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The Man Who Handed Me His Poop


Allie Gips ~

In broken English, against the backdrop of the emergency department’s chaos and clatter, Mr. Simon relayed his story: unintentional weight loss, gradually yellowing skin, weeks of constipation. He punctuated his list of devastating symptoms with laughter–exaggerated but genuine guffaws.

Over the next few days, as the medical student responsible for his care, I was also responsible for handing him piece after piece of bad news. An obstructing gallstone in

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The Phone Call

“Dr. Eisenberg, line 6, Dr. B,” I hear over the office intercom. What? The chairman calling me?

And in that split second, as I braced for impact, my life flashed before my eyes. What did I do? My mind could only fathom the worst.

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When You Don’t Know What to Hope For

 
My mother lies quietly in the hospital bed that has replaced her regular bed, now that she can no longer get up on her own. Every day she stares at the TV, appearing to watch it with interest. When I come into her room, she smiles and tries to say hello–in a voice that is barely a whisper. Her eyes sparkle a little. In my own discomfort, I begin asking simple questions, hoping to

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“Better to Ask a Question Than to Remain Ignorant”

Any class of first-year medical students contains a mix of genders, races, socioeconomic ranges, ages and cultures. We try to convince students their tutor groups are safe places to ask questions and the only bad question is one that isn’t asked. Sometimes that openness leads to challenges. 
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Pity Party

Following eye surgery, I was “sentenced” to two weeks of lying face down. But five days in I know without a doubt that something has gone horribly wrong.

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A Satisfied Patient

“Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh God! Oh my! Oh my! Oh my God! Oooooh. OOOOOOOOH.”

I was sure that the groans of ecstasy must be piercing the exam room door and echoing off the waiting room walls.

“Oh. Oh. It feels so good! Oooooooooh.”
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On the Road

Josephine Ensign

As a community health nurse, I work with homeless and street-involved teenagers. In almost thirty years of doing this work on both coasts, and in Thailand and Venezuela, I’ve gotten to know thousands of young people living on the margins of society.

I love working with them; they challenge me to see the world–and myself–in a broader way, one that opens up vistas of hope for positive change and a better future.

And

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What to Say When You’re Terminal

Ellen Diamond

For the past fifteen years, I have had an incurable form of leukemia.

Such diseases used to be called terminal illnesses, but we don’t hear that term as much anymore. With all the new drugs and treatments available, doctors have become more reluctant to refer to diseases they can’t cure yet as “terminal.”

In the years just after my diagnosis, when friends and family would ask what could be done

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Reentry

Sara Brodsky

I sit with three demented women in their nineties.
Three after-dinner conversations fly,
banging into each other,
ricocheting,
drifting off course.
Aunt Sylvia insists she must call her mother.
Edith announces she works for her father.
Mimi declares she has two daughters.
I grab onto this shooting star.
“Where do your daughters live?” I ask. 
Mimi closes

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Physician, Heal Thyself

Randy Rockney

After a long day’s work as a pediatrician at an academic medical center in Providence, RI, nothing says “relief” like a visit to my therapist. I don’t see him often, but he has helped me through many life transitions. I think we both agree with the Buddhist precept that the only constant in life is change.

One evening after work, a couple of years ago, I arrived early in the neighborhood of

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Restricted Parking

Daniel Becker

In silhouette, in pantomime, in slow motion,
she’s dropping him off, but instead of 

a see-you-later kiss, they slap palms, high fives,
except they miss–

twice the sound of one hand clapping–
and there they go again: arms raised, hands poised,

holding then un-holding their applause
as they deliver unto one another. Meanwhile, 

that’s my space they linger over.
A kiss is just a kiss, but this

is a circuit to complete, an

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