As I am graduating mid year, I have to make sure that my scheduling doesn't fall through the cracks and I get enrolled in the things that need to happen so I periodically meet with the Dean to ensure I'm still on track. The very act of going through those motions should prove to myself that I still very much want to be a doctor and finish. Hey, nothing can be taken for granted at this stage.
But lately, I have been reliving the last few weeks of my brother's life and the role I personally played. It's not as if I'm wanting to relive this as it piles stress and pain on to an already broken psyche. I tell my wife that I'm held together by duct tape. And I'm serious. The only person who truly understood the toll from a first hand view that the last 2 days of my brother's life took on me was my mom (my wife was at home in Houston). It became a shared bond between us. And for reasons that are not entirely clear to me, I recently decided to tell my eldest brother. Now he is a highly bright, highly intense man who has served our country as a Ranger and lived through combat. He has wounds, though, like most military men, he is modest about his service and ill at ease to talk about it. I wrote him a long email describing all that happened. His reply was one word. PTSD. That response radically changed my self perception of my struggles. Hearing it from him carried the heft of authority far more than having a doctor diagnose me. He of all people would know.
During my meeting with the Dean, I briefly relayed this story to her to give her an example of how I was doing. She said, "well, of course," as if I was blind. She remarked, "how you are even still here is a testament to your will." I don't know that it changes anything practically for me as I'm doing everything possible to keep putting one leg in front of the other. But it did grant me no small amount of vindication. It's possible to feel weak, wounded and destitute yet still be incredibly strong.