Being Remembered

As some of you know, I spend a great deal of my time in the hospital as a medical student, helping about where I can, doing blood work, running things around, talking with patients and answering random questions from residents and interns (a process called “pimping” which is kind of like a right of passage for medical students). I’ve already seen a great deal at the hospital; however, the one thing that has struck me more than any other is the patients I have seen.

I’ve seen a number of older patients, some just in for minor problems but others in as long-term residents. These are the people that have stuck with me. Elderly patients on ventilators, contracted, non-communicative, total care dependent with little to no hope of ever making a recovery. Elderly patients with varying forms of dementia brought on by old age, infection and improperly managed care.Patients seemingly forgotten by family members or not properly cared for at their nursing homes and later transferred to the hospital. Helpless people with bed sores and ulcers teeming with bacteria, wounds so improperly cared for that their infections have spread to the bone and blood necessitating the use of powerful antibiotics and medications to help them recover what faculties they had left.

It is these people that have stuck with me. It makes me reflect on my own mortality and makes me worry about my own parents. I’m lucky enough to still have them both around but they’re getting older and I worry about their health. I’ve seen what can happen to the elderly in hospitals and nursing homes and I have no desire to see them in either.

These people are the ones that have raised us, that carried our country forward when we were children, that fought in our wars and preserved our freedom. They deserve our care, our commitment and our compassion. They deserve not to be neglected but to be remembered.

Seeing what can happen when we forget brings a sadness to the soul and if you’ll excuse me now, I think I’ll call my parents and ask how they’re doing.

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