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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

When I was very little, I decided I would never be a doctor because kids disliked doctors, and I didn't want to be disliked. In middle school, I eschewed the sciences because they gave me anxiety attacks. As a high schooler, I declared that I would never work any place that had stirrups (I disliked both horses and what little I knew of gynecology, so it worked out). And in college, I avoided the math and science buildings like an anti-choicer avoids logic and reason. When I started working at the clinic, it was because of the opportunity to advocate for women and reproductive justice, and for those causes, I could overlook the stirrups.

I was never the number one candidate for the really clinic-y part of clinic work. For a while, I focused on counseling, administrative work, advocacy, and interpreting, and I left the medical side to the professionals. But the more time I spent at the clinic, the more I found myself jumping at the chance to observe procedures and asking clinicians about the hows and whys. For fun, I learned how to prick my own finger and test my own hematocrit. I taught myself medical abbreviations and Googled hypothetical drug interactions in my free time. I became fascinated by the way a chromosomal shift can wreak havoc and also, how a body knows how to restore itself.

I also became the amateur gynecological resource for friends, and I offered my party trick of suggesting the best contraceptive for your life in under five minutes. And I never felt like more of a true science nerd than when I saw Iron and Wine in concert and kept seeing "Fe and Wine" in my head. Except maybe for when my brain automatically transliterated "salt" to "NaCl." Formerly an avowed humanities major, I'm now a walking periodic table.

So thanks, pro-choice movement, for having the unexpected side effect (ha--see what I did there?) of turning me on to science and medicine. Maybe if my high school chemistry teacher had explained molecular structures in terms of pharmacology instead of hexagons on a paper, I would be holding a B.S. degree right now. (If not an M.D.)


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