A Matter of Life and Death

“We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.” 
― J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

There have been a few times in life where I found myself asking "what is the value of life? how much is life actually worth?" and "to what lengths would I go to protect and keep a good quality of life?"

The more I study medicine and begin to mentally prepare myself for being on the wards and interacting with patients,  I can't help but to think how common these questions may or may not be to my future patients and ones that I may be asked when discussing the management and treatment of their condition(s).

During my holiday breaks, I tend to reconnect with the practical part of medicine by shadowing Physicians. Over the Christmas break, I was afforded the opportunity to shadow a very knowledgable and exemplary doctor and was granted the opportunity of seeing both the private and public advantages and disadvantages of medicine.

Overall, the main theme I noticed was what is the worth of a good healthy life. There were days during my shadowing opportunity where I sat across the table from ill patients, went on rounds and performed respiratory, cardiovascular and abdominal examinations and every patient asked the same question at the end of the examination "Doc! When will I be well enough to go home and how can I get better?"

It was hard not to realize that each patient, regardless of their personal diagnosis showed their determination to fight and to prove that life is worth fighting for and always sought to
ask ways in which they could improve their current prognosis. It was also encouraging to enter a room to have a patient exclaim how they were so proud because they were using the spirometer regularly (and the difference was heard in their lung sounds which was remarkable after completing Respiration course) and wanted us to watch as she demonstrated. It made me appreciate my health all the more, and gave me the sense of obligation to help these patients on their road to recovery although I was just shadowing.

As I prepared to begin this new semester in January, I made a few notes as to ways that I can improve my views on what things are worth, specifically life and how I can shape my thinking that will be beneficial for patients of the future.


1. Spend Time Helping Others 

You may not agree with me, but there is a certain level of joy to be attained when you spend some time helping someone other than yourself or even a family member. 

Get involved in organizations at school, work or church that plan outreach events and functions where the community benefits. It will allow you to meet new people and be introduced to a new way of thinking and how you can serve others in small ways. 

When I help someone, I am usually reminded of the minute things I take for granted such as the opportunity of being educated in a foreign country and able to experience another culture. 

2. Take Time Doing Something That Makes You Happy

This is vital to mental health and balance. At times we all take on the "mommy role". You know where we tend to overwork ourselves and ensure that everyone is taken care of except ourselves. This can be damaging to one's psyche because we're not taking time to care for ourselves.

Make it a habit to take at least one day or an hour or two just to spend time with yourself doing something YOU enjoy.

Remember that song by Heather Headley- "Me Time?" (Don't worry go ahead and youtube it). Pencil that in your planner, and make it a habit to have a little me time regularly. Sure people may think you're crazy because you're kind of taking a day to date yourself, but who cares what they think, right?

Take time to read a new book, watch a movie, explore a new restaurant, take a day at the spa to be pampered, and the list goes on. Try it! The people you help will be thankful as well.

3. A.S.K. 

Taking a lesson from Matthew 7:7-8. Simply asking oneself and others what is life worth will give you an idea of how you and others view life.

By asking, we're opening the door to be educated and to allow ourselves to dig deeper in understanding how we can make our lives and that of others worth living. 

I encourage you to take a listen to the podcast entitled  "Worth" which got me to delve into the questions "what is the value of life?" and "how do we value the life of another?" and also read the following article that was published on KevinMd entitled  "Being a patient made me a better Doctor and Physician Leader" . They both highlight the concept of worth and how as humans and even more so future physicians we should aim to treat others with the thought center that all persons deserve equal and fair service and that all life is valuable despite the preconceived notions and prejudices we may be exposed to or possess. 

Share your thoughts on the podcast, the article and on the value/worth of life. 

Image found on Piccsy posted by Wonders of the younger.

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