Fear. Lust. Grief. Contempt. Boredom. These are just some of the few emotions that we, humans, can feel. But out of the diverse gamut of fleeting experiences, I think the most unique one, by far, has to be vulnerability. There's something special about how raw and naked it is. It's the complete antithesis to facades and veneers. Vulnerability unflinchingly lies there exposed and unarmed against the silent judgement of its onlookers.
And I think that's so beautiful.
This past week I received news that my dad was admitted into the emergency room. While his doctors (not to mention the obsessive WebMD-ing I did afterwards) reassured me that it was easily treatable with surgery, I couldn't help but remain unsettled. It wasn't even about "what if's" or anything like that. I simply wanted to be there with my dad. I wanted to sit right next to him and let him know I was there. I wanted to feel his energy and be present in every possible way. But I couldn't. For the first time, I felt so estranged from my family.
For the first time, I wanted to go home.
I wasn't as invincible as I thought. I thought that if I was able adjust to the wet heat, the vicious mosquitos, the language, and new culture that there was nothing that could stop me. But alas, life loves to hit you where it hurts the most. For me, that is family. My family is my everything. They are my rock during the storm. The tree that provides me shade when I'm tired and food when I'm hungry. To sit here a thousand miles away knowing that my everything was in danger, my everything was scared, and my everything in pain was absolutely terrifying. But before I allowed myself to spiral into the abyss of anxiety and chaos, I sat down and tried to put things into perspective.
From my four weeks here, I have gotten the opportunity to see with my very eyes how inaccessible healthcare is for many people here, both physically and legally. My family is fortunate to be in a place where it takes only one phone call for an ambulance to arrive in less than 10 minutes to your house. On top of this, I am privileged to have grown up in a society where I can have 100% confidence that the doctors there will take great care of my family not just medically but emotionally as well.
And that's when I, once again, found myself in awe of the art of the medicine. I always knew that physicians do more than just prescribe drugs and schedule surgeries. They're there to provide the patient and their families with emotional support, comfort, and relief. But it doesn't just end with my mom and siblings who are on the bedside. The doctors, nurses, and staff who took care of my father might not realize it, but they are also extending their services and comfort to me (his child studying abroad a thousand miles away), my grandparents (who are worried sick for their eldest son), my aunts, uncles, and so many others who are all in this interwoven web of human connections. When a physician works with a patient, they are not just presented with that patient's vulnerability but also the lives of those that are intertwined with them, too. Physicians are given the opportunity to serve people in their greatest time of need. To be faced with vulnerability on so many different levels. To touch lives in a grand ripple effect. And that's exactly why I'm here to begin with. I know I still have quite a ways to go in this journey. But with every lesson I learn here and everywhere else I go in life, I am determined to make it all bring me closer to one day having the privilege of serving patients during their greatest state of vulnerability.