I heard laughter outside the house. I looked out and saw some of our young girl-neighbors hover around a new doll. At first glance I knew they were playing ‘doctor’ to their doll ‘patient’ I smiled within myself for I knew such a scene by heart. My mind flew back at fond memories with my grandfather during my younger years. I now realize gratefully, how fortunate I was. While children role-play being a doctor with toys, I had lived out the role even as a child. I had first hand experience of taking care of grandpa. From what I could remember much of him, he was already sick and needed special care and attention.
For this reason, he stayed with us. As my parents spend their time at work, I took it within myself to take to the task of filling up the responsibility of taking care him. Needless to say, my parents were pleasantly surprised when I volunteered for the ‘job’. I could still hear grandpa’s faint but firm voice call out my name affectionately. I would promptly come by his side and see what he needed. Mind you, this was no small sacrifice. More often than not, his call would interrupt my busy schedule — I was hectic playing with my friends, of course!
But since he would add ‘doctor’ before my name, while unsuccessfully suppressing a smile, how could I refuse or dare abandon my ‘duties’? As time went by, I found myself wanting to spend more time with him. His ‘joy de vivre’ never left him and he was never left out of stories. In return, I would prepare him his special meals. But more importantly, as I was his ‘little doctor’, I felt special pride of changing his bandages, making sure he was clean and taking his medicines on time. Going through these tasks like a ‘pro’, have earned me countless grateful smiles from him.
He was never a difficult patient and perhaps it is for this reason which has shaped my desire to continue to extend the same care to others. Although most children (or some adults, for that matter) would resent such a situation, I naturally learned that I find joy in expressing care for the sick. Though I ‘lost’ some time for myself while taking care of him, I would never forget the feeling of finding complete fulfillment of being able to help someone. My desire to carry on with this sense of fulfillment paved the way for my decision to become a medical doctor.
It was also those special moments with him that I found early in life, a deep resolve to seek out a deeper knowledge about the origin of diseases and their possible treatments. It got me fascinated with how the human body works and was greatly amazed by the fact that it can never be exactly reproduced. Such curiosity over the human body extended my interest to scientific subjects throughout my school years that nobody in the family or those who knew me was surprised when I decided to take up biochemistry as my major field of study. Moreover, I became determined to develop the strength of the human body.
I figured out, could there be any other fun way to do it than through sports? So off I went through the rigors of training to become a member of the girl’s softball team. Gaining more than just strong muscles, I gained invaluable lessons of being disciplined and of learning the advantages of being a team-player. I look forward of integrating these qualities of becoming an excellent physician such as being a ‘team-player’, who is able to integrate my own plan of treatment with those of other health care providers and thereby providing the best benefit for the patient.
Also, I never knew how important persistence and optimism was until I played this game. Why? Well, so far, we consistently lost every game! But after every game, I braced myself to move on for the next, believing that there is always hope for victory after a loss. Andrew Carnegie did say that “every failure carried with it the seed of an equivalent of great opportunities”. In playing the obstacles in life, people would commonly feel to have ‘lost the game’ — be dejected or lose hope after contracting some disease or grave illness.
Being a physician would give me the privilege of being a carrier of that seed of hope: the possibility of a cure or of simply lightening their pain! When my parents decided to open a residence for elderly people back in 2002, to say that I was elated is an understatement. I was already enjoying the benefits of a salaried job. However, the opportunity of helping out the elderly and having the pleasure of their company beckoned my inherent desire to help them. I would trace this to the most significant person in my life with whom I have found joy and fulfillment taking care of, my grandfather.
I have developed deep friendships with those I took care in my parents’ residence for the elderly. One particular person was a lady who survived the holocaust whose past ordeals continued to frighten her. Her fears and anxieties were alleviated as I comforted her, giving her special time and attention. In addressing the needs of the elderly, providing them their medication, changing their diapers, preparing their meals, taking them for a walk, massaging their rheumy joints that I have found that becoming a doctor is more than just simply injecting medicines.
I especially relished those times when I organized games and activities like; bingo games, physical exercises among others. Hearing their laughter and seeing them get involved gave me an incomparable amount of pleasure. But I had also witnessed those who had to be transferred to nursing homes or palliative care units whenever their physical or mental health would degenerate, and how they went through awful feelings of helplessness. Part of my desire to become a physician and specialize in geriatrics is for me to be armed with knowledge in nursing them back to health.
Although one might expect that I would pursue the nursing career in my desire to care for elderly, I am keen to integrate my passion for science and public service through medicine. Once, I had a part time job as a lab technician in a pharmacy for four years. This experience gave me opportunity to broaden my understanding the kind of medication applied to certain illnesses and its side effects. Most of the clients I had were the elderly who I have learned at the time, are taking the bulk of the need of medicine intake in the general population. It reinforced my concern for the aged all the more.
After the Beslan hostage crisis in September 1, 2004, I became part of the fund-raising project for the victims since I was also a member of Russian Student Union. We organized sales activities for families who were affected by that tragic incident. During my time with this organization, I became part of the team which offered assistance to help families who are entering Russia for the first time to better adjust in their day to day living. Suffice to say that this experience as a member of the student union, I had a chance then to execute my leadership and organizational potentials.
Having involved myself in the academe as a teacher in a biophysical chemistry class, I had the most gratifying time sharing with my students and providing them foundational knowledge on laboratory work and writing reports of experiments they did. I had been so pleased to see how well they did in the ensuing classes that they took after mine. For my research paper, I engaged in the study of membrane phospholipids in understanding the lateral organization of the cellular membrane ultimately leading my greater knowledge of human physiology.
Looking through these experiences and concern for people that I have all these years, I have never doubted that I would look into a career path other than the medical profession. The scene of playing girls before me made me recognize how far childhood dreams and games had brought me. I believe that those I had gone through were not laid on my path as mere chances but rather stepping stones to reaching my goal of becoming a very skilled and caring physician.