On decompressing and readjusting (or Course Five: a post-mortem)

Course Five ended on Thursday, with the NBME final. I failed the first exam and passed the next two. Still awaiting results on that final.

Since Thursday, I’ve spent my days relaxing in my hammock, reading comic books, watching Luke Cage on Netflix, and otherwise decompressing after Course Five. My partner and I have decided to spend fall break, a week of vacation between Course Five and Six, here in Tampa on a stay-cation.

It’s been glorious. I envy my peers that jumped on a plane Friday morning to head to the comforts of home and family, of course that sounds wonderful. At the same time, I don’t have to travel anywhere, I get to clean my apartment in stages rather than pack up and leave, and I can accelerate into Course Six rather than tumble out of the airport on Sunday. That said, if I had the option for some mom-cooked food, I would drive the four hours to Jacksonville (where they currently reside) in a heartbeat. My father is up in my childhood home of NH to finish some long-standing projects. My mother is in Korea with family and caring for her ailing mother, my grandmother.

Keeping in contact with them has been an interesting practice. The internet has given us the opportunity to stay in touch on a daily or even hourly basis. During the lead-up to finals, I barely contacted anyone outside of arms-reach. Now, with some time to lounge and gather myself, I realize how many relationships and friendships I’ve allowed to fall by the wayside.

So, I’m building a little deck of notecards, each with a name of someone I love and on the opposite side the last time I contacted them, and what we talked about. My goal is to contact three folks a week, earnestly and mindfully, and see how this habit settles over the course of a month. Maybe I’ll adjust the number up or down, we’ll have to see how the routine sticks during Course Six. At least with this system, I’ll consistently make my way through the deck and settle on a rotation of contacts.

Additionally, I’ve been in the podcast game for six months now: publishing a podcast On Death every week for the past 26 weeks. It’s been a lovely practice of regularly sitting down and holding an in-depth conversation with someone new. Moving into Course Six, I’m adjusting the release schedule to every two weeks, to give me some breathing and wiggle room. Maybe this extra time will relight the podcast fire in my belly, rather than feeling like an obligation to an invisible audience.

With nothing else to ramble about, I reckon I should talk about Course Five. I knew it would be a rough adjustment, from first to second year, but you never really know how it’ll feel until you are neck deep in it. While I’m glad that I’m able to buckle down and pass the tests, it came at the cost of feeling like an indoor-animal: during finals, I would spend the whole day inside and watch the sun trace its east-west path as I stared at a small computer screen.

That’s the process, isn’t it? I have to get through these first two years of classes in order to arrive in the clinic with some base of knowledge. Yes, my posture will suffer as a result of hunching over a keyboard. Yes, I will become pale in Florida from staying indoors and under artificial lighting. Yes, I lose fitness and strength because maintaining my meat-suit falls under passing second year in my overall priorities.

I’m still adjusting to the increased expectations of second year. I think the painful part is mostly behind me. Fall break is a much needed moment to catch my breath, reassess my habits and routines, and move forward towards Course Six and Step One.

Now, I’m going to build a squat rack out of 2x4s and enjoy some sun.


Long Form Sundays

On Death Podcast

6 thoughts on “On decompressing and readjusting (or Course Five: a post-mortem)

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