2019 is gonna be MY year

How many of us have said that to ourselves?

“This is the year I get that degree/that promotion/that baby. This is the year I get my shit together.”

Well, guess what. They’re all your years. 2018 was your year, and so was 2017. And 2020 is going to be your year too. Because the years are your life, and getting that degree/promotion/baby isn’t the full stop at the end of the novel. It’s barely even a chapter break. 

This is a good thing.

This frees us from the limiting idea that we only get one year to do The Thing. It frees us up to realize that all those years that came before 2019 were necessary building blocks to get to whatever achievement you’ve set your eyes on. And all those years beyond 2019 are even more groundwork that you climb on to get to even more achievements.

Because the world doesn’t stop in 2019. The story of your life doesn’t end like a novel, with success, or a sunset horseback ride or a wedding. The story of your life keeps going, and isn’t that the exciting part? Turning the page after triumph or disaster and finding that the story hasn’t ended just yet. That you get to write more story, better story, sadder story, more brilliant and blinding story. That you get to continue learning and self-choosing, that one year does not cannot make or break you. 

I used to think time was against me. It just keeps going, keeps making me older (ugh), keeps dragging me through milestones that in hindsight are pretty silly (I should have been married/promoted/postgrad by now!). But the endless march of time is a gift. It drags us forward, through mistakes, through heartbreak, through painful immaturity. Time drags us (kicking and screaming usually) into knowledge and healing and wisdom.

It takes more than a year to build a life. And trying to cram success (whatever it looks like to you) into one calendar is about as useful as cramming the night before an exam. But we can choose not to do that. We can choose to look at life as a marathon, not a series of sprints. In this world of filters and customization and targeted ads we can choose the perspective that the journey, however long it takes, is just as important the destination. 

If 2019 is gonna be your year, let it be your year to hop off those crazy societal bandwagons and start walking your own beautiful, winding path. 

The great thing about time is that it keeps going. The terrible thing about time is that it keeps going.

Welcome to Paediatrics, the roughest rotation of intern year. When the head of department begins her speech with “I’m sure you’ve all heard the rumours, and they’re all true” you know you’re not in Kansas any more.

Everything from gaining intravenous access to giving chemotherapy is  a thousand times harder in children. They’re definitely not little adults. The entire frustrating process is complicated even more by the precision of doses, by the fact that doctor have to give all IV medications and by the constant presence of scared and angry parents.

“The parents are not your enemy,” our head of department advised. “Once you talk to them about what’s going on, they’ll be more likely to step back and let you do your job.”

But the actual job is so goddamn hard. Just getting blood from a baby for a haematology sample can be a Herculean struggle. The need for constant attention to detail keeps me up for 36 straight hours on every emergency duty. Having to calculate the neonatal dose of crystallized penicillin for a baby with ?sepsis feels like something I should not be doing at 2am after 18 straight hours on my feet. And yet.

I’m always counting down the weeks, the days, the hours. My first duty was so horrible (I was so unprepared) that as I walked from the lab where I had just dropped off some samples to the elevator that would take me back to the 6th floor  I said to myself, “I just survived 30 more seconds of this battle”.

I do what I can to keep myself sane. (It doesn’t always work).

As much as I want time to speed up when I’m on duty I want it to slow right down for the moments when I’m not at the hospital.

I want time to stop entirely when I’m having an epic literary discussion with triciatallen over a Burger King lunch. I want time to slow to a crawl when I’ve gone out to dinner with the Todd and our medical students (because they were absolute lifesavers these last two weeks). Hell, I even want time to pause when I’m having dinner at home, despite the complaints and arguments that frequent our family time.

But it never does.

It only keeps moving inexorably forward, dragging me along to the end of Paediatrics, the end of internship and maybe, just maybe, to the beginning of a career path that might actually make me happy. Whatever that is.

A Timely Diatribe

Time is a slippery bastard. I’ve never tried to catch a live eel but I imagine it’s a lot like trying to get a hold of Time. Equal parts chance and skill and knowing which gloves to wear so that you don’t get the daylights shocked out of you.

But Time is also a sneaky bastard. I’ve never been stalked by a ninja but I imagine it’s a lot like having Time run out on you. In either case you’re often dead before you even know what’s coming.

I get angry at Time all the time. I want to grab it and shake it and tell it to slow the hell down. But it hauls me along mercilessly, making me grow older, forcing my decisions, bending me to its rules. I don’t like it, but I have to live with it. Don’t we all?

(We do. Until we die. And even then, maybe).

I feel it most potently now in my fifth year of medical school. How can I be in final year? I’m not ready to be a doctor! It’s frustrating to know that no matter how hard I wish it won’t, next year will come. I will sit my final exams in June and (crossing fingers, toes and eyes) I will be a doctor in July. I can’t stop this from happening (unless I decide to fail my exams. Um, no) and the thought strips me of any sort of control I thought I had over my life, leaving me terrified.

But my answer can’t be to hide under the covers. Not anymore and not for a while, at least. Time, the tricky bastard, is forcing me to face my challenges. Like it or not, this is happening. The only difference is how I choose to meet it. The fetal position is not a valid option so I have to spend the next ten months or so gearing up for battle. I do so hate confrontation.

I think this is my roundabout way of apologizing for my absence. It’ll happen a lot. I’m convinced Time spends his days coming up with ways to stab me in the back. But I’ve got his number, even though I’m in his crosshairs.

War isn’t easy, guys.

It’s that time again

In exams our lives get reduced to bite-sized segments.

We slow to 5 minute crawls, pivot on a handful of marks then stretch to 60 minute sprints of alphabetized glory. We live and die on the sound of the bell; we cliff-climb without supports, swinging frantically from question to answer to question. Hesitation is death. But is that not our calling?

Image not my own.