Despair tastes sour and rotten on my quivering lips. Dishonor feels heavy and tight on my heaving chest. Dejection means hearing only my own sobs through my covered ears. Disgrace sees only my mistakes, and with blurry, red eyes. Depression smells like sweat and fear, even through a clogged nose.
Month: June 2016
I was lying in the preop area, waiting to be taken in for abdominal surgery, when a nurse came along with a bag of liquid and hung it from my IV pole.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“It’s an antibiotic,” she replied.
“I’m not scheduled to get an antibiotic,” I said.
D. Micah Milgraum
It’s a typical chaotic day on the hospital’s hematology and oncology floor. I’m sitting in a side room with one of my fellow medical students, doing paperwork and making follow-up calls for our medical team.
That’s when the music starts. The sounds of two guitars, a tambourine and a few maracas drift down the hallway. I can’t make out how many people are singing, but the happy voices and the song’s upbeat tempo make me curious: I never thought I’d hear this type of music on the “cancer floor.”
As I look up in surprise, Kevin, our team’s intern, appears in the doorway.
He catches my eye, and after a moment, we both start bobbing our heads to the beat. He makes swaying motions, as if he wants to dance.
About the artist:
“Originally from a small town in Upstate New York, I’m now in my fourth year at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, also in New York. I’m applying for residency programs in pediatrics. I graduated in 2013 from St. Lawrence University with a degree in biology. I love Pulse because I think that creative expression allows self-reflection that can help us be better healthcare providers. The things we do every day in medicine are ethically and emotionally complex; painting is often how I engage more deeply in what I do.”
About the artwork:
“This painting (The Hands of Every Doctor) was submitted as one of two ‘sister’ oil paintings. The ‘sister’ painting is a recreation of one of my favorite Diego Rivera paintings, Las Manos del Doctor Moore. That painting depicts a surgeon’s hands ‘pruning the tree of life’ in the operating room. I painted this work in the …
It was a Friday afternoon in May, a week before my stepdaughter died. I was holding a solo vigil on the couch next to her bed, while she slept peacefully.
Her hair had started growing back, soft and thick and gray. I loved to rub my hand across her head.
after my father had his stroke
we never spoke again
but that didn’t stop us
from reading each other’s faces
recognizing the punctuated pauses
periods and question marks
etched in eyes, sighs and sad smiles
It took both hands to hold one of his
that first day in the hospital
as my eyes whispered how much I cared
and his smile replied, Thank you
I was the new doc in a small country town. I wanted to be accepted. I wanted to do best for my new patients.
She was the town matriarch. She had multiple chronic illnesses. She had the power to make me or break me.
No. Look at your hands. These will be the most important tools of your chosen profession.
Years ago, as I left my college dorm room, the posters caught my eye. Plastered everywhere, they announced a bone-marrow drive led by a fellow student in search of a match for his brother, diagnosed with cancer.
A confirmed needlephobe, I’d recently fled a Red Cross blood drive at the mere thought of the tourniquet. Registering as a bone-marrow donor seemed like a terrible idea–but the sibling connection grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. The eldest of four, I pictured my sisters and brother at home, two states away. If any of them had developed this terrible illness, I knew that I, too, would implore my classmates to be tested. So, with several friends, I made the trek across campus to register and have my blood drawn.
I hope someone here is a match, I thought, looking around at the crowd.