February 12, 2012

From 'not liking kids' to 'liking' kids.

Don't let the fear of the time that it'll take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it.
The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.
                                                                                                                                - Earl Nightingale

I started my final week of the pediatrics appointment at the children's hospital here with this quote in mind.
I do  not like kids (Don't judge please). It's not that I hate them but I would choose anything else over having to spend some time with a kid. Their crying gets into my nerves and sets me off.
I know I must have cried a lot as a kid; my mum says I did. And it's only fair for the tiny ones to cry considering the fact that they can't speak - but not being able to take in their howls is my problem. 

So when my Pediatrics appointment began, I was totally nervous. The first few days, I maintained a good distance from kids. I never examined a baby during the first week.
I was disgusted at myself because my friends were all smiling and playing with the kids. Then, I tried - I made that effort - to like kids. I realized I was better with the elder lot of kids (say above 3-4 years). So it was those age group of patients I liked. 

I've learnt that as a doctor/medical student, one must connect with your patient to be able to help them. One must empathize. And in the Pediatrics ward, I was failing at connecting. 

Quite contrary to what I used to think, I liked the subject matter. Our consultant was an awesome lady and she taught us extremely well. Her team was as good as her, so we got some excellent input. 
But they say, in medicine, it's the clinical practice that matters, not the theory bit you inherit. So I was really lacking! I had/have no intentions of becoming a Pediatrician but I was failing the duties and responsibilities of a medical student and I was very disappointed. 

Perhaps luck was on my side - we had to do only 2 weeks of the appointment at one go. We excused ourselves to gain a week more in our study leave of a meager 7days. But due to the rescheduling, we had to do a week more of Peads. So instead of the regular 3 week rotation in Peads, we were to do 4 weeks. 

The third week too, was as same as the first 2 weeks. But on the weekend prior to our last week at the peads ward, I had a heart to heart with my mum. 
And with that I realized that the kids I don't like are innocent. And I'm being the cruelest of the cruel by saying I don't like them; even more cruel by not trying hard to break the "don't like" bond. 

It was time I change; else I'd never enjoy the privileges a woman enjoys. 
I crept into the Baby Room and started watching the babies sleep. I saw reflections of happiness and utter joy in the eyes of the new mothers.
What kept me in the Baby Room for almost 2 hours was really special - there was this baby with liver cirrhosis whose chances of survival was minimal because liver transplants for children aren't done in this country and the parents couldn't afford to take the baby abroad for surgery. The mother understood it all and yet she loved the baby unconditionally.
The mother had gone to get some syrup from the nurse while the baby was asleep. While the mother was away, the baby woke up and started crying. The mother at the next cot tried to calm the baby by showing her some toys but there was no stop to the crying.
I went up to the cot & stroked the child and guess what? The baby smiled and stopped crying. The other lady made a comment saying the baby likes me and you have no idea how much that meant to me. I stayed with the baby till her mum came and not once did she cry then. 

I spent some more time in the Baby Room - watching the babies being fed, being changed, being put to sleep. And it was amazing how these little things go together to help these children grow from the tiny ones they are now to big, beautiful human beings. 

Perhaps God was happy with the progress I was making - all my patients during this last week were children under the age of 3.
And with every patient, after taking the history, I always spent some time playing with them, tickling them - knowing them :)

I didn't know how time flew by and it was the end of the week so soon!
I'm glad it was a productive week - I've grown to like children a little. I still would not want to take up treating children in future - I'd suck at it but I'm proud of the steps I took that week.
Saturday, the last day in the ward, we gave chocolates to the kids and donated a few instruments to the ward. 

Goodbye Pediatrics,  for the time being.
Still have 2 small rotations and the Professorial Appointment with these tiny humans. 

Pictures are from the time our group decorated the ward during New Years.