“There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart’s desire. The other is to get it.”
~ George Bernard Shaw, “Man and Superman” (1903), act 4
Right. Well, the night before Match Day, despite my best intentions and precautions, I totally freaked out. And when all the crying and blubbering finally (mostly) stopped, I had to drink a glass of wine and take two benedryl before I fell asleep. Which I did at ohhhhhh, roughly 4 am.
I completely slept through the surgery I’d wanted to go to, and upon realizing this, when The Writer finally, gingerly, roused me approximately 40 minutes before I was supposed to be at the Match Ceremony, I totally freaked out again. I felt horrible about missing the surgery. Probably, completely unnecessarily because my presence was in no way required, no one probably expected me to show up for it, and they probably wondered why h*ll I would want to be there in the first place on Match Day.
I still felt horrible for missing it.
I related all of this to The Professor as I sped home, crying, to get ready for the Match Ceremony. They told me to calm down and get some coffee. Always good advice. I stopped crying long enough to order coffee. When it came, desecrated with the gobs of whipped cream I always, explicitly, opt out of and didn’t have time to get rid of, more crying. (Every freaking time. McDonald’s, You Suck. You and your d*mn ubiquitous whipped cream.)
I dumped the despoiled coffee, took a deep breath and coughed. (I heard Jon Tesh say on the radio once that coughing can stop the impulse to cry. Not that I ever, actually tune into the JT radio show on purpose. I actually think he sounds like an overly-cheerful, borderline pompous, dinghus. I’m sure he’s actually a great guy. Whatever. I was desperate, and it seems to sort of work.) I speed showered, threw on some (relatively) unwrinkled clean clothes, smeared concealer on the raccoon rings under my eyes, and went to face the Match Music.
I think (hope) that I participated and behaved acceptably enough for the Powers That Be. (Even without the sweaty, pastel, OB/GYN-only scrubs I had highly anticipated donning as erstwhile armor against the inevitable.) I don’t remember much of it. I went up and got my envelope, opened it in front of everyone when told to do so (instead of in private as I had been counting on and hoping for), and went up to the front of the room and announced the results when it was my turn.
I did not cry. Thank you Auto-Pilot.
I made menial conversation with the people who stopped by my table and the one med student friend who was also alone and took pity on my aloneness (and probably obvious underlying freakedoutness) and sat with me. (I really appreciate that they sat by me. Thank You med student friend). I tried to eat something. I obediently lined up and smiled for obligatory Match Day pictures.
I slipped out as soon as I thought I had put in an acceptable amount of time of acceptable behavior for the Powers That Be.
I drove around doing errands. I thought about the QOD above, which I’d read earlier in the week on another med-blog. It was a powerful post, which has since been deleted (and I totally understand why), on the things we give up or compromise on in life, in the pursuit of dreams. In the pursuit of an MD.
I got my first choice in The Match, my heart’s desire. It is, possibly, probably the most amazing career opportunity I have ever had in my life. The culmination of, and reward for, years of hard of work and sacrifice. It is also the realization of my deepest fears. A Massive Move to a faraway, completely unfamiliar Big Scary City, A Million Little Pieces of Detail, and worst of all, leaving my loved ones and possibly (probably?) my last, best chance at a family behind.
The finality and irrevocability of it hit me. There is no going back after The Match.
I did not cry. I tried to remember how much I love the work, how badly I want to make the world a better place, and how much this amazing opportunity is going to help me do that. I dialed my shink to schedule an appointment, turned on Mickey & The Motorcars, and kept driving.