16 September 2011

hold me now

it's time for an update.

to start: intern year has been an explosion of difficulty. although i've probably had moments here and there for an update prior to today, my mind has been swirling with struggle and i've found it hard to articulate what i'm going through. today, as i transition to another week of nights, i took my bike out for a long, sweet 14mi ride. it's amazing what biking is doing for my soul.

here's an excerpt from my journal from several weeks ago:

so it just hit me... intern year is terrifying. it's like this: the first time i went ice-skating as an adult, i just knew i was going to break my neck. i put one foot on the ice, then two... i could do this, right? i gingerly put one foot in front of the other... and my legs slid completely out from under me. i teetered forward, pulled myself back, and just narrowly escaped a head-first dive onto the ice. clearly, i did not know how to do this yet. i whined and cried: "henry, i can't!" i pulled my shaky legs back together and grabbed the wall. i felt like everyone must be pointing, laughing... what is this girl doing out here? she's terrible! she doesn't even know what she's going! i stayed at the wall and watched people glide by so smoothly, so elegantly... they even looked like they were having fun as i stood there scared senseless. would i ever be able to do that? how am i supposed to learn when there are so many people around me who seem to have forgotten what it was like to take those first wobbly steps out onto the ice? will the pace of the swirling bodies ever slow enough for me, timid newbie, to slide into the mix unscathed?

i can think of a million analogies for the way intern year feels. the one i feel most often is that of treading water in a choppy sea... pumping as hard as i can and still being washed over the head with waves, gasping for breath. i'm afloat, but just barely. with my arms flailing and my legs pumping i realize: i have the lives of so many in my hands. i write medication orders, do physical exams, order tests... all while drowning. and, in the midst of it all, the fear that i'll mess up paralyzes me and i sink further under the waves. the cure? experience, knowledge, self-confidence. i'm desperate to acquire these in hopes that i will not only take better care of my patients, but that i'll also be less miserable.

as melodramatic as that all sounds, it's true. i was comparing notes with a fellow intern the other night and we surprised each other when we both admitted we were hoping to find a career path after residency that didn't involve patient care. although it's unlikely that we'll both follow-through with that plan, we agreed that the overwhelming feelings of incompetence attached to autonomous patient care at this moment make us want to flee from it altogether. what a crisis to be doing what you have prepared to do your whole life and feel like you suck at it.

i could leave it there, but i won't. there's hope. i mentioned several months ago at the outset that residency is not something i can do alone. i can't and haven't been. the hope i have in Jesus pushes me through another day - he helps me love others despite my self-doubt, gives me patience when my soul is screaming, and comforts me through situations in which i share in the suffering of his children. he reminds me that trials are certain in this world - but that my reaction is critical. what a pampered, sheltered life i've led for residency to rock me to my core like this. even as i suffer, i'm so grateful to have my eyes opened - to become someone more beautiful than who i was.

i am weak
i am poor
i am broken, Lord
but I'm yours
hold me now
hold me now
.jennifer knapp.

3 comments:

Jenny said...

Well said. And, I love Jennifer Knapp- who knew we had that in common :) I hope things are going well for you none-the-less. -Jenny Turnham Nelson

A Musing MD said...

What a great post! Thank you for sharing your experience, and I am sure that things will get better. Remember that the Lord "gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength." ~Isaiah 40:29

MeKeisha

sharona said...

thanks for your comments, friends! hope things are going well for you both. :) -sharon