Day One.

I feel like I should be saying a lot more. But it’s late, and today (because I’m still in holiday mode and wasn’t organised enough to sleep early) is day one of med school. Day one of the rest of our lives. 

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One day… soon

One day I’m going to be a doctor. In just over 4 years to be precise. Mind. Blown.

When I started this blog I didn’t know much about this process, or how long it would take. Only that one day, somewhere and somehow, I would become a doctor. And now here I sit, at work (avoiding doing work), two months away from the big move. Since getting my medicine offer I have felt so unbelievably blessed, like the universe is smiling on me. Because despite the odds, my partner and I were both accepted. By the same university. For three years I have worried about what would happen when offers come out. What if only one of us gets in? What if we get in to different places? What if we get waitlisted? Eventually I had to give up, there were always new possibilities I hadn’t thought of. Many sleepless nights and countless tears later… and all for nothing as it turns out.

We’re in a strange state of limbo at the moment. Having just received life changing news, everything we know is about to be completely turned upside down. It’s not just a new course, at a new university. We’re crossing the ditch to a whole new country – where they are obsessed with the footy and a duvet is a doona. In two short months everything we have will be in bags at the airport. My little car will be gone, and probably a good portion of my shoe collection. But for now, everything is where it has always belonged. We are still working the same terrible jobs. I’m still at the studio every weekend. Nothing has changed, but everything is about to.

In year 11 (form 5, 10th grade etc) I took economics – and hated it. I understood the concept of opportunity cost, but until now it had never really meant much to me. The last few years of my life have been focused on getting into medicine. My degree was med oriented, I work now in this shitty job purely to save money for med school. It was all I really wanted, and there was nothing I felt I would be missing. Until I told my dance teacher I was leaving. Dance has been my saving grace this last year, a much needed break and distraction. I have danced on and off for most of my life but never have I loved it as much as I do now. I didn’t know that she was lining me up to audition for her professional troupe, that she had been showing the director pictures of me performing. I had never imagined that opportunity might one day be available to me. For the first time I saw something that I would have to sacrifice for medicine. Not just my sleep, or my financial stability, but something I truly loved. An opportunity lost, one I didn’t even know I had.

I haven’t given much thought to what I will be leaving behind, quite deliberately I think. My family, my dog, my samba girls, my best friend since high school. His cat that I can’t help but love too. I’m not ready to deal with the goodbyes yet, so for now I’ll keep pretending they’re not going to happen. Except for the one goodbye I can’t wait for – only five more weeks until unemployment! Totally haven’t been counting down for weeks already…

 

And so it begins.

It’s May. There’s no going back now. GEMSAS has my application, and my money. Soon Sydney will have my money too.  I would prefer not to go to Sydney – the Mr can’t come with me. I want to to be where he is. But just in case GEMSAS isn’t kind to us, I need a back up plan, and if it means being a few hours closer to him I would go to Sydney (assuming they would have me).

It’s hard to know what moves are the right ones to make. Should we have ranked the schools in a different order? Should we have put more on the list? Is it worth applying to Flinders with so few places available? I had expected to feel excitement, but submitting only made me feel worse initially. Before I pushed that button, I could pretend that I had control over what happens next. But now that is gone. And yet as time passes, I find that maybe this is a better place to be. Knowing that there is absolutely nothing I can do (for now) is in some ways comforting. I have to let it go. And knowing that this signals the beginning of the end of this chapter in my life excites me greatly.

I want to shout it from the rooftops, to tell anyone who will listen, that I’m leaving. That in eight months time I won’t have to put on this horrible uniform and pretend to enjoy my job. (Side note: it’s always really awkward when people ask how you like your job – I don’t. Not one bit. I can’t wait to leave.) Even if I don’t get into medicine this time, I’m still leaving. I can’t do another year here.

I want to tell everyone that things are finally in motion, that I’m on the road to my dream. But at the same time, there is the little voice reminding me that I might not get in. It’s entirely possible, likely even. I think I will be a good doctor, but maybe it will take longer than expected to happen. And the more people I tell, the more people I would have to admit failure to. I don’t want to have to do that.

While we wait, there are a few things to do. The first being post our transcripts – a job for this weekend. I also need to figure out how to answer the “why do you want to study medicine” question. There are many reasons, some altruistic and some selfish. But saying I can’t imagine myself doing anything else just isn’t enough. So I need to figure out how to express it clearly, and without rambling. I want to read up on medical ethics and learn how to approach those issues methodically.

The Mr is leaving for Belize in 10 days, and myself three weeks later. He will return five weeks after I come back. I am not looking forward to the time apart, and I’ll admit to having been very upset at the prospect. But as with our applications, there is now nothing I can do. It is going to happen, all I can do is be excited for my time with him while I’m over there. And clock up a few extra hours at the studio to keep myself busy while I wait.

To the mother who should have known better.

Hearing your child’s screams echoing through the hall made me angry. She is 5. That tiny lesion above her lip? The one the doctor tried to dissuade you from having removed. The one that would likely have been knocked off during a play session. The one he should have refused to treat. You should have known better. I hope that you think the “improvement” to her appearance is worth what you have started. I hope that she doesn’t grow up in fear of doctors and needles because once she was held down. I hope she doesn’t resent you, mistrust you because you failed to keep her safe.

They asked me to come in as an “extra set of hands”. By this point she had been screaming for a while and I knew they weren’t getting very far. I refused, hoping that you would give up and take her home. I refused because I didn’t want your daughter to end up like me. See, I was held down once too. I was four years old and I needed an operation. I was never supposed to be injected, but the anaesthetist was an ass. I don’t know who he is, but I don’t like him. He should have known better.

I haven’t had a blood test since I was seven. My family tried when I was thirteen – they took me to the lab five times and I could never do it. I passed out when I got my ears pierced, and again when my dog was microchipped. I changed my GP because he looked at me funny when I decided not to let him release the blood from under my nail. I was very lucky because I did not get sick during that time. I never needed urgent medical attention. No poor doctor had to try to get blood out of me while I screamed profanities at him/her.

I hope your daughter is lucky too. I hope that she forgets all about last monday. I hope that next time you take her to see a doctor she isn’t scared. And I hope that you won’t do that to her again.

 

The millennial woman.

More so now, than any other time in history, a woman has the ability to become whoever she so desires. Yes, inequality is everywhere, from the pay gap to abuse statistics – the fight for women’s rights is nowhere near finished. But as a young, white female living in today’s society, I am incredibly blessed. To date, I have never been denied an opportunity on the basis of my gender and have grown up being told that I could become anything I wanted.  I fully expect to encounter this discrimination many times over in the coming years, but I find comfort in knowing that the world is changing – at least in this sense – for the better.

It is both liberating and daunting to think that I have so much freedom to choose. I feel a great sense of responsibility and pressure to make sure that I give everything I have in this life.  To take full advantage of the fortunate position into which I have been born. For me, this means working tirelessly to achieve what I desire, not settling for mediocrity, saying yes when opportunity knocks. When I think of my life years down the track, I think of my work which I hope will also be my passion. I think of the thousands of people I will meet, and the things they will teach me. I think of the places I will travel and struggle to leave. I think of the man by my side and the animals that will come and go. To be able to choose,  based on what is important to me,  the shape my life will take is perhaps the most wonderful thing of all. My life is my own.  And I can’t help but feel that those of us who can owe it to those who can’t to choose the life we have always wanted, in whatever form that may take.

Just a spot.

He has melanoma. In the three years since it was detected, his lymph nodes have swollen and oozed,  the tumour has grown to cause him so much pain he has been unable to work.

In the three years since he was sent to the hospital to have it urgently removed, he has told no one. He puts a sticking plaster over it when he visits his GP. His mother has no idea. For three years he has refused any sort of medical treatment.

He came to us not for help, but for a letter to support his request for the sickness benefit. The doctor writes that this man has a melanoma which has almost certainly metastasised. Without treatment,  it will kill him. But the man refuses,  confident that periods of fasting and an antioxidant rich diet will cure him.  How sad,  to see a man walk out your door and know that he will likely die alone. Perhaps this is what he hopes for.

Stagnating.

It’s been a couple of months since I last posted, though not for lack of thinking about it. The inspiration comes, and then vanishes as soon as I start to write. Even now, as I sit here determined to produce something, I can’t help feeling like I have nothing interesting to say. And I think that’s been holding me back all this time. I feel boring. I am bored, for the better part of most days. It feels unfair to blame it all on work, but it has to be said – I don’t like my job. I do the same things, have the same conversations every day. I come home and have only the same stories to tell, for the 10th time. There is no change here, no challenge, no achievement or satisfaction.

I want to have a sign around my neck that says This is not all that I am. I have dreams, I’m going places. I’m not just a receptionist – one day I’m going to be a doctor. This is not to say that reception is not important, God knows the medical staff don’t know how to do 90% of that job. But the thought that patients see me as “just the receptionist” really bothers me. It’s only now that I have had this experience that I realise just how good optics was to me. Patients would ask me what study I had done to get into the job (none – it’s all in-house), and what I was going to do in the future. They would tell me all sorts about their medical history, assuming (correctly) that I would understand. That doesn’t happen here. At most, people will ask my opinion on products, and I never tell them the truth. Which is that none of the products are even close to good enough to justify their price. Sure that’s a good serum, but it’s not going to make $400 worth of difference to your skin.

The appearance medicine world seems like such a scam. People spend hundreds, thousands even, for a single appointment – desperate to make themselves look younger. And the sad part is that it doesn’t make that much of a difference. The industry feeds off insecurity, and there’s nothing I dislike more in this job than seeing someone go in for a simple skin check, and walk away with a long list of “necessary” cosmetic treatments to fix their “problem areas”. People that before then probably didn’t think too much about it. But once you’ve started “fixing” things, how can you possibly get to a place of accepting the way you are naturally? As the person taking the payment for these things, often I feel very uncomfortable. And not just because that $1500 could go toward something far more useful… Truth is, therapy would be cheaper, and probably make people feel a lot better in the long term.