Sunday, September 12, 2010

Four Year Reflections

So many thoughts have been running through my head as this college/MN chapter of my life draws to a close. I thought I would post (one last?) blog entry in my "college blog."

Four years ago...
-My mom was just diagnosed with cancer and we were faced with so much uncertainty. Now she is back to work, full time, and is in great health. What a blessing, and what a journey that was! When I describe that journey to others, it still seems surreal. When people ask how I managed being so far away from home during all of that, I answer that I honestly don't know - you just do. I am occasionally jolted back to all of the emotions of that experience, like recently when I was treating a patient with cancer, or just Friday when I read about a M.M. diagnoses in a patient's chart. I suppose remembering or reliving those emotions from time to time just serves as a reminder of how fortunate we were/are!

-I moved half-way across the country, despite nearly everyone questioning my decision/sanity. I still have to justify my decision on a daily basis, but instead of being tainted by others' doubts, I can say I survived four years away from home and don't think Minnesota is all that bad!

-I had no idea of the challenges, joys, stress, friendships, hardships, and opportunities I would face during my time here in MN. I never would have anticipated planning an Autism camp, traveling to Florida (twice) for conferences, etc. I have certainly had my ups and downs (and I'm not just talking about unsuccessful attempts at gingerbread men), but all-in-all, I can say it's been a positive experience. I am certainly leaving MN a stronger person!

Not so long ago...
-I was terrified of the idea of completing my internship(s) and could not imagine myself functioning as an entry level practitioner. I distinctly remember sitting in our FW intro class last semester, feeling sick to my stomach at the thought of fieldwork. Now, I have a full caseload and am working 98% independently.bWhile it is still very challenging and I don't feel completely comfortable yet (ironically, i have a similarly-sick feeling today, anticipating my last week!), it feels great to have come this far and be doing what I was once (not so long ago!) so fearful of doing. My fieldwork site is very fast-paced, challenging, and not my ideal setting, so I am definitely counting down the days (5, FYI), but I can still appreciate the tremendous learning and growth I've experienced while there. I am grateful that my supervisor and I got along so well, and that I was able to work with a few patients that I know I will always remember!

In the future...
I have no idea. And for a planner like me, that's hard. Apparently it's hard for everyone else, as well, as they all want to know my plans. The next three months are devoted to completing my second fieldwork in Portland. One or two months after that will be devoted to studying for my boards (gulp), and hopefully passing those (insert nausea and hyperventilation). After that, everything is TBD. I still haven't determined my "niche" within the OT world, and have no idea where or what types of jobs will be available. I am in a both difficult and blessed situation -- I have a tremendous support network in two parts of the country, and it's gotten more and more difficult to distinguish which place is "home."

My dad and I will load the car (curious to see if four years of my life fit in my little Subaru) and drive across the country a week from tomorrow. I'll have 1800 miles to reflect on the past four-years! I'm not looking forward to the goodbyes I face in the next 7 days, but I suppose the uncertainty of my future might help what that, knowing that this is not necessarily the "end" of my time in MN. I will also have the reunion with friends and family (and notably, two adorable little nieces!) in WA to look forward to!