From Helpless to Powerful: My Road to Cardiology
Some events in our lives are meant to be forgotten, or at least not remembered particularly in detail. But others mark our lives forever, whether it’s positively or negatively. We may not remember what we had for lunch a week ago, but we always remember the day we graduated from high school or the day we received bad news about the health of someone we love.
I do not remember in detail everything that I did or happened to me when I was eight years old, but I perfectly remember one particular day and those that followed. My youngest brother was two weeks old. It was a Monday morning and I had to go to school. I woke up anxious that morning with an ineffable bad feeling. That day, I could not concentrate in class and when I got home, my mother, who was usually at home, was not there. When I asked about her, the answer was, “Your mother started to feel bad and she had to go to the hospital immediately.” I felt vulnerable and scared, even though I did not know what the issue really was.
When I found out that it had to do with a heart problem, I felt completely helpless because I knew it could be something critical. My mother suffered from peripartum cardiomyopathy, and she was admitted to the hospital. I was not able to see her for two weeks and I barely received any news about her. To me, those two weeks felt like an eternity, and the uncertainty only made matters worse for me and my three younger brothers. Fortunately, my mother began to recover. At first, she was not able to climb the stairs and could barely walk because her heart was still very weak. But eventually, she made a full recovery, and I am very grateful for that.
When I was in middle school, I had another unforgettable experience. I have always had the desire to become a physician, and so when I had the opportunity to participate in an observership with a pediatric cardiologist, I happily accepted. I was astonished by the number of children I saw suffering from cardiac diseases and from the very first day of my observership I felt nothing but compassion and a great desire to make these children and their families feel at least a little better, even though at the time I knew nothing about their diseases. I was also impressed by the faith that the patients and their parents had in their doctors’ ability to make them feel better.
I particularly remember one girl who came to the doctor’s office. She presented with bluish skin, shaking, and expressed an immense sense of suffering. I knew that her condition was advanced and critical by the expression of my mentor. He spoke with the girl’s parents, and I stayed with her in the office. I approached her, and as I held her hand, she looked at me with a gaze of hope, as if I was the one that could save her from her suffering. I knew I could not treat her, as I was only a middle school student, but I reassured her, “You are not alone. You are in very good hands. Please tell me if you need anything and I will ask for you.” This was the only thing I could offer to help relieve her pain. I realized how important that was, as she smiled at me. This made my desire to become a cardiologist even stronger as I wanted to be able to treat her medically and continue providing her reassurance.
These two events have deeply marked my life, and although both were painful, they inspired me to become a cardiologist. Cardiology is known to be a demanding medical specialty, as heart diseases can often be critical, but my desire to be a cardiologist continues to grow every time I think about how helpless I felt when my mother was diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy, how helpless I felt when I could not medically treat a pediatric patient sitting in front of me, and how helpless one can feel in situations like mine. I believe that having the opportunity to study medicine and pursue a career in cardiology will be my turning point from feeling helpless to making a difference in my patients’ lives.
This article was authored by Ileana Lizano Jubert, medical student at Universidad Anahuac Mexico Norte (Anahuac University), Class of 2025.
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