Thursday, December 10, 2009

How I came to be Dr. Ballard

I was thinking on my drive this morning about how my blog started yesterday, but the evolution of me started a long time ago, and perhaps there are a few people that would be interested in the story. I guess I will start with my "calling."

I have the distinct fortune of being a person who was born knowing what he/she was meant to do. I am meant to take care of people, to fix them. For me, this meant being a doctor. This "knowing" began a long and convoluted path to find exactly what kind of doctor I was actually going to be. When I was 5, I was bit by a dog, on the face no less, and had to see a plastic surgeon. For a while I said that's what I would be. Growing up on a farm, my love of the animals, both large and small made be think maybe I would be a vet. I tried that on for a year, working for the local doc, but I hated his wife and one day I decided to ask her to take me off the schedule. She asked me "for July?" and I said, "no, forever" and that was the end of that. I got a better, higher paying job at a small pharmacy in town and LOVED it. The girls I worked with were great, the hours were great and I occasionally got to do deliveries and it was actually fun. Plus, I am greatly amused by old people :)

I applied to pharmacy school after high school and got in. St. Louis College of Pharmacy here I come! But no. I decided I wanted to live with my older sister Annie. I wanted to get to know her. (Annie, who loves me dearly now, told me that when I performed solo in the high school spirit week lip sync contest was the first time she "thought I might actually be cool." I was 15 at the time, so we had some bonding to do.) Besides, why fill the prescriptions when you can be the person deciding what its gonna take to do the job.

I moved in with Annie at SIU in Carbondale and we had a blast for the semester we spent together. I continued to work in pharmacies, but I also worked for a couple of SIU med. school doctors. The were PhD doctors, not MDs and I spent my time pipetting solitarily in an attempt to study the genetics of cancer. I knew that research was not what life was about for me. My bosses were kooky and I would rather talk to a person about their cancer, than extract the DNA from their cancer and sequence it. Boring, and the people you work with are not near as attractive as those on CSI. I wrapped up my pre-med degree in 3 years flat, but had spent so much time working, I hadn't studied for my MCAT. I had a buddy that had applied and gotten in to Chiropractic school and he suggested I do the same. "You get in post-grad work and you can always study and take the MCAT whenever." Sweet deal. On the Thursday before I graduated SIU-C, I started at Logan College of Chiropractic. I loved it! Not only was I getting the same education as a medical doctor, I was going to help people, not with pills, but with my own hands. Plus, it fulfills the part of me that is bred to love manual labor. Thanks so much farming heritage!

Now I'm back where my family is. Underpaid and scared of when my student loans go into repayment. On slow days I think about what it would have been like to have gone the med school route. People would be more apt to believe that I'm a real doctor. They might even trust that I know as much about their gallstones and indigestion as I do about their low backs and headaches. But...on the days I'm busy (I am picking up speed. I've only been in practice 3 months) I wouldn't trade what I do. Not even for more money and prestige, white lab coats or the smell of antiseptic in too bright hallways.

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