Monday, September 6, 2010
The heart of it.
I don't blog about medical school much, but I promise that is what I do with most of my time.
When I started the blog I wanted it to be an escape from all the hard science I was learning and to focus on the art of living.
Truth be told, I had trouble seeing myself in the science, in the medical field, so I wanted to make sure I was still being heard (somewhere in the ether) about things I connected with....fashion, design, food.
I still have trouble seeing myself in the medical field as it is, which is an awkward position to be in throughout these learning years when you're the low man on the totem pole and are just trying to stay afloat in this constant stream of knowledge in a system you didn't and would never design.
But there are occasional flashes of recognition that this is where I want to be. That there is an art to all this science after all.
This week we started learning about the heart. My friend Erica who blogs wonderfully about our medical school experience had talked about how dermatology is hard because we all know what healthy skin looks like, so when something goes wrong it looks really wrong to us.
Not many people get the chance to see or hold a human heart though, so it's not always apparent which ones are healthy or not. But this week we had a lab, where pathologist showed us different hearts . They were hypertrophic, had artificial valves, and had huge thrombi (blood clots) among other things.
One of the hearts though was from a child. The pathologist thought it was from an 8-year-old based on the size, but it was tiny, and let me tell you even if you don't know anything about the heart, it feels wrong to see such a tiny heart in your hand. A tiny heart that should be beating in a little boy playing baseball.
Unfortunately by this point, we've already become so desensitized that these visits to the pathology lab become just another stop in our 8-hour information overload days, something else we have to learn and be tested on, and the specimens are just interesting pathologies, not someone's heart that used to quicken at the sight of her handsome husband.
I am even guiltier than most of this. I've gone past desensitized and even started to resent how much we have to learn, how relentless the tide of information is, how imbalanced our lives our being forced to be.
But when I held that too small heart in my hand, I had one of those rare moments where I could see the full scope of this experience. That I was holding a human heart. That I was learning what had caused this and how it could be prevented. That ultimately this experience would lead me to a place where I could help people with this knowledge and hopefully practice the art of medicine.
And I could, for a second, see my place in all of this.
And that will keep me going until the next glimpse.