The White Coat
I finally picked up my two generic white coats from the hospital where I spent a good six years wearing ill-fitting Caribbean blue scrubs and the ugliest black non-slip sneakers imaginable.
The title of this entry is titled "The White Coat", though "The Black Shoes" would be appropriate a well.
I would only call those shoes ugly based on my former co-workers description. I found them functional but aesthetically challenged (the shoes, not my co-workers, thankfully; they would be my hilariously dysfunctional work family). Back to the shoes... I never slipped in blood or plasma in the lab or on wet pavement when running towards one of two buses I waited for in the mornings. I loved those fucking sneakers. I especially loved them when they gripped through anatomy in medical school with those old scrubs no less. I'd anchor my elbow to the stainless steel beds while holding tools with hands whose baseline tremor worsened through the years. It would be the same determined anchoring when pipetting agarose gel for electrophoresis in undergrad, then with blue hair and in my leopard converse high-tops; also wondering if I would find my place in the world outside the comforts of a lab.
The fat melted off the gloves onto the floor and inevitably on the black leather and on the stained lab coat, a hand-me-down from the previous class.
I finally could replace my embroidered short white one that saw me through my extended curriculum in medical school, with my involuntary Leaves of Absences, and my need to mentally escape through other graduate degrees for self-preservation.
A photo like this probably means a lot for someone else more than me. I hold onto the dark parts of my upbringing for private writings, but I can throw a few words for context: first-generation, ESL, poverty, underrepresented, loss, PTSD, depression, racism, sexism, queer, brown, cats, and... books.
I'm going to join the reserves upon the completion of my training. I'll probably earn another degree or two on the way there. I heard when my associate program director said "I was enough," but we are our own worst critics, so onwards we go to collect an alphabet soup of self-worth.
I'm fortunate to love every day I get to see my patients through some of their own dark parts of their storylines. Even when they're screaming at me, or pounding on the glass with their fists, even as I sit through the mundane 405 traffic, even through the "sweetheart's" and "hon's" and "Are you married?" and the follow up, "Why not?"
I love every day I don't wear a white coat and walk along side an old friend or new one in the wards. "There's a new friend for you," as Axana and I would say in clinic to each other when a patient arrived. I love being Dr. Vee and Dr. O, and whatever rendition, if any, exists in a life post-discharge or post-visit. The White Coat will be buried in a closet; resurrected only for my mother as proof of its existence.
I would trade the shit of this white coat and its twin for another pair of those ugly sneakers.