by Puja Nayak
“Doctor,” I say, my voice fading. I hear footsteps running and shut my eyes.
Hours later, I have a wire in me. I try and pull it out but my doctor stops me.
“No, don’t do that sweetie.”
I give her a look. I don’t understand why I’m here. My head is hot, I am sweating, and many students surround me, taking notes. Are they talking about me?
“Honey, you have something called Kawasaki.”
I raise my eyebrows.
“Your body and I are fighting it, so you will be okay.” She hands me a juice box and leaves the room with my parents. My pediatrician inspired me to become a pediatrician like her when I was only three and motivates me to work towards it.
As I got older, I researched into Kawasaki. With less than 20,000 cases a year, Kawasaki is a rare condition that affects young children. Kawasaki can cause inflammation in the walls of some blood vessels in the body. Till this day, doctors have no answer as to why Kawasaki occurs or what causes it. I hope that one day, pediatricians find an answer.
Later on, my mother told me the story of my journey. She told me how I didn’t eat anything, not even my favorite foods. When she took me to the doctors, they all told her I had a fever. But something told her that the problem was much bigger. When nobody believed her, she called my pediatrician, who was off-duty for the week. She was referred to another pediatrician on call, Dr. Myers. Dr. Myers knew something was wrong and immediately had my parents take me to the Children’s Hospital in Dallas. She worked hard to find my diagnosis and assured my parents that I would be okay. Graduate students studied me because I was a “rare case” they had never seen before. After hearing this, I realized the importance of medical research and the value of a caring doctor. Like my mother, Dr. Myers did not give up on me, and I hope to do the same for my patients.
In high school, I gained some exposure into the field of working with children. I am involved with Circle of Friends where I mentor a kindergarten class and teach math and reading and TMS Outreach, where every Friday, I go to an elementary school and present medical related concepts to fifth graders. This summer, I had the privilege of volunteering at Texas Health Dallas, where I worked in the Special Care Nursery. Holding a baby for over three hours, I had never been more certain that I wanted to help children when I was older. Additionally, as a committee head for the Make-A-Wish foundation, I am working to create a reveal party, where a child will celebrate his or her wish being granted.
To me, kids are the reason the world moves ahead and a creative lens to society. With the dream to give them the same care my pediatrician gave me when I needed it, I aspire to help the future generation grow stronger.
At any party, rather than approaching my friends first, I go the kids. Children give me so much joy and becoming a pediatrician will allow me to pursue what I love.
Author Bio: Puja Nayak is a senior at the Texas Academy of Math and Science. She often spends her free time writing, dancing, or spending time with her family. Fascinated by children, she hopes to serve as a pediatrician in the future.
About Kawasaki Disease. JAMA Patient Page.