Broken Hearts

840 Words4 Pages
Broken Hearts

My home has been a place of healing for many broken hearts, both literally and figuratively. My younger sister had two open heart operations before the age of two. I was three years old, and I tried to be the best big sister in the world. I thought that if I loved her enough, her heart would heal itself. My brother was three and thirteen when he had his heart surgeries. This time, I was older and much more fearful, but my brother is the proud new owner of Vinny the Pulmonary Valve. Thus, two hearts have healed quite literally in my home.

The figurative healing in my home sets it apart from many others. I have learned the importance of love and support in the face of trouble by watching my mother, the backbone of a local parent support group. Families need to know they are not alone, that I, too, was scared to see my brother gasp for breath after running up a flight of stairs.

I have seen more aspects of the personal side of medicine than many people my age. I understand first hand the comforting effect a friendly smile and reassuring confidence from a doctor has on both patients and families. My family history is what sparked my interest in medicine, but my own experience has held my attention in recent years.

Eager to gain hands on experience after high school, I volunteered at Strong Memorial Hospital conducting a clinical study of patient referral patterns and shadowing a pediatric cardiologist. I watched a child's fearful face turn to an expression of amazement as he listened to the sound of his own heart. The little boy was so fascinated that he hardly noticed as Dr. Harris completed the check-up, expertly assessing reflexes, color, peripheral pulses, and responsiveness in the moments before the novelty of the sound wore off. Stethoscope in hand, I searched gingerly for the sound of the boy's leaking valve but was not in time. The smile faded, and I lost my chance. I felt an immediate sense of awe at Dr. Harris's swiftness, skill, and compassion toward the fearful little boy.

The following summer I was a University of Rochester Summer Research Program scholar, doing my first laboratory research. I studied surface deformations of the chick embryo myocardium during normal and experimentally altered ventricular growth, learning the frustration of research obstacles and working to overcome them.
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