Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cliff Jumping

A new friend and I were walking to the shuttle stop after the end of our first day of class yesterday (Was it only yesterday?  I swear, it feels like it was a week ago.).  Our collective nerves were crackling like live wires as we tried to wrap our heads around, well, everything.  "I feel like I'm standing on a cliff," I burst out.  "And, it's like, I climbed up here on purpose, I struggled up the freaking mountain, I did everything I possibly could to get out to the very top of this cliff, with the idea being that I was going to jump off, and now I'm here, and I'm so scared and I don't want to jump!  I desperately do not want to jump."
"Yes, exactly!" my new friend agreed, and we elaborated.
"And even though you know, you know that you'll be okay in the water down below once you jump, you know that you'll figure out how to swim and you know that climbing up to the cliff was the right choice, right now, it feels like the last place you want to be."
"But you can't go back."

I want to be in nursing school.  I really, really do.  But when I think about how for the next three years, there will always be homework to do, and how for the rest of my life, I will be taking people's lives in my hands and doing the best I can to care for them and I will not do everything right, and people will hurt, and people will die, and there is nothing I can do about it - when I think about that, oh you have no idea how badly I want to turn around and scamper back down the mountain to my nanny jobs and my no homework and my few responsibilities.

The leap from the cliff has already begun.  Classes started yesterday, and along with every single thing I learn, comes the more terrifying reality of how incredibly little I know.  Yes, I now know what the risks of IV feeding are, and why we are sleepy after we eat, and what the difference is between the pharmacokinetics and the pharmacodynamics of a drug.  But I sure as shit don't know what to say to a patient who has just been given six months to live.  I don't know how to comfort a mother whose child has just been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.  I don't know how to feed someone who has leprosy and gangrene without gagging, I don't know how to take care of a dying baby without crying, and I don't know how to come home when faced with all of the ways I can't help my patients and get up again the next day still committed to help in the ways that I can.

I will walk into the hospital next week for my first clinical shift.
I will be assigned a patient.
I will walk into his room, introduce myself, and tell him I need to take his vitals.

And with that, the leap will be complete.
Yes, the water is rushing to meet me, but I'm going to try to enjoy the flight.


Anonymous said...

Good luck. And remember: Sometimes it is the wisest people who know what they don't know, and admit it.

Tu Nguyen said...

a reminder, that it really is ok at the end: