Happy Thanksgiving lovely readers of the blog!
It's currently Thanksgiving, and as I sit at the gate for my flight home to Maryland (I always get to the airport way too early haha), I wanted to share some of my reflections of the last few months, what I am grateful for, and some tips I have learned to remain mindful and grateful through the ups and downs and busy moments of life.
I'm grateful to be learning medicine. Having my first inpatient medicine rotations has been a humbling experience. I have been blessed with health that I have never been admitted to the hospital and I have so much empathy for people who have been hospitalized time and time again. I know it seems obvious to say that being in the hospital is terrible, I knew that before starting my rotations - but as many things in life experiencing it allowed me to see a deeper level. We put our patients through so much in the hospital, along with being sick, we wake them up, we round with huge teams, we have multiple doctors and specialists seeing them, we poke them to collect blood, we have them in rooms with other patients, we run tests, and we don't always have an answer to the patient's questions - I mean it is so much to go through. Our older vulnerable patients can become delirious - meaning an altered mental status where they are disoriented and can become agitated or somnolent.
And then there I go in as the medical student waking up my patients to ask them if they have any pains or if they had a bowel movement. I just felt so bad because I feel like I don't know what I'm doing and just being a bother to the patient -- but I've come to realize this is far from true. As I have gotten accustomed to my role on the medical team, I have seen the little ways that I can use my role to make a difference. Having just 2-3 patients allows me to spend more time with them, and I was able to form connections with some patients, able to learn additional information and relay that back to the team. Each morning, my goal when I go to pre round I try to focus on making the stressful situation of being in the hospital just a little bit better for the patient. I am really grateful to be in this position.
Medicine is hard. Clerkship is the hardest thing I have been through yet. But it is also such a privilege and honor to care for patients, words can't truly explain it. I feel grateful that I have been called to this profession. I am thankful to be on rotations and see all these specialties of medicine and learn from some of the most incredible people and in some of the top hospitals in the nation. Thankful to patients who graciously allow me to learn by being part of their care.
Thankful to each person I meet in the hospital who wishes me well on my journey, to the patients who say they would easily sign up for me to be their doctor one day...because this has been one of the hardest, emotionally draining, and loneliness experience I have been through, so those comments help me to keep going. There have been times in these past 2 months when I've cried in the clinic bathroom, when I felt so down it felt like I was dissociated from my body, when I wished more could have been done for my patient....it has been a lot. I am grateful to know I am not alone on my journey, thankful to my friends as we go through clerkships together, thankful to my friends who are further along in their journey and remind me if they did it I can do it to. Thankful for my friends and family not in medicine who I can talk to and discuss moments outside of this medical world. Thankful to God, because with Him I am never alone. I look forward to sharing more at the end of my rotation.
I am grateful for my mistakes.
The past year has been so non-stop for me. Moving to Boston, starting medical school, and being on the go constantly. I have said this once on the blog and I will say it again and again: transitions are hard. As this past September came around, I turned 24, a very fun summer was over, and I started my clinical year in medical school. I was reflecting over the past year of life and all the things I went through in year 23 - and I was feeling so critical of myself. So embarrassed by some of the moves I made. Annoyed of times I didn't speak up for myself like I should have, ashamed of times I hurt others.
Then, I recognized that what I was doing was not the way to look at things. In each of the situations that continued to run through my head, there was a common theme: I was doing my best, I was going based on the information I had at the time, I was trying to adjust to huge life changes. And trying to replay situations in my head was truly not healthy or helpful. I realized that I was doing this for a reason....I had forgiven others and give grace to others - but I hadn't forgiven myself. I knew I could not have peace without forgiveness. How do I do this? When I start rethinking a past situation I literally stop my thoughts by repeating "I forgive myself"
Mistakes are really just lessons if you allow them to be.
I am grateful for these mistakes, grateful to learn, grateful to be growing. Now in the clinical world, I am grateful for the opportunity to safely make mistakes and learn from them. I learn best when I answer a question wrong or propose a plan and then learn why another option is best for the patient. One of the hardest parts of clinical year is showing up every day to the hospital or clinic and feeling like you know nothing, getting questions wrong, and missing the diagnosis - like truly it is the most humbling and demoralizing experience that I truly feel like you have to experience for yourself to understand. When I start to feel down or feel like a failure in the clinical space, I tell myself "I am grateful to be learning." I am grateful that the clinical case I am seeing right now for the first time, I will remember, and see this clinical scenario numerous times again, learn it again and again and one day be able to care for the patient on my own.
Tips for Staying Mindful and Grateful
I start my day with gratitude. For those of you who are a person of faith as myself, this for me means starting the day with a prayer. I thank God for waking me up for another day and this already puts me in a mindset of giving thanks and allows me to start my day being in the moment and enjoying time with just me and God. I then put on either a podcast or gospel music while I get ready for the day. The mornings are so important to me, my mornings and my gym sessions are sometimes the only time I am able to focus on myself without thinking about medicine. I also love journaling, and sometimes this isn't a physical journal but even my notes app. Typing out some quick thoughts that I have. As a blogger and someone who shares my journey, I share not all - but many - of these reflections, they end up forming into captions for my posts. I even craft my social media feed to be one that it is positive, full of faith, and inspiration, so when I am scrolling through my discover page I am scrolling through scriptures of the day, quotes, and uplifting messages.
I do physical activity that makes me feel more connected to my body and mind. I've tried yoga in the past...and I just don't think its for me. I don't know about you but I be way to preoccupied trying to get into the poses and umm some of dem poses be hard as hell. So I just don't feel as relaxed as mindful as I feel I should. Something I have started recently that does make me feel super calm, reflective, and makes my body feel great has been doing stretches. I decided to try to be able to do a split....lol random I know. But I just wanted a goal in the gym to work towards -- and doing my split stretches has been so relaxing, its become one of my favorite parts of the day. Am I closer to my splits than before? I don't know y'all but I still enjoy it. So my tip is find an activity that works for you! It may be yoga, meditation, stretching, running, whatever it is moving your body in a mindful way can be so relaxing.
I make my self care a priority. I can make a whole separate blog entry about self care, but it is truly more than face masks and baths - although I love those forms of self care too. Self care can mean making difficult decisions, to remove bad habits and negative people from your life. To let go of the things that bring you instant gratification but you know are not good for you for the delayed gratification. It's taking a deep, long, and reflective look at yourself and finding what makes you truly happy. For me, self care is discipline. It is waking up at 5:30 so I have time to pray, listen to my podcast, and get ready for the day. It's going to the gym after the hospital. It is setting boundaries with friends and family. It is learning how to say no - whew that is a hard one for me!
It's making time to cook because that brings me joy. It's spending less on clothes and items and using that money to travel to see my friends and family, because I can rewear my outfits but I can't reclaim time that has gone by. Y'all I have even told myself no to wine - and if you know me you know I love wine. I love trying different kinds and pairing them with my food, I've always been a girl to have one glass at night with dinner. But as I explained above clinical year has been really emotionally demanding and I didn't want me processing my feelings at the end of a hard day to be correlated with drinking alcohol. So I have made the decision to no longer drink any wine during the week.
Again, self care has been looking at all the little actions I do each day and see if they are serving me, my future self, and my goals or not. It has allowed me to be a more mindful and graceful person. I do feel like I am more centered and it allows me to give more to others, such as my patients each day, because I am also giving and pouring into myself.
There is so much to be grateful for, way more that I talked about in this blog. I am blessed, privileged, and thankful. Let us not become so preoccupied with our lives that we forget that it is blessing to simply be alive for another day. Let us not forget that we make up our society, that we have a role to play, to speak up, to advocate, and fight for human rights.
Looks like my flight is starting to board - next stop is my mom's house to spend time with my family. I pray you all have a wonderful holiday and able to spend some time reflecting on all you are grateful for.