When we started vet school, the second-year students informed us that IP3 was the hardest we would face – affectionately (more or less) called the ‘IP of Darkness’, it features the longest days of class time coupled with dreary darkness and misery of an aging winter. What they didn’t tell us was that getting over this IP would be just about as hard as getting through it.
Starting IP4 was a kind of sweet relief – warm, sunny days and time to go on hikes or get smoothies after class, no weekly exams, and an end in sight to long hours spent in anatomy lab. More time to relax, however, meant more time for our bodies and minds to realize just how much we had abused them over the last eight weeks. Staying awake in the evenings to study, getting out of bed in the mornings for an early run – or even a shower – are harder now than they were when we were getting less sleep. It seems almost as though pushing our minds to the limit and slogging through the knee-deep mud that was last IP was easier, because we had become numb to the fact that it was anything other than normal. Now we have to readjust, redefine our normal, while convincing ourselves that we do actually still have what it takes to keep going.
Now that I’ve been as depressing as Marvin the Paranoid Android, I’ll attempt to alleviate the mood – as much for my sake as anything else. A couple of classmates and I assisted at a Coggins clinic (a Coggins test checks for antibodies against equine infectious anemia) that the Equine Clinic held at a fairgrounds north of the school. It rained on us the whole time, and most of us did not bring adequate clothing for the cold, but one of the doctors bought us Panera bagels for breakfast, and we were allowed to practice blood draws, teeth floating, and equine physical exams in a real-world situation. It was dreary and damp, but I came home with the sort of satisfaction that I can’t quite get from school anymore – a satisfaction that I had done something worthwhile, that held meaning.