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Hard Work Pays Off For a Pediatrician and Patient

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

One of the most gratifying aspects of being a pediatrician is having the privilege of watching your patients grow up. It is almost like you “help” raise these children, albeit from a different view point than their parents, but you do often know the “good and the bad” or the “easy and the hard” part of their first 21 years. I was reminded of this today when I received a text from a patient, it read: “I did it! It’s official!!!! I’m a college grad!!!!!!!”

When I read this, it brought tears to my eyes while also giving me goose bumps, as this now 25-year-old girl had overcome many issues to get to this day. It was just so special that she “texted me” on the occasion of her graduation. I had gone through many ups and downs with her and her family while we dealt with “issues” throughout high school and beyond. She is the same age as my oldest son, and her siblings are also all around the same ages, so her mother and I had essentially raised our children together, learning from one another. It was the beginning of my practice where I was parenting side by side with many parents, while at the same time I was also their pediatrician. It is hard not to get close to families over a child’s lifetime.

So even in the most difficult times, her parents and I continued to hold out hope for this occasion!! She is a bright, athletic, beautiful young woman who is blessed with many talents. But to get to her long anticipated graduation day she first battled an eating disorder, which began while in high school. She was hospitalized several times. This was followed by drug addiction, and more problems with her eating disorder, requiring her withdrawal from her freshman year of college. All of this was interspersed with alcohol abuse and self-mutilation and cutting. It was almost like she read a book on “How to act out in adolescence and young adulthood.” Some days I thought it would never end. There were months on end when she was the first afternoon patient of every Wednesday, at times I dreaded the middle of the week. And, if I was feeling like this, I can only imagine how her parents felt.

But, with a loving family, sheer determination on her part, and prayers and guidance she made it through!! To get that “random” text on the day of her college graduation meant the world to me. It is these experiences that make me love my job, even after 15-hour days when my feet are killing me!!

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

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