(Beloved – Jordan Feliz)
Recently I have been re-listening to the awesome books “The Essence of Resilience” (Kathleen Parrish and Tanya Laurer) and “Resilient Grieving” (Lucy Hone). TBH mostly I’ve been re-listening because I needed something to occupy my brain during my breaks at work and I still had a few days left of those book downloads and don’t have any more downloads left until June, but they are really good.
There were a couple quotes from “Resilient Grieving” that I heard the other day while driving home (yes I was listening to a book and the radio at the same time in the car…if one thing is good, two is better).
“Let me not die while I am still alive”
The idea behind this quote being that while Trauma or grief events often completely change our lives making us a distinctly different person in the before than the after, it doesn’t have to mean that the rest of our life is not worth living. Although I do still believe that death would be better than this, it does lead to the next quote…
I have wanted one particular job and had one particular career path in mind since elementary school. The story I tell says 4th grade, but in reality I am pretty sure it was sooner than that, but the story was altered at some point because I was told it was more realistic that way. Anyway, the quote is:
“Option A is no longer an option, so let’s kick the s**t out of option B.”
I would say that I am a lot further along than option B. I think option B would have been getting a different residency in phase I (and we could probably break that down further to particular programs being B and others being other letters, but that get way complicated way fast)…Option C would be getting a pediatric PGY-1 in phase II. Option D would be getting any PGY-1 in phase II. Option E would be, well, there at least being a pediatric residency to which to apply in the scramble. Option F would be getting one of the residency programs to which I applied in the scramble…I don’t really know what letter I am on at this point, but like I mentioned previously, I am learning not to let go of my dream, but to let go of some of the pain. It is a very slow and non-linear process, but I know that someday this will not be the all-consuming factor in my life. I still remember the pain of changing churches on August 10th 2008, but I don’t think about it every day anymore. Most of the time if I do think about it, the thoughts do not lead me to feeling pain, and if they do the pain goes away quickly and most of it is more remembered pain than acute pain. I have to believe that someday that will be true of this situation and of my abuse…I think both of them are pretty well tied together right now, so they’ll have to be disentangled before one can be healed without the other.
After the first match, I wrote that I planned to get another residency and be the best resident they ever had and exceed expectations so well that other programs were jealous they didn’t have me. My mom saw it and wanted me to delete it, but I refused. Maybe that plan didn’t work out, but now I can be the best clinical pharmacist ever instead…there are some things I am giving up. Among other things, I am giving up staying close to my friends, I am giving up focusing on pediatric critical care, I am giving up teaching opportunities, and I am giving up being able to commit to leading my 0-3 year old VBS class. There is one thing that I gain though…I don’t have to do a residency project or a bunch of presentations this year. TBH, the residency project thing is the one part of a residency that does not sound at all appealing to me…well, that and some residency programs require going back to midyear, but it is possible that this job will also require that, so before I get too excited I’ll have to find out whether that is an expectation (or a strong suggestion…) or if I really do get to skip it.
Oh yeah, I wanted to wait until I’d actually been officially offered the position, because I unfortunately know that seeming promises of employment can fall through, but now I am ready to announce that I have accepted a full time pharmacist position. I was kinda hoping for a pediatric position (especially the NICU position to which I applied) and I was kinda hoping for a schedule with longer hours (like 7 on 7 off or 10-12 hour days) because I prefer having a lot of time off a few days than working a few hours every day, but I think I will like this position. I have very little adult experience, but that will make this a good growing experience, and my preceptor on my acute care (which I’ve been calling adult care) rotation at least got me to a point where caring for adults is still not my forte but isn’t so scary anymore. I know that I can, it might just take me a little longer to get to the right answer, and that is okay…and really, although it isn’t the path I wanted, I think getting adult experience will be good, because I definitely still do avoid checking prescriptions for kids who are starting to become adult sized. For NICU that is no problem at all, but for my other dream of emergency and because you can’t really only be competent in one area and make it as a pharmacist, it will be good for me to gain some confidence in treating adult sized patients.
And I have realized that while my heart is in pediatrics, I really do love pharmacy. Someone texted me yesterday with an adult pharmacy question, and I loved problem solving. It was a question that played well into my pediatric knowledge since it was a formulation question, but it was for an adult patient, so I guess maybe it also showed me that some of the things I love about pediatrics will make me a valuable resource in an adult setting.
So with the exposure I was working on…it actually went okay. It was really hard, and definitely intensified the pain that I still feel every day, but by the end of Monday it wasn’t nearly as bad as it was Sunday morning to be walking around in a logo shirt. I could definitely feel how much extra emotional energy I was using to make it through the day, but it will be worth it if the end result is after the down-trending now that I will have a few days while the shirts are in the wash is better desensitization and numbing to the pain. It might exacerbate the pain for a little while, but if it works how I want it to, it will be worth it in the end, and right now I have enough distraction in my life to be able to handle a little bit of exacerbation and stay relatively safe. I slept nine hours last night without even waking up at 2am like I usually do to get a drink…it makes it a little harder to get up in the morning when that happens since I’m too dehydrated to feel totally awake, but sometimes I guess my body needs that sleep because the emotional energy leads to real exhaustion. Post-exposure, I am doing really well. I did cry today, but I also had some moments when the pain was less crushing than it has ever been since the first match failure. I am really thankful for that. Right now I am struggling, but even a few minutes of not feeling so bad is a good reminder that maybe eventually this won’t be so all-consuming. Someday this will just be the way it is and I’ll be able to talk about it as if it is no big deal (even though it kinda is).
One last thing from Resilient Grieving that I missed the first time and I think is really relevant here is about Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG). Growth doesn’t have to mean that you are a better person or that life improved after loss or trauma; The growth might simply mean that your path has changed and you are now going in a different direction. We are different people after grief has re-written our stories, but if all you know is PTSD you will live a self-fulfilling prophesy and your grief will spiral into PTSD. If you understand PTG or even if you have a spiritual background you are more likely to recover more quickly. The implication that loss could be beneficial is a painful thought, but the fact that it can change one’s direction is less threatening.
I liked that imagery, and agree that the idea of loss making me a better person is something that is like salt in fresh wounds. I like the idea that growth can occur but that it doesn’t make it okay that the pain happened. I don’t like when people try to minimize big losses with but look now you have this good thing…sure, but now you are essentially asking me to value whatever good you see that I have now over the good that I had before and value it as worth the pain it took to come to this place. I don’t like that. Given the choice, I don’t know that I would necessarily value these things more highly than what I had before or highly enough to suffer as much as I did for them. On the other side, it is undeniable that grief, trauma, and loss have changed not only who I am, but my direction in life…beyond the fact that there are still people who probably think I graduated from Drake University…To allow the concept of growth as a shifting of paths allows me to acknowledge that yes, I am growing without discounting that this isn’t what I wanted to happen and that the pain is still very real and very relevant. I am resilient and I am strong, but that doesn’t mean that I think being hurt is okay and it doesn’t mean that I never experience pain.