In my life, I know that I want to have piles of money and work with complicated things. In highschool I thought computer programming was the answer. That was until we left the comfort of C++. In undergrad I thought Economics was the answer. That was until my love for Micro was stomped out by Macro, it being the bigger of the two. It’s been a theme of mine to love something until it was hard, and then love it much less. Finally, in medical school, I’m starting to get a handle on it.
I can be a big-picture kind of guy, but mostly I like minutiae. If you want to write a test that I’ll fail, don’t ask me about the type of Reed-Sternberg cell seen in Lymphocyte-depleted Burkitt’s lymphoma, because I know that one. Instead, ask me what lymphoma children get. In the tree of my mind, I’m leaves without branches and it’s windy in here. It’s why I do well against my roommates in Jeopardy. It’s why I couldn’t explain any of what I’ve learned to my parents. It’s why, as a second year student having seen the material three different times, I can’t explain the female menstrual cycle to anyone. I’m young: women and babies are too big-picture.
Everything endocrine is too big-picture, and every time I see the material coming at me in the syllabus, I make a promise that this time I will achieve deep understanding. I will come to knowledge, and I will own it. Never happens. I looked over my Histo notes from a year ago and saw to my horror that I had labeled the anterior pituitary as the hypothalamus and had kept that distinction throughout my notes. Those 10 pages of stupid stared at me; mocked me. “Remember in high-school computer class when you wanted to write programming code? Remember when you cried and quit over nested loops? I remember. I remember you’re an idiot.”
Economics is beautiful. Nested loops are beautiful. Endocrinology is beautiful. It’s all about homeostasis and balance and listening and I suck at it. I think that the Liver and Biliary System is the most amazing thing in the body and I want to study it until I’m yellow in the face. I’d love to be some species of Endocrinologist but my M.O says that I’ll shrink from that dream and instead become a surgeon. Those who know me say that I’m instead a surgeon with hormonal delusions. At 24, I’m still blaming puberty.
Next week will be my forth attempt. Every time I have failed has more firmly cemented my learning curve. And though I remain optimistic that this may be the effort that changes all of that, I cannot ignore the brutal truth of those two standard deviations in front of me.
I will probably fail at the academic side of medicine. I will instead marry an Endocrinogist, become a surgeon, and look with jealous eyes at the Anesthesiologist. He’ll probably have his computer open. I’ll lean over and see that he’s writing a computer program for an economic pet project of his that he nursed through medschool, which came easily for him. And while he’s kicking my dog and getting married to my first girlfriend, I hope I remember that I’m thankful for being good at anything.
So I’m not big-picture. The sooner I make peace with that, the sooner I can look at the glint from my shiny scalpel and forget about it. I’ll sing the scalpel song that Todd from Scrubs taught me:
“Dum, did de dum, did de dum, did de SHINY SCALPEL!”
“Dum, did de dum, did de dum, did de GONNA CUT HIM UP!”