31 July 2006

The First Day

Despite all odds, I actually made it to and through the first day of medical school.

It almost didn't happen. Murphy chased me all the way to Bradenton, where I nearly lost my seat in the class over the fact that I had an allergic reaction to the hepatitis B vaccine and therefore can't get another to ensure immunity. Four plus visits to various specialists, several needle sticks, and a whole heap of bruises later, I finally received word last week that I'd be approved for clinical rotations as long as I get tested for hepatitis every year. [<--it's actually kind of ridiculous, as they don't test us for *all* infectious diseases, and they do test us for some for which there are no vaccinations...so to think that I could've been kept out of school by one random test...well, let's just say it's been an interesting few weeks leading up to today....] At any rate, I made it. And even Murphy couldn't keep me from getting to school on time this morning, where, if we weren't in our seats by 8:15am, we'd lose our spot in the class. No joke. Which brings me to the main point of the day: the school now owns my ass. Seriously. I mean, I've been through grad school, I know that my life has to revolve around medical school, but this medical school takes all that to a whole new level. For the next few years, my every move will be videotaped and recorded by the school. I have to swipe my badge to get in the building and swipe it to get out, even though the area surrounding the school consists of a public high school full of yuppie kids on one side and a field of cows on the other. [Those damn cows, they just steal so many textbooks!] If I'm going to be late or--god forbid--absent, I have to call the dean's secretary. Even if it's just going to be by a few minutes. Literally, one of the deans told us today that, "if you get an email from my office saying that you need to be here at 10am, you'll be in my office at 10am. Don't even bother to ask why--just be there. No matter what." Needless to say, this dean was in the military before he became a medical school dean. He's also an orthopedic surgeon. Why am I not surprised? At least two of the deans are like this. One told us, point blank, that if we had a problem with one of our classes that we'd better not even dare go over his head to the other dean. Ouch. Add that to the fact that we have a dress code and we can't eat or drink (not even WATER) anywhere in the building other than the cafeteria, and, well, I'm in the army now, aren't I? I half expected to be issued a rifle. Of course, that started early in the day, right after they made us say the pledge of allegiance and then watch a really horrible, terrible very bad video of someone singing God Bless America. <--it should've been, God Help Us, as I was (thanks to my last name) assigned to a seat in the second row. It took all my willpower not to roll on the floor laughing, especially when--and I swear I am not making this up!--in the midst of all these scenes of America, they threw in a picture of the school. As if it's on par with the National Monument or Abraham Lincoln. Key words: AS IF. Okay, so perhaps I'm already turning into a cynical medical student. More likely, however, I was trying to distract myself from the waves of anxiety that kept hitting me. The best part was when we had to fill out this form that asks you to bubble in how much $ in loans you'll amass over the next 4 years. Now, we'd seen the numbers parsed down by year, more often semester--but no one ever mentioned the total. I do the math. Then I do it again. $240,000. Should I run screaming from the building now?!?!? I certainly *felt* like I should! The biggest challenge will not be the money issues, though. Surprised? You won't be when I tell you that I will take more credit hours over the next school year than I did as an undergraduate. The next ten weeks? Those are reserved for anatomy. Ten weeks...to learn anatomy? All of it? And that includes embryology. Wow. What in the world have I gotten myself into? Oh, yeah--medical school. ;-)

a little disclaimer...

i'm a medical student. just a student. so please, don't take anything i say too seriously. remember that i was an english literature major as an undergrad, so there is much fiction to be found in these pages. do you think i'm telling a story about you or your illness? more likely, you're tapping into my sense of "everyman"--that is, your story resonates with what i write here because it's not so uncommon after all. need help? please, please go see your physician. <--i'm not her. yet. ;-)