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Here We Go Again

Posted Jul 30 2011 9:00am
Another year of medical school, another post about packing up and moving. I've said good-bye to the pre-clinical years, and I'm saying hello to the clinical phase of my education. After filling numerous cardboard boxes and trash bags with stuff in a cramped city apartment in the middle of a blazing hot summer with no air conditioning, everything made its way three hours north to a town upstate.

I've lived in my fair share of apartments in various cities. I think the worst one was my flat in London - otherwise fondly known as the Swedish prison cell. If you stretched your arms out, you could touch either wall. The mattress, provided by the school, was essentially a sack of plastic with a few cottonballs inside. My back has never been the same since. And don't even get me started on the "en suite bathroom" - imagine an airplane lavoratory with a shower. But what it lacked in livability, it made up for in locale. And charm can always be added with a few knick knacks here and there.

I've been fortunate to have lived in some major cities, which is why those around me were surprised when I decided to complete my clerkship in a small town so far from the vibrancy and culture I had been dwelling. Well, I can say this - I've been here five days and I've never felt more like myself than when I was living in the city for the past two years. I look out my window and I see green. I step out onto the deck and a horizon of lush green mountains meets my eye. The air feels clean(er). It's quiet. So very quiet. And I think the tranquil surroundings has lowered my blood pressure a few notches. Best yet, I have a proper kitchen. And I've been baking again. Hallelujah, I found me again!

Of course if you know me, you'd be correct to expect that things didn't happen so perfectly. I can't be the only one who gets a little anxious at the thought of change. I remember when I was preparing to leave for college, my dad gave me a copy of "Who Moved My Cheese?" and asked me to read it before I left. I mentally scoffed at the book, thinking who would name their book with a title like that? And what did it have to do with me and leaving for college? I chalked it up to another one my dad's crazy ideas, like thinking it's okay to wear blue socks with a brown suit. But he didn't let up until I read it. And I hate to say this, but I guess I'm kind of glad I read it...just a little.

If you haven't guessed already, it's about change and how to deal with it in your life. And hey, it's written by an M.D.! I'd like to think I roll with the punches (sort of), but moving to new places seems to have a physiological effect on me.

Exhibit A: The week before I moved to London, I broke out in hives all over my body. I thought it was a bad reaction to the strawberries I had recently eaten. But I soon discovered it was the stress of moving away from family and friends and a stable job that had manifested itself as red, itchy bumps up and down my arms.

And most recently, I was sitting on the couch watching tv just last week (I could hardly believe it too, after a hellish few months of hardcore studying) when I started thinking about everything that was happening. Waiting for my Board scores, moving to a new place where I literally knew no one, and starting rotations. Then wham, my trapezius muscle seized up and a sharp pain shot down my arm and through my fingers. After a couple of hours the pain started radiating up to my jaw. I tried to do some OMM, but when my fingers passed over the sinewy rope that was my traps muscle, the blaze of pain assured me I had found the mother source. I tried heat, I tried painkillers, I even tried BENGAY. Nothing worked. And for most of the day I sat on the couch, trying to move and hoping the pain would magically go away. It wasn't until I stopped thinking about Board scores and moving and rotations that the pain actually did magically go away. Stress is a @#!$%

So here I am, writing this post while out on the deck and pausing to soak in the peaceful nature around me. I'm just days away from starting my first rotation - a little nervous about the change from pre-clinical to clinical, but definitely looking forward to the next phase of my training.
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