The green mile

Slowly hitting me recently is the realization that we are really and truly coming down the back stretch.  Of our school careers, I mean.  We’ve been professional students for the past 8 years and it’s time to close that chapter and open a new one already.

Of course, contrary to the usual damning implication of the term, our own particular Green Mile is one of optimism and buoyancy, a light at the end of the tunnel (bonus: it’s not a train, even!)  Rather than plodding along to our impending deaths, we’re engaging in quite the opposite: feeling like we’re being released from prison, free to go forth and palpate…without having to get an approval signature.

It didn’t come easily.  A six-figure price tag and a brain and body half-eaten by itself for unknown reasons (although place your bets and roll the dice on stress as a prime suspect) and through undiscovered mechanisms are part of the collection of battle scars I have to show for three years of being pressure cooked.  Oh, and there was that little tiff over the break between Trimesters 1 and 2 in which the word “divorce” was uttered for the first time–and we weren’t even legally married yet (unless you count common law, which I’m sure Texas does).

But as Momma always said, “that which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger” and “this too shall pass” and as usual, she was right, annoying as it was at the time.  We emerged licking a few wounds and picking up some rubble, but with shiny new doctor degrees, twin bachelor’s degrees for good measure (each), and a whole new outlook on life, the universe and everything.  No thanks to our school, we’re a lot more confident and secure in our outlook and our philosophy and the foundation from which we operate and execute our original plan to save the world.  The details have changed but the main idea is the same, and the message is stronger and straightforwardly stated with gusto and enthusiasm.  No longer do we parrot what we hear at seminars and rah-rah chiro-pep-rallies, but we have compiled all the data we’ve learned and come up with our own protocols and explanations.  We’re coming into our own, as people and as doctors.  We’re finding our place in the world and in the healthcare system, both conventional and complementary/alternative.  We’re finding our place and staking our claim on life.  And it feels pretty dang good.

If I’ve counted correctly, there are only about 7 weeks of school left.  Yeah, that’s a bit unnerving.  Right now I’m surrounded by fellow students and attending faculty doctors who’ve forgotten more knowledge than I have learned thus far.  They are my security blanket; if I have a question, if I’m in a jam, or if I’m in over my head, I can excuse myself for a second and take a couple steps and voila: I’m standing next to the doc and I can ask him my question.  If I do something that isn’t quite right, he can help me out of the jam and share most of the responsibility.

Not so in the real world.  When you’re out in practice, it’s all YOU.  You need not go down the hall to get a signature before you render treatment, but you also don’t have anyone to lean on should any bad juju rear its head.

Still, I keep my head held high and I look forward.  Forward to the day where our commute is the calm placid I-10 instead of white-knuckled I-35E just before Loop 12.  Forward to the day where every other car isn’t a BMW.  Forward to the day where I can actually feel an adrenalin rush again and know the difference because it’s an isolated occurrence, versus having a constant level in my system.  Forward to the day where we spend time in a place we enjoy, with people we actually want to interact with.  (My friends and school faculty have all rocked and I have enjoyed all of them, don’t get me wrong – but the general population of Dallas has left a lot to be desired.)  I look forward to not hearing subwoofers cruising down the alleys in what should be a quiet neighborhood–or not having alleys at all, for that matter.  I look forward to a view of the horizon that does not contain a faint layer of brown crap, forward to regular gas instead of the reformulated “environmentally friendly” crock that ironically gets 5 fewer miles out of every single gallon.  Forward to a day when I can browse through a store at the mall without being hounded so intensely that I end up leaving before I would’ve otherwise liked to.  Forward to living in a place where it is still not OK to be rude, still considered stupid to text or talk on the phone while driving, and where people still holler “bless you” a couple aisles away when you sneeze in the grocery store.

Yep, the pain of selling the sweet, comfortable, peaceful, hand-in-glove-fitting sanctuary that is our house will eventually be overtaken by the utter freedom we feel by just being able to leave this materialistic, empty, soulless, stressed-out, burnt-out hellish rat-race that is Dallas and actually breathe real air and breathe real life back in.  To flush the excess adrenaline out of our blood and restore our faith in humanity, to observe what humanity should be like (and still is like everywhere except in select few special snowflaky places).

And I know how fast 7 weeks can go.  The trimester started 7 weeks ago.  I remember the 6-7 weeks before our wedding last year.  I remember how it flew by before we even had time to process it.  It wasn’t long ago that I wasn’t ready for it to be happening this fast, but now I think I am.  I’m getting there, anyway.  A few months ago, we found one mentor, reunited with another from years ago, and decided what our gameplan will be for at least the next 5 years, maybe more.  It’s impossible to say, since things change so fast.  But I’m getting ready.  I’m ready to stop massaging, I’m ready to stop sitting in rush hour.  I’m ready to stop looking at neighbors and alleys.  I’m ready to stop living next to strangers (we still don’t know most of our neighbors, and from the looks of some, I’m not sure we would even want to).  Yeah, I’m getting ready.  It’s time.  Time for that last mile.

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