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Ripples on The Water

 I have always wanted to make a difference in others' lives. I thought medicine would allow me to do this. It influenced my decision to go into the medical field. In my 30 years of medicine, I have been able to save babies during birth, rescue men from heart attacks, and give medicine to reverse life threatening massive strokes. Yet last week I received an e mail that brought me to tears. But before I tell you about the email, I need to set the stage.

My years of medical training were horrible, not because of the breadth or depth of the material, but because of the high social demands. Our Medical school required that potential doctors be personally engaging, friendly, by always smiling and being welcoming. Students and residents were expected to conform to this standard. Nonconformity was not tolerated. As part of my autism spectrum disorder, I did not smile much and I have never been described as engaging. I therefore struggled in some of my rotations. The pediatric rotation was especially rough. My personal attributes were criticized. Even the pitch of my voice was wrong. I felt I was being personally attacked. Even now in private practice, I do well to provide what patients physically need, but, I struggle to deliver what they emotionally want.

In March of 2018, I gave an interview on what it was like being on the autism spectrum as a physician. The program, "The Good Doctor" was just airing on ABC. So, there was great interest in Autism because the series describes the struggles of a surgical resident who has autism. My interview was posted to blog site of a local business site.

I didn't think much about the blog until last week. Last week, I got an email from a medical student from the University of Connecticut who had read the above-mentioned blog post and reached out to me for support and advise. She related the hardships of her medical training. She was recently diagnosed with autism during her neuropsychology rotation. Her medical school was trying to wash her out. As she told me her stories, my trials during medical school came flashing back. Those memories were quite intense.

I gave her some encouragement that I hope helped. She said she was encouraged just to know that someone else had been through a similar experience. After I responded to her texts, I cried for quite some time. After seven years of medical training and 21 years of medical practice feeling I were broken, it was such a relief to realize that telling my story helped someone else who was going through the same thing.

I cast my bread upon the water, and after many days it has returned. And it has grown! Perhaps one reason I felt compelled to go into medicine was to help "this one person." So, if any of you relate to this post, please consider casting your bread upon the water. You never know when or from where it will return. One day you may be surprised to find how your little story has grown and how it has affected someone in a distant land.

Be Not Weary....for the Long Run
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Saturday, 23 March 2019
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