There are some days, many days where I question what I'm doing with my life.
When you're the "smart one", the one who doesn't have to study, the one who is always told "you should be a doctor", it seems as though your life is all laid out for you. And it was. Well sort of.
Then the doubts begin. You fail a test. You fail another test. You learn what rejection feels like. You realize how much you do not succeed in your endeavors. You hurt others around you because you keep trying harder and harder to succeed and neglect relationships.
Work begins and never ends. Ever. All you do is work. And work. And keep working. And people keep asking things from you. Stupid things. And they ask idiotic questions. I mean, really really dumb things... like "How do I not get constipated?" and "How could I be pregnant?" and "Why aren't you giving me more Lortab?"
But then, then something happens to make it all worthwhile. Something that renews your faith in humanity and in your own self.
I was in the ED and picked up a patient with a "foot wound". It had been a long day already and I had a sinking feeling that this would be just another uncontrolled-diabetic-overweight-pain-pill-seeking-angry-patient. The patient was none of those things. And the wound on the foot was not trivial. The patient had seen several doctors in the previous week. As we discussed health history and the history of this foot wound, I began my physical examination.
I am consistently made fun of in the ED because I do a full exam on all my patients. I keep telling myself that it's good for my education and I'm making myself a better doctor, but I really want to not do it all the same.
Nonetheless, I did my full exam. When I touched the patient's leg....it felt like a piece of fragile bubble wrap. I immediately called surgery.
I got lucky. And, I guess, so did the patient. I could have just ignored the complaint or skimped on my examination. But I didn't. And my patient lived.
So, to answer my question: I do it to save lives; for moments when my patient grabs my hand, looks me in the eye, and says, "Thank you. Thank you for helping me"; for the realization that I'm doing what I'm supposed to do.
I apologize for the "woe-is-me" nature of this post. But I have a feeling I'm going to need this reminder in the future. Probably more than once.