Friday, May 15, 2015

The Last 7 Years

With just days left until Graduation, I have found myself reminiscing about the last 7 years: the experiences I've had, the people who have come and gone, the moments of pure happiness, and the times I had reach a low. This last 7 years of my life have brought so many changes and that optimistic, bright eyed, inexperienced 18 year old who moved to Kansas City in the summer of 2008 had no idea what was in store.

I grew up in a relatively small town, had an incredible high school experience, and was blessed with the best friends anyone could ask for. When I moved to Kansas City, I was unsure about the city life having grown up in close knit community, but I was optimistic about my new journey. I remember my mom moving me into the dorms. We unpacked everything, had a couple oreos, and then we both cried when it was time for her to leave. I have only seen my mom cry a handful of times in my life. After it was all said and done, we both agreed we weren't ready and I went back home that night and didn't spend my first night in the dorms until a couple days later. Within a month, I absolutely hated the city, the traffic, and the way people treated each other. It wasn't my small little town that I had grown so use to, but by December I had adjusted. I had made a group of good friends and by the end of that first semester all the initially "drama" was all worked out. We did a lot of late night studying and Quiktrip. I spent a lot of nights talking to my roommate in the dark. I went through my first "tough" break up that spring. I had a couple of weeks where I thought I was going to have to drop out of medical school, because I couldn't afford it, but was luckily saved by my grandparents. My first year of college was like anyone's, full of surprises.


When I moved to Kansas City, I transferred my job from the St Joseph JC Penney's to the Independence JC Penney's. This was another experience in my life that took some adjusting. My first year at the new store was not one that I remember favorably, but my second year I transferred departments and made my first friends at the new store. It was this group of people who helped me through some of the toughest months of my life. There were lots of Royals games, random stop by visits, and food.
My second year, I lived with a couple of roommates who I had never met. Hannah was a freshman who grew up around the area and Pauline was a foreign exchange student from France. Our apartment was full of giggles, long talks, and various cuisine. I don't know how I would have made it through that year without them. This of course was the year of my extension which was the first time I had to face failure. I remember the call to my grandparents(if you recall they were helping with the loans for medical school.) This conversation really sums up my grandpa. I'll set the scene for you: I was 19, sobbing uncontrollable and unable to make words, pacing my bedroom on the phone with my grandfather trying to figure out how to tell him I had failed biochemistry and would have to take another year of school.
Grandpa: I can tell you are in no place to talk so let's start with yes and no questions.
Kate: *sobbing*
Grandpa: Are you pregnant
Kate: *perplexed* No...
Grandpa: Are you running off to get married
Kate: (crying has now slowed down due to confusion) No...
Grandpa: Are you dropping out of school
Kate: No...
Grandpa: Well then I figure we can handle it.
And he meant it. They never doubted me for a moment. Not even in failure. I remember getting a speech after I found my voice and told them what happened about stumbling blocks and failure building character.

That summer I went on the best vacation I have ever been on. The beach, the alcohol, the excursions, my leap of confidence. I spent the rest of that summer working, going to Royals games, and living carelessly. I found a crazy sense of confidence and renewed optimism. We will call my 3rd year, the year of weddings and baby showers. My sister got married that fall as well as my Aunt Becky who I grew up with. I also remember that there was a lot of snow that year and a lot of studying.

That summer I turned 21 and met the guy who would I would then spend the next year and a half with. That August, I went through my White Coat ceremony where I was placed with the group of students I would do clinic with for the next 4 years. Mostly my fourth year of medical school was the year of studying, crafting, and love. I remember being very stressed about my my medical micro final and being allowed to open one of my Christmas gifts early, because I have always loved Christmas. It was my first cutting mat which opened the door of quilting to me. The first quilt I would end up finishing would be for my first niece who was born that spring and would be the first to call me my favorite name, "Aunt Katie."

It was during my fifth year when I realized I didn't want to be an OBGYN(I went through a short period of time (about a year) where I thought I was going to do OBGYN), which left me feeling lost about where I wanted my career to go. It was about 6 months after that when I realized Emergency Medicine made the most sense to me. Which I found very perplexing at the time, because when I entered medical school I remember thinking the only specialty I definitely didn't want to do was ER. But alas, my 18 year old self knew very little about where we were heading. Fifth year was also my first Doro experience, which I remember to be miserable. It was the year that I took the first part of my board exam. And it was that summer that I started to lose my step dad and father figure to the dark world of addiction. Fifth year was definitely not my favorite year.
My sixth year of medical school was all about the clinicals. Surgery, OBGYN, Psychiatry, Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, and Pediatrics. It was a full year and I had finally found the place in medical school where I did well. I am most certainly a better clinician than a test taker. Overall I loved this year. I was incredibly busy, but I was headed somewhere and was starting to figure things out. It took me one shift to know the Emergency Medicine was exactly where I belonged. It is a weird thing to decide your specialty. Everyone decides differently, but for me it was just a feeling that I was where I belonged. I was incredibly happy being in the Emergency Department. I had found my home and the people who thought like me.

Which brings me to my final year, the year of residency interviews, my month in North Carolina, the birth of my second niece, and finishing up medical school. I had imagined this year as being more relaxing and laid back. Turns out that making life changing decisions and spending full days trying to impress your possible future employer is actually quite stressful. This may very well have been the most stressful year of my life and the one that has had the biggest rewards. When I made my rank list, it was an exhausting process. First I made fact sheets about the programs and then I made pros and cons lists. My biggest decision was whether or not to leave the Kansas City area, because after living here for 7 years I have come to the decision that this is the best city in the country to live. I utilized my resources and talked things through many times. But it came down to coffee with my adviser and one last talk through where I made my final list. I submitted it at the end of January a month early and never looked at it again. I didn't want to rethink myself. I had made my decisions and had decided I was okay with leaving the area for residency. When March came I wasn't really nervous until right before. I had pushed it far from my mind. I was able to open my envelop that held my placement surrounded by my family, the people who had supported me for 7 years through my ups and downs. It was the most amazing moment to have my family united together and sharing the most important day of my life with me. I was beyond excited to see that I had matched to my #1 choice in Little Rock.

I started this post talking about how my life had changed in 7 years. I have certainly had my share of loss and hardships during this journey. I lost who I was countless times over the years. I lost an extra year of my life to my extension, my step-father to addiction, my grandfather to cancer. I've made and lost friends and relationships along the way.
However, some things have remained constant over the years. I still have the same group of high school friends and a life long childhood friend who I can count on at any time. I have a family who have loved and supported me no matter what happened. Believed in me on the days/months/years that I was sure I was destined for failure. Who have made me smile even when I didn't want to. Who have made countless sacrifices to help me achieve my dreams.

Most importantly, I have gained so much over the last 7 years of my life. I have 2 incredibly gorgeous nieces plus an adopted niece and nephew(and a god baby on the way). I have created new friendships with people who share the unique insight of what surviving the 6 year program is like. I have received an unbelievable education in one of the most unique hospitals and have grown into the kind of clinician I wanted to be. And my most recent gain, is a reliable car which I got all on my own with my very first contract and an apartment in Little Rock to kick off my sneakers at the end of the day/night/morning whatever it may be. I am truly blessed.