Thursday, March 9, 2017

Pulled in a New Direction

Yesterday morning, I got to nervously eat my breakfast in anticipation for the dreaded shift in Triage. I kept running all the necessary tests, exams, and measurements I would need to take for every patient that made it through the clinic that day while trying to picture how if I would even be able to take a head circumference on a crying baby. My partner for Triage Katie held some similar pre-shift jitters and wanted to practice taking blood glucose and pressure to ease us into it. My blood pressure was on the high side, and all the healthcare professionals and my partner immediately started making me drink tons of water. The nerves continued to build up until our first patient.  We ran through all the steps, took all the measurements and asked any questions when we were uncertain. We successfully completed our first patient’s triage and then her family’s.  Triage had finally found some rhythm, no administration and paperwork problems were occurring, and we simply had less patients to see that morning. The pace was calm and organized and besides a few little mistakes, Triage was a great success for me. One baby even put my owl pen into her mouth so I would even go as far to say that I enjoyed Triage. The ambush I was expecting never happened, and my blood pressure stabilized. I was almost disappointed that I did not get to experience the crazy mess that Triage had been… almost…

I got to spend another afternoon with Dr. Richard Walter examining the adult patients to unravel any secret symptoms or events the patient to us that day. Working alongside Madeline, Dr. Richard Walter allowed us a more hands on approach with the patients. He let us look into ears and mouths while asking us to identify the tympanic membrane or the ear wax in the canal or comparing the sizes of tonsils in our patients. I even got to use the tongue depressor. After hearing a few of the interesting cases Dr. Richard had seen in relation to our patients’ symptoms, an eighteen year old came in with her sister.  Her sister explained many of the symptoms and a concern for her sister being depressed while showing an inspiring and heartbreaking concern for her sister.

The girl had complained of stomach pain, swelling, and a numbness of the face. Dr. Richard identified the likely cause of an infection, but he slowly took the time he needed to determine any possible explanation for face numbness.  He began asking her about any upsetting events that have occurred recently. After a little bit of time, she responded. Her life was hard. She had been suffering in many ways recently and more than a lot of people do. Dr. Richard described how these events in conjunction with the infection could further her symptoms and bring her to a worse state. Dr. Richard expertly advised the woman about counseling and seeking more resources and support for herself while she had the most gratitude for being a physician that actually delved deeper and explored her life to come to a wholistic, appropriate, and individual examination of this woman. This had not been the case for the previous doctors she had seen.

I couldn’t help but to keep thinking back to the fourteen year old girl that Dr. Lauri had seen the previous day with me shadowing. Caty had cerebral palsy and was completely blind. Her mother carried her all the way the massive hill that leads to the clinic. Caty’s hair, teeth, fingernails, and her clothing were all perfect which none of these especially the toothbrushing are easy tasks for a mother to perform on a child who has cerebral palsy. All I could see in this incredible mother was unconditional love for her daughter.  This superhero of a woman did everything she could for Caty alone. She was astounding. This profound love displayed by Caty’s mother and the love of our patient’s sister who picked up on a sudden change of emotion has been rolling in my head for the past few hours.

There are no coincidences is what the Mayan priestess kept saying. Our team and all of its members came here for a reason and that cannot be attributed to luck. I do not believe that I was in both of these patients’ rooms by chance. I feel like I’m being pulled in a new direction and am excited to explore it more fully whatever that may mean.

Evan Purvis

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