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Tag: memorable patients

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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Stardust

Audrey Cortez

Years ago I worked as a registered nurse in a busy surgical pre-admission clinic, preparing patients who’d been scheduled for surgery for the upcoming operation and hospital experience.

My workdays were packed with back-to-back, hour-long appointments. Whatever surgery the patient was facing–oral, orthopedic or anything else–every interview followed the same format. I would greet the patient, who’d often bring along a family member, and quickly escort them both into my small

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Florence

Ben White

When I first met Florence in the ER, she’d already been dying for some time.

I was a third-year medical student doing my internal-medicine clerkship. Florence was a soft-spoken, tired woman in her sixties. To her, I was yet another face asking all the same questions, but she didn’t mind telling her story again–although she did stop

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Note to My Patient

Sarah Stumbar

You might be surprised to know that I’m lying here in bed still thinking of you two weeks after you’ve died.

During the month that I watched you die, I often wondered what it felt like to be you, with your deep, husky voice, rounded belly and stubborn anger. You’d once owned your own mechanic shop; now you were sitting here in a hospital bed, staring up at the medical team as we

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Beyond Reason

Kathy Speas

Visiting the dementia unit of a nursing home is never easy.

First off, you have to find your patient amid the assemblage of people–mostly women–seated in wheelchairs, recliners, wingbacks, sofas and assorted walkers, or wandering around. 

Then, you must make yourself known to the person you’ve found. Here’s where the harder questions arise: How can I introduce myself and convey my role–a hospice chaplain–to someone who has outlasted language? Is my state of

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The Silent Treatment

Frances Smalkowski

Last year, while enjoying a two-week tour of the cultural capitals of China, I was amazed by how at home I felt. Searching my memory for the reasons behind this unexpected state of mind, I suddenly remembered Mr. Loy.

We met more than forty years ago. I was in my third year as a nursing student, doing a semester-long rotation in a large psychiatric hospital. Each student was assigned a patient for the

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Stigmata

Kevin Koo

I started my third year of medical school as a surgery clerk. 

With this eight-week clerkship came a flood of conflicting advice from older, wiser peers: “Ask a lot of questions, but speak only when spoken to.” “Offer to help, but stay out of the way.” “Be friendly and likeable, but not too friendly–or too likeable.” For the medical student, such is the mystique of the OR.

Three weeks into my general surgery

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Conundrum

Matthew Hirschtritt

Walking from an exam room to the nurse’s station in the small outpatient clinic where I worked as a second-year medical student, I paused by a window to gaze out at the winter sunset. After a moment, I looked down to scan the notebook where I kept my schedule and notes for my last patient of the

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Recovery Room

Warren Holleman

We’re sitting in a circle: seven women and me. Most are in their thirties and forties, and in their second, third or fourth month of sobriety. They look professional in the suits they’ve assembled from the donations closet of our inner-city recovery center.

I start things off by reminding everyone that this is the last day of the group. The last hour, in fact.

All eyes turn to Dorothy.

Dorothy is a proud

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Things That Matter

Paul Gross

For me, the best part of being a doctor, and the biggest privilege, is getting to talk with people about things that matter.

“You look sad today,” I say to a patient I’m seeing for the first time–a thirty-eight-year-old woman with a headache. In response, her lower lip starts to tremble, and she wipes an eye.

As I reach for the box of tissues and hand it to her, I know that whatever

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Tea and Daisies

Amy Cooper Rodriguez

It’s been almost ten years since Esther died, and I still think of her almost every day. I was her physical therapist at a rehabilitation hospital. My patients had many different diagnoses–head injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, hip or knee replacements. I was in my early twenties. I thought that if I tried hard enough, I could help everyone. And often, I could.

* * * * *

“What are you going

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Deja-vu

Justin Sanders

It looked like the skin of an orange–peau d’orange, in medspeak. My fellow interns and I had heard about it in medical school; some had even seen it before. As our attending physician undraped Mrs. Durante’s breast one sunny morning during our first month as interns, we knew that what we were seeing was bad.

Mrs. Durante wore a hospital gown and a brightly colored head scarf. She looked like a child lying

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