Last year I went to a Simulation Center that hosted four patients who had the some of the most common diseases in the minority population: COPD, Diabetes, Hypertension, and HIV/AIDs. When my class and I did a revisit yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to see how the experience was almost entirely different than last year's.
I went on the bus that morning expecting it to be a carbon-copy of last year, and even spent the bus ride trying to recall the symptoms/issues the patients had to aid myself once again. While we still got the same diseases as I anticipated, it would be an under-exaggeration to say the patients had a slight attitude change.
What once was a slightly aggravated male, became a snarky women who had no regards for her own well-being. And it opened my eyes to a realization of what I'd encounter as a future medical provider. That one women who our suggestions for improvement fell on deaf-ears, represented a future of possible patients who no longer were concerned with their health, and would rather live a short life happily, than a longer-life of medication and exercise.
Besides her unconcerned attitude, another significant representation found itself on the legally blind, one-footed, blonde diabetic patient. She not only had type 2 diabetes, but had worked herself up to Hypertension through smoking and drinking. She became the epitome of future patients. No longer would we get the patient who solely has diabetes, or hypertension; they would be a cacophony of diseases compacted into one individual.
Besides the frightening idea that you have to treat all of these diseases, you might be dealt with the card of an impatient patient (see what I did there) who wants pills and medications and an immediate fix to years' worth of damage.
That one particular robot stuck out to me throughout the entirety of the trip not only for the reasons mentioned above. But also the fact that she attempted to deceive us when we asked questions. The very first time we asked her if she checked her insulin, she replied with, "I do it after every meal." However, when asked what her blood sugar was, she would come up with a ridiculously high number going from the 200-300s (the normal going up to 100).
Her lies only reinforced one irrefutable fact of medicine: the numbers do not lie. Of course I am going to get patients who lie about following their diet and exercise. But when it comes down to it, you can tell when they aren't following the orders solely through the numbers.
Another thing that was highly touched upon during the revisit was that none us are medical professionals, and we won't be for quite some time. This however, does not make us incapable of making a difference in our own local communities. In fact, as one teach of mine stated, "There are 20 of you in this classroom. If you all inspired/reached out to an individual who has the symptoms you saw today, or are working themselves up to being in a similar position to them, we will have helped 20 individuals."
The statement had a huge impact on myself because it was entirely true. At least one of these common diseases can be found in any family, and it comes from ignorance or lack of concern. Instead of going to the doctors to prevent being sick, we do it when we are already sick and feel bad. These bad dieting, exercising habits we've hosted for our years have worked us up to the very beds of the patients we were examining.
The ignorance I mentioned earlier, stems from the idea that people don't seem to take diseases like diabetes as a serious threat. They did not receive the opportunity to see the long-term outcomes of such diseases on a patient's life. What they see is a young adult who eats whatever they want, and has high blood sugar, no big deal. What we saw was years' worth of insane dieting causing amputation in the leg (due to the lack of oxygen being sent to extremities) and blindness (diabetes is a small-vessel disease, therefore affecting the eyes).
What they see is a truck driver who stops for fast food restaurants over breaks, who does what he needs to do. What I see now is a man clogging up all his arteries, causing his capillaries to burst, and is working himself up for a stroke or heart attack.
I've come across a handful of individuals already who are unknowingly increasing their chances of the following probabilities.
And I realized, that I have the opportunity to help them right now without an M.D. attached to my name.