“Medical professionals concentrate on repair of health, not sustenance of the soul”.
Atul Gawande’s recently published book, Being Mortal, discusses the treatment of our elderly population and the various flaws of our health care system. One important point from the book is that health care providers such as physicians and nurses are too focused on physical well-being while forgetting about the less tangible necessities of life.
When an elderly individual is sent to a nursing home, safety is the highest priority. Residents are provided with call bells, ramps, elevators, nurses, and physicians who come directly to their rooms. This seems beneficial, as physical health is maintained. With 24 hour nursing surveillance and living in single rooms, residents are less prone to injuring themselves. It is a situation that seems optimal for both the caregivers and seniors. Why, then, is the rate of depression and sadness so high among the elderly population in nursing homes?
I’m tired. I’ve worked just under 17 hours today, but I can’t sleep.
Too bad. I will start at 8 am again tomorrow for another 8 to 9 hour day.
I can’t sleep because I’m thinking about my patient with the declining oxygen saturation. I worry that I may have missed something in the history, in the investigations… did the on call physician and I make the right decision?
On the first day of my Social Paediatrics elective, I accompanied a nurse on a visit to a family shelter. I entered the single room and noticed a healthy newborn girl, sleeping peacefully in an old crib. The room consisted of a bed, a table, two chairs, a fridge, and a microwave. There was no stove, no kitchen sink. Clothes, toiletries, dishes and bottles were strewn everywhere. The floor was dirty and there was graffiti on the wall. One of the parents was present, but the other was out looking for work. It was my first time in a shelter, and I was stunned that a family with a newborn was living in such conditions.
University of Toronto
Class of 2019
I look at you, and I wish
there was some sort of incantation to whisper
that could string together all the fickle words
grazing around the summit of my throat
and instill a frenzy in their small limbs
so they may leap across the oceanic void
that is the silence between my mouth and you being healthy again. ...continue reading →
He grabbed me... how could I be so stupid.
Grabbed my ponytail... cries
and... and slammed me into the doorframe.
No one was around... I curled into a ball... tried to protect my head. wipes tears
I was almost to the door... Oh God! With my training... why didn't I see it coming?...continue reading →
These enthusiastic greetings solidify Tuesday as my favourite day of week. As I enter the classroom, several of the girls come running to give me a hug, squealing my name in excitement. It’s my weekly afternoon at Les Scientistes, a program designed to encourage young girls from low-income communities to discover science. ...continue reading →
An etiolated octogenarian calls out,
Barely audible beyond his room.
He beckons for a small sponge
To wet his cracked blue lips.
Pictures of his family are taped to his closet,
A makeshift fifty square foot home. ...continue reading →
His voice is warm and soft, each sentence running into the next, broken up only by gravelly laughter and the occasional cough. The honey that coats his voice obscures his jarring story, the suffering hidden beneath the evenness of his tone. He tells me about his injury, rating his pain on a scale of one to ten, and describes its quality and radiation. I ask him for his previous medical diagnoses and he pauses briefly. ...continue reading →