Sunday, July 22, 2012

One Week.

The moment came today. I was walking to the market, a truck drove by and cast a cloud of dust and grime into my face. I coughed and pulled out a cloth to wipe my glasses. Then it happened. My perspective shifted. Medical school ceased being a vague, holy-cow-not-really-happening-to-me, intangible ambition and suddenly became real.

The financial aid is in my bank account. Orientation comes next week and I pick up my books tomorrow. Tuesday is the ppd screen and respirator fitting.

I am so completely terrified.

I walked past the market, continuing on aimlessly. Thinking. I ended up in a little rundown park by the river in an iffy neighborhood and sat, staring at the garbage bobbing in the murky water.

Am I making the right choice?

I remember telling the doctor-uncle of an old flame that I was thinking about becoming a doctor. I was 21 at the time, fresh out of working in the national parks and hadn't even started college. I had no idea then how challenging just getting accepted would be. He wasn't encouraging, a sentiment echoed by the soon-to-be ex.  Life became dramatic and I left that dream on a musty closet shelf of an old apartment.

The years passed and I continued to ramble aimlessly across the country.  I found myself 26, living in Seattle with lots of disposable income. What to do? What to do? Hey! I'll take a couple of community college classes!

And so it began. That first day, my chemistry professor told us that half the class would drop before the term's over. Humph. I'd show him. And I did. I ended up with the highest grade in the class and friends with a premed aspirant. She reminded me of the idea I had had once and, soon, I found myself on the road to medicine.

It quickly became apparent how competitive the premed curriculum and the med school application process were.  My ambitions were not very well received on the family front and my college mentor adamantly wanted me to go into a graduate chemistry program rather than medicine. Having striations of a strong Irish-Scot stubbornness, my "I'll show them" attitude came on gusting. Somehow, the determination to succeed, to beat the challenge by getting an acceptance got tangled up with my purer reasons for wanting medicine. Those reasons I had had before I knew that the challenge, the doubt, existed.

Today, in my terror, I tried to unwind them. Am I starting this insane, exigent path for the right reasons? Now, having shewed them, is this what I really want?

Or is my fear that I'm not good enough, that I won't, can't succeed, murking up the waters, like the garbage floating in front of me, causing me to question my own motivation?

I don't know. 

I'm reading my journal from work, remembering my favorite patients and how the medicine and the dynamics of medical care intrigued me. It's helping a little.

School needs to start. I'm hoping that once I'm on the rat wheel, I won't have time for these self-defeating doubts. Oh, I hope.


  1. You'll be great! I'm having all of these feelings and more and I haven't applied yet. Does it make it more meaningful to have anguished and fretted over a decision? Bleh probably not.

  2. The decision to "prove them wrong" has fueled a lot of decisions in my life. Some of them good (med school) and some of them not so good....

    good luck!

  3. Ann- Thanks. I had fretted over the decision of which school to go to. That was actually kind of thrilling. This fretting, on the other hand, stinks. I keep telling myself that the worst case scenario isn't that bad as long as I have my health- I'll survive :)

    Red- I think most of the worthwhile things that I've done have been motivated by another's doubt/disapproval (working in the national parks). And some of the dumbest... (hitchhiking hundreds of miles to go to a rodeo). I hope some of that obstinacy carries me through school...