I jolted awake to the sound of the alarm. 5:45 am. I took a
glance at the mirror across the room—I was still dressed in
my scrubs, my hair was a mess, and the bags under my eyes
seemed to reach the bottom of my nose. Papers were strewn
across the desk, some of them sticking to my reddened arms.
Slowly, I remembered where I was. I had fallen asleep at my
desk in the hospital again. By the time I left the building, the street lamps had already
turned on as they usually were during my late-night trek back
home. As I walked back to my apartment, I passed the same
small park, which was always empty by this time in the eve-
ning. I stopped at the entrance and stared at the set of met-
al and plastic. Setting my bag aside, I got on the swings and
rocked back and forth.
The door creaked open, and light entered the room along
with my fellow resident, Jonathan. He stared at me for a short
while, and with a slight grin of empathy, tossed me my cardi-
gan. “Get up, man. You have a full day ahead of you.” Barely
managing to put on my sneakers, I wrapped myself in my
cardigan and followed him out to the lobby. I had wanted to become a doctor to help people, to save the
world—or so my innocent, naïve younger self used to believe.
I had thought that this was the road that God had wanted me
on, that once I became a doctor, life would be easier. Instead, I
found myself working impossible hours, dealing with patients
who demanded the best of me all day, every day, and earning
barely enough to cover rent.
The day was like any other. Trying to maintain a smile, I
greeted the patients, checked their charts, asked how they
were feeling. Sometimes, they reciprocated the question. In
response, I attempted the biggest grin I could at the moment:
“As healthy as a resident can be.” Nonetheless, as I was leaving
one room, a young girl came up to me, pointed at my face
and told me, “You look like a starved panda,” and gave me
a wide grin. I patted her head and walked out. I’ve seen better
days, trust me.
Breakfast consisted of a quick biscuit and coffee with extra
sugar. Is life supposed to be this exhausting? I caught myself won-
dering. As I took my last sip, my senior resident poked his
head into the café and motioned me out with a curt nod. It
was time to make rounds again. We made our way around
the department, visiting new ER admissions, current ICU pa-
tients, and documenting notes. Two children had their very
first asthma attacks, one man most likely had appendicitis,
and a young boy with pneumonia was sent into the ICU. And
I looked like a starved panda.
22 Spring 2019
God, what am I doing here? Why am I stuck on this swing, contemplating
my life? Is it right for me to be so anxious, so doubtful, so scared?
Suddenly, the swings next to mine started to creak. Next to me
sat a boy in a white cap. He had a calm look on his face, one
too mature for what seemed to be his age. “Are you okay?” He
asked. “You seem a little stressed.”
I shrugged my shoulders and continued to swing. The last
thing I needed was a prepubescent boy giving me life lessons.
“So? What did God say?”
Woodchips flew everywhere as I slammed my feet to stop the
swing. The boy seemed unfazed, continuing to stare with an
oddly sincere look on his face.
What did God say? Was I expecting an answer? With a start, I re-
alized that as I prayed, I was actually completely blocking