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Catherine Fischer

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Time Passes... [Mar. 25th, 2004|06:53 pm]
Catherine Fischer
The sun rises, the sun sets, the days blur together. I have never memorized the schedule for this semester’s classes. Finals start in a week. At the end of them, I’ll be seeing my family – sailing with my brother & sister-in-law, my aunt; hiking the rainforest with my Dad. Very little feels real. The Disconnect is setting in early this semester. I still wake crying most mornings, but frequently don’t remember the dreams. I only feel like I come to life in the few moments I interact with others…but sometimes I feel like I’m watching myself perform.

Have my ludicrously overpriced books for next semester – lots of really cool pictorial surgery texts. Have my surgery pack, towels, sheets, gowns, gloves, face masks. Shining instruments, entirely mute…will I do well, I wonder? Will my hands shake? Or will it come naturally, after assisting in so many surgeries? Will I still want to specialize in surgery? I bought a collar and lead for our surgery doggie, whoever he or she will be. Have my surgery group – one of my lab partners from anesthesiology this semester decided to stick with me, which warms my heart; I have a lot of respect for her, and really enjoy working with her. Despite the fact that our anesthesia dog tries inexhaustibly to hump her leg. (When I showed her the doggie collar today, she noted that it was rainbow-striped, and asked “will our doggie be gay?” I answered “that would be nice…he won’t hump your leg, then!”) So many hopes, so many plans.

Last Saturday was the White Coat Ceremony, in which 5th, 6th and 7th semesters were formally inducted into the veterinary medical profession, as we begin our clinical (i.e. hands-on) training. Dr. Gyimah, who made the introductions and opening remarks, was in rare form…I had forgotten how funny the man is. (He’s our Associate Dean, in charge of all the room and class scheduling, and teaches virology and immunology. He was one of my favorite profs.) The oath, administered by the Dean, has been adapted from the one used in the human medical profession, time out of mind; nothing was unexpected, and it wasn’t actually a graduation…but somehow, after the professors I love and respect called my name and put the coat on me and shook my hand, congratulating me, I felt different. The coat, still white (as it wouldn’t be in short order if I wore it working on campus), hangs in my closet, and I still throw on the same beat-up old hand-me-downs in the morning, but somehow, I’m able to put on a bit of the pride and dignity with my clothes…and remembering Dr. Mohr’s speech on what will not come with the coat, I hope that I’ll be able to earn the respect.

This Saturday is our awards ceremony – I’ll be picking up an award for my grades last semester (Provost’s list), an appreciation award for being the editor of the paper (throw a bone to the sucker), and I just got a call from one of my all-time favorite teachers, telling me that I won the Novartis Parasitology award, for my work last semester. This is the first time I’ve won a solitary award (only one person gets it, each semester)…hearing the news made my day. Of course, I’ll be showing up in badly-worn clothes, a terrible do-it-yourself haircut, and with a giant carbuncle on my face…

My whole household is like that: one giant stressed-out wounded ward. Lucien is wearing a cone-collar, because his eosinophilic granuloma complex has flared up again (basically, an allergy that makes his tummy itch to the point he licks it raw, and it gets infected). Dante went through a procedure requiring general anesthesia on Tuesday, and he’s been licking the shaved spots on his front legs raw (where they put the catheters in). His bandages make him look like Mr. Flashdance kitty. I still don’t know if the sample we got from his lungs was diagnostic or not, or what he has, if it was. Ye gods and goddesses, am I ever looking forward to the break.

My hair is finally long enough I can get it (mostly) into a tiny pony tail – finally, I don’t have to wear a dew-rag to keep my hair out of my eyes, nose and mouth. (And out of my way while working with patients.) It sort of feels like a knob on the back of my head…I envision slides of blood smears exhibiting Heinz bodies, which look like red blood cells with noses. I must look like that in profile. Just so long as no one tries tweaking the knob, to see what will happen.

Mystery. At the beginning of last semester, which was the last time I was virtuous and exercised regularly, I used to walk early in the morning to the top of the steep hill I live on, avoiding the large aggressive packs of dogs, and watch the colors of day unfold. On the way up, I used to hear the faint, electronic sounds of Für Elise, badly done. I envisioned some kid on a cheap synthesizer, banging away, never making any progress. Mystery solved. Last week, I came home early from class – early enough to be here when the garbage was picked up, which I never had been, before. The garbage truck was emitting – at Caribbean volumes – the bad electronic rendition of Für Elise, every time it stopped. Had a long moment of vertigo, being reminded that I still live in the land of the self-parody. I doubt anyone here would understand just how ludicrous that is.

Everyone’s heard of “phantom limb” syndrome, right? Where the stump of severed nerves generates pain that the brain perceives as being in a limb which is no longer there? I’m suffering “phantom ring” syndrome, currently. I have worn that ring – that promise – for so many years, now…all day, the still-bruised flesh where I twisted it off dry, violently, whispered sensation: “turn the ring, the stone is under”. Unconsciously, I twisted my finger all day. It’s still a little scarred, where the ring used to sit. I suppose that’s appropriate. Eventually, I’ll get used to the absence.