Ambulatory Rotation

Another month of pharmacy school has gone by, this one at a doctor’s office where I was able to work with an amazing team. Each day we had new people come in to ask questions about the meds, to find out how to get healthy again, to find out how to stay healthy… these people, patients, needed time to digest what their doctors have told them. They needed time spent face to face to go over their conditions and to know that someone was listening to them. We would often spend an hour or more talking with them, getting to know them, finding out their likes and their dislikes, finding out how we can help them take charge of their health. It was humbling.

They would look to us because we understood their conditions and because we understood their medicines. They would trust us when we told them they needed to change something because their kidneys were bad, or because if they stayed on it they’d mess up their hearts. We would help them understand how to take their blood thinners and how to measure their sugars. We did all of this and so much more.

One man came in with blood pressure to the roof and we put him directly with a doctor and recommended what would help right away. An hour later his blood pressure was back down and he understood a little better how dangerous that could be.

One lady came in and just happened to mention she felt like an elephant was sitting on her chest a few nights before, she was there to check her blood thinner. We sent her back for an ECG to make certain she would be OK to go home.

Another couple came in because his blood work didn’t look good, they were scared, they thought this must mean the end is coming quicker than they thought. We were able to give them comfort and reassurance that all he needed to do was change his diet some, drink more water, and have an evening walk every night. Simple things that every one can do to prevent the fears they had that day. His wife began to cry she was so relieved that this was something they could handle.

Another man came in to make certain he wasn’t bleeding internally because of his blood thinner. He had started it because of a blood clot of unknown origin. I see him sitting there and I wonder quietly like the rest why it happened and pray to myself it’s not an early sign of cancer.

Real people, real blood, real dreams, real lives. Dozens of them over the last month. And to think a pharmacist does nothing but count pills? Nonsense.

thank you for reading,

me

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´╗┐Rotations continue

I have one more week and then this rotation will be in the books. As these past several weeks have gone by I’ve found myself discouraged. I know that hospitals are necessary, I know that many medicines are necessary as well. I know people get sick and people die. But. But how can I help? What difference can I make? Any at all?? I wonder how these became so sick? What happened? Some of them seem like they just don’t care anymore. When did they give up? When did they lose hope?

And then… am I being overly critical? Am I really any better? Sure, I’m healthy, for now. Sure, I think I have my act together. But really? Three years ago? Four or Five? Did I have my act together then? Not really. I had some who would ask me why I put up with so much? Why did I stay for so long? Why didn’t I leave when things went bad? I’ve been asked why didn’t I change things back then? Why?? Why did I stay 25 years with a man who couldn’t love me?… these questions are kind of like asking someone why do you bother breathing? Why do you bother eating? There’s no real answer except it seemed the right thing to do at the time… (Please don’t stop breathing or eating, by the way.)

So, an outsider, someone who hadn’t lived in my shoes, who hadn’t any way to compare her life to mine, would probably wonder why I didn’t change for so long. I wish I had an answer. I wish I did. If I did then maybe I could help another lady find the answer too. I know, in part, some of the reasons. For one, I loved him despite everything. For two, I had hope for things to get better. (It wasn’t until I gave up hope that things started to change.) Three, I felt like it was wrong to leave… no… matter… what. The church is very vocal about leaving a marriage. (And because of that, many, many women are still in abusive marriages, with no hope for a way out, thinking that somehow they can pray their husbands to treat them well… But that’s another post.)

And so I think of the patients I have met these past two months… Did they decide to quit? Or give up? Is it too hard to dream of better things again? Does it hurt too much and they just want it all to end? I see the man or woman who is my own age and at the same time I see them as they may have been as a healthy child… or if not a healthy child, as a child with hopes and dreams, none the less.  I guess, the hardest thing, is seeing each individual as a person, a creation of God, who, for some reason or another finds himself or herself in a lonely hospital bed staring at the ceiling with wires and tubes attached everywhere wondering what on earth to do next. I wish I could show them a picture of themselves when life was good and full of possibilities and dreams, so that I could remind them that they don’t have to give up. I want to remind them that they are worth the effort of getting well. I want to be able to sit with them and listen to them and to give them hope again.

How? As a student I have no power, and I have no permission to just talk to them. So, with determination, I move on, and I continue to dream. Partly to dream of the day when I am no longer the pee-on that I am and am able to do exactly that. Until then, I offer them a smile, a soft touch, or a gentle ear when I can.

thank you for reading,

me

 

Sunshine and Rotations

I’ve been busy these past couple of weeks. It’s like I barely have time to breathe. As a Student Pharmacist I am required to do rotations, and the last year of school is all rotations. I’m not complaining. I love it! I love actually having a chance to use all of the things I’ve learned. I love being able to work with real patients, real people, real lives. It’s hard work. This rotation is in the hospital environment and so my patients are sick, really sick. If I can do something that helps them to get better or to feel better so that they can go home then I have done well.

Each person, each patient, is so very individual. There is no one who is treated exactly the same because no one is exactly the same. Pharmacy is intricate. I love it. This week I’ve already been touched by the lives of dozens of people. Elderly mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers… in their 80s and 90s. Men who are forced to the hospital by their wives. People who suffer chronically from pain. And people who have lived such lives that it’s not a surprise they show up in the emergency room.

I look on and I wonder how they got there. I wonder what went wrong, what could make them better. It’s not all about the medicine. There’s a man who is an alcoholic and now has nowhere to go, another who is recovering from cancer, a lady who doesn’t qualify for a transplant. There are many who go home well, and there are others. These others who now have to face the end of their time here. Who now have to face the reality of death. Life is 100% fatal and there’s no way around it.

I’m reminded to be grateful for my health and yet I am also reminded that my health is not a mistake. I work hard for it. I eat healthy food, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. I drink a lot of water. I take the stairs frequently. I exercise. I sleep… I try to balance my life in a way that keeps me healthy. It’s not an accident. Health is only maintained on purpose. Sure, there are things we cannot control, but those in the hospital? Most of them had more control than they knew. Most of them could have prevented themselves from needing to be there. The smoker could have quit, the obese woman could have gotten help sooner, the alcoholic as well.

So, I wonder, as I go there each day, how did things go wrong? What happened? Why did these people quit taking care of themselves? Or why did no one ever tell them they had a choice? Please don’t bash me. It’s true. Absolutely true, there are things that can not be avoided. But, trust me here, you (and I) have a lot more control of how we end up than we believe. Even the smallest of positive changes can be celebrated for every little change can be built upon and then, then, our lives can be full and healthy.

thank you for reading,

me