© 2020 Pulse - Voices from the Heart of Medicine, Inc. All rights reserved.
Scott Wilson ~
Take her breath, still her heart, and
clean her body out with a spoon.
Wring her spirit in the river and
place her eyes beside the moon.
Fold up her memories in a dresser and
frame her smile in the sky.
Turn up her laughter in the darkness and
let her freckles start to fly.
Smoke her love
Erika Walker ~
“It’s as if you’re at the top of a hill,”
the doctor said. My father listened
from his hospital bed, a plastic tube
fed him breath he could no longer take
for himself. “Each time you get sick,”
the doctor said, “you roll a little farther
down the hill.” His young face shone
above his white coat. I remember rolling
Dianne Avey ~
So this is what it feels like
to be on the other side.
Hollowed out exhaustion,
rimmed with the chaotic clutter
of struggle and hope.
Like the beach after a tsunami,
all those once-important items,
now floating around uselessly.
I don’t know how to start this life
This morning, they came
and took the bed away.
Dianne Avey ~
One night on my nursing shift in the cardiac intensive-care unit, I received a new patient from the operating room: an eighty-eight-year-old woman who had suffered a major heart attack and had just undergone emergency coronary-artery bypass surgery.
Her bed was wheeled into the room along with the usual accoutrements: six different IV drips, a ventilator, an aortic balloon pump and various other lines and monitoring devices. Her name, I
Kristin Beard ~
“Get the patient on the monitor.”
“How long has he been down? Someone get on the chest!”
“Keep ventilating. He’s in v-fib. Defibrillate at 200.”
“Charging, everybody clear?…Shock delivered.”
“Resume compressions. Push one of epinephrine…Hold compressions. What rhythm is he in?”
“He’s asystole, resume compressions.”
We repeat the process a hundred times over. The medic said they started coding the patient an hour ago. The
At least 3 people arriving. The ED is bustling, preparing for their arrival. Blade and Prolene stitch in my scrub pocket, I am ready. We are ready.
For a moment the ED almost seems silent.
The room is stuffy, but the woman is shivering.
Her husband stands by her bedside. An interpreter that they’ve hired to stay with her day and night stands at the foot of the bed. And then there’s me, the doctor (I’m an intern), waiting to deliver one of many sad speeches I must give today.
Smiling wanly, she struggles into a sitting position and shakes my hand.
The minutes dragged. She worked at it–
sweat pooling in her frown, her lungs
bellowed in and out as if the air were oil.
Her expression never changed.
Beneath the light,
my mother’s skin looked violet.
I squeezed her hand,
pressed her fingertips, stroked the branching veins,
but…nothing. And so, good nurse,
I held her wrist between my fingertips and counted