Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thanks, Doc.

“You will fail if you can’t do things differently.”

The other day in school, we had to combine all parts of the patient exam that we learned throughout the year, minus the musculoskeletal portion, into a complete patient physical examination. This included examining the head and neck, cranial nerve function, chest/back (heart, lungs, kidneys, etc), and abdomen (liver, spleen, etc).

I was asked to stay by the physician after everyone had left.

"Your style of interviewing patients is very good. And I know you know your stuff. But the way you examine the patient seems awkward and you can't do certain things. It's not your fault, of course. But you will fail if you can't do things different."

My heart sunk. I swallowed hard and forced a smile. “I understand,” I responded. This was not what I wanted to hear. I started crossing off more specialties that I would not be able to do.

“Not all patients will be as compliant and will be able to move to make things easier for you. And this will not cut it during the graded exam, and they will fail you.”

I was then extended an offer to come in for additional practice. I told her I was busy during the week with studying but that I could come in on Saturdays. She agreed to come on the Saturdays she is free to help me. I am very grateful for her kind offer. Also, if any of my classmates are reading this and are able to study at the building on Saturdays or Sundays, I would greatly appreciate it you could let me know and then spare 15-20 minutes letting me practice on you so I can get used to people of varying heights. Well, that goes for any of my friends in Athens, not just my classmates.

I’ve thought about this many times before but have only mentioned it to a few people (because I think people will think I'm weak): I envy those who are able to perform the actions they want with ease. I envy those who are able to reach over or forward with both hands without fear of falling forward. You see, my injury level is such that I also lack any trunk stability. My best friends remember how initially I was so incredibly scared to move even slightly while in therapy. With every movement on the mat, I thought I would fall off and crack my head open on the tiles. Can’t tell, can you? Like riding a bicycle, I forced my mind and body to retrain and learn how to balance myself without falling over. I was initially told that I needed to wear a chest strap at all times, but I disregarded that advice from therapists, like lots of other cautions they gave me. I’d still be at home with my parents if I listened to everything everyone ever told me.

When I see people being able to examine someone using both hands without stabilizing themselves with one hand and not worrying about falling over, I secretly wish they knew how lucky they were.

If you can reach both hands forward, perhaps to hug your mother or your best friend, consider yourself truly blessed.


  1. Let me know if you have trouble finding people to practice an assessment on. I'll gladly volunteer if I know ahead of time.

  2. thanks so much for posting this.hope it gets easier. and you can do this! you'll pass with flying colors inshallah!

  3. Assalam-u-Alaikum! I've been a silent follower of your blog for a while, but I just wanted to let you know today that your blog is truly an inspiration. Thanks for all the little reminders that people tend to forget because of their busy lives. It's interesting to hear the perspective of a guy on wheels. I wish you all the best and inshAllah you will do an amazing job! Remember: Practice makes perfect :)

  4. Thank you for sharing this story with us Hammad.

    There are innumerable blessings bestowed on each one of us by our creator Allah that we are completely unaware of and take for granted.

    Thanks for reminding us and I hope your unique perspective and your experiences will be recognized and appreciated more by your peers and your teachers.

  5. Anonymous--thanks!

    Zainab--Walakumasalaam. Thank you. It makes me happy that you read this and that you like to hear the crazy things I have to say. Thank you for the kind words!

    Shakeel--you're welcome. I completely agree. InshaAllah, thank you.

  6. "I’d still be at home with my parents if I listened to everything everyone ever told me."
    You're a rebel soul. I'm so proud of you.

  7. Instead of commenting in my head..
    I consider you just as blessed (if not, more) as those who can reach both of their hands forward to hug a loved one. When people look at you, they see you as someone who doesn't let anything get in the way of his success. You achieve things far greater than others have, and I'm not the only one saying that. Your posts show me that any obstacle is something that one can easily overcome. Keep persevering. You being able to inspire people like this is a blessing larger than embracing a friend. That's where I envy you.

  8. Hey Hammad,
    You are truly blessed in ways that most us are not, and because of that you are able to teach us so many things! You again are right, we are blessed to be able to lean forward to hug someone or examine a patient without having to think about it, but we take it for granted! I am thankful for having you to remind us of that!
    I am legally blind of my left eye and although it is something most people won't notice, I get reminded of it every time I have to do an eye exam on a patient or during a practice due to the awkward position it causes when I have to examine their left eye. But in so many other occasions I am reminded of how truly blessed I am to be able to do all these other things! - Thank you for helping remind us of that!
    I will be pleased to come Saturdays or Sundays to the school so you can practice! Please just let me know when it is good for you :)

  9. Anonymous - wow, that's a great way of looking at things. I never thought about it that way. That's quite flattering. Thank you so much.

    Julie - I really did not know that about you. I'm glad you are able to still do everything so well! And I'm glad you enjoy the stuff I write. Thank you for the offer. I may have to take you up on that as we get closer to the OSCE!