Sunday, March 23, 2008

in retrospect

My 24th birthday was really special, even though UCSF conspires to make every birthday slightly hectic (last year: M&N exam, this year: boards, next year: rotations, 4th year: Match Day).

Studying for the boards has helped me understand the medical conditions of the patients whom we have interviewed in the hospital for the past 1.5 years. In particular, I just wanted to jot something down right now about a woman in the neurology wards who I now realize had one of the defining illnesses of AIDS: HIV encephalitis. At the time, I didn't understand what that could be, or that she even exhibited signs of it. Talking to her about her life (she was in her 30s and a professional dog walker), she seemed normal but now I realize how much patients can preserve social graces in the face of debilitating mental conditions. She could talk about her life and her background, but she couldn't name simple objects and often mixed them up with similar sounding words. In retrospect, she was so young, and she was in bad shape...but she said to me, "Want to know something? HIV hasn't changed much, I've had a good life."

And for some reason right now, I want to believe her.

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