Month: April 2020

Filling the Unusual Silence with Purposeful Rustling

“Did they finally pull you out of the hospitals and clinics?” My father’s voice resonated through the receiver.

“Yeah,” I replied with my eyes fixed on my whirling ceiling fan. “I figured it was inevitable after the AAMC issued its recommendation for students to be pulled from direct patient care, given the uncertainties surrounding the supply of PPE and the potential harms of having more people than necessary in clinical environments.” My father knew those abbreviations referred to the Association of American Medical Colleges, which governs the education of medical students, and to personal protective equipment, like surgical masks and gloves.

Dying 101

People don’t die like they do in the movies–alive one minute, saying something profound, and dead the next. There is a way the body is programed to die. Most of us don’t think about that, don’t know about it, and generally don’t want to know about it. We live in a death-denying society.

But as a nurse, I have spent most of my life talking about death, and now more than ever I want to explain the normal way the body dies.  

New Normal

The fear is palpable as I walk through the near-empty maze-like hallways of the hospital. Having no visitors makes things eerily quiet. It is the same as the quiet throughout my small city–in empty shopping center parking lots, down neighborhood roads.

Whatever Else

Whatever Else

Of course, I wanted to save you
from all this–from machines
and plastic tubes, from the shooters
with their dyes, from the guys
who scan your organs
for the truth, from waits in cold rooms
whose lights illuminate your life
and make it…nothing. I respected
the darkness in you–your son
dead in a senseless crash, the stroke
itself, your husband’s absence.

Helpless and Hopeless

Even as a little girl, I needed a routine to keep me focused and sane. Now, I like knowing that from 9 a.m. to noon, I will be working at the university with my writing students; that after I get home, I will either read or take a nap; that I might take a before-dinner walk or muster my energy to clean the bathroom or kitchen; that I will watch the news—news that does not inundate me with warnings and dire statistics—and then challenge myself on Jeopardy; and that I will end the day with a book, feeling satisfied and comfortable.  

An Editor’s Invitation: COVID-19

April’s More Voices theme is COVID-19.

What else could it be?

I hope that you’ll take a few moments to send us a short first-person piece on how COVID-19, a term that was utterly foreign to us just a few weeks ago, has impacted you.
Here’s how it’s changed my workplace: As of yesterday, my hospital in the Bronx had about 500 patients admitted with the COVID-19 diagnosis. Over sixty of those were in the ICU.
Stumbar IMG 8399

Love in the Time of COVID-19

COVID-19 changes everything–even, or especially, love. It demands that we love differently, and in new ways. For me, this is what #loveinthetimeofcovid19 looks like.

My husband, Lunan, and I are both doctors. Lunan, a urologist, is completing his final year of training in New York City, and I am a family-physician educator at a medical school in Miami.

We are living separately this year–one of the many sacrifices we’ve made in pursuing our medical training over the past twelve years. Since August, he and I been traveling back and forth to see each other two or three times per month. Now we’re not sure when we’ll be together again–and for us, that has been the most painful and personal part of the daily reality of COVID-19.

I love being a family physician and caring for my patients, but the mobile health center where I work was shut down this week as we transitioned to telehealth. Without personal protective equipment, we couldn’t safely care for our patients within our clinic’s tight confines.

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