Pallor. Fatigue. Decreased exercise tolerance. light-headedness. Orthostatic symptoms. Young female.
What does that spell?
I mean, it seems awfully obvious in retrospect (and doesn’t everything?). But this has probably been going on for ages. Was always a pale kid, didn’t spend much time outside, and was constantly praised for my paper-white skin (“You’ll never get wrinkles!” “You’ll never get skin cancer!”). I was never totally athletic, though I’ve picked up running (very, very light running, mind you) over the last few years and when I started to get light-headed or began puffing like crazy over the last few months, I was told I should probably work out more. Probably deconditioned.
Not so much, apparently.
So it’s happening again. After sorting out my eyes a few years back, my wisdom teeth have decided to join the revolt against my body. What did I ever do to them?!
Once again, this puts me in the unusual position of med-student-turned-patient. I’ve never been seriously ill, operated on, or had to travel to get the care I need. So to suddenly need oral surgery in the next few months in a city 3 hours from my own… well, it’s interesting, to say the least.
My class was recently asked to write a short piece on how a patient encounter has changed how we’ll practice medicine someday. We had a couple of different topics, but one resonanted with me – “Reflect an instance where a patient has brought you a new understanding of how disease impacts patients’ everyday lives.”
At first, I’d thought of writing something rather pedestrian – how someone with diabetic foot has to keep track of their foot health, how someone with a C-spine injury deals with everyday activities like eating or dressing… Don’t get me wrong, I’m not minimizing daily challenges like those, they just seemed to be what the question was leading towards.
Then I thought of a lady I’d met. She really did change how I viewed both myself as a healer and my patient as a partner and teacher. I’ve rewritten my response below – and if you steal material from it to complete your assignment, God help me, I WILL SET MY NINJAS ON YOU.