Human kindness and caring are amazing and powerful emotions. If just one person shows these emotions about something, or someone, others will eventually follow his example and join him in his endeavors. Atul Gawande writes about such an experience in Better, when he tells of a former patient of his, Virginia Magboo, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, and the challenges he faced preceding her operation.
In a previous section, Gawande wrote about another patient encounter from his final year in med school. An elderly woman who appeared to possibly have pneumonia was admitted, and which lead to him being assigned to care for her. The patient complained of insomnia and having sweats overnight, because of which the senior resident- the doctor in charge- told Gawande to keep a close eye on her. The same doctor then did a follow up himself, checking on the woman twice over the morning, during both times Gawande was absent. The senior resident went out of his way to check on a patient that was not assigned to him, simply because something about her stuck with him. This shows how compassionate he was when it came to doing the best for someone, despite the fact that her specific condition did not necessarily include him. In his simple act of compassion, he most likely saved the woman's life. He found her in need on intensive care by the second time he visited her that morning, when Gawande finally learned of what was going on, the senior resident had taken charge of her case. Gawande did his best to learn from his senior's actions, and later his learnings would be unexpectedly tried and tested when he took on Magboo's case.
The challenges that accompanied Virginia Magboo's breast cancer removal operation were nothing that had to do with the physical act of the operation. They were instead almost random occurrences that could have happened to any patient, and therefore any doctor. But instead it happened to her, and therefore Gawande had to face the...
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