Guys, just so you know, it’s probably going to take me more than 260 weeks to get this shit finished.
Anyway, this week was back to the grind! I had a client at the epilepsy clinic. He had early-onset Parkinson’s Disease. I have never personally encountered PD before, and it was really difficult to watch. I felt for him, especially because he has a young kid. And he was frustrated, understandably so. I was glad to have my supervisor there to guide most of the interactions. Dealing with adults is a little outside of my wheelhouse, which is part of the reason that I’m at this placement to begin with.
On Wednesday, a lot of what I was supposed to be doing was shuffled around, so it was relatively uneventful. I spent most of my time working on a brief summary of domestic violence (now termed “intimate partner violence” in many fields), how it affects child development, and how it should be used to guide custody decisions. Which, to be honest, was thoroughly depressing. But next week, I will be interviewing a forensic client, which is new for me! Very exciting!
And Thursday, I had the most adorable little client. A 3-year-old sweetheart who was so cooperative and playful. We built Lego houses and raced cars. I might just have the best job in the world.
But on the other hand, I saw a mom for feedback that same day. I evaluated one of her kids and my colleague evaluated her other kid. I can’t get into the details, obviously, but it was a complicated case with a very complex family history. We (mainly my supervisor) had to make some tough decisions and talk to the mom about some serious concerns we had. The conversation was long and we had to tread lightly at times, but it seemed to go over well enough.
The most exciting news of the week, though, came yesterday. I was in the lab running analyses on my thesis data. I might have written about this before, but basically, my thesis data did not support our hypotheses; in fact, they showed the exact opposite of what we hypothesized. So I’ve been running some follow-up analyses in order to make it suitable for publication (because no one will publish null results). My adviser and I both figured that the follow-ups wouldn’t show anything, but we could at least say we did them and hope that the journal reviewers think that’s good enough. But yesterday, I finished all of the preliminary work and looked at my brain squiggles…and to my surprise, they looked exactly the way that we originally hypothesized!!!!! Meaning that we just had to do this one tweak with the stimuli and we would’ve gotten the results we expected!!! THAT’S INSANE!!! I called my adviser in to look at it, and I was like, “Um, so, maybe I did something wrong, but….these look good.” She was just as shocked as I was, but we were both ecstatic. The next step is just to take the measurements and make sure the differences are statistically significant, but just by eyeballing it, it looks like they will be. I’m stoked. I’m actually proud of this work, rather than being dismissive of it like I was before.
I still think back to even just a year ago, when all of this was such a burden, and I seriously considered leaving the program. I’m so glad I stuck with it.
In unrelated news…..
Get ready for a long post.
I didn’t go to the hospital this week, or my lab, or the upstate forensic placement. I spent the week doing a sort of workshop, if you will. It’s a selective program….you have to apply for it and be accepted…and then you spend the week attending lectures, networking, going to happy hours, and exchanging ideas. It’s small…only 24 students were accepted this year…so it’s easier to remember people’s names and establish more meaningful connections.
It was so so so incredible.
The speakers were all developmental psychologists and medical doctors who do research in various little niches within the developmental world. I learned more than I could ever begin to describe in any meaningful detail here. One thing I did learn was that short of chartering a helicopter, there is no way to get to the east side of Manhattan on time. You might be thinking that I am exaggerating, but I assure you I am not. It doesn’t matter what time you have to be there or what time you leave your apartment. You will be late.
But suffice it to say that I was rapt the entire week. I learned about genetics, epigenetics, neurobiology and neurodevelopment, behavioral development, psychopathology, cognitive functioning, language, executive control….all from these incredible scientists whose work I have pored over for years. And I was not only in the same room as them, but I was talking with them and having drinks with them and hearing their thoughts on my work. It was totally surreal. I even met a woman whose research I totally admire, and I found out that we have the same alma mater!
And it wasn’t just the speakers who were impressive. The other doctoral students and post-docs in attendance were equally incredible. It was thrilling hearing about all the work that they’re doing all across the country (and also in Canada and the Netherlands!) We had lunch together. We laughed together. We sang karaoke together. And we shared thoughts and ideas about each other’s work. I was the only forensic person there, which was unusual for me since I’m in a forensic program. It was almost bizarre to me that people were coming over to me and asking me about my thoughts on psychopathy, the populations they’re studying, and the work they’re doing as it applies to the forensic world. I simultaneously felt good about myself….these people actually care what I think!…and insecure…they must be insane. Sigh. Brains are weird and silly.
Long story short, I am so pleased that my adviser convinced me to apply and that I was accepted. I was nervous at first, but I really forced myself out of my comfort zone by making sure that I introduced myself to people, listened well, asked questions, talked with people I admire, and made connections to the best of my ability. It was such an incredible experience, and I truly wish that I was allowed to return for another year! I’m hoping that I will be able to do some work with these folks in the future though. And in the meantime, I’m going to spend some time friending all these people on Facebook.
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness - Cecilia and the Satellite
For all the places I have been, I’m no place without you.