Archive for December, 2010

Another Christmas Post

December 25, 2010

Once again I find myself in the semi-dark, sitting at the dining room table in my family’s house looking out over the lights of [the city]. Got some Christmas music going on Pandora, hot apple cider and warm slippers on my feet. It’s a peaceful place, and as I am sure you have all grown accustomed to, one suited to reflection.

The biggest thing on my horizon these days is figuring out the rank-order for the surgery residency programs I’ve interviewed at. I plan to interview at about 15 programs and in my head there are more or less two criteria; how good is this program/how good a fit is this program, and how difficult is it to get home from there. The ordering of these priorities is rather conflicting me at the moment. On the one hand I want to get the best surgical training I can, and enjoy the company of the half-dozen or so people I will be spending the next 5 years with . . . but on the other hand I realize my grandparents are not getting any younger and neither are my parents for that matter. And a lot can happen in five years. And on top of that, something like 80% of residents end up starting their practice within 100 miles of where they did their residency and I kind of like [my city], and yes the people who live in it (or at least come back to visit from time to time).

I anticipate my surgical residency to go for 5 years (possibly as many as 6 or 7 depending on whether I take time off to do research), working 80 hours a week for 48-50 weeks a year. As residents we are supposed to have 24 hours off every 7 days, averaged out over a few weeks. So I won’t exactly be rolling in the free time, and taking a plane flight home when you gotta be back in 36 hours is tricky.

And so the dilemma. I am not sure yet how these conflicting priorities are going to pan out. And despite all this premeditation, where I end up may well be completely random, as The Match works its algorithm and sticks me where it will.

Anyway. A few years back (on Christmas Eve if I do recall correctly) I had an entry talking about how I feel like medical school has changed me. If nothing else, I feel like I complain a lot more than I used to. I have struggled with this, trying to find a balance between getting stuff off of my chest/venting, and just being a whiny person losing his perspective. I chose this path intentionally; there was no coercion, no trickery. I knew it would be a lot of work, and I knew it would be stressful. I knew it would test me, and teach me about myself. Returning to home, I feel kind of like I am looking at an old photograph, or reading an old journal entry. It’s kind of like a window into the past a little bit, as if all the other stuff that has happened in my life away from here hadn’t occurred. It’s almost like a gauge, a marker that throws into relief how much I’ve changed, now that I am back in a place that has remained mostly the same in the seven and a half years since I’ve really lived here.

I think it’s telling, that in this context I feel more grouchier, more tired, and cynical and world weary than I remember. I snap at my parents more than I used to. What I perceive as personality flaws are more nettlesome. I look at my old bookshelves and I realize I’d forgotten how much I used to read. But I also feel a sense of pride, of accomplishment maybe even bordering on hubris. I find I still enjoy walking, and the lights of the city, talking with my parents and playing video games with my sister. I enjoy seeing my old friends.

Truly, I don’t know where this all is going. I suppose I already feel a bit uprooted, while I process all the changes from med school. And I worry a bit about how much more untethered from my proverbial roots I will become if I wind up somewhere else. But we’ve only got one life to lead and it’s almost always too short for anyone’s liking. And so why constrain myself to a certain geographical area, when there is so many more places of the country to explore? And when I may even find a better experience farther away, rather than close to home? Well, I suppose that’s the dilemma.

Anyhow, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, and all the best in the new year.