TIME. Spring 2019 - Page 22

Healing David Shin 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