Monday, June 4, 2007

Selfish Love

Scutmonkey has a great post about the trials of being medical student. I’ve only recently uncovered his blog and believe it to be a great asset and hope that he finds the readership he deserves. His post got me thinking about something I’ve discussed in the past, but are now lost to that damn delete error a while back.

Training to be a physician has got to be one of the most exciting, excruciating, and mind-numbing processes out there. In order to succeed through this mess known as medical school one must be inordinately self absorbed. It takes a true narcissist to look at the time commitment, mountains of books and information requisite, the destruction of personal enjoyments, and the numerous physicians who warn against applying to medical school and still believe they’ll get through it smelling like roses. Frequently a feeling of "being the best student in the school" pervades the egos of students.

Often there is someone with you as you traverse this system, either from pre-med school or they arrive sometime during. If they are not embroiled in this system they are too often lost to it. Casualties of the war between professors, peers, administration, nurses, attendings, and oneself.

Marriages seem to be the harder battle to lose, but all too often a once happy union is dissolved as one of the partners navigates the storm-tossed waters of medical training. Infidelity often is a reason, but far more common is the complete loss of self. The fact that the partner has changed and is no longer recognizable to someone who once loved them unconditionally.

Personally I think there should be adjustments to wedding vows once someone enters medical school: Till death or medical training do us part.

The demands of the profession allow for nothing short of a life of solitude. Expectations of superiors are of the self-less, ubiquitous, omniscient resident and/ or student. A life outside the hospital is for the weak. Your own loved ones are secondary to the “call of medicine” and therefore are not your primary concern. I have actually heard an attending say that family comes second to patient care.

To increase the discord between partners is the fact that many people will never understand the process, failures, victories, and absolutely demanding nature of medical training. It is an enigma to many: how can you be tired after sitting on your butt for 9 hours when I worked hard all day long?

Anytime there is a partnership where one person takes on a task that becomes incredibly demanding of their time you can expect failure. It’s natural to want to be appreciated, loved, touched, and have feelings reciprocated. It’s also natural to feel wrath and disgust towards anyone who, once so willing, no longer exchanges emotional currency.

1 comment:

> ScutMonkey said...

Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply and PR for my new blog. Still trying to find a voice out there.

I know a large percentage of my class has experienced a lot of pain trying to bride the gap medical school has created with their personal lives. It seems that many of the relationships that start within medical school are transient. Many that start outside of medical school are doomed to failure due to the large gap in each person's realities. There have been a few marriages during the first two years, but the majority appeared to be attempts to salvage a bond that might resist the wedge medical school was driving between them. (Not sure how those will turn out) By far, the people that seem to be doing best in a relationship are those that had a very healthy, strong relationship before they entered.

I have resolved to avoid any real intimate commitments until my intern year is over at least. What is so hard is that the stress of school make the idea of a partner super appealing. With the stress the affection & understanding is sorely needed at times. What I am unwilling to do is turn around and hurt that same person that was there for me when I am not be capable of being there for them when they need me.