The Same Different Path

February 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

So, every morning, I take the M72 bus from the Upper West Side to the Upper East Side, and each time, it’s sort of like this triumphant parade for me. It is my daily march to medical school — a daily affirmation of the hard work, the tears, and the white hairs that it took to get me into Weill Cornell Medical College.

I swear to you this: every morning, I am astonished that I have finally made it into this club, and as funny as it sounds, I feel so unbelievably lucky to have to ride that slow M72 bus at the ass crack of dawn every day to these classrooms where, lesson by lesson, I get to make my dreams come true.

Today, my march started as I waited for the bus behind a couple wearing matching bubble jackets, he in blue and she in red. They held hands as they shivered in the cold morning wind of 72nd Street, and they only let go to swipe their Metrocards.

During the ride, I paid little attention to the couple. Normally, I study my lecture notes on the bus, as familiar commuter faces get on and off at the same stops as they do every day. Today was no exception. As usual, I instinctively started packing my notes into my bag when we stopped at the light in front of Daisy’s Cafe on Second Avenue. A quick two blocks later, we stopped at York Avenue, where nurses and doctors and secretaries and researchers scurry to their respective posts in any of the major medical institutions in this hub I call, “Medicineville.”

I followed in line after the couple as the passengers emptied the bus. Again, the couple held hands. The man was slightly propping the woman up against him, stabilizing her as they walked down York Avenue, past the spicy smells of Halal food and coffee, past countless men and women in long white coats and scrubs.

Amidst the hubbub of the early morning commute, they moved slowly to their destination. She must feel weak, I thought. She must be a patient. Three blocks down, I hooked a left across the street to my school, and I noticed the couple kept walking on.

I stopped to watch them turn a corner, and I knew that they were going to the famous MSK Cancer Center. It shook me.

For me, this trip every morning is literally a part of the realization of my dreams to become a doctor. It’s the beginning of everything I’ve wanted to accomplish for myself as an individual, as a professional, as a human being. This trip is my pride march.

And, this morning, that pride was humbled, as I watched two other people make the same trip.  Every step for them must have felt different. Every inch closer to Medicineville was a reminder of the ordeal they may or may not be facing.

I can’t stop thinking about how terrified they might have been, and about how different that bus trip must have been for them. How many times have they made the trip? Did they know anything yet? Was there a prognosis? What are her chances? How long did she have? Is she being cared for well? Is she even the patient? Is he okay?

I can’t help but wonder about how different their narrative may be from mine, and even more, about how interwoven our narratives can one day become. And how I want to be part of that process, that journey, that story for my future patients.

Feeling that way — that I want to be part of it all, even the frightening and the heartbreaking bits of it — was an even more meaningful affirmation of what I set out to do here at Weill Cornell.

I know that I’m in the right place, and that is a wonderful thing.

 

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