Electing to Experience

The typical cliche is “my, time flies when you’re having fun.” And it is so very true. I know this to be true.

Because right now, I am having fun.

I’ve started off my summer electives with two weeks in radiology at the Royal Alexandra hospital in Edmonton. I’m still not sure why I picked now, a month and a day to my wedding, to busy myself further, but I don’t care what my original motives were. Because these last three days have been the best time I’ve ever had at “work” (it’s still school, but it’s not lecture) before.

Don’t misunderstand me; I am by no means a whiz at radiology. I definitely spend a large proportion of my day not being sure what I’m looking at. This is a good thing, as the whole point of doing an elective is to learn about what you don’t know. But the proportion of “I don’t know” versus “I do know” is changing at an incredibly fast rate.

An example: On Monday, I attended rounds and started in awe at the nifty pictures, vaguely aware of the orientation or slice we were viewing. Then I spent a day studying teaching files and getting oriented. Yesterday, I attended the same rounds, and I was able to say “this picture is better/worse compared to the day before” and “I think the main abnormality here is _______”– And I was occasionally correct!

I still don’t know that much about radiology, which is highly appropriate, because it’s been only three days. But the experiences I’ve had are phenomenal, and I can feel my knowledge growing, but in a way that feels good.

Really, everything right now is awesome.

Yesterday, I went into the interventional radiology suite and watched a few procedures. I wore scrubs and the lead skirt, vest and thyroid guard. (Eeeee!) I watched live procedures and had the radiology fellow tell me about what was going on. No one was annoyed with me for being there. It was hours of standing, but so, so cool.

Today, a very kind resident who had just come off of call sat down with myself and the other medical student taking this elective and spent the entire day– note: the entire day that he could have spent at home sleeping and recuperating from being on call– going through plain film cases. Now I know what bowel gas should and shouldn’t look like. And I won’t forget to look at soft tissues on x-ray!

It’s only taken three days, but I’ve become the kind of person who not only says “whoo! Bowel gas!” but I’m also the kind of person who can (at a very beginner level) appreciate whether or not it is normal or abnormal. And I like feeling myself expand in this way.

After two long years of largely sitting in lecture, staring, and trying to make information stick in my reality, I’m feeling it just wash over me. I used to be worried about third year; now, I’m not sure if I care that I could be exhausted and frustrated and confused for the majority of it. Because I feel like a seed that has finally received some water. And I thirst.


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