Fearfulness vs. Fearlessness
Last updated: February 2022
Sometimes I worry that I am living my life in fear.
Fears and fearlessness
In fear of triggering a sickle cell attack, of not being able to do something I want because of the pain, and of the consequences of sickle cell – you know all the big scary stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been pretty fearless. I mean I did finally get on a plane again, I have traveled a lot, and I love public speaking where others might have stage fright.
No, the fear that haunts me is all related to waking up one day not in control of my body, life, or future. That’s why I don’t drink. Well part of why. I also know it’s bad for me and interacts with my medicine so there’s lots of reasons I don’t drink or smoke. I also avoid thrill-seeking and adrenaline rushes, like I hate rollercoasters, I think I’m afraid of heights too. But who needs an unpredictable rollercoaster ride when you already have an unpredictable disease?
Paying attention to my body
Now this isn’t to say I live my days locked up in my room because I’m too afraid to face the world. If that was the case then I wouldn’t drive, which is way more dangerous than flying. No, it’s more about being so acutely aware of how much pain my body can endure.
I don’t think a lot of people have truly experienced intense physical pain, at least not the way sickle cell warriors do. To be in an excruciating amount of pain so suddenly, out of the blue, and never knowing how long it will last. Now that’s scary.
A career in medicine
But lately my biggest fears are related to medicine. No, not taking medicine, which I’m always working on being better about. Medicine as in my career choice. I’m a third-year medical school and the school year is more than halfway over now. That means that very soon I will have to make a major decision.
I’ll have to decide what residency program to apply for. Residency is the next step after medical school where you actually train to become whatever type of physician you choose to be. As in what kind of medicine you’ll spend the rest of your life practicing. You can see how this is a major decision?!
A life changing decision
I know I can’t really go wrong. No matter what I choose, being a physician will open so many doors and give me all the opportunities I’ve dreamed of for so long. But what if I hate what I chose? What if the job stresses my body too much and triggers sickle cell crises? What if I don’t find the work interesting or stimulating enough?
I know it’s kind of negative to think that way, but you see, I’ve spent the last decade of my life devoted to this one mission: becoming a physician. So, I'm kind of betting a lot on this working out.
Making everyone proud
I just want to make a younger me, my parents, and all those who have supported me proud. Most importantly, I want to give back to the sickle cell community. But before all of that, I have to choose to prioritize my own physical and mental well-being.
So, I’ll try and think of all that can go right. Maybe, I’ll love residency and my field more than I ever thought possible. Maybe, I’ll surprise myself. After all, life is much too unpredictable to live in fear of a worst-case scenario that may never happen.
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