Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Word to my Blogger Peeps!

I don’t feel completely at home in Ireland, and I don’t feel completely at home in Canada right now.

It is a strange sensation of displacement. Having been on the move so much in Canada the last few years there is no one place that is home to me. There are people that represent ‘home’ but they are so scattered around North America that I’d be hard pressed to see even half of them on one of my journey’s back.

A line that rings in my head often is ‘strangers are exciting, their mystery never ends…but there is nothing like looking at your own history in the faces of your friends’*.  It has been loud and clear these past few days. But that history represents a much different time in my life. So naturally I feel nostalgic for those times that make me laugh so hard I cry when I reminisce about them now.

At this point in time I feel out of sync. I am not on the baby train. Or the reno train. Or the triathalon train. Or the travelling adventure train. Am I wasting my 30's? The time when I could have had ample time and cash to undertake a large portion of my bucket list?

I feared that the damn grass of medical school was going to be less green once I crossed the lawn. When I was stoking a wooden fire in Revelstoke I was madly working toward getting into school, and now that I am here I sit and think about the countless meals AMG and I prepared together in her kitchen, or the hikes Kara and I went on in the Fraser Valley. I don't want the blessing of wayward tendencies to become a curse of 'forever roaming with a hungry heart'.

I see how it is easy to become one of those medical students, sequestered and estranged from the people who are currently on a ‘normal’  life trajectory (whatever that means but there are definitely some themes around me I can't ignore). Things seem right when I am writing though, I don't feel out of step or weird for not having a uterine ultrasound as my FB profile photo. 

Suddenly life feels normal when I hear about OMDG bashing her head against the wall with a frustrating mentor, or Ninja bridging the divide between nursing and medicine, Beach Bum going through the Canadian IMG hoops, BINY suffering the frustrations of emergency medicine. 

Is it exhibitionist for me to talk about something like this on my blog? I am not sure. I suppose I break one of the first rules of writing every time I publish a post.

Who are you writing for? Who is your audience?

Well for the most part I have no ever-lovin’ clue.

The questions are hard to answer because this blog has really changed in the past 2 years. 

Initially I wrote for myself. It was just a long string of documents that would hopefully weave into a trail showing my journey from A to B; if I ever got to B. I had almost zero readers (other than very good friends like Nature Nerd, Gillatron, Simmers and a handful of randoms—BINY, Rogue, and Beach Bum).

As my blog trundled along it seemed to pick up readers along the way. I started thinking more about who might be reading my random babbles and attempted to put more effort into the content. It became more reader driven. 

But the more my life scatters around Canada and Ireland, the more I feel like this blog is my anchor. It feels like it is for me again. My sanity. The blogs I read almost daily (Ninja, OMDG, Grumpy, Amanzi, etc) are like a strange motley crew of virtual friends who share sections of their lives, which I follow and can relate to.  And somehow the number of people that read my blog continues to grow, which encourages me to write more. I am baffled that my (seemingly mundane) updates from the study front capture the interest of others (besides my immediate family and close circle of friends).

Maybe some of you reading there in the background will leave a little ditty in the comment box, no identifiers necessary, maybe just a snippet of your story. I’d love to have some idea who is out there.  Syracuse? Oranjestad? Gardanne?

So I feel out of step with the world sometimes…I suppose I am not the only person who finds a sense of community and enjoyment out of the blue glow of a computer screen. I supposed I hesitatingly resign to that and the stereotypes that come to mind.

I am a wanderlust blogger! Hear me roar! 


*Line from an Ani Difranco song


Bostonian in NY said...

My blog sprouted out of the disquiet that living in a new place away from family and friends for the first time caused in my soul. I know it was only 160 miles, but I had never lived more than 20 minutes from my family. But then the absurdity of med school took hold and I felt at home making it through the day-to-day with my friends.

As my parents are selling their house in MA to move out to the west coast, I've come to realize that Home isn't a place. Home is wherever you're with family and friends, be it in an Irish classroom, a BC log cabin ripped straight from the 70's, a new upstate NY hospital or in a tent on the side of a remote snowy peak.

Are you wasting your 30's by not traveling, triathaloning or babymaking? Absolutely! BUT...you get to be a doctor and spend the rest of your career doing some pretty cool stuff (be it in the OR or ED). And you've already seen some pretty awesome things in the past 30 years...just consider the scope of the next few slightly more narrow and focused.

And suffering through EM...HARDLY! I spent all day today climbing and hiking with one of my classmates, cranked out an 11 mile run yesterday, brewed a nice belgian witbier on sunday and had a long weekend at home with my mom (and cleaned out my closet)...

OMDG said...

ABB -- I started writing because I wanted to document my journey. Along the way I've picked up a number of blog friends, some of whom I've been following now for 4+ years. I feel like I know them as well as most people in my med school class, even though I've never met them. I have friends from my previous life who follow along as well, which has been really nice. When we do get together, there's so much less to catch up on, and less awkwardness.

As for wasting your 30s..... I don't think so. Nursing is a great profession. You really could have done that forever. But can you operate as a nurse? Do procedures? Diagnose? No. Look at all the options that are going to open up for you now that you're in med school. I mean, no matter what, you're going to be a doctor. That's really really cool.

BTW, triathlon is totally overrated. Having done 13 of them during my previous life, I can honestly say that there is no real point to doing more than a couple. Triathlon will still be there when you turn 40, 50, 60. And last I heard, they don't sterilize female med students when they matriculate, so you could still have a baby. Really. And if you don't, you can remind yourself of all the sleepless nights and tantrums you have spared yourself.

ertwro said...

I've been reading your blog and other medical students’ blogs for almost a year but only recently I did subscribed and dared to publish a response to one of your posts. I'm a medical student in Colombia South America. I'm in my third year, which is a hybrid somewhere between the end of your second year and beginning of the third, because here you do six years and an internship.

I did found this blog course SDN> Rumorsweretrue (blog of an IMG)> Cartoon Guide to Becoming a Doctor> here (attracted by the title)
Your writing style and raving thoughts involving medical issues and things like cooking or peek through your window seemed great and somehow did recognize part of they in me, particularly with this post.

Since attending at my hospital there are less chances to at least get a glimpse of my friends, all of them at my university. I have been forced to adapt to new ones. I’m changing without notice it. Being the hospital far from my house where I’m living with my family, I will move in the next few weeks (My situation is somewhat less geographically dispersed than yours probably because I'm younger)

I recently started a blog inspired by people like you (which I do not keep very often). My intention was to share part of my experience with the world seeking approval for doing a show from and for myself, but I guess exposure in this way, especially now that I have but a couple of readers, it's like being naked on a deserted beach, shouting “look! I’m body painted, it’s kind of nakedness”.

When I write I find it hard not to be pessimistic: I'm good enough to be a doctor, complaining about everything that happens to me good or bad, The outcome of my soon to come Step 1 ... but the real reason is that I’m deeply afraid, for nothing lasts forever. Our home is ourselves and those decisions we make (which terrifies me). So it’s good that we show us to others and they like us (call it blog, journal, a book) like that your home will not be alone, even if merely inhabited by bits of people we like and like us (bits as in parts or as in one eighth of a byte, redundant explanation)

Greetings and... do not forget to shine, is my advice.

P. S. sorry about the typos and grammar horrors you might find, but I never received any formal training in English language and I'm not good at writing in it.

Grumpy, M.D. said...

I started writing to blow off steam.

But I think in many ways all of us write for ourselves. Words becoming pictures we can look back at to remember how we felt at some point in our lives.

Like keeping a diary of sorts, but in a public place.

And a support group. We can all share feelings. In medical school it's easy to have the feeling that "I'm the only one who doesn't understand this stuff. I'm the only one who's scared of the test". Here we realize that we are definitely not alone in these feelings.

OMDG said...

It's true what Dr. G says. Blogging is also a support group for me. You've been part of that, so thank you also!

Anonymous said...

I'd be the one from Syracuse. :D

I started writing 6 years ago when I was a 3rd year medical student. I wrote to share stories with friends and to stay sane. My husband isn't in the medical field and talking to him about what happens at work doesn't do me much good.

I still write for myself but it's not really to share stories. I want to chronicle my growth as a pediatrician. It's been great to see how my mindset has changed...and how much I've grown up.

Best of luck in the rest of your studies!

NPO said...

I just write for myself and to clear my head of thoughts that may be taking up space :)
If you start to write for an audience then you leave your true self behind, thinking that this is what so and so would like to read. Some try to make it commercial and are successful, but personally I like to read of people's true struggles, joys and frustrations. Because in the end you do not know these people as personal friends or know the intimate things about them. You will see at the store, or have coffee with weekly, they are only online friends scattered around the globe.
Keeping blogging for yourself. Your on a great journey in life.

Doctor D said...

Medical education is a long exhausting road with many longing looks towards the other side of the fence. I have to warn you--practice is the same way. I think any choice in life feels the same way.

One amazing thing that you and a lot of other bloggers are doing is creating an incredible work, as wide and deep as most novels, documenting your path with its joys and frustrations. I always wanted to create something really amazing. I lamented that medical school may have kept me from it. It is nice to realize that at least as a writer medicine deepens my art.

Keep up the good work, ABB!

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Someday my kids will read through my blog posts about our vacation, to see my side of the trips.

And then they'll likely kill me. And a court will find it to be justifiable homicide.

K said...

I am from a small city in the Midwest, on the East side of the cheese country coast, jammed somewhere between the Twin Cities of Minnesota and the bustling city of Chicago. :) I am also a nurse, attempting to do the impossible by getting into med school in US. I just turned 27 and you know, 30 isn't too far around the corner. I have similar contemplations myself, especially now when I can seem to conquer the "baby" of medicine, aka the MCAT. My friends are having fun, parties, get togethers and my brain is secluded and drained of energy while I ponder yet another physics problem. I also wonder how I could be SO close and yet SO far away from reaching my dream. I am an immigrant, a daughter of successful immigrants and a wife of one. I lived in many countries and wonder what it would be like to live elsewhere while watch my "international" friends live their lives through FB and blogs. It's amazing, I tell you, how lonely I feel in my little apartment with my basic books in hand. But I really hope it's all worth it... I really do.

Miracle Max said...

We are old aquaintances and a while ago I came upon your blog after your name came up in conversation.

I have to admit your blog is so honest and revealing, that I find myself engrossed with your journey. It is "must read" material.

This blog will make a great published journal or dare-say screenplay (with some dynamic dramatic twists) someday, but in the meantime it is a wonderful look at the challenges of following a dream...

We are pulling for you here in cyberspace ABB, good luck.

Tee said...

"Background reader" from over here in The Ukraine.Your adventure through medical school is quite interesting and very insightful.I am pursuing one of my life long dreams too which has caused me to put on hold what people my age seem to be doing.So i can sort of relate with insecurities that come with age,and the feeling that i am missing out of some things.Anyways keep sharing/blogging,you've got some strangers rooting for you!

Anonymous said...

What a great post ABB, seriously. I started blogging because I loved reading med blogs like yours, OMDG, Grumpy, HeadNurse, etc. And I felt compelled to add my 2 cents to the conversation.

I like reading your blog and others because I can identify with what you write about and the blogs I mentioned, in particular, because I appreciate that they are written with honesty, originality and thought provoking insight. Qualities I appreciate in any literature.

I have started to think about who may be reading my blog and the audience I may be writing for as well. I've been tempted to change what I write and how because of this but I'm trying to stick with another Rule of Writing - I'm writing about what I know, the good, the bad, the ugly and the awesome, as honestly and sincerely as possible.

And I've found this med blog community I've been lucky enough to stumble on incredibly comforting as I struggle with my not-trad, Ninjanurse infiltrating the MD camp issues.

Personally, I think the glimpses you offer into True Life: ABB are utterly fascinating and, as always, I eagerly await the next installment! :)

Gelfling said...

I'm a new nurse in the Northeastern US, and find your blog inspiring and enlightening. Keep it up!

Beach Bum said...

I started blogging when I started med school. I got tired of writing the same email to family and friends telling them about my adventures. So I started a blog that detailed what I was up to. Then I started to have some deep thoughts about my medical journey, and decided to start a quasi-anonymous blog to say some of those things.

The travellog blog has since petered out. But the quasi-anonymous one has limped along. The sense of disconnect doesn't go away. And I think, that in addition to the culture shock and the stress of medical school, in a very real sense, there is sometimes enormous stress from the amount of change that comes.

Medical school forces up to become different people, whether we like it or not. And that takes emotional and psychic energy. You will be a different person when you are done this journey than the one that started it. And part of coming to acceptance is learning to embrace that change, even if you liked yourself pretty well beforehand.

Big Momma said...

I found your blog as I have been contemplating going back to school for my nursing degree in Ontario. I completed an undergrad already in Anthropology but well...I am not exactly happy with the career choices. I took two years of nursing already prior to anthropology and at the time was too young to really know what the hell I really wanted to do. Now I go through periods of time where I am panicked thinking that I wasted too much time, and that I am too old to go back. I find reading about fellow canadians/canadian nurses/or just medical students in general, has made me realize there really is not an expiry date - and I find you all very inspiring! I found your link on the blog of a Toronto nurse, and I have been catching up on your posts for the last couple of days. I am also living in Northern BC right now, moved here with my husband about a year ago...definitely a beautiful province! I am glad that you are sharing this experience with the world!! I wish you luck in everything you do, and safe travels! Take care