It was a Friday morning at 4:30 a.m. and I was rushing to the hospital for pre-rounds. I was on my neurology rotation, and my pockets were heavy and stuffed with tools. My preceptor had texted me the room numbers of the patients I was to visit that morning. I had three patients to see in the hour before rounds — the first two patients I had been following every day this week and a …
Big procedures can be tense, but today’s felt a little different. The atmosphere was relaxed. Then, unexpectedly, a few issues arose. Two of them, to be precise.
This drawing depicts the stark contrast of a woman who is both strong, yet visibly vulnerable as her tears pour off the page. This piece was inspired by a patient who was admitted after an incidental finding of a lab abnormality, which forced her to stay in the hospital for four weeks. When she initially learned of her lab results, she was overwhelmed.
When we approached his room, Craig was wedged in the doorway, sitting on his walker angled towards the nurse’s station. It was the first time I had set foot in a hospital as a medical student; the task was to simply chat with a patient for about forty minutes. “Craig?” one of the nurses called out. “Yep! I am Craig, at least I was before I got in here!” he replied. Something about the enthusiasm in his voice appealed to me, so I sat down next to him and struck up a conversation.
One of the most impactful influences on my decision to become a doctor was meeting a patient with multiple sclerosis (MS). I was 19 years old and a hospital volunteer in Michigan. As I was replacing gloves, gowns and towels in my department, I entered the room of an elderly Eastern-European woman.
There I was, face to face with a middle-aged Korean man, blood still dripping from a gash in his forehead. Disoriented, erratic, agitated … and rightfully so.
In the hospital lobby, three police officers / surrounded a woman in an oversized, white T-shirt, / sitting in a corner chair that nearly swallowed her whole, / enveloping her in its dull, floral pattern.
Nineteen. Oh the joy of being 19 years old. Can you remember back that far? Reminisce on the butterflies you felt as you waited for your date to pick you up for your very first college party.
Like many medical students, I am familiar with the antiparasitic medication ivermectin, a common drug taught in medical school. Ivermectin became an unexpected subject in the COVID-19 pandemic. However, after seeing a patient in the clinic taking ivermectin as an alternative to vaccination, the news hit differently.
There is a fine line between medicine and mortality: give too much and it can kill someone; give too little and even that could kill someone. We show up to the hospital with the intent to save lives, and anything that deviates from that goal is seen as a failure of the system, or, at times, of ourselves. However, over time, we come to learn that there is an in-between where we are at once trying to preserve life, all the while embracing the idea of human mortality.
“This one is a handful. She brought a long list, too, so good luck with that,” the nurse said as she handed me the patient prep sheet. This was a new patient to the family medicine practice. I was seeing her near the end of a long day, so I took a deep breath to reset my mind as I entered the exam room, prepared to listen.
“I have good news for you,” my resident exclaimed as she walked into the exam room. She was holding the patient’s most recent vitals handed to her by a nurse practitioner.