I wonder how far I’ve slid from my past self, because some days past-me feels miles away. In an instant, in the blink of an eye, I feel like I am half the human I once was.
Friends, it’s been a rough week. The election really threw me off and I’m still in a stage of denial. Given the past week’s events, I want to take a moment to reflect on something unrelated to politics and something positive.
One of my favorite parts of Emory’s curriculum is what we call the “Patient Interview.” For every module we study, we have a patient interview during which an Emory physician brings in a patient who has a condition relevant to the unit we’re studying. The physician interviews their patient in front of the class, the patient describes what it’s like to live with their disease, and we are allowed to ask the patient questions. It’s a good reminder as to why I spend the large part of my day on my butt instead of outside exploring. This week, a patient came in to talk to us about living with a genetic condition called Fabry disease. It’s a condition that affects many systems. The patient said during the interview, “finding a doctor who was interested enough to find out what’s wrong with me was the most important thing.” And even if we don’t know what’s wrong, at least be willing to try different things.
Life has been so good these past two weeks. My small group came over for dinner on Friday night, friends came over for homemade yogurt on Saturday, I FINALLY climbed at Stone Summit, went on some runs (the weather is a bit cooler in the AM), heard the Vega Quartet play Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 7 and (last but not least) spent some quality time with Neil Gaiman on Friday and Saturday night.
But that’s not what I want to focus on for the rest of the blog post. I want to rewind to last weekend. I’ve been itching to write about last weekend’s trip to Bryson City, NC where I went whitewater kayaking with some other med students. Seven M1s and two M2s went on the trip. Right after our exam, we left for NC. Three hours later, we pulled up to our cabin. That night, Maddie and I slept in her tent. It was a wonderfully clear night so we didn’t put the fly up and we could see the sky and stars.
I’m taking an 11 week meditation course called Cognitively-based Compassion Training (CBCT). This week (wk 2) we focused on attentional-stability. We meditated for 10 minutes, focusing our attention on our breaths. We also thought about a moment in our lives when we felt cared for and meditated on that feeling.
Pardon me as I try to work through some thoughts. I am on a travel hiatus for the foreseeable future. My heart ached as I typed that sentence out. As if writing it down somehow made it more true, more tangible, more real than reality. I miss the mountains–the fresh air, the sunsets and sunrises, the horizons. I miss the delight of being on my feet for 12 hours a day hiking up and down trails. Of earning an expansive view of miles of nature in all directions. Yes, I even miss the difficult parts, like ice on the trails and achy feet.
Went down to Gainesville on Thursday. Lexie and I ate BBQ before heading out to La Chua trail where we saw HUGE alligators several feet from us. It was cool and a little scary. Then we went to Lake Wauburg to kayak. UF students hosted a welcome dinner at The Swamp. UF threw me a curveball: my socks were blown off by almost everything. Almost.
Life goals: move to Colorado. Subsequent post on my adventures near Denver coming soon. I had a lovely day interviewing at CU on Friday. All interviewees had two interviews (both in the morning). We also had presentations on financial aid, curriculum, and the Colorado Springs campus (MS3 students do their main clinical year in Colorado Springs where they follow a ‘portfolio’ of patients longitudinally rather than spending 2-3 weeks for each specific rotation). My second interview was with a MS4 student who also went to Duke for undergrad. I wonder if the admissions committee did that on purpose.
Pros: Colorado! The vibe out west is completely different from the East Coast. Ang asked if that’s because, “they’re all high.” I hope not. The community seems very collaborative, concomitant with the vibe I got. The area around the Anschutz medical campus is bike friendly. They have “tracks” that allow students to focus on a specific area in medicine. One track is on leadership, advocacy, education, etc. Basically, it focuses on training physicians who are aware of the social determinants of health and will make decisions that empower people in the community to make the best health decisions. They have nice facilities. Sunshine! Basically everything about Colorado (sun, mountains, climbing, trail running) is a plus–I’ll collectively classify these things as cultivating mental health 😉
Con: The biggest con is the price tag. Tuition for non-sponsored students (their term for out of state) is scary expensive. My interviewer (who did not attend medical school at CU) said you don’t get double the benefits from a school that is twice as expensive (say compared to a FL in-state tuition). Other cons are that you still need a car (as bike-friendly as the campus is, cars are still necessary to get to rotations, to Boulder for trail running or out to the Rockies), large student body (184 students), and tests are on Monday.