I was in my second year when I met Heather Pratten. Like many medical students, I’d become disillusioned. The endless cycle of lectures can become a slog, far removed from what we thought medical school would entail. Occasionally, though, you’re privy to an experience that not only reaffirms your decision to study medicine, but is so affecting as to have a lasting impact on your future practice. For me, talking to Heather was such an experience.
I had been told little before meeting Heather; only that Huntington’s disease had affected her life. Before she arrived I dredged up the information I’d been given about the condition in lectures. Those medical titbits were nullified, however, when I was confronted with the reality.
Heather’s watched the illness claim the personality, independence and, life of her husband over 15 years. Then the process began again. Which of her five children’s genetics were such