Friday, 22 November 2013

Messier 93

For Christmas, last year, I was given the most beautiful gift anyone had ever given me.

This year, on December 25th, I will see it again and every year on for the rest of my life. Rising above the horizon will be Messier 93; hidden in the sharp light of the cluster, is my star. My own part of the universe, 3600 light years away, 100 million years old and so precious.

My love of the stars was never a secret to anyone. Sure, all the books and research into aerospace medicine was a fanciful idea - I knew better than to think I'd survive medicine well enough to take it to space - but it was an idea I had, a little dream I could escape to and feel blissful in. Something between excitement and awe.

I talked about it to anyone who would listen long enough. I didn't care how ridiculous I sounded. And one person listened. He listened like he could see what I saw, like he could feel the joy I felt talking about it. I remember being so absorbed in whatever I was saying that I didn't pay attention to his expressions enough. They were love. Complete love and understanding. The kind you picture on the faces of parents watching their child get excited about the simplest things - not patronising, but content and blissful.

If I could steal those moments and live off the painful joy they bring alone, I'd die happy.

I understand that this all seems very overblown. People can buy a star and register it in anyone's name. It takes little effort to do.

That was not the point. That star represents so much to me. I was 'his star' from then on, he understood that it was not just some gift.
But still, I only wish he knew how much it means.

It is hope and love struggling through the fear and pain of that time. It is humbling, a reminder that I am imperfect next to something so perfect and yet someone loved me so deeply, despite my very un-celestial ways. It is almost permanence - when I die it remains, like an epitaph. An imprint, a tiny, insignificant reminder in a database somewhere that a girl with my name once lived and someone loved her so much they gave her a giant, light- emitting ball of pure energy burning through milleniae of history thousands of light years from where she lived her little life. I had hoped I would name another star in that cluster after him, so there would be two of us, as friends, as lovers but never separated. That, even if circumstances conspired against us, somewhere, somehow we'd be together.

I have never told him this, I don't know whether he would or could ever want to know now. When he gave me the star I hoped we would see it together a year on, that it would mark our time together. But this year, if I can manage it, I will be seeing it alone.

I never thought I could be capable of this much foolishness. Frankly this entire post is embarrassing, but I wanted to write it honestly, openly, so that in a few weeks' time, when I find out whether or not my heart will be broken for the last time by him, I am forced to look back on this and be grateful for at least this. That he loved me however brief that love was. That in my moments of complete desolation, someone thought I was as precious and beautiful as a star.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

It's been a while...

I'd check when my last blog post was but I'm writing right now and too lazy to navigate to the page. It was probably sometime before the Triassic era anyway. I'd explain myself but, in short, life and medicine got in the way. That and my inability to find the energy, motivation or faith in my own thoughts to commit anything to the permanence of the internet. Which, you know, can be found, read, giggled at and never lived down should anyone at uni find it.

I had my second end of semester exam today - the paper today was great, yesterday's was a nightmare dipped in a bastard coating. The exams are designed in such a way you don't always know what they're asking you for, so you end up inventing medicine and hoping your answer isn't some absurd amalgamation of physics breaking down and all sense kicking the proverbial bucket.

Just as I was getting used to the nightmares where I'm frantically reading exam questions written in Chinese out loud (either I'm secretly fluent or I'm offending a whole country and its ancestors with my frankly racist dream-Chinese) my written exams are happily over. OSCEs next week.

They went ok overall. I mean they didn't justify the super-depressed-ness exhibited consistently over the last few months in the run up, but hey.

I'm a little disillusioned to be completely honest. I really wasn't expecting to struggle so much or find it so hard. The hardest part of being in medicine is when the initial glittery lights and rose tints fade and you realise your heart is not 100% in it. Don't misunderstand, I worked hard for this and I'm privileged to be here. What I mean is I'm starting to realise it really isn't the Great Happening you expect it to be after you've been at it for a year. The realisation follows that you hung up your entire life on something, defined yourself and your worth by it, only to find out that when you got there it was a degree not completely unlike others. Sure the job spec is different but, ultimately, medicine is a vocation NOT your representative as a person.

And that's the healthy way to think about it. I was obsessed with being 'perfect' for medicine, that I had to have all the traits and be like my friends on the course, that it should be my life. That there was some crazy list of attributes we were all aspiring to that would change our entire being. I'd cherry pick the best traits from people, put said people on a pedestal and bewail my relative stupidity, slowness, idiocy, weakness, lameness, how the med school must have made some mistake because who would ever think I could be a halfway decent doctor etcetc...
This relentlessly, as though self-flagellation would appease some medicine god from raining his perfection-demanding fury on me.

I slowly realised the pressure of believing there was some ideal medical personality to aspire to was draining and removed all joy from the subject. Not that the membranes and receptors unit isn't euphorically a parallel universe where its permanently opposite day.
I expected myself to be perfect and prepared for medicine so much so that I would not struggle - this despite being told repeatedly that I and everyone else would find it difficult because it really, really is. When I struggled it impacted so negatively on me because I believed if I were not already primed and breezing through first year then I was 'not good enough'.

Which is utter crap.

I think I'm a masochist - I repeatedly make life difficult with unrealistic expectations of myself and ridiculous pedestal-ing of other people's pretty achievable traits.

Self esteem, evaluation and awareness of worth are so important in this career because it literally has the capacity to chew your ego up and spit you back out. I'm starting to appreciate the personal professional portfolios we do with all the reflective writing a hell of a lot more.

So here I am, at the arse-end of year one in medical school and I'm a little more battered than before but hopefully wiser.

On a final note, watch The Great Gatsby especially if you've read the book - I spent most of the first hour and a half hoping it wouldn't end like it did in the book which is silly, I know, but damn it I wanted it to end on a happy :(.
Anyway, it's amazing and, even if you don't think so, there's Lana Del Ray's Young and Beautiful as part of the soundtrack which is one hell of a song.