Category : Optometry School

12 posts

In the last two years of optometry school, there were 3 different life-changing things that I struggled with: My 12 year old feathered baby died. My ten year relationship came to an end. I was physically assaulted.

The evening before I took one of my national board exams, my cockatiel died from choking on food. He was my 12 year old baby. I got him when he was 1 month old and he lived with us until he was nearly 12 years old. I was living away from home and never had the chance to spend more time with him before he passed away unexpectedly and I never got to say goodbye. Sometimes when I take out my keys to open the front door, I still expect my little guy to chirp excitedly at me to take him out to play.

I initiated stepping away from someone I loved with every inch of my being because I knew it was what he needed to get out of his rut and reach the potential I knew he had in him. I still remember how scary it was doing it because I couldn’t imagine a life without him. I had hope that maybe if things were meant to be, we could be a part of each other’s lives again. I met him when I was a teenager in high school and we grew together over the next decade. Nearly 10 years of struggles and triumphs and honestly the best years of my life. It’s not often that even after a decade of being together, you still get butterflies in your stomach and you can’t wait to spend more time together. Sadly, our love story only became a long and tragic one and we grew into complete strangers. We tried over and over to slowly pick things back up, but one day it just stopped and I was ghosted. I think the hardest part for me was being left hanging and never getting closure. Someone I completely trusted suddenly disappeared and I didn’t even know if this person was even alive anymore.

To numb the pain I had tried dating again.

This led to me being raped by someone I had only known for a few hours. For a while it didn’t feel like a big deal. But over time, it ate away at me and ate away until I didn’t really feel like a person anymore. I could barely just keep going, anything to numb the pain.

I did a lot of things I’m not proud of because in some way, I had wanted some kind of control back in my life and I honestly didn’t really care if I ended up dying in the process.

It still chokes me up to remember those days in school where I wished I could have gotten help. Someone would stop in the hallway to greet me and ask me how I was doing, when all I really wanted to say was, “I’m not okay. I need help.” But I never could do that and so I would respond like a robot, “Good, how are you?” Honestly anyone time someone asked me the “How are you?” question, I felt like crying on the spot. On some mornings before my clinic shift, I would cry in my car and just sit there to give myself time to look normal again, and then go to clinic with a smile because I knew it was time to take care of patients and make some people happy.

I easily lost 10 pounds during that year and when I realized it, I thought, “Well, if I can’t feel happy maybe I can keep losing more and feel beautiful.

Sidenote: if you’ve ever wondered about or considered therapy…speaking from experience, don’t hesitate, just do it. You don’t have to go through things alone and why would you want to prolong your healing process? I came to realize that yes, although you may feel like you could deal with it on your own, why not have help coping in a healthy way, promote your well-being, and cut down your healing time exponentially? There’s such a bad stigma attached to therapy but it makes so much sense.

Even without the external factors in my life, optometry school was hard for me. I was used to an entire lifestyle of cramming and easily being a top student but in optometry school, I found myself barely holding on. I found myself surrounded by intelligent colleagues, whose brilliance I’d marvel at. I always felt like the weak link of the bunch and I knew that if I didn’t work hard, I wouldn’t be able to keep up. There were times every single year out of those four years where I felt like, “I’m not going to make it to the next year.” It takes a real toll on you for a full four years while everyone around you seems so beautiful, smart, and successful.

Even after graduation rolled by, I still didn’t get my wings because I was still having trouble passing one of my national board exams. I had my diploma but I didn’t have my license. This put me far behind in the race and left me, again, crawling far behind my classmates. It didn’t feel good. But here I am, I finally jumped through the hurdles and though I’m late, I crossed that finish line! Maybe that’s just always been my style; slow and steady wins the race. One of my friends did nickname me the “comeback kid,” in college, after all.

On Wednesday, May 23rd 2018, I finally got “hooded” at my graduation ceremony for receiving my doctoral degree and I walked across the stage as an eye doctor.

A few of my closest friends were able to attend my graduation ceremony (Ricky, Julie, Hatsuho, and Steven). Julie had bought a plane ticket in order to fly down from NorCal to see me at graduation. My brother, father, and mother were also there, of course. Even one of the former technicians from the naval hospital I externed at was there to cheer us on! She had recently left the military and moved to SoCal for school, and came to our graduation. That was so sweet of her. I felt so incredibly grateful that these special people were there to support me.

Before my friends left for dinner (I already had celebrated with them the evening before because I knew my family and I were going to celebrate with a dinner immediately after graduation), I ended up sobbing so much. I felt so much love. I was just so overwhelmed. So grateful they were there to support me at that moment, and there to support me throughout all of these difficult, sometimes unbearable years. It felt unreal that I was finally reaching the light at the end of the tunnel, when there were times where everything just seemed impossible.

I inevitably thought of Mart, and my heart really ached for him, wishing he was there. A third of my life he was there to cheer me on; he was there for my high school and college graduations. Now… he was absent for my doctoral degree and absent from my life.

I also didn’t feel right celebrating graduation since I didn’t pass all of my exams yet. I would feel more complete if everything was done and squared away.

So, when people ask me if I’m excited and happy, well, I wish they wouldn’t ask me. I know they are asking out of happiness for me and out of cordial conversation, but it hurts a little each time. Regardless…I know I’ve earned my graduation. I’ve successfully completed 4 years of optometry school – all of my classes, exams, skills proficiencies, clinic hours – and nobody can take that away from me.

It’s my last night in my lonesome apartment in Lemoore and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed with emotions.

It was lonely at first living in my first apartment alone, in a town where I knew absolutely nobody and I was 300 miles away from friends and family. It was nice being able to have everything reachable in my apartment within a few footsteps since it was just me in a 1 bedroom! I would take a shower, and walk around in my apartment naked while brushing my teeth and preparing breakfast. LOL.

Yesterday I said good bye to Cliff. I honestly didn’t expect to feel such overwhelming sadness, but I started crying when he was trying to say good bye to me, and I just broke down after he left. I don’t think I ever fell in love with him, but I definitely cared about him a lot. I had always known from the beginning it was just for a short-term connection and we’d go our separate ways in a few short months. I thought I’d be completely fine but when the end came, I was overwhelmingly sad. He’s not very good at communicating and he’s got his life here while I’ve got my life in Orange County and we are both pretty set on that, so I don’t think I’ll be talking to or seeing him ever again. But, I am grateful for the memories we shared here and grateful for what we had, making my experience in Lemoore a new, warm, and temporary home for me at the time.

I also felt sad about it being my last day working at the naval air force base, at the hospital. The attending doctors, the staff, the patients, the corpsmen, the technicans – I loved them all and will miss them a lot. It was the best externship/rotation I had out of all the locations I had been to over the last year of optometry school.

I felt sad reflecting on Part 1 of my boards exam; I didn’t pass. It’s going to hold me back almost half a year since I have to study and wait to retake the exam before I can work as a doctor. I’ve come this far, I know I can do it, and I can’t let go of my dreams now.

I felt sad reflecting about my past love and longstanding, intense sorrow for Mart. I’ve wanted to reach out to him again for half a year now. I let myself wait on it so that I could focus on what had to be done. I thought about reaching out to him once I neared graduation, but now after finding out I still need to tackle my boards exam again, I don’t think it’s the right time to let myself get caught up in the spiral of depression again. It’s a very sad thing when he was the light of my life and was the very thing that kept me going during grad school, and things made such a dark turn that I’ve battled against so much afterwards and will soon walk at graduation without him there.

This is just another beginning for me. There is so much more hardship to come, so much more I need to do. And hopefully I can find some happiness someday, too. For now, I’ll finish packing up what’s left in my nearly empty apartment, and move back home to continue the journey forward.

Today was our first day with a full schedule. Since we are still new and getting used to it, we had a few less patients than typically scheduled. I saw 8 patients today (the maximum I’ve ever seen at my other sites was 4-5 and that was a busy day). So, we’ll probably be seeing quite a few more next week than we did this week…but I am soooo tired already and ran behind schedule today. We didn’t leave until 6pm today and that was only because the hospital alarm goes off if anyone leaves the building past 6pm apparently lol. We probably would have stayed longer if we could, so that we could finish charting and looking up files for Monday.

Pauline and I have been getting lost pretty much every day to and from clinic. >_< The route is literally just going straight the entire way, and yet we still get lost. We both have no sense of direction, although I think she’s worse than I am…and that’s saying a lot :p . The streets here are very long, a lot of them are only 1 or 2 lanes, and it’s about a 20-30 min drive. So I tend to space out while driving, but since everything looks the same and there aren’t really any stores or landmarks, I end up missing the turn I’m supposed to take haha.

On the bright side, gas is cheap in Arizona. Lol.

The technician (Betty) at the hospital seems to really like me, which is a huge relief. She does a lot at the hospital and I can tell she has a lot of power in making your time at the hospital easier or more difficult. I think I get along with her quite well though.

Today the technician and our attending/overseeing doctor were both expressing their thoughts on how my classmate (Pauline) and I are handling things at the externship quite well. Pauline and I find it funny because we both personally feel we are not doing that great & could make a lot of improvements. We were joking around about how the summer quarter of externs must have set the bar pretty low. Lol. But it makes me happy to hear they don’t think we’re a disaster and that they think we are “catching on quickly.” Got a long way to go, but I think this experience is going to be good. I’m exhausted, and they’ve barely been easing us in. Tomorrow is our first full workday of patients, and then from then on it will likely be a full schedule. Here we go!