Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rachmoninov

So, friends both new and old have begun calling, E-mailing and texting to find out if I am still alive! I am -- no fears. However, I am currently working in the Medical Intensive Care Unit, which is occupying more than a significant portion of my life.

I was originally going to talk about my experiences there over the past few weeks -- especially last night when I was on 24-hour call. I shocked my first cardiac arrest (and brought him back!), watched the 3rd year medicine resident perform a procedure that currently takes me about 20 minutes in about 30 seconds flat in a crash situation... and much more. Crazy, amazing 24 hours of my life.

However, sitting here in my living room listening to Rachmoninov's 2nd Piano Concerto on my formidable and kickass stereo system, I realized that I have talked about many things on this blog, but am yet to mention a final HUGE aspect of my life -- music.

I grew up in a home where we didn't leave the TV on -- we left the CDs playing. Continuously. Beethoven would be blasting on the first floor, Mahler on the second and some version of whatever was popular at the time on the third (my room). Every day when I came home from school I had to do my homework (like every kid), clean my room (never did that) and practice both Flute and Piano. At my peak in high school, I was playing the flute at least 6 hours a day between rehearsals and practicing. Without enough time to practice at home, I would practice at school during lunch and my other free periods. I was in literally every musical group in my high school (except for Jazz Band) -- and there were quite a few! I also spent a full 10 years from the age of 12 to 22 first in local youth orchestras and then in the non-music-major orchestra during college.

Music brought me to lifelong friends, took me all over Europe, brought me skill and accomplishment -- brought me solace.

Medical School threatened to kill all that.

During the first months of medical school I left music. I thought I needed to focus -- work harder than ever. After a few months of wondering why I hated my life so much I called my parents -- could we get my keyboard from Grandma's in Florida? Something in my voice must have told them I was in dire straights. Without hesitation or questionning I had the keyboard in my dorm room within a week. My mood improved immensely with playing. I had learned something valuable -- music wasn't something I did. It was my sanity.

I resumed flute lessons with my long-time teacher of now over a decade -- Mr. Jones. Maybe even more so than the playing, Mr. Jones became a rock for me during medical school and now during residency. Having no connections to the medical world, I could go to him every weekly and vent my frustrations (a lot of "look what medicine DID to me this week!") and he would be outraged, threated to lock me in my apartment when I needed to study more and generally kick my butt my drilling the music for a hour so I couldn't think of my frustrations.

Now I practice on my off days (which are rare), struggle to go to the Philharmonic as much as possible and usually listen to my iPod in the hospital in the morning while reviewing the computer for overnight events on my patients. It is not the satisfaction I used to get from playing an orchestra, but it is a compromise for now.

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