Monday, April 13, 2009

ugly confession.WORK

I am not going to lie—not going to fib one little bit to anyone who asks me: medical school is horrid. It is rigorous, exhausting, overwhelming, emotional-breakdown-provoking, trying….really just horrid.

I’ll never forget the looks of approval I got when word got around that I had ‘gotten in’. The sweet ladies at church gave me hugs, their husbands shook my hand firmly; it was almost as if everyone had adopted me & was rooting for me. And although I still feel many of the prayers sent my (& Jon’s) way, it has become a much less “glamorous” experience than I originally thought I’d have.

For the past two years (last 9 months not inclusive), my days, nights, weekends, bathroom time, shower time, workout time, car rides, long drives, and airplane flights have ALL been spent studying. We’d go out to dinner: I’d have my notecards. I had to take a shower: I rigged an extra large plastic baggy with an over-the-shower-head hanging contraption so I could slip a piece of computer paper inside & study while I lathered my hair without ruining my color-coordinated notes. A two hour car ride was in the plans for the weekend: my iPod was full of lectures. A 45 minute stint on the elliptical at the gym meant 45 minutes of studying. IT NEVER ENDED—and actually, I’m coming to the perhaps even more horrid realization that it will never end.

I chose a profession of learning. And while I appreciate the challenge, enjoy the process, & crave new information (information other than this morning’s depressing headlines), I do have days where I’d like to shut my brain off & shut all my medical knowledge in a closet—or deep, dark dungeon. You see, this education has, in many ways, sucked the enjoyment out of many experiences. Stories about “gross stuff” aren’t as funny anymore because I know half of it recited by my friends totally couldn’t be true—the physiology or bacteriology or pharmacology or whatever-ology just isn’t possible. Sick people aren’t as interesting anymore because I’ve grown tired of hearing them complain about conditions they brought upon themselves (chronic knee pain in someone 115 pounds overweight, infected skin in someone who neurotically picks at scabs). Healthy people aren’t as exciting anymore because I know that my love for them in the future will be confounded by the lack-of-reimbursement by insurance companies for well-patient visits. And generally, LIFE has just lost some of its adventurous flavor with the broad knowledge base I know carry around like a ruck-sack strapped to my brain.

About two weeks ago when I was really struggling with my (& that of my family’s) future in medicine, I had to sit down & re-examine my motivations for applying to medical school in the first place.

Jon & I decided from the get-go that we would live solely off of his income—whatever it may be. So poverty line or plush-life aside, we are sticking to our original plan. My motivation for choosing medicine was largely for our children. I wanted to be able to do for them what my parents have done for me, which really came down to two things: support them throughout childhood, giving them ample travel & cross-cultural opportunities and support them financially throughout college, paying for their education in full & thereby giving them the freedom to choose a profession that they like. I figured as well that my working would give us more opportunity as a family to live just a bit more comfortably & travel more.

And those original motivations still hold true, absolutely. But I’m finding my greatest struggle in the balance between my work in medicine & my home life of the future. I’m finding the greatest irony in the fact that the profession I chose deliberately to make a better life for my family may very well be the thing that keeps me away from them. And I’m finding the greatest hesitation in working at all.

I feel the need to add in that I’m certainly not quitting, not throwing in the towel, not letting the poop hit the fan, not giving the fat lady a microphone or making wings for the pigs. I’m NOT QUITTING—in fact, at this point, quitting is not an option for us.

What I do want to get across, however, is that I’m struggling with this whole concept. The concept of balancing life & work & family & children & husband & creativity & writing & photography….it is overwhelming, absolutely. Overwhelming when the physician DISsatisfaction rate hovers around 70%, when the reimbursement for long hours worked continues to fall, when the loans for tuition continue to grow, & when the 24 hours God provided for each day just aren’t enough.

I know I’m not alone in this. I know I’m not the only woman feeling this way. I know many women are my secret heroes I haven’t met yet—the women who balance it all beautifully. I’m just not sure I can be one of those.

It is ugly. And this is my confession.

Jon is overwhelmingly supportive--& I can’t quite put into words how incredibly grateful I am for his support, his stand-by-me, & his tolerance of what I’m about to go through in residency. He is willing to co-parent, willing & wanting to be involved in the lives of our children. He is willing to work hard, extra hours, extra days to provide for us. And for all those things, I am indebted.

In the meantime, however, I am working on trusting God with the details. I am praying that I find a residency program that is family friendly. I am praying that we find affordable housing & are able to live on just a bit more than rice & beans (because beans give me horrible gas). I am praying that we find support in our community, both locally & spiritually. And most of all, I am praying that the Lord provides a job opportunity that allows more balance between a profession I am madly in love with (despite how horrid school is) and a family I am just giddy for.

Where are you most struggling with balance? Is it an event? A commitment? A relationship? A creative outlet? A habit? Did an original motivation exist that has been scewed, obstructed, or changed in the process? How are you coming to terms with its current state--& how do you resolve to change it?

1 comment:

Brianna said...

I just watched the movie Facing The Giants... it is such a good movie, acting is a little corny, but the message is so wonderful. If you haven't seen it already, watch it ( if you have time ;) ) I am sure it will help you, and give your heart the will to trust God, and let Him take your burdens. When we trust him, amazing things happen. It is just that human instinct of thinking we can control everything, only we can't. You just keep trusting and doing your best to obey God, and you will be fine. I am really amazed by your determination, and I admire you.

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