As we all know, life has a way of coming at us in waves and sometimes all the extraneous things must be let go of, so all effort can be focused on not being swept out to sea. After all that effort, it feels wonderful to surface again.
Last Friday, I took my anesthesia oral boards. Should I pass, this will have been my last exam and I can finally be board certified. There are people who just sail through the stress and preparation of the exams. I am not one of those people. Every thing surrounding this exam overwhelmed me. It crept into every aspect of my life. I couldn't focus on family activities. I was overwhelmed with small tasks, such as meal preparation and cleaning. I didn't sleep well for weeks.
I didn't use to be like this. I'm not sure if it's due to being a little bit older and not having the mental resilience of a 20 year old. Maybe the last decade of accumuated stress and sleep deprivation has impaired my coping mechanisms. As an undergraduate, I scheduled my MCAT exam on the same day as I was supposed to be moved out of my apartment, which was the weekend after I finished spring semester finals. I don't remember being overwhelmed by this or thinking it was a bad idea. I just did it. Everything got done and there was no crying.
The last few months were completely different. Showering suddenly felt like a huge drain on my energy reserves. I scaled back family meals to be all easy to prepare items, but sometimes even putting frozen burritos in the oven felt overwhelmingly taxing.
One of the questions I was asked frequently when I interviewed for residency was "How do you cope with stress?" I'm not sure the answer I gave then, but it was probably like vague and standard like doing outdoor activities, spending time with my family, or doing yoga. My answer definitely was with how I deal with stress now, which is shutting myself in my closet with a bag of chocolates while having a good cry and avoiding real responsibility.
The oral board exam itself was horrid. I was warned before hand that I would feel terrible when the exam was over and to prepare myself for that. Even with that heads up, how bad I felt afterwards was unexpected. It's one thing to sit in front of a computer, doing multiple choice questions, knowing that the answer is somewhere in on the screen, and if I'm unsure I can always come back and readdress the question. It is quite another thing to sit in front of two ABA physicians, getting grilled about multiple aspects of diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing complication management, and have all my professional shortcomings laid out in front of me, like a murder scene where my education and training is the victim.
I have moments, even now, days after the exam, where a wave of panic engulfs me as I think about the possibility of failing and having to do the whole process again.
But for now, it is done and there is nothing to do except breathe in, breathe out, reenter my daily life, and wait the six weeks for the result.
Add to all this, Hubster is in the most challenging portion of dental school. He frequently is in the lab until late at night, sometimes coming home for dinner and then returning to school and working long past when the children have gone to bed. He's tired and stressed.
In the past, one of us as always had the energy reserves to pick up the slack when the other was overwhelmed. These last few months, with both us pushed all out. The loose ends have just been left loose. The house plants wilted and the floors went uncleaned and there were more fast food meals than anyone wants to admit.
But just as winter is finally leaving and spring is starting to show herself, hopefully this is also a time for me to start fresh, leaving all the stress behind.
It's nice to be back.