Nashville: 1 Week

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A severe weather warning woke us up this morning at 3:30, which was OK since Alex had to get up for work anyway. We sleepily made coffee and watched the weather rage in the still-dark night while flash flooding threatened the entire area. We share a car, and although his commute to work is a 10-minute walk, we were afraid he’d be swept away, so at 4 am we braved the weather and drove the empty streets that had turned into a flowing river to Vanderbilt. I grew up visiting Chicago, and witnessed their legendary thunderstorms. But Nashville has that beat. In the few weeks we’ve been here the weather has oscillated between end-of-the-world and clear calm blue skies, often within  minutes of each other. It’s sort of how we feel about life right now, so it feels appropriate. Alex just completed his first week of residency, which simultaneously flew by and took an eternity.  It’s been a strange week, adjusting to this new life. Mostly good, and better every day. But not without lows and many uncertainties. We know how lucky Alex is with his hours, but it’s still a lot. I have no idea how residents ever survived 100+ hour work weeks (the answer, of course, is a lot burned out). Or how any resident is meant to balance work, health, and relationships. Again, most don’t (chose two, maybe just one). And couples who are both residents? I’m simultaneously impressed and very worried for them. We immediately see the benefit of small programs, they form a family support system of sorts, unlike Vanderbilt with a large surgical department resulting in difficulty making friends since you’re constantly working with new people. Hopefully, that won’t result in us being friendless this year (making friends as adults: HARD). This is a strange world, and it’s hard to describe. But I sort of feel like most people our age are living this normal existence, a 9-5 with weekends (which we don’t have anymore), with this flow to life that is completely foreign to us. We have no flow, we have today, which is vastly different from tomorrow, and the next day. So we somewhat feel like we’re peripherally observing every day life, but not participating in it. Which, sort of suits us. Routine is rough, change is more exciting (if not more draining), we like feeling a bit like outsiders. Obviously living abroad works for us, and hopefully that means resident life will too.

Not to say there isn’t routine, in order to protect off time and ensure both of our mental health states we have to maintain certain schedules. Residents salaries don’t allow for a lot of flexible spending, so routines like baking bread every 2-3 days, protein bars every week, yogurt every two weeks ensures we continue to eat well without spending extra money (we learned in Ireland making lunch every day instead of buying it saves over $200/month). Luckily, I love this. I love spending all day baking, I get to shut my brain off and just work, and the result is an immediate marked improvement in our quality of life. And between that, errands, and running or fitness classes I find my time nearly entirely occupied. Again, how single residents, or two busy couples make life work is a great mystery to me (other than, they spend a whole lot of money to not deal with things, which, fair). I think our attitude that life should not be completely occupied by work, and our staunch refusal to let it drives us a lot. It’s almost like a competition, if we can maintain our lives, our happiness, health, and relationship then medicine doesn’t win. I know medicine isn’t out to beat us, or ruin our lives, but it sort of feels that way. That the cards are stacked against our wellbeing, and unless we fight hard against it, we’ll lose. But we’re both very competitive people. And we are GAME.

So week 1/52 of intern year done. So far, so good.

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