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Archive for September, 2013

Schedules

A piece I wrote for my elective humanities class. The prompt was “Your greatest fear.”

 

The bus rattled along the dusty gravel road. The girl and her brother were the only ones left and they stood in the front seats chatting with the driver. The girl’s mind, however, was elsewhere. She quickly constructed a schedule in her head: one hour for the appointment, one hour for groceries, one hour for Walmart, one hour for driving, one hour for flex time between each activity. With the extra hour tacked on her mother should be getting home right about now. As soon as they rounded the first turn she began looking for signs. The garage door was closed, no clue there. Her anxiety rose slightly. They got off the bus and headed inside: the car wasn’t in the garage. Now her anxiety was through the roof. She ran through her schedule again, making sure she had the right times and had added them together correctly. 4:30 pm, her initial calculation was right. Her brother didn’t stay inside long and soon left the girl alone with the dog and her anxiety. She paced the living room, pulling the curtains wide open so she could see all the way down the road. What if she had to answer the phone call? Would her father be angry? Who, if anyone, would she tell at school? Fortunately, within minutes, a cloud of dust rose and the grey car appeared, alleviating her anxiety. The schedule, while not perfect, had been close.

That was how it began. Schedules, constructed so she didn’t have to have the anxiety all day, only a portion of it. Schedules for practicing long hours that would fill the time when she wouldn’t let herself to be anxious. Schedules for when her mother didn’t come home so she could finish everything before her father came in from chores.

Ten years later, new schedules had developed. She lived alone and no longer needed hasty calculations about when her mother should be home. Instead, they served as a security blanket for all the other unknowns in life. If she followed the schedules properly, everything would be okay. So she was following the schedule and dutifully cleaning the kitchen when a young man came through the door. He was early; this did not fit the schedule. She came around the corner. “What are you doing here? You said you weren’t coming until 6.”

“I thought I would surprise you, but apparently I was wrong.” He turned and walked back out the door. Leaving her alone, with the schedule.

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New Challenges

This week has brought the biggest challenges of med school.

First, I’ve been having terrible headaches every day for over a week now. I don’t have a health insurance number or card so the only place I can go right now is student health and with my school schedule I haven’t had any free time during the day to make an appointment. If I don’t take anything it gets so bad that I can’t think or concentrate. Excedrin takes it town to a tolerable level, but it still sucks to just have it in the background constantly.

Second, M. He’s spent a lot of time with me recently and I’m adjusting to that. But we had our first exam today. I was really nervous about it but I came through with a couple points to spare. M’s strength is biochem and he was expecting to do really really well on the first exam and got the lowest possible passing score. So he was pissed. And he is difficult to be around or talk to when he is like that. And he is convinced that if he can barely pass his “strong” subject then he is absolutely certain to fail everything else in med school.

Immediately after that I went to a physical exam skills session where I was to learn the “proper” technique for taking vitals. I’ve taken a lot of vitals so I know I can do it, but I know my technique is sloppy and I was really nervous about being evaluated. We were told that the standardized patients teaching us were very kind and only there to help. And somehow I would up with one that reamed me because I didn’t make small talk and I forgot to verbalize two results. And on top of that he chewed me out for being quiet and not smiling. Because of course, that is how you get a person to smile.

Fortunately my next physical exam skills session (15 min later) was what it was supposed to be. A very kind standardized patient that let us practice on him.

Only one more day though. Then a brief weekend to reset before it begins all over again.

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