I lost my brother before I had the opportunity to meet him. Technology was not advanced enough in my hometown in India for my mother to know she had lost her child before it laid still in her arms. Two years later, after more than a few complications, I was born at [name of hospital], defying many odds. [Name of hospital] in Sanskrit means reverence – and that is what I felt towards the doctor who saved my mom’s life, and gave me life, 13 years later when my mom told me the story.
That night, I wrote in my journal how nice it would be to have an older brother who could have been my trusted confidant. Since then, I have found comfort in writing, which has helped me find answers to my seemingly rhetorical questions in times of quiet contemplation. My journal has untangled the jumbled thoughts amidst my panic attacks. Whether it be the days that dissuaded me from pursuing medicine or surged motivation to keep hustling, writing has allowed me to reflect upon them to better understand them and myself. It has taught me that each day is a lesson to learn from, letting me start the next day on a fresh page. Over the years, as my words instilled self-confidence, I began writing on my blog and ultimately compiled key entries in my first published book – [name of book]. Woven in fifty pages are my inquisitions, insecurities and inspirations, with hopes that the donation of royalties to SickKids Foundation and my words will fuel aspirations of those finding their voice and fighting for their life.
Wanting to encourage others to find their confidant in their words, I joined [name of paper] as an Arts and Life editor. The excitement of portraying the intersection of creativity and humanity soon turned to disappointment when articles stemming from my first pitches lacked the depth and creativity I was hoping to see. Over time, mentors and former editors have encouraged me to hone my inquisitive voice for crafting pitches that instigate critical thinking and to better empathize with a writer for providing insight. Observing my environment and organizing those thoughts in a way the reader could identify with is a skill. I have developed that perception and applied that to help others which has demonstrated how mentorship could be a two-way street. Medicine requires me to do the same – to observe the patient, understand them to discern the disease, and explain it to them. Writing has been the gateway that bolstered my understanding of myself and those around me - engraining the idea of improving the writer rather than the piece – a philosophy that translates into medicine as I learnt from [name of doctor].
I shadowed [name of doctor] who manages a private gynaecology practice in my hometown in India. What is amazing is how he collaborated with German physicians to provide the first and affordable in-vitro fertilization service in my hometown, reminding me that medicine demands continuous learning and collaboration. His interaction with this patient exemplified the humanistic nature of medicine. The patient grew overly concerned having to deliver her child through ‘unnatural’ means of birthing. [Name of doctor] listened to the patient’s concerns, used simple explanations to help the family understand the necessity for a C-section, walked them through the procedure to ease their anxiety and helped them apply for government aid to cope with the incurred costs from not having private insurance. Watching him operate with a calm demeanor as he controlled bleeding from an unknown source during a C-section enabled me to understand the fast-paced nature of medicine. Hoping to decipher the dynamic role of a doctor, I asked him how he maintained his composure in the surgery, to which he replied he remained healthy to keep his patients healthy. As an avid cyclist, [name of doctor] encouraged me to further explore pursuits in writing, along with medicine, reminding me of the importance of maintaining personal mental and physical health.
Even good doctors cannot control fate. No matter how much one treats the patient rather than the disease, the disease often takes away the patient. I distinctly remember a conversation I had with a patient at [name of cancer center] who I found standing aloof. Upon asking him if he was alright, he told me he had just found out he lost his brother to cancer. “I’m sorry for your loss,” I stammered. I sat him down, brought him a glass of water and left him be as their relative joined them. On my walk home, I thought about resilience, especially through losses, is what allows doctors to persevere in this demanding field.
My words have crafted an imagination of what my elder brother would be like, just as what practicing medicine may entail. But as experiences have shown me, no words can paint the perfect picture because medicine demands comfort in expecting the unexpected. The spirit of learning continuously, applying what I know about the quirks of the human body to restoring health garnered my interest in healthcare. Understanding how medicine is an art – a fine balance of science, intuition and compassion – has enticed me to pursue it further and begin the many new chapters of [name of book].