Monday, May 8, 2017

as I graduate...

The first patient I ever saw by myself was in an emergency room. Sweet, confused, willing to tell me about her UTI. I looked at the history and physical format the ED physician wrote out for me like it was magic, and entered the patient's room and heard her story fully conscious of the responsibility with which I had been entrusted. I hadn't even applied to medical school yet.

The first patient I ever saw in medical school was fake. A college boy, paid $20 by the medical school to sit in a room while I asked him about his health history. He was awkward. I was awkward. I don't know how the preceptor didn't burst out laughing. 

The first baby I ever saw born was an adorable boy. Born in the fall of my first year. I stood in the corner and watched life come into the outside world and nearly cried with happiness. I also promptly got lightheaded and nearly passed out as soon as the doctor and I left the room. 

The first patient I ever diagnosed was the summer between first and second year. A baby with a lacy rash and a fever. 5th disease. "It might be something else," that ED physician said, after I looked too excited over having actually figured it out. (It was sheer guesswork, which is why I was so thrilled.)

The first patient I ever properly worked up was an elder with atrial fibrillation. "Look what you found now," said my preceptor, and I stared at the EKG in amazement because look what I'd just made happen because I'd recognized something during the exam. 

The first patient I lost was another elder with fibrillation that had led to a stroke. I watched him come, watched him rally, and watched him fade, while his family stayed at his bedside and talked to me in ways I could never forget. I watched his breathing change, and I was grateful that his family was with him when he finally died. 

The first patient relationship I was proud of was with a thirteen-year-old who came in for an asthma check-up. During the next few months we worked through attitude problems, issues with school, depression, and insomnia, and over time we went from a refusal to talk to me to actual disappointment when I finally left that clinic.

The patients I see after this will be truly my patients because I now have the degree that says I am a doctor. But the patients who taught me over the past many few years, who allowed me to follow along with their doctor, who answered my awkwardly-phrased questions, who allowed me to examine them even when it took me forever and didn't benefit them, who let me catch their babies, who let me speak with their children, who let me give them shots and sew their skin, who cheered me on and told me I was going to be a good doctor when I was sure I'd never manage it...I am grateful to each and every one of them for all they taught me, and I hope to be the doctor they said I would be, and fulfill their trust that someday their efforts would be repaid by the existence of skilled doctor for them and their children.

morning view from one of the many hospitals at which I've rotated...not one where any of my first patients above were admitted. XD

4 thoughts shared:

Christine Smith said...

Girl, you have worked so hard and stayed so dedicated. I love reading about this journey you have taken. You are such an inspiration! *hugs*

Katherine Sophia said...

*hugs you back* XD Thank you. You've been one of my cheerleaders as I've tried to balance school and writing etc., and I've appreciated it so much!
And I'm so glad you enjoy reading these posts - sometimes I really wonder if I bore people with talking in detail about such varied topics. XD

Ashton said...

Whoot! Here's for graduating!! I think I've been reading your blog since either 2012, or 2013, and I can't believe you're almost done. I've seen (i.e. I've *read*) how the Lord has sustained and given you the strength to complete the work you have been called to do. Praise Him! I think you're going to be a great doctor. :D
Will we get to see a graduation picture?!

Katherine Sophia said...

XD It's so weird to think how many years it's been! But thank you so much...and Amen! He has equipped as He has called, and it is good.
:D I skipped out on pictures, so probably not...but there should be some upcoming of my new place before I start residency! XD


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