Chairs Missing by Joe, resident at the New England College of Optometry


Beyond the Wall

It's quickly approaching the middle of December, which means that we are almost at the halfway point of the residency year. Only fourteen more days until the shortened weeks that fall around Christmas and New Years. Having short work weeks back to back means the time is going to fly by even faster than before. Before we know it, we will be beyond halfway and deep into winter, which is simultaneously exciting and dread inducing.

I enjoy New England in the winter, especially when snow covers everything and the landscape takes on a foreign quality, like you moved for the season and are living in an entirely different place for a few months. A fresh, white blanket of snow can be a beautiful backdrop to a long hike or snowshoe adventure on some cold weekend morning. On the other hand,with my long commute and 15 year-old economy sized car, I'm hoping that global warming wins out again this year and New England has a mild, relatively snow-free winter. But probably that is unlikely; the forecast next week is predicting an ice storm Monday and snow later in the week. And unfortunately, the VA is open no matter what, so calling out due to inclement weather is simply not an option. I may have to purchase spiked snow tires to survive!

As I write this, I am sitting in a completely empty Pre-Clinic on the NECO campus. When I arrived this morning, I noticed how calm and quiet the building seemed. The holiday decorations are up around the building, and they glowed in silence as I walked up that familiar spiral staircase. Now I'm not at all somebody who loves the traditional sights and sounds of the holidays, in fact I'm a person who tends to get grumpier during the season. You might say I'm somewhat of a Grinch during the holidays. (I was born in Springfield, birthplace of Dr Seuss, after all.) That said, I have to admit that the holiday decor against the backdrop of its  historic architecture seems to make even the cavernous space of the rotunda that much more cozy and inviting. And with nobody around, it was almost like I stepped back in time, to when the building was an actual home, inhabited only by the small wealthy family that built it.  I'd forgotten how 424 Beacon can evoke these moments of reflection. Not being here everyday makes me re-appreciate the unique presence and charms of the building itself.  It can simultaneously be an echo of the far past, the immediate past and the future all in the same moment. This is something that you tend to overlook and let blend into the background after awhile of being a student here. Coming back on rare occasions allows you to be like an outsider, seeing it for the first time again. Pretty cool.

So while it's a ghost town up on the fourth floor, when I walked down on break to the library. it was an absolute zoo. There was not a single open desk to found in the reading room. You see, it's a week until the students take final exams and therefore no one wants to come in to practice skills in Pre-Clinic, not with stressful finals time looming over their heads. It's strange to consider how different my mindset is  two years later versus seeing how tired and stressed everyone is down the library. Finals stress to me now seems so foreign that when I saw it on the students' faces today, I could barely remember what it was like, like there was another person inhabiting my body back when I was deep in studying mode. It's moments like this that remind me how nice it is to be done with student life. As you may have guessed from this post's title, I've been having fun being able to read recreationally now that I have some free time.

As far as clinic life is concerned, it's been a fairly routine few weeks since my last post, with one exception. Our group of fourth year interns changed and it was really sad to see the old group go; we were more attached to this group because they were our first group that we worked with for a full three months at our site. The new group is really good, too, but they are still in the process of learning our electronic medical record system and how to efficiently see a VA patient. Eventually they will be the first group that we precept on a daily basis, probably after the New Year.  It will be another interesting transition as the teaching role of the residency ramps up.

Other things are going to ramp up and/or change in the remaining residency year as well. In the next post, I'll talk all about that and more, but for now I take my leave. It's going to be a very interesting final 6 months and I hope you'll join me. As this is my last post of the year, I wanted to include a few works of thanks. I have recently run into more people than I thought who say they read this blog, so to them I am thankful! I hope everyone reading this has a a good holiday season and I'll see you all in 2014! Boas ferias!

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