THRU THE BLACK HOLE
I didn't know if I could survive it; emotionally, mentally and physically. It was the summer halfway through medical school abroad, and I had a decision to make. I suffered from muscle pain, joint pain, liver dysfunction, severe weakness, and was eventually bed-ridden as a 19 year old female from the end of exam season to September, leaving me looking like a zombie. I was categorized as an undiagnosed case by every rheumatologist I unfortunately had the pleasure of meeting. Having a stressful lifestyle of balancing piles of studying, eating gluten-free, being away from family and friends in my formative years, living alone overseas, staying active and mentally healthy, and traveling all the time, I just wanted peace by being home that summer. This time was different.
I ended up being diagnosed with: rheumatoid arthritis with possible lupus, celiac disease, and polymyositis; all big terms that I was familiar with as a med student, but no one else could understand how much this was going to impact my life. I was started on high-dose steroids, and when September came around I had to decide, through the hardest time in my life, if I was to return to school or take a year off? Having been on steroids, I was moody and an insomniac, meaning my mental health was also being effected. These two options both seemed impossible to me at the time, I have always been able to overcome my fears and my weaknesses, but was this going to be my downfall to becoming a doctor? Through much debate with family and physicians, we decided that this was ultimately my decision and I chose to not quit and to return to med school in September.
This came with a whole new unexpected world of problems. I didn't quite quantify how much my parents and friends were supporting me in everything I did that summer. I couldn't walk to my kitchen alone before I left and now I was supposed to go back to a life of stress, exams, rotations, and anxiety in a foreign country? I returned, still on long term steroids, and was thrown into a program that didn't have time for support or room for rest. I had to find in myself the solutions to dealing with chronic disease far away from home. I took up hot yoga, sunrise runs, clean eating, meditation, and naturopathic medicine. Although my physical health was in no shape to guide me, my mental health needed to. Fast forwarding through a lot of tears and self-doubt, I am here today, months from becoming a doctor, telling all of you to push through it. I have overcome adversity, hardship, and constant pressure through this, resulting in a powerful, passionate leader and future doctor; something that I would have never imagined arising. Today I stand strong, motivated, determined, courageous, and confident in my future endeavors and positive in that I will be able to conquer and surpass any problem that will come in the way of my future.