When is their surgery?

Lately, I have been on my surgery rotation for medical school.

This is a unique rotation because I am given the opportunity to observe many different procedures. Sometimes I can even “scrub in”, which is medical jargon for assisting the surgeon.

At the start of my day, I go to the locker room and don my scrubs for the day. I grab a giant hairnet and throw it over my beautiful locks. Then I put covers over my shoes to protect them from any blood spills. I walk out of the changing room and head for the surgical waiting area.

The surgical waiting area is unique because this is where the patients are brought minutes before the surgery. They are wheeled in on their gurney and are met with the anesthesiologist and nurses who discuss the procedure for them. They are given an IV which will be for the medication used to put them asleep.

Before the surgeon comes in there is a waiting period where the patient is all alone. 

They sit there knowing, in just a few minutes, they will be having a very invasive procedure.

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Today, these experiences had me thinking.

How easy it is to remain cold in these settings.

When I am in the surgical waiting area, I usually am thinking about how tired I am or how I wish I had breakfast.

When I am in the surgical waiting room, I usually am thinking about what I am going to do after the procedure. How long will it take? Will the surgeon ask me any questions?

I am so quick to forget the facts of those around me.

The fact that the woman beside me barely speaks English and does not understand what is going on around her. 

The fact that the patient waiting for a very painful spine procedure looks filled with terror and is shivering. 

The fact that the patient to my right had an invasive procedure many times before and was overwhelmed with despair. 

These situations, though happening in a surgical waiting room, are very applicable to life itself. Those around us are in the midst of very desperate situations. Instead of putting ourselves in their situations and allow it to drive us to act for their betterment, we are quick to shy away.

We jump to turn inside ourselves instead of allowing ourselves to be an agent of change for our neighbor.

I believe this is all driven by fear. A fear response that pushes us to remain safe, comfortable, and cozy.

This week I challenge you to look for those around you that may be in their own surgical waiting room. Do not allow the fear of saying the wrong thing or putting yourself out there prevent you from being a light in a dark place.

Maybe someone is waiting for a test grade to come back in a class they are struggling with?

Maybe someone is having trouble finding a job after being laid off?

Maybe someone is just having a really bad day? 

Allow the shell society has created around yourself to slowly melt away.

Empathize and act.

You do not have to feel anything.

You do not have to feel like you are going to change the world.

It doesn’t take much to make a difference in someone’s life.

All you really need to do is notice. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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God Gave Me a Shot

I walked into the patient room, he looked at me, and immediately screamed with all his might.

This was horror film type of shriek.

It may have been that I look like a monster being sleep deprived and without any coffee, or the fact that I was wearing a white coat.

This patient was a child and he associated the white coat with needles.

This pediatric patient and us have a lot in common.

We are faced with a lot of pain in this life. Pain that does not make any sense with our childish view of how things should be. We question God’s motives and at times question His goodness.

We are the child in the doctor’s office petrified of what is to come.

God tries to remind us with a poster on the office wall, with words such as:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him….”Romans  8:28

Yet, we don’t focus on the truths, we tend to focus on the reality: we might be getting a shot today.

Vaccines are scary for not just kids, even adults. If the shot does not hurt when it is given, it can hurt for days afterwards.

Though the pain may be there for a few days, we are now protected from a deadly illness for life.

But little kids do not understand this truth. They do not understand that now Polio is no match for them. They have eternal armor on against measles. Hepatitis can scram.

All the children dwell on is the pain.

We are very similar in our understanding of the pains we go through in life.

We must continue in our efforts to trust the Divine Physician and remember just how small our minds are compared to the love of God.

In this life we are going to be receiving a lot of vaccines.

What matters is how much we trust when we know the shot is coming.

Now is your shot.

 

 

 

 

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.

The Stranger Who Changed My Life

Have you ever felt your life change in but an instant? Most of you may know what I am talking about.

Maybe, the moment a loved one passed away?

Or, the moment you fell in love with your future spouse?

Possibly, when you won an award for something?

Those moments are great and all, but they are not what I am going to talk about today.

Today, I want to talk about a micro moment. A micro moment is such a small event it may seem insignificant. However, micro moments continue to change my life everyday. They may mean nothing to the friend or stranger that spoke or acted, but they significantly impacted my life.

Here is one of my micro-moments:

The Patient 

At my medical school, we have fake patient encounters. This allows us to practice the clinical side of medicine. Towards the end of my first semester, I had a fake clinical encounter scheduled. The entire first semester I faced a lot of adversity. I was at a school I did not intend on going to. I had not found many friends. I was struggling to keep up academically with my peers. I did not have much support. And day in and day out I was reminded that I was not good enough. I thought about quitting every night. It would be so easy wouldn’t it?

It is time for my patient encounter. I knock on the door and have a patient who apparently is experiencing burning sensation in his chest. I started the exam and ask him exactly where the pain is located. I talk to him like I would with any other patient, but he stops me midway through taking his patient history.

My first thought was that I royally screwed up.

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Patients are not supposed to break out of character during these encounters.

It is a no no.

So, for him to do this I must have said or done something pretty bad.

He starts shaking his head.

My palms start to get very sweaty.

My heart rate is elevated.

He looks me dead in the eyes and says,

“You have ******* potential kid.”

 

Shocked by his compliment I did not know what to say.

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Over the entire first semester, positive words were not what my ears were used to hearing.

The man continued to explain why he thought I would make an excellent doctor.

This conversation lasted a minute or so and that was it.

I never saw the man again.

But, this micro moment changed my life. 

In my bedroom, above the light switch, is an index card with this man’s praise. His comment to me, on that random day in November, gave me the hope in myself that I was missing. He could have just gave me a good score and moved on with it.

But no.

He stopped me dead in my tracks and filled me with encouragement.

He told me to fulfill what I was meant to do.

He saw a future me that I did not think existed.

 

It is our duty to create these micro moments for the friends and strangers around us.

 

Let us always remember this today, and live a life of love and encouragement.

 

 

 

 

 

I Just Don’t Know: Part 3

I am here, now what? How much longer until I get to the end? Why is it so cold in this room? Where is my sweatshirt? What does God have in store for me? Why do I question everything? Why is the flow so hard to go with? How do I be better? When can I have fun again? Why can’t I right now? Why do I wake up scared? Where is my true home? Why does love hurt? Why do I keep fighting? When’s the last time I listened to my heart beat? Who has my back? Who cries when I cry? Who makes me laugh? Why am I wearing two different socks? Why does life need to match? Where is my faith? Where is my trust? Do I trust myself more than Him? Where is my phone? Why do I need a phone? Should I write a letter? When is the last time I wrote a letter? Does she know I would do anything for her? Does he know I care about him? Does He know I care about Him? Have I been a good friend? Will I make more friends? Why am I stressed? Why do I care so little? Why are my priorities all over the place? Who is my priority? Is my priority a thing? Why am I so unorganized? Why do I need to box up my life? Is the world trying to box me in? How do I grow in a world that doesn’t water me? How many ounces of water have I drank today? How much cups of coffee? When’s the last time I hugged someone? Gave someone a high five? Where am I going? What is my purpose? What do I need to do next?

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.