Monday, September 15, 2008

Uninspired update

Well, I had a long and emotionally charged update written for last week, and then as time went on, I got less and less interested in rehashing everything. So, instead of pouring my guts out, here's a facts-only version:

-Wed, 9/3: met with Tom and George in the morning. Both had good things to say about me, and both were encouraged when I told them that I was considering both returning to med school and finding a lab. We talked about a few potential lab options, and they both sent me to the same person: M, who I have known for about 10 years (she was a postdoc in the lab where I did my undergrad research). And, since she's on my committee, she knows the details. Problem: she was out until the following week.

-Wed, 9/3: I was all jazzed after talking to Tom and George, and I felt like I was going to find a project in a new lab and not lose too much time. And then I heard about what actually was said at my meeting while I was gone. I won't divulge my source, but it is as close to 100% accurate as they come. And basically, Dr. B trashed me the whole time. Looking back now, I'm not shocked. He's done similar things before. But he kissed my butt the whole time I was in the room at my meeting--why bother? And there were a few comments made by some (though gratefully, not all) of my other committee members that made me question whose interests they really had in mind. After hearing this, I called Tim in hysterics and said I'm out--I want nothing more to do with an atmosphere that encourages backstabbing. I was set on returning to med school.

-Thurs, 9/4: I got all of the financial aid paperwork for medical school. And I had a bit of a panic attack. After looking over the info, I don't think we'll qualify for all of the loans we'll need to have me go back to medical school and make the house payment. I'm still waiting on that.

-Over the next few days, I kept going back and forth. I'd change my mind every few hours. It's really exhausting.

-Tues, 9/9: I had my weekly clinical tutorial with Dr. P. He was still upset that they wouldn't just give me my PhD. He did have a very insightful comment: if doing the PhD doesn't help my ultimate career goal, then why spend two more years doing it? That's exactly the heart of the matter: I have no idea what I want to do.

-Wed, 9/10: I met with M, who was back from her trip. We hadn't spoken since my meeting. Our chat started out as a conversation as to what went down at the meeting, but by the end, we were talking science. It was very iffy, but there was potential for me to meld the project I did in Frank's lab with what she is doing now. It all hinges on a new faculty coming to the med school that has equipment similar to Frank's (no one else had the machine I needed once Frank left). It was all very tentative, but I left the meeting feeling really excited about science. I hadn't felt that way in a long time.

-Thurs, 9/11: I went to an all-day cardiovascular retreat. I was using it as a litmus test for science--if I was more excited about science when I left, then I'd think about staying with the PhD. But if I wasn't, then I was headed back to med school. Well, I was jazzed. The combo of a day of interesting science plus the talk I had with M the day before really had me thinking that the PhD was a viable option.

-Thurs, 9/11, evening: I had an email from George. He said that the
MSTP steering committee had met and discussed me (I knew this ahead of time--I filled out my annual review even before my thesis committee meeting). He said that the committee was behind me. He also suggested a woman in pharmacology who may be able to help me finish my current project with Dr. B. I also had an email from Cliff, the MSTP head, who was very kind and encouraging. I wrote them back a very detailed email that basically said thanks for the support, and I'll keep you posted.

-Fri, 9/12: I came into lab in the morning, and Dr. B came by. I really dread dealing with him now. Anyway, he said that he and George had talked about me working with this woman in pharmacology, with Dr. B acting as a "consultant" to the project. Dr. B also mentioned that George had said he was not real keen on the potential project with M just because it involved a faculty member who wasn't coming until October. I basically just nodded along until Dr. B left me alone about it. I really am emotionally done with this project, but I also understand that any project I do needs to get me done in a decent amount of time. So I have to be open-minded.

That takes us to today. I am home, although I didn't plan to be. The high winds knocked out power to our area, and the daycare had no power. They were technically open, using emergency lights, but they had no fridge and no way to heat food. So I dropped Sophie off just long enough to head to the lab and bring my computer home. And with Sophie's doctor's appointment tomorrow morning and VA clinic Tuesday afternoon, I probably won't have any more info until Wednesday.

I am still waiting to hear about financial aid. And I need to talk to a few more people about lab stuff. But ultimately, I have to decide what I want. So far I've figured out that generic science isn't the problem; I just hate my boss and my project. I've hated my situation for a few years. I really
should've spoken up louder before now, but whenever I brought it up previously, I was always told to hang in there. People said it would get better. It hasn't. And my biggest fear is spending two more years in the same situation.

Ultimately, two years isn't the end of the world. If I go back now, I graduate in 2010, finish residency in 2013, and finish fellowship in 2016. I'll be 36. What's the big difference between 36 and 38? Not much.

Having said that, I'm not going to stay in the PhD just to finish. I have to have a reason to stay, whether it be because I want to do research or whether it is simply that I have found a project that has me interested. As Dr. P asked, why do the PhD if I'm not going to use it? If that's what I decide, then I'm going back to med school.

I can't believe all of this has been going on for almost three weeks. I haven't slept a full night since it happened, and I'm exhausted. I'm also extremely confused. Once I have the financial aid info, that will help me fill in the med school details. And once I've talked to a few more labs, I'll have more PhD details. So, once again, I'm in a holding pattern.

It does feel wonderful to not be dealing with this project anymore. I'm writing up what I have now. I miss productive experiments--I would like to feel like science is working again. And I think that's why I'd like to get on a new project. I'm just so emotionally beat with the one I have.

Long story short, I don't have an answer yet. I didn't figure it would take this long to get enough information.
Hmm, sounds like the story of my life.

(PS: Sarah--I asked the same question about amoxicillin/augmentin. The ped's answer was that since there isn't really a toxic dose of amoxicillin, he wanted to increase the amox concentration as much as he could by doubling up and seeing if that took care of the infection. We go back tomorrow to get checked, but by the way she's been pulling her ears, I'm thinking the answer is no.)

(PPS: this type looks really small on my computer, even though the settings are the same. Am I just getting old, or is this tough to read?)

1 comment:

  1. congrats on making the final decision! i think the bottom line is that if you aren't going to use the phD, it really ISN'T worth those extra 2 years. i think you are going to enjoy restarting med school so much!!

    what do you think you will do a fellowship in? you mention 3 years . . .

    and i have never seen that amox strategy before but maybe it is your dr's secret weapon! i hope sophie feels better soon!

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