There are only a few places where one can wake up at 2 am to watch the Super Bowl. Israel is one of them. Unfortunately, an exciting semester abroad there became an uneventful "sick-mester" in bed. By halftime of Super Bowl XLIV, as tension rose between the Colts and the Saints, the mercury rose on my thermometer to 102 degrees.
My first visit to the doctor resulted in what I thought was an incomprehensible diagnosis. Though I have been learning Hebrew my entire life, his words failed to register in my brain. A nurse provided me with a necessary explanation that I had a virus, and I would be better soon. They tested me for everything imaginable: Strep throat, H1N1, even HIV. All returned negative. For 3 weeks I was forced into what was essentially quarantine. Room 3 at the Alexander Muss High School in Hod Hasharon was lonely. Only a few of my close friends came to visit.
10,000 miles away, my father explained to me about the time that he had mononucleosis in college, and suffered from fatigue, lack of appetite, and nightly fevers. I asked the nurse to be re-tested for mononucleosis, and I was denied that opportunity because she and the doctors were convinced that I would be better any day. Yeah, right. That one painful remark has stuck with me ever since I sat in the nurse's cold office: "Daniel, there is no possible way that you can still be sick!". I was discounted, frustrated, and neglected even more when the thermometer given to me was confiscated as a result of this disbelief. I could not even report my own fevers due to the lack of trust on behalf of the school's medical staff. Luckily, after persistent complaining and arguing, I was dragged out of quarantine into a taxi to a blood clinic, hoping that a real diagnosis was finally imminent.
About seven days and seven vials of blood later, I was called into the nurse's office to hear four, ironically relieving, words: "Daniel, you have mono". There was a clear translation barrier between the doctors and me. I realized that I couldn't express my symptoms in a foreign language, likely delaying my diagnosis, and causing the doctors and the nurse to neglect me and think that I was faking an illness. As a result of this experience, I finally learned successful assertion and independence. With my parents 10,000 miles away, it was my responsibility to take my temperature, make myself tea, and beg for doctors. Since my youth likely contributed to the medical staff's abandonment, if this were to happen to me again, I would not allow the same irresponsibility to occur.
I sympathize with non English speaking patients in Los Angeles. Though translators are often used by doctors, I would like to eliminate that barrier for my patients. I am passionate about a potential career in medicine, and I thoroughly enjoy the study of Spanish. I know that if I really want to help my future patients, I will ensure flawless communication. That is one of the reasons that I want to study Spanish.
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