Optimism

“You will get better,” the physician told my brother. My brother was younger than I am now when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I don’t think even he believed the doctor, or he wouldn’t have asked me to take care of everything. 

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…perchance to dream

It’s the middle of the night as I write this since I can’t sleep. I have spent too much time on Facebook, alternating between taking heart that so many people seem to feel as I do about the recent election and being dismayed to the point of nausea by some of the vitriol being spewed. Often it is both, as a writer describes some abuse or hatred aimed at her or, an epithet spat at him – but then refuted by a stranger or grandmother or teacher.

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Relay Race

 
I sit across from my sixty-year-old patient, whom I know to be a sprightly woman, although she is now busy scanning the floor with her eyes.
 
I place my hand over her interlaced fingers. “What’s the matter?” I ask. 

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Holiday Night Shift

 
My hospital’s Vice President for Nursing usually wore beautiful designer suits and stayed close to her office; but she was standing before me, in the ICU, dressed in a crisp, white uniform and nurse’s cap. I wondered why she was on my unit at 1:00 a.m. after the holiday. No surprise, there was a staffing crisis, and she was politely begging nurses on six floors of units to work a little extra.
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Speeding Ticket

I’m an ob-gyn, so the middle of the night is like a normal workday for me. I view the drive in at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. as my transition time from interrupted sleep to an important moment for my patient and spend it reminding myself to make the shift from fulfilling my needs to theirs.
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Snared by Skin

 

Of all the hues of prejudice that the disparities in skin tone might paint upon the psyche, the one that strikes as the most glaring is often the one that gets smudged and then smeared over; a recent glaze upon a remnant stain, as seemingly seamless their strokes may merge. 

Mr. B’s diabetes flouted conventional therapy with a flourish, or so it seemed until I crosschecked with his pharmacist. He had refilled not one of his medications since the day they were prescribed. In his defense was a reason, way more appalling than the familiar ones, or at

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A Stroke of Faith

 
“SIGNED OUT AGAINST MEDICAL ADVICE,” declared the last line of the ER physician’s note, bold and foreboding.

I quickly skimmed through the rest of his chart. Mr. Lopes was an elderly Haitian man, a recent immigrant, who had visited the local emergency room for a bad headache, only to discover that his blood pressure was astronomical. Apparently, Mr. Lopes and his family considered him too sturdy a man to be retained at the hospital overnight, labeled as sick. So he fled.

And here he was, weeks later, to meet his new doctor. “BP: 190/100” read the

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Another Night in the ER

The November snowstorm is a surprise. The ER will be full of cold and homeless, coming for a meal and a place to rest.

I see the ones who say they are suicidal. That claim guarantees an overnight: a metal bed with a black foam pad, a clean sheet, turkey on white wrapped in cellophane and, if there’s any left, a precious six-pack of Oreos.

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What If I Die Now?

 
The mood was grim in our house on this night, as it always was when my mother was at her sickest. My mother was suffering at the hands of what I know now to be systemic rheumatoid arthritis: the pain was clearly eating up her soul and body alike.
I looked at her as I helped with her evening pills, hoping they would bring some magic to lift the cloud hanging above us. I looked at her hands, so deformed by this monster of a disease, and I feared I might cry in front of her. I knew she

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Stories on Hold

Ms. Darcey had been my patient for over four years. She was one of those fortunate few who made it to the doctor’s office only for their yearly physical exam. One day she showed up unexpectedly, in a wheelchair, her head tilted to one side. She had arrived at the diagnosis before I could make an attempt.
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We Got the Call

 
Note to reader: The following is a verbatim transcription of what I posted to my blog the night we got the call from the liver team that they’d found a viable donor for my 11-year-old daughter who, at the time, had a 24 cm tumor which spread from her portal vein to her liver. 
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When the Phone Rings at Night

“I’m at the hospital,” my mother said.”Talk to the neurosurgeon.”
The ringing phone had roused me out of a deep sleep. Already, my heart was racing, and I was wide awake as the doctor began to speak.
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