Sunday, April 02, 2006

not so much about knitting (essentially rambling about random things - the focus will return to knitting soon. Really.)

on the needles: my sockapaloooza socks are going strong and now that I've got the pattern worked out they're going quickly. This is being written in transition (I'm not at the student housing house or the house I'm cat-sitting at) and my camera is packed up, but I hope to have pictures of a finished sock (and progress on the second one!) later this week.

peds: is a completely different medical world from psychiatry. I've seen many, many children, many, many parents, and need to put my rambling notes about this rotation into a form that will make sense. I'm still paranoid that I'm going to wake up with strep throat, an earache or some strange skin rash but so far, so good. (knock on wood) I wash my hands 15-20 times a day, and use more alcohol based hand sanitizer then I'd like. (it may say it's "moisturizing," but I'd beg to differ...) I love the "little littles" (my term for infants-3 year olds) but have had some good experiences with kids of every age.

There has been a lot going on "behind the scenes" of my life this year; in January I had a medical scare that resulted in several appointments with medical specialists, tests and lots of time knitting in doctor's waiting rooms. I'm okay - and will be okay, but the reality of how how awful the car accident I was in a few years ago is no longer avoidable. Things changed after I walked away from my beloved car - I can't explain it in a way that I expect to make sense, so instead I'll simply say that my life is different now. And the medical things I have going on are helping me keep things in perspective.

the best to way to describe it now? I feel as though my life is an airplane experiencing extreme amounts of turbulence. The captain (whoever that is, most days it isn't me) has turned on the "fasten seatbelts" sign and there's no telling when it will be safe enough to unbuckle and head to the bathroom. The weather looked like it'd make for an easy ride, but in the middle of the trip things got bumpy. I'm ready to be safe on the ground again, but landing the plane now won't get me any closer to my destination. This year has been just as hard as the past two, but for very different reasons.

This year I am expected to think like a doctor - and most of the time that means thinking like the doctor I am working with. Each doctor has their own style of doing things - interviewing patients, talking with families, charting and looking things up can all be done a variety of ways, and who I am working with shapes my answers; I have to learn to anticipate what they will ask of me and then figure out what that doctor would do or say. What they would do or say is often the "right" answer, and if I suggest something else then I often have to endure listening to a long explanation as to why what I said isn't right and how they would do something else, yadda yadda. It can be exhausting.

I learn best when I have time to observe how to do something or see an example of what is expected of me - which isn't how many of my classmates approach new situations. When I "hang back" and take in what is going on around me I'm often perceived as being hesitant, unknowing and not confident. This can frustrate some of the doctors who expect me to jump in with both feet - but with time I am (most of the time) able to show them that I do know what I am doing by going above and beyond what they expect of me. Try as I may, I just can't be "type A" enough to please those who expect it, and when pimp'd I simply find myself unable to think, let alone able to answer the questions they are asking of me. This has made for quite a long year, and I am tired. We don't have a spring break, and aside from the occasional "Federal holiday" we're in the hospitals and clinics five (or more) days a week for a year. (two weeks of "winter break" went by all too fast.)

At one point last week the idea of "taking some time off" was floated, and my reaction was to say no. One of my goals for my medical education has always been to be done in four years. I've watched as some of my classmates took time off for various things - to have a baby, to spend time with family who needed them, to repeat classes - and each time I consider myself lucky to be where I am. That being said, the notion of taking time off has come up a few times since then, and I might need to think about what my life would look like if I did. I still don't want to - and I'm fairly adamant that I want to graduate on June 2, 2007, but I'm hearing the idea from more then one person, and each time someone mentions it I realize I should think about it.

I've been trying to get my fourth year rotations to line up, and all that has come out of it is frustration. My initial hope to get to the West coast had to be abandoned once I realized my car just can't get there from here. I'm also not sure I'd be happy roaming around the country for 10 months on my own. I am happy to be left to my own devices, but being that far away from my friends and family (in essentially new/unknown situations that change each four weeks) sounded overwhelming when I really thought about it. (I also didn't have a whole lot of luck trying to set up rotations out there and I don't have the energy it takes to stay on top of forms/emails/applications and fees/etc to get things to line up with my schedule and requirements.)

Of course, now I'm not having a whole lot of luck with forms/emails/applications and such for trying to get rotations set up here in the northeast, so I've backed off a bit. I told someone this week that trying to find small "community" type hospitals willing to take on fourth year medical students and medical doctors who are good people (believe it or not, they don't have signs on their heads that read "good doctor") is difficult. If I'm going to do my fourth year all at once (the plan at this point in time) then I hope to enjoy it. Which means trying to get things to line up with good people. And housing. (another hurdle...another reason to not think about it for another few days.)

Tired. Heavens I'm tired. (is that a sign that I'm getting strep throat?)


Blogger Katy said...

Kids are walking germ factories, for sure. (Goodness knows everyone in my house has been sick all winter!)
Hope things fall into place for you next year.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Pumpkinmama said...

Sounds very overwhelming. Hang in there and be good to yourself.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Martita said...

It really does sound overwhelming. You sure do have a lot of stuff going on. Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Jackie said...


Hang in there and take care of yourself, okay? (I know easier said than done, but still. Caregivers need care too.)

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Liz said...

Well, I for one would be glad to see you stick around the Northeast for year four. And if you need to take a break, you can always hang out here and I might even con you into doing some duck-sitting (this four years without a vacation thing is getting old). Take care of yourself, K. Life is much too short to run yourself down at 26.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Nikki said...

Wow, you've got a lot on your plate. I hope you can manage to find time to give yourself a little TLC.

"I am expected to think like a doctor - and most of the time that means thinking like the doctor I am working with" ...Does this every ring true to me! Hang in there.

6:25 PM  
Anonymous Nancy J said...

Pet more cats. It'll help soothe you. Heavy doses of vitamins, fluids and fiber. And a trek to MDS&W.

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

Sending positive vibes and lots of support up to you. Remember to take care of you, okay! Sleep helps; so does water (sounds silly, but it works).

9:38 PM  
Blogger Anne-Caroline said...

Things often seem worse when you have had less sleep. But on the taking time off note, I don't think it's a terrible idea...I will have taken 6 years to graduate, but in the mean time, I have gotten another degree, had a baby, and spent a lot of time cherishing my family and especially my husband. There are a lot of good reasons to take time off!

8:21 PM  
Blogger Philippa said...

Changing your mind about something doesn't have to be a failure. Taking some time off might allow you space to process and gain some perspective, give you some time to spend on the aspects of your life that aren't associated with your training but need you nonetheless, and come back stronger for your final year. And it might be the only time off you can take in a while: once you've graduated, presumably you're practising...

Anyway, sending many supportive thoughts from the other side of the Atlantic. Hang in there and be nice to yourself.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Cheeler said...

Great blog! Very interesting.

I'm doing something similar with mine . . . although I'm just starting this journey. Keep up the posting and best of everything to you!


2:23 PM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

Wow - sounds like you've overcome a lot to make it as far as you have. I completely understand how powerful momentum and sheer tenacity can be to get a person to that graduation date. Mine came a bit later (like a whole year actually) than I had hoped it would be, which was a bummer at the time, but I have to say - the celebration has been sweeter with much of the stress relieved. Keep at it - do what you need to do for you. And definitely have a big bowl of cheerios in a ridiculously formal ensemble - it's just fun!

11:36 PM  
Blogger Carina said...

My hubby took a year off between first and second years of med school, and it was the best thing he ever did. We were married already, and it was really hard to see him that depressed and angry at medicine. A year off subbing in chemistry and physics classes cleared his head and helped him really decide to go back.

If you want to come to Michigan (I know, it's not close), I'm sure MSU-KCMS in Kalamazoo would love to help you out. They get third and fourth years from Michigan State and even from other med schools all the time and work out the living arrangements and everything. They're very nice and super supportive (for a residency program). My hubby's quite happy he went there for his residency.

See if you can get more sleep. That's a problem, too.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous melanie said...

pretty girl, all I can say is I totally relate to some of the things you wrote here and for probably totally different reasons. Just know I'm thinking of you, k? HUGS.

1:45 PM  
Blogger krisknits2 said...

Hang in there. Kids are disgusting creatures at best (but we love them with all of our hearts). Hopefully you will be able to line up your M4 rotations without too much difficulty. My husband will be starting his M3 this summer and I can just about feel your pain. Good luck with it all.

8:20 PM  

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