Flying Needles and Choosing Medicine

During college I shadowed a physician.

This physician was a little unique because he did house calls.

I really enjoyed this because it allowed me to step foot into the patient’s entire life.

I saw houses that looked perfect on the outside but when stepping inside I realized just exactly why the patient must have been sick.

I went into houses full of cigarette smoke.

I went into homes that smelled.

I went into homes that were extremely neat.

I went from small houses to multimillion dollar mansions.

I saw mattresses stained in urine.

I heard the stories of the poor and the rich from their kitchens and couches.

I watched as the elderly didn’t know where to find their medicine in their own home.

I saw loneliness.

I saw isolation.

I saw loving families.

I saw hope.

Through this experience, I learned the importance of the backstory of every patient. This is a skill set I will definitely use in practice. Home life matters! 

Some of these uncomfortable experiences really challenged me.

I constantly asked myself.

“Why do you want to do this?”

One story in particular always comes to mind when thinking about why I chose medicine.

This patient was a middle aged man who unfortunately experiencing brain degeneration from a rare condition. Therefore, he really did not know what was going on. However, the physician warned me that because of his condition he had a temper. He could get very angry.

After saying this, I was informed we needed to draw blood.

Great.

I was told to help hold the man while the physician drew the blood.

To top it off, the nurse who was their before us had put lotion all over this man.

As my fingers slipped, I watched as the needle tapped his skin.

The man started freaking out!!

And.

He was freaking strong.

The contaminated needle went flying and the physician screamed,

“NEEDLE ON THE FIELD!!!”

Seeing the needle coming toward me I did all I could to avoid getting poked.

The physician lunged forward and grabbed it.

I did everything in my power to hold this man back but

1.He was super strong

2.The lotion!

The physician got the job done.

My heart rate was pretty elevated and my adrenaline was pumping.

To a lot of people that experience would have been it.

Flying needles, angry patients, over it. Medicine ain’t worth it.

However, oddly enough, I loved it.

When we walked out of that house I was filled with an overwhelming amount of zeal.

This man needed treatment and we were going to risk our well-being in order to help him.

I saw courageous humility.

This is what being a physician is about.

Healthcare is no easy task, it is a life of sacrifice.

Yet, if that sacrifice is your vocation, it is not difficult.

It is awesome.

So, when I am sitting at home reading book after book, chapter after chapter….

And it feels really really difficult. My bed is always looking so comfy.

I am reminded of these moments.

Moments of flying needles and angry patients.

And I can’t help but smile because amidst the chaos.

I see the beauty of medicine.

Hand Sanitizer: Only 99% Effective

Every Sunday, a homeless man sits a few pews behind me. This man has stained clothes, long greasy hair, and hands speckled with dirt. I was very unsettled with how I first viewed this man. The dirt on his hands and feet immediately put up a barrier between myself and a fellow brother in Christ. My first instinct forced me to focus on myself. Not the needs of this man. Not the desire to help. Not the desire to worship with him. But every thought geared to separating us.

A part of me wanted to sit next to him.

Shake his hand.

Ask him about his life.

Another part of me was afraid.

Saw the dirtiness.

Was unsure if I could connect.

I came across the passage in John this week where Christ washes the feet of His disciples. I have read and heard this passage hundreds of times in my life. Yes, it seemed great and all but I never REALLY thought about it. I never asked myself what this REALLY means for my life?

How can I live it?

Lets break this down real quick:

Our Creator.

The God of the Universe.

The Alpha and the Omega.

The Eternal.

The Everlasting.

The All Powerful.

Humbled Himself.

And.

Scrubbed dirty human feet.

Wow. 

Yet, here I am hesitant to shake a hand?

In Max Lucado’s work Fearless he points out:

“Prudence washes with soap. Paranoia avoid human contact.”

In order to serve just like Christ we must be willing to get our hands dirty.

We must remember the importance of human touch.

In reality, I do not think it is the dirt that unsettles us.

I think it is our fear to attack head on…

Our lack of courage. 

Our heads swollen with pride.

Our ungratefulness.

Christ commands us so simply!

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”-John 13: 14-15

Can our loving Creator be more direct?

Friends, I encourage you this week to look at your own hands.

Are they too clean?

If so, does this outer cleanliness make you believe your soul is squeaky clean?

Hug a friend. Grab the hand of a homeless man or women and pray with them. Feed the poor. Visit the elderly. Do service work in your community.

Get your hands dirty.

Because in reality.

Dirt is nothing to fear.

But a pride-stained soul should be our greatest fear.

And I can assure you.

Hand sanitizer is not going to work. A dirty soul falls in the 1%.  

Why.I.Keep.Going.

It’s that time of the year again.  What time?  The time of the year when every pre-med out there questions his or her life choices.  Our brains becomes flooded with statements like…

“What are you doing to yourself?” 

“You are tired. Kick your feet up and just take a nice long nap.  Forget about the tests.”

“Are you sure you are cut-out for this pre-med thing?”

“Why do you even want to be a doctor anyway?”

Though these thoughts usually come from the sleep-deprived irrational brain, there is some rational questions that arise…

Why keep going?  Why not stop?  Why not do something else with your life?

Most of the time we tend to silence these scary thoughts and pretend they never happened.  We are pre-med.  We cannot show weakness.

So what do we do?

  • Drink gallons upon gallons of coffee.
  • Study for 1,000,000 hours
  • More Coffee
  • Maybe sleep?  Nope.
  • Study another 1,000,000,000 hours…
  • And eventually
  • Make it into medical school!
  • And then…
  •  DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN

Something else besides the prestige and the financial stability must be motivating us to keep going?

What is it?  

Here are a few reasons why I keep going.  I hope it resonates with all the pre-meds out there.

I keep going for…

That older woman in the free clinic.  She tells me she doesn’t sleep more than 4 hours a night.  I ask why.  She tells me that she can’t sleep because her husband had lung cancer .  At night, when he coughed, she feared he would die.  He passed away years ago she tells me…but she still wakes up.

I keep going for…

That ten year old girl who wears a surgical mask anytime she goes out in public.  She can go into anaphylactic shock for air-borne milk allergen exposure.

I keep going for…

The woman with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. Her husband, sitting beside her, just had a stroke.  His whole left side is paralyzed.  She jokes about her upcoming death.  He tries to forget by watching TV nonstop.  He clicks the remote with his right hand.

I keep going for…

 

That little kid with Crohn’s Disease who takes more pills than I can count.

I keep going for…

My Grandpa, an engineer and man who loved working with his hands, who is now unable to move or speak because of Parkinson’s disease.

I keep going for…

The man in the nursing home who does not remember me after a few minutes.

I hope…

That through my studies, I will gain the critical thinking skills necessary to make the correct diagnoses.

I hope…

That through my studies, I will gain the patience to listen to each and every symptom.

I pray…

That through my studies, I will gain the strength to carry on even when I feel like I can go on no further.

Why do we keep going?

For the privilege to make a difference in the lives of our future patients and their families.