Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Tuesdays and Thursdays

The calls keep rolling in, and as I gain experience with this job and start to begin to feel like I can perhaps have an inking of comfort with what I do, I have been subjecting myself every other day to a completely different experience: school.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are school days. I am on campus all day, in the lecture hall and the lab studying Chemistry and Physics. The material is foreign to me with it's dizzying array of equations, formulae, and mathematical logic- starkly different from the Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays I spend in the fronts and backs of ambulances. The two efforts seem to require different parts of my brain. Half of the days I think how I have been trained, with what information I have gleaned from experience on the subjects of signs and symptoms. The other days, I have to warp and contort myself around concepts that I have never seen before, about math that I barely recollect in orientations that I struggle to comprehend. I hate the math. I have never been very good at it, and to do well in these subjects means to grind my way through mountains of practice problems, gritting my teeth as I calculate, erase, and re-calculate solutions.

Mastery is coming with time, but the work is harder because of my distaste for it. It took a lot of effort to learn what I know as a paramedic also, but the struggle was eased by my interest. I always kept my medic book open a little longer than required, spurred onward by a thirst for the knowledge. With this science I am taking, though, I am always glad to have finished: slamming the book covers closed with a definite thump. It is a hoop to jump through, and as of late I am becoming more entwined with the idea that I am being tested not on my scientific ability, but on my determination. This work comes easy for some, but for most of us I have come to believe that it is simply a matter of pressing forward, putting the work in even when it is nothing other than horrible drudgery. Those that rise from the dust of this pre-medical schedule do so because they are hardened warriors: eyes fixed towards a goal, mouth hardened, hands calloused. "Throw at us what you will," they say. "We're coming anyways."

My days in the ambulance test me as well, but I have come to find the time as a relief. I am glad to have this experience, this window into medicine that shines enough light into the tunnel so that I can do for a little while longer without sight of the end. The challenges I face as a Paramedic are exciting, tasty glimpses into a bounty that lays ahead. They are tantalizing, and with each patient I leave in the hands of a higher level of care my determination grows. I still groan when it comes time to do my schoolwork, my stomach aches and I loathe every minute, but I will not give up.

My eyes are fixed.

5 comments:

Blue Ridge Medic said...

Keep on keeping on....

BRM

frylime said...

i find myself doing the same thing all the time...

good luck with school, and just remember that one day it will all be over and done with!

Jenn said...

you are absolutely right, of course - the main thing is determination, because there will be a fair bit of that in med school. Be encouraged to know that there will be much more of the 'eager, motivated to learn' parts. Good luck!

- Jenn (EMT, Med student; been reading your blog for a while now, and enjoy it very much)

Anonymous said...

I have the same trouble too in physics, I really appreciate how eloquently you describe how brain numbing it can be! For me prayer helps a lot. Don't give up, you have come this far.

anonymedic said...

I remember a chaplain from Northwestern describing how fully half of the incoming freshmen at that university enter as premed students. He said there is one obstacle that separates the many wannabes from the few future docs, and that obstacle is -you guessed it- organic chem. The class is a pain now, but it'll be worth it when you're done!