Friday, June 18, 2010

An Odd Coincidence

Well, it's T-minus 6 days until orientation, and I'm getting a bit nervous. I think my parents picked up on that, because they suggested we hit the temple and do a little pre-residency prayer. I'm not a hugely sentimental person, but it seemed appropriate given just how COMPLETELY SCREWED N THE BUTT I WILL BE, so I was all for it.

We went to the temple this morning, and as we were lining up to take prasadam (blessed food) from the priest, we managed to notice an older couple there who we recognized. The man was a semi-retired pediatrician, Dr. S, who passed his practice onto his son. And at the risk of sounding melodramatic, this guy saved my life when I was 12.

My own pediatrician had a solo practice at the time, and on the days when he had to be away for whatever reason, he had us call Dr. S. Dr. S was a well-respected pediatrician in the area, solo praticing for many years. He was knowledgable, kind and always relaxed. I always remembered for him for his glass eye, which at that time was just about the coolest thing ever - I kept waiting for him to pull out a peg leg and dirty-mouthed parrot and say things like "ARRRRRR!". My mom took me to see him because I seemed to have a sore throat that wouldn't go away. I don't remember that much of it well because it seemed like a totally normal exam to me at the time, but he heard a pretty decent murmur during auscultation and leaped into action ordering EKGs and echos and making sure I got evaluated immediately by a pediatric cardiologist.

Without giving away all the nitty gritty details, I wound up in the hospital for a week with congestive heart failure, and on bed rest for 2 months afterwards. It was a great catch on the behalf of Dr. S, and I received incredible care from the pediatric cardio team. As a result, I survived a quite serious situation with virtually no residual health problems barring a new allergy to aspirin.

At that time, I never fully understood how big a deal this whole thing was. I never felt sick, never felt scared, and never looked back. (But being trapped on bed rest during the OJ Simpson trial was enough to make anyone vomit.) But I came across my old records a few days ago while hunting for my vaccination sheet, and was surprised to find how intensive the treatment was. I was also surprised to find how thorough the care was, and in light of how much spotty medical treatment I have witnessed in the past two years, I was impressed by how much Dr. S showed his care. I was lucky to have had him.

My family has pretty much put this all behind us, as we have newer and bigger things to worry about and look forward to. This, for my parents, has represented the culmination of all their efforts and hard work (and mine), and how much we've all been able to do. But seeing Dr. S as we prayed for the start of my surgical residency was, to say the least, auspicious. It reminded us all of how utterly lucky we have all been in life, to be healthy and safe and together.

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