Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Really Good Days

There are good days, and then there are really good days. Today was really good.

Here's why:
- I forgot to tell the pediatrician I had a meeting this morning, but he was late too and I still met him and got to see two brand new babies this morning. After the nurses told me he still hadn't arrived after our meeting, I silently thought to myself, "Everything always works out." And smiled to myself.
- I really like pediatrics. The kids are so great, even the parents that everyone seemed to complain about. Some of them (most of them) so obviously love their kids.
- I got to see some patients on my own. I love doing that. I kinda feel like I'm still playing doctor.
- I'm learning SO much. It's worth feeling like I still have SO much to learn.
- An 11 year old asked me a series of questions that made me smile: Are you new here, I've never seen you? Are you going to be a CRNA? Do you work at the hospital? Will you always be here? How old are you? Do you have any kids? Can I look at that (in reference to the otoscope)? Can I listen to that (in reference to the stethoscope)? She ended with a statement, You're really pretty. She was cute. That last part made me really like her.
- I saw a patient with severe autism--he was nonverbal and rambunctious. He also had an autistic brother with him. After leaving the doc said the main reason he wanted me to see that patient was to meet his caretaker (their Grandma). They were her son's kids. He'd passed away in a car accident and their mother had substance abuse problems and wasn't able to care for them. She was amazing. He told me in his Indian accent, "There are some really special people in the world, I wanted to you to meet her because she is definitely one of them." She was amazing. I loved how much the doc praised her and pointed that out to me. If a heart could smile, mine was.
- I was so motivated to study today after work. There is so much to learn! Motivated studying feels good for a change.
- I finally saw what an ear infection looks like. It's been so vague and hard to appreciate. But today it clicked and I saw it.
- I listened to a girl with pneumonia...she had text book lung sounds and a textbook x-ray. Thank you girl with pneumonia.
- I have a new favorite drink. Vitamin Water Zero: Squeezed. It's lemonade flavored and delicious.
If I was a pediatrician I could decorate with pictures like this! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012


I was asked to share a little about how the Christian Medical and Dental Association has blessed me since starting med school and wanted to document it here. I feel so lucky to have been at MSU and to have met the people I have. If I had a dollar for every time I told someone about my awesome friends from school, I don't think I'd need the military to pay for med school. 

The best part about my first 2 years of medical school has been, without a doubt, the people I've met through our CMDA group. [And, to be complete here, some others outside of it too...] They've become like family. To have their encouragement has been 100% invaluable.

 Beginning at MSU, I could not have imagined how much my faith would be challenged and strengthened. Through our weekly Bible study, one-on-one spiritual mentoring with our CMDA staff on campus, attending conferences and retreats, experiencing missions with a team in Haiti, and gaining insight from local physicians on practicing Christian healthcare, my vision for practicing medicine has become more of a lifestyle and less of a career. It's taken on a God must become more, and I must become less approach that I'm learning to incorporate into my life as a student. 

In fact, using Luke 12 as our guide, another CMDA student and I sat down and wrote a detailed covenant that explains how we commit to building the kingdom of God as physicians by focusing on relationships, finances, and the community. We've promised to continually examine each other's lives to live and work according to God's Word, not the world. I am more aware of the physician God is molding me to be and so so thankful that I have the accountability through my friends from CMDA to encourage me to stay true to my calling as a disciple of Christ. 

Hebrews 12 has never been so true for me: 
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What to do?

I can't stop thinking about the last patient I saw today in clinic.

From an objective viewpoint, this middle aged man was in a wheelchair, over 400 pounds, had severe lymphedema (he was retaining tons of water in his legs), and, he radiated a painful odor. I've never experienced anything like it. He was in atrial fibrillation, and the reason for his visit was to monitor whether his coumadin level was still within a therapeutic range. So, that's what we checked. His INR. But unfortunately, the only thing most of the medical team talked about during his time in the office was the odor. It quite literally would take your breath away. But, as we saw him, talked with him, and rushed out of the room, I couldn't help but wonder why the most obvious clinical finding, the one everyone was talking about, was being medically ignored. 

It broke my heart. Because from a subjective, humane viewpoint, he was kind. Verbally expressing his desire to not cause difficulties and seemingly cheerful despite his current state.

I wondered, who was going to take care of his smell? Who was going to investigate it? Who was going to touch him or help clean him? Yeah, the schedule said INR check, but was that really his chief complaint?? It wouldn't be mine...I asked the resident who was supposed to take care of the patients sores that had begun to ooze and smell, a complication of his lymphedema and immobility. I wondered if maybe it should be mine.

In a world of specialties, we are so quick to assume it is someone else's responsibility to tend to problems we either feel inadequate to address or simply don't want to address.

I don't know this gentleman's story. But, I wonder what he'd say if I asked. He is a modern day Leper in our world today. I have to figure out how to be a third year medical student, with limited capabilities and a chain of command, in which, I am at the bottom, while still being the hand of Christ, filled with compassion, that reached out and healed the leper. Where and when can I treat patients the way my heart tells me to and where and when do I just do as I am told? And am I making the distinction more complicated than it needs to be? I don't think I can just stand back for two more years, though. With a little creativity I hope I won't need to.

God doesn’t require us to succeed; he only requires that you try.
- Mother Theresa

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Year 3

Today is sort of like the first day of my third year of medical school. Step 1 of boards is officially behind me, I found out last night that I passed! So far things in Bay City are going well. It recently dawned on me that this isn't just a short shadowing experience as we've started to see the same patients back for follow-up and I've started scheduling some rotations in the next few months. It finally feels real. Also, my preceptor is awesome. I kinda wanna be her. 

A brief update...
1. Bre Marchand becomes Bre Maxwell!

2. Kaylyn Blaauw becomes Kaylyn Piaskowy!

3. Katie Hunt becomes Katie Mueller!

4. I love dancing at wedding receptions!

5. Mal got toxic shock syndrome and proves to me that disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) can happen outside of the text books. I've learned a lot from her about what not to do as a doctor and what patients actually care about as a patient.

6. Moved to Bay City. This already marks week 3. Time flies. 

7.Started working at the resident's clinic and am realizing I really like the pediatric patients. I also met a foster family. It made me wonder if I may ever want to be a foster parent..??

8. I purchased an ENO hammock for camping/relaxing in our backyard. I spent the night in it this past weekend. I love it. A lot.

9. Super fun camping explorations in Little Rock, AK and Missouri in June on our road trip to Bre's wedding. It made me want to drive and camp everywhere and not fly ever again. It's so much fun to explore. Shout out to Amanda, Erin, and Megan...I've never had such a stress free, fun, relaxed camping road trip. Next time I think I want to conquer the great north...the UP.

10. And lastly, here's to trying not to become jaded by the medical system. And to more importantly loving patients (and co-workers) with patience and selflessness.