a guest Jul 21st, 2019 106 Never
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- It was New Year’s Eve and I was sitting on the sofa, staring at the television screen as I watched the annual festivities ensue. My grandmother was lying on the couch next to me. She seemed at peace lying there with her mouth wide open, snoring loudly, so I muted the television. The people in Times Square cheered at midnight to welcome in 2011, but all I could hear was my grandmother's IV dripping sustenance into her veins.
- A few months prior, my grandmother had undergone a risky surgery in hopes of removing an ovarian cyst. She had been fighting Ovarian cancer for over twenty years and had eight surgeries up to that point. Nothing seemed to work. The glimmer of hope that we all shared about her recovery faded after the surgeons were unable to close the gaping hole in her abdomen. After that day, she could no longer eat or drink anything. The only source of nutrition she received was through a tube.
- I always felt indebted to my grandmother because she cared for me as a child while both of my parents were working. Nothing I could have done for her would make up for all the meals she had cooked for me and all of the days I had spent in her home. When she was bed-ridden, the only favor she asked of me was to grab her a glass of ice to chew on. She responded with so much appreciation for the smallest of actions. It was as if I had cured her together. My inability to physically make her symptoms go away at a young age sparked my desire to become a physician. I wanted to help, but all I could do was watch.
- Shortly after my grandmother had undergone this difficult surgery, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The fear that I felt during this time was overshadowed by the admiration I had for my mother. She sacrificed her career in order to dedicate all of her time towards caring for my grandmother. My mother put my grandmother’s medical problems above her own and worked to heal my grandmother emotionally. This alone, however, was not enough. The treatments provided by the physicians who cared for her helped her live with cancer for twenty-five years.
- Last summer, I had the opportunity to shadow physicians at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where my family members received treatment. It was interesting to be on the opposite side of the situation years later. I observed the dedication of these physicians who spent their off days still working on developing clinical trials. I observed the way these physicians pushed their patients through their emotional and physical battles with cancer. One part of this internship that stuck with me was seeing patients who had finished treatment. There was a giant bell in the radiation wing that patients would ring whenever they were done with radiation. I remember seeing a patient crying of happiness while her family members cheered loudly as she rang the bell with all of her strength. The joy in their faces reminded me of the impact medicine has on the lives of others.
- Since this internship, I have been working at CityMD, an urgent care, where I play a direct role in assisting patients. I am the first person the patient talks to in the room, before the physician even comes in. Working at CityMD has taught me many things including patience and sacrifice. We are open every day of the year, including holidays. I worked on Christmas and New Years while the rest of my family relaxed at home. Although I was not initially thrilled to work these days, I later realized it was worth it after seeing the patients. For example, I will never forget a little boy who came in with bright red pajamas, messy hair, and a giant abrasion on his knee after falling. Just a week before, I had fallen and coincidentally had a bruise on the same knee. I showed him my abrasion and we laughed together about our similar injuries. I asked him about the presents Santa had gotten him while the physician I was working with cleaned his wounds. He was so excited about his gifts that he temporarily forgot about the pain he was in. This taught me the importance of what I was doing. I was giving up my time so that other people could enjoy their holidays without waiting in the emergency room for hours. Today, I try to make sacrifices for the sake of others, just like I learned watching my mother as a child. This is what keeps me motivated throughout twelve-hour shifts and working on weekends and holidays. My time is a small price to pay for the difference I am making in the lives of others.
- Later that New Year’s day, my grandmother was hospitalized and I spent the holiday in the hospital with her. That was the last time I saw her. She passed shortly after. While it was difficult to deal with her loss at a relatively young age, it pushed me to where I am today. On New Years this year, I spent my time alongside physicians, working to help our patients and make their holiday brighter. Medicine has done so much for me personally, by allowing my grandmother to live with cancer for over twenty years and eventually curing my mother altogether. I was unable to help them when I was younger, however, attending medical school would allow me to do the same for others.
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