It has been a polar vortex here in NW Ohio. We’re currently at about 40 inches of snow this month alone, topping the blizzard record high set in 1978. We’ve also had temperatures down to -40F. We had 2 days of peds orientation week cancelled due to level 3 snow emergencies. Schools have barely been open. And among all this, I’ve been working in the PICU.
Having worked in the SICU I found the idea of intensive care extremely interesting and simultaneously challenging, I requested a PICU rotation for my pediatric inpatient experience. I had some really tough cases while there including an episode of bullying that turned lethal, a kid with tetralogy of fallot (a serious heart condition) who almost died every night, kids with bad burns, and a lot of kids who came in from foster care with no real support.
We had one particular patient who was who was an adorable infant girl with several birth defects including holoprosencephaly and cleft lip/palate abandoned at birth because she “wasn’t normal”. The nurses were fantastic about holding her and loving her. One day the nurses were all extremely busy with the 12 other kids we had on service and she was inconsolable. As a medical student I was done with my daily tasks of updating the list, putting in orders, and making sure everything got done that was supposed to be done. So I went to her room and I held her and played with her for over two hours. It was a simple act, a baby crying needed some love and attention. She finally fell asleep in my arms for a while when a pediatric palliative care doctor walked in.
She said I was going to make a wonderful doctor. Obviously that is my end goal, but I asked how she knew in the two seconds she had known me. She said it was because “those who are willing to put people above everything else will always do what’s best”. This doctor told me that it’s not always about the medicines or the surgeries that make people better. Sometimes, it’s the simple act of love that makes all the difference.
The PICU taught me a lot about how to work with really sick and frightened kids. I’ve learned some tricks along the way like using a scary otoscope as a candle or always having a toy in your pocket. As I enter into the outpatient part of pediatrics and the rest of my life I will always keep in mind what I’ve learned here. Because no matter what any adult will have you think, when you’re in the hospital you are just as scared as these little kids and a little love can go a long way.
Everyone tells me that one day I’ll eventually become just as jaded as most doctors are. Luckily, I’ll always have memories like these that remind me of the good I really can do for someone else aside from all the politics and all the paperwork. Because that’s why we all get into medicine in the first place – to help others. So never forget, love is sometimes the best medicine of all.