ndab Ah Yes, Medical School: May 2007

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Step Down, A Step Up

As graduation rapidly approaches, I have felt this growing pressure to come up with some creative way to capture, summarize, and otherwise wrap-up my four years of medical school for you. After all the freaks encountered, bodily fluids sprayed with, and orifices probed, I figured it would be pretty easy to come up with something good for a grand finale. But then I realized that I haven’t actually worked up, talked to, or been within ten feet of a real patient, doctor, or classmate for almost five months, so my arsenal of pathetic real life experiences has been severely depleted (although as an aside, isn’t fourth year of medical school just the most amazing thing ever?).

Given this dilemma, I attempted to turn to other sources of inspiration in my quest to forever enshrine the experience that is medical school. At first, it seemed as if popular culture was going to make this really easy for me. Almost immediately after beginning my quest, I discovered that Keith Richards admitted to snorted his father’s ashes. A ha!, I thought. If snorting your own father’s remains in a drug-induced stupor isn’t what medical school is all about, then…umm…actually that’s just really fucked up. But after all, that right there is about as ridiculous as anything I’ve experienced these last four years, and if there’s one thing that sticks out about medical school, it’s the sheer ridiculousness of the whole process (for examples, see…the rest of this website). But then I realized that that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, and I moved on.

Only moments after doing so, I was blessed with yet another pop-culture discovery that I thought could enlighten me on how to commemorate my medical school experience. Flipping through the channels one night, I happened upon ABC’s The Bachelor (“happened upon” or “lustly devoted to”, I’ll let you decide). At first nauseated by the profile of the bachelor and his freakishly tool-ish qualities, I soon discovered that he was a physician, which seemed to account for all of his forced, tool-like behavior. A tool doctor on a tool dating show, now that’s medical school! To my delight, the show turned from simple comedy to pure spectacle, for I would have never thought that this show could have encapsulated the true narcissism, comedy, and humiliation of medical school until I saw the distinctly familiar face of one of my classmates emerging from one of those limos they herd the women through during the introductions. What follows is a severely edited version of my stream of consciousness during this historic moment of television:

Holy crap, that crazy chick from my class is on The Bachelor.
Holy freaking crap, that crazy chick from my class just read the bachelor a fortune cookie note.
Holy freaking mother fucking crap shit balls ass fuck, that crazy chick from my class just sang the national anthem to the bachelor in front of millions of viewers.

Unreal. I was literally laughing on the floor for a few minutes, and I had the chance to see her sing over and over again (and subsequently roll on the floor over and over again) courtesy of my friend’s DVR. Un-freaking-believable. Did that really happen? Did she really sing that entire thing? Did she just provide one of the most awkward moments in television history? Seriously, if that isn’t the most ridiculous thing that has happened, if that display of shameless comedy doesn’t summarize the, umm, shameless comedy of medical school, than I don’t know what does. Yet, following her progress through the next few episodes, I couldn’t help but feel that while her hapless moment in the sun has provided my friends and I with a lifetime of unintentional comedy to bond over, this scenario is wholly hers, not mine, and that there was really no way to adapt some moment of hers to summarize four years of my misery.

Yet, just when I thought I was out of luck, that I would have nothing of substance to submit to you, the reader, that could fully capture the last four years of my life, that cruel, ugly bitch known as Fate intervened. For you see, I had the privilege of being in the wedding party for one of my best friends wedding last week (I also came to that city a little early to find an apartment). While not a best man, I was an usher and given the responsibility of reading a poem selected by the couple-to-be during the ceremony. I walked up to the pew, read the piece (a stirring rendition, I should add), and turned to my left to walk back down the stairs.

Except a funny thing happened while walking down the stairs. You see, I was wearing those shiny rental tuxedo shoes and…well…I slipped, fell, and tumbled down the stairs with a monstrously loud thud. During the wedding ceremony. In front of just about every single one of my best friends from college.

I immediately jumped up, ignoring the enormous welt I just delivered to my behind, and walked to my seat, my face now literally as red as my thunderstruck ass. I then had to hear about me being a monstrously large jackass for the next six hours at the reception (deservedly so, I admit). And, to top it all off, I returned to my car that evening to discover that someone had smashed my driver side window and stolen the GPS thing I bought from Costco to help me navigate the city while looking for apartments (which I of course was not planning on returning to Costco immediately after this trip, cough cough). Crap. Did I mention that I never even found an apartment?!? So the next day I had a six hour drive home with no driver-side window, no apartment, and a huge, painful bruise on my ass.

Ladies and gentlemen, that right there, that’s medical school.

Well, not entirely. The following day, I discovered that an apartment I thought I was aced out of had become available, so I snagged it. And my now-married friend thanked me for my tumble, because it made him feel infinitely less nervous standing up there about to get married. And, while I still had a massive, painful bruise on my backside, I took a picture of it and emailed it to all my friends to force them to at least share in my misery by having to look at a picture of my ass.

Now that’s medical school.

The frustration, the embarrassment, the comedy, the pain, the promise, the shared misery, the occasional burst of inspiration, that 24 hour sequence captured it all, and that is what I have been trying to convey to you these last few years. After all, the vast majority of questions emailed to me go something like “So what’s medical school really like?”, and my answer is simply:

Medical school is like falling on your ass at your friend's wedding in front of your best friends from college, having someone break into your car shortly thereafter, but having it all somehow work out for the best in the end.

I still don’t know if I am doing the right thing, I don’t know how long I am going to last as a resident, and I don’t know how much I am going to want to last as a resident. I do know that these last four years have been some of the most frustrating, embarrassing, funny, inspiring, and painful years of my life. So when I step up to receive my diploma in a couple of weeks, I’ll try to keep these racing emotions and memories in mind. Well, that, and not slipping and falling on my ass again. But I genuinely hope that I have been able to share some of what I have gone through with you, in a way that you can understand, so that perhaps you have a newfound insight into how the person responsible for making sure you are healthy, well, and fit becomes that person in the first place.

And, finally, I wanted to thank you for entertaining me with your comments, questions, and (most especially) hate mail, for pushing me to get off my lazy ass and whine on the Internet from time to time, and for maybe, just maybe, helping me remind myself why I keep doing this in the first place.

Thank you.

Oh c’mon, you think I was just going to end it like that? Gratuitous wounded Fake Doctor ass shot for everyone!!!

Oh, and just in case anyone was curious, I did reserve Ah Yes, Residency...