Expectations and well-meaning assumptions

Some of you know my history of “accidents”.  Some of you have been witness to the lifestyle changes that have thus far made a 105 pound difference and Lord willing, added many years to my life.  Many of you have no idea about either…and they really don’t matter to the point of this post.  Life has taught me that everyone has some challenge or another, they just come in different forms.

However, as I was running today…I got to thinking…about ME, running.

You see, after the Tractor Trailer “incident” in 1995, I had 3 operations to put Humpty Dumpty together again.  To be clear, it was nothing less than miraculous that I even kept my foot at that stage.  I adapted and learned to live with the limitations and pain, and moved on with life.  Then, on New Year’s Eve 2001, I fell about 16 feet in a work related accident at our church, breaking both legs again.  After 4 additional operations by some of the best orthopedic surgeons in the world at the Miller Orthopedic Clinic in Charlotte, NC…Doctors to the Carolina Panthers and the Charlotte Bobcats, etc…I was told by the surgeon, “You will not likely walk without the use of a cane…you should not set your expectations above that”.

That got me thinking today about what kind of Dr. I might like to be…more importantly, what kind of human being I would like to be.

You see, I still have this in my leg today:

xray

BUT the guy with that in his leg walked 17.84K on Saturday…with no cane.

That same guy RAN 6.2K on Sunday…with no cane.

In fact, in the last 7 days, that guy has RUN 38 kilometers, walked over 20K, and ridden an additional 100K on the bike…you guessed it…with no cane!

So, for those of you who are facing a challenge, whatever it may be, I would like to encourage you not to let it define you.  For my colleagues already in, or about to enter into the medical profession, I would like to encourage you not to define your patients by the limitations you perceive, no matter how well intentioned.

The fact is, you never know what the human body is capable of healing from.  Even more importantly, you never know what the human spirit is capable of overcoming.

I know that there will be times when the right thing to do, professionally, is to be realistic with the patient.  However, I think reality must always be tempered with hope.  Hope fuels the human spirit to accomplish far beyond what can be explained by science or medical knowledge or skill.

Chances are, you know someone that is facing a significant challenge…maybe it’s you. I certainly have no idea who will read this.  It’s not meant to be a “what’s your excuse” type post, nor is it meant to brag.  I personally think of people like Nick Vujicic, whose story inspires and drives me to make the most of what I have…and I feel a little ashamed that I don’t accomplish more.  In comparison, my 38K of running pales in the light of Nick’s story.  Watch the video or look him up on the internet if you are unfamiliar.

No.  Instead, I genuinely mean to encourage both patent and doctor alike to believe in the power of the human spirit to overcome and do.  May we all be living proof and encouragers of what is possible, even if it may not seem probable.

YES, I CAN…

I don’t regard myself as ever having much of a self-confidence problem, not exactly anyway.  I was blessed in life with a mom that thought I could do anything…and told me so often. My dad…well, he had a different style. Whatever I did, while it never seemed to be right or good enough (for him), it ultimately was. He believed in me…that was just his way of pushing us.  The contrast has always provided a unique backdrop to my life, even now, long after my father has passed away.

There is little point in delineating the things that have gone wrong in my life, for what I feel are three very important reasons. First, I have seen greatness far beyond any which I have demonstrated, from people who have come from far greater disadvantage. Second, I have learned Read the rest of this entry »

My Valentine

Well folks, it has been quite some time since a blog post.  Medical school is like that for most, and for me in particular…I find continually that I am nowhere near as bright as I have been told that I am my entire life.  It turns out, I have been lied to by many.

The other reason I have not written might be lack of inspirational material. As it stands, medical school is not terribly exciting.  Many of you have asked me from time to time if I am enjoying medical school.  I am sure there are those who do, but I am not one of them.  I choose the word “endure”, and I am barely doing that.  One of the significant distractions for me, and perhaps the real reason for my melancholy spirit, is the absence of my better half.  Some of you who are friends with either of us on Facebook might have caught elements of this story last week as it developed, but I will tell it here from the start for those interested: Read the rest of this entry »

Birdbrained Treasures

I know that I haven’t written in my blog for quite some time.  As it turns out, medical school is hard!  I find daily that I am not as smart as many think that I am…and my confidence is shaken, built up again…and then shaken, often by the hour.  A very good friend of mine here sends me daily reminders of faith, and I remain encouraged that this journey is far bigger than my small perspective can allow.  I don’t get to see the big picture, none of us really ever do…

My dear Tabatha has pestered me (not nagged…pestered) on many occasions to write in my blog.  I wish that I did have more time, for reasons that amaze me, I know that many are interested and anxiously await a post.  Often, however, I am too mentally exhausted to feel like I can communicate a coherent thought, or even analyze the world around me at a level worthy of writing about.  From time to time though, I see something that makes me go…hmmm.  This morning, was one of those times…even beginning with a treat yesterday evening.

The end result of my focus today is a little more spiritual than I often write here…and for those of you who read my blog who may be from another faith group, I do not mean offense.  My thoughts are what I believe our Creator is leading me towards, and are always meant to encourage. Read the rest of this entry »

Humility

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
― Ernest Hemingway

For an unusual reason, I was doing a bit of a study on humility today.  Upon reaching the finish line of our first semester, I was asking my colleagues (on FaceBook, of course) to consider not discussing grades, etc. with one another.  I gently reminded them that in the corporate world, discussing ones salary with co-workers is often a terminable offense and at a minimum, never leads to good feelings.  I see grades rather the same way.  Social media has created a plethora of new ways we can harm one another without even intending to.  While it creates a platform for collaboration, camaraderie, and fellowship…it also makes it exponentially possible to do harm. Read the rest of this entry »

Getting Your Ticket Punched

I’ve been doing some thinking lately about the long, long journey that brought me to this point in my life as well as what’s next.  I have great relationships with many of the faculty here, including senior administrators because of my position as a Student Government representative for our class.  One of the Deans asked me this week how “blocks” [block exams] went for me.  I usually respond with “well…I get to stay here a little longer”.  That’s what it feels like.  I do grow a little more confident each time that I actually can do this, but each round of information builds, and builds, and builds until I imagine that there is no physical way that I can pass the next exams. While people back home ask me often what I would like to specialize in, my answer is generally “getting past the next round of blocks!”  My thoughts beyond the next tests are purely imaginative, at this point.  I just focus on the next set of tests, and they NEVER end.

So now “block 3” is in the rear view mirror. Read the rest of this entry »

Joyful Stress?

Oh my, it has been a long time since I posted here.  There are quite a few reasons for this as you will see, beyond the busyness of med school.  The demands of school and other service roles here are significant.  If it were not so, I expect almost anyone could become a doctor.  The next time you go to yours, if you think it appropriate at all, thank them for the sacrifices that he or she made to be in a position to care for you now.  I have spent most of my life ignorant of this sacrifice.

When I was accepted here, Tabatha and I made the painful decision that it would be too great a burden to move the family here, given our high-school and college age children.  No solution seemed perfect, if such a thing actually exists.

Earlier this month, directly after the block one exams, I decided to bring Tabatha down for 2 weeks to experience the island and the medical school community.  I had surprised her Read the rest of this entry »

Things I am learning about Med School, and Myself…

Well folks, I know it has been a few days.  Today is Monday, May 26th and I think my last blog entry was May 13th.  About that:

I have never in my life focused so hard, or been asked to learn so much in so little time.  The pace at the East Carolina Summer program was brisk, to be certain…but it does not compare to here.  Today was “Block” day.  In order to prepare us for the certification exams that doctors face from now to eternity, we are given our exams in the same type format.  All our exam facilities are NBME (National Board of Medical Examiners) certified and the tests are given under the same conditions.  Further, unlike any undergrad course or even final exam work, everything is taken in succession back to back, with the exception of the lab practical (more about that in a bit).  We can take the bundled exams in any order we choose, with an accumulated 10 minute break in between, if you choose to take it.  I decided to tackle my weakest subject first, then move progressively toward the material I was most sure about.  That won’t always be a privilege we have, from what I understand…but it was a good confidence builder today.  I found the time very adequate to finish the exams, but I generally read and test quickly (not always a good thing).  I am back in my apartment typing this blog, but had I needed it, still had over an hour left to finish the exams.  (I didn’t take the potty break…needed to…didn’t take.  There is something about getting “babysat” by a proctor to go to the bathroom that I found too creepy to bear.)

Grades will post later tonight to the automated system, along with where I stand amongst my peers…and that gets to some of what I am learning about myself Read the rest of this entry »

What a privilege…

Today, I worked on my first patient.  I took a scalpel in my hand and traced a line from the external occipital protuberance to the L5 spinous process and (tried to) deftly cut as I have seen surgeons do on TV.  No anesthesia, no real worries about infection…this patient can’t feel a thing.

But she IS my first patient.  I love that this is the way Dr. Nwosu and other supervisors in our lab directed us to treat the bequeathed.  All of us here are awestruck, I believe, at the wonder of the human body. I am also keenly aware that today I got to do something that, historically, a very small percentage of the population will ever get to do;  Dissect a human body to learn the anatomy in situ.  I have seen the dissections before, but this is the first time Read the rest of this entry »

A note for my TCF brothers and sisters…

If you don’t know what that means, this probably wasn’t written with you in mind.  Most of my home church folks will recall two weeks ago, my last Sunday at Triad Christian Fellowship, I spoke about Psalm 37:23, and Matthew 14.  Sierra and Noah performed the Hillsong United “Oceans, Where Feet May Fail”.  I have reflected on this song many times in recent months, and the closer it came to leaving my family, friends, and security of the US to be here, the more profound the song and the story it relates became to me.

So, Sunday mornings at 10:30, a group of about 150 or so medical students from all the semesters gather in the same lecture hall that I am in 5 days a week for worship and prayer and a message.  The worship and prayer are led locally, and then later in the morning they “simulcast” a church service from any one of a number of “mega” churches that offer a service over the internet this way.

Now here is the really cool part… Read the rest of this entry »

  • Expectations and well-meaning assumptions May 27, 2015
    Some of you know my history of “accidents”.  Some of you have been witness to the lifestyle changes that have thus far made a 105 pound difference and Lord willing, added many years to my life.  Many of you have no idea about either…and they really don’t matter to the point of this post.  Life […]
    Andy Siegrist
  • YES, I CAN… April 14, 2015
    I don’t regard myself as ever having much of a self-confidence problem, not exactly anyway.  I was blessed in life with a mom that thought I could do anything…and told me so often. My dad…well, he had a different style. Whatever I did, while it never seemed to be right or good enough (for him), […]
    Andy Siegrist
  • My Valentine February 18, 2015
    Well folks, it has been quite some time since a blog post.  Medical school is like that for most, and for me in particular…I find continually that I am nowhere near as bright as I have been told that I am my entire life.  It turns out, I have been lied to by many. The […]
    Andy Siegrist
  • Birdbrained Treasures October 26, 2014
    I know that I haven’t written in my blog for quite some time.  As it turns out, medical school is hard!  I find daily that I am not as smart as many think that I am…and my confidence is shaken, built up again…and then shaken, often by the hour.  A very good friend of mine […]
    Andy Siegrist
  • Humility August 19, 2014
    “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ― Ernest Hemingway For an unusual reason, I was doing a bit of a study on humility today.  Upon reaching the finish line of our first semester, I was asking my colleagues (on FaceBook, of […]
    Andy Siegrist
  • Getting Your Ticket Punched July 19, 2014
    I’ve been doing some thinking lately about the long, long journey that brought me to this point in my life as well as what’s next.  I have great relationships with many of the faculty here, including senior administrators because of my position as a Student Government representative for our class.  One of the Deans asked […]
    Andy Siegrist
  • Joyful Stress? June 21, 2014
    Oh my, it has been a long time since I posted here.  There are quite a few reasons for this as you will see, beyond the busyness of med school.  The demands of school and other service roles here are significant.  If it were not so, I expect almost anyone could become a doctor.  The […]
    Andy Siegrist
  • Things I am learning about Med School, and Myself… May 26, 2014
    Well folks, I know it has been a few days.  Today is Monday, May 26th and I think my last blog entry was May 13th.  About that: I have never in my life focused so hard, or been asked to learn so much in so little time.  The pace at the East Carolina Summer program […]
    Andy Siegrist
  • What a privilege… May 13, 2014
    Today, I worked on my first patient.  I took a scalpel in my hand and traced a line from the external occipital protuberance to the L5 spinous process and (tried to) deftly cut as I have seen surgeons do on TV.  No anesthesia, no real worries about infection…this patient can’t feel a thing. But she […]
    Andy Siegrist
  • A note for my TCF brothers and sisters… May 13, 2014
    If you don’t know what that means, this probably wasn’t written with you in mind.  Most of my home church folks will recall two weeks ago, my last Sunday at Triad Christian Fellowship, I spoke about Psalm 37:23, and Matthew 14.  Sierra and Noah performed the Hillsong United “Oceans, Where Feet May Fail”.  I have […]
    Andy Siegrist