I was sitting on the red sofa in the basement of my house on Wed night for bible study. I was in my favorite position with my left leg curled under my right one making me corner shaped sitting in the little sofa corner. I was in pain. It was a gnawing, angry, relentless pain that seemed worse than it had a week ago prior to the steroid shot. I was exhausted the pain woke me up several times a night and forced me to change position. I tuned in and out of the discussion on the temptation of Christ almost startling when my roommate the leader turned to ask me a relgion major related question. I was physically squirming changing my position every 5 minutes to no avail. In my head a flood gate had failed and my thoughts were swept in a gale of pain and anxiety. What would happen if I just didn’t want to do this any more? What would happen if I just pulled the trigger and said I want to get this over with it…..What would it cost me? graduation? residency? walking? What if it went perfectly what would it buy me? No pain? Actually enjoying my day to day life for my last year as a free agent?
As soon as the last prayer had been said I was up the stairs and curled up in my bed with my laptop. Kaniksha called, I answered and told her what I was thinking. She pushed me to just do it. I went to sleep (well in theory), woke up and went to school. I sat there on rounds with this torturous hurricane in my brain. In order to do this I would have to break one of my cardinal rules of AMYHOOD. I would have to admit that I was in pain to the point that I did not think I could function at my job or at my life. I disliked that idea immensely although my dislike was childish it still hurt to have to say that to someone. SO I sat there with this paralyzing inner monologue and interviewed little children whose inner monologue had landed them in the pysch ward. As soon I could steal away from post-rounds work I called the PA in Baltimore and left a short, cheerful sounding message on her voice mail. I slid my cellphone in my pocket with a smile. Sure I can try to change this but the odds were so against it working thus there was nothing to panic about. Three things had to happen: A. there had to be a surgery date in the first 8 days of block 6 (Sept 7-Sept 13), B. I had to switch my ED rotation (the only required rotation thus making it nearly impossible to switch because EVERYONE has to do it) and C. have something I can do FOR CREDIT instead in Block 6. I walked back to the pysch floor confident that I had passed the test.
The PA called me back within 20 mins. I hid in the copy room. It took effort, more than I care to admit, to tell her the truth. My voice wavered a bit but someone by the grace of God I managed to keep a surreal businesslike manner throughout the whole conversation outlining the various pre-operative studies and labs. She gave me the number of the surgery scheduler who I called and left a voice mail. I e-mailed student services with a bit of tachycardia. My fellow interns on the pysch floor sent me home early since I had stayed late the day before. As I was leaving I got a completely random and uncalled for e-mail from the pediatric rheumatologist. I had talked to her previously in the year about doing a rotation with her. It had not worked out. She had been asked to write a review on exercise therapy for kids with arthrits and myositis. She wanted to know if i wanted to do the project. I could most likely get research credit for it. I nearly melted right there in the middle of the pysch nursing station. Not only was a research project I could do from it home, it was a first author publication handed to me on a silver platter no strings attached. As I walked outside of the pysch ward I stared at the deep blue of the carolina afternoon with my eyebrows raised asking GOD what the heck was he doing?
I ran home, laid down on my sofa, tired from not sleeping and the constant gnawing. I had tried in route home to call both student services and the scheduler again both had been apparently gone for the day. I was fustrated. Kaniksha called to cheer me on. Finally at the point I was almost sleep my phone rang at 4:50 and I bolted off the sofa. Ms Long the 14th has one opening…does that work for you? Holy… its in the 8 day window. Give me till tomorrow. I called student services at 4:55 and demanded a meeting with the Dean for Friday. I got it. I then e-mailed my class expecting nothing but knowing I had to do this before I saw the Dean. Can someone please, please swicth ED rotations with me? Five minutes later someone volunteered. The Dean signed off on my swicth, my research elective/leave of abscence for block 6 without so much as a moment of hestitation, in fact he had already done before I even got there on Friday morning.
My parents thought I was slightly manic when I called them…maybe I was a tad bit crazed. Hi Mom, I having a hip replacement on Sept 14 think you drive me home on Sept 17? I explained or tried to explain that for once in my life I was excercising some level of self-perservation. My parents who know me better than most know that this is not characteristic of me…its far to what normal people with chornic pain do. They accepted it although they had a million questions most of which were medical rather than logistical.I had been the one e-mailing and calling the surgery team with my 20 million questions, I was the one who signed the dotted line on the consent forms. Now in the surreal change of roles I was the one explaining to my parents what to expect.
I’m still not exactly looking forward to it. In fact I’m still sort of terrified but feel oddly at peace with it for the first time since that fateful day in April where the surgeon walked into the room with that knowing gleam in his eye.
On Friday afternoon I headed to Atlanata to visit with friends (including my super, awesome, talented webmaster) and take the Clinical Skills boards on Monday. I stared at the peds rheum books stacked on my passenger seat, a reminder of the miracle of the last two days. It rained as I was coming out Charolotte traffic, a blinding sun shower that slowed the resceding traffic to 40 mph. I stared into the liquid blue and marveled at God’s grace and his occasional firm, gentle pushes off of our mental mountains of pride and fear. And how well he holds us as we fall into whatever ocean stands in the valley.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
The passage that came to mind…oddly enough it is quoted by Satan terribly out of context in the temptation of Jesus in Luke and Matthew 4 which was the center of the discussion on the red sofa.