Embracing Real Self-Care

Tea Break

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m grasping at the edge of a comfortable new existence. I’d probably be cradling a cup of chamomile tea, letting its calm warmth radiate through me. The past few months have been hard, more demanding than I could possibly have imagined. I suspect that no one who has experienced this kind of curriculum truthfully expresses how difficult it can be. Dwelling on the hardships would make the experience unbearable. As a way of shielding the uninitiated from undue mental anguish, this lie of omission might be effective. Unfortunately, it also downplays the importance of developing successful coping strategies. I mention “coping strategies” not to dwell on the negative, but simply to be realistic. It’s not always reasonable to aim for mastery in vet school. Coping with the curriculum and achieving proficiency—while striving to maintain mental fortitude and physical wellbeing—is essential, however. On an everyday basis, this means finding a way to make the best use of every hour and every ounce of strength at my disposal. And that necessitates embracing an idea that once made me cringe. Read more

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It Ricochets Off the Heart

Each morning, we coalesce in a sleepy fog, winding our way up two stories of spiraling stairs. At the entrance to the anatomy lab, refrigerated air heaves the sweet, pungent tang of formalin into somnific faces. The first blow lands hard, without fail. Fluorescent lights sting bleary eyes. Acrid fumes burn their way up nasal passages, down tracheas, through bronchi, and deep into the minute alveolar sacs of each pulmonary lobe, radiating an analgesic chill in their wake.

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Make Mine Rocket Fuel

afternoon coffee

If we were having coffee, I’d say make mine rocket fuel. That’s the only way I’ve been able to combat the dreadful midday slump that plagues me each afternoon. Have you ever been so tired that you feel drunk? The kind of tired that congeals the very air around you? Bogs you down, slows your step and mires your mind as if in quicksand? That’s how I feel after my first two weeks of classes. But, I take some comfort in the knowledge that every veterinary student feels that way, if not constantly, at least frequently.

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The Times They Are A-Changin’

Black Coffee

If we were having coffee, mine would be shockingly strong. I need something to wake me up, because I’m emotionally and energetically drained. I would put on my best bright-eyed and bushy-tailed mask, and try to escape my state of mind. Your company would cheer me up, and bring a sincere, unaffected smile to my face. Talking to someone instead of turning my thoughts over endlessly inside my own head would be a welcome change. Read more

Downtime

The past few weeks have been unimaginably hectic! I’m used to functioning at full throttle, but not like this. I finished up my own classwork earlier in the month, and wrapped up my work for the class I was teaching around the same time. Then came a week of graduation ceremonies and all of the school and family celebrations that accompanied them. I spent the following week moving out of my apartment, and cursing myself for accumulating such an ungodly quantity of stuff in a third floor walk-up. Finally, I brought the month to a close by performing bridesmaid duties for my friend Ellen at Pretty Neutral. All the while, I’ve been keeping up with the endless administrative requirements for my upcoming first year in veterinary school. Read more