Oncologyclinic.gif

Somehow, the internships just zap my mental energy, after an entire day in the hospital I don’t feel the wish to struggle on the Händel anymore. I’m still working on the folk pieces, of course, because I’ve scheduled lessons on them, but as it will be a while before the next lesson, all semblance of regular / focused practice has come to a halt… My big harp has gotten quite out of tune after being neglected for a while… I wanted to tune it again but the tuner just broke on me (no idea how! Changing the batteries certainly didn’t help and it were new batteries which worked fine in other appliances).

Today was just like watching a bad .gif over and over. The attending with whom I was working did oncoloy clinic and while all cancer is bad, cancer in the head/neck region is especially bad. It basically eats your face and the only treatment is to remove everything it can get to – so then you will hopefully be cancerfree but also missing half of your lower jaw if you are unlucky. And I thought end stage colon / breast carcinoma was bad, but imagine a tumor sitting near your brainstem and there’s nothing they can do about it so it’s a matter of time before you become basically brain dead…

Fortunately, I didn’t have to say anything so I just sat there on my stool (the doctor gets the real chair) and watched as the attending patiently explained everything to the patients and their families. Halfway someone would inevitably being crying and then everyone except the doctor was crying – and of course, as a med student you should be professional so I was pinching myself discreetly to not to join in. And that over and over, just like a .gif where you already know the ending – they came in not really knowing the diagnosis / implications or perhaps they knew but it didn’t sink in yet  and then the news is broken to them and you almost hear the shattering of their plans and dreams…

But then there is the doctor, who leaves room for a silence, offers a tissue, asks a few questions… And the room is filled with a bit of hope – even while there is no hope, the doctor is there and will stick to their side until the very end.

This is what continues drawing me to medicine, even though I sometimes wonder whether I can be a good doctor as an introvert. Being there with and for someone in the worst parts of their life and hopefully being able to help them through it… And even when they don’t make it, knowing that you were there for them, that you really took the time to listen to them and reassure them, guiding them through the storm…

But I wonder whether I’ll be strong enough to avoid being knocked off my feet.

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2 Comments on “Oncologyclinic.gif”

  1. You WILL be knocked off your feet. More than once. And you will pick yourself up, more than once, because you have the strength it takes to look at all of life, the beauty and the ugly, straight in the eye without blinking. I think being an introvert may be an asset – you have ways to retreat and restore your energy on your own, unlike extroverts who rely on other people to restore their energy. (How many friends of extroverts want to hear about a grueling day in the oncology clinic?) I have no doubt that you will be up to the challenge of being there for patients for whom having someone at there side is the only comfort that can be offered and effective.

  2. Renate says:

    Yeah, I’ve also had this kind of experience in ENT clinic. Except that here the doctors were nowhere near as prefessional as this. Mostly it was just a “You have cancer.” Not even an “I’m so sorry…”

    Somedays I wonder if this is a reflection of how broken our healthcare system is and how overworked our doctors are. Or if they’re just lazy. Or if they really don’t realise how rude they are being.

    And then I get worried that one day I’ll also treat patients like that, because I only have bad examples…

    Ja anyway, all the best for final year! 🙂


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