Sunday, June 28, 2009

Common issue among "professionals"

I've debated for over a year and a half mentioning the following in a post, however I feel the need to in light of Michael Jackson's death. I know from expereince that there are people who are silently dealing with this exact same issue and are afriad to speak to someone about it. Hopefully this post will encourage them to talk to someone.

For the past year and a half, I've been in the rather unfortunate situation of dealing regularly with a person with a few additions. And I'm not talking about addition to coffee or working out either. If someone had said to me when I finished high school that at 42, I would NOT be done with med school/practicing and personally know an addict, I would have laughed. Of course the idioticy of that statement is the fact that among professionals, Doctors have the highest rate of drug use and abuse. But I kinda have this savior thing going that I'm trying to get rid of, where I'll try to help people often to the point of not only not benefitting myself, but of hurting myself. And maybe that's part of why medicine is so appealing to me because you frequently get to help people who can't or don't want to help themselves. Unfortunately, the thing about addicts is that you NEVER know that they're going to do and often times the things they do are just down right mean and hurtful. Irronically, most people would be suprised to know that the most highly educated in society often have the deepest demons, which includes being able to carry on everyday as if everything is normal. And because they can carry on everyday like everything is normal, unless you personally know an addict or the signs, picking up on the "clues" isn't something everyone can do. Truth be told, looking back I probably missed a few.

It's interesting because the image most people have of an addict is some minority crack head, with their hair uncombed, track marks on their arms, in dirty clothes, smelling like trash. What I'm telling you is that many addicts and I'm not just talking about drug addicts, wear Versace or Brooks Brothers suits with Prada shoes, smell like Bvlgari, rarely miss a day from work, and wouldn't dare leave the house with their hair not "aqua netted" down.

Unfortunately, this is one of those pieces of information which I shared with 2 adcoms at the 5 year program I applied whom I considered very close "friends", and that I probably should have kept to myself because I'm sure this bit of info didn't help me worth a dam. They probably figured I had too much going on in my life and in retrospect, perhaps they were right. Still, I rest on the idea that everything happens for a reason and 99.99% of the time I'm cool with that especially in light of the fact that I was promoted on my job last week and will get publishing credits for experiments I design for PI's I assist with their histology/pathology lab work.

Speaking of the job, things are going extremely well with my recent pormotion to Lab Manager, so much so that I'm having fun reflecting on the fact that I'm not only at the same professional "level" as the person who fired me back in March, but I'll be paid more than they were paid too. Talk about sweet revenge!!!! And I have to be honest, at this point going to med school any time soon is slowly becoming a distant memory as I began to seriously consider trading my desire to become an MD Pathologist for a PhD Pathologist at least for now. Sure, I'm aware that PhD training in Pathology would never be as enjoyable for me or academically complete as MD/Resident training, and the fact is that there are TONS of unemployed and underemployed PhD's, but the beauty of my situation is that I'd already be in a very well paying job as I'm earning my PhD. And I don't think I mentioned that this would be a free PhD? I figure I'm spending the next few years getting my personal, health, and academic life lined up as perfectly as I can, I may as well get this PhD out of the way since 1) I've always wanted to earn one, 2) I have the opportunity to do it for free and 3) ALL of my recent graduate coursework would transfer into the program. Of course, none of this changes my current study program in preparation for the MCAT next year, but it's really nice given some of the stressors in my life to know that I'm preparing a golden parachute for myself and my family in case my plan "A" has to be changed or significantly altered.

So I guess this post stands as reminder that no matter what stressful or sad thing is going on in your life, there's a always going to be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if you know to look for and expect it, which is exactly how I think God designed it. I also hope this post stands as a shout of support to all the folks who are in the very unfortunate position of loving a person with addiction issues. My prayers are with you, with me, and the addicts we love and are trying desperately to help.

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