The Pause of a Pandemic

Many months have passed between my last post in this digital space and now. In the midst of turbulence (in many domains), the desire to share in this space has been minimal. It seemed silly to say (and echo others) with a statement about how challenging / frustrating / confusing it is to be a trainee during a pandemic, and so I didn’t. Now, on my day off, I wanted to take the time to reflect and to share.

Today marks the start of my second week in the pediatric ICU (PICU). The PICU is a whirlwind of a space: acuity, turnover, harrowing stories, victorious recoveries, and 28 hour calls. I have never been one to enjoy call (quite frankly, I don’t believe they benefit trainees or patients) and I did not fall in love with the PICU when I made my first pass in February of this year (just before lockdown began in Philadelphia). I can’t help but compare my life in February to my life now. In February, I planned the perfect post-call treat after each of my calls which varied between boxing/spin workout classes with friends, interactive art exhibits, dinner dates with my then-boyfriend, and poetry readings at my favorite gallery in Philadelphia. The medicine was hard but my life had such rich balance.

Post-call days are different now. I nap. I cook. I workout in my apartment. I chat with loved ones over FaceTime or Zoom. I interview for jobs (whew another long story). I nap again. I sweep. I pack my lunch for work. The end. The medicine is still hard with new features: new pathologies (MISC), new garb (goggles and masks), and new expectations. The balance feels off. Two days ago, one of my co-residents took a moment to discuss the hardship of the pandemic as providers and as humans. She shared that she felt behind. I told her that I felt the same. In what feels like a never-ending lull, it often feels like we are on “pause.” Some of us have faced grave disappointments in both the personal and professional domains. I’ll share that the cancellation of my opportunities to do global health work (and some pediatric global oncology) which impacted projected research projects and etc. felt like the universe was saying “no” to my hopes/dreams. I’ll share that the impact of COVID on the job market has caused me to question my decision to defer fellowship applications for a year. I’ll share that I wanted to accomplish far more this year than I have.

My co-resident and I made the effort to point out joys (some small, some large) from this period of time. I’ll list mine here to refer back to on a day when I need the encouragement of my own words:

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