If you ask anyone who knew me in college or med school, they’d probably say all of this is true. Living in the depths of the library? Yep, I was there. The amount of time I spent on LL2 of Bobst Library might approach that of “Bobst Boy.”
And, this got me thinking. [I know, this is shocking.]
Thinking about all that has changed in the 10 years I’ve spent studying to become a doctor and being a doctor (albeit as an intern and now resident). And, moreover, how much I’ve learned about myself through the process and, most specifically, residency.
Residency is an arduous, 4 year semi-indentured servitude. To put it in numbers, its an approximately 80 hr per week gig for four years. The rigors of residency force you to adapt your lifestyle to levels of sleep deprivation you never thought possible. They also make you become fairly introspective on a regular basis because, in my opinion, before you can improve you have to know yourself and what you’re good at (or, sometimes, have some one tell you — you know, constructive criticism.)
So, here’s what I’ve learned in what is apparently stage 5 in my 7 stage life cycle. Categorized, like any good, type -A, four color pen using, check box obsessed person would do.
I spent most of my 20s saying “no” to friends all the time, usually being “No, I have to study because I have X test soon.” There was always another test.
Now, I spend any waking hour I have off from the usual 70 hour work week figuring out how I can spend time with friends. I’ll even skip sleep to see people (see #2).
Life’s weird like that.
Prior to residency I was fiercely protective of my sleep. I had to get 7-8 hours. OR ELSE.
Now, sleep is sort of this figment of my imagination. A beautiful thing, in theory, but you never get quite enough of it no matter how hard you try.
As a resident, I’ve pushed the boundaries of abnormal sleep patterns more than I ever thought I could. When push come to shove, sometimes sleep is more important (exhibit a: the time I slept 18 hours in a row) and sometimes going to that pilates class you are stoked about or seeing a friend (or doing both at the same time) is more important.
And thankfully, there is always coffee.
3. POSITION / ROLE
After 24 hours of work, you can become fairly introspective. For instance, I realized that I don’t like being the center of attention but do like being “the favorite.” I always wanted to be the teacher’s pet. I don’t want the approval of all, just the approval of the “expert.”
And, now I’ve admitted this on the internet. I was totally the somewhat passive aggressive first grader that REALLY wanted to be line leader. If it wasn’t about line leader, I was totally relaxed and nice. Line leader? STEP ASIDE, kids, I’m in it to win this.
4. THOSE BELOW YOU
Let’s get real here, there aren’t too many people below me. I’m a 2nd year resident.
But, I always find it funny when the med students say “oh, you guys [the residents] are nice.” And, then I forget that as a student, your residents are intimidating to you. It is inconceivable to me how I could be intimidating to anyone. But, hearing that is always a nice reminder that you should remember what it was like to be the person below you and how you liked to be treated when you were that person.
But, really, you should just be nice to everyone. Unless, its about being line leader. Then, STEP ASIDE.
5. STRUCTURE, HABITS, COMPULSIONS
I’ve been an athlete my entire life. And, prior to residency, skipping practice or a workout was like Christmas came early. A day off? I’ll take it!
Now, I hold on to my “exercise schedule” with a kung foo grip not unlike that of Ben Stiller and his suitcase in “Meet the Parents.”
I think it’s because my work life can be somewhat unpredictable (who knows when the ER will page with a consult or a new triage will roll in) and, in turn, I like the rest of my life to be structured. I like to know I’m going to get in a weekly pilates class. Or a run. Or my favorite spin class. And it upsets me that I get upset when these things don’t happen. Because, really, its silly to get upset over something that isn’t really all that important.
Its keeping hold of a constant, which is all we sometimes want in life, right? Something that doesn’t change. Like vanilla wafers and saltines.
Stage #5 of the physician life cycle really makes you distill your life down to only the essentials. With so few hours to myself, whenever I do have spare time, I usually just think “what is going to make me super happy at this moment in time.” And, I do just that. And then I go to sleep or go back to work.
Its kind of a nice way to live, actually.
What is the news? Who even anchors the news these days?
I’ve accepted that I won’t know most of what goes on the world from the years 2013-2017. Except for what comes up on The Skimm daily email (and, thank God for that).
I mean, did Kim and Kanye actually get married or was that a publicity stunt? I’ll never know. Is Khloe actually divorced?
Oh wait, that’s not the actual news.
8. THE CHILD IS THE FATHER OF THE MAN
This is just a fancy way of saying that some things about your never really change.
My mom has always said that I remind her a lot of her mom. Mostly, in that I can’t put things together, am clumsy, and like structure or schedules.
And, this is still true.
I still cannot put the blade on the scalpel without looking like a fool (thank God for scrub techs and those handy ready made scalpels). But, I can talk to people for 45 minutes about their inductions and every fear in the world they have about cytotec, pitocin, and their birth plans.
I’m a good talker/listener (I think). Just don’t ask me how to use your can opener or put together that Ikea furniture.
That’s enough rambling for now.
I’ll leave you with that.
Because what is about to make me the happiest person in the world is a 10 pm bedtime.
TELL ME: SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF YOU LEARNED IN THE PAST YEAR.
Until next time…