21 August 2009

To dream the impossible dream

I apologise for my mad mother cow mode yesterday, but I wanted to shout the good news from the rooftops.

When Kay was a teeny tiny three-year-old, knee-high to a grasshopper, she used to love playing with a nurse's set. She would don the nurse's uniform and cap with the bright red cross on, sling the stethoscope around her neck and call for her next patient. This was usually my long-suffering Dad (her Granddad) who was visiting us. He had to lie down on the sofa and Kay would tell him that he had unfortunately just been run over by a runaway truck carrying glass bottles. Not only had he broken his leg but he had huge shards of glass embedded in his leg too. The most serious of accidents. She would listen to his chest with the stethoscope, then roll up his trousers to his knee and with painstaking concentration pick out the non-existent shards of glass with tweezers. Then she would x-ray his leg, waving her arm back and forth pretending to be the x-ray machine. She would write out a prescription for tablets and pronounce him well and able to go home. She would then call for her next patient (usually her granddad again but using a different voice and of course with a different ailment). This game went on for a number of years only until she outgrew the uniform.

She never outgrew her love to help other people though and, because she is fascinated by the workings of the human body, she always steadfastly maintained she wanted to be a doctor. She would devour every TV hospital fiction programme from Casualty to Grey's Anatomy. People would tell her that what you see on TV is the romantic's view of medicine, that in reality it is a lot harsher, with real warts and all, but still she maintained she wanted to do it. She would scour every documentary about Siamese twins or people with disabilities or real-life operations. She would look into the pictures of fractured bones and gore, often coming up with a diagnosis before the TV commentary had exposed the answer. She even watched her beloved granddad disappear from her eyes with leukaemia. When she was sixteen she did two weeks' work experience shadowing a consultant in one of the local hospitals, where she sat in on clinics and was even allowed to scrub up and observe real operations close-up, done by real surgeons a million miles from George Clooney or Dr Kildare. And she still loved it with a passion.

Her choice of A-levels was therefore none too surprising, but particularly this last couple of years she fought an uphill struggle to study the foreign language of chemistry, the varied miracles of human biology and the complications of maths while her father constantly ranted and raved his way through a blur of whisky. She watched him collapse on many occasions, saw him delirious in a hospital bed and still she fought on. There was many a time when she would be trying to study for a test or write a piece of coursework and she could not get peace because he was shouting all over the house and following us from room to room. There was many a time too when the night before the exam, she could not find a quiet corner in the house to revise. As I have said many times before, Greg is not quiet when drunk.

Medicine is not an easy subject to get a university place for. Every medical school Open Day we went to was punctuated with the difficulty we would face... about twenty applicants for every place... they don't just want straight A students - after all, they are ten-a-penny....they would prefer all-singing, all-dancing ones.... applicants, who not only acted in the school play, but wrote it.... who not only played in the school cricket team but captained it on a recent visit to Antarctica.... applicants who can play the cello standing on their head while singing Ave Maria in Swahili.... ones that
at the age of 16 have done their first brain operation.... You get the kind of thing I mean.

When Kay was rejected from three of her four university choices, it came as no surprise. "Sheer numbers of competition" was the standard reason in the rejection letters. You almost come to wait for the next rejection with stoicism. It was therefore with enormous excitement that she was invited to an interview at the last of the four grand institutions in February. To get an interview was an achievement in itself. Even if you get rejected afterwards, that is something to be proud of. At least you almost got there.

When, on the basis of that interview, Kay got an offer of a place (conditional of course upon getting certain exam grades), we were almost beside ourselves. It can't get better than this, can it? Against all the odds. Like a salmon swimming upstream. At least she had tried, even if the bubbling stream were to force her backwards in the end. Anyway, good things don't happen to us, do they?

The exams were hard. (When were they ever easy? Although of course there is much talk of dumbing down of exam papers these days. But a quick look at A-level Maths and Chemistry papers had me whimpering in pain at how I would cope with the answers. Even Kay found some of them hard and she had been studying the material for them for two years. Particularly when the night before she had yet again tried to work with yet another of Greg's outbursts.) Kay was worried about how she had done. In the end, she even had me convinced she had not done well. As each week passed by, I came to believe that she would not achieve her dream. The week in Greece was a great relief for us both, as we could switch off and relax, change the scene, away from the tensions at home, and forget. But once home again, the reality set in. We did not dare to plan for the future. In case. In case it was not to be. We did not want to tempt fate. After all the odds are that there are twenty for every place. Why should we be so lucky? Even worse, we did not have a Plan B. There was never a Plan B. Plan A was all Kay ever wanted.

As this week drew nearer and yesterday's date loomed, we felt sicker in the stomach. We were both nervous wrecks, though I tried to distract and make light of it all. By yesterday morning I felt like a pig facing the slaughterhouse door. Goodness knows what Kay felt. Neither of us had had much sleep. So imagine then, how we felt when she opened that envelope at school and
achieved her dream. I still feel as if I am going to wake up and it has all been a pleasant dream. I only hope her Granddad is watching up there from a passing cloud. He would be so proud that he was instrumental in nurturing in Kay an interest that has never gone away.

So again, I apologise for my mad mother cow mode yesterday, but I so wanted to shout the fantastic news from the highest rooftops.


MsCatMinder said...

Why do you need to apologise ? You should be proud!!! Its a huge achievement for anyone to get in for Medicine and only you and Kay know what an achievment for her , so be proud and shout it from the rooftops and its great to hear the story ...

Nota Bene said...

...shout long and hard...you deserve to!

grandmamargie said...

Shout it out, girl!! Congratulations Kay!

Saz said...

dont aplogise, get back up on the roof.

My tall girl did ring and get her results...and she did better than she expected in fact got the best results she says. So imagine what she'd get if she worked next year. All A's?

how high is your roof?

Anonymous said...

Hi Rosiero,

I'm glad you are so proud. A bit of that pride and joy rubs off on everyone reads your posts. Its such a great uplifting story that cannot help effect others in a positive way. You both have so many obstacles and to come through it with this conclusion is fantastic. Without knowing you both persoonally I just feel so happpy for you two.

All the best,


Ellen said...

I'm delighted to hear Kay's FANTASTIC news! Well done and I know that she has a brilliant future ahead of her. I am so pleased for you too and what a huge relief - enjoy the moment. By the way, it was a super post, I particularly enjoyed your descriptions of the entry requirements to medical school. Dx

laurie said...

we understand perfectly! no apology needed. we're all so happy for you. you need great news like this to make easier the troubles of daily life.

Anonymous said...

This is such fantastic news. I am so pleased for you, and Kay of course! I have a feeling, that Granddad did help Kay to achieve her dream, you may not have realised it at the time but it was all leading up to this wonderful moment in her life.

CJ xx

Penny Pincher said...

What grand news - so glad I can now uncross all digits and extremities. A Doctor eh? wonderful.

Up north eh?? well you'll have to get her to call on some of your blogging friends up there.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Absoutely no apology needed Rosiero. She is more than worthy of any university place and has achieved it against all the odds, perhaps spurred on by the extreme circumstances! I completely understand your pride in her and the sheer joy you must be feeling now. I'm thrilled for you both. Now you can look forward to graduation day! A x

ADDY said...

Thank you for you lovely uplifting comments.

MsCatcalls - I suppose I don't like to brag, tho I can't help it this time!
Nota bene - can you hear me in Munich?

grandmamargie - thank you

FFF- Come and join me on my roof - it is three storeys up!! Good luck for your daughter next year!

Nechtan - Bless you. You have all this to come with your three!

Ellen - I was not joking. You have to be an acrobatic Einstein just to get an interview!

Laurie - you sure do!

Crystal - I was getting my Dad to wave a magic wand all through the build-up to results day!

Ladythinker - hope you didn't getcramp crossing all those extremities! :-)

SJA - Only five years to wait for that!!!!

Flowerpot said...

YOu have absolutely no need to apologise. YOu both deserve all the celebrations you can handle!

Dr24Hours said...


I only just found you on MH's site. I'm sure you have a large network already, but there are a lot of recovery blogs from across the pond (you know, we among the colonies) as well. I suspect you'd like My Own Road. She's a wonderful woman in the same situation as you.

If you ever want another sober drunks' perspective, feel free to visit me.


nuttycow said...

R - well done to Kay (and you!) for such wonderful exam results. You must be so proud - and rightly so.

Onward and upward!

Millennium Housewife said...

Never, ever apologise for being proud of your amazing daughter!

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Well done Kay! You must be over the moon both of you. Congratulations!

Debbie said...

You just sing about it anytime! What a glorious achievement.
And although mine are only starting undergraduate school, I felt the same way when we were going around to colleges. They do want kids who must not have slept at all in high school. How else could they have achieved all of that?

ADDY said...

Flowerpot - thank you.

Any Edge - I might well do that. It does help to have the other view. I have also had a look at MyOwnRoad and she seems to be going through much the same as me.

Nutty Cow - thank you. It is giving us a much needed lift, I must admit.

Millennium Housewife - thank you. I suppose I apologise because it is not very British to brag.

DWB - a million miles high!!

Debbie - kids seem to have to work so much harder than when we were younger - and with more pressure on them too.

icecold said...

Rosiero, I have finally signed up so that I can leave you a comment. I have followed your blog avidly for a while now, and have laughed and cried along the way. You write so well, that I really feel as if I know your family, and feel as proud as your daughter now as if she were my own! Shout as loud as you like, what a fantastic, fantastic achievement!!

Gin said...

I agree with the others!!! Shout it from the rooftops!!! What an accomplishment. Congratulations!

www.retiredandcrazy.com said...

And the best is yet to come! Congratulations to you both.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

It is absolutely super duper news. Kay worked extremely hard and some times in very trying circumstances. You both must have been worried and I am so, so glad that it has worked out for you both. You have every reason to shout it and be happy. Keep blogging about it for a long time. Whyever not? Hx

aims said...

I am just so pleased. There really aren't many words to add to that.

Eliza said...

I'm so so pleased for Kay (and you :-) ) She has had to overcome so much - she deserves every bit of her success. Heres to a brilliant future.

Working Mum said...

No apology necessary - you should shout it from the rooftops. As a sixth form form tutor (who helps them with their UCAS applications), I know how difficult it is for even the best students to get in to study medicine so this is a major, major achievement for Kay and she thoroughly deserves her place. Keep that happy feeling - this is one of life's defining moments!

Robert said...

I'm really pleased for Kay (and you). If Kay can do this well in adverse circumstances, then she's a very able student indeed!

Despite appearances to the contrary, I haven't forgotten you (or Kay).

Rebel Mother said...

Crow from the rooftops sweetie!

It's about time rewards come thick and fast for those who work hard in the face of adversity.

Sometimes, life is good!

Much love RMxx

DD's Diary said...

You stay right up there on the rooftop shouting - you deserve it and we are all thrilled for you.

Wendy said...

Your post made me smile and smile. Kay sounds like a born doctor and I'm so so happy for you that she will getto realise her dream.

Up north hey. I wonder how far up north - I wonder whether our paths will cross. If she's ever in cardiology, tell her to look me up!