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Aug 12, 2015 · Vaccines and Me

My first memory of vaccines takes me back to when I was about three years old.  Because I was prone to tantrums (and quite good at them, I might add), my mother would bribe me if I promised not to cry during my “shots”. At the time, I valued vaccines because they were a way for me to collect more Barbie dolls or TY Beanie Babies. I decided that the pain they brought was worth the good they also seemed to bring.In sixth grade, I had to do a project in my science class, and I was assigned the topic of Edward Jenner. I learned that Jenner pioneered the first vaccination, which was for smallpox, by studying the cowpox virus. This led me to create a home video in which I was dressed up as Edward Jenner and my friend was dressed as a cow. The video was a hit with my class, and my research on the topic led me to begin viewing vaccines as magical—how else could they prevent people from getting sick? As a first year medical student taking microbiology, I became more aware of the ways in which vaccines truly impact health, both on a personal and global scale. For example, smallpox has been eradicated, saving an estimated 5 million lives annually. An outbreak of polio has not been reported in some time, making it likely that this debilitating disease may also be a matter of history. If children and infants are immunized, many life-threatening illnesses can be avoided and maybe even annihilated. This is a powerful concept. [...]

Apr 22, 2015 · Allen

I had never seen someone quite so helpless as Allen*, so away from the grasp of any type of comfort. When I walked into the room, the 20-year-old cancer patient was sitting on the exam table with his legs crossed. He was looking down at his electronic gaming device, pressing buttons randomly, perhaps in an effort to avoid making eye contact with anyone in the room-especially me. The thinning hair on the top of his large round head, his long and scruffy beard covering his chin, and his thin-rimmed glasses seemed odd in juxtaposition to his windbreaker pants, big white sneakers, and toy. It was as if he was both a young child and an aging old man at the same time. I wanted more than anything to speak with Allen, though I’m not sure what I would have said if I had been given the opportunity to make anything more than small talk. I wanted him to know that I understood what it felt like to dry heave for hours during a chemotherapy treatment, how strange it was to have all your friends be afraid to talk to you and to have your mother treat you like a five-year-old again. I wanted him to know that I understood what he was going through far more than most people did. But that wouldn’t have helped Allen, because while I was standing before him, a medical student following my passion, he was dying. I resorted to trying to make him smile. Allen, however, did not even seem annoyed, as if my presence was not even significant enough for such a thing. He seemed angry at himself, his situation, and his tumor. But the worst part about Allen’s situation was not his appearance or his sadness or even the fact that his pelvic sarcoma had relapsed for the third time and was only going to get worse. The worst part about Allen’s situation was his mother. [...]

Nov 12, 2014 · Eddie

It was just a day of shadowing in primary care. I didn't expect to be enlightened or changed at all from the experience. What could be so exciting about general pediatrics when there was [...]
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