There was an air of expectancy when i woke up today. I had no idea what would happen. I went to the admin office of AFIRM and asked for a week’s observership shadowing a FCPS trainee. The assistant HOD was a little puzzled. She asked whether i was studying DDT. I told her no i was a first year medical student. She said first year was a little early, i would not understand much and they had not had one in the dept before. But i told her i wanted to get an idea of what physiatrists really do, the research possibilities, patient interaction and different subspecialties. I really pushed for it. She was nice and said she would speak to the HOD. She got back to me and said i could do it.
She paired me with a first year resident Dr S and told her that though i could do no practical work i could go anywhere she could which was very generous of her. Dr S was very nice and after we introduced ourselves she took me on a tour. She showed me many places which are sort of confused in my mind now as it was only my first day. But i do clearly recall spinal nerve injury ward because she showed be a traumatic brain injury patient there and the OPD because of the brisk activity there. More on this tomorrow. She explained to me the teamwork involved in PM&R, much more than other fields, physiotherapists, speech therapists, psychologists, neurologists, surgeons, counsellors.
While on the tour she asked me why i was interested in PM&R. i answered that i liked the patient interaction and it had been brought to my attention in the 2008 earthquake when patients of every age and walk of life were debilitated and needed long term care. I could have told her how when i was 11 i read a book called ‘ see ya, simon’ by david hill (just googled the author on the internet). It was narrated by a friend of simon. Simon suffered from muscular dystrophy. It was about his family and friends and life and his own perspective of his disability. I was intrigued by the cheerful tone of the book in general. There was another book ‘izzy, willy nilly’ by cynthia voight about a girl whose leg is amputated after a road traffic accident. Her friends can’t cope with it and her relationship with family also changes subtly. Then there are war stories of soldiers that i read on the internet and in magazines. Perhaps it is the patience and challenges involved that interest me here. It is a lot more than prescribing a drug regime and there is also a need to empathize with the patient more than in other fields, i believe.
A specialist then called the residents to the bedside of a patient he wanted to test them on. It was a patient with motor neuron disease. Much of it was beyond me at this stage as we do neuroanatomy next year. He then asked them what to include in the treatment plan. He emphasized the importance of a realistic treatment plan. Assessment is really important for that so you don’t waste time and money and never give false hope. It was an important lesson.