Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Just some more Toledo nostalgia

I have nothing to write about.

 I have been on a small hiatus from my daily blogging for several reasons – I’ve had family visiting, I’ve been on vacation, I’ve received word that I failed step three and felt that my time previously allotted for writing should be redirected into studying. Again. Easily the thing I will miss the least about medicine is studying – the sensation that even when I am done, I am never done. After a long day of patients, there is still a topic to read about. After finishing a rotation there is still step preparation. After completing intern year there is still board prep. After board certification there is re-certification, PI projects, new studies and medications… There will always be something that I don’t know. When there is something I don’t know, there is risk – possibility that I will do something wrong, select the wrong medication, prioritize the wrong intervention, diagnose the wrong illness… when I do something wrong, a patient could get hurt or die. Obviously, the learning needs to continue, day in and day out I need to do everything in my own power to minimize what I could get wrong. With that line of thought, time off feels selfish, not studying feels like rebellion. I will never know everything and it is time to give myself absolution from that. I am not guilty for being human – I am simply human.

Regardless, the point is, I have nothing to write about. So I’ve stooped to looking through old documents saved to my hard drive wondering if any of them is worth finishing. (Or pulling the trigger and just deleting). While doing this, I happened across something I’d written shortly after moving out of Toledo after graduating medical school. See below.  I guess I anticipated that I was going to miss them.  I was right. 

Resilient bonds are formed in the trenches of medical school.

For a blog that contains the words “Medical School” in the title, it may be surprising how rarely the topic is breached in my rantings. However, to anyone who has ever asked me the dreaded question, “how was school” (and hopefully learned quickly to never make that mistake again), it will come as no surprise that to the outside world medical school is dreadfully uninteresting. Sure, there’s the macabre fascination with the thought of spending several hours a week for months on end cutting into a dead body, and I personally enjoy learning about the many bugs that can kill me should I undercook my food or drink the water in Africa… but when people ask, it’s not like there’s ever much exciting news to share.

Maybe that’s why I have made such good friends in school – because they found the same things interesting. Maybe I was simply lucky enough to end up with an awesome group of people purely by chance. Maybe it is universal to find camaraderie in anyone who can help you escape the mundanity of the library. But one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that many of my classmates have become some of the best friends I have ever had. 

That being said, I have long been dreading the day when it came time to part ways.

In the match process, which is how medical school graduates are selected for positions at teaching hospitals, students have little control over where they will end up. My classmates have now spread out across the country and for the most part are unlikely to return to Ohio. While I know that I will see great things from all of them in the future, in a selfish way, I would much rather we all stayed close together and continued our life together.

Over the past four years, the people who started as classmates have slowly become friends and ultimately family. They are my cheerleaders when I have exciting news to share, fashion consultants when I need to select and outfit, my counselor when I need advice for a difficult situation and my audience when I have a funny anecdote from the wards to share. They are the faces I miss when I travel the world, the person I can count on when I need a favor or just some company, who I text when its late and I want to grab a drink and the people I worry about when I haven’t heard from them. They are the people who ask how my day was. The ones who hold me when I cry.

Or at least they were. 

Time, change, progress. – You can’t stop any of them, no matter how hard you wish for it.

But I digress.

I had been anticipating saying goodbye to my friends for weeks. I didn’t mean to, but I just couldn’t stop dwelling on what it was going to be like to hug this person goodbye for the last time for a very long while. Or how it would feel knowing that as we made our usual walk down Huron street that we weren’t going to do it again…

Goodbyes in the movies are different than in real life.

I knew this going in, but still, it was fairly anticlimactic. 

I wanted it to be meaningful…. Powerful… cathartic.

I wanted to tell each of them how much they meant to me. What I admire them for. What I am going to miss about seeing them all the time.

Often, my expectations are incongruent with reality. Predictably, this instance fit that pattern. In those moments, I lacked the words to express the depth of my feelings and the emotion to appreciate the gravity of the situation.

However, just because I didn’t get to say what I wanted to say when I wanted to say it does not diminish the value of the sentiments themselves. So here goes. To the irreplaceable bunch of people I was so lucky to suffer through med school with…

(Taken over here in 2016)

I’ve decided to keep those words within my heart. While they are all on paper, and I’ll happily share them with their intended recipients at request, it turns out they are actually unnecessary. Although the friendships I’ve treasured have changed shape and shifted to accommodate distance, schedules and separate lives, the people I miss are still there for me when I need them. I have always assumed that I remember people better than they remember me. I was shy as a child and I think I spent so much time and effort fading into the background and striving not to be noticed, that it worked. It worked especially well on me it seems, because for some reason, I just assume I’m forgettable, replaceable… that in any relationship, I’m the one who is lucky to be involved. I don’t mean to convey that I have low self-esteem, because that is not the case in the slightest, in fact, I’m often way too pleased with myself (that did not come across how it was intended). At the time I wrote the first half of this, the chance that I would be placed with another group of people as awesome as those I had in Toledo seemed so unlikely as to be impossible. But it wasn’t – the people here are pretty great too.

We have all gone forward as our Toledo diaspora and found new niches and new friendfamilies. Over the past year and the coming years these new bonds will strengthen as the crucible of residency takes its toll. I feared that in changing the cast of characters in my day to day life, I was losing them completely (well, filing them away for a chapter in my memoir anyways). That didn’t happen – although separated, we’re still connected, not forgotten. Oddly enough, maybe this is just what the transition to adult friendship is… even though we value these relationships, life takes priority. 

We still have each other when push comes to shove and wish the best for each other in the meantime. To all of my wonderful friends who know what Cock and Bull is, who have participated in the beer olympics, or gone to Bretz, who hold Mulford in a special place in their heart or remember the day the gallows appeared in the courtyard... I still wish you the best.  

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