by Dani Deaver, class of 2011
During every clinical rotation, I have strived to make a difference in as many patients’ lives as I possibly can. I have treated each patient as they were my own family and applied the best of my knowledge to help them recover, understand their condition or just feel better. I have always gone out of my way to make each patient know they are important. I have gained the knowledge that in order to make this difference I need to take the time to listen to the patient, address their concerns and answer all of their questions. As I have treated patients they have affected me as much as I have affected them. Throughout the duration of my rotations, several patients have touched my life in a special way. Several patients have shown me just how much life is worth and not to take any second you have been given for granted.
Most of the patients that have made a difference in my life have been those with terminal conditions for which there is no cure. These particular patients have an entire new outlook on life. The patients with these conditions always have a positive attitude. No matter what the condition, they understood that their lifetime would be cut short and come to an end at a sooner time than everyone else around them. Although all these patients have affected me in certain way, one that I encountered on my surgery rotation particularly stands out in my mind.
As I walked in the room, she was beaming. Surrounded by her two very best friends, who accompanied her to her appointment for support, the 67 year-old woman was here for her pre-operative physical for her explorative thoracoscopy. She has been informed at a previous appointment that there was an extremely high possibility that she had pancreatic cancer that had now quite possibly spread to her lungs. She had a malignant pleural effusion that was causing shortness of breath which was why she had made an appointment in the first place. There was little hope in her case and she understood that. She greeted me as I entered the room with a radiant and witty personality. She never lost her beautiful smile as she talked with me and answered my questions. She and her friends joked and laughed throughout her physical exam, teasing her about her old age and including me in all the fun. She poked jokes about herself and the cancer but always remained positive. I explained the procedure and had her fill out the necessary paperwork. I asked her if she had any questions and this is what she said, “I am without any questions young lady but I want you to know life is short. Take nothing for granted. I am thankful for all the wonderful time I have spent with family and friends. I have no regrets. I am also aware that I don’t have much time no matter what this surgery shows tomorrow. Live life to the fullest because you’ll never know when it can be taken from you.”
After she was finished I smiled and politely guided her out the door. She said good-bye and left the office smiling with her two best friends. As she left I did my best to hold back the tears and emotion I was feeling. She had most definitely had made a difference in my life. I took some time to myself after this experience and completely understood what she had said to me. To this day, I will never forget the impact she has made on me and take nothing for granted. I have also understood that my patients can make just as big of a difference on me as I do on them.