I was thinking today about the unpredictability in medicine. How humbling it truly is. Perhaps, we are reminded more frequently than we'd like about being humbled, awe-stricken by medicine: Not only by our own limitations as medical professionals but by the sometimes serendipitous events that happen.
For a minute, it made me reminisce about the days of having to write a sentence repeatedly in class ( I will not talk in class or I will do my homework) as a sort of reminder to avoid certain behaviors. Although a long stretch, I see a bit of similarity here. How about repeating "Medicine is humbling" 100 times or more as a reminder that we as medical professionals don't know all.
Okay, this is somewhat circuitous to get to my point.
A few months ago, while seeing a newborn patient. I had to draw a blood sample. Well, having done venipunctures for several years , I felt confident. My confidence was a bit shaken though when I searched the patient's arms and hands and couldn't find an optimal vein to draw the blood. Of course, it didn't help that both parents were doctors. Their eyes watched mine, then stared at my hands tying the tourniquet as I searched for a decent vein. One stick is usually what the provider and parents hope for. Well, the first stick was unsuccessful. The best vein laid buried deep, right next to a tendon. Plus, leaving the tourniquet on for too long could temporarily turn the newborn's arm/hand blue, cutting off circulation.
The second stick was a slow productive one: the blood eked out very, very slowly. Fortunately, it didn't clot. Whew! Even after all these years, I am reminded daily that no matter how many years of medical experience I may have, a simple blood draw can be daunting. And perhaps, the word simple here is misplaced.
And this is one of the reasons why I love medicine. Humbling it is! There's always an opportunity to remember, no one is perfect!