hungarian student and we will work at different stations: history taking, physical exam, EKG, blood sugar monitoring, etc. I’m a little nervous, but I’m really, really looking forward to it. The weather is going to be horrible and some of the locations don’t have any heating, so we’re definitely in for an experience!