and when she speaks
Saturday, October 05, 2013
On call. And reminded why I love doing what I do.
My patients wife called me frantically this am. I got them into the ER.
I walked in on them after morning rounds, she called my
name out "Dr Lai, its so good to see you". I have to say, I havent seen
them in months...
Then after I met with my patient, his wife said she'd walk
me out. Right outside his makeshift ED room, she embraced me in a big hug & kept on thanking me.
Her desperation she explained was because their young
teenage son was visiting, and she wanted her husband to be able to at least converse with her son, to not be confused. I understood now why she went through the lengths she did.
Well, we fixed it - and he was no longer confused, and he was fully oriented & alert :)
She and I remained outside his room, along the hallways of the emergency department- and we talked... we talked about his time left, on dying, on plans, on family. We bonded during that very brief moment whilst she gave me a glimpse of their relationship and allowed me into their lives.
My heart swelled as I listen. But I had to be strong and be the pillar for her as she deals with keeping her family strong. Then, she gave me
one last big hug with tears in her eyes, and whispered 'thank you' to my ears.
And this is why I deal with
cancer. This is why I am in the field I chose.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
We see people from all walks of life, all positions of
the hierarchical ladder socially and politically (since we're located in
the heart of DC), young and old alike, people who have lived the "right
way" eating healthily working out religiously, people whose jobs entail
fighting for justice for the underprivileged righting wrongs - get
cancer. We've all somewhere somehow know
people close to us who have fought or are fighting battles with cancer.
It doesn't choose, it just happens.
But we did- we chose to enter this
And as I see more in my field, I am more than
ever glad to be able to serve these people- and their families, who
fight with courage and grace, who look at life so differently and
appreciate it the way we all should.
Ending this on a more cheery note - CARPE diem<3
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Dr Warren said to me the other day
"Sueyi, you're awfully subdued today. Are you feeling ok?" - with the most concerned face ever.
I, on the other hand, couldn't tease out if that was for real or he was just jesting (lol).
This- from the attending who worked with me for 3 weeks straight on the roughest rotation in Heme/Onc ever, he's gotten to know me pretty well- well, who wouldn't if they worked with you from early morn til the evening every single day including the weekends? ;) LOL
I laughed when he asked me that so my response WAS: "Dr Warren! I don't know whether I should take that as a compliment or an insult!" - but I am sure part of his tease was to elicit a happy response from me.
That's Dr Warren, amazing with his interpersonal skills. And always fooling around with me.
Sometimes I think he treats me like a kid, and takes on a bit of a fatherly role to me, and sometimes, he's like a complete kid too. I remember last week, I was walking rather quickly, (actually VERY quickly)- and he was in front of my pathway, and he blocked me with his nurse, he moved from left to right, obviously causing an obstruction to my path. I just cracked up, cos it was like he was like a little ninja moving left to right to left again intentionally to block me. HAHAHA.
My goodness! This is how we liven things up. Work is a fun place to be at!
Friday, November 16, 2012
# 1: Patient's wife: "You have very good bedside manners. Don't ever lose them", and then she smiled at me.
# 2: My patient whom I had followed since his first diagnosis, completing his 5th cycle of chemotherapy, who is a little rough on the edges and very loud (lol) but I heart him regardless. He reminds me of a gentle giant. After I was done with examining him- "Hey you (he calls me), you know what?" - to which I respond "No, what?" - then he exclaims "You are a good doctor, you know that?". I looked over to his wife, and I laughed. I laughed because of the tone he said it in, which was not subtle at all and was very direct (as-a-matter-of-fact tone), but so full of good intention. Then, I said to him "you made my morning!" Then, he laughed too :)
#3: My old male patient I believe is in his 80s - also really loud in terms of his voice projection for which my boss warned me before I stepped into the room "Sueyi, be careful." I asked "Why?"
- then he said "Cos they're loud". I laughed and said "I'm loud too!" So then, after I finished up my history and physical, and my attending had come in with me, he kept on calling me "nurse"- then after he called me "nurse" the 3rd time, his sister finally corrected him out of frustration (haha! I thought it was funny how she was frustrated for me :)) - She shouted "She's a DOCTOR!"
Then, he looked at me, "Oh, oh, I'm so sorry, dear!". I laughed, "it's ok!"
-so yes. I always, always get mistaken for a nurse, or an intern. AND I'm already a fellow, for goodness' sake!-
Regardless of whether I have my glasses on OR off, I always get mistaken for being more junior, but that does not irk me at all- cos I am younger- but my trick is to pull off my "good Asian genes" excuse ;) :)
The other day, my 60-some year old female patient asked me, as soon as I stepped into the room for a new consultation- "How old are you??"
I was taken aback at first, because I had only taken 2 steps into the room, and as soon as the door was shut, that question was directed to me. She persisted twice more. I then laughed at her determination to find out. The laughter did not distract her, unfortunately. I said "I don't tell my patients my age". She said 'Well, I am 68, so you can tell me your age now." I relented and said "I'm in my late 20s" (a bit of a white lie) Then she went "Ooooh, you look so good for your age". The Asian excuse did not really impress her. Then, I said it's my petite size, that's why I always look young. She said "No" and gave me a really funny response. My memory fails me now, for some reason. Then, I caved in when she wouldn't stop about my skin, my complexion etc... and so I finally said "Well, ok, I am in my mid 20s".
Then - she had one more say before we could focus on the important stuff. She said "Well, you look like you got it, girl". I had no clue what that meant, but she really did entertain me that day!
-Yes, I love clinic. Actually I love bonding with my patients. Each and every one of them - they're all so different, in how they view life, how they react to their disease, how they reach out to you whether consciously or not, or how they hold back- each and every one of them have their own unique stories and unique ways of dealing with their diagnoses and with life- and I find fulfillment, in learning from their stories and sharing their experiences, and even more- when I am able to help them or provide support in any way I can, from any one brief conversation that I share with my patients.
I truly heart my field. You know how people say oncology is too "touchy-feely" emotionally - I don't think that's necessarily true, but it is emotional, of course it is!! because having cancer brings with it a whole bag of emotions. So I think what we do, is truly special, truly different- because no one can do a good job in oncology if they are not able to empathize and feel. That's where I think, we oncologists are a pretty darn special group of people, with a skill set that no one else has. We touch hearts, and are truly able to make a difference in that sense.
Lots of love,
Sunday, October 28, 2012
"What a waste if we don't strive to love in
Why waste this life not loving?"
This melted my heart, and so I thought I'd share this with people, so they too can share the love, and realize how beautiful it is to have the opportunity to give love, receive it and - even to lose it.
And when you love, love unconditionally and wholeheartedly- even if it's a risk, because when it's true, real and reciprocated, it's the best feeling in the whole wide world :)
To love, and be loved :)
Thursday, October 25, 2012
I wonder if I have changed - and that slowly my values are also changing ...or that I'm starting to lose my old values? - Is this for the better?
Questions I know are so vague, but not for public exposure, questions I know are internally causing conflict and hurt- as I start to wonder about the judgement calls that I make. And knowing this, knowing that I still have so much more to learn, and the naivete that I sometimes have when it comes to reading people or seeing them for who they are and who they can be. It only hurts when it is unexpected and it disappoints and when my emotional self gets overwhelmed.
And only in one matter, where these I don't seem to have answers to. And it seems it's also in this matter where I exercise such poor control of my emotions and psyche.
I guess time will tell. I know this, any decision or choice I make, the consequences are mine to bear.And that at least is a consolation, because you can only look at things two ways; it's either an uphill ride or a lesson well learned.
How do you know if it's for the best for you- when it is what your heart wants, but your mind is carefully holding your heart back?
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
I go to work, and my patients light me up :)
My very first patient in clinic today- Mr. X and his wife, whom I have followed since he was first diagnosed- we have formed such a strong bond in just a few clinic visits...
I was greeted with a warm hug by him as soon as I walked into the room. It's truly a warm, gratifying feeling. I truly love what I do- you know why? I feel like I'm making a difference and working with my patients is a constant reminder of what matters in my life, it puts everything into perspective.
Honestly, being in medicine, if there's one thing you learn- it's to appreciate every small thing that you have.
My 80 year old patient whom I saw in the VA today, was such a sweetheart. As I wrapped up our clinic consultation, he asked me again for my full name, and then asked for a name card. *laughs*
Then, the next patient who walked in, my 76 year old patient, we had a great conversation going on- about history, politics, his involvement with war, his travel experiences- I told him he certainly does not have a brain of a 70+ year old. He laughed, and said that's why he sometimes gets called a "snob". I replied "you're not a snob if you are respectful of others, and are not condescending, you know?" - and he agreed.
Then, after a while later, we shook hands, and he asked if I was going to be back here for his next follow-up.
Awww... what a day :) I heart my patients (lol)
The custodians were also clowning today. One of them, when I walked past him, shouted in the hallway 'PLEASE don't leave me. Don't leave me"- then broke off into a song and his partner laughed along. I waved goodbye to the 2 boys and laughed.
Honestly, this morning, I was so exhausted mentally.... and what was so strange.
It was like deja vu.... it took me back to the time when I was in the call room as an intern... *I won't go into detail here* but it felt exactly like that moment.
Evan sent me an unexpected text message, that was really heart-warming and uplifting. It's such a nice feeling knowing that your dear friend all the way in Australia was thinking of you, and even sweeter to know that he read your blog and found out that you weren't doing too well, and was checking up on you :) It definitely brought a big smile inside.
That's what you call friends for life- we've been friends for over 10 years now. Again, I can't say how lucky I am to be blessed with gems in my life. It's god's way of giving you angels.
Sue Sue :)