I can finally say I’m in my last year of medical school. It has been a bumpy ride, but only one clerkship, a research project and an OSCE separate me from graduating. I remember receiving my acceptance letter eight years ago.
Growing up in an Asian American immigrant household, I frequently encountered and grappled with my parents’ reserved manner of expressing themselves. Instead of using words to communicate their sadness or anger, my parents would barricade themselves in their room and refuse to say a word.
During our psychiatry block, I learned how the aching sadness within me curls through my brain. It begins in the thalamus, amygdala, and hippocampus — three points that sit like stars in my body’s sky.
When we enter medical school, we bring with us high hopes, dreams, ambition and a passion to help those in need. We radiate vibrant energy and have an insatiable thirst for knowledge.
Despite the fact that it’s fairly warm for this time of year, I was feeling in the spirit to try a winter-themed activity that wouldn’t require travel or cost a significant amount of money. The most obvious activity, given those requirements, was ice-skating.
If you remember, about one year ago I had published a story about coming to terms with my mental illness on in-Training. Soon thereafter, I asked for the publication to be removed. I would like to re-publish my story with a very important addition.
On a December night in a northern suburb of Chicago, the weather outside dipped into single digits with a sub-zero wind-chill. Safely situated indoors, a group of medical students wandered into a classroom where five tables were covered by plastic tarps with another laden with pipe cleaners, acrylic paint and brushes, and a stack of blank masks. Licking the emotional wounds left by a sleep-deprived exam week that ended only three days prior, the students eyed the art supplies. They were hopeful for a means for reconcile their psyche tattered by cold and a semester of school.
One thing I’ve always associated the holiday season with (besides lots of yummy food) is singing — anything and everything from Christmas caroling to hymns at church. I’ve never had a very good voice, but one thing I always noticed was that I enjoyed myself every time I sang. However, I always chalked it up to the situation rather than the act of singing itself.
When you look at their white coats / Do you see what I see? / Do you see future doctors / Who are struggling to be
Everyone loves Katniss Everdeen. What’s not to love about the strong, independent, bad-ass woman? Given that exams and Step 1 are looming closer and closer, I’ve been feeling less and less sure of myself and wishing that I could channel my inner Katniss Everdeen and emerge victorious against the Capitol–and by the Capitol, I mean exams). When sharing these thoughts with a friend, it occurred to me that I could step into Katniss’s shoes for a day by taking archery lessons. So, my friend and I gathered a group to see if any of us could hypothetically be the next winner of The Hunger Games.
In November, I hated medicine. The gray clouds that watched from the sky followed me day after day — to my car, into the hospital, to my car again, and back inside my home. At times the haze was tolerable; an inconvenience, a bother, but no real trouble. Other times, it was suffocating.
Whenever I go to the hospital, I wear my grandpa’s socks. They looked distinguished on an older man, but a little childish on a me, a 25-year-old medical student. I’m okay with that. Feeling like an overdressed kid on Easter helps to balance the overwhelming pressure of becoming a physician.