Month: March 2018

Phlebotomist

Dianne Silvestri ~

The corridors seethe with nocturnal predators,
their voices low.

My door latch coughs, a figure hisses,
I’ve come to draw blood,

wrenches my arm like a lamb shank,
rasps it with alcohol, plunges her spike,

pops one after another color-coded
rubber-stoppered vial into the sheath,

unplugs each loaded one to add
to the crimson log pile weighting my thigh,

A Tingling Sensation

Mitch Kaminski ~

It had been a hectic day in the urgent-care clinic of my large family practice, and I was starting to worry about the time: My last two patients had put me thirty minutes behind.

I felt relieved when I saw the note for the next patient: “Seventy-four-year-old female with UTI.”

A urinary-tract infection! This should be quick and uncomplicated….

I walked into the room to find a well-dressed older woman seated on the exam table. I had just enough time to wonder fleetingly, Why do some patients decide to wait on the exam table while others stay seated in the chair nearby? Then I turned my full attention to the woman before me.

dobson flow

Art of Medicine

Jennifer L Dobson

About the artist:

Jennifer Dobson is a first-year medical student and abstract artist. She is passionate about the fusion of art and medicine and uses medicine and chemistry as an aid in creating interesting patterns and designs. Through her art, she is able to recognize medicine as a complex practice and a form of expression.

About the artwork:

“This piece was inspired by the flow and fluidity of medicine. Decisions in medicine are not always black and white, but instead require a mixing of various elements. Only from this type of chaos can the best answers emerge.”

Visuals editor:

Sara Kohrt

Compassion: A Two-Way Street?

Carey Candrian ~

I am an assistant professor of health communication. Since 2008, as a volunteer, educator and researcher, I have been active in hospice care. As many people know, hospice teams (nurses, social workers, doctors, chaplains, volunteers) help dying patients and their families live as fully as possible during their remaining days together.

In November 2016, right before the presidential election, I started a project aimed at identifying the best practices in communicating about hospice to prospective hospice patients. The intent was to help them make an informed choice about whether or not to enroll.

For six months, I observed hospice nurses, patients and caregivers during prehospice consultations, and interviewed most of them.

Riven

Martha Carlough ~

In medical school
I learned the particular sensitivity
of the breastbone

The rub of a knuckle
awakens even one deeply asleep
beckoning back to the present moment

Grief has the potential
to show us how cramped–
even deadened–we’ve become

Chest riven with pain
my fingers are now free
to explore the stories

Steven and Gramma 3

Generations

Scott Clements

About the contributor:

Scott Clements is a general pediatrician whose hobby is photography. He likes general photography, but his favorite work is portraiture. 

About the artwork:

“Photography helps me back up from the day-to-day aspects of medicine. This is a photo I took many years ago. The image is of my grandson and my wife’s grandmother, who has since died. To me, it expresses the connection between generations.” 

Visuals editor:

Sara Kohrt

 

Night Blindness

Five o’clock a.m. is an almost holy time for overnight ER staff. An eerie calm blankets the air, and the promise of sunrise fuels us to finish the last two hours of another marathon shift. Medicated patients have drifted into a deep slumber, and the parade of stretchers from the ambulance bay has finally come to a halt. 

Not in My House

My husband walked upstairs holding his hunting rifle, and all I could say was, “Not in my house.” I took one look at that gun and was instantly transported back to that basement, fourteen years ago, when I thought at least one life was going to end.

Work/Life

“We lock the door and shut the curtains, and, when its all clear, we line up in a special order and listen to what our teachers tell us.” –My kindergarten daughter, Zelia

They say work to live not live to work but how do you come home crushed by a forty-eight-hour shift on sixty minutes of broken sleep and kiss your babies and tell them it’s all going to be okay when their school is on lockdown due to a nearby shooting and the suspected gunman is still on the loose as you tend to a patient with suspicious wounds while the world keeps debating nuclear stories around you, and you think this small town ain’t so bad: the knife and gun club has low enrollment compared to the gang-ridden inner city you grew up in where shots fired were barely flinched at (because they weren’t en masse), and hella felons ran through your property with cops and helicopters giving chase.

You Never Know Who’s Listening

David Edelbaum ~

I always warn my medical students to be careful what they say in front of patients, or patients’ families or friends. “You never know who’s listening!” I add. They may think that I’m exaggerating–but I have my reasons.

Early in my career as an internist/nephrologist, if I had a free moment I’d head for the emergency room. I might get a referral, and the coffee and conversation were usually entertaining.

As I chatted with the ER doctor one morning, a cardiac-arrest victim came in, and the doctor and staff began administering CPR. In the midst of this, another cardiac-arrest patient arrived. The doctor asked me to evaluate this man and, if necessary, to direct his CPR.

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