by Idanis Perez-Alvarez

Day 2 Reflection- Being on both sides
When it comes to working in the medical profession, it seems like our days are endlessly filled with hearing the stories of our patients. It is truly a wonder to take a step back and reflect on the range of backgrounds, circumstances, perspectives in which patients come to us for help and deliver their messages. Ironically, today hearing Tracy address storytelling as almost an art that is sometimes undervalued in medicine especially when it is in relation to our own health stories. I recently had a similar story as the Skolnik’s happen in my family where one of my aunts went in for routine knee replacement and was found to have substantial mets over her entire body. She never recovered to full consciousness after the procedure and passed away shortly after in the same hospital. My family, of which there are several doctors, immediately recognized that her cancer should have clearly been caught prior to the procedure had appropriate pre op testing been done. My grandmother who had also recently had a knee replacement said she even had to present her dental record to get approval for surgery. Clearly there was some gross oversight and negligence that occurred along the way of my aunts care and although she clearly had a terminal condition, this error caused her life to end in pain rather than peacefully after getting to enjoy her limited time on earth the way she would have wanted. While I am speaking about my story and frustration from a family perspective, I am torn as a healthcare professional with the notion that you never know the real story behind why people make mistakes. I try to imagine to this day if there is a partly forgiving reason why the oversight occurred and I think it is important to give the benefit of the doubt in certain situations. Maybe my story may not be as applicable for this action but I can think of so many times in medicine where taking the time to put yourself in the shoes of another individual can lead to much better relationship and exchanges of communication. Overall, I think what I have taken away the most from today is that we are the only ones that can tell our own stories, but by sharing them with the world and considering the stories of others, we create an outlet for understanding medicine as a complex network of experiences and emotions.

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