Month: October 2018

A Voice for Pain

 
When they come into the clinic, I sometimes catch a glimpse of them carefully adjusting their countenances, whether to conceal pain or to fashion an expression of it, I can’t yet tell. I’m still a medical student; I’m still learning. 

Sutherland Springs


Simin G. Roward ~

What I remember most about that day
is the silence in your eyes
when they rushed you in and how you
only started crying
when the nurse tried to put in an IV
as if the holes made in your body by the
bullets of an automatic rifle
aimed at you at church
and the memory of your mother
dying in the pew
were a pain of a different level
that your beautiful five-year-old heart couldn’t contain
and it took the poke of a small needle for you to
begin to feel human again
and I’m sorry. I’m so sorry we couldn’t save you all

The Little Voice Is Wrong

The little voice tells me that I am fraudulent. All the other doctors know more. They understand renal tubular acidosis. Even the residents (trainees) knew about ADAMTS13 antibody in TTP (Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, a blood disorder). Now, an article later, that fragment is addressed, but an ocean of ignorance beckons. How dare I do consultations in the ICU when I have never intubated anybody?

A Survival Guide to Chemo and Radiation


Lynn Lazos ~

Chemotherapy and radiation are not pleasant experiences, but knowing how to handle them can make your life a whole lot easier.

I had my first mammogram at age thirty-five, and for the next thirty-five years I had mammograms regularly. On my way, I’d pass the entrance to the Thomas Johns Cancer Hospital, outside of Richmond, VA, never thinking that I’d one day cross that threshold myself.

Balance

Zachary Gene Jacobs 

About the artist:

Zachary Jacobs is an academic hospitalist and storyteller who believes that compassionate care and patient-centered medicine are enhanced by a familiarity with narrative. He is driven by his passion for stories and aspires to capture and recount their beauty through poetry, prose, photography and visual arts.

 

About the artwork:

“The beach will always hold a special place in my heart; I frequently find myself drawn there in times of personal dissonance. I go there searching for answers, or, failing that, at least a sense of tranquility. Recently walking along the shores of Santa Cruz a little after sunrise, I came across this funny little avian yogi who seemed to embody the balance and serenity that I so often struggle to achieve in my own life and work. I reflected on how much we can learn from simply taking the time to observe the natural world around us, and I felt thankful for the demonstration of mindfulness meditation …

Balance Read More »

My First Patient

 
We stood there for a moment of silence and trepidation. I was grateful that I wasn’t the one who had to make the first cut. To do that would mean presiding over this person’s transition from former human to current specimen. I am still unsure whether that sensitivity refers to myself or to the cadaver. Do we perform these dissections to study someone else, or are we studying ourselves?

Me Too


Frozan Walyzada ~

It’s late on a Friday afternoon in the outpatient clinic where I’m a third-year psychiatry resident. I’m wrapping up my appointment with Jane, a thirty-five-year-old woman with a mild intellectual disability who comes every month to refill her antidepressant prescription.

“Have you been watching the court case on TV?” she whispers.

I stop what I’m doing and look at her.

“The case with the judge and the doctor,” she says.

I sit back in my chair and give her my full attention.

“I’ve been reading about it,” I say. “Why do you ask?”

Denial

It was a dark and rainy night, the man was wearing a black t-shirt, and he wasn’t in the crosswalk when the bus hit him. There were no sodium streetlamps, only narrow headlight beams. The bus driver didn’t see the man, only a shadow in the beam. Then came a disembodied thump that sucker-punched the poor man to the pavement.

Keeping On

Upon entering an exam room, a doctor surely hopes to be greeted with a warm “How are you today?” and an exchange of pleasantries before getting into the purpose of the visit. But what if a diagnosis has been made and major surgery has been advised? In such cases, honest patient responses are of course an option, and doctors have, again surely, heard them all. But I’ve never met my surgeon, so I feel uncomfortable being emotionally forthcoming from the outset. My anxiety, my fears for the future, my lack of control over my circumstances might overwhelm the room.

Dose of Truth

“Neurodegenerative,” the neurologist repeated slowly, studying Nancy’s face as she spoke. Dr. Wang had placed her small figure on a chair near Nancy’s and leaned toward her as she explained the nature of the undifferentiated dementia that she’d produced as a diagnosis.

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