Reality is Depressing

This week has just been awful. The Boston Marathon Bombings were tragic, as was the explosion in West, Texas; those two events alone are saddening, depressing, frightening,… I am so over this week. I need a break. Thank you God, it’s Friday. I don’t think I can take much more loss.

On Monday, I participated in another 11th Hour Vigil. It was awful. I was mortified. The process to report my concerns was awful. Lucky me, I was the one to discover that in my emergency, someone forgot to roll over the phones for the day. Now that the ordeal is over, I am so very thankful that I will never have to set foot in that facility again.

Tuesday, I left work early because I was so sick–maybe I picked up a virus at the facility?! I crashed as soon as I got home, and woke up 3 hours later feeling somewhat better. This was also the day it started raining. It’s been all doom-and-gloom here since.

And then I get this news: Background check info is available from my school. Wonderful. They don’t tell you that it’s an additional $70 out of your pocket, pre-matriculation.

And then this: My school “gives” (i.e., works into our tuition/fees) a laptop to every student so that we’re all the same, and an iPod Touch for third year rotations. Starting this fall, the iPod Touch is nixed, but now there’s an “optional” (i.e., not figured into our tuition, but an additional $700) iPad. Awesome.

And then the Big Depressing News: Student Health Insurance information is finally available. Student-only is ~$2600 for the year… I had braced myself for this. What I did not brace myself for was the Student-Plus-Spouse option for the year, which is a total of ~$10,000. Thank goodness we don’t have children yet, or I’d be looking at almost $15,000.


Not to mention that I am already pissed off that their allowance for rent each month is only $610… and I can’t find anything in the area for that much, not even a rinky-dink studio or one bedroom, for just me. And there is no increase in this rate from last year’s amount, either. Which is utter rubbish, since rates go up every year. And the fact that it is so much more expensive to live there than here. I can totally get used to down-sizing and doing without. Not a big deal. But how on earth do they expect me to flex around that much cash, each and every month? Cost of attendance is this extreme and you’re telling me I’ll still need extra?!?

In short, I’ll be taking out the equivalent of a house— a really, really nice house–in loans… only, minus the actually getting to have the house part.

How on earth do they (the administration…?) expect students to be able to concentrate on learning, with the overall goal of helping other people, when we have this looming over our heads?!

Yes, this post is just dripping with sarcasm and cynicism. I am livid.

Yesterday, my dear brother sent me a text as soon as the new NFL schedule came out. Denver v. Indy on basically my birthday. AND I WON’T BE HERE. I’m very seriously considering not even going to medical school this fall.

It would be quite unrealistic to give up a seat in med school over a football game. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m dreading giving up every semblance of life as I know it now–including actually making a decent living that produces what I consider to be a a pretty good quality of life–to be utterly miserable. Overwhelmed, overworked, stressed, and shackled to an unbelievably monstrous amount of debt, when I have never in my life had a loan before now.

It’s sickening. I’m bordering on having a panic attack, that these huge numbers could ever possibly be real, and they’re going to be mine.

Just take out the loans, they say. You’ll be able to pay it back, they say.

Except for that they also say that 1% doesn’t make it. 1% never passes the Boards, graduates, or matches into a residency. 1% of my class is roughly 2 people. I am scared to death that I will be one of those two people. Now that I actually know someone who is in that situation, it makes the possibility so much more real. It used to just be an enigma–of course that will never be me! 2 total people out of 200? That’s nobody! No way that’ll be me!

I’m used to budgeting. That I can cope with. But I have never in my life had so little to work with, or so much at stake.

No more dinner/movie dates with the husband? Fine. Not a big deal.

No new books, not even from Half Price Books? (Not that I’d have the leisure time to read for fun anyway.) Lending from a library or swapping with friends? Fine. No big deal.

No new clothes, movies, etc.? Fine. Not a big deal.

No more sending little gifts and cards to friends in need, or keeping up my gift bags for homeless people? Fine. (Pout, grumble grumble.)

Learning to live without even these small comforts is going to be a big deal for me. Because, it’s not just the sticker shock amount. It’s the full, huge amount plus interest. So every single cent spent will be magnified. And knowing myself, I’m going to feel incredibly guilty over every single penny.

I’ve heard all the horror stories. You never get to see or talk to your family or friends. Trips home are infrequent. You may go days forgetting to shower because you’re so stressed. Neglecting significant others. No free weekends. Forget what a good night’s sleep feels like. Get used to smelling like formaldehyde… or worse. Hello dark circles and premature gray hair. Throw in the fear of not being able to pay off the debt, and I want to be sick.

Maybe I wouldn’t feel so bad if just one person I knew who has been through this before me had something good to say about all of this. Not a single one has. I’ve heard these same things repeated so many times.

And here I thought I’d pursue a dual degree and also get an MPH… at an additional $522/credit hour. (Since, of course, the dual-degree student discount on tuition is now defunct.)

Or go on the service trip to Honduras next spring.

Or even consider starting a family over the next 4 years.

So here I am again–can’t even be happy about finally getting into med school.

Please pardon my doom-and-gloom spewing. This is just too much for me to wrap my head around today. I’m probably blowing things out of proportion–or maybe I’m just hoping that I am. Why on earth do we do this to ourselves? Today, I don’t even have a good answer, which I attribute to the nastiness of this week. I usually have a good answer. Put me in a hospital in scrubs and I’d have a good answer. Give me a sick child and I will know exactly why I want to do this. But not today. Not when they hand me this list of fees that makes my vision blur. Today I need some fresh air. And a hike. Or just some good news. Or some reassurance. Something.

Writing about it has helped.



2 thoughts on “Reality is Depressing

  1. I’m a 4th year med student that just happened to stumble onto your blog, and I just want to let you know…it’s all going to be ok.

    I may be in a 10-days-until-graduation-dream-state, but really, it will all work out.

    Don’t stress about rent and cost of living. In my experience, many of the other categories included in those calculations are actually inflated. For example, you probably won’t spend as much in the transportation or miscellaneous categories as they calculate. Also, I went over on rent and qualified for more federal student loans (wish I could say subsidized, but sadly, those days are gone). Make friends with the financial aid people at your school.

    The loan numbers look big and scary, but that really will be ok too. There are income based repayment and loan forgiveness options. You may never need these, but trust me when I say it is comforting to know they’re available.

    And yes, you will work really hard in med school. There is no getting around that. But, you will probably meet your new best friends there too. For me, medical school has been the most difficult, but simultaneously most wonderful, time of my life. It is a blessing and a privilege to train in medicine – sometimes you just have to remind yourself of that on the hard days.

    And finally, don’t listen to anything anybody (including me) says about medical school. Go in with an open mind, be ready to rock it out, and have a great time. It won’t be long until residency is staring you right in the face.

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