Career Journal: Entry #6: Anatomy Zombie

“My transitional epithelium is so stretched out right now. The nerve endings in the connective tissue below it are being stimulated telling me it is time to empty my urinary bladder. I’m so grateful for transitional epithelium and its fantastic ability to stretch without tearing and to keep the urine from destroying the connective tissue below it.”

I was dreaming, picturing a slide I’d stared at for about 40 minutes in open lab earlier that day. I’d looked at three different bladder slides under a microscope followed by six different ureter slides (the tube from the kidneys that goes to the bladder and is basically like a urine straw). The bladder and ureters have the same tissue type and I’d been repeating the facts in my dream.

I woke up when the heater clicked on.

“I have to pee,” I moaned, turning over in my bed, saying out loud in the dark “Too much Anatomy. My brain hurts.” I fumbled my way down the dark stairwell to the bathroom, then returned back up those very same stairs shivering, and crawled back under my warm covers.

“I’ll just stay here and never get up,” I mumbled, falling back to sleep.

My alarm woke me the second time, and this time, the sun was shining through my blackout curtains and I moaned out loud.

“NOOOOOOOOOoooooo.” I rolled out of bed and flopped onto the floor, lying face-down next to my stand-alone heater, feeling its warmth radiate off of me.

I had spent 9 out of 11 hours spent at school the previous day in focused study, either in lab or hunched over a textbook, and I was facing another day similar to it. My head literally felt full.

I don’t usually get caffeine because of my heart, but that day, I had a nice hot chai tea latte after class, sat down and studied some more, feeling the energizing effects of the caffeine on my body.

Again, I studied, and again, I went home exhausted. I dragged myself to a workout class taught by my boyfriend, stumbled back home to my desk, plopped into my desk chair and began studying again. Was it possible for somebody to study this much? What happens when you reach maximum studying capacity? I wasn’t sure then, and that was a week ago.

I’m not sure now either, and today was much like that one.

In fact, I should be studying now, but, I just can’t bring myself to do it. I have my first lecture exam on Wednesday, and I’m sure there is more reviewing I could be doing right now. In fact, tomorrow my task is to work on the very thorough study guide I’ve been chipping away at for the last couple of weeks as soon as lab is finished in the early afternoon. That evening I’ll go back to the lab for open study time there with the equipment and the cadavers.

And I’m sitting, staring at my computer, thinking, “There must be something for me to write about. Something besides Anatomy. But there isn’t. There absolutely isn’t. There is nothing in my life right now worth blogging about besides my experiences at school, because that’s what the biggest part of my life is: school, a workout class here and there, studying, and sleeping. While I’m doing every single one of those, thoughts of Anatomy are invading. I’m using this muscle, this bone, this tissue. I’m dreaming Anatomy. I’m engaged with my textbook on a regular basis. I make flashcards. I buy flashcards. I study flashcards. I write notes, and then I rewrite those notes. I go to lecture, and then I re-listen to that lecture on a recording later on. I even have an Anatomy coloring book and I color things in. I eat it, breathe it, and sleep it. It is now for the remaining 15 weeks of this semester (yes, I’m counting), my life.

     Only, the problem is, my life keeps going. I still have work on Sundays. I still have my family. I still have my boyfriend. My car. My errands. My laundry. My pets. And God forbid something goes wrong in one of those areas in the next 15 weeks because I have no mental or emotional energy reserve right now to deal with them.

    A friend of mine had car repairs done recently and there was a ginormous fee involved. This person was stressed out (over the top stressed out) venting to me about it and this weird thing happened in my brain where I literally felt like I needed to go lie down and plug my ears because I didn’t have anything left for listening and brain storming a solution. Usually I have an emotional buffer where I can tolerate being exposed to other people’s frustrations or life dramas, but I think right now, I might fall down and die upon exposure to it. I am an adipocyte that has been prepared for a slide and is now empty of all of its lipids. There is nothing left.

     “You seem to be handling this class well,” my boyfriend told me a couple times, surprised at the serene look on my face. That look is not serenity, my friends. It is complete and utter mental exhaustion. And the funny thing was, both times he said it, I was too exhausted to clarify and try to help him understand. “Yep,” I replied. “Handling it well.”

     I’m even too exhausted to get stressed out about Wednesday’s test. I usually give myself a pep talk to calm my nerves. “You can do this, Becca,” I generally tell myself. “You are ready for this.” Not this time.

      I have studied more than I ever have before. Whatever grade I get is whatever grade I deserve because it is going to be purely reflective of whatever my brain has been able to retain from my endless repetitive studying.  No pep talk, no nerves. No nothing. Just an anatomy zombie walking back into a classroom ready to barf up whatever materials are necessary for an A (ideally). I’m not sure what to expect, and I can’t waste any emotional reserve for nerves. Nerves are a privilege, I have discovered, one I cannot afford this semester.

     Off to bed, one of my greatest pleasures in life recently, when the stillness of sleep (hopefully void of Anatomy related dreams) overcomes my body and lets me rest.


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