One Block In

by MaryBeth

I have officially survived my first block of medical school, which was called “Cells to Populations” at Dell Med (read: biochem + genetics + cancer). They packed a lot of interesting material into this first block, including tons of frightening diseases and life-altering conditions. As a result, I have already experienced an early bout of anxiety stemming from “Medical students’ disease”. Let me tell you, when your 3-year-old daughter looks into your eyes and tells you, “Momma, I don’t want you to die,” any symptoms of physical discomfort can easily lead to heart palpitations and fears that one may be afflicted with a serious illness.

Having never suffered from anxiety before in my life, I feel somewhat lucky that I’m only now discovering what it feels like to fear everything for a few moments in time. There have been great weeks, just ok weeks, and at least one really bad week so far in my medical school journey. What this first block has proven to me, though, is that it CAN be done. It was a challenging block, with tons of metabolic pathways to understand, and I held my own alongside students who majored in biochemistry at top tier universities. I will never be at the top of my class when it comes to exams, but I am still so proud of myself for doing what I did with three kids under five at home.

No doubt, I wish that I could have joined my classmates for the celebratory post-exam margaritas.  I wish that when I’m at home I had more time to unwind, read or watch something fun, or go out to dinner with friends. There’s not much time for that these days. The fun I have at home is the kind of silly and exhausting fun that all parents know and understand. It’s tough and it’s wonderful at the same time. Just like medical school. And love. And life.

Working towards becoming a doctor is a scary and momentous time. There are many things that frighten me at this moment. But I’m sure, in the next five minutes, a little person with cute little feet and a sneaky smile will bring me a book to read, and I’ll forget about the fear for a while.

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