His Heart in My Hand
A student writes about a cardiac surgery patient
It was literally the third week of my third year of medical school, and I was on the Cardiac Surgery service. I finally had my very first patient that I could consider my own. I was there when he arrived, and I was able to complete his History and Physical. He was going to have some imaging studies and then a CABG procedure. I met both he and his wife as I learned about his medications, allergies, past medical conditions, and social history. The two were an extremely friendly couple.
The next morning, I was able to scrub in for his operation. I even held his heart in my hands while the surgeons manipulated his vessels. I distinctly remember his lungs being perfectly pink, as he had never smoked a day in his life. I completed his post-op check and rounded on him every morning after his procedure while he remained in the hospital. I enjoyed meeting him in the hallway during the day and continuing to encourage him and congratulate him on his post-operative progress.
On the Friday after his surgery, I went to say goodbye to the patient and his wife since I knew that they would be discharged over the weekend while I was gone. I thanked him for letting me be an active part of his care time and allowing me to learn from him. Both he and his wife said that they were lucky to have had me on their team because I would make a great doctor one day. His wife even said that I should definitely go into Family Medicine so that I could be her doctor when I finished my training.