This I Believe

Jesse - Saint Louis, Missouri
Entered on December 18, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in transitions.

Each day that goes by brings change. When I moved from my hometown of Seattle, Washington to Saint Louis, Missouri, I knew my life would change a lot. I was leaving a young hip city known for coffee and outdoorsiness for an old economy town known for baseball and crime. I was also entering medical school at Saint Louis University. Four months later I was engaged to be married. Two more months go by and I’m single and for the first time in my adult life. I suddenly found myself alone in a new city with nothing but hyper-achieving classmates and piles textbooks.

Three months later, with classmate Andrew Sherman, I started a non-profit organization. Three more go by and I’m living in remote villages in West Africa, speaking Pulaar and distributing anti-Malarial mosquito nets.

One month later, my sister was sick and I rushed back to be with her in a way I that had never been before.

One more year and it was in clinical rotations. Now I am in the hospital every day. I see patients and present them to professors, I talk to families, I explain disease. This has been yet another huge transition. Now I see the tears that come with cancer, I see other side of trauma, and death. Currently, it’s psychiatry that is occupying my days. Slipping on my white coat transforms me into a confidant for complete strangers. I see hard transitions in so many patients, as they struggle to adjust to their new lives. Perhaps they are transitioning to a life without a leg or a life with cancer, or to no life at all. I do my best to ease their pain, but I always come up short.

Life has become a long series of transitions for me. Buddhists say that everything is impermanent; this has certainly been the case in my life. I have gone from a troubled youth, full of anger and rage after my parents’ divorce, to a friend to my mother and stabilizing force for my siblings. I am now a cog in the dysfunctional healthcare industry. In my new role, I have watched lives change, and seen them end.

All this talk of change makes me wonder what is next for me, but to be honest, I’m sick of wondering.

I’m always wrong anyway.

And it’s better that way!