Friday, November 23, 2007

How medicine gets easier

Studying in first and second year I hadn't had time to really develop the catalog of patients' stories that I now carry around with me. Studying the GI system this semester I've been able to pull on a lot of personal experiences to remind me of the real consequences of diseases and the real suffering that goes along with them. For instance, a woman I saw in palliative care with gastric cancer last year (she is probably dead now) who used to take her chemo bag out dancing. She was so unlucky, quite young, horribly disabled by her disease, and knew she didn't have long. She was diagnosed late, so she had a 10% 5 year survival statistic to beat. People said she wouldn't go for a visit overseas, she did. People said she would never make another trip, the last time I saw her she was planning one. I hope to god she made it before she passed. I was honored to share half an hour with her and learn from her courage and optimism.

Liver lectures conjure up my friend with jaundice who is waiting for a procedure to make his quality of life better. He was so friendly and open about his disease and was willing to let me poke and prod him until I was satisfied that I had learned everything. He shared his story with me and his frustration with the medical system and how complicated it was to coordinate care between our center and another larger center. I remember each of his lab tests, complications and medications, because he is real.

So, medical students out there, don't despair, the stories really do help the heaps of information become real and memorable.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

as an md1 student headed for finals..the first time...what can you say is the path to success. How do you get thru yr 1 and 2 in tact?