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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Mom, am I a danger to you?

I want to start off by saying I have read the Reproductive Health Act.

Here is a list of refutations people have said to me in the last few days/ have seen online. This is my stance, and here is what I hold true.

1. It is only allowed after 24 weeks if the woman’s life is at risk or health. 

I get it. I understand that the pro-life stance seems to be tackling this intensely. But here is why.

I am going to face this question with one condition a woman may experience during pregnancy. Preeclampsia. The condition causes severe problems for the woman such as hypertension and proteinuria. Eventually it can lead to seizures and death. The Mayo Clinic states that delivery of the infant is the most effective means of preventing preeclampsia from progressing. This usually begins anytime after 20 weeks of pregnancy. My question for you is this. If a woman is experiencing this at 25 weeks, and makes a decision to abort her fetus, by this act she is allowed to do so. This act declares that her health is in fact at risk. Possibly her life. Yet, at 25 weeks gestation this infant, according to the chart below, has a 50 percent chance of survival. Even at 23 weeks, before the 24 week mark, the infant still has a 17 percent chance of survival. So what this means is this. If the child exits the womb it can survive. Yet through this bill the decision of personhood still rests on the mother?

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Say the mother, a few days before getting preeclampsia or even during the episode, decided she didn’t really want the child. She thought about all the freedoms of her life that would be taken away when having to care for a child for the rest of her life. So, when the practitioner gives her the option, she decided, she wants an abortion. In this case this law will allow that. Depending on what physician the woman sees will also determine her course of action. This law gives physicians a lot of freedom to persuade a woman. Just look at what is happening with children born with Down syndrome. Before they are even born mother’s are “warned” of all the future problems this child will cause for them and their family. Doctor’s are encouraging abortion through bias. Scared parents are being pushed one way or the other by healthcare providers that make assumptions. The “health (ambiguous)” of the mother is infringing on the personhood and dignity of an infant. This is the problem.

2.Men have no say in this matter

I am a male.  And constantly I am told I have no say. Let’s hypothetically say I was dating a woman who was pregnant with my child. It was 12 weeks along. Half of my DNA is living inside of that woman.

Let’s try to break this down using an allegory.

Say a woman consented to holding onto a cooler (sex) with me. Knowing that my kidney may or not appear in the cooler (fertilization). After we hold onto the cooler together, one of my kidneys magically appears inside the cooler. However, now she has to carry it for nine months in order for me to get it back (birth of my child). However, after a while she decides to get rid of it and let the doctors rip it apart or inject it to kill it (abortion). She says that she didn’t want the burden or responsibility of holding onto it anymore. Did I not just just lose a part of myself? Should I not be upset? Should I not feel the impact of this action? Just because a man is not “storing” or “birthing”; he will surely be impacted. Men are allowed to want to have their kidney back (DNA of the child). It would be viewed as insanity if he did not.

“Moral principles do not depend on a majority vote. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right.”-Venerable Fulton Sheen

3. This Abortion act is nothing new 

The newness of this act rests in the “progress.” The majority of criticism of this act holds it’s base in the celebration of abortion. The pro-life community I believe at the core is filled with zeal, not because of the law, but more because of the flippancy of the moral issue of “what is considered life.” Being pro-life for me this act angers me just as much as abortion itself. For a pro-lifer to draw a distinction of 24 weeks and 25 weeks is not a pro-lifer.

If you are not pro-life just bear with me for a second. Imagine, just for a second that you do believe life begins at the moment of conception. Picture your brother, sister, mother, aunt, uncle, etc. becoming a person at the moment that sperm hits the egg. Force yourself to believe this truth for just a second. Now imagine there is an act that will cause them to be terminated? This would make you upset would it not? If you believed in life at conception and didn’t fight it, you would just be a coward. This abortion law outrages those on the pro-life stance because they are against abortion itself. This act stirred the waters and allowed all the zeal to rise. I do have one thing to say about this new found zeal. It is honestly quite sad that it took such a move as this to cause those who say they are “pro-life” to become outraged. I know for me, who has always been pro-life, I am saddened with myself that it took this act to get me to write my first blog about being pro-life.

We as the pro-life community have work to do.

“The refusal to take sides on great moral issues is itself a decision. It is a silent acquiescence to evil. The Tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty lack fire and conviction, while those who believe in dishonesty are full of passionate conviction.”

-Venerable Fulton Sheen

 

Do you have a screw loose?

Yesterday, after going for a walk, I see a giant box outside my door.

What did I order?

As I get closer I realize that it is a new chair.

This is my last semester of medical school basic sciences. Basically, this means in May I have a test called the USMLE that plays a big factor in what type of doctor I can be. With that being said, this semester calls for a lot more studying than usual. I wanted a chair that would allow me to study for long periods without feeling like I got hit by a train.

I opened the chair and realized that the chair needed to be built. Great. Reading and following directions have never been something I do very well. I started using the tools given and placing the screws where they needed to be. I had to unscrew them and redo it because I put the base of the chair on backwards!

The process was not going very well.

 

 

Eventually, I asked my fiancee for help. Yes, I definitely did feel humbled. After we finished we had one screw left. However, the way the chair was assembled it was impossible to put the screw in. The two holes would not line up. After some time trying it was either rebuild the whole chair (hours!) or leave it. The chair was still sturdy. It could function as any chair would.

However, it was just missing one screw.

Later my fiancee said something to me that struck me.

“The chair is like people. If we focus on our missing screw we will never be able to do our purpose. However, just because we are missing a screw does not mean we cannot do what we are meant to do in this life.”

We all have our missing/loose screws. Areas in our lives that we are ashamed of. Aspects of our personality or character that we wish would change.

This story is a reminder to not lose heart. You can be missing a screw and still pursue your God given purpose.

Focus on your goals not your unfilled holes.

Surrounded by Darkness

When I was young, my brothers, sister, and I would use our snow days to build snow tunnels.

My dad would get all the snow piled up along the sides of the driveway and we would start digging at one end. We would take turns getting deeper and deeper into the tunnel. We would use little hand shovels and other times we would use or feet to try to kick our way through.

This would take all day long.

I can remember being in the tunnel. Dark, cold, and jammed against the walls. I could barely do anything but slightly move my arm to clear away some snow. Inch by inch we would chip away doing all we could to reach the other end.

The picture is so clear to me. When after hours and hours of work. I would scrape away some snow with my gloved hands, and see a small beam of light. I would dig faster and faster and eventually I would squeeze my body through and make it to the other side.

Then I would go inside and have some hot chocolate. Celebrate the victory.

As I reflect on this I recognize that for most of the tunnel building process, I was surrounded by darkness. All I could do was continue to do what was necessary to finish my mission.

Maybe this is where you are at today?

Life feels hopeless. You feel like you are not making any progress forward. You feel weak. You feel like the tunnel is too long and you are not going to have the strength to continue.

It is okay to have those feelings. It is okay to be upset with where you are at and how little you feel like you are moving forward. It is okay. It is actually quite human.

But I encourage you today to focus on the goal you have. The goal that you are chipping away with day by day.

Focus on a goal, that feeds you with hope.

Hope in God’s plan for your life.

Hope in yourself.

Hope in the impact you will make.

Friend, if today you are surrounded by darkness. If you feel the walls of the tunnel falling in on you. I beg you to keep digging. Even if it is only with a tiny motion of your hand.

I promise you, the light will break through.

And in that moment, there will be no need for hope.

Only thanksgiving.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Tear Up My Textbook

 

It was late. I was really tired. Maybe it was 1 am or 2 or 3. I can’t remember. What I do remember is that I was stressed out. I could feel my heart rate thumping like fast paced EDM. I had to get out of the library.  Maybe a change in scenery would help? AKA the biggest lie I could have told myself.

My test was the next day, but the more I read the textbook the less prepared I felt.

Come on. Focus. You can’t mess this up. 

I threw open the library doors and sighed.  It was a beautiful night, but I did not really care.  I did not see the bright stars just an imaginary digital clock lighting up the sky.

11 hrs 30 min LEFT

Having no time to lose, I ran over to my bike and tried to unchain it. With my biology book in one hand and my “freshman year of college lack of muscle tone” I could not get my bike off the rack. It was wedged between the bike’s of fellow late night procrastinators.

I tried a few more times and it was useless. I just couldn’t finagle it out of there. All my anger, fear, frustration, and uncertainty consumed me at that moment. I thought about all the school work I had. I thought about all the laundry I had to get done. I thought about that girl I wanted to ask out. I thought about where I was going to get food the next morning. I thought about making more friends. I thought about….o yeah…THE TEST.

I had the textbook in my hand and I…..I was ready.

 

Ready to destroy it. 

 

So, I gripped it tightly ready to bash it against the asphalt.

I was done.

I was fed up.

I was nervous.

I was scared. 

I was frustrated. 

About to lift it over my head…I was stopped.

I heard a voice.

A girl’s voice.

Do you need any help? 

 

I had not seen anyone around me. Where did she come from? Who was she? Does she know me?

Before I could ask any of these questions she came over and within seconds the bike was off the rack. And just like that…

she was gone. 

 


 

This story has had a huge impact on my life. It always reminds me how such a simple act can change the perspective of someone’s life forever.  The girl in the story had no reason to help me. She probably had a lot of tests that week as well. She was most likely nervous about something. She most likely missed a few extra minutes of sleep to help me out.

Yet, in that minute or so she reminded me not to let the anxieties and frustrations of life cause me to forget the people around me.

I once told a professor this story and he asked me if I believed in angels. I do believe in angels and maybe she was an angel. I can tell you I never saw her again on campus. The moment she left I could not remember her face.

Or maybe she wasn’t. Maybe she was just a girl that saw a young guy struggling and went out of her way to lend a helping hand. In my book, that is an angel as well.

I know this week is full of tests.

I know you are stressed.

I know you are frustrated.

I know you are scared.

However, I encourage you to always be on the lookout for those on campus, in the store, at home, etc. who are also feeling the same way. You never know how much of an impact you can have on them. The girl in my story not only stopped me from destroying a very overpriced Biology book but she did much more.

She showed me that when I am hurting people care.

She showed me what it means to love others no matter the time or the place.

She showed me to never lose hope.

 

Be someone’s angel this week.

 

“We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.”

-Luciano De Crescenzo

 

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