Kids Say…

Shortly after my book was published, I was invited to speak to an elementary school class about what it takes to a book. I talked about plot creation and the publication process, and shared some of my stories.

The kids surprised me by writing some PRICELESS thank-you letters! Here are some of my favorite lines:

“I really like how you overcame being called a nerd and made fun of because you are Chinese. I think it is really awesome that you helped save a man from dying just from your knowledge in Chinese. That is very inspiring. Go nerd kids!!!”

“You showed me to be proud of who I am.”

“I am so thankful that you presented to our class about the most crucial elements to writing a book and how to go about it. It had fascinated me for months previously and I had been wondering how, and I had absolutely no idea at all!”

“How you incorporated your stories in with duck features, such as ‘worked my tail off,’ was great.”

“I do hope you become a famous author, or even a famous rich author!”

“I liked the story about the thought-to-be-crazy Mandarin person. I liked how you could save him from psycho treatment.”

“The stories that you told about the man who lost his tongue yet every day found something to smile about was sad and had a good morale. I hope I every day have something to smile about.”

“My cousin is in medical school. It sounds hard for her and it must have been even harder for you.”

 

So, it’s been a month since the book was launched, and I happen to know that roughly 200-300 people own copies of it! Has anyone finished reading it yet? What are your thoughts?

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Running With IV Poles

I wish I could show you a picture of this young couple huddled over the side of a crib. Their faces were clouded with deep concern. Their baby had spent the greater part of 4 or 5 years in various hospitals, for treatment of a multitude of problems. His endocrine problem, which brought us into the treatment team, was the least of these. Even though we were only monitoring one lab value, we came by to check on this little patient every day. Every single time, we walked into this same scene with his devoted parents huddled over his crib.

I wish I could show you a picture of this child. Like so many Pediatric Endocrine patients, he was tiny for his age. He lay floppy in his bed, barely able to move his claw-like limbs. And he had these fascinating buggy eyes that seemed to stare in opposite directions.

Parenting is complicated, of course. There are many tremendous tasks associated with caring for a child, and despite excellent efforts, children don’t always turn out as one hopes or predicts.  But, seriously, no one could have been prepared for this! And yet, I have never seen any parents who loved their kid more than these brave people loved this poor child.

Pediatrics can be a tragic, heartbreaking field to work in, especially at a tertiary care center like UCSF (where I’m currently visiting). Every patient has several big problems. Too many will die shortly. Families have to split time between the hospital and the life they want. Parents put off their education, their careers, their relationships, their other children. They drag on in these horribly straining circumstances for months, years, indefinitely—until their trials end abruptly in the death of the little one. So many times a day I wonder how all these families make it through such times.

The beauty of Pediatrics is getting to be a part of these stories, to see example after example of courage and resilience, and to help bear these huge burdens in some small way. It’s the little head poking around the IV pole, shouting, “Excuse me, Doctor, I can’t see the TV!” It’s the five-year-old grinning when asked about his new diabetes, then running over to bite his brother’s head. It’s the sigh and nod of a tired mother writing down the dosages of yet another new medication regimen. It’s the gorgeous young couple huddling over the crib of their severely-deformed son.

The beauty of Medicine in general is seeing people in the most unimaginably horrific circumstances, and realizing, they are just people. They are not a list of diagnoses. They are not limited in their ability to be happy.