So I’ve explained to you what this blog is about. I’ve explained to you what an internist is and what I went through to get there. But the real question you are asking is: “Why should anyone listen to you?”
I am not the smartest doctor you will ever meet. Not even close. But I’m no dummy either. I went to school for a long time to be able to give the BEST care to my patients, but book smarts are not the whole story when it comes to the making of a competent physician. Your physician needs to be able to empathize and relate to you, especially in primary care.
I believe everything I’ve been through in life has helped me to get where I am. We had a professor in med school tell us, “Prepare well, so that you may serve well.” God has been preparing me for this job my entire life. As I reflect back on my life experiences, the joys and the sorrows and the disappointments, it is evident that God wanted me to experience these things that I might relate to people in order that I may serve them well.
I grew up on a farm in the delta. I was the “best son” my dad never had. I worked hard in our yard and on the farm. I ran a catfish hatchery. I painted classrooms. I went to Mississippi College and took med school level classes in undergrad. I studied in the library while my friends were having a “normal college experience”. I usually always had some sort of job during school as well. I coached basketball. I worked in retail. I hated asking my parents for money. I was grateful for their sacrifice to send me to MC. I graduated with honors, started medical school. I spent 12-14 hours per day in the library those first two years studying to pass the board exams. Studying so that I would be prepared when I had people’s lives in my hands. 3rd and 4th years of medical school were a blur. I performed menial tasks for the residents. I fetched coffee and gauze and tape. I held clip boards for attendings and retractors for hours on end during thoracic surgery and pressure on bleeding wounds. I did patient presentations on rounds and chest compressions during codes. As a resident, I worked 80 hours a week. Every 4th day I would work almost 30 hours in a row.
I know what it means to work.
I saw both of my grandfathers pray for rain on their crops. I saw them pray for dry weather for harvest. I saw them work until the wee hours of the morning on a combine or cotton picker to get the crops harvested before a tropical storm blew in. I saw my dad worry about catfish being “on flavor” and oxygen levels in the ponds dropping on a hot summer night. I saw crops lost and crops made. I saw lean years and fat years.
I know the look of worry and the weight of concern.
I went to Sharkey-Issaquena Academy growing up. I graduated with 16 people. SIXTEEN. I absolutely loved it. We didn’t get to choose our friends. There were not enough students to have cliques. There were no rich kids and poor kids. There were no haves and have-nots. There were no jocks and nerds. I mean, there were kids in all these categories, but students didn’t walk around with labels. We interacted with everyone, pre-K through 12th grade. It wasn’t perfect and there was conflict ( I mean, c’mon, its high school), but the conflict couldn’t really last very long. Who else were you going to be friends with? Then there were the teachers, who either taught your parents or were related to you some how. You couldn’t be a punk in class because your parents were on speed dial. You couldn’t really avoid people in our small delta town, so you did not have a choice but to get along. I learned so many valuable things at that school, but growing up in this environment allowed me to learn to relate to everyone.
I know how to talk to people, no matter their age, color, socioeconomic status, or level of education.
While I am a doctor, I have also been the patient and I have been the patient’s family many times. I have broken bones and torn ligaments. I have had surgeries. I have been put on low sugar diets. I have worried about lab results. I have been told I worry too much. I have experienced the annoyance of taking medications on a daily basis. I have experienced the joy of birthing two babies. I have mourned the loss of an unborn child. I have comforted my best friends during their battles of infertility. I have cried tears of joy with them as they finally entered motherhood. I have slugged through the misery of losing “baby weight”. I have lost weight unintentionally and so fast that it was concerning to those that loved me. I have seen a parent go years without any physician being able to explain what was wrong with her. I remember the relief of finding an answer and the disappointment that there was nothing to be done about it. I have “slept” on the uncomfortable couches in Batson Children’s Hospital as my 2 week old received treatment. I have rushed my husband to the emergency room as he was experiencing anaphylactic shock. I have heard my mom utter the words, “its cancer,” and felt the numbness that takes over your body and then you hear nothing else that is said. I have heard the doctor say, “there is a good chance its curable”. I have received the phone call, “my numbers are up again”. I have met my grandfather on the helipad as he was flown in for an emergent heart cath during a massive heart attack. I have seen family and friends struggle with addiction. I have felt the searing pain of suicide. I have lost a grandmother suddenly. I have watched a grandmother slowly languish away from dementia. I have sat in an exam room with my child and discussed the possibility of a rare disease.
I know the joy, hope, pain, grief, shock, struggle, worry, anxiety, and fear of the medical world.
Most days, it is easier to be the doctor than the patient. God knew what he was doing when he set my feet on this path. He has directed my steps and I know that I have experienced all of these things so that I may better serve my patients. I may not be the smartest doctor you ever meet, but I know a few things and the learning never ceases. I will work tirelessly for my patients. I can talk with my patients, and listen to them, and recognize their looks of worry and concern. I can empathize with my patients, because I have experienced many things that they have or will experience. I hope and pray that through this blog, you may find encouragement, motivation, healing, knowledge, and comfort.
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-6