I had what was supposed to be a minor surgery last week which ended in the rather rare complication of a blood clot. After ultrasounds and concerns about the mobility of the clot, I agreed to the surgeon’s plan to treat the clot with blood thinners. After a few days the clot dissolved and I was mercifully able to stop jabbing myself in the stomach with Lovenox twice a day. They whole experience was a pain (literally). But there were a couple of surprisingly good things to have come out of it. At my final follow-up visit the surgeon elaborated on why he had wanted treat the clot so aggressively. He rambled, “Because you’re only thirty [glances over at my chart]. I mean thirty-six. And we want to make sure that nothing happens to you. I mean we care about what happens to you…because you are so young. You know, in your thirties…” he said trailing off. I had to stifle a laugh. Surgeons are notorious for their lack of a bedside manner but I was still highly amused, and a little bit touched, that he basically admitted to me that my “youth” made my life more worth his caring about. Or perhaps he was just more concerned that my youth would make me or my relatives more likely to sue in the event of a bad outcome. Regardless, I walked away feeling pretty good about my life. Lately I’ve been feeling kind of old. I know I’m not really “old” (whatever that means), but I don’t exactly feel young anymore either. I had an old lady surgery (varicose veins). I am no longer the youngest person in a room, professionally speaking. I’ve had the somewhat unsettling experience of having physicians that I suspect are quite a bit younger than me. And worst of all, I am working out more (and eating less) than I have in years but my weight is at a standstill. However, I found a tactless young surgeon’s thinking that I am young enough to be strangely reassuring.
The other good thing to have come out of this ordeal was the experience of working through a non-straightforward medical case. I mean I wish it hadn’t been my case, but I enjoyed talking over the case with the surgeon, looking at the ultrasound photos, discussing what studies there were on this type of clot, and learning a new technique (giving a subcutaneous injection). In fact, I rather liked it, not the the feeling of the needle piercing my skin (I’m not a masochist), but the feeling of mastering a new skill set.
Husband turned toward me in the hospital during one of my visits last week and said, almost with a resigned sigh, “You really should be a doctor, you know, you just need to do it.” He knows me well and he sees what I feel; I light up in the hospital. I am just strangely happy and comfortable there talking about problems and how to solve them. I’m a far cry from a twenty-two year old first year medical student, but maybe, just maybe, I’m young enough to still go for it.