What are you looking for?

Tag: death and dying

Adam

Genevieve Yates

I tried to focus on the chart in front of me, but it may as well have been written in Russian. I’d been awake for thirty-two hours, and my brain, thick with fatigue, refused to cooperate. I knew I shouldn’t be working, but I was too proud, too stubborn, too something to admit that I wasn’t coping. 

On the first day of my neurosurgical rotation, the resident I was replacing had told me, “Ten-to-fourteen-hour days,

Read More »

The Cruelest Month

Ray Bingham

One day in April, I took the assignment none of the other nurses wanted: Baby Michael. A hopeless case. 

Born almost four months premature, weighing barely a pound, he was now all of six days old. His entire body wasn’t much longer than my open hand. As he lay motionless on a warming bed with the ventilator breathing for him, the night nurse gave me report: serious intestinal infection, bowel surgery, septic shock,

Read More »

Trauma in the ER

Michael Gutierrez

It was 5 pm on a cold November day. I was a third-year medical student heading into my first night on surgery call.

Changing into my scrubs, I wondered what it would be like. I knew that we had to carry a “trauma pager” and, when paged, get to the ER as fast as possible. There my job would be to listen as the ER physician called out his exam findings and enter

Read More »

Ms. Taylor

Remya Tharackal Ravindran

Ms. Taylor was one of three newly hospitalized patients I saw that morning. She was a previously healthy woman in her forties, single and childless, who worked in the fashion industry. As I scanned her admission notes, three things stood out: shortness of breath, elevated calcium level and kidney failure. I read on, thinking of possible causes, then something caught my eye. Her breast exam had revealed multiple breast masses, and her

Read More »

Death at a Distance

Your message hung on the phone line

like his striped shirt blowing
in the last wind of his life:
softly and with dignity.
His facial bones,
and body contours
he allowed to be chiseled
to an insubstantial sharpness
by the flow of chemicals and
the relentless labor of his disease:
both polished his body to dust.
Your life that has breathed that dust
for

Read More »

Postmortem

Sandy Brown

Coming out of my exam room on a Monday morning, I saw two overweight police officers standing in my waiting room. From past experience, I knew that they were there to tell me that one of my patients had died and to collect information for the coroner’s report. Even as I geared up to hear the impending bad news, the doctor in me couldn’t help wondering how they’d passed their department physicals.

Read More »

Mom

Diane Guernsey

By this time next week, my mother may be dead.

In a sense, she’s been dying for a long time. This leg of her journey is the last in a decades-long trek with Parkinson’s disease.

She lies there, her head small and delicate on the pillow. Her hair is a wispy white thatch; her throat muscles are rigid, as if she’s just lifted a huge barbell. But her breaths come slowly,

Read More »

My Evidence

When I saw dust settling,

the road black and gritty,

and noticed the air
shimmering as it lowered closer to the earth

like a soft blanket suffocating
the damp September

mornings that had morphed seamlessly
into November’s

crowded table
of berries, sweets, and yellow corn,

just before the hospital
phoned to say that Mother had called my name,

familiar syllables

Read More »

Chemo Patient

She tried

To imagine herself dead
As she lay on her bed
Staring at the ceiling
With chemotherapy
Seeping into her veins
But she couldn’t
She could only think
Of her husband
And her children
And how they had laughed
When her hair had fallen out.

In order to die
Everything had to stop
Her heart
Her brain
The

Read More »

Chris

Lisa deMauro

My big sister Chris, 55, had recently returned to her first career, nursing, when she wrenched her back one day while helping to lift a patient. After weeks of physical therapy proved unhelpful, her internist ordered some tests, which indicated that her back injury might signal something more sinister. She’d had a lumpectomy for a “stage 0” breast cancer five years earlier, and her doctor advised her to make an appointment with the

Read More »

Millie

Edgar Figueroa

Looking at Millie in her living-room-turned-hospital-quarters, I can’t help reflecting on the four years we’ve shared as patient and doctor. 

We’ve come a long way since our first visit. I was an inexperienced resident; she was a wiry woman who looked to be in her late sixties but was actually fifty-three. 

She’d sat back and stared at me, sizing me up.

“You know I have kids that are older than you?” were her

Read More »

Now a lightness

4:57 am, Sunday

This week went
from caring with hope 
for a lucid patient to facing 
reality in advocating sanity 
to an insane extended 
family to haggling with specialists
to giving up time
and again telling Mary 
she was dying and then watching
her cling to her lost life like
everyone else to 
finally withdrawing all care
except for comfort 
and comforting the now lucid family 
while the breaths became 
distant
and the pauses

prolonged

Read More »
Scroll to Top