I have been working 11 hours a day – and 3 weekends in a row. Next week I go on to emergency/ after-hours whereby I am expected to be on the floor from 10pm – 8am within the small animal hospital, or 4pm – 8am if I am on an equine shift. To say I am exhausted is an understatement. I have been fore-going sleep in order to maintain my social life as much as I am able. Last friday night some friends from church and I handed out dinner to the homeless on the streets then caught up over ice cream. And despite having to work in the morning over the weekend, I spent my afternoons reading at the beach and having wine and cheese and learning about sailing from some new friends. I am absolutely exhausted, and I probably look just as terrible. But things will be ok – I will take them as they come.
I haven’t really had time to read for leisure very much, or to write. So here are some sad lines from literature that touched my heart – even though I am not particularly sad at the moment. I think that whilst sadness shouldn’t be romanticised and placed on a pedestal, it is something that must be acknowledged and embraced. There are few emotions that we will feel as often, as deeply or as tangibly in this life, so surely learning to embrace it like an old friend would make our journey on this little blue dot just that much more meaningful.
“Tonight I can write the saddest lines. I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.”
– Pablo Neruda
“She vanished without a trace, swept away by the flow of time and it’s flood of people”
– Haruki Murakami
“It’s strange. I felt less lonely when I didn’t know you.”
– Jean Paul Sartre
“Time was passing like a hand waving from a train I wanted to be on. I hope you never have to think about anything as much as I think about you.”
– Jonathan Safran Foer
“We’re each of us alone, to be sure. What can you do but hold your hand out in the dark?”
– Ursula K. Le Guin
“Your only problem, perhaps, is that you scream without letting yourself cry.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
“I didn’t leave because I stopped loving you, I left because the longer I stayed the less I loved myself.” – Rupi Kaur
“I hid my deepest feelings so well I forgot where I placed them.” – Amy Tan
People often say that the saddest word is “almost”: the notion of things that might have been; of opportunities missed and words unsaid: of regret. But there are so many ways in which “almost” is happy: “He almost did not survive the night”, “I almost decided not to go to the party where I met you”, “I almost lost the courage to call.”
I therefore think the saddest phrase is “It should have been you”. It is heartbreaking no matter which context I put it in. Whether walking down the aisle with the wrong man, or a mother grieving the loss of the son she cared more for.
Vet school is relentlessly unforgiving. There is no rest. I started my clinical placements 3 days after my last exam paper. I spent the week before last at a mixed practice about an hour’s drive from the city. I got to watch my first colic surgery, as well as a number of canine orthopaedic surgeries. This was really cool because whilst we do get a fair bit of live practice with soft tissue surgery in uni, we only got a day to practice ortho procedures on a cadaver. Watching a live TPLO or FHEA really helped to put context to all the procedures I have thus far only tried to make sense of from books. One of the nurses had also found a piglet who had fallen off a transport truck- he was named Wilbur and the entire hospital promptly fell in love with him. 🙂 It was also puppy/ kitten season!
I had my equine rotations last week which consisted of several 24 hour shifts lasting from 7.30am to 7.30am the following day, with all but a 4 hour break in between from noon to 4pm. The work itself is not too difficult, getting up every hour or so to medicate horses can be annoying, but I find that these shifts simply throw my body clock out of synch and I can’t help feeling lethargic for the next couple of days afterwards, even if we do get the next day off to catch up on sleep. On the bright side, this did mean that I if I chose not to sleep the following morning (and often I have trouble falling asleep once it’s light outside anyway), I got a free day to go out and do the things I enjoyed. I have been using all my non-existent free time to hike, climb, run and snorkel- and to soak up the australian summer as best I can. On Friday I had my first swim of the season, and it was glorious. Even the poor water visibility couldn’t dampen my spirits. Unfortunately I did eventually succumb to the exhaustion and promptly fell asleep under the sun and got burnt to a crisp. I am now a comical shade of pink- like a cooked prawn. And it hurts to move.
This week I am on emergency rotation- here is to hoping I don’t get rostered on too many night shifts. I have a week of GP practice following that before I get to fly home and spend Christmas week with my family (and then do another 2 weeks of placements prior to heading back to uni).
I really do value the learning experience and I do try to make the most of it. I am just tired, and I wish we got a bit more of a break to take a breather- to go home and spend time with family and to hug our dogs. I am thankful for earnest doctors who try their best to impart their knowledge on us. But I am also tired and weary of the impatient ones who make me feel small and inadequate- God knows I do enough of that on my own already.
The good news though is that I’ve passed all my exams- I did surprisingly well and ended up with 7 disintinctions. It could be better, but I definitely expected worse and I am thankful nonetheless. This means that I am officially in final year, and that exactly 1 year from now I will (hopefully) be a Dr Jol. 🙂
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!
Source: Poetry (June 1918).
This is my second favourite poem. I found it scribbled on a library desk some time ago, and spent the entire day mulling it over. You know something is special when you are able to recall every well placed semicolon after reading it for the first time. It reminded me that sometimes hopefulness and sadness come together like a pair of Siamese twins; or an aqueous solution of xylazine and ketamine, both soluble enough that you can no longer separate them. Hope is both beautiful and sad. It sometimes weighs down on you like lead boots that have grown too tightly around your feet. I find it strange that no one ever associates hope with tiredness. Hope is not always a new day with new possibilities: it can grow old and stale but ever lingering- perhaps it’s last defining quality.
Despite the sadness and tired hope, it brings me some form of sad comfort that everyone has their own battles to fight. I don’t truly believe that misery loves company- at least not for me. But there is strange comfort in knowing that 97 years ago, Edna fought her battles, and she was alright, and she lived her life. I am not extraordinary, and perhaps I too will fight my battles, and come out scarred, but alright. Is this what hope is?