(I guarantee you this is not what it sounds like.)
Last week, we began a new unit, called “Homeostasis.” I am wholly unclear what “homeostasis” means, but it sounds important. The previous unit was all about the various infections you could catch and how your body tried and/or failed to fight them off; this unit is about the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
Everything about the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
The first three weeks or so are about the cardiovascular system, which is a lot to cover in fifteen days’ worth of class. So we got thrown right in. Day one, lecture one: anatomy of the heart. Okay, not bad. Day one, lecture two: fifty-two slides and 36 pages of notes on “The Heart As A Pump.”
Day one, lecture three: 51 slides on the anatomy of “nerve stuff” (I can’t remember because my head detached from my body around 9:39AM and rolled, unceremoniously, down the lecture hall stairs).
I could go on, but you’d do exactly what I did – stop paying attention.
I walked out of Day 1 feeling like an overzealous cardiologist practicing golf with a 5-iron took me out with a backswing. Everyone hurt. No one felt good.
I was getting ready to fire back up Medical Student Demeanor, which is a variant on “I hate everything and everyone, and unless you have free food for me I would like to go back to sleep now.” Some of my classmates already had Medical Student Demeanor going full gear.
Then I realized that for as hard as med school is, it isn’t as hard as what 90% of other people my age are doing. Why? Because there are weekdays – multiple weekdays, in fact – where neither I nor any of my classmates are required to wear pants. It’s glorious, and no it’s not what you think. Allow me to explain:
If I want, I can come to class wearing sweats left over from high school and a t-shirt with holes in it, because I don’t have to be a Big Shot Professional yet (I’ve been there, it sucks). If I want, when class ends around noon on those magical “Self-Directed Learning”* days, I can go home and go for a run, or (more likely) park my fat ass on the couch and watch reruns of Criminal Minds. If I want, I can sit in the back of the lecture hall, taking terrible notes and thinking up triumphant, snarky/witty Snapchat captions for the picture I just surreptitiously obtained of the sound-asleep guy next to me drooling on his MacBook Air.
(Not everyone in my med school class hates me. Yet.)
*Note: Self-directed learning is med school code for “you have an enormous amount of material to study today, so… you should probably go home early to watch ESPN and plow your way through a pack of Doritos and a Wendy’s Baconator combo.”
Leaving aside the spectacularly detrimental effects of performing most of the above actions with any regularity, most of the time most people wear normal clothes. Even I do, because I don’t want to give off the impression that I’m coming to class with a communicable illness.
That said, it’s great to have the option. This is what Not Having The Option looks like:
At this exact time last year, Corporate Nate, wearing Nice Work Clothes, was trudging home late from work in a torrential downpour because the Metro was broken (DC people are nodding vigorously) and Hurricane Sandy was finishing up sinking the Eastern Seaboard. Corporate Nate had been required to report to work that day, along with the rest of the civilized world. The med students likely got to stay home and watch lectures on their computers. Probably while wearing sweatpants.
Corporate Nate returned home, now most certainly in requirement of a great dry cleaner, to find his consultant roommates throwing a Hurricane Sandy Party. And drinking hurricanes.
Med school is a serious comfort upgrade. Minus the Golf Club Backswing of Knowledge straight to the face that seems to happen every day.
(For those of you that know me well, yes, blogging on a Monday means I’m procrastinating.)