This Too Shall Pass

As I begin to round the bend on my last lap – year four of residency – my view of the world has opened. My tunnel vision is beginning to subside. I take in my surroundings – the rooms of my emergency room, the closets, the counters, these cold, hard tiles. This chair and counter, where I have spent countless days and nights, working, racing, learning. Even these will be gone soon. It is the simple things – the distinct sound of the black phone ringing next to me, begging to be heard as I stubbornly ignore it. Room Number 5 where, for the first time, my attending turned to me and said, “You saved someone’s life today.” I see the ghosts of patients in each bed – how many I have cared for. I wonder if they still remember me.

I realized today that residency is not static. The people who have come on this journey with me – we have traveled through residency together, but we have also traveled through life together. Some have balded, others have given birth. All have cried and laughed and struggled. Some have suffered through their own illnesses during this time, or the loss of loved ones. And our attendings – they too have aged. Four years is not an insignificant amount of time in life.

I had hoped that time would freeze during these last four years – and that somehow I could it win back. I deserved it – after all that I have sacrificed. But time – life – does not work this way. These years have passed…and I have let them pass by simply waiting for the end. Looking back, I realize how much has been lost, swept away, missed. Life has happened during these years of tunnel vision, sleepless nights, and overwhelming hardships.

I feel my feet on the pavement – there is a calm that comes with rounding the bend on lap three. Deep breaths, fresh air – I am finding my stride as a physician. My pace is steady now – the finish line is close enough that I can sense it right there, just beyond my reach. My shifts ebb and flow, all with the knowledge that the river has run its course and I am almost there. The ease with which I now do central lines, arterial lines, intubations, lumbar punctures, calms me. There is a peace that comes with lap three. I will take this time I have left to look around, to remember, and to think about all that has happened on this journey.

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