This is where I attempt to be a writer.
We all have our own personal defining moments. The moments after which we know that something has changed within us. They don’t always have to be overdramatic or life altering moments. They could simply be a few words said by a friend, a brief encounter with a perfect stranger or just a thought that sneaks up on you in a dark night when you’re all alone.
I remember the first clinical case I wanted to clerk back in 4th year. I just randomly entered the first room I laid my eyes on. She was a young girl in her mid twenties. Let’s call her Amal. Amal had been admitted following an unsuccessful suicide attempt. The details of the story are irrelevant but what I can tell you is this, she was broken. It was not a case that I could present to the doctor especially that it was complicated and I was very defective in my clinical skills. I stayed anyway.
I spent half an hour with her that did not have much to do with signs and symptoms. She was telling me her story when we were interrupted by her angry parent. I excused myself but just before I left, I could spot a look of gratitude in her eyes. She silently mouthed, “thank you,” to me. True, medically I did not do anything to help her. However, I like to believe that, in a way, I did help.
For months later, I could not get her out of my head. The sad look in her eyes and the heart wrenching voice of hers are still very vivid in my mind. I felt guilty that I could not offer her any substantial help. I was frustrated at the way we manage patients. These are humans, not disease to be treated and sent home.
I promised myself that never would I be that doctor who focuses on the physical and ignores everything else. Of course, as days passed by, I can sense my determination weakening sometimes with everything we face but all I have to do is remember Amal. My resolution becomes strong again.
I’m sure most of us have our own Amal; that one patient who left an imprint on our soul not to be obscured by the demands and stresses of our lives. Let us all try our best and work our hardest to become the physicians our Amals deserve.