My long winded story

I was delighted to come across this forum and am hoping it will be exactly what I need to help me through my journey. I feel it is only appropriate to share my story. Although, I am already 99.9% certain I am ready for a complete career transformation, I am filled with so many unresolved emotions. Fear, excitement, insecurity, jubilance, impatience. I tend to be lengthy with my stories, but I will do my best to keep it brief.

Up until last April of 2012 my life was progressing exactly as planned, with some minor bumps along the road. (I was immature and did not appreciate formal education until I made it to college). Since I was about 12 I always thought I wanted to be a graphic designer. It was my dream, my passion. I taught myself HTML at a young age and designed websites which later led me to discover graphic design. I was so sure, so positive that this was the path I was meant to be on. I ended up graduating and was offered a job 3 hours away at a decorated agency as a result of a successful internship. Things were really falling into place in my life. I worked the job for almost a year, over that year my passion for design dwindled. I started to loathe little things at first and then it spiraled out of control. I always thought it was just that “first job” mentality.

Then the major, life altering event happened. My overweight, but seemingly “healthy” mother, who was always going to the doctor, always trying to be preventative, was having a massive heart attack, and they needed to operate on her emergently. I remember in the middle of the night when I was stranded 3 hours away because ironically my car broke down hours before her heart attack, I was googling “quadruple bypass surgery.” It’s almost comical to think back that I hardly understood what that was over a year ago. After she survived the cardiogenic shock, and the vasopressors saved her life, and she awoke from her drug induced coma 7 days later. Of course there was 48 hours of not knowing whether or not she would be a vegetable as she was unresponsive, aimlessly looking around the room with no life in her eyes. She had survived. Her hands and feet turned purple as an unfortunate result of the vasopressors and what we later learned, type 2 diabetes.

I was there with my mom. As much as I could be. I moved back to my hometown. A company I had interviewed with before I graduated college, before I had accepted my job 3 hours away, randomly reached out to me a few weeks after my mom was still in ICU. They were offering me a job—a job that brought me 10 minutes away from the hospital my mom would spend the next 10 months in. I hated this job job too. It was great at first, but that same loathing feeling consumed me. I was so relieved to be close to my family that I let that drive my motivation to stick with it.

I could change her dressings as her feet turned necrotic to protect from infection and the possibility of salvaging what was left. I could hold my mom’s hand and tell her after they amputated both of her feet that it was going to be okay. That I’d help her walk again. I could organize all 24 of her daily pills and create schedules and charts to make it easier on her and my dad. I could teach her about her many ailments (Congestive Heart Failure, Coronary Artery Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, Peripheral Artery Disease, etc) I could coach her to do her PT exercises. After her ejection fraction plummeted to 20 from a severe arrhythmia and she had to go back on vasopressors. After her third infection that turned septic, each time needing more and more vasopressors. I could be there. I was always ready. Toward the end I often felt like an on-call doctor. I was constantly in the hospital when I wasn’t working overtime at my job that I despised just so people wouldn’t think that I was spending too much time at the hospital. For 10 months straight with 9 total admissions, and 2 months at a sub-acute skilled nursing facility on separate occasions. I learned the ins and outs of the many hospital settings, from ED to clinic to all of the ICUs (heart failure, cardiac, vascular, medical). I learned all of the codes on the speakers. I was on a first name basis with her cardiologist. Nurses and random hospital personnel began asking what hospital I worked at.

6 months into all this it dawned on me and made me question my entire existence. Why did I love being in the hospital so much? It went way beyond my love and dedication to my mother. Why had I not tried harder in grade school? I always was good at science. I loved algebra. I always was intrigued by doctor’s visits. Why was I not on the path to becoming a Dr? At my age I could be starting my residency. I had been exposed to so much, so quickly. I soaked in SO much knowledge.

After she inevitably passed away this last February, I felt empty inside. Not just for the loss of my mother, but I longed to be in the hospital. I missed the research and the new terminology and the fast pace. I missed that feeling that I was among incredible people that were saving lives. I would get jealous when I would see residents making rounds. I would look to the many Drs and nurses and others who helped with my mother. They gave me another 10 months. 10 precious months to say everything I could ever possibly want to say to her. They gave me that. If there’s one thing I am sure of, it’s having a job that can do that for someone everyday of my life—even if its just trying. Going back to my life as a graphic designer is not even fathomable at this point. Every opportunity in the hospital was another opportunity to learn something new. Then, suddenly when my Mom stopped breathing at home a week after coming off a discharge from septic shock, everything came crumbling down.

I am logical enough to know that grief plays a role in this whole story, but still, I cannot shake this feeling. I began reading memoirs of Drs, and scouring the internet for stories of people like me who gave it all up to become a Dr. I then started reading up on everything I would need to change and do just to QUALIFY for medical school. I admit, it’s a little scary, but I still feel like it just might be in the realm of possibility. I obsess about this dream everyday and I wish that I could just quit my job tomorrow and go back to school full time, but financially it’s just not possible at the moment. Not possible without being 100%, without a doubt positive that this is what I want to do.

I applied to a post-baccalaureate pre med program and got in and have enrolled in 1 night class to start in the fall. The plan for now is to take a night class the next 2 semesters and save up enough to assist when I am ready to seek part time employment and fully devote myself to my studies. During this year I will shadow as many specialties as humanly possible on nights and weekends. I am also seeking volunteer opportunities but struggling with availability outside of normal business hours.

I want this so much. I want to make my mom proud. I want to bring the life back to MY life. I fantasize about it everyday to the point where I psyche myself out and wonder if this is even real or possible. How can I be smart enough? Can I handle the classes? The stress? Will my soon to be husband understand that my life and his will change dramatically?

Can I really do this?

I realize now that this post may have been better suited for the Diary section…

*Wipes tear

You can do it.

Its a touching story and I strongly believe you will do great on this journey.

You can! YOu may not need to shadow all different specialties -just a few. You get a chance in 3rd year to do rotations in a number of different areas and check them out more thoroughly.


Thank you all!! It’s really exciting and surreal to proclaim that this is my goal and I am ready to begin the journey! My job I am currently employed at has been as far from understanding as you could imagine—especially in regard to the situation with my mother. Only my closest friends and family know about my extreme plans. I am keeping it a secret at work and hope they don’t ask too many questions this next year as I pursue night classes.

I met with my mom’s cardiologist after she passed away and I shared my dreams with him and he was more than supportive and even went as far as saying that I would make a great Dr. I start shadowing him in a few weeks and will continue to over this year!

Similar story here, only I didn’t go through what you went through with your mom.

I worked at a hospital and I found myself with so much curiosity about the work that Dr’s and Nurses did. I found myself researching everything I saw and researching the info I was researching. But what amazed me the most I understood it all! then I found myself at hospitals either as a patient or with my kids or visiting and about 6 different doctors at 3 different hospitals started asking me what med school I went and what was my specialty was and where I was practicing. But I still lacked the confidence and figured I could never afford it. Then after a few motivating talks with my cousin who wanted to be a lawyer, here I am chasing the dream. But I am a little better off because I am a retired disabled vet with a full undergrad ride to where ever I want to go (for the most part) and maybe a good portion of med school paid for. Good luck and sorry for your loss

I share many of the same sentiments with you. It took me awhile to finally confront my passion and declare my decision to my SO & loved ones, but once I did, it made so much sense - I don’t care how crazy it sounds to give up a successful, good paying career just to go back to school for so many more years. I want what I do in life to matter, while being something I absolutely love and enjoy doing.

My only regret is that I am currently still working (more than) full time, and can hardly stand it - not that it isn’t challenging or that I don’t get some satisfcation from it - but it is ultimately slowing my progress down. My 2 or 3 year journey has now turned into 4 and counting…

When I jumped in, I didn’t realize post-bac programs existed for people like me without a traditional science background. I definitely feel that is the best route to go, just make sure you do very well in all your classes.

Nobody at work has to know what you do in your spare time. If I have no other choice, I simply tell my coworkers/bosses that I am taking a class. If they ask what, I give vague answers until they stop asking (I don’t like lying).

I can’t wait to begin medicine, and from what I read, you can’t either. By all means, DO IT!

  • crystalk Said:
I don't care how crazy it sounds to give up a successful, good paying career just to go back to school for so many more years. I want what I do in life to matter, while being something I absolutely love and enjoy doing.

I could not agree with you more! Working a job where the prime purpose is to make money and make other people money, I feel my soul die a little bit everyday.

Life is way too short to spend hours and hours doing something that only provides material value. If only I had come to this conclusion before I graduated college and started working.

Best of luck to you! It feels good to be so sure...

I have a very similar story, (although I have always wanted to be a Dr) my life went on hold when I got married and had kids, 2 years ago my mother became extremely ill and also suffered from an amputation, she lives with me now and I take care of her and take her to therapy and doctors and the whole nine yards, but the experience definitely re-invigorated my desire to be a doctor, I actually started my first pre med class today! Good luck to you and my advice is, only you know what you want, dont let anyone deter you.