Leave a comment

A New Friendship

It’s okay that you forgot who I am. My name is David, and I was the student doctor that made the orthotic you wore on your leg for a year.

Do you remember where we were when we met?

Actually, we were in a primary school. Your mother brought you to our free clinic to check on your leg. You were born with cerebral palsy and she came here searching for ways to help you.

She carried you in and set you down on the bed. You cried when she let go and it took her 10 minutes before you calmed down enough for us to look at your leg.

We gave you candy and talked to you before we began to diagnose you. Well, to be honest, we had already started, but our formal diagnosis started after you were already halfway done with the lollipop. We held your leg and checked to make sure everything was working. Your feet worked well but you could not walk. We gave you a hinged orthotic hoping it would make walking comfortable.

When you came back, I was putting the final touches on your new orthotic. As the other students fit it onto your leg, I told your mother how to clean it and that it would hurt sometimes as you grew.

You were crying as they rolled up your pants and took off your shoes. While we were still talking with you, you quietly asked us to sign your orthotic. Is my name still there? If you look closely, my signature is right under the heel.

Did you know I spent the next year thinking about our short friendship? I devoted a week to helping you walk for one year. And your joy when you took those first steps sticks with me still today. Many people have told me that there was no friendship between us. Only a doctor treating a patient.

I hope you disagree. I hope I will always disagree.

You left with a smile on your face and a wobble in your step as you took the first of many steps.

We packed our bags and returned home. Some of us flew thousands of miles to continue our education. Many of us returned to our homes down the street, across a border. A student stared as you left, a frown on his face that has been etched into my memory.

I left with mixed feelings. Was this a positive accomplishment? In the end, your happiness would be short-lived. You will wake up every day with cerebral palsy. You will wake up and be seen different. As being disabled. Did I do enough?

Tell me that. You were my first patient. My first friend. Did I do enough? What is enough? Is there an enough?

David Yang David Yang (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Louisiana State University Health and Sciences Center, New Orleans

David is a medical student at Louisiana State University Health and Sciences Center, New Orleans in the Class of 2019. He is originally from New Orleans, LA and did his undergrad at WashU studying Biomedical and Electrical Engineering. He's an advocate of mental health in the Asian American community and is into using technology to solve medical problems. In his free time, he writes, reads, and complains about the lack of good bubble tea in New Orleans.