I made it. I recently took the last test of medical school. Wow. When I tell you there were so many times these past few years, especially this last year, where I thought I wouldn’t make it.
Unique challenges of sickle cell
Medical school has been so incredibly tough but also rewarding. It has provided me with the most rewarding as well as the most challenging moments of my life. That’s what they said it would be like, but it was much harder than I could have ever imagined.
Having sickle cell of course did not help and brought unique barriers of its own. There were times I feared that maybe the very reason I wanted to become a physician was also the reason I wasn’t going to make it to the finish line. But now I’m almost there. I’m in my last year of medical school and I can finally see the light.
Now I’m applying for residency, the training that happens after you get your MD to be able to actually practice medicine. I’ve decided to apply for pathology, a decision that has surprised those who know me. I guess they don’t know me that well then because I love everything about it from looking at slides, studying anatomy, blood banking, and transfusion medicine. I see myself further studying hematology and running a blood center, working with sickle cell patients, and overseeing apheresis or the exchange of blood products.
Finally, something that allows me to pursue my dreams while supporting the lifestyle I want. And all in such a supportive environment that gives me the space to take care of myself.
Career decisions and sickle cell
One major decision down but applying to residency comes with so many more. Now I have to make a list to figure out what programs I want to apply to, where I’d like to live for the next 4 or so years, and what benefits are important to me.
Again, I think about how having sickle cell will influence this decision too. You’d think programs wouldn’t vary much but they surprisingly do. They vary from how much they pay, how many vacation and sick days you get, and even what their hours look like. These little things I have never had to think about are now crucial to making the best decision for the next 4 years of my life.
I can’t imagine what residency is going to be like. I know it’s even more challenging than medical school and that is exciting yet terrifying. I can’t wait to watch myself grow and see how much more there is to learn. Or to meet new people that will define the next few years of my life the way my peers have defined these past few years. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I still have about 9 months left and such big plans to go out with a bang this last year.
Determined to make it work
I hope my sickle cell can keep up with all the plans I have for this year. I have got to get on top of taking my meds, going to the doctor, hydrating, eating right and exercising. To practice the routine I hope to eventually follow naturally. I hope I can keep it up. Either way, I am determined to make the most of this last year.
Have you had a special caregiver in your life?