My AHA moment

People keep asking me lately, how I went from a degree in Anthropology and Religion to medicine.

To me, it was the only clear path forward, due to an AHA moment I had in the bone lab one day.

During undergrad, I took a course called Human Osteology one semester, and was hooked on bones.  This led to me volunteering at the CA Pound Human Identification and Research Lab, (AKA: the bone lab).  To me, it was pretty much the coolest thing ever that you could take a tiny bone fragment and tell all sorts of things about someone from it.

One day, I was tasked to help articulate a skeleton.  I remember that I could tell by looking that the skeleton was male and elderly.  I don't think I was given any information about this guy, other than what I could deduce from looking at his skeleton.  And as I inspected his skeleton, I noticed that there was wire in his sternum, four or five pieces maybe, each individual piece twisted closed like a bread-tie.  His sternum had grown back together around his wire "bread-ties" and the bone remodeling looked old and strong, so whatever had killed this guy, he had survived his bread-tie sternotomy.

I was fascinated by these "bread-ties," and I'm pretty sure I asked someone if they knew what had happened to him, but no one could tell me.

The human body can do amazing feats.  In the right conditions, it literally GROWS BACK TOGETHER, like this guy's sternum had.  Right now in this instant, you're growing new skin and new blood.  And if you break a bone or have to have your sternum cracked open like this guy, it will grow back together.  And that's crazy.  It's mind-blowing.  It's awesome.

I never did figure out what had happened to that gentlemen, but it seemed like it would have made for an excellent story.

I wished I could have just ask him what had happened.

That was my AHA moment.

That was the moment I knew that I wanted to become a doctor.  I was already fascinated and intrigued and blown away by the human body, but I wanted to combine that with the ability to ask people for their story.

Because without the story, what is the point?


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