I can remember as a little girl being afraid of the dark. As the only girl in my family, I had to sleep alone in my own room. My parents read Dr. Benjamin Spock, and no way was I allowed to crawl into bed with them in the middle of the night. I remember wishing that I had a sister, but at age 6 when I asked my parents for a sister, they wisely told me that there was a 50% chance that I could end up with another brother. That was unthinkable, because my two younger brother hellions were already too much for me. As I grew older, I always had a nightlight to keep the dark at bay. There was always someone home, and I was comforted when I woke up at night, and sat at the bottom of the stairs and could hear my father snoring upstairs. So time went on, I finished grade school, high school, then I went away to college and graduate school and always had roommates.
I thought that I had outgrown the fear of the dark, until one Sunday night at age 25, I found myself at home all night alone. My parents had gone away for the weekend, and my brothers were away at college. I remember stretching the phone cord, so the phone was inside my room and locking my bedroom door and checking the window locks. I was really scared!
Much to my surprise I awoke alive and well in the morning. I had survived by myself. That morning as I got dressed to go to my medical school rotation at the hospital, I realized that I had responsibility for caring for the lives of my patients.
I thought to myself, if I was strong enough care for the lives of my patients, then I was strong enough to take care of myself. That realization has changed my life forever.