by Virgilio Gozum
The beautiful city of Chattanooga has long been associated with trains. There is a popular Glenn Miller song, after all, called “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” based upon one legendary locomotive.
Perhaps it is appropriate, then, that this entire semester has felt like riding on a passenger train in which the outside scenery whizzes by in a blur. It is already December, and you haven’t heard from me yet. I am already planning out my life in Wichita for next semester…my last semester of optometry school. Yikes!
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much! I have yet to tell you how things have gone here so far. In a nutshell, this has been a wonderful, wonderful semester. It has actually seemed like a dream at times – I have been learning so much, and then after clinic there is much to explore and rediscover here in my ole’ undergrad town. Work and play, in a beautiful balance.
My extern clinic is awesome: SouthEast Eye Specialists. This site is a large referral center consisting of five optometrists and six ophthalmologists, each in a different specialty: two corneal specialists, oculoplastics, glaucoma, retina, and pediatrics/strabismus. As you might expect, with this many doctors under one roof, I have been able to see more than a few eyeballs this semester! Diseases rarely seen at school, I have come across several times here. Having a surgery center downstairs and procedure rooms in clinic mean that I get to watch some cool techniques and procedures as well.
Truthfully, this site has shown me how optometry and ophthalmology have the potential to meld so beautifully. Everything works like clockwork, all in the name of the best care for patients as possible. No one has a big ego, and on a regular basis I hear from patients something to the effect of ”I am so satisfied with my vision after my cataract surgery” or “Thank you for saving my vision.” When optometry and ophthalmology work together, eye diseases and disorders just don’t stand a chance.
This semester has been incredibly eventful, and I apologize for not telling you about it sooner. I’ll just list off a few things that come to mind, stream-of-consciousness style, like a chugging, churning train. All aboard! I returned to Memphis for Convocation/White Coat Ceremony and surprised my third-year girlfriend and fellow fourth-years. Go Grizzlies! I got addicted to stand-up paddleboarding. SouthEast Eye celebrated 30 years of co-management in Tennessee and threw a gigantic masquerade ball at the Hunter Museum in Chattanooga. Having passed Parts I and III, I took Part II just a few days ago. Hopefully it went alright. Nature has been my friend, and the mountains my playground. Also, I am thankful for being here with Linh, the ocular disease resident at SEES and old SVOSH pal of mine. Attended the Academy meeting in Denver and had an amazing, amazing time (but cold – temperature dipped down to -8 degrees at some point!). I have not particularly budgeted well this semester, but I regret nothing (yet). Never before have I appreciated Fall in Chattanooga as much as I have during this one. All the colors just seemed to be more spectacular than my memory can recall. I also have a greater appreciation for my time at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I’ve realized that many of my college friends will truly be lifelong friends, though distance and circumstances may separate us in the future. Likewise, during Thanksgiving break, I realized that it will be more difficult in the future for my whole family to be in the same place all at once, especially as my siblings and I uncover our futures. Cognizance of that fact just makes my time with them even more important. The more I learn, the more I realize there is so much left to learn, and I’m okay with that. My love for Chattanooga truly equals my love for Memphis, but in a different way. Oh, I attended the TAOP Fall Congress in Gatlinburg and climbed a mountain with some SCO friends. I do not regret skipping CE lectures for that or for exploring the Colorado Capitol the Friday of Academy week, especially when it became a tropical 46 degrees in Denver. Life is short. Speaking of Gatlinburg, and exiting this exhausting train of consciousness…
…while in Gatlinburg, an opportunity for employment presented itself to me, which has added quite a bit of intrigue to this Fall. I have given it serious thought and continue to chew on this possibility. Likewise, slowly but surely my classmates and I are putting together the puzzle pieces of our futures. I admit it’s not the most stress-free decision making paradigm of my life. Everything else has seemed simple in comparison. Residency? No residency? Private practice? Commercial? Who? What? When? How? Why? $? (: ?
Where? Where! Maybe that’s the biggest question I’ve personally had to grapple with. Where should I be, and who do I want to be wherever I should be?
I have remind myself to relax, and to just be me. Everything is going to be fantastic.