So Here's The Bad News...

There are many moments in the field of healthcare that are hard to describe, and often those moments involve our frailty as human beings. Every time I have to deliver bad news to a patient, my heart sinks to the bottom of my chest, and that moment soon becomes a memory I cannot forget. No training can adequately prepare you for informing brand new parents that their baby has features of Trisomy 21 (Down’s Syndrome). In such instances, I give people information that could alter their entire lives.

I had never imagined myself to be in that kind of situation. Early on in medicine it was hard to deal with those moments. The longer I have practiced, however, the more I've come to realize that just because a moment is negative does not mean that we cannot learn from it, and it does not mean that we cannot grow from it.
San Diego is beautiful- Photo by Me!
Nowadays, we have learned to avoid bad news (I am among the first to do this). We are a “like” generation. There is no “unlike” button on Facebook, and no one wants one. With so much information available at our fingertips, we are able to simply move on from the heartbreaking and on to something else (like a youtube video of a cat that plays piano). However, doing so does a great disservice to the nature of who we are as people.

Life is sometimes sad. Imperfection is not only built into our DNA but is also a part of our actions. In my own personal life, I sometimes make mistakes dealing with people. I cannot ignore those failures. Like everyone else, there are times I fall short of the person I want to be. Therefore, it becomes important for me to not only look at the moments I shine, but to also evaluate the instances when I am not my best.

Once, as small children, my cousin and I were throwing rocks at each other across a fence over which we couldn't see (we apparently thought this was a good idea at the time). Neither of us had hit the other so I wisely decided to pick up a brick and launch it over the fence. “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH,” I heard my cousin scream. I had hit him in the head with a brick. Luckily everything turned out ok, but it was a low point in our relationship.
Brickwall Views- Artwork by Saleh Heneidi
Some life episodes truly test us, however it is our actions afterwards that shape who we are. I remember how overwhelmed with sadness I was after I told a young couple carrying their first baby that the baby had Down’s Syndrome. Spending nine months of your life preparing for a healthy baby and then learning otherwise is shocking. Their eyes that day were filled with tears, and it was hard for me to refrain from doing the same. After two years of me struggling to deal with the impact of that moment on my heart, that same family came into my office with the most cheerful two-year old. The parents were so proud of their child, and the whole family seemed happy.

Sometimes, life is somber. Nevertheless, we must not shun those downcast moments, because we can learn to grow from them. My cousin and I are best friends now, brick and all.

All my life been shaking
Wanting something
Holding everything I have like it was broken
Gimme something good- Ryan Adams


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