Month: December 2015

A Day in the Life of a Psychiatrically Hospitalized Clinician (Part 2)

Liat Katz

Editor’s Note: This is the conclusion of Liat Katz’s remarkable story. Part 1 was published last week.

Lying here on this hard bed on the psych floor, staring at the white walls and ceiling, I think of my clients–and I don’t feel so alone. Their everyday experience is not so different from my short-lived experience here at the hospital. Often, they endure a whole day’s wait in the dirty Social Security and social-services offices, only to be treated patronizingly and have their needs go unmet.

I think about the conversations my Adult Protective Services (APS) coworkers and I have about our hoarding clients, whom we all want to help, but all want to avoid at the same time. We wonder: “How could that man live in that house so long with all the stuff piled up, with the flies and the trash and the smell?”

I smile, because now, more than ever, I get how coping with a difficult life can make your reality–no matter how bizarre or unpleasant–seem like the empirical truth. Is the world really shit? Am I really worthless? Or is it the depression talking?

A Day in the Life of a Psychiatrically Hospitalized Clinician (Part 1)

Liat Katz

Editor’s Note: This week Pulse presents the first installment of Liat Katz’s brave and forthright story. The conclusion will appear next week.

I am a licensed clinical social worker. And, occasionally, a mental patient. Today, in this inpatient psychiatric unit, I am more a patient than a social worker.

It is Monday morning, and I am eating breakfast across from Owen, a muscular, flannel-clad, Paul Bunyan-looking patient. Little pieces of his scrambled eggs keep landing on his copper-colored beard. I sort of want to motion with my hand at where the eggs are on his face, but I’m too tired, and I don’t really care. About anything.

OR Tears

Anne Vinsel

Tears in the operating room are different from tears cried by civilians, by veals.
There are rules.

A single tear from one eye is unobjectionable.
Two tears, either one from each eye
          or two from one eye
          are permitted if they are unaccompanied by sniffles.
Three tears risks discovery and humiliation.
There are rules.

The mechanics of crying in the OR are difficult.
You may not brush a tear away.
Sterile and dirty may not touch.
Gloved sterile hands may not swipe unsterile eyes.
Best to let your tear take a quick dive into your blue pleated mask
          which will blot it up before it can drop into the sleeping patient’s incision.
There are rules.

seasons wang

Seasons

Caroline Wang

About the artist: 

Caroline Wang is a medical student at Drexel University College of Medicine (DUCOM), completing the MD/MBA dual degree program. When she’s not studying, she enjoys running and weightlifting to stay in shape. She is involved in medical humanities through her participation as a member of Doctor’s Note, DUCOM’s a cappella group, and of Drexel’s Medical Humanities Program.

About the artwork:

“During my first year of medical school, I spent a lot of time, from early fall until the start of summer, with my classmates in gross anatomy lab. As the seasons passed, we delved deeper into our dissections. One day it struck me that our cadaver was a metaphor for the four seasons. The outward beauty of spring, when everything is flowering and full of life, is like the human skin. As seasons change, layers of the body are stripped away. Summer, when we are most active, reminds me of our muscles. Autumn, …

Seasons Read More »

Giving Blood–and Other Acts of Courage

Liz Witherell

I donated blood today. I’m one of those people who doesn’t shudder at the thought of needles piercing my skin, or get queasy as I watch the blood drain from my vein into the collection bag. It’s no big deal. I eat the cookies and drink the juice afterwards, and I kind of enjoy talking with the elderly volunteers.

I think I’m lucky. I know so many people who are sickened by the sight of blood, afraid of needles and terrified at the thought of pain.

Several years ago, a nurse-practitioner friend convinced me to volunteer a few hours a week at a free dental clinic. I took health histories and blood pressures. By the time people came to us, their teeth were generally beyond saving. Their mouths were infected, their gums were inflamed, and they often had other conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. But still they’d put off coming to the clinic as long as possible, because they were afraid it would hurt.

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