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!
My sister is nine years older than I am. We went to different high schools and currently live over 500 miles apart.
During one of my first patient encounters at the clinic, I remember a young and seemingly indifferent patient come in with earbuds plugged in her ears. Her hands tightly grasped the arms of the exam chair as she anxiously awaited the arrival of the clinic optometrist.
The pungent odor of formaldehyde permeates through the room and I can smell it through my mask and face shield. I am leaning over the body I am dissecting, trying to identify structures as the instructor appears before our tank, armed with a grading pen and a barrage of questions.
When we approached his room, Craig was wedged in the doorway, sitting on his walker angled towards the nurse’s station. It was the first time I had set foot in a hospital as a medical student; the task was to simply chat with a patient for about forty minutes. “Craig?” one of the nurses called out. “Yep! I am Craig, at least I was before I got in here!” he replied. Something about the enthusiasm in his voice appealed to me, so I sat down next to him and struck up a conversation.