27 Oct

longitudinal experience to appreciate the patient’s perspective

For the first 18 months of medical school, each student is paired up with another student and a chronically ill patient.  With the patient’s permission, the students meet him/her for various physician/therapeutic appointments and conduct fairly relaxed interviews in order to gain a better understanding of of the day-to-day while managing a lifelong and, at times, terminal condition.

Jared and I met with our LEAPP patient for the first time today.  In order to maintain patient confidentiality, I must be vague.  She is a few years younger than I am.  She was diagnosed when she was 18 months old and her illness has been progressing since then, although there have been ups and downs.  Her treatments are daily and time-consuming, yet she has managed to maintain an incredibly “normal” life, going to college, playing a varsity college sport, starting a family.  She considers herself fortunate, and she was incredibly generous with her time and energy today, encouraging us to ask her any and all questions, allowing us to sit-in throughout her visit, which included some very personal questions.  We will see her again in a month.

I don’t think of myself as someone who typically takes things for granted…at least, I feel a great deal of appreciation for what I have and what I can do.  But I still whine about my health, lack of sleep, workload, and temporary separation from loved ones.  Today was certainly not my first wake-up call, but I think it’s an indication that I need them frequently.  But, more importantly, my meeting with this woman was simply a privilege, a first-hand observation of courage and humility, and I look forward to many more, with this patient and others.


4 Responses to “leapp”

  1. Catherine October 27, 2010 at 11:15 pm #

    What a valuable experience. It’s wonderful that your program is providing/requiring this kind of inside look, and so lucky that you were paired with such an open and inspiring woman.

    • annaojesus November 6, 2010 at 1:50 am #

      long overdue, my apologies: thank you so much, Catherine, for your comments–they are always so appreciated. i do feel very lucky for this experience.

  2. Jim Oppenheimer October 28, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    I read an article a while ago by a physician who found that she had breast cancer, and she discussed how the illness changed her POV as she went through the processes.

    She honestly thought she was a very person-oriented practitioner, always focusing on what the patient needed, but her stint as a patient brought her up short. She found the experience dramatically changed the way in which she interacted with patients.

    I had a bout with sleep terrors many years ago, and the Rx at the time was valium at bed-time. It knocked out the sleep terrors without any serious side effects, but I was able to tell some of my clients about my own difficulties in accepting my own weakness. Judiciously disclosing my own need to take medication enabled us to connect.

    There’s something strengthening about the wounded healer.

    • annaojesus November 6, 2010 at 1:47 am #

      jim, i know this is long overdue, but thank you very much for your comments. if you ever come across th article, please let me know.

      i’m sorry to hear about the sleep tremors, but i’m glad that the healing process helped you connect in another way to your clients. what a wonderful outlook.

      thank you again, miss you.

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