Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Awake, Not Dreaming

mother of dreams

Every now and then I find myself asking if it's really me, doing the medical school thing, or if I've morphed into someone else. Ever have that experience -- or one like it -- where you're doing something you'd never have imagined? It's the kind of thing I can easily envision other people involved in, especially when I look around at my fellow students, most of them younger, some not so. We're seated in a crowded lecture hall, the air conditioning not quite adequate to the early season warmth, with carbon dioxide levels rising, trying to focus on a projected X-Ray image of what the lecturer swears is a normal chest.

I see us, with our shared struggles and mutual concerns about the end of the year, pending board exams, third-year rotations, and never cease to be amazed. How did the generosity of people, hard work, the grace of God, and sheer dumb luck all combine to get me here? Someone saw potential and for that, I'll be eternally grateful, but it still blows me away nonetheless.

In a few minutes I'll go back to studying the family history of bacteria and later on, more X-Ray images and the ins and outs of DNA. I can't get over how all of this has become part of my daily vocabulary. I'll switch on House, MD, and before I know it, call out the answer to a diagnostic question he's posed to his team.

Subtle changes, largely outside conscious awareness, surface off-handedly, making one realize they're adopting an identity that's new. It can happen in any situation, but this time it's happening to me and when I notice it, I have to say something, if for no other reason than to pinch myself and make sure I'm awake.

And not dreaming.

(Creative Commons image entitled "Mother of Dreams" by breezeDebris via Flickr)
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