Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Surreal Ending

My Wonderful Family!

The quasi-doctor phase of this journey into the medical field; a medical school graduate, on my way to residency. It doesn't feel real. But, it sure does make me feel grateful. When I started college at Hillsdale, I imagined graduating from medical school would feel more complete. Another reminder that feeling as though I "have arrived" is not realistic. Nor is it the goal.

And the world's greatest parents at our promotion ceremony! 

I feel as if God has gone before me in each and every phase of this adventure. I've learned a lot. Like how to treat hyperkalemia, that insurance companies will test your patience, and that it takes three 8 hour board exams to obtain a license. But, my favorite parts are what I've learned about people.

People. A territory of unknown experiences, pain, and wisdom. And diseases. But, that's not why I love medicine.When I think back on the past four years, the best part hasn't been our amazing cardiology course, state of the art medical technology, or the pearls of medical wisdom passed down from our mentors. It's been the people. My teachers, my classmates, the patients, the families. They've provided the true pearls.

1. Don't stereotype. 
Not only could it lead to a missed diagnosis, but it also makes you cold. My first impression has been wrong in so many instances that I've had the privilege of learning this one over and over. While stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, there are always exceptions. A wise surgeon in Alaska told me I had two options. To take every patient at their word, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. Or, to be skeptical, always questioning if they are in your office seeking secondary gain, unwarranted unemployment benefits, or pain medications. The first will make you compassionate, the second bitter. I think what he was saying was have the eyes of Jesus. Everyone has their own story.

2. Rely on other people. 
I used to pride myself on independence. But, I've grown to believe that independence is a weakness. And I've been fortunate enough to meet some of the coolest people in the world. To lean on them, to be stretched by them, and to share moments of joy, fear, and sadness with them. God have Adam Eve for a reason. 

3. Be prepared to be unprepared. 
No matter how detailed the chart you read before entering a patient room, it's impossible to be prepared. In fact, some doctors choose not to read the chart before entering the room. I used to think a lot about asking the right questions, even the right way to introduce myself. While it's important to be prepared, I think it's more important to be prepared for anything--entering every new patient and subsequently, new experience, with an open mind. I think it gives us the attitude to see the beauty in the world around us. Or as John Michael Montgomery likes to say, "Life's a dance, you learn as you go."
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. 
Proverbs 19:21 

4. Resting is underrated. 
There has got to be a physiologic reason why I enjoy being horizontal so much. When I have my own office, I'll figure out a way to hang a hammock in it. Whether it involves REM sleep or not, being able to take a break is important. And they have to be protected.
...and on the seventh day He rested from all his work. 
Genesis 2:2

5. Comparison is the thief of joy.
Theodore Roosevelt hit the nail on the head with this one. This may be my biggest work in progress. Be it classmates, colleagues, family members, or friends, comparison will suck the life out of a person. It's paralyzing. 
But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 
1 Corinthians 12:18

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Body

A pictoral representation of my heart. Thank God for children. 

Colossians 3:14-16 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

This morning I watched a testimony that the father of a good friend of mine presented to his church. The story and scripture he shared led me to reflect on my own spiritual journey and relationship with Christ.

I've always focused on the areas of my life where I am weak. While there's a place for it, it often brings guilt and inadequacy along as well. 

This morning as I gained so much appreciation for God through the testimony of Warren Maxwell, provided by a dear sister I have gained since beginning med school, Bre Maxwell, I praised God for how despite barely ever reading my Bible or praying (with the exception of nights prior to exams) in the last 4 years, He has shown me the power of being united to a family of believers. They are encouraging, they are challenging, and they are just a really, really good time. And provide the prayer support, the Words of God, and the church I have often lacked during med school. 

Fellowship has been the strength of my medical school years. And as I rested in the goodness God has shown me over the past 4 years in true friendship, I was reminded that in times of weakness there are also strengths.

College showed be the power of belonging to a strong church and knowing scripture, but for whatever reason, while those took a backseat, the power of Godly fellowship carried me. Simple, but profound in how remembering that made me feel so close to God this morning. And really excited to be in Heaven.

Ephesians 2:19-22 
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Kenya #3

These are my final days spent in Kenya. If I could finish out med school here I would, another two and half months I could do. Granted I was ready to come home. One of the biggest challenges was the language barrier as the hospital was primarily staffed with Kenyans. Perhaps if I could speak fluent Swahili I wouldn't have been so ready to come home and work in a place where English was the primary language. 

Susan, Myself, and Benta during an af in the nursery 

Sunday, Jan 26: On call time spent in the nursery and helping a Susan with her powerpoint again in preparation for her Grand Rounds presentation tomorrow. She was so so so thankful and trusts God with all of her endeavors in a way that inspires me. Prayers with her before she left—feeling blessed.

Sinkeet serving our daily dose of chai!

Monday, Jan 27: Frustrated with poor patient management and a lack of communication between different services. But the incredible attitudes of the interns and an evening spent with a new diabetic teen eager to learn about his management brought me to tears. They probably thought I was crazy, but it truly pushed my heart past its emotional limit. He’d even copied the posters on the wall to keep notes about what to eat and signs of hypoglycemia. What a champ! And Susan rocked her Grand Rounds this morning—I felt like a proud mama

Tuesday, Jan 28: LOVE the fun you can have in the peds ward. The pictures should give you a good idea of our daily endeavors. I was also reminded of the circle of life. New babies being brought to the nursery and on my way home I pass by the area families gather with caskets of their loved ones—a frequent occurrence here.

         A morning full of chai and mandazi!!

Rounds with Dr. Minette Son visitng from San Antonio 

This was our fearless leader Dr. Bemm, the long term missionary pediatrician, who in the video below is proving that the nutritional supplement, although expired, is still good and will not back patients sick by drinking it himself. Fun times. 

This cute boy had a mama that had placed a Bible beneath his hand one morning, it brought a smile to my face as we were rounding one morning.

Wednesday, Jan 29: Intern Bible study was amazing. So blessed to be in a community so united by Christ. Also was able to take care of a beautiful little lady admitted for meningitis and thriving despite a HIV diagnosis 1 year ago. Her presence radiates such joy!

Thursday, Jan 30: Last day in the NICU, feeling for a mother named Joyce with twins. One has hydrocephalus and failure to thrive. She has a smile that makes me want to stay in the nursery all evening.

Friday, Jan 31: Left Tenwek this afternoon. Bittersweet. It was a good final morning in the ward. I was blessed by a young man with neurocutaneous albinism. The interns described those with albinism as an “endangered species” as they can be killed and their organs distributed with the idea it will bring wealth.  He was admitted for a probable basal cell carcinoma which required a large resection of his scalp.

Saturday, Feb 1: At the guest house in Nairobi, leaving at 4pm for the airport. Great breakfast with an orthopedic surgeon and his prayer warrior of a wife. Did OMT on a gentleman for lower back pain. Tea and mandazi with a peace promoter in South Sudan.  And lunch with Dinah! So many cool people.

The skyline of Nairobi as I headed to the airport

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Safari and Tea

That a crop duster in the sky

Wednesday, Jan 22: Safari Day 1
What an experience a safari is—warm, eucalyptus washcloths for our hands, mango juice, and the friendly Jambos from the African staff made for a warm welcome. Met a spine orthopedic surgeon from Alaska who offed me an Alaskan rotation. (stay tuned…) 

Cattle we passed during our car ride to the Masai Mara
A construction site
Rafiki with her baby
Our ridiculously amazing accommodations 
Hippos who lived in the river outside our tent
Hippos are super loud animals and will keep you up at night
Caribou are my favorite animals of the antelope variety 
A giraffe family

Thursday, Jan 23: Safari Day 2. Saw elephants and lions today! And a cheetah eating a recent caribou kill. The staff here know us by name and bring coffee/tea to our tent in the morning for a very friendly wake up call.

Cheetah brothers!

An early safari with the traditional Masai blanket


Enjoying some Stoney's with the elephants

An example of traditional Masai get up

White Rhinos

The orphanage mama--someone I'd want to be friends with if I lived in Kenya


Friday, Jan 24: Left the safari resort and went back to join a meeting at a nearby orphanage/missionary school for Bible quizzing. So impressed by the ability of kids to memorize scripture. Met an awesome teacher/orphanage mama named Selina. She taught me Kipsigis for the hospital.

Such a blessing to see healthy kids!! 
 Saturday, Jan 25: Morning sunrise hike to Motigo—so beautiful! Then to Findlay’s Tea Factory in Kericho. An incredible inside look into the details that go into making tea. 6,000 acres of tea plants! It makes for a breathtaking view.
Motigo hike for a sunrise with the crew pictured below! 


Taste testing. Our tour guide told us he drinks about 20 cups of tea daily. Kenyans take chai very seriously.