It’s an annoying preoccupation these days. I try to brush it off but it sticks to me like the base scent of an exotic perfume. There’s an endless ticking I hear in the clock of my mind. A bell is tolling somewhere, and my senses are heightened even if I refuse to listen to it. It’s almost numbing.
While every doctor at the end of residency training faces these dilemmas, I'm facing mine a year too late. Mine is a case of suspended animation. I had to spend an extra year within the comfortable embrace of this institution. And though I frequently complain of suffocation, now that I'm about to be set free, I'm having a terrible case of separation anxiety.
Cold feet. Intense trepidation. Pathologic apprehension about my next course of action. There will be a multitude of opportunities deliberately discarded for the pursuit of something uncertain . There will be bandits and robbers met along the way. There will be goodbyes to people I have travelled with for years. I leave them at the side of the road hoping that one day I find them again and things will be the same but I'm just sure things will change.
And the worst part is having to deal with all this alone. With no one else to ventilate to, no one to gripe with. Every one else has moved on.
I remember talking to a friend about another friend who had to move to another country on her own. I remember commenting about how brave she was, finding the guts to totally uproot herself and start a new life in a strange place. That time, I said "I can never do that." And my friend told me, "But you've been doing that all your life."
Perhaps this is just another one of those painful extirpations.
Yesterday I sent out letters to the sections of the department requesting for introductory lectures for my incoming first year residents. Last night I talked to Dexter, my successor, about the residents’ administrative posts. Today I spoke to Dr. Ernesto Domingo requesting him to be the commencement speaker during the coming PGH graduation. I also returned all my borrowed x-ray films to Radiology.
Few hours ago, Dr. Dans asked me, “When are you leaving?” Automatically, I answered, “In 43 days sir.”
I didn’t realize I had been counting.