Month: October 2022

Animal Farm

“A dog, a cat, and a pig walk in…” Sounds like the start of a joke, but it’s actually the tale of my surgical attachment to animals.

A teenager with leukemia. Grateful for a ground floor hospital room with large windows, my dog just a pane away. Nose to snout, hand to paw, inpatient, outpatient.

November More Voices: Emergencies

Dear Pulse readers,

One can’t listen to the news these days or think about the upcoming midterm elections without feeling that our nation is in a state of emergency–a civic emergency that we can all address by making sure to vote and by encouraging others to do the same.

When it comes to medical emergencies, I realized early on in my training that I was not one of those doctors who relished catastrophic situations.

The World’s Second-Best Baklava

In 2013, as a hospitalist, I attended the annual conference of the Society of Hospital Medicine. This meant traveling from my home base in Ohio to Washington, DC, the site of that year’s conference.

The second day was winding down. Colleagues, new friends and countless strangers were scurrying to their rooms to freshen up and get ready for a night out on the town, where they’d continue to mingle, share research and professional achievements and scout out career opportunities.

I had other plans, however.

Docere: To Teach

“Hey, Doc, still dying. What’s new with you?” That was what one of my long-time patients said in response to my canned greeting upon entering the exam room.

Yes, I knew he had cancer; I’m the one who first felt it in his breast. Yes, I had seen the pathology report and subsequent scans indicating metastasis. Yes, I was coming off a much-needed, too-short vacation—reminded in an instant of the brevity of life by this wonderful man.

Heart Sounds

At his mother’s request, or rather pestering, a forty-year-old male presented to an urgent-care center after several weeks of progressively worsening flu-like symptoms. His mother asked that the providers please check her son’s heart. They replied that there was no need and sent the man home.

His symptoms progressed, and the pair went to the ER, hoping for better results. Again, the mother asked the doctors to check her son’s heart.

Kindness in the OR

Slowly, though much faster than I had anticipated, I fell into the natural rhythm of my surgery rotation as a medical student. I saw the patients in preop, greeted nurses and scrub technicians, wrote my name on the whiteboard, and helped wheel patients into the OR prior to their surgery.

How I Came to Nazareth

I still have fond memories of my kindergarten teacher, Sister M. Elizabeth Kobierowski at Our Lady of Czestochowa School in South Brooklyn, New York. She was the first of many Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth I would come to know and love during my formative years in our predominantly Polish-American parish. That love would continue well into my teens, when I attended the Bishop McDonnell Memorial High School, also in Brooklyn.

Recovering From Brain Surgery

The surface of the square wooden table where I sit is sticky with spilled food and beverages. Post brain surgery, I’ve been lifting plastic forks and spoons and Styrofoam cups to my mouth with a somewhat disabled left hand that is overcoming what they call “meningioma neglect.”

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