It's not that I can't handle the work load, because that has been fine. But the 10+ hour days & coming in on the weekends have been tough to get used to. I miss my son. I miss home. I miss getting at least 7 hours of sleep...
And I started this post with every intention to complain, but after putting the little one to bed and reveling in the sweetness of a three year old asleep in my arms, I was reminded that despite a rough couple of weeks, I have nothing to complain about. Absolutely nothing.
I have met some great kids and families during my rotation thus far. Being at such an educational and research-based center, many families from all over the country are referred to Riley Children's Hospital when they need some of the most cutting edge treatments. Pulmonary is no different. After dealing with asthma throughout my own childhood, the lungs were always interesting to me... And over the last three weeks I have gotten A TON of exposure to the inpatient & outpatient management of asthma. But I have also gotten experience with some not-so-common pulmonary diseases as well. One in particular is cystic fibrosis.
Cystic fibrosis or "65 Roses" (what the littlest patients who cannot pronounce it call it) is a disease in which patients are born with a defective gene that ultimately effects how mucus is produced and then cleared from their body. The two organs most affected are the lungs and the pancreas. This makes CF patients more susceptible to lung infections (because the thicker-than-usual mucus gets stuck in the airways trapping harmful bacteria) and malnutrition (because the mucus clogs the ducts that supply the intestines with all the enzymes needed to digest food).
Although we have come a long was in treating the disease, there is still no cure. In 2009, the median lifespan for CF patients was mid-thirties. You can learn more about CF and how you can get involved here: The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Clinicals has put faces and names to some of the rare diseases we were taught over the last two years and CF is no different. It changes how you think about the illness. You think about the kids who have to stay in the hospital for weeks at a time for a "tune up", as we call it on the wards, where they get some of the strongest IV antibiotics available to get rid of all the bacteria eating away at their lungs. Or the teens who have had to grow up faster than most and know more about their disease treatment than you. Kids who have reached the age of realizing the real implications of what it means to have CF and the subsequent depression this may cause. And the not-so-pediatric patients who still come to the Children's Hospital because with such a shortened lifespan, most adult docs aren't equipped to handle their long term management. Or the overwhelmed parents who are figuring out what this means for their brand new baby...
It's overwhelming just thinking about. As a med student I feel so insignificant at times and I have no idea what to say or do. Especially when I meet a family who has such a great load to bear.
One thing I do know is that God put us all here to help one another. But in order to do so, we must take our focus off of "ourselves/our lives/our mess/our needs/etc/etc..." so we can see what our neighbor may need. I'm so happy that I was reminded of this so early in third year, and as I continue on, I intend to not lose sight of it. And I hope you all do the same ;-)