Zach Reichert ~
In my third year of medical school, I started a rotation at the nearby VA hospital. Walking toward the polished glass doors that morning, I saw my reflection–clean white coat, assured expression to cover up how lost I felt. It was my second clinical rotation ever, and my first time at the VA.
I found my team and soon met a patient I’d be seeing for the next month. His name was Jim. He’d already been hospitalized for a week–and he wasn’t leaving any time soon.
At seventy, Jim had no muscle or fat on his body. His gray skin hung like a sheet over the ridges of his skeleton, and his bony arms were covered with tiny puncture holes from years of injectable drugs.
Despite Jim’s weakness, he clearly didn’t want to be hospitalized. Each morning, he’d frown at me through bloodshot eyes and snarl, “When the hell are you gonna let me leave?”