June 19th, 2014–William Tang

Today, for the first time since I got here, I found myself sincerely feeling connected to the patients. I’ve been talking to the residents for the past two weeks and a half, but until today there existed this separation in my head between the patients and me. They were often bedridden, sometimes cognitively impaired, and I was able-bodied, and healthy. The differences between them and me were more than I was used to and it was hard to look past them and focus on the experiences we shared. But today, the interns were invited by Dr. Rybstein to attend a group therapy session and it was there that I started to understand that regardless of how discombobulated or beaten one’s mind or body gets, we still face the same problems that trouble the rest of humanity. In the hour-long discussion, it became apparent that many patients shared a general frustration with their lack of agency, a plight that I understood everyone to experience at many points in their lives. Life often does not go the way we picture it to and there will be things that are out of our control. Job applications get turned away, families are broken, and our health takes a turn for the worse. Of course there are differences in the height of each hurdle, but disappointment and the challenge of how to overcome it is common to everyone’s lives. I still feel this invisible self-imposed distance between me and the residents, but it is definitely closing.

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