Month: November 2018

Step by Step

Halfway through my third-year rotations, I was sitting in a hidden enclave in the children’s hospital, trying to eat my lunch and get a bit of rest. By that point in the year, the gray circles under my eyes were darker, my feet hurt more easily, my time was consumed by work and study. Is this all worth it? I often asked myself.

Excuse Me?

The hospital café was a long walk from our classroom, so, as a group, some of us from the summer program walked there together for lunch. I was out front, with earbuds in, not paying attention, when I felt a slight tap on my shoulder. I turned to see an elderly woman. She was bent over and looked weary and lonely. I took out my earbuds and said, “Excuse me?”

She said, “I’m a veteran.” She showed me her badge. “Can you take me to get some food? I don’t have any money.” She said that after she ate, she needed to get to the VA Hospital, but she would do that on her own.

I hesitated. 

I Quit!

I HATE nursing! 

I was at Wernersville State Mental Hospital doing my three-month psychiatric rotation as part of my nursing program.

Deciding to leave school, I approached the phone with trepidation. I was nineteen years old, and I needed to convince my parents to let me quit.

Gut Guidance

I always knew that I wanted to be in medicine. When I was a child, I discovered a magazine story of a little boy named Dylan who received a heart transplant and asked my mother to read it to me over and over again. I loved the before, during and after progression that the narrative and glossy pictures charted: the blue-lipped child before the transplant, the over-the-shoulder shots and details of the operation, and the healthy child after. I was just as fascinated by the disease state as the wellness. Dylan, who was born with a hole in his heart, compelled me.

House of Cards

Feeling the urge to void my bladder, I insert the catheter, but nothing comes out. Odd. That’s never happened before. I drink some water and, an hour later, I insert another catheter. Again, no urine appears, just mucus on the tip of the catheter.

I need to void. My whole body is screaming to void. I’m sweating profusely as my system looks for a way to get rid of the urine. I know my BP is rising as my body copes with this stress. I also know that whatever is happening is bad. Really bad. It could damage my kidneys. So I pack up my unusual meds, change the towels wrapped around my torso to help with the sweating, and take myself off to the ER.

Sick of Being Sick

Ryan Nesbit ~

From second through fifth grade, I mastered the art of being sick. I got out of school, soccer practice and piano lessons so that I could be the child I wanted to be–not sick, but loved, cared for.

Here was my recipe:

1. Wake up.
2. Feel anxious about the day to come (this was natural).
3. Let the anxiety morph into a sickly pallor.

little child

“…And a little child shall lead them.”

Kendra Gorlitsky

About the artist:

Kendra Fleagle Gorlitsky is medical director of Los Angeles’ Program for Torture Victims. She is a family physician, fellowship-trained in adolescent medicine, who serves primarily low-income, immigrant and homeless individuals in community clinics. She teaches physical diagnosis and “The Art of Service and Social Justice” at USC’s Keck School of Medicine and is the chair of bioethics at California Hospital Medical Center.

About the artwork:

“In February 2017 my neighbors and friends (Christians, Jews and those of other persuasions) attended a rally in Los Angles at the Islamic Center, protesting the travel ban affecting several Muslim-majority nations. A three-year-old asked me to explain why, at one point, so many Muslims there had dropped onto bent knees, foreheads to the ground.

‘What are they doing?’ she asked.

‘That is how they pray,’ I explained.

Without missing a beat, she immediately did the same, first setting down the sign we carried that read, ‘We stand together in hope, …

“…And a little child shall lead them.” Read More »

A Lesson from Dad

In accordance with my faith, I lit a memorial candle for my beloved father this morning; it is four years today since he died in my arms. The candle will burn for more than twenty-four hours. Not only does it remind me of the grief I still feel, but it also represents the light that was my dad–and his fervent wish that I would persevere by embracing the opportunities that life offers.

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