One week ago, I arrived back in Little Rock after what is always an entirely too fast couple days at home. And last week, I sit down and recorded a beautiful love story. A story that I felt deserved its own blog post. This blog post is to highlight all my other adventures.
I want to take you back to a month ago, mid-May. Costumed in a baggy set of Ceil Blue scrubs, hair pulled back, no signs of make up(or life), and completely worn down, I drove myself home in silence after a hectic day of Trauma surgery. This is unusual for me, as I am an avid music lover. I typically spend my car time singing(sometimes at top volume) to whatever music fit my mood. But that night, silence was the only thing that seemed to make sense. I had turned my phone on do not disturb as I had walked out to the parking garage. At 17 days in a row and staying late the last 3 night including that night, I had put in my dues. I was feeling overwhelmed, defeated. The combination of being sleep deprived and emotionally exhausted is a great breeding ground for questioning all life's decisions. You know what else is perfect for breeding a mini-quarterlife crisis? Turning 26.
As I drove my familiar path home, I mulled over my life and where I thought I would be at 26 which was looming in the near future. I think it is important to note that my upcoming birthday isn't what had led to my overwhelming emotional state, it was just the perfect gasoline to add to the fire. I never thought I would be the person who got weird and upset over birthdays and that thought only made me feel worse. It's not that I think I'm old, its that I had plans and an image of what this time in my life would look like and life isn't exactly cooperating.
Now this is where when I share this struggle well meaning people say, "but you're a doctor. You've done so much." I'll let you in on a secret. I'm not just a doctor. Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do and if I could go back and do it all again I would repeat the experience in a heartbeat. It brings so much joy and meaning into my life. There is just so many other things that I want to do with my single lifetime and the fear of my golden years slipping away became very real in my complete exhaustion. I thought I would have had it all figured out by now. That I wouldn't care about what anyone else thought and I would always do what I wanted to do without factoring in outside opinions. That I wouldn't let fear, anger, or frustration get in the way of my potential, happiness, and love. And when it comes to love, I was going to be in head over heels love, with myself. I was going to be well traveled, well rounded, and never give into my emotional distresses. But here I was, looking like I had just worked 17 days in a row on the surgery service having a complete meltdown. A sobbing and struggling to breath kind of meltdown over who knows what. Mourning all the things I thought I would be by 26 and being frustrated that I had let so many things block my path. More importantly, I had spent so much time standing in my own way. I was mourning all of my wasted time.
I am no stranger to having some emotional moments and in our culture there is so much pressure to be perfect. To never breakdown, never cry, never appear weak. Well I for one gave up on the fight against having feelings a couple years ago. Now my rule is to lean in and feel what your feeling. Give in to your occasional weak moment, cry, laugh, mourn, shut down. Whatever it is that is happening, Lean In. The good and the bad. Feelings and experiences are what give our life meaning and leaning in allows you to process and grow. So I went straight from my car, up my 2 flights of stair, and flung myself into bed hitting my fan on the way and leaned in. I let myself have my moment and as so often as it happens with me, I woke up in the morning feeling better. I swear by a good night of sleep.
26 was coming whether I wanted it to or not. I had to go back to work the next morning at 4am whether I wanted to or not. Life was going to keep rolling on and I didn't want to be left back here mourning my wasted time and wasting more time.
Spoiler alert: I survived trauma surgery and turning 26. Actually I looked fabulous on my birthday. After not wearing make up or anything other than those terribly ugly ceil blue scrubs for a month, I got up early and dressed to the nines. To my complete surprise, my joints didn't start aching and my hair didn't turn gray. I was reminded I had incredible friends. Kristen who tried her hand at making Strawberry Cake for me and others who joined me for dinner at my favorite place for chicken tacos.
Two days later, I had packed up the car and headed north. Texting my dad on the way to warn him that the tags on my license plate had been expired for the last 3 days and I needed to take care of that as soon as possible. I managed to arrive in town, pick up my dad, get my car inspected, pay property taxes, and license my car in just under 90 minutes. I was surprised with my not so little baby brother who decided to drop in for the anniversary party as a surprise. For complete anniversary party story see post from last week.
Friday evening, I spent running around town picking up things for the big bash. I sneaked in a couple of wonderful breaks. I was able to join my mom for dinner while she was at work and get a little one-on-one mother daughter time. Something we are just starting to have as I am getting older. And I spent a good hour on my favorite patio in the world telling my tales to my grandparents as they listened, laughed, and cheered. If anyone knows me, they know that I can talk and talk when I get on a roll.
Saturday morning was equally busy, but it brought the wonderful sight of my gorgeous niece Merideth. I think we are both equally happy to see each other every time I come home. She brings so much joy into my heart. Sunday morning, I got to enjoy the completely fattening and delicious breakfast that is offered at the Big Biscuit. Merideth and I worked on building a tower out of jelly packs while we waited. She is definitely getting a few of her mother's organizational habits. Grape first, then orange. Orange in with the grape jelly is just blasphemy.
One of my favorite parts of my visit is my mother's home cooking. I grew up on this stuff which is probably why I was a very chubby pre-teen and teenager. It is delicious. I caught up on my gift giving as I missed so many holidays/birthdays. And to my complete delight, my much younger niece has now decided she no longer hates me. I moved away when she was about 6 months old and so my visits home over the last year have been awful for us both. She doesn't remember me and isn't a fan of strangers. Her go to move when being handed to me has been to nose dive towards the floor, because a closed head injury would be much better than being held my whoever this crazy woman is. But not this time. This time I gave her a smile and a wave and she came running. She was all about being held and we spent tons of time walking around the yard together. Actually she's more of a runner these days. My name is even one of about the 10 words she will say, though I'm not sure she associates it with me. She is such a sweet, curious little girl growing like a beautiful sunflower. That's right my nieces don't grow like weeds, they grow like sunflowers.
Since I've been back, I've been putting in my time at our local community hospital and have managed to get aboard the medflight helicopter once so far. It feels great to be back in the ER taking care patients. With a sense of autonomy and the occasional medflight interruption.
This past weekend, I attended the residency graduation for our 3rd years. It is such a bittersweet moment. For me, not them. They are moving on to the next big thing in their lives, done with training. But as for me and the rest of us staying behind, we are going to miss having them around.
It has truly been 1 year since I made my move south and it has been a whirlwind. I can't believe it is almost over and the next level is waiting for me. As a newly 26 year old EM resident, I have made a couple of promises to myself after my little cry in May. This year I am going to give in to my spontaneous side more and worry about things less. I am going to live up to my full potential and quit being okay living as things are right now. I am going to love myself more, give myself a break, and accept things out of my control. But mostly, I am going to start taking advantage of each day and whatever it is I am wanting to do with it. Even if that means letting myself have a day of sitcoms on the couch. It's okay, I get to be lazy sometimes too. Here's to 26!