at the boiling point

 

a plague that lingers near

a shadow without light

a cauldron filled with fear

a feral in the night

these sinister whispers

they root me to the ground

they left me in the waters

they left me here to drown.

 

 

I thought that I was stronger

I thought I could fight this war

but really you can’t know

when you haven’t done it before

I guess I learned the hard way

that just because you can

doesn’t mean you should

just because you’re not bad

doesn’t mean you’re good.

 

150 – Mortality, Strength, & Perseverance.

I know it’s been a while. There’s so much that I want to write about, but the words seem to constantly escape me. But today, I refuse to run away from my own inability. These feelings are important. This is real. And writing will make me stronger.


The world seems different today, filled with a certain harshness I guess I had never truly felt until now. Mortality feels ever present, weighing upon everything I have ever believed in, and forcing me to re-evaluate where I want my dreams to take me. I think about what really matters to me and conflicting signals send my mind in turmoil. I am crushed. But I must not falter now.

It never occurred to me what the consequences of a stroke looked like. When I first heard about the incident, I thought to myself, Oh, he’s at the hospital, they’ll fix him up in no time.” It didn’t occur to me that even the most brilliant people could succumb to the physical aftermath of such an incident. Doctors aren’t miracle workers. They can’t fix everything no matter how much we all wish they could. Sometimes, doctors can save lives, but not preserve functions. Sometimes, people’s health conditions deteriorate and there’s nothing medicine can do but try to slow it down. These are all realizations that I came to understand while reading Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal. Yet these realizations did nothing for me when I came to face to face with a loved one changed so drastically by something so unfortunate. I was shocked.

I wasn’t around when it happened.  Half the country away, in fact. I wasn’t here for the worst of it – when the world came crashing down around my best friend’s family. Her father, not mine, but I feel it all the same. I always looked up to him because he always did what a real father should while mine was ever absent. It’s irrational for me to feel so devastated when he’s come so far from where he was. I know rehabilitation takes time, that all one can do is hope for the best. Things like aphasia and memory problems are tricky – there’s no telling how and when they might improve. I know I should stay positive, but just the thought that he might not ever be able to see how far his daughter has come leaves me in tears. I think of how I might react if my mom was in the same situation. I can’t comprehend it. My friend and her family are so strong. I’m in awe of how well they’re handling it. I’ll be praying for continuous recovery even when I’m far away again.

This train of thought digs deep, finding weakness in my life-long dream. I want to be a geriatrician. To help elderly individuals and their families as they deal with the consequences of aging. Dementia, stroke, cancer are all very much possibilities for this population. While I know that I am still very far away from being in that position, I think it’s important that I steel myself now, rather than later. I don’t want to detach myself from future patients, but I also cannot afford to be emotionally taxed every time someone I have come to know and love encounters devastating situation or nears the end of their life. I have to think now, if this is really the right path for me.

I guess I just have to do a little bit of soul-searching right now. Find optimism when all I can feel is despair. Be kind and strong, to help those that I love even when I feel paralyzed by fear. I need to find this strength and to become a better person. Hopefully, I’ll find just that in the next three years from medical school.

 

Stifled

an inescapable numbness

building upon my heart

devouring me from the inside

and tearing me apart

feeling choked

a little short of breath

and instead of light and laughter

all I feel is death

 

the death of my future

slowly slipping away

the death of my self esteem

I tossed out yesterday

and the wretched hold of emptiness

rising from the grave

 

my armor’s torn

my glaive worn

and beneath the layers of heavy rust

my resolve lies crumbled in the dust

 

you can’t escape

you can’t escape

the demons whisper in my ear

as they crawl past my defenses

and colour me in fear.

108 – Tests ruin learning & My biggest fear.

My happy mood from Monday was shortlived. I thoroughly enjoyed studying for my PSY290 midterm on Tuesday, learning a lot about the brain that I thought would be perfect supplementary material to share with kids during my Brain Day presentations (I’m doing one tomorrow….alone because the association doesn’t read their emails or offer any support when your partner cannot make it).

The midterm itself was crushing. Every question made me feel worse and worse. As an inherently indecisive person taking a multiple choice exam with options from a) to e) with e) often being “both a and b”, every decision I made on that exam stressed me out. This is probably the reason I would not consider a Biology major – purely MC exams cause me unwarranted amounts of anxiety. The questions picked at details and were sometimes very vaguely phrased. I didn’t feel like I was being tested on the main concepts I learned in class. I felt like I was being tested on knowing every single little detail found in the lecture slides and in the textbook. The questions were so focused that it was difficult to see the point of the test. To make matters worst, I didn’t find out about the past test someone posted up on Facebook until 5 minutes before the test. I know he probably reused some of those questions. Ugh. That test was not an accurate measure of my learning. Not one bit.

I’m starting to feel a bit better after that crushed my mood. Hopefully I can get over it by tomorrow when I have to talk about the brain for a few hours in front of children. I don’t want to come across as someone who doesn’t have enthusiasm about science – this neurobiology course (PSY290) is just really pushing me down.

Tests suck. They really do. They take the joy out of learning – especially if they’re not written well. I do enjoy learning neurobiology. In fact, biology itself was very interesting to me. The way I’m tested in these courses though? Nope. Just nope.

Starting watching House (from the first season!) last night, having heard about what it’s about in my abnormal psych class, and already I’m hooked. I wish I had started watching earlier. A couple of my friends in high school used to watch it avidly. I feel like I would’ve really had something to talk about with them. As someone who wants to get into med school and who loves Sherlock Holmes (one of the inspirations behind the Dr House character), I find the show intellectually stimulating, funny, and interesting. Looks like I found a new source of procrastination. Opps.

But watching House really put me in a better place. I’m thankful for that.

Was chatting with a friend about how my biggest fear is not being able to return home. It really is. If I somehow get accepted into a grad/med school here or somewhere else far away from home and I don’t get accepted back home, I’d be stuck here. Stuck in a place that won’t give me a break from illness and stress and depression. This is not good for my long-term health. He called it a bit of a first world problem: “being accepted into a good grad school but not the one I want”. True, but still my problem. I miss my family lots. He asked why, if this was my biggest fear, I didn’t study harder for a better GPA. I told him simply that this city has made me sick and unmotivated (and oh how it has). He understood, wishing me well. I appreciate the support, but I just wish I could have what he and so many of my friends have – an adaptiveness towards this city and a disposition in favour for what it is. Maybe I’ll find something this summer. After all, I did go back last summer and didn’t really see this whole other possible side to the city. Maybe this summer, I’ll be able to find that which I’m looking for.

Fear

I had three minutes left to complete the level. Three. Whole. Minutes. But I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t that it was a particularly difficult level. I’ve done similar puzzles before. All it takes is a systematic process.  A little bit of thinking, a little of doing. Think, do; think do. But I let the timer go down without taking a single move. I was afraid.

Of failure?

Oh no, not of failure. There was no way I would’ve gotten it wrong if I tried. At least I don’t think so. I’m generally the only one among the group who’s good at things like this and everyone trusted me to get it done. I had never let them down before. I don’t think this level would’ve been any different.

So why did you? Let them down, that is.

They were yelling. I was afraid. No, not afraid of disappointing them if that’s the reason you’re giving me the look. Like I told you, I had never let them down before and I knew I had the intelligence to complete the puzzle. I wasn’t even feeling pressured.

What then? What were you afraid of?

Closure. Ending. Victory, I guess, in a sense. Something in my gut told me that that was really the last level; the system would tell us again and again that it was the last level, but it was always a lie. The others were growing weary, tired of doing the levels, skeptical that they were ever going to escape. But not L and I. We kept going. He did the physical trials while I did the mental ones. We were the perfect duo.

So you were afraid of losing L? Is that why closure scares you?

Oh no. We would be friends even when it was all over. He wouldn’t betray me. Not like the others. I could sense it in their eyes – the bitterness, the hate. They didn’t want me around anymore. But within the game, they couldn’t get rid of me. They needed me.

Why the hate?

They knew what I really was. Who I really am.

And who is that? Wait, where are you goi-

I am who I am.

speak! speak!

today feels like

one of those old school cartoons

with the angel

and the devil

sitting upon my shoulder

 

but strangely enough

they tell me the same thing

they shout in unison

speak! speak!

they both

beg of me

to release to you

my secrets

 

the angel knows

that is what i want

and what you need

to hear

there is no need

to fear

 

but the devil claims

that this will

hurt

sting your mind

and slice through

mine

the words i speak

will not be

kind

 

 

my resolve

is running dry

with

every second

passing by

 

speak! speak!

i hear it now

beating fast

within my heart

but i’m scared to say

i’m scared to start

 

speak! speak! again it comes

awakening, like beating drums