JOY LIKE A RIVER
Getting into medical school was a dream come true for me. Excitement ran wild because of the euphoria and a deep seated sense of achievement. Oh! I cannot help but cringe at all the things I did under the influence of such excitement. I literally said ‘hello’ to anyone who would glance at me during this period. The supermarket attendant gave me a blank look that seemed to say “mind your business, I am minding mine”, when I attempted small talk with her. The guard at the same supermarket gave me suspicious looks after I almost hugged him when he extended his arms to frisk me!
I cannot help but giggle at how my father and I rushed down from Kijabe to Chiromo at dawn on admission day. We could not afford to arrive late for such an important day, could we? Dear reader I walked with a spring, a swing and a swagger for several weeks. I indeed tasted of the mythical joy that seemed to overflow.
A NEW CHAPTER
That is then, and now I can only appreciate such feelings as a past I would gladly run back to. The innocence, the ignorance, the great expectations. Nothing can beat that. For almost two years I have been here, I cannot help but find every new day better than the last. It gets tougher by the day. I however would not have it otherwise.
I have picked up so many facts and lessons that I intend to share with you dear reader! Lessons taught not by either man or book, neither by tales nor fables, but by hard hands-on experience. So much has come my way I can only describe these years as a wild roller coaster ride with a new turn every so often.
THE LANE THEORY!
It is no hidden fact that most medical students, if not all, were once the best of their secondary school. It is actually a conglomeration of the best from all over the country, region and even the world. All of these are used to being THE student and not just A student, and as such everyone seemed to want to prove they are worth their salt.
At the anatomy dissection tables, content seemed to flow from every corner and every book. Like missiles in a battle field, heavy facts were thrown around. New sophisticated jargon was adopted so easily. The battle for supremacy was real, potent and permeated the very air we breathed. If you referred to Last’s Anatomy, I had to read the bigger Grey’s anatomy. If Tom quoted facts word for word, Harry would trace the page and line from which it was quoted.
This was a natural fight for supremacy. It soon ended after a few months of long hours in school and demanding examinations. Many of us started striving to attain the minimum pass mark of fifty. Rarely were people trying to oust the other from their point of glory. In fact if anyone uttered any new facts we would scramble to our notebooks and scribble their word down as if they were an oracle of sorts.
At that time I seemed to embrace the lane theory. I am an individual with my own path mapped ahead of me. Matching myself up with anyone else was not only unhealthy and silly but was also likely to cultivate insecurities and stress.Many around me seemed to adopt this mindset and slowly the mad rush slackened to a trot and is now almost non existent.
THE HALLOWED GROUND
A healthy mind is a healthy me. I have to admit that this has been the hardest fact to learn. In fact I am yet to grasp the odds and the ends surrounding this statement. Medical school has proven over and over again to be a stressful space that can easily overwhelm anybody.
In my first year I was perpetually in stress mode. When one issue was tackled another came up. So much to study and such little time. I lost close to fifteen kilograms in a period of five months. I was rarely ever on top of my class work. Exams and assessments were ever around the corner. I was in full throttle but I always seemed to be lagging behind.
I stress ate, and most of my pocket money was spent in fish and chips joints in Nairobi’s City Center. I tried to drown my woes and sorrows in fast food. I actually became a regular at Sonford fish and chips!
The stress seemed to be common for most students around me with some of my friends dropping out of school. I cannot speak for most but the struggle to maintain my sanity got real. I remember one day when I was particularly very fatigued. I turned back halfway toward school and went back to my room. With my phone off and the house empty I could afford a day of peace and quiet. My friends later on came searching out for me with the worst in mind. We always have a good laugh when this story comes up.
However, after so many such days, I have come to the realization that my mental space is very important. Anything that threatens the sanity and integrity of my mental health is a serious enemy to my well being. I have a policy of ”good vibes and high tides” as I try to buffer the energy around me to be positive energy only.
Nonetheless I get a sweet sense of happiness as I think about the many good times I have had here. The friends I have made and their sweet companionship. The people I have interacted with of diverse cultures, beliefs and mindsets that keep intriguing me. The many hang outs we have had and the mad thrill of being in a pass list.
I have learnt to celebrate my small victories in the midst of the many disappointments I meet. The art of always hoping for the best has slowly been ingrained in me, in spite of the reality of bad outcomes being so present. Success is not an accident, but is planned and pursued systematically. This is one of the best and most important truths I have picked up.
If taken back will I make the same choice to do medicine? Of course yes. It is a course I have grown to love and adore. The struggles and the triumph being only a small part of the greater picture that lays ahead. I walk a step at a time bathing in the reality that medicine has afforded me. Doing the most I can with what is presented to me. After all, as Mother Teresa said, there are no great things, only small things done with great love.