17 February 2011

Satisfying Soreness

We've been giving exams this week at the med school - first year students performing a head-to-toe physical on us (on me, and boy is my body sore). The students spend their hour trying to remember all 140 steps to the physical and do them correctly - and I spend mine cooperating with the "doctor", and wanting to "help" them when they forget something, but knowing I cannot.

How special though is this experience of being with "baby doctors" in their process - what a gift. Watching students (really students at all levels, but especially these guys who are training to provide us with care and healing) learn, observing how they are changed by what they learn, and being part of their development as humans and scientists, has always been something I get really juiced about. I can't seem to stay away from it, nor would I want to. I guess I have a facility for working in a learning environment, for being present with people in such a space. And I simply love it.

Yesterday I was the examinee all day, and my god how sore I was. You wouldn't think getting a physical would do that - though I got five of them yesterday. Today it was only three, same for tomorrow - and that is plenty, according to my body. I can take care of that and deal with the stiff and soreness though, because I love "watching the wheels go round and round" in their heads as they practice thinking and doing at the same time. The BEST part though, for me - is when they have "finished" and sit in the room going over what they've done - reviewing the exam. Some of them sort of walk their fingers over their own bodies as they recall their actions. Others talk to themselves, even to me, as they review verbally. I just sit.

Today one young woman sat in the chair and seemed to go into a trance - eyes closed, absolutely quiet and seemingly calm as she conducted her mental review. The exam room (which looks exactly like a doctor's exam room) took on a feeling of peace. I found myself noticing details - the way her gold-red hair shone in the lights, the air on my back where the hospital gown did not meet, and particularly the pale green "fuzz" that has appeared overnight on the tree limbs outside the window. The student sat that way for nearly ten minutes and it felt as if we'd shared meditation space and time.

What a fabulous, important, and transforming job I have found in this. And, in the words of the late, and great, John Hartford - "I get paid for doin' this."

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