…and that seems in poor taste. I was watching an episode of Twin Peaks, but for the first time in a long time I felt the spirit move me to write something down here. Maybe Agent Cooper inspired me; maybe it’s because we’re in a class that’s been focused on childbirth and will shortly move on to gynecological cancers; maybe it’s because a few weeks ago while working with a doctor, I met and examined a 4 hour old baby in hospital; maybe it’s because I just paid my quarterly bill for oocyte storage. Maybe it’s because it’s really, truly, deeply, post-birthday autumn here and that always makes me feel reflective. So much change in my life and lives of those I know and have known has occurred since I started writing here.
Good news first; I haven’t heard a peep from cancer. My CA-125′s remain unmeasurabley low and my spirits high. We had some crap news in the family about cancer, but I have no doubt that cancer is, once again, about to have it’s ass handed to it by a member of my family. Really. Cancer doesn’t even know what is happening/about to happen to it.
Forgive me, but I’m not going to give you a narrative rundown of what’s happened to me since May. I’ll restrain myself to a list, read on if you want to fall asleep immediately.
1. Ran that pesky half marathon (THANK-YOU for your tremendous support – you helped raise $1,846 to help other people exercise after chemotherapy, which kicks fucking ass)
2. Finished first year of medical school
3. Adopted hermit crabs
4. Went to Portland, OR
5. Stopped biting my nails
6. Had someone commission this from a favorite artist for me
7. Sold my Subaru. Bought a pick-up truck.
8. Doctors appointments (obvi)
- how’s my egg?
- what will it look like for me to have a child?
- how’s my estrogen level?
I don’t know. I could go on and on about the things the people I love do that have made me proud or the things that have inspired or challenged or scared or angered me in medical school. Y’all know I do love a list. I mostly wanted to touch base with this interweb space because I feel my clerkships drawing near. That time in graduate medical education when I’ll be granted the privilege of interacting with patients on a day to day basis. Cancer feels really near when I see patients sometimes. Not near in the sense that I will be struck down by recurrence tomorrow, but near in that my patient’s vulnerabilities summon my own. Near in that when I got to touch and see the 4 hour old baby in the hospital, see a flushed and thrilled new father, a take charge new grandmother, an exhausted and serene new mom I had to swallow and blink so that I didn’t cry. I won’t ever make that or be that or have that. It’s ok – it was just more visceral than I anticipated. The experience also feels near in that every time I hear a medical student, resident, nurse, or attending judge or belittle a patient, in front of them or behind their back, I want to turn and say “You know, you could be talking about me, right?”
I have bad days with medical school. Sometimes we really don’t communicate well. Sometimes we argue, sometimes we’re not even speaking for days at a time, but I still feel like I’m on the right path. I feel called. Today I got to meet three young, bright and brave men with autism who taught a group of medical students (myself included) about their experience of the world. I got to listen, in depth, to someone describing losing their loved one of 25 years to dementia, I got to hear blood slooshing through a stiff aortic valve, I got to read and comprehend a New England Journal of Medicine article, I got to comfort a young woman in her first pregnancy, I got to help a woman who is in so much pain she only goes down stairs backwards because at least that way if she is overcome by pain and falls, it’ll be her bottom that hits the carpet below. That was today. This is a privilege. Life feels full and rich these days. Full of love, given and received. Rich with art and experience and education. And plus, there’s a cat sitting in front me doing this:
I’ll be more in touch. For now, enjoy a tune if you feel like it…