After the hype of October, November always seems to be the forgotten month (besides Thanksgiving, of course). The weather turns cold, the days fall into a mundane routine, and the thought of the dreaded finals looms overhead like a thunder-bearing sky. However, one thing I have failed to touch upon among all the excitement of the past few months is the single ray of sunshine that forces its way through the dark, ominous clouds: clinic. Clinic is such a small, yet crucial part of second year, because it serves as a constant reminder of what waits at the end of the long, treacherous tunnel. This semester my rotation is located at Boston Medical Center, a top-ranked student hospital. Although some people may frown upon the thought of attending clinic on a Friday afternoon, it is something I look forward to each week. Not only do I witness a plethora of interesting cases, from scleral lens fittings to diabetic retinopathy, but I have also formed bonds with the upperclassmen who have made it their mission to “take me under their wing” and show me the ropes. Every day they provide me the opportunity to work up their patients (even if I take twice as long), take me aside to show me unusual findings, and always offer feedback on how to improve my skills. Another small yet treasured highlight of my day in clinic is when everyone, including some preceptors, takes a half hour out of their busy schedule to just sit, eat lunch, and share funny stories. During times like these we strengthen our trust and friendships with one another that allow us to work as a team rather than just independent doctors doing our jobs. It motivates us to help each other out, whether it is lending a hand during busy times, or staying late just to show me what an aphakic eye looks like.
But now it is time to leave the world of optometry behind for a few days. As I sit here on the train back to Jersey, I stare out my window, entranced by the world outside these tinted windows. I watch as the poles whiz past me in the forefront, triggering optic flow, a phenomenon I learned about in one of my classes (it seems that I can never escape optometry). Life is so much slower, more relaxed outside the walls of the brownstone city and I feel the stress lifting off my shoulders into the crisp winter air. The rain beats on the window like a soothing lullaby. I watch two raindrops race each other to the bottom pane, as I am taken back to a much simpler time when the only thing worth worrying about was what snack I was going to eat that day. It is strange how we spend so many years fighting for our independence, whether it’s passing our driver’s test, buying our own food, or renting our first apartment. When we finally reach this “adult life” we have so long coveted, however, we happily revert back to our child-like selves, reveling in the protection and doting of our families. Returning home for break feels like entering a time-machine. Our neighborhood seems exactly the way we left it, as if the past six years were only a dream. We meet up with old friends, as if on a typical weekend night. Everyone should be different somehow since so much has happened during the time spent apart, yet everything has stayed strangely the same. As we all sit together, enjoying the same inside jokes, I realize that what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving is not only the good food, money, or health, but especially these snapshots of laughter, love and fellowship, whether between long-time friends, or newly-formed ones in clinic. It’s such moments that encourage me through the hard times and make it all seem worthwhile in the end.
Since I will hereby sign off until the New Year, I just wanted to wish my NECO friends good luck with finals and all of you, my faithful readers, a very happy holiday season!!