Monday, November 8, 2010

Big dreams, little one...

So I'm not supposed to tell anyone yet, but since none of you actually know who I am, I figured it'd be okay to spill the beans here:

I'm going to be an aunt!!

My sister just found out she's pregnant :-D I've just made room in my heart for some big-time love! In my collective culture, a new baby in the family is everyone's child and responsibility. So my sister having a kid, is like me having a kid. Wow! Totally unprepared for this but gosh, I'm so excited!! She's only 6 weeks, so plenty of time to start planning all the fantabulous things we're going to get up to.

Little one, you don't know it yet, but Aunt Purple Steth has some big dreams for you. You're going to be awesome, I just know it!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

She's a real person

I hope I never become jaded. I hope I always remember that patients are real people and not a disease embodied. It sounds a bit obvious - but those in medicine will be able to relate. You spend the first couple of years of med school reading and learning about a multitude of diseases and pathologies. Some of these are essential knowledge; others are vague differentials you push to the back of your mind because you know you'll never see a case like that. The so called "you'll only find it in a text-book" cases.

Today I saw a lady who had a transverse myelitis and radiculopathy due to a Coxsackie B virus. My clinical partners and I took a group history and exam; I thought she had Guillain–BarrĂ© syndrome - she was almost paralysed from the umbilicus downwards. It's pretty scary shit actually, and something you probably won't even read about in a text book it's that uncommon. As we were coming to the end of our examination, I looked up at her and thought to myself, "oh my, she's a real person..".

It's this crazy weird moment that hits you. I've had it happen to me before. On the one hand, it leaves you feeling so inadequate and unworthy of the privilege bestowed upon you by this person sharing their misfortune; on the other hand it leaves you with this fierce desire to repay them, to be useful, to have an answer or something that you can offer them. It doesn't happen with everyone; I guess the mental struggle involved would be somewhat counter-productive - you can't invest too much. But it's a nice reminder that crops up every now and then. Medicine is about real people.