On taking aim (or the beginning of Neuro/Psych)

This week, my first exposure to neurology and psychiatry, I’ve witnessed and practiced much.

I witnessed an earnest attempt by a Soviet-educated neurologist to explain the association between prescription narcotics and ‘junkies’. The patient and her husband seemed like a God-fearing conservative couple who believed they were wrongfully prosecuted at the pharmacy for her Oxycontin. He took the time to explain the factors that lead to addiction, the largest avenue these days being a doctor’s prescription pad. This session didn’t seem to convince them, but I appreciated the effort to educate them on the subject.

I witnessed a Consult/Liaison Psychiatrist pull an impressive amount of data from an irritable patient undergoing alcohol withdrawal. He had kicked me out of the room half an hour beforehand, but she maintained deft control of the conversation and peppered him with questions to fill out a thorough psychiatric history. I felt like a beginner pianist trying to remember the next note, while she was one-buttock playing.

I sat for a very long period of time in a child psychiatrist’s office. I knew the day would involve a lot of sitting and talking, but I didn’t expect how stiff I’d feel afterwards. He played the long game during these visits, which lasted from 45min to 1hr. Ease the patient into the space, talking about light fare regarding school for the first half. Then, he’d address the deeper issues, like divorce, meds, and plans for the future.

Finally, I have begun the practice of archery.

For some time now, there’s been a hole in my life. I would move and practice but without a specific goal. No grappling competition in the near future and no belt to chase because I’m not training consistently at an academy. I wish that I could grapple more. With some time away from jiu-jitsu, I recognize the toll it takes on my body and am unsure if it’s a cost I’m willing to pay in the long-term.

So, when a friend asked me if I wanted to  hunt with him this fall season, I prickled up. I’ve been deeply interested in the practice of obtaining your own meat from wild animals. But, I’ve never hunted. In preparation for our first hunting ventures, I purchased a takedown recurve bow with both lefty and righty handles. I want to hunt righty and practice shooting ambidextrously, to avoid overuse and shoulder imbalances.

Archery feels right. It runs in my blood, like Starcraft and math. I like the slow attention required to take aim at a target. The internal monitoring of tension and slack as I draw the bow and aim the arrow. I like searching for arrows in the grass, a consequence of missing the target. I practiced for about 90min yesterday and had to convince myself multiple times to end the session.

This lines up with my Psychiatry education. I feel strongly that I will enter a Psych residency after medical school, but never actually stepped foot in a psychiatrist’s office before this week. Having some light experience under my belt so far, I can see myself continuing this path. I know that I will want to practice a very different kind of psychiatry than what I’ve seen so far.

That’s fine.

There are hoops that I will need to jump through in order to get to where I want to be.

This is nothing new.

Now, I just need to refine my aim and continue my practices. Perform well on this Neuro/Psych clerkship and final exam so that I can present my best self for residencies. Draw a few dozen arrows everyday so that I can be prepared for the day that I aim at a living creature. I’m playing the long game, which means I need sustained effort over time, not just a flash in the pan.

Time to grind.


Long Form Sundays

On Death Podcast

9 thoughts on “On taking aim (or the beginning of Neuro/Psych)

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