"ignore the story. see the soul. remember to love. you will never regret it" --- Seane Corn
it's a jungle out there
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Maybe I am doing good
Friday I complained that I was wasting my life. That I wanted to do something bigger.
I used to do stuff that felt big. Iloved doing stuff that felt big. I used to do stuff that was life altering. Stuff that changed me. I miss doing what I consider important work. I wanna do something big like digging wells in Africa. Or building schools. Or going to Peru with a bunch of local docs who are running a cleft palate repair clinic. I want to save children from death.
I want Big Stuff. Huge Stuff. Life and Death Stuff.
I want my life's work to be
I want to make a difference.
I want to be a fucking hero.
If I let myself think about it too much I feel like a cog in the wheel of the behemoth health care industry that so many of us wish to see reformed. I feel like any good I do is eclipsed by culpability. I'm in bed with the pharmaceutical companies. I'm bl*wing HMOs. Honestly, how much amoxicillin can I prescribe in a day? How many kids do I see for a diaper rash or a runny noses? a lot How many prescriptions do I write for kids diagnosed with ADHD? A butt load. Seriously. Sometimes lots of times I feel like part of the problem rather than the solution.
Friday I began yet another workday in our twice removed suburb of NYC.
Here are some of the patients I saw:
A two week old baby of Greek parents who emigrated to the U.S. This baby is the result of IVF. Mom is a 42 year old woman who was told she'd never have children. They have a 2 year old, also the result of IVF. This Greek mama says to me Michelle, you're the only one I trust. You're the only one I will see here.
A babbling 6 month old infant of Indian parents. The Indian mama laughs and says Michelle, he cries with all the other doctors but to you he tells stories.
The teen aged ghetto mom I say this without an ounce of derision whose 9 month baby is cranky with teething and ear pain and the teenage mom is worried. She comes to me because I look her in the eye and treat her baby like he's precious and not just a statistic.
The Bangladeshi mom whose three daughters I've taken care of for 8 years Michelle you weren't here last time so I didn't get my questions answered. You're the only one who takes the time to talk and explain things to me.
A 9 month old with a fever. I have taken care of his 7 year old sister who needed spinal surgery when she was 3. I also have taken care of his 19 year old aunt and her 2 year old son
The 19 year old daughter of an employee I've worked with for 12 years. I first saw her when she was 7 and I'm the only one she's comfortable with.
The 19 month old daughter of a nurse I've worked with for 3 years
The 25 year old nurse who was my patient as a teen and had her first baby at age 15 then had 2 more but still got her R.N. and now is working on her bachelor degree. We work together during the day and she picks up her kids from daycare and brings them to me in the evening when they're sick.
A lot of our employees choose to bring their kids to me. It's me and 21 physicians. I'm the only nurse practitioner and they choose me when their babies are sick. They choose me. They trust me.
That's fucking something.
The Spanish speaking moms come back to see me even though I don't speak Spanish. But I take the time to muddle through and we play Spanish/English medical charades if there's no one around to translate. And they ask me all the questions that they feel others find a bother.
So here in our little suburb of a suburb of NYC, I go to work and take care of children from all over the planet. And I have patients from Kenya and Malawi and Ghana and the Ivory Coast and Uganda. And Jordan and Iran and Iraq. And the Philippines and Vietnam and Cambodia.
I take care of the children of ghetto junkie moms. I take care of children in group foster homes.
And I hear on a daily basis thank you for taking the time... he never cries with you... we're so relieved your working today, she said she didn't want to see anyone but you... see, it's Doctor Michelle, do you feel better now?
That's big stuff.
So even though sometimes I feel like I should be doing something really big maybe this is big enough for now. Maybe being the one who doesn't scare the hell out of a kid and has a mommy voice that makes a baby smile and explains things to a worried parent is enough. Maybe being the trusted one is enough. They trust me with their children's health. They trust me with their babies. Maybe I shouldn't minimize that. Maybe that's enough.
"it occurred to me that the only real sin you can commit as a mother is to deny your children's right to be who they are and what they want to be and that the only real sin you can commit against yourself is to deny who you truly are and prevent yourself from being who that is"