Friday, July 31, 2009

My imaginary CV

Sometimes I find myself acknowledging how little and at the same time how much I've accomplished in my life.

My CV will definitely not be a very long one. All I can actually write is what school, high school and med school I attended. I also took a couple of years of French. I worked as a volunteer for 2 years with one foundation, six with another one. Did some volunteering in the pediatric ward of an oncologic hospital and a couple more places. And that's pretty much it.

But if I could put down on my CV all the times my life has been blessed by a sunrise, a thankful look or a loving embrace... every time I have felt like I've made a difference, no matter how small, in this world; or comforted or helped out someone... If I add up every time I have helped save a life or improve the quality of it, or even the few times I have done it all by myself; then I realize that even though I still have a LOT of work to do, I'm off to a pretty good start.

And I go to bed content and full of hope, wishing for another day to come so I can keep on adding things to this little imaginary CV of mine that I am writing while trying to change the world.

"Be the change you want to see in the world"
- Mohandas Gandhi

Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Doctor, feel my purse" Jane Ace

Today I feel like I'm in a race against time. Felt asleep really early last night, but woke up late nonetheless. Maybe it’s because I haven't been having a proper night's sleep for a while now. So I'm racing against the clock to shower, dress and come to the center to study in time. I finally make it here.

I make a reservation for a computer and as soon as I'm going to the cafeteria to get something to drink, I run into this group of people in the hallway talking about what seems to them like a trivial conversation. All of them physicians, all of them already graduated, with a degree they are trying to validate, just like me. There's just one huge difference: from the conversation they’re having it seems like their sole drive for validating it is to make money.

I can hear them talk and feel totally discouraged and astounded. Someone says he likes certain specialty, but will apply for this other one because it pays better. Then this other guy says he would love to match in dermatology or ENT because you get a really easy going lifestyle and make millions. And a girl comments about how they sent her a list of the best paid specialties along with the programs that are more IMG friendly. She will apply to those programs of course, and see if she can make her first million in next few years (then she giggles).

Not once did I hear any of them say something referring to helping out people in need, lending their expertise to a good cause, preventing disease or alleviating suffering. And I wonder, why did they decide to go into medicine in the first place? There are so many other things you can do with your life that require less effort and will probably give you more money in less time.

It is not my intention (and never will be) to look down on other lines of work, but I find medicine to be one of the most sacred vocations on earth. So I wonder. When did we lose that compassion? That selfless surrendering of our lives for the well-being of our patients? When did they stop being our main concern? When were they replaced by money?

As physicians we are given the opportunity (I would even dare say the blessing) not only to cure, prevent, save a life, but also to touch a heart, to comfort a soul, to warmth a spirit maybe defeated by suffering. You are not only a doctor; you are also a friend, a companion, a counselor.

We are blessed with the ability to comfort during the inevitable, give hope when our patients are in pain, and even better, participate in the joy of health, new births, first steps. Your family stops being only those who share your blood, but also each and every patient, who with total trust invites you to participate actively in their lives.

Maybe I'm still being too idealistic. Maybe it IS the money after all that drives every one of us. I'd rather think not. I'd rather think it is a vocational calling. That some of us forget it, but will eventually remember. A calling that remains dormant in our hearts but will awaken when needed. There is something spiritual in healing, something enlightening in sharing suffering. There is something sacred in medicine. I just pray and wish with all my heart to remain firm, to be strong when the world tries to pull me in to that black hole where all that matters is how much you own or make. I just hope we all remain strong, and those of us who have forgotten what it's all about, remember.

I love my life, even when all I'm doing now is go back and forth from home to the center, when I have to race against time to do as many things as I can in the least amount of time. Even when all this effort seems overwhelming sometimes. It’s all worth it, every second of it. Because someday soon I will touch a life and change it forever. Someday, a patient will look at me with that indescribable look that warmths my soul and I will remember once again what this is all about. And that thankful look will be worth so much more than any million I can earn, for I will know that I have started to change the world.

"Nothing is more essential in the treatment of serious disease than the liberation of the patient from panic and forboding."
-Norman Cousins

Monday, July 27, 2009

"More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Positive therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer in a coronary care unit population

The therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer (IP) to the Judeo-Christian God, one of the oldest forms of therapy, has had little attention in the medical literature. To evaluate the effects of IP in a coronary care unit (CCU) population, a prospective randomized double-blind protocol was followed. Over ten months, 393 patients admitted to the CCU were randomized, after signing informed consent, to an intercessory prayer group (192 patients) or to a control group (201 patients). While hospitalized, the first group received IP by participating Christians praying outside the hospital; the control group did not. At entry, chi-square and stepwise logistic analysis revealed no statistical difference between the groups. After entry, all patients had follow-up for the remainder of the admission. The IP group subsequently had a significantly lower severity score based on the hospital course after entry (P less than .01). Multivariant analysis separated the groups on the basis of the outcome variables (P less than .0001). The control patients required ventilatory assistance, antibiotics, and diuretics more frequently than patients in the IP group. These data suggest that intercessory prayer to the Judeo-Christian God has a beneficial therapeutic effect in patients admitted to a CCU.

Byrd RC.
Medical Service, San Francisco General Medical Center, CA.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past" Thomas Jefferson

So here I am, I'm finally blogging! I've been postponing this moment for quite some time, though I've been writing my thoughts since forever. I was never good with rejection. I was always afraid that people might not be interested in what I have to say. Well, it so happens I just realized it doesn't matter whether they do or they don't. This is for me. I need to start somewhere, somehow. Ideally, someone will like it and benefit from it. It would be even more amazing if what I post actually got to make a difference. After all, that's all I wanna do: make a difference.

Maybe a blog won't change the world, but hey, it might be a start. After all I'm a firm believer in what Mother Theresa said: "One can do no great things, just small things with great love." That's all that is required, LOVE. In every sense of the word. LOVE with capital letters, with understanding, tolerance, selflessness. When we all understand that each and every one of us can actually change the world by loving and chose to do so, we will be all that we can be. One little thing at a time, done with great love can change the world.

It will be like a domino effect. When we all chose to become a living testimony of righteousness, love and acceptance, people around us will change. When we chose to reach out to those who need us and stop worrying about how mucho money we will make, what car we'll get to buy, or where we will go for our next vacation, we can actually make a difference. It might take some time, but change will eventually come. These people will do the same and in return they will change other people close to them, and little by little, one person at a time, the world will be changed. We cannot wait for change to come from somebody else, it must come from within ourselves. Our heart holds the potential to work miracles through love.

I am or at least try to be a very positive person and because of this, numerous times people have asked me how it can be that I have not lost my faith in mankind yet. I say to them that it is only because every day of my life I encounter myself with living proof of the beauty that inhabits our souls. Because no other creature, despite of being capable of committing unspeakable evils, is able to love, sing, and create such beauty. Because we can cry with all our might and yet be unbearably happy, just like we can smile with a weeping, mourning heart; we can stand strong and fierceful at the face of death but still render helpless at the feet of those we love. We are capable of the greatest of greatness, and it is that undying, never-ending potential that keeps me madly in love with humanity.

Hopefully one day, we will all understand that Utopia is possible, that we can start the change. That we might not live to see it, but starting it is more than enough to make life worth while. Hopefully there will 3, 10, 97 of us who believe it in our hearts and will strive every day of our mortal life to leave this planet so that after we're gone, there will remain a testament of our work, a tolling sound that will serve as a summon for others to come, a toll that will resonate repeating "she/he loved" for evermore. This is my first attempt to make a difference. I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

[...] And right action is freedom
From past and future also.
For most of us, this is the aim
Never here to be realised;
Who are only undefeated
Because we have gone on trying;
We, content at the last
If our temporal reversion nourish
(Not too far from the yew-tree)
The life of significant soil.

T.S. Elliot