What It’s Really Like

I’ve already been asked a hundred times, “What’s it like?”, and even once (as a joke), “Is it like Grey’s Anatomy?”

I’ve probably made it sound like it’s not too bad so far. (Really, it isn’t THAT bad.) However, it is really, really hard. Not because it is that much more difficult than other undergrad classes, but there is just so much of it. I get excited about all the stuff we learn in lecture… for the first two hours or so. Then I just get overwhelmed, and I just want to go home, crawl under my rock, and study. It comes at us so fast that there really isn’t any time to enjoy what we’re learning (because what we’re learning is SO COOL! And AWESOME! And all that jazz…) because there is just so MUCH.

My least favorite thing is dissecting. I really and truly thought I would love it before we started. I was looking forward to it. But now, after having done it for a few weeks, I can’t say that it is really something that I enjoy. It just feels so wrong. And there have been a handful of times that I’ve nearly been sick, but I have yet to have to leave the lab. However, there is a tremendous amount of responsibility to take on, and learning this way is amazing. My mouth drops open in astonishment multiple times a day. One way I rationalize is it, no matter what we may do to a patient in our future careers, there is no way we will ever do something like this to a patient ever again. Personally, I think we’d be better served studying prosections instead of spending so much time doing a novice job at dissecting, because we’ve already destroyed several structures we were supposed to preserve. I don’t think I will ever get used to the smell of the lab, or knowing what my hands have done to a person. I will not be donating my body to science.

I miss the simple things of pre-med-school life. I just want a haircut. Is that really too much to ask? I’m lucky if I remember what’s going on this week and the next, so obviously there’s not enough time to get a hard-and-fast appointment with my stylist. I’m debating just shaving my head to save the hassle. I really need another home pedicure–mine looks lazy and sloppy. Most days I just don’t feel like myself, I feel like a completely and utterly exhausted version of myself. Apparently when I come home, I have lost my ability to park the stupid car. I’m just not paying attention. I still feel like I haven’t actually moved into the new place yet, it’s still a mess and I do not know where anything is, but hey, my histo final was one week and my two anatomy exams and embryo exam was the next week, so I needed to study and other things fell by the wayside. Somehow, somehow I am still sleeping well but I’m not sure how. If David didn’t do the laundry, I’m not sure it would get done. I do manage to fill the dishwasher from time to time. It’s sad. Some days I forget my lunch. My To Do list never gets any shorter, it just rearranges itself. I have forgotten how to cook. I think. My fried rice, chili, and broccoli soups do not taste right anymore, but I wonder if that could be attributed to the formaldehyde in lab.

In my spare time, I’m a volunteer research assistant and I volunteer with the SMILE program (Students Making Illness a Little Easier), playing with the kids at the children’s hospital. It doesn’t feel like an “extra” though, it just feels like an another requirement for school, and I’m still learning. But, it means more time away from home and less time to just be myself. I totally feel like I’m leading two separate lives, one at home and one at school.

There are some day where I just want to sleep. Or I just want to spend a night hanging out with my husband. But it usually has to wait until I get some free time, post-exams. I spent my birthday in the cadaver lab studying for the next two days’ exams, so it wasn’t the best birthday I’ve ever had. Luckily though, we were able to get our families together last weekend to celebrate, so I did get a bit of a reprieve from school to celebrate.

Every day is different. Some days we start at 8am, other days we don’t get started until 11am. Or we might even have the entire day off (like this Friday!). We might have Anatomy two days a week, or maybe four. We might have several online modules of lectures to finish on our own, outside of the regularly-scheduled lectures. We might have “fresh tissue lab” in the afternoon (don’t ask). We might have several sessions of ICM in the simulated clinic. One week I had to change in and out of clothes for either clinic or anatomy 12 times. That part does get old. It’s not the most glamorous life, and some days it’s not much to talk about. But there has been a lot of new material for creative writing, if I ever have time to sit down and write it out.

I know this just sounds like a lot of complaining. There are some fun things though, and it’s not all bad. I just feel like I could sleep for a week, as I’m constantly exhausted.

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