I’m excited to introduce a new column on our site today! It’s a real life journal of a young Nigerian medical student. It’s my hope that readers can relate with Serena and some of the things she rants about here. Do leave her a comment telling her what you think about her journal entry. Enjoy!
I realized today that being liked is a burden. Not everybody can carry that burden. There is a certain safety in being ‘unliked’. Not bothering to watch what you say or how you respond to questions and to people because what more can happen? You already do not like me so what do I stand to lose? Being liked on the other hand is delicate. As much as you may claim to not care and the rest of that, the fear of being unliked by those that like you sort of governs how you deal with them. It makes you partial towards them. You find yourself doing things you ordinarily would not do. You let them cross lines. While this may not be bad, I think it is a burden. This particular burden is one I do not have the strength to carry right now. The heaviest part of the burden of being liked is that you are expected (or even required) to like back. Why please?
I do not need to like you back.
I do not want to like you back.
Please, do not smile at me and say those funny things and make me open my door wider each time you come around. The ones I like are the ones that run circles around my heart. (Not always in a good way).
Having said that, I can now announce that today is Monday. Not like I forgot or it is big and new news but maybe writing it here will make me feel something. I miss the days when I grumbled about and cursed Mondays. Now it just comes and goes. Old week rolls into new week and the same cycle is repeated. I wake up, fetch water, heat water, fuss over what to wear and then iron, bathe, dress up and walk to the hospital. The same faces. Sick people everywhere. Why are there so many sick people? I don’t blame them for being sick because that will be mean right? I mean, sickness is something nobody prays for but why are there so many sick people?
It is like pushing water with your hand, the water always flows back to replace what you have pushed aside. You discharge the patient on bed 8 today and tomorrow somebody else occupies the bed. A different name and different illness; still another branch of sickness. I just wish the root of sickness could be found and killed. You know, like the ‘eradicate polio’ campaign. Let us eradicate sickness forever. I hate the smell of sickness. And of drugs too. The smell stays on my clothes and in my hair. I hate the way the relatives of chronically sick patients gradually disappear. When they are first admitted, the entire family can be seen hovering around, months after only one person remains by the side of the patient. Or even none. Almost like sickness has erased them. And you cannot blame them, because you see, life goes on. It has to go on.
At times I fear that I would not be able to complete my medical training and I find myself wishing I had listened to my mom. When I told her I wanted to study medicine, she asked if I was sure. She said ‘Serena, I know you are intelligent but I think you are too soft’ and I was like ‘What? Iron lady like me?’. I remember how I cried shamelessly in the theatre when I watched an amputation and I laugh at the iron lady I thought I was. I am in my fifth year now, eighteen months left till I finish. I beg God for the strength to finish well.
The thing is, I hate the medicine of a thing some times, at other times I like it. Most times, it fills me with a sense of usefulness. Like, even if all I do is hold a patient’s hand or explain to a worried mother what the consultant has just said in doctors’ language, I know that I am doing something. I feel like I am helping to fight the bad guy. Just that this bad guy is very bad and he wins sometimes. Not every time though.
Can you tell now that I have never kept a diary? How do I know if I am doing it right? Is there a wrong way to keep a diary? Funny thing is I already feel like you are a person.( Maybe I should give you a name). I like you already. I know judgement will not be found here. And of course, you do not talk back. It is about time I did all the talking you know?
I am not starting this week exactly optimistic, I am also not pessimistic. I am just starting the week with plenty of room for (pleasant) surprises. That is some form of optimism right?
I hope it does not rain as much as it did last week.
Photo credits: Dancing Bran Flakes