Another July 1st post…2 yrs and 4 months later

I woke up this morning at 3:47am with my heart racing and a heavy feeling. I woke up scared and nervous. Today is July 1st, and I don’t have a set course. I am not starting a new year of medical school. I am not starting a new year of residency. I am not starting my first day of fellowship. Today is July 1st, and I am not in training anymore.

How did this happen? June 19th was my graduation ceremony. That was when I first had the idea of starting this blog. I was lost then. I was broken; I had lost my voice, my value and my confidence. I had forgotten everything that I had gained this last year of training and could only focus on what I had lost. I didn’t  know who I was, what I wanted to bring to this field, or if I could even bring anything to this field. I had thrown away great job opportunities…for what?

A week later, June 26th, I finished my last clinical day of fellowship. I felt better, felt renewed. I remembered why I wanted to pursue this fellowship, and I could reflect on how that vision changed from what it was, to what it is now. That night was the night I wanted to write my first post. There I was, full of hope and light, with a renewed strength and sense of purpose. But I didn’t. For whatever reason, it didn’t feel right. There I was with something to say and share, but I couldn’t write.

Somehow today felt right. Even though I woke up with the same anxiety that is correlated with the same heavy heart that comes with fear or dread associated with a new beginning lacking a starting point, today felt different. I was on a challenging path, but it was one which I knowingly chose.  Somehow, today felt like the first day to start my journey and invite you along.

So, who am I? I am a pediatrician who just completed her fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine. When I started this fellowship, it was because I wanted to fill in the gap that existed in caring for adolescents and children with chronic illnesses. Particularly those with sickle cell disease. I wanted to hold the hands of parents who were in the ICUs helplessly watching their babies suffer and die. I wanted to learn how to give them a voice, so they didn’t feel helpless.

Now, I have finished my fellowship, and I learned I wanted to do all of that, and so much more.

I have fallen in love with caring for adults as well. I enjoy hearing their stories, and meeting their families. I want to hold their hands and give them a voice too!  I “enjoyed” the painful process of learning from these adult families about how I dealt with my sister’s struggle with cancer, and how I am still processing the loss of my father. I learned that I love working with the children of these adult families and helping them normalize– as much as those situations can be normalized.  I learned that I want to continue working internationally, particularly in Nigeria. I still want to incorporate what I have learned in palliative care into my work with children with HIV and AIDs in Nigeria. I learned that I want to continue to work in the arena of public policy, to continue to fight for children who cannot fight for themselves. I learned that I want to advance the field of pediatric palliative care, to take what my mentors, have developed and grow it. I want our patients and parents to have engrained in their heads that pediatric palliative care means living as long as possible, as well as possible. I learned to read what is out there, and to share with others. At the end of my fellowship, I learned that I have a lot to learn, and I have a lot I want to do, and that I am tired. I remembered that I am just out of training.

That is how I arrived here. My first July 1st without any real structure,  job, or security. I choose this path because, well, maybe because I am naive, but mostly because nothing felt right at the time and I needed to heal. In my head I have a plan, and in my heart I have a dream.

July 1st! Here I am with an amazing network of friends and mentors to help me forge my path. Here I am with nine of the best co-fellows anyone could ever ask for to keep me honest. Nine fellows who will help me stay on my path. I am still scared, but I am hoping that  sharing more often will help both myself and others who might find this blog.

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