A morbid curiosity

Even though I know we cannot coexist,

I still want to know what happened,

I still wish you were saved.

 

I wonder what kind of things you would have loved,

What passion would you breathe with in this world?

 

And even though I’ll never know you,

You’ll always live on within me.

Advertisements

151 – where my heart is.

It’s been a long time. I wanted to do a proper update with how I’ve been doing the past few months, but this past week has been tough. I feel this plethora of emotions weighing upon my heart.  I hope that by working through these thoughts, the heaviness will go with it.

—————————

I found myself in tears last Thursday on the bus home from the hospital. I had just finished my elective in geriatric psychiatry and was feeling really inspired that this was something I’d be interested in doing for the rest of my life. But a sort of doubt or guilt was festering in my mind. 

On Tuesday, we talked about social inequality as a determinant of health. Many of my classmates shared their personal stories about how growing up in a socioeconomically disadvantaged community affected their views on life, education, health, and privilege. I did not share my own story then, but I thought about how lucky I was to have someone like my mom in my life. How fortunate I am to be where I am now.

My mom fought through more hardships than I could ever imagine. Her family immigrated to Hong Kong from a rural town in China, but they were penniless as they struggled to adapt to city. Even now, my grandmother and aunt live in an apartment the same size as my bedroom in Vancouver. Despite being a straight A student, my mom couldn’t afford to go to college, opting instead to work to support her family. In contrast, my father scraped through college with D’s across the board. Life isn’t fair.

Life certainly continued to be unfair as my mom worked 80 hours a week while caring for two children. Some nights I stayed up until 2 to 3am, worried if something might’ve happened to her. But she came home every time without fail (and very cross because her eight year old was still awake). Yet, I never really appreciated what she did for me while I was growing up. Even at times when she only had a couple hundred dollars in her bank account, she never let our poverty stop us from doing anything. Never, ever, ever was i left hungry. There was somehow always enough food in the house. I took lessons in swimming, skating, art, piano, violin, Chinese, and Japanese. Instead of denying me these opportunities, she worked more hours instead. Sometimes I wonder how I learned absolutely nothing about diligence from such an amazing human being.

In contrast, my father could not serve as a better example for what I didn’t want to be. While my mom worked herself to pieces, he cheated on her. Buying some unknown woman an apartment and being stupid enough to not put his name on it. I still don’t fucking understand.

We almost lost our house when I was in tenth grade. Since my father technically owns half the house, he wanted to sell it if my mom wanted a separation. Clearly, the money meant more to him than the livelihood of his children. I remember their heated arguments as I stood outside the door, devastated and confused. In the end, we still have the house and they are still together…on paper anyway. When I moved for university, he took over my bedroom, destroying many of my belongings. Although I’ve forgiven him for everything in the past, I still feel numb at the thought of him. But I digress, that doesn’t matter anyway.

I suppose what I fear the most is becoming like him. He is thousands of dollars in debt because of a gambling addiction. I look at myself and my own reckless decisions and can’t deny how much I am like him. I put myself in debt by moving across the country for university, a decision I still can’t justify was worth it. I look at my gaming addiction and I think about how gambling isn’t that far off. I feel like the more that I reflect upon my behaviors, the more I realize I am just as ungrateful and stupid as he was. And it scares me. I doubt my ability to change who I am. But I swear I’m trying.

What drove me to tears on Thursday was a consult with a patient who spent over 20 years looking after his parents, quitting his job as a pharmacy technician and giving up his dreams of going to medical school. His story moved me. Made me think about what really matters in life. It made me think that I really wanted to be home, spending time with my mom and letting her know how much I appreciate what she did for me. But home feels so far away.

I feel so lost. I need to find a way to channel these emotions into an effort to work harder, to motivate myself through these doubts. I feel worthless, when I should feel privileged. Depressed, when I should be stimulated. It’s funny how you feel more scared looking down from the top than on your way up the mountain.

I haven’t given up. I will find my way. Even though these feelings are hard, it feels better to have acknowledged my weakness instead of running away. I will be okay.

it all feels like ashes

these days have been feeling like disaster

with every moment that passes

I feel something shattering

I thought I was so sure of

who I loved

what I loved

and where on the horizon my dreams laid

but nothing feels like it’s in the right place

a transition from certainty to the unknown

is truly perplexing.

 

there is an inescapable gray

bleeding into my heart

but I can’t stop its rushing current

all I can do is lie here frozen

screaming for the colours

to come back.

Convolution

For all those who wander are not lost.


For a long time

I’ve waited

to feel freedom

from beyond this fathomless trench

I spent years digging myself into.

 

But even as I walk down this golden path

I feel the tension beneath my feet

with every step

the shadows loom closer

taking delight in the consumption

of light hearts and gaiety.

 

it’s almost as if

someone has painted an ebony black

over the rainbow I had prized

as my most guarded dream

clearly

there is no such thing

as security.

 

Still I must not crumble

underneath this continuous weathering

the promise of better days

is not that far away

from beyond this blasted hurricane

I believe that clearer skies will light the way

towards a life that’s truly worth living.

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.

 

149 – a little escape 

In London (Ontario) for the weekend and it feels really nice to be away from all my stress at school. I know it’s all just going to start again on Monday, but for now, I can just enjoy a little piece of happiness. 

I can see the stars again. It feels surreal after not having been able to see them much in Toronto. I feel at peace here, like everything is going to be alright. I hope that this feeling follows me back tomorrow. 

Everyone I’ve met here is really nice and willing to chat about their experiences. It’s not even my interview date, but I feel welcome here. It’s refreshing. I’m super glad I decided to come a day earlier. The med student that’s hosting me is incredibly friendly – I’m relieved we get along. I feel like I fit in here and hope I get in. 

Time to get some sleep so I can do my best tomorrow. I’m nervous, excited, yet oddly calm because of the wonderful atmosphere. It’s a weird mix. I like it. 

walls of gray

broken down by my inadequacy

I don’t know how to face it anymore

they say nothing

but I feel it by exclusion

I no longer pretend to feel welcome

beyond those doors

though I struggle to accept

this hollow state of mind.

 

I keep on pushing through

just a few more months

one week at a time

but it’s really all too much

even my best efforts

to numb these currents down

are fruitless

I lie shattered

broken and weathered

unable to pick myself up

unable to hold on

to that sliver of hope

and so I find myself engulfed

entranced in inhibition

privy to these crushing thoughts.

 

I cannot see the horizon

beyond these walls of gray.