A friend in my program recently got dumped by her boyfriend of two years. It was one of those horrible 'out-of-the-blue' dumps too, which is the worst I think. I've had one of those as well (on my answering machine, I might add) and it really was profoundly hurtful and difficult to process--dealing with the shock and the pain at the same time.
Without getting into too much detail, they were suffering through the beginning stages of a long distance relationship. Many of my classmates are in the same boat, studying medicine here and trying to maintain a relationship with someone back in Canada (or in another Irish locale). From completely anecdotal examples I can say that relationships seem to be on the chopping block when it comes to medical school. Then add the distance. I think it takes a very special combination of people to survive long distance alone, without one party being in the all-encompassing-entity which is our program. A remark that was made was "one by one we watch the relationships fail in our group of friends". And it's true, so far.
My aforementioned friend and I bumped into each other in the stairwell the day after it happened and we hashed out the hazards of being a 30-something-female in medicine. In a word, it's treacherous. Suddenly the reality of age is upon us. Don't get me wrong, I know we're not old by most standards...but basically take the fears that some single 30 year olds have and multiply that by a factor of, many.
The 30's are supposed to be our most productive/lucrative/peak-of-existence times in our lives. We are enfolded in the tight embrace of heavy workload, high expectations, competitive surroundings..and we're paying for it (partly in actual cash dollars).
"I'm in medical school" or "I am a medical resident" is instant man-deflector line in most social situations. I think that combination of words is actually heard as "I am an intimidating, career driven, over-achieving, heartless woman who puts her man last" by males of the species.
Our eggs are shriveling. The two cases we had last month involving fertility and abnormal pregnancies/birth defects were definitely stressful to the older women in my program who wish to breed. One of the comments my recently single classmate said was "should I freeze my eggs?" You just DON'T have to think about that when you are a 22 year old medical student. I don't think I want to have babies yet I found myself feeling very constricted by the time line ahead of me if I were to change my mind. I actually had a moment, starting at yet another photo of a birth defect, where I thought--"should I freeze MY eggs??" It was a scary moment. I was pleased when it passed.
On not much of a different note from above--the super-women who do have babies in medical school have an incredibly tough chore balancing the mother/student/wife/self...yet there seems to be this expectation that it ought to be possible and you are not (super)womanly enough if you take a year off to focus on one of the above things. I am already thinking I'll need a year holiday after medical school to re-water my soul by doing things like learning Portuguese and becoming dazzling at finger-picking on the mandolin...but I digress.
It has just caused me to pause once again on the choices I've made to get to this place (an inevitable choice I believe in becoming a doctor). I go on and on about how I value all the things I did in my life pre-medical-school (like nursing, traveling, playing music) but sometimes I think that the advantage truly does lie in pursuing these types of studies earlier in life. Already some specialties are off the list for me because I simply don't want to put so many more years into the schooling part of things. I hate that feeling of a time limit. Especially when 30 doesn't feel like an age where one ought to have those concerns.
So much living to do, so little time.