The illness experience is chiseled by the search for meaning, for purpose, for greater understanding of existential suffering. This search is at the center of the spiritual journey.
Endless alarms, coffee to-go, Adidas tennis shoes toe to toe./Password guesses, ID scans, room by room – endless lands.
To be seen, / as you are, / For who you are, / Absent judgment, / Equals patient care.
As a 17-year-old fresh out of emergency medical technician (EMT) training, I was eager to complete my first ambulance call. The thought of rushing to someone’s rescue excited me. In fact, providing immediate, lifesaving care is what drew me to become an EMT in the first place.
One young woman sits and waits patiently, scrolling on her phone to pass the time. A couple sits across the room talking softly to each other. The air feels light in the quiet room. A woman arrives, checks in, walks with heavy steps to a chair and sits down with a sigh.
Most of all though, I tried to calm my racing mind and remind myself to just learn. And with that, I wondered, “What is the most important thing I can do today?”
During my three weeks working in the pediatric dialysis unit and the post-kidney transplant unit, I noticed a troublesome trend. The whiter and younger pediatric patients were resting comfortably in the post-transplant unit with their new surgically placed kidney being meticulously taken care of. The darker and older pediatric patients spent countless, mindless hours attached to a dialysis machine with little hope for a new kidney after years of being on the waitlist.
The moon has risen and our shift has begun. / We night owls hold vigil in the resident room.
As my fellow PA students and I compared notes after our first cadaver dissection session with our medical student colleagues here at Stanford University, we discovered that more than a few of us had fielded slightly abashed questions from our MD student counterparts along the lines of, “So, what exactly is a PA?”
Her agitation was clearly apparent, plastered to her face like the smile she had worn moments ago. The phone was still clenched tightly in her hand as she paced the narrow hallway, muttering under her breath how travesties like this would not occur back in her native Ghana.