M1s: Oh, child neurology? Cool! I heard in child neurology you just play with kids. True?
Me: Sort of, yeah! I mean, young kids don’t exactly follow commands, so to some extent you’re just watching them play and trying to elicit reactions from them with pen lights and toys.
M1s: Cool. But… child neuro is really sad, right? I mean, so many deaths.
Me: Sure. But their deaths are nowhere near as sad as those of the adults. Like, Internal Medicine. So sad.
M1s: … wait, how is Internal Medicine sad?
Me: Well… every day, you deal with people who have wasted their whole life without doing anything they set out to do. And now it’s too late. And that dawning realization, seeing them realize they’re at the end of their life and it was all futile – it’ll haunt you.
And when you’re not with them, you’re with patients who you know will die the same way, with the same regrets – except, they won’t follow your warnings, so there’s nothing you can do to stop them. You’re powerless against their naive optimism that they won’t die of a stroke, they won’t die of a heart attack, they won’t leave their family alone.
But they will.
As will you.
See – every day you are confronted with existential terror that overwhelms you until you can no longer comfortably ignore its hopelessness. It’s no longer in the periphery of your vision – it’s the focal spot. So, despite the occasional pinprick of brightnesss and good outcomes, the overbearing futility of living becomes like a dark black cancer on your soul that grows and grows until you no longer feel anything – just numbness.
Even the patients who thought they had meaningful lives – you will watch their memory fade as they become present less and less until there is nothing. And you will realize the futility of life: a truth you will never again escape.
Me: Welp! Good luck on the first anatomy test! I recommend the practice questions – they’re great! See you later byyeeee.