Why I’m not Pre-Med

Illustration by Justine Liang.

I would like to take a break from our regularly scheduled explorations in Biology to explain why I do not want to go into the medical field.

The first memory I have of my mom being visually impaired was when I was eight, maybe nine. I was standing in the doorway that lead from our garage to our house, watching my dad park the car. My mom sat quietly in the passenger seat, right eye covered by a burgundy eye patch. It was only the beginning in a series of eye patches that still has not ended.

When my mom was seventeen, she contracted cataract. Years later, she underwent intraocular lens implant surgeries. But the doctor messed up. The lenses were too big for her eyes, which proved to be the root cause for many of the problems she has today.

After seeing my mom suffer for many years, surgery after surgery, you would think I would want to be a doctor. That I would want to find a way to help people like my mom. But I cannot imagine putting myself in that position. For the past three years, my mom has had no idea what I look like because of a mistake. For the past three years, I have watched her cycle back and forth between empowerment and insecurity because of a mistake. For the past three years, my mom has been essentially blind because of a simple mistake.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not hating on doctors, especially not my mom’s opthamologists. I appreciate them immensely, and I discovered just how much when I was home this past weekend. For the first time in years, my mom has some vision in her right eye after a successful surgery. She keeps on explaining how excited she is to finally see her own hand the cups on the counter. She has the confidence to move around the house and return to business as usual. And I commend the Shiley Eye Center at UCSD for opening a new lab dedicated to regenerative opthamology, treating people with the same conditions as my mom. It’s about time that we start looking after our own.

But I just do not want someone else’s life to depend that heavily on my actions. I barely have any control over my own life, so what gives me the right to toy with someone else’s? Perhaps I am too paralyzed with fear that I cannot think rationally. To those who do want to change people’s lives for the best as a doctor, I fully admire your resolve. But I ask that you also take great care in every single thing you do. For the sake of others.