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A Day in the Life of a Psychiatrically Hospitalized Clinician (Part 2)

Liat Katz

Editor’s Note: This is the conclusion of Liat Katz’s remarkable story. Part 1 was published last week.

Lying here on this hard bed on the psych floor, staring at the white walls and ceiling, I think of my clients–and I don’t feel so alone. Their everyday experience is not so different from my short-lived experience here at the hospital. Often, they endure a whole day’s wait in the dirty Social Security

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Ten-Minute Miracle

Melissa Zhu Murphy

On Mother’s Day 2007, as I was finishing my freshman year at Vanderbilt University, I joined my parents for a warm, happy reunion in an Italian restaurant, celebrating both the day and the completion of my first year of premedical studies.

My father was blissfully breathing in the steam wafting up from his ravioli in lobster cream sauce as my mother prepared to dig into an enormous plate of basil

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He Ain’t Heavy

Edward Beal

In my decades as a psychiatrist, I’ve seen many different kinds of patients; only in the past five years, though, have I worked with soldiers.

I see them through TeleHealth, an organization that offers patients long-distance care via a sophisticated form of Skyping.

I originally took this job for financial reasons (during the economic downturn of 2008), but I quickly discovered its unique rewards.

Early on, for instance, as

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My Father’s Girl

Maureen Hirthler

I’m walking very slowly with my dad down the produce aisle at the local supermarket, past the colorful waxed apples, Mexican mangoes and Rainier cherries, and imagining my life’s blood trickling onto the floor from an invisible wound.

As I pass by the misting system spraying the bins of green, red, yellow and orange peppers, past the lady reaching for carrots, past the stock guy balancing the heirloom tomatoes into a

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Sick of Getting Sick

I awoke one Saturday morning to a terribly familiar feeling–a tight, barky cough, fast breathing, severe shortness of breath and burning in my chest. Another severe asthma attack. I knew I was in trouble.

Twenty-three years ago, when I was an internal-medicine resident, I went to be evaluated for recurrent pneumonia. I wound up being diagnosed with cough-variant asthma. Most asthmatic patients wheeze; when my asthma is bad, I cough.

I now realize

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The Well-Fed Physician

Randy Rockney

When I was in medical residency, more than thirty years ago, I ran with a pack of fellow residents, all guys who were fit to varying degrees. Once, on an outing, we discussed the–hopefully–hypothetical question: “If the need arose, which one of us would we eat first?”

“Randy!” my friends gleefully concluded.

“His meat would be the most marbled,” one added.

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No Prospect

His uneasy truce with cancer
was shattered by
the seizure,

awakening confused
in a side-railed bed.
He lies quiet, astonished

by the speed of change,
still hearing echoes of
his home.

I sit silently by his side
as he reads the ceiling tiles,
the monitors,

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OT

Maggie Westland

I have a dance routine all in my hands, with steps
To take to make them bend again, at least to stall
The stalk of past abuse, of joint and sinew overuse

This jig more intricate, more complex, more diffuse
Than simple shuffles of the well-shod foot, requires
Both patience brute and gentle force to stake its worth

I dance five times each day twice daily bathe in wax
Or wrap socks full

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Continuing Education

H. Lee Kagan

The nasogastric tube was killing me. It had been in place for twelve hours now, threading its way up my nose and down my throat, past my esophagus, into my stomach. Try as I might, I couldn’t swallow away the nasty lump stuck to the back of my throat. And every time I tried, it hurt.

Decades before, as a physician-in-training in upstate New York, I’d put in more nasogastric (NG) tubes

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Solitary Confinement

Stewart Decker

 I’ve made a huge mistake, I thought.

The fever had come back. The fever had come back, and I was stuck on a bus. The first of five buses, actually….

I am a fourth-year medical student at the University of Minnesota, but right now I’m a long way from home. I am spending a year in South America, studying international public-health issues by working in emergency rooms, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), social projects and

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Be Lucky

Kenneth Zeitler

In 1996, visiting a mall during an out-of-town trip, I suddenly felt dizzy while descending on the escalator. The sensation rapidly resolved, but to be on the safe side, I went to a local emergency room. My evaluation included a CT scan of my head; the results, I was told, were “normal.”

Shortly after returning home I received another call. The CT results were not normal, and I should see a neurologist to

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Saving My Appendix

Andrew T. Gray

The doctor was adamant. “This is America, not Sweden,” he told me. “We operate.” 

How did this happen to me? I wondered, looking at him across the ER exam room. How could I, a healthcare provider, not have insurance? 

I had woken up that morning with a mildly upset stomach. Nonetheless, I’d gone to my job (begun only six weeks earlier) as a physician assistant at a Beverly Hills HIV clinic. I’d seen patients

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