Superpharmacist…?

Hello, reader!…or whoever follows this so-called blog of mine that I only update once in a while! I’m really sorry I haven’t spent more time here, but school is my number 1 priority, and I always feel like I need to have something profound to share before I can write a meaningful post. So here’s one.

In between classes today, I received an email from my volunteer manager at the hospice. It was one of those emails, the kind that has a foreboding yet nonspecific header that gives away the content of the email. The body of the email told me that a little girl had passed away early this morning at the hospice. While scanning through this kind of email from my manager, I am always afraid of seeing a name that I recognize, a name that I can put a face to. This time it took me a few long seconds before it dawned on me that I did recognize her name. For the last two Friday evenings, I had spent time with her sister making sticker books, watching Ella Enchanted, and playing rockband. I had met her parents too.

It’s always painful to know that someone I may have touched, directly from spending time with them or indirectly from getting to know her family, has been snatched away from this world much too early. That I will never have a chance to get to know her. That I had not been aware of the child’s situation when I was there at the hospice, and had been unable to contribute as much as I could in spending time with her family. Over the past few years that I have been privileged with being a part of the hospice’s volunteer team, I can’t even begin to recall how many times I went through this thought process and shed tears. The one comforting thought is that the child is now free from his or her sufferings here, and has moved on to a place of freedom.

Right after I received that email, I sat in a lecture given by one of the most unorthodox professors I have ever met. He is rather funny and always stirs up the class into peals of laughter, but today he shared with us a very touching story. When he worked as a hospital pharmacist, he visited all the wards on a daily basis, but the one that touched him the most was the cystic fibrosis ward. One time, he held a premature baby girl with cystic fibrosis in his arms, and he had watched her take her last breath. He was extremely shaken by the experience, and felt that it was utterly unfair that CF patients are robbed of many years of life. Why was there not a drug that could treat these patients and control their disease? This was why he gave up his job as a hospital pharmacist and went into research – to make a difference in the research field.

I was very touched by my professor’s story; while my experiences cannot be measured as a parallel to his, I have had those feelings of helplessless that he mentioned today.
It is unfair that patients with diseases, while completely innocent and without crime or misconduct, must suffer and fall victim to a premature visit from Death. And as many other people who I know (or don’t know), I can say without thinking too much, “I want to help people, I want to change the world.” But now you and I laugh because…well, how? I wish I could just morph into a superpharmacist who can fly all over the world and treat patients, whip up miracle drugs and cure everything. Obviously, that is not going to happen.

At this point in time, I don’t feel like I am big and resourceful enough to do anything. I am only a 2nd year pharmacy student who doesn’t even know all her antibiotics properly. I need to keep my goals small and achievable…such as passing my midterm next week. At the same time, I am continuing to spend time with children at the hospice, which is my small way of contributing to the community. I hope that as my career unfolds, I will have the ability to improve and stretch myself to become a pharmacist who can treat patients safely and effectively, and maybe even go above and beyond…as a superpharmacist.