As a medical student, you would think that you will be stuck in books, rarely seeing patients because you still don’t know enough. But luckily for me, we have been taught bedside medicine since our first year. And after just three years already, I feel like I have seen a lot of people, a lot of diseases, a lot of drugs, a lot of techniques but also a lot of stories, a lot of “Heartfelt Stories”. If I were to write everything that marked me, I would write a whole book. Instead I will present to you three stories, each presenting a facet of human love and compassion.
In sickness and in health
“I, …, take you, …, to be my (husband/wife), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.”
We all know these famous words, we all heard them in weddings or movies. Words most of us think of as a simple tradition. Words we say with no meaning. And yes, like everyone else I used to think of them as futile. But those words will resonate forever in my mind because I witnessed them again and again in my first three years of medical school. The first time it struck me was when I saw a hug that beat any type of painkiller that could ever exist. Picture this, a woman who wraps her arms around her agonising husband to ease his suffering, his face decontracts and it is as though all his aches have been absorbed by the power of love. It was at that moment that I believed true love exists in the least expected places.
One may not realise how much a mother loves a child. It does not matter if they have broken the most valuable vase back home the night before or if they have been misbehaving their whole life, a mother will do anything to see her child’s pain go away.
When I saw how a mother was treating her drug-addict son who is quite frankly a handful to deal with, I knew that it was the definition of motherly love. It did not matter to her what he had done or what he was doing. Her son was suffering and she just followed her instincts and did everything to please him and support him in this difficult time. She brought him his favourite food everyday, his favourite kind of cigarettes, anything he asked, for a mother cannot bear the sight of an agonising child and it was then that her true unconditional love was unveiled.
A child of our own
Another case that really moved me happened in my second year. I was doing a summer clerkship in the Emergency Department. Suddenly, I started hearing screams outside the vital emergency room and a few seconds later, a woman walked in with a baby in her hands, probably a 3-to-4-month-old infant. He had drowned in the bath and his mother rushed him into the ER. What was quite the scene for me was when everyone of the medical staff that was present there had dropped everything and gathered around the still baby. After that, it took a bit less than 5 minutes for the baby to start screaming and breathing again before he was addressed to a pediatric hospital to receive more proper care. I felt like that infant was mine because I also joined them and I am sure everyone felt the same. And it was like we were treating a child of our own. A scene like this one is impossible to forget. No matter how much pain other patients were in, or how much workload the medical staff had, our reaction was spontaneous, a reflex showing how the human nature reacts in the sight of a child in distress.
This concludes some of the experiences that marked the beginning of my medical journey. And to think that I have yet to see and to feel, it makes me more sure that this is the path I’m destined to be on! These stories have shaped the me I am now. They made me a better human being, and they will hopefully make me a better doctor. They made me rediscover human compassion and love. They made me believe again in humanity’s pure heart. These stories will forever be engraved in my memory.
Ahmed Taha Allala
Medtimes Journalist – Tunisia Country Representative
(Rotaract Club Tunis Hope, D.9010)