Day 3…

Yesterday’s Challenge: Upvas # 2 – completed

I realize I am throwing around the term Upvas without quite explaining what it is that I am doing. To keep this on the short side, Upvas is when you abstain from food. There are different types depending on whether you chose to drink water or not..and depending on what type of jain you are. I am doing Tivihar Upvas – meaning I do drink water..preferably boiled and cooled at room temp (this I will start doing today).

My plan was to keep the upvas going with day 3 today. Unfortunately, between my house and Children’s the best way to commute is by walking for about 25-30 mins. My walk home last night ended up being quite brutal. Although I woke up this morning feeling pretty good, I did feel a little weak. Even having eaten a little something this morning, the walk ended up being difficult.  New challenge: Fri/Sat/Sunday – Upvas. Hopefully the fact that I will not be walking to work turns out to be in my favor.

For me, a big part of Paryushan is taking the time to look back on the year and see what you could have done better – how you could minimize your attachments or live with less. There is an aspect of being selfless…which reminds me of a patient I had the privilege of meeting during my general surgery rotation…

After my first week on Trauma, general surgery clinic become a routine event. I’d show up, put my name on the white board and wait for the patients to start rolling in. After the first half hour, clinic normally became quite busy. The afternoons passed quickly as we saw patients and wrote notes. With the fast pace and the large volume of patients, I often walked into a room only knowing a name and vital signs. In this type of environment, each day was filled with a few surprises.

During my second week, midway through clinic, I walked up to a newly filled room and grabbed the sheet in the door. Mrs X, vital signs normal. I walked in to find a pregnant women sitting on the exam table with her husband and 4 year old girl. As I opened the chart, I started asking Mrs. X what brought her in to clinic. She explained that she was here for a dressing change and began rolling up her pant leg. Below the old faded denim, her skin seemed almost mummified. Her leg appeared warped to her thigh. Most of the skin had healed into darkened lesions but a few areas were open ulcers. As I flipped through her chart, I noticed that she had been seen routinely for months for an injury sustained after being hit by a bus.

After chatting with for a few minutes, it became clear that she had been seeing a wound care nurse in clinic. While we waited for the nurse to arrive, I got to know Mrs. X better. She had an extended stay in the hospital as a result of the accident. Her leg had improved over the last few months but she continued to have many problems including difficulty walking. She told me that if she wasn’t careful about the socks she was wearing or how she position her legs, her ulcer would become worse. Despite all the hardship associated with her injuries, Mrs. X was excited about the upcoming new addition to the family..

After the wound care nurse arrived, I presented Mrs. X to the attending. He patiently listened to my updates and asked me if I knew why she had sustained such tremendous injuries. I quickly replied that she had been hit by a bus. He corrected me and explained that she wasn’t just hit by a bus. Her 4 year-old daughter had run into the street. Mrs. X saw the bus coming, ran into the street to grab her daughter and throw her onto the sidewalk. She took on the bus to save her child. To this date, it is one of the most amazing stories I have ever heard.

I don’t have to say how selfless Mrs. X’s actions were. For 20 minutes in my Trauma rotation, I had gotten the chance to meet an incredible woman. In any rotation, it is easy to get bogged down by all the superfluous tasks that medical students are expected to perform. Every so often, you meet a patient who reminds you of why you picked medicine in the first place. Beyond medicine, Mrs. X’s story was simply inspiring.  Given that it is Paryushan, I felt this was fitting.

Normally I’d leave you with a video..but today, I’ll leave you with an excerpt (and link) from the Happy Days Blog which is part of the New York Times. Thanks to Shivna for the find…

“We want enjoyment, we want to avoid pain and discomfort. But it is impossible that things will always work out, impossible to avoid pain and discomfort. So to be happy, with a happiness that doesn’t blow away with every wind, we need to be able to make use of what happens to us — all of it — whether we find ourselves at the top of a mountain or at the bottom of the sea.”

Student doctor signing out.

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