The patient sat on a piece of plywood resting on two school desks, hand exposed through sterile blue sheeting. The surgeon leaned over, allowing the sunlight streaming through the barred window to be his guide as he carefully pulled a scalpel through the skin around the man’s knuckle. The man stared calmly off into the light, willing his stomach to settle, but there was a certain look of relief and thrill in his eyes. Today was the day that a piece of shrapnel that had made its home inside his thumb for 8 years would finally be removed. There was a resounding ding as the sliver hit the bucket, and the man glanced down and expelled a sigh.
Fast forward a few hours and we are packing up for the day, passing boxes of prescriptions, glasses, and linens towards the bus assembly line style. The man reappears, a huge grin consuming his face despite the pain that is slowly overcoming him from the fading anesthesia. “Gracias, gracias” are the words falling, falling from his mouth when the ‘aha!’ moment strikes.
This is what I want to do. This is who I want to forever serve.
For a girl that had dreamed of doing anything but medicine, this was a huge revelation. It came exactly two weeks before I checked “Biology — Pre-Med” on my first college application, and long after that life-changing trip, I am still wearing the pre-med badge and dreaming of the day that I can return and be the life-changer.
Mikaela Miller is a junior Biology major, minoring in Mathematics and Chemistry, on the Pre-Medicine track. Originally from Chandler, Arizona with roots in Seattle, Washington and a new home in Fort Worth, Texas, she hopes to find a little piece of “home” across the nations through travel and medical mission work.