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Cat and Mouse

Kristen Lee ~

On TV shows, therapists decorate their rooms with leather lounge chairs, throw pillows and organza curtains that let in the light.

But Dr. Hassan’s office is in the clinic basement. The fluorescent lighting is sterile. She has a gray metal desk–I think every doctor I’ve shadowed as a medical student has had that same desk.

But I’m not here as a student.

I’ve been anticipating this appointment for

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Saving Private Ryan

Gregory Rutecki

The late Eighties was the worst of times in medical education–the era when doctors in training worked a virtually unlimited number of hours each week. This unceasing and inhumane workload led residents, understandably, to view patients purely as collections of physical ailments.

Back then, I was an attending physician at a community teaching hospital. One day, as usual, I was preparing to make morning rounds and, simultaneously, to do my best

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Kleenex

 
Twenty minutes behind as I knocked on the exam room door and entered. No need for introductions. We knew each other well. We skipped the “asking the patient her goals for the visit.” I already knew them. Twenty years of caring for and being trusted by a patient and a friend allows that. Her goals were the same as mine. We were there to tell the truth.
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Brave New World

Rosalind Kaplan

I think a lot about quitting medicine lately. A lot.

Then I have a morning like yesterday morning:

I see a patient I’ve known for more than twenty years, caring for him through an adrenal tumor, a major gastrointestinal surgery and now renal failure, for which he needs a kidney transplant. As we review his last set of labs (stable, thank goodness), he is sanguine, hopeful. He may have found a

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Abuela

 
The abuela was a standard admission of my internal medicine rotation. “CVA” said the medical record, which meant this Guatemalan grandmother, or abuela, had suffered a stroke. She was visiting the U.S. to help care for her first grandchild, who was due any day. She had felt fine until, suddenly, her diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol had imploded. In quick succession, she’d experienced a stroke, a 911 call, and the ER. Uninsured and undocumented, she’d

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Learning to Trust

 
I admitted Hiral Jacobs, a twenty-something college student who’d collapsed in her dorm, directly to the ICU from surgery.

The OR report said she’d received two units of blood and was still intubated. Given my forty years of ICU nursing, it sounded routine.

“By the way, the patient is Muslim.”
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An American Story

Sara H. Rahman

“Mr. Douglas?” I call out into the waiting room. A short, grey-haired man in his sixties staggers towards me, bracing his back with his hands. Despite his pain, he gives me a warm smile, which I return.

As I help him onto the exam-room table, he winces, squeezing my hand.

“I’m a medical student,” I begin. “If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to examine you before Dr. Smith sees

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Complainer

Christina Phillips

The patient, age forty-nine, complained of abdominal pain. She was taking both slow- and fast-acting oxycodone to manage the pain, and she also took antidepressants and a sleeping aid. She’d come to the hospital several times in the past year, always with the same complaint. This time, not feeling well enough to drive, she’d come by taxi. The veins in her arms were small, threadlike and collapsed, like those of a ninety-year-old

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Doe Eyes

Andrea Gordon

She burst into tears when I asked if she wanted to get pregnant.

Eman, a beautiful young woman from Jordan, sat in my family-practice office with her husband, Ali, and two adorable children about one and two years old. With her scarf and dark clothing covering all but her pale face and enormous sable-brown eyes, Eman looked closer to fourteen than twenty-four, and scarcely old enough to have any children.

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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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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

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Riding the Rails

William Toms

Our train starts to move slowly down well-traveled tracks. Sunny out,
clouds in the distance. We pick up speed.

We offer obligatory greetings,
courtesy How you feelings?
We both know why she’s here
we defer that talk
as if deferring for a few minutes will make it easier.

The trackside turns to trash, human detritus, rusting hulks without utility.

I edge closer, negotiating perfunctory reviews–

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