This week, I was supposed to be graduating from residency. I was supposed to be moving to New York City in two weeks. My bags would’ve been packed. Boxes around my apartment would have been half-filled with memories of these last three years in Philadelphia.
I had a photo framed from the night before [us] interns started working in the ER. Beer bottles and wine glasses in hand. Sitting around a table at some beer garden. We had cheers’d to the next three years and all of the things that we were going to learn and experience.
I had my journal— the one I left on my coffee table for three years. I made people write in it when they would come over. Usually, they were drunk. Always, they were happy. One of the best lines that someone wrote to me in July of 2016 - “Thank you for being a living, breathing, real-life example of how life is too short and you should live every day as if it were your last. I feel like I’ve lived more in the past 3 days than I have in this entire year.”
Proud of that cheesy one. ;)
I had my candle collection, my books, my old records (without a record player, from when I was in a strange ‘hipster’ phase). All of these things would’ve been in boxes. As far as residency goes, I would have been checked off on all of our appropriate emergency medicine procedures: lumbar punctures and central lines and chest tubes. I would have finished answering some of my board review questions. I would have been getting a certificate of completion, a paper showing that I was, indeed, ready to become an ER attending physician. I would have gone out afterwards with all of my co-residents, and we would have cheers’d to the next chapter of our lives. One last “Cheers!!!”
But the things that were supposed to happen just didn’t end up happening. And here I am today, getting ready to take my nighttime medications before checking my blood pressure, my temperature, my blood sugar. Enalapril, amlodipine, tacrolimus, mycophenolate. My nightly protein shake is ready on the kitchen counter. Ugh, routine. I have a migraine headache, and it’s making me feel like I need to go to sleep early tonight.
Of course I think about what could’ve, should’ve happened. I could have been graduating. I should have gone to the doctor earlier. And of course, there are the days where I’m angry or sad or just a little bit jealous of others my age … just casually living their best lives. They get to go to the movies without wearing masks. They don’t have to worry about death by food poisoning. And they get to drink all of the RedBull and all of the vodkas (and all of the RedBull-vodkas) that they want to.
But thinking so much about the past will never help me move on. And sometimes, I laugh about all of this. It makes me feel better. Life is funny— it shouldn’t be taken so seriously.
Most of the time, I’m comfortable with my situation and where it has gotten me, what it has taught me. Not many get to experience this crazy but incredible thing that has changed my life forever. And so much good has truly come out of it. I’ve met so many good people (who have gone on to become some of my CLOSEST friends - Chip, this is for you), and I’ve helped a few others (or so they say). And also, I’m just a badass for handling all of it. I mean, who even goes to work a short few months after dying?
I forgot to mention … This scar on my chest is a great conversation-starter. And, as it turns out, I’m a great storyteller. Ask me about my scar, I’ll give you the craziest story that you’re ever going to hear in your life. You’re going to tell me that I should write a book about it. I’m going to give you the URL to my “Instafamous” blog.
But would I rather have just been graduating today?
I don’t know.
To end this one, here are some of the MILLION photos I have on my phone over the last three years of residency, PRE-transplant ;)