You were worried the year would be difficult, you didn’t know how to live months on end without seeing or hugging family and didn’t know how you would meet and talk to 230 people in your class (and no, you still haven’t, but at least you might know 70%).
I could feel my right lower leg starting to bend. And bend. And bend for an eternity before I finally hit the turf. Then, my only view through the bars of my helmet were the Friday night lights against the Friday night sky.
As a 17-year-old fresh out of emergency medical technician (EMT) training, I was eager to complete my first ambulance call. The thought of rushing to someone’s rescue excited me. In fact, providing immediate, lifesaving care is what drew me to become an EMT in the first place.
In my second year of medical school, amidst the frequent exams and impending doom of third year rotations, I would often look forward to Tuesday nights. On these nights, students and residents would come together to play pick-up basketball at a local gym, removed from the stresses of medical school.
My decision to return to school to pursue a doctorate degree in medicine came as a shock to many.
I was not happy when I was accepted to medical school, not like I thought I would be. In the hours and days that followed that fateful email, feelings of shock, sadness and nervousness jostled for dominance in my mind as I processed the information.
The instant I activated my phone, it rang. I steadied my microphone and saw 34 callers in the queue. “COVID-19 hotline,” I answered.
As I took my shirt off this morning to shower, I noticed my teres major muscle in the mirror — or more precisely, I identified it for the first time.
If someone asks me how my first year of medical school went, half of the time I dismiss them with a one-word answer, saving them from a conversation they aren’t ready to have. The other half of the time, I tell the truth, just to see what they have to say.
My health deteriorated as I started my second year in medical school. I suffered from intense nausea and abdominal pain, only getting four or five consistent hours of sleep per day. These health issues had started and worsened during the second year, eventually culminating in an emergency cholecystectomy.
My attention swung back and forth between my mom, my screen and the pairs of eyes periodically peering into the hospital room. I focused on the next question on my screen. Another patient had expired as if they were a carton of milk left too long in the fridge.
“Welcome, everybody, to the last module of your second year.” I froze. There was no way. I pulled up Google calendar on my laptop in the increasingly warm lecture hall. Oh my gosh, they were right!