Guess who is done with final exams!! Meeeee
Guess who is home in Florida!! WOO
I’ve literally never been more excited to be home and done with exams in my life. This semester was GREAT, but so HARD. There was definitely days I was so exhausted and wanted to give up, but I pushed through. But, this is not what that blog post is about (On Monday I’ll be doing my tips for making it through finals weeks).
So, I flew home yesterday on Southwest (my favorite, favorite company to fly with) and ended up sitting next to this amazing, Southern, big blonde-haired momma bear who had a terminal illness. We got to talking, because well I like to talk to everyone and she had the most well behaved mini dauchshound with her, and she proceeded to tell me all about what she was sick with and how she was being treated. And let me tell you, I learned more in that half an hour conversation with her than I have in some of my classes.
So, I can’t go in to her actual illness because that’s just a huge invasion of privacy, but I can tell you the generals, which honestly are all you need to come to the same realization I did. Her terminal illness is rare. It isn’t always terminal and it isn’t seen that often, and this woman STRUGGLED to get it diagnosised. She went to doctor after doctor who basically all proceeded to tell her she was crazy and making this up. She had countless recommendations to go to Psychiatry and get evaluated. But this woman never doubted herself. She had been through nursing school and she knew that how she was feeling was not right. She finally ended up getting a rash all over her abdomen and that’s how her diagnosis happened. She again went to the hospital and was told she had everything from an allergic reaction to shingles (Shingles is unilateral on the body and will not cross the midline) to being told she needed to go to a dermatologist. She goes to the dermatologist and gets her diagnosis literally right away. The dermatologist sat there, listened to all of her symptoms, and examed her and diagnosised her with: an autoimmune disease.
Now to me, that was shocking. This woman told me that she literally had seen countless doctors and gotten diagnosised by her dermatologist of all people (not to put derm down, but I just don’t associated them with autoimmune diseases). And then she pointed something out to me: her dermatologist was the ONLY person who truly listened to her symptoms.
Okay so she has her diagnosis now and everything is perfect, right? Well, not entirely. She gets a rheumatologist who places her on a medicine that seriously helps with her condition, but has SERIOUS side effects. And eventually, Momma Bear gets one of these side effects. She tells the rheumatologist who tells her its nothing and blows it off for 5 months. She finally goes to her primary, who she tells about this side effect and they FREAK out. She immediately has to get off the drug and undergo tests to make sure it doesn’t cause any side effects. Low and behold, not only is she dying from her terminal illness, she now has the high possibility to get an incredibly awful cancer because she has nodules. Great, right? So she fires the rheumatologist, finds a new one, and starts going to Mayo to get treatment. This new rheumatologist is in contact with Mayo all the time and they work together to get Momma Bear on medicine on the right dose to help her live with her condition. And she is doing a ton better, still dying, but not in constant pain.
Now, through this all, I’m listening quietly and asking questions. Momma Bear wasn’t mean or upset or blaming her doctors. She was simply frustrated that no one had listened to her. And at the end of this conversation, she tells me one thing that has stayed with me all day and prompted me to write this post.
She tells me how amazing of a provider I’m going to be.
Sure, right now I’m learning and I don’t know all of the medicine, but that I did one thing so right. I listened to her. Truly listened and didn’t interrupt and didn’t just tune her out. And this woman doesn’t know me at all. She doesn’t know that I felt inadequate at times and like I wasn’t cut out for school. She doesn’t know that I definitely have had moments when I cried about how hard PA school was. She just knew that I was doing something, one semester in to my schooling, that countless other providers hadn’t done for her. And I can’t even began to tell y’all how amazing it was to hear that.
So, what I want you guys to take away from this is three simple things:
- Learning happens EVERYWHERE. It isn’t always how well you do in a classroom, but rather your life experiences that make you a good provider. Our world is filled with people who are so incredibly different from us. The challenges they face are unlike any challenge we will face. And we can learn from other’s experiences.
- Listening is the KEY to being a good provider. The one thing Momma Bear told me over and over was that she felt like no one listened to her. Our healthcare is currently making a huge change from provider centered to patient centered healthcare-and we need to embrace that change with open arms. We don’t know it all. And our patients know a lot better than we do about what is wrong with them and how they are feeling. Actively listen to your patients and you will be surprised with how much easier it is to take care of them.
- We will NEVER know it all. Momma Bear’s condition is rare. And because of that, I’m sure a lot of providers dismissed her symptoms as mental because they couldn’t think of anything that would cause them. But don’t be like those doctors, be like the rheumatologist who is in constant contact with Mayo. The guy who is admitting he doesn’t know it all and that getting help from his peers is the best thing he could do for his patient. Knowing it all is just totally unachievable. So don’t strive for that, strive to constantly do better and learn more.
I hope you guys enjoyed reading this, and that it gave you even more of a passion to be a provider. As always, feel free to reach out to me on the contact page with questions/concerns/possible ideas.