Tag: memorable patients

A Flower in Winter

A Flower in Winter

It’s winter of 1993. A cold, snowy day. Windy. A blizzard. The phone rings.

I’m not on call for my patients today–except for one. Daisy has been in my care since the early 1970s, and given the risk that she may suffer a serious downturn, I’ve instructed her nursing home to call me whenever necessary.

This is that call. Daisy, my dear lady, the old artist, is dying.
Throughout her nine decades of

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Mad Man

Zach Reichert ~

In my third year of medical school, I started a rotation at the nearby VA hospital. Walking toward the polished glass doors that morning, I saw my reflection–clean white coat, assured expression to cover up how lost I felt. It was my second clinical rotation ever, and my first time at the VA.

I found my team and soon met a patient I’d be seeing for the next month. His

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Coming Up Short

Meghan G. Liroff ~

“Why so short?” says the four-year-old girl who’s here with an upper-respiratory infection.

Standing safely between her dad’s knees, she wears a bright pink jumpsuit. Her cheeks are dimpled; her hair is piled in a frizzy bun. She looks me up and down, as if trying to make sense of me.

I can’t help laughing.

It’s true, I think. At five feet even, I’m not blessed with height–but I

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Out of the Blue

Marianna Crane ~

As I sit in the exam room waiting for my first patient of the afternoon, the phone rings. It rings four more times before I realize that Amanda Ringwald, our eighty-year-old receptionist, hasn’t come back from taking a rare lunch break.

I pick up the phone and say, “VA Hospital. Marianna Crane.” Oops, I’m not back at the VA anymore. “Senior Clinic,” I quickly add.

“Hello, my friend.”

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Matching Rings

Joy Liu

The room is stuffy, but the woman is shivering.

Her husband stands by her bedside. An interpreter that they’ve hired to stay with her day and night stands at the foot of the bed. And then there’s me, the doctor (I’m an intern), waiting to deliver one of many sad speeches I must give today.

Smiling wanly, she struggles into a sitting position and shakes my hand.

Even with

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Just Middlin’

Alexandra Godfrey

My dad was once a physician for the coal mines in Yorkshire, England, where I grew up. It’s been decades since I accompanied him on his rounds, and fifteen years since I moved to the States and began to practice as a physician assistant in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. But I still vividly recall my childhood days and the Yorkshire dialect we spoke.

Somehow, the seventy-three-year-old woman sitting in

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Unmasked

Carly Bergey

It’s called a missed miscarriage: You arrive, as I did, at the doctor for your first-ever pregnancy appointment, suffering from morning sickness and filled with joyful anticipation–only to learn that your body has not yet registered the death of your small embryo. Despite all of my doctor’s tinkering and double-checking, the ultrasound screen showed no movement. There was just the outline of a baby in me, quiet and still.

Hoping for a

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Tears of Friendship

 
As an aspiring physician, I recognize that I’ll likely be encountering death a great deal in my professional life, since it’s impossible to save everyone. So it’s probable that somewhere down the line, I’ll cross paths with a patient who is a part of my life for only a short time. Is it appropriate to mourn such a loss? Was I important enough to them that they would want me to grieve?
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Hearing Voices

Robert Burns

“She’s been hearing voices,” says Adala’s nephew Diri. “She hears them every night.”

The three of us sit in an examination room of my private geriatrics practice. I’ve been in a community-based practice in Memphis, Tennessee, for nearly twenty years.

Adala is a tall, slender woman. Dressed in a gray-blue guntiino, a long piece of cloth tied over the shoulder and draped around the waist, she has her head covered

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Heart and Soul

Fredy El Sakr

“Help!” I yelled out of our open apartment door.

I was seven years old, and my family had recently emigrated from Egypt to the US. We’d been feeling elated that week because, after months of interviews, my father had matched into a pediatric residency.

That morning he’d awakened feeling nauseated. My mother and sister went to buy some soothing food. I noticed that he’d vomited in the bathroom; now he

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