Today I was finally commissioned as an ensign in the U. S. Navy! There was a lot of waiting to get to this point, so I’m glad it finally happened.
As a little background, I didn’t decide that I definitely wanted to go the military route to pay for medical school until I was a junior in college. Then I didn’t decide I wanted to go Navy until around March or April of this year. That’s what happens when my mom tries to convince me to do something–I refuse until she finally leaves me alone about it. Anyways, I got “professionally recommended” for the scholarship over a month ago and just now got commissioned. That was very frustrating, but at this point I’m just glad to finally be in.
Some people might be surprised that I joined the military because I know I don’t exactly seem the “military type.” However, I am absolutely the “not going thousands of dollars into debt type” which was my initial motivation for this decision. There are other reasons:
I won’t have to deal with patient insurance or malpractice insurance.
I’ll have opportunities to go on humanitarian medical trips.
I’m now one of many in my family who has joined the Navy.
If I like Navy medicine, I’ll be able to stay in and retire in my 50s if I so desire.
For anyone under the impression that I will be forced to go somewhere dangerous (many people have expressed this concern), rest easy because the odds of that are actually pretty low. I want to be an OBGYN, so I’m probably not going to be sent anywhere the military wouldn’t send a pregnant woman. Maybe I’ll change my mind about OBGYN, but until that day comes there’s definitely no need to worry about that.
Once upon a time in a rehab clinic, I was sitting in a group therapy session in which I had no business. My case worker in Bethesda admitted as much to my chain of command after they sent me to rehab in Portland. Navy medicine…
The man running the therapy session saw my agitation because I have no poker face when confronted with moments of sheer stupidity. He asked me how I was feeling, and my response of “I’m feeling a little like R.P. McMurphy” didn’t get any laughs.
I like literate jokes. If you tell one and someone laughs then you know you have an ally in the darkness, or at least a well-read associate.
The group therapy session did not go well. The next day, after an AA session and some more therapy, I walked into the common area hoping to watch something to distract me, if for a little while, because rehashing the worst moments of my life in agonizing detail and then listening to acquaintances do the same creates emotionally scar tissue. Dick and fart jokes go a long way toward healing. I glanced at the television and saw an eerily familiar series of images - the opening credits to a film I adore.
There’s no Netflix in rehab. No Redbox. No On Demand. The television didn’t have the station’s corporate logo in the corner, so I was confused at first. Then I realized someone who works in the rehab facility brought in the DVD. The movie was filmed near the rehab center some 32 years prior. It was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
I looked around hoping someone else was getting the joke. No one? Bueller? Then I spotted Danny, the former Army soldier turned rehab attendant, smiling broadly at me.
I laughed. He laughed. Jack Nicholson laughed as he brought R.P. McMurphy to life. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest INSIDE the cuckoo’s nest? Pass the popcorn, please.
Pen coughed, loudly, in the middle of the netsavior meeting. Several people looked over at her in annoyance, so she just blushed, and continued to listen to the speaker as calmly as she could. She was holding back a massive coughing fit, and the pressure was horrible.
The second the meeting was over, she bolted to the water fountain, but not before her horrific coughing filled the halls.
“Pen, you should just go get some cough medicine…” her navi suggested.
WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services) on duty at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida. WAVES in the low pressure chamber at the main dispensary during a special run. Altitude is 18000 ft to 30000 feet. 10/14/1943.
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