Some angels have wings, others have stethoscopes. I, for one, would take a stethoscope over wings any day. High School diploma, check. Penn State Undergraduate degree, almost checked. An M.D.? White coat? Scrubs? Dr. Avery Felty M.D. is in progress…
I knew I was not stupid in school, especially in science. I knew it when I got a 110 percent on my first physiology exam. It actually occurred to me that I was pretty good at science when I was accepted into Lebanon Valleys Pre-Med program with a Biology Scholarship, but even more when I was accepted into The Eberly College of Science on Penn State’s Main campus as a freshman. I knew I could remember things about the body and the way it connects to maintain a life more than I ever thought possible. I love the way the body works and how anatomy and physiology work together to create and maintain a living organism. My personal favorite: the human body.
I want to help people. I knew this is what I wanted to do when my grandmother became sick in 2010 with stage four colon cancer and was admitted into the Lehigh Valley Cedar Crest Hospital in the fall. I visited for the few days she was in and started observing the nurses and then the doctors coming in one by one. I became highly interested in what they were doing. What was their next approach? How did they know all of this information about the body? What meds to administer? After her invasive surgery, we were brought to the ICU where we did not know if she would wake up. She was 83, hooked up to a ventilator for a week before waking up. It was a miracle. I loved that about it. There was hope and miracles, but most importantly patience.
After she came home, I was there. I helped take care of her and got to take her to her follow-up program and check-ins with the gastroenterologist. There, I met a young man who was in his first year as a resident. He explained to me step by step from the beginning of what was happening to my grandmother and all of the treatments and medications that came with it. It was amazing how all of these things gave my grandmother two more happy years.
My grandmother passed in March of 2012. I saw it and I was there for the last breath. But I knew the underlining reasons and I understood. From seeing her go from the talkative little granny with the potato farm to too sedated to the point that she could not walk up, my heart raced to help the Hospice nurse stabilize her. It was adrenaline and learning all in one.
Patients are people and people are important. They have lives and family. They have reasons behind what they do and stories behind those reasons. Sometimes we learn them and sometimes we don’t. But the underlining point is that each patient needs hope and that is what I plan on being for my patients in the future. I hope to be their hope because I will have their lives in my hands from the second they walk into hospital and even after they walk out.
“It is a beautiful day to save lives.” – Derek Shepard (Grey’s Anatomy.)