Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Okay okay okay!

So today my friend Rob posted this on my FB page, "I feel like the blog is circling the drain.. like an end stage nephro patient. Write more stuff!!!" 

Which is fair enough. I've had a lot of posts or snippets of posts floating through my head since I started residency but for a number of reasons I feel like I can't write them. 

For one, I live in a pretty small town and I have an ever-increasing paranoia that I am violating patient confidentiality by writing about things that happen at work. Also, for some reason I feel slightly more duty-bound to pretend that everything is fantastic because SHAZAMMMM! I am done medical school and am actually a doctor now - i.e. life goal has been realized and therefore I should be rolling through a field of tulips with an ecstatic expression on my face. 

Truth is, I am actually not that happy. But I mean really, the cards are stacked a little against happiness right now. 

I just moved to a new town and have no friends. I just started a new job which is always stressful. The herniated disc in my back is unrelentingly painful and restricting my activity (thus quality of life). I am broke as a joke. My boyfriend still lives two time zones away because Canadian immigration moves slower than maple water in an ice storm and his permanent visa has yet to be granted. This town is ROUGH. I could go on and continue to list another dozen first world problems but I will stop myself there. 

I am a positive person, I really am. I always try to find the silver lining in things. I try to think that everything happens for a reason and that the universe puts me where I need to be. But I just can't seem to go there in my mind right now. I am not a person of regret usually but right now I regret so many things. I regret studying abroad and the financial repercussions as well as the professional ones. I don't want to be here. Am I allowed to say that? I can't wait for the end of the day (or night) when I can be home watching "Parks and Recreation" reruns in the quiet darkness of my curtain drawn living room. 

Transitions are hard, and I know that. I remember being nauseated and sleepless before every shift when I first became a nurse, and gradually that faded. I just suppose that I am frustrated too that I didn't anticipate these growing pains. I (erroneously) believed that I knew what I was getting into, coming into medicine from a nursing perspective. But I realize now, more than ever, that every stage of life brings with it some joys and some sorrows, some stimulation and some tedium. Becoming a doctor hasn't allowed me to transcend that reality. It's just given me more waking hours to experience all of it.


Nature Nerd said...

So good to get a post ABB. And yes, absolutely you are allowed to say you're not happy where you are right now. It makes you more real. Big, big, big hugs to you. I wish I could come visit right now and drink lots of tea and chat and perhaps convince you to cook me one of your outrageously delicious dinners. And as for apps, I don't have a smartphone, but I am rather envious of people who have that cool birding app that lets you hear all the bird calls. And the night sky one is pretty cool too. You'll need those at work right?

Just Me said...

Such a hard time! Been there and done that! Emotionally moving someplace where you don't know anyone and you don't have a system for meeting them is the worst. Your pain is really most likely dragging you down. It seems that that has been a primary way you've interacted with friends off time. What about starting another hobby that you can do despite your back?

nurse 8 said...

Thinking happy thoughts for you! It's a tough, tough transition, for sure, but I have no doubt you'll find your way through. <3

PGYx said...

So much wisdom in this post. Internship is really hard. In so many respects the dedicated intern lives on a razor's edge, particularly when there's no local family support. I hated internship. HATED it. I was probably depressed the entire year but work kept me sufficiently occupied until I had time to consider quitting during each 30-75 minute commute home.

During internship I learned that my greatest loves -- people and learning -- did not add up to loving the actual practice of medicine. I suspected this during my medical school rotations, but internship solidified this for me. I found the administrative burdens and even certain patients unbelievably draining.

I found solace in the many positive interactions I had with patients, or I think I would have quit. That solace was always short-lived, but fortunately I managed to get frequent renewals.

On paper, internship is more than one person can bear. Yet somehow the vast majority make it through. Today you are 8.8% done with internship and probably 75% through the hardest part. When you get to 10% (just 5 days from now!) you may think, "Ok, I can do 9 more of those." You will quickly grow stronger and more knowledgeable. It will get easier.

Cthetree said...

I'm a prospective med student & enjoy reading your blog. While I am sorry to hear you're having a rough time, it is also healthy to be able to recognize when you're having a rough time.

I have a few discs that are problematic to some degree, and over a long period of time I think they have escalated into impacting some muscles groups in my back = chronic pain & headaches. Once western medicine figures out how to sort me out I'll be a happier camper. I've realized it really impacts my mood & makes me a unhappy & sometimes miserable person to be around.

I hope that some ice, maybe yoga, & TLC can help you deal with your pain. Even though you are new to the community, I hope you can find some people to go to coffee, tea or some other excursion. I find that helps keep my mind off my back pain and lifts my mood too; I imagine listening to sick people's complaints all the time can be difficult. Please don't be afraid to reach out to your friends (even long distance ones) for support at this rough time.

Ann said...

Sorry to hear about the rough time you're having, definitely not easy being in a new place with no support and a very tough new job.

As a PT, I can definitely understand that a herniated disc adds a huge amount of stress and pain to a difficult situation. Best advice would be to get some therapy - traction, mckenzie, core pilates, acupuncture and a back belt. Taking away one problem makes everything in life a bit more tolerable.

There is always a light at the end of a tunnel, and internship is only a blip on the horizon.

Amy said...

I am not in the medical field other than being constantly in hospital. Chronic pain can make you doubt your very existence, let alone a grueling work schedule, plus being away from your honey, in a strange sometimes you just have to look down range to keep going. The cost of studying abroad? Who cares, you may never get the experience again! Hang in can do this!

Liana said...

I really feel for you... especially the back pain. I didn't have a herniated disc, but I couldn't do much for about 6 weeks. And now it's climbing season and I am as weak as a newborn kitten.

The thing is... life will get better. You're done med school, true. But you're still a resident, and you don't have control over your own schedule yet. When you're finished, you'll be able to choose the work you do and how much and when you do it. You'll have that rare combination of job flexibility and security at the same time. And that is pretty unique and awesome.

Anonymous said...

Such an interesting time for me to read this... I'm a geologist, but have dreamt of studying medicine since before I finished by BSc (5 years ago). I have been feeling so discouraged about the meaninglessness of my own job lately, wondering why I'm still doing it and when, if ever, I might be able to pursue my dream.

So I decided to go to my bookmarks and visit my favourite med blogs, to get a little morale boost I guess. Yours was the first stop, and you know what? I am oddly encouraged. You're such an eloquent and honest writer, and you've reminded me that sometimes life is just hard, no matter what your circumstances are, even when you're living your "dream".

I'm too young and inexperienced to give advice or comfort, but I can genuinely thank you for your honesty and for resetting my perspective - this is a period of time for me, along with many others to come, that just needs to be endured. All the best.

nursemd said...

Hey ABB, I've wanted to comment on this post for awhile, but as you know, I'm a resident too (you know what I mean Har).

Just wanted to say {{Hugs}}.

And, residency is freaking hard. Honestly, I think it might be harder for more (erm) mature (?) residents like us. The hours, workload, and stress seem to be a lot harder on me in my mid-30's versus my co-resies in their mid- to late-20's. And I completely empathize with how hard it is to be alone in a new place without your significant other, and a serious lack of time/energy to meet and make a whole new support network for yourself. Not to mention the ongoing and utterly demoralizing poverty. (Serious, don't even get me started because it is so embarrassingly bad at this point that the only way I keep from totally freaking out about it, is just not thinking about it. At least until I get those emails telling me my credit card is over limit - again - or my car insurance is cancelled. Deep breath, aaaand I'm typing again.)

I can't tell you how many times on my worst rotations I seriously thought about and even started looking into leaving and finding a residency (in any specialty that might take me) closer to home last year.

I cannot even imagine how much more awful adding a back injury to this must make things.

I am so, so sorry hon.

On the bright side (and being more of a closet optimist versus your outright positive personness, I think you can truly take heart from the fact that I actually see a bright side, Har), I think having been a nurse has continued to help in infinite ways, no matter how bad things were (like PGYx) I always find comfort and happiness in interactions with patients, and honestly, so far second year is WAY better (Halle-LU-jah!!!).

And I personally take heart at how much I've gone through to get where I'm at, how I just continue to keep getting through no matter what gets thrown at me. I can't help but think, with all of that, I'm just going to keep making it, and not doing too shabby a job of it either.

I can't help but think that you will too.

And even if you don't have a big support network there, cheering you on and lifting you up in person yet, you certainly always have one to turn to here.

We're here, listening, sending you {{Hugs}}, and so many positive thoughts, believing in you, knowing that you are doing what you were meant to do in this life, making a positive difference in so many other lives, and that you are AMAZING.

More {{Hugs}},


HereIamandwhereareyou said...

Life isn't always shiny, and who says you have to pretend it is? It's your blog- vent away!

Still, those things you mentioned- boyfriend, job in Canada, medical degree, new place to live? ALL AWESOME. Inescapably.

Christopher said...

I feel your pain on the immigration front, no better for Canadians coming to America. My fiancee is struggling thru the last bit (215 days and counting since we filed) as we come up on the inevitable approval! Ok, an interview first...

I'm not there, yet, to feel your internship pain, but keep it up. If you didn't show such passion for medicine through your blog I would say you had something to worry about, but nah, you've got this.

peace said...