How stressed? Twitching all over the body, insomnia for a 1 1/2 month-long stint, and starting to see floaters in my eyes that I was convinced was a detached retina (I've still got those, and hope they go away, optometrist said they're normal). I never knew myself as capable as stressing out as much as I did. One thing started piling onto another, and one of the biggest things causing this stress is medical school and an injury. I got what I believed to be hip bursitis this summer, turned into possibly a 'stuck' Sacro-Iliac Joint, and possibly a labrum tear. It was a funny feeling in my hip that limited my ability to run / bike and do the things I love. I started to get down. It's gotten better over the past 6 months, but not as fast as my mind would like it to. Then the other stress symptoms piled on, and at times in the semester I felt like my world was falling in around me.
My body was falling apart in my mind, and I'm only 23. What did I do to deserve this? Stressing about it didn't help, I knew that, but it didn't stop me from doing it. Dr. Google was my worst enemy, convincing me I had Multiple Sclerosis, Osteoarthritis, or a number of other things. On a bad day, I'd wake up, hypersensitive to my body, just waiting for the first sign of the symptoms of one of my injuries or ailments, and the day would be downhill from there. A turn to Google again to check symptoms, and my mind is in the toilet. God only knows how many forums about personal stories of symptoms I went through. Being in medical school doesn't help either. All of these physical ailments were on top of memorizing the countless bones, brain pathways, and bacteria of the body. With each module, I thought I had something new. Going through the past semester empowered me with just enough knowledge to be dangerous. We have just a smidgen of know-how more than the lay person, giving us the ability to let our minds delve and wander into possibilities not known to the common individual. Sometimes I almost wish I hadn't learned about some of these pathologies, so then I wouldn't have to stress about having them. In my mind, ignorance is bliss.
Reflecting on the past semester, I am in awe at the power of the mind and its ability to manifest itself physically. I'm also reminded that in Medical School, learning about the vulnerabilities of the body, just how vulnerable we as medical students are. Just in these final days of the Christmas Break have I been able to truly slow down, reset, and come up with a game plan for the next semester before Step 1 and clinical years. First, I'm going to make time to meditate and practice mindfulness every day (that I can). It can even be as short as 5 minutes, but I know anything is better than nothing. Second, I'm going to start a yoga routine a couple times a week on top of the exercise I already enjoy. Third, and this is big, I'm going to break my addiction to sugar and lose some weight (25-30 pounds, to be exact). I'm a huge fan of sweets, of all kinds, and so is my waistline. I've already been on track by eating healthier over the past year and a half since leaving college, as seeing people sick can strangely motivate one to take care of themselves. But, on top of this, I am going to attempt to cut carbs and processed food out of my life, and kick the cravings along with it. I'm well on my way, cutting out most bread and pasta a while ago. This'll just be battening down the hatches. Here's to 2015, the year I do it all.