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Sounding the Alarm

Sounding the Alarm

For most medical students, the fourth year is a time of coming into our own. We’ve completed our clinical clerkships, passed our first board exam and begun applying to residencies in our hoped-for specialties.
We also get our first taste of independence as clinicians.
During special rotations called subinternships, we act as patients’ primary-care providers. Under the supervision of an attending physician, we examine patients, write orders for tests and medications and make decisions on

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Faulty

Cathie Desjardins ~

Rusted nearly through at the base
of their pale green throat,
the amaryllis buds are trying to bloom,
like a person with a tracheotomy
trying to say a poem.

I snip off the buds, leaking dark red
from their diseased wound, trimming
them to clean pale stubs to put in water.

Day to day, the largest furled bud
is loosening into white

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The Look on Your Face

Priscilla Mainardi ~

Your skin pale with worry,
your mouth a straight line,
the fear in your eyes–
all this told me,
more than the nausea,
more than the fact that I couldn’t move my head,
that something was really wrong.

You thought I wouldn’t see.

I looked up at the ceiling,
at its pattern of dots,
white, and brighter white,
that could

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Night Call

Richard Weiss ~

At two am its insistent ring ambushes me awake.
I whisper, not wanting to disturb my wife or rouse
the dog who will whine for food, write down

the name and number before it’s jumbled, swallow
my resentment on being awakened and listen
to his story–then ask those practiced questions,

scrolling his body from one organ to another.
Tell me about the pain–what it

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A Fine Man

 

I’ve been afraid twice as a result of my multiple sclerosis. The first time, I was twenty. As I sat down on the edge of the bathtub one day, the backs of my legs felt oddly cold–even numb. I ran to the library and looked up MS, and my heart began to race. Yes, odd sensations of hot and cold were among MS’s symptoms. Suddenly, I could see my future life as my

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Giving Blood–and Other Acts of Courage

Liz Witherell

I donated blood today. I’m one of those people who doesn’t shudder at the thought of needles piercing my skin, or get queasy as I watch the blood drain from my vein into the collection bag. It’s no big deal. I eat the cookies and drink the juice afterwards, and I kind of enjoy talking with the elderly volunteers.

I think I’m lucky. I know so many people who are sickened

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Losing My Vision

Sheila Solomon Klass

Sunday, September 26 of this past year began normally enough. I did what I do every day, first thing: I put on my glasses and tested my vision. I’m eighty-three years old, and although I’ve always been nearsighted and have lived with glaucoma for thirty years, I’ve developed a worse complaint: AMD, age-related macular degeneration, in my left eye. 

My ophthalmologist diagnosed the AMD after I told him that, when I was

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