Freedom Through Empathy

It has been quite some time since I have written a blog post. There have been many reasons for this, but the main reason has been the intensity of the second year of medical school, and my unwillingness to make the time to write in this way. I have said often to people that free time does not exist unless it is made. So now I am making the time to share with you a little bit of what has transpired in my life between August and now.

Highlights

  • I have now learned a bit about hematology (more than just hemoglobinopathies), infectious disease (pipercillin/tazobactam can be used for like almost everything, dang!), rheumatology (lupus!!), and dermatology (nothing interesting to report there…ok met someone with xeroderma pigmentosum which is extremely rare). Additionally, I’ve learned most of the muscles in the arm, forearm, leg, hand, thigh, and foot, tendons, ligaments and the nerves they are innervated by) took a few tests on that and praying all is well on that front.
  • The SCD Buddy Program is getting off the ground!
    • This is the project I have been working on as a leader of the Pediatrics Interest Group at Case as well as a member of the Urban Health Pathway. I have matched about 22 medical students with patients at the pediatric Sickle Cell Anemia Center at Rainbow Babies Hospital who regularly receive blood transfusions.
    • I’m having a final meeting next week with the nurses and social workers at the clinic before medical students can meet their buddies. This is so exciting!
  • I’m seriously considering taking a year off to do research. More on that in the future.
  • Still interviewing prospective medical students.
  • Went on a retreat sponsored by the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA) and learned about the importance of taking a spiritual history among other things…
NEOCMDA Photo credit: Dr. Mike Chen
NEOCMDA
Photo credit: Dr. Mike Chen
  • My lab won $150,000 worth of funding of the HemeChip, a newborn screening device that can make a huge impact in under-resourced regions of the globe! YAY!!
  • Attended a global health training workshop!
    • This was at UH and it was led by Dr. Mori Morikawa, and I was encouraged to attend by my PI. Really awesome experience to be surrounded by physicians so passionate about changing the world. Reminded that global health is also local health! As people from around the world surround us.
  • Went to a Zumba-thon! You can see some of it here.
  • My mom came to see me!!
The day before her birthday!
The day before her birthday!
  • Saw Renee Fleming!!
At her master's class. She is teaching us all how to breathe properlly
At her master’s class. She is teaching us all how to breathe properlly
Saw Renee with 2 (K/Ch)ristas!
Saw Renee with 2 (K/Ch)ristas!
Hillary with Aaida, Heba and Sharif
Hillary with Aaida, Heba and Sharif
Dr. Angela Y. Davis She is much taller in person. We weren't very eloquent when we met her but were very happy to do so...
Dr. Angela Y. Davis
She is much taller in person. We weren’t very eloquent when we met her but were very happy to do so… Photo credit: Randy Blackford

Dr. Davis was truly brilliant and everything she said made me think. This all was on November 13th, 2015. She talked about the prison industrial complex (as suspected), the militarization of the police, and the misguided thinking that is so common when people divorce gang-violence from police-violence from mass-murdering civilian violence, inter-partner violence from each other. These are all issues of power, fear, and difference. What if human beings could handle conflict without violence? What if we could handle conflict with maturity and tolerance? What use would the police be in a world like that? Peace on earth involves human beings and the choices we make. We all have role to play in making the world better. But, as a Christian I know that in order for us to be at peace with ourselves an each other it will take a supernatural change within us. Do you actively think of how you contribute to a peaceful world–a world in which people can be reconciled to one another? We need to dream big about what we want out of this world. Dr. Angela Davis said this: ” We need to say what we want or else we will forget!”

The most poignant remark “Sister Angela” made was this: “Without empathy one remains imprisoned in one’s own consciousness.”  So powerful. The refusal to think beyond our own life’s problems and refusing to see/understand the struggles of others is not a life of freedom but enslavement to one’s own consciousness. We are unable to reach our fullest potential as people when we shirk from feeling what our fellow human beings feel. How can we see others as human when we are afraid to see the world from their perspective? No wonder there is so much violence all around us. No empathy? Dehumanization.

The happenings of today have given me so much to think about. One may wonder, how can you have the capacity to feel so much, to have so many opinions, to post so many statuses? To this thought I respond, how can you not feel so much with all the turmoil around us? Whatever you may think of “Facebook activism,” (a phrase used often by those who cynically mock others who use social media for more than liking others photos and/or stalking like a vampire) it is a tool that seeks to pull others outside of their individual consciousness to a collective consciousness. And, may the empathy we feel from the plight of our fellow human beings strike us to our core, and transform us into agents of restoration in the world.

“Restore us, LORD God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.” – Psalm 80:19

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