Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Evidently this is my 100th post. Woohoo me. Now, to pat myself on the back (since having a blog about myself isn't enough self-adulation), I'm just going to post something I wrote a year ago.

My brother-in-law is applying for residency, and I had the chance to help with his personal statement. This reminded me of the misery of applying and writing my own personal statement. Here it is. And half the reason I'm posting this is because I have the next chapter of the statement almost finished, the one where I learn the next lesson mentioned below. And that lesson was not fun or happy. Anyway, here is me in 569 words.

Toy Cars, Hospital Hallways, and Modern Medicine


Before entering my assigned ward on the first day of clerkships, I paused, intimidated. Thick fire doors guard each entrance to the hospital hallway. The walls are scuffed and marred, the tile on the floors dull, and the smell of disinfectant hangs pungent in the air. A cacophony of beeping alarms, loud pages, shouts and sobs crash through the silence. But despite the noise and the chemicals and the drabness of this hall, I have found warmth and caring and human commitment.

BM, a 3 year old boy, besides providing a chuckle over his unfortunate initials, formed a cornerstone that much of my pediatric education has been built upon. He initially presented with a history of decreased oral intake, decreased energy, and a unilateral swollen tonsil. The emergency department performed a CT of the neck which demonstrated a likely phlegmon developing. He, along with his twenty or so toy cars, came to our floor and received several days of antibiotics for the suspected retropharyngeal abscess. He taught me a lot about that disease while in that hospital hallway. Except he never did have the typical fever. After failing to improve to the antibiotics, he was taken to the OR. While under the knife the infection suddenly morphed into something worse; something far more sinister. That was when BM stopped being the kid with the infected throat and became BM the kid with Burkitt's lymphoma. He left our service, and all of his cars went with him.

A week later I left the Infectious Disease floor to go to the Hematology/Oncology wing. Who else was there but Mr. Toy Cars himself? I quickly snatched him up as my patient. Even though he was now a cancer patient, we still played with the same cars while he received his chemo, and he taught me about induction therapy. He left, only to return to our hallway a week later having developed a fever. Since his immune system was so weakened due to the poison that had been pouring in through his central line, this "simple cold" was now a medical emergency. BM was providing me another lesson, this time while deathly ill. Thankfully, he improved to be able to play cars again, and avoided teaching me a final lesson, one that I hope to delay learning as long as possible. And until I learn that last lesson, and hopefully afterwards, too, there will be plenty of cars to play with.

Because of these (and other) experiences, hospital hallways no longer remind me of a noisy warehouse. I walk these corridors with a new perspective, and I now know that more than just my passion for medical science drives me to be a part of this bustle. Real people, with genuine, human needs are found here - people who touch me at least as much as I touch them. They walk through different hallways at times, requiring different levels of medical care, but they carry the same toys, the same human needs whatever the hallway they are currently in. Presently, I walk these halls as a medical student, providing the care I am currently able. Someday soon I will walk the hallway as a physician. And I look forward to providing the same care and compassion that I have seen provided so far, with the special opportunity as a family physician to help guide my patients through the different hallways they will need during their medical care.

1 comment:

Ann-Marie said...

I love it. It IS you.