Nov. 26, 2014
Ahh…Thanksgiving. The day Americans have put aside to stuff ourselves silly, watch football and, oh yeah, give thanks for what we have. As you sit down at your feast tomorrow, you might give thanks for a turkey that’s not dry or gravy that isn’t lumpy. You might give thanks that you’re not sitting next to your drunk uncle—or maybe that you are. Chances are likely that you’ll also give thanks for the things that really matter—family, friends, love, freedom and health.
This year, I’m especially grateful just to be here. After going through a serious cardiac event last January and having my life saved by my defibrillator, just being here is a very good thing. I’m thankful for my device, my MSU-trained doctor, the U-M hospital system, nurses, technology, research—the list goes on and on. Without any one of those things, my outcome would have been completely different.
It doesn’t take Thanksgiving for me to be appreciative for all of those things. Sure, I had my days early on where I was angry about the hand (or heart in this case) I’ve been dealt, but now I try to focus on giving thanks that modern medicine has saved my life. How lucky am I to have something in my chest that literally keeps my heart beating?
I’ve also tried to turn anger into energy to educate the public and help others facing a similar situation. I’ve spoken at conferences, served on patient panels, been a listening ear, written book chapters for patients and spread the word about heart disorders in the hopes that I can help just one more person. I think a lot of people who’ve faced a serious health issue find some comfort or purpose in doing these kinds of things. I know I have.
My guess is that’s how Randy Hillard, a professor of psychiatry in both the College of Osteopathic Medicine and the College of Human Medicine might feel. He’s taken a devastating diagnosis of a deadly stomach cancer and is using it to educate others about how to prevent it. Read his very personal FACULTY VOICE: 100 Percent Preventable, to learn about his inspiring efforts.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m extremely thankful for my doctor. His skill and instinct saved my life. I’m also eternally grateful to the college where he was trained—MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. When we say Spartans are lifesavers, it’s not just a trite phrase. Spartans save lives every single day.
Melissa Duimstra is learning how to be one of those lifesavers. She is a student in the College of Osteopathic Medicine who took a less-than-traditional route to get where she is. Before entering medical school she was an artist, vocalist in a band, certified horseshoer, teacher and a doula. Read her STUDENT VIEW: An Eclectic Path, to learn more about her.
That’s another thing about being a Spartan, you really can follow your own path. The opportunities on campus are endless. You can study to be a doctor or scientist. You can do research and study theater. You can learn how to teach or become an engineer. You can immerse yourself in languages and social issues and learn about farming.
Thanksgiving is a perfect time to give thanks for farming. Campus is home to MSU’s Student Organic Farm, one of the oldest and most highly regarded programs of its kind in the nation. Their bounty goes to several dining halls and area food banks, among other places, where I’m sure their food is appreciated. Check out the MSUTODAY FEATURE: Harvest Time, that is part two of a beautiful photo essay about the farm.
This Thanksgiving, whether you’re eating dry turkey or sitting next to your drunk uncle, take the time to give thanks for things that really matter. Give thanks for loved ones and good health. For doctors and nurses. For farmers and students. For research and technology. For teachers and learners. Give thanks for the hundreds of thousands of Spartans who make this world a better place.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner