Monday, May 18, 2009

The Truth about Medicine

It moves so very fast - people tell you that, but when it's 3am and you're still madly trying to learn the nuances of the urea cycle, fast is not the operative word when describing the movement of time. There's nothing fast about time when one is trying to decipher the mystery of respiratory physiology (of which, to this day, I still possess startingly little knowledge). Time ticks by oh, so very, very slowly when you are sweltering underneath gown and knee-length protective booties and mask while waiting for a young, pregnant woman to push out her first child after opting for that epidural. Minutes tick away like mud through a waterspout when you realize that you still have a full 18 hours of in-house call left before you can go home and sleep. The months spent away on the interview trail seem never-ending as you toss and turn in yet another unfamiliar bed, wishing desperately for the peace and comfort that home brings. Despite all of this, it moves so very fast. In the blink of an eye, the graduation tents have been set up and as you walk by, you realize that your moment under those tents has finally arrived. You realize that the only difference between a short white coat and a long white coat is a matter of days.

It has been a very long, hard four years; in the end, what I have found is that the truth behind medicine depends on the person and what they are willing to see and do, but most importantly, the truth depends on who they are willing to be.

In truth,

I've forgotten more information than most people will ever have a chance to learn and yet somehow retained just enough information that I am considered educated.

I've explored places in the human body that I'm not certain man was ever meant to see.

I've been the keeper of hundreds of secrets big and small and I've tattled when I judged it to be important.

I've been lied to by many who think I do not know when they are lying - and oh, how wrong they are!

I've lied to many under the "for their own good" principle.

I've both alleviated and caused pain to more people than I care to recount.

I've been the harbinger of bad news as often as I've been the bearer of joy.

I've been the comedian to patients as they lay sick in bed on their birthday and I've been a source of deep comfort in the times where I have prayed with anxious, scared patients.

I've seen Death and am no longer scared by its prospects because I have also seen that Life is not always worth immeasurable costs.

I've seen human beings at their smallest, meanest moments - but I have also witnessed the beauty of humanity as it was intended to be.

I've seen unspeakable tragedy - but I have also beheld wondrous miracles.

But really, at the heart of the matter is that I've had the privilege of caring for people, even when they do not care for themselves; even when they curse me for all I do, I have cared deeply.

It's been a very tough four years and I have a feeling that medicine will always be tough, that there will always be situations that challenge me.

But you know what the biggest truth I have learned in these four years is?  How glad I am to be finished and moving on to the next adventure.