I read a book this quarter called Kafka on the Shore. Through all the jumbled story lines, mind bending transitions, talking cats and incestuous love, my takeaway message: It is a gift to have both your mind and body present in one piece on this earth. When the mind fragments from the body, too many dimensions open up.
I guess that has been a goal this quarter for me – being mindful of my mind and body. Not in a crazy soul-wandering-in-a-10-dimensional-world way like Kafka, but with good sleep, meaningful habits, and appreciation for the passage of each minute. With graduation oncoming, it is too easy to fall into a spiral of what ifs and hows. It’s hard to be present in the moment these days, but I try.
SHOULDER | Trying to be consistent with my physical therapy for my shoulder. From tiring my shoulder even from lifting my arm to wash my hair, it’s come a long way. But it surely doesn’t feel the same, and sometimes I question if it ever will. While there’s no problem with everyday tasks, it’s only when I get sucked into watching videos of people rock climbing that I’m reminded of what it feels like and makes me painfully miss it. Absence truly makes the heart grow fonder. What seemed like something I could return to in a month, then 3 months, the wait get’s longer and I am itching to get back onto the wall. I can’t wait for the calluses, burning skin, and chalk.
SLEEP | Getting 6-8 hours a night. I think I was about 80% successful.
PEOPLE | Sometimes, mind-blowing things don’t leave me as dumbfounded as other people; other times, the smallest events are mind blowing to me. When I was 10, living in a small apartment with my family, my brother, 14 at that time, and I would always go over to our neighbor’s garage when he was out with his bikes. He was a bike fanatic. He joked around with us, pretended to lose to us when he “raced” us, and cared for us as if we were his own children. Fast forward 12 years, he reaches out to us on Facebook wondering how life is treating us. I was mind blown that it had been 12 years since then, and even more so that he had been thinking of us time to time.
ASL | Even if I ever become completely fluent, I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of this beautiful language and the culture that comes with it. Aside from looking forward to class everyday, I was able to use my ASL for the first time with a patient at St. Francis. It is not often someone randomly knows how to sign. Thus, when I saw the patient signing to his hearing daughter, who began interpreting, I was overjoyed, excited, and nervous at the though of finally taking my ASL out of the classroom. Although I am nowhere near fluent, I was so humbled by their gratitude at having met someone who signs. For those of you who don’t know, it is a huge honor to be given a name sign by someone from the Deaf community. It is typically given by someone who knows you well or has watched you grow. Once given a name sign, you are free to stop using it if you feel like you have outgrown it, or if you simply don’t like it; but, you don’t ever give yourself a name sign. It is given to you. And with that, my patient, who was so thrilled that I signed, started asking me all my favorites – books, movies, foods, hobbies – to give me a name sign. Knowing me, I am not that interesting, but if there is one thing I can always think of when asked for a hobby, it is rock climbing. Always. And knowing that, he gave me a name sign in the shape of the sign for S in the motion of a sign for “rock.” Although this man is someone who I probably won’t see again and who has known for me a total of 10 minutes, the impact this moment had on me was tearjerking. I am so lucky to have been shown the world of Deaf culture and sign language. All thanks goes to my precious ASL professor.
WRITING | Is very very hard for me. This quarter I had to write two pretty hefty papers – one on my virology research and another for my Disabilities Law class. Naturally, I chose to write about the need for more Deaf doctors in the latter.
WHAT NOW | Getting back into clinical experience at St. Francis. It hasn’t been the easiest especially because social skills has never been my forte. I get nervous when asking questions to some nurses who don’t even turn an eye to me or have to encounter patients who are angry at their situation. Still, as I learned in yoga, I try to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. And, although being a doctor has been my path for as long as I can remember, that doesn’t mean I have the utmost confidence when talking with patients. It is a true love hate – this whole science/medicine passion of mine. I am constantly challenged whether its with my grades that just never seems to be good enough, my social anxiety with people who don’t smile, and my lack of experience in a field so vast. But, even though after 4 years I still cannot answer the question of why in the world I want to be a doctor, my gut tells me it is my path, regardless of how uncertain I am or how long the trip will take. Oh, it will take so long.
The day before always lingers. The next day will most likely be the to-do list you didn’t fully cross out, the e-mail you didn’t send, the reading you put off until right before class. But, with each new dawn it’s not the same world as the day before. Allow your perspective to shift and shift again. Feel as if you’re winning a marathon as you run on the treadmill. Think about who turned the pages of the old library book last. Let your walk home from class be a time to reflect on the day, not just a mindless rush back to studying. Appreciate smiling people a bit more, smile more to those who aren’t.