Alan Blum ~
Evelyn Lai ~
I walk into your room in the pediatric intensive-care unit as two nurses are repositioning you. Your parents stand nearby--your dad in his frayed baseball cap and khaki cargo shorts; your mom, her baggy jeans wrinkled with the same worry as the lines near her eyes. Your little sister sits near the window with a blue hospital mask over her mouth, hugging her knees; Grandma sits snug beside her, back straight and hair done, expression cordial.
You are a fifteen-year-old boy with leukemia who came into our emergency department last week with fevers, but spiraled quickly into septic shock with multiorgan failure.
Daniel Becker ~
At work there are three kinds of drills: fire, earthquake, shooter.
During a fire drill the building empties into the parking lot
where crowds kill time and blame the fire marshal.
The smokers want to smoke but don't.
A doctor talks to the 2:40 patient and tries to stay on schedule.
If communication is the heart of medicine,
diligence is its best habit. Then he looks for the 3:00 patient.
In a 5th floor office the photograph of a storm-tossed schooner
is 10 degrees off plumb because that wasn't a drill.
Naderge Pierre ~
As a surgical resident nearing my final year of training, I loved to operate. Whenever I was on call in the trauma unit at our large urban teaching hospital in Washington, DC, I'd yearn for my pager to go off.
I was always tired, too--but for a surgical resident, fatigue is a given. Sleep and eat when you can, get your work done and operate like a madwoman: That was my life. It felt like a high-adrenaline thrill ride, and I was enjoying every swoop and turn.
I never expected that, while racing towards the final exhilarating peak of my training, I would become a patient myself.
Ironically, it happened right after the most memorable surgery of my trauma rotation.