How Working In Medicine Gives Me Perspective On My Health

For those of you who do not know, I practice medicine as a Hospitalist Physician Assistant. Well, technically I am a traveling PA, but I don’t think I will ever leave general medicine (for now).

I see ALOT of very sick patients.  So many people are so sick that I think at times I lose perspective that healthy people actually exist.  I see people everyday who can’t walk because they are so short of breath, who are sick all of the time because they are immunocompromised, have severe heart failiure, complications of Diabetes, have suffered a Stroke, etc.

Just last week I took care of a patient who previously survived Adenocarcinoma Gastric CA status post partial gastrectomy. He had been symptom free for several years and now as a complication of treatment requires biliary duct stenting every 3 months in order for their intestinal tract to function properly.  Prior to admission this patient could not tolerate any food or liquid by mouth and was experiencing severe nausea and vomiting for several days.

I walked away from this room and was first of all humbled because he was the nicest person ever.  Didn’t complain, was soft spoken.  Second of all I thought how damn lucky am I? No matter how bad a day at work might seem on some days I get to leave.  I use my legs that function properly to walk out of the hospital and go home to my dog.  I have the ability to lift heavy weights, run, drive and function on a daily basis without assistance.  I don’t require any life sustaining medications or surgeries.

I am lucky.  Sometimes when I am tired on my weeks on service (12 hour shifts for 7 days) and think I am too tired to go workout or walk my dog I think about stories of the people I treat. Not because I like to think of sad things but because it is a reminder to myself not to take my health for granted.

I know we all have bad days and can moan about policies, co-workers, bosses, whatever the case—- bad days happen (this is not me saying anything bad about my job).  But don’t forget how lucky we are to be able to get ourselves to work and provide ourselves with a decent living.  Most importantly pay that thankfulness forward in kindness to patients 🙂

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