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On the Grounds of a Former State Mental Hospital

On the Grounds of a Former State Mental Hospital

Through wounds in whitewash, brick edges crumble
To red dust. Weeds pierce the interstices of paths slowly
Giving themselves up to trackless overgrowth
Are all shapes broken that differ from expected forms
Or is this slant just as proper to a cupola as symmetry?
Not if it lets the rain in, I suppose
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Invasive

I never grew Virginia creeper,
this twining shiny vine rapidly
unfurling its five-leafed bouquet,
yet it crept into my garden, stealthily
wrapping its strong tendrils round
stems and bushes and trees
in lusty demanding embrace,
attaching onto the house foundation,
embedding into cement and wood.

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Cracked Up

Carlos Downell ~

They say that to write well, you should write about what you know. I’m a homeless drug addict. This essay is not about me, although I’ll figure in it. It’s about drug abuse among the homeless, a subject I’m very well acquainted with.

I have a dual diagnosis–substance-abuse issues and psychiatric dysfunction. Double trouble. If I can’t get meth, I’ll smoke crack, and if I can’t get crack, I’ll smoke

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Crazy

Ginny Hoyle

I walked through my mother’s madness
in a coat of hungry colors.
Her eyes did not take me in. I was a child.
To win her, I hung by my knees from low branches

of the family tree, voicing nursery rhymes
from the hallowed text of her delusions.
And failed.

When they took her away,
I was older, careful. I hid my heart

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Paprika

The insistent chirp on the phone was a reminder from Fran. “Don’t forget to stop at the compounding pharmacy.” For $58 cash these specialists turned a pill into a cream. GERD made Fran intolerant of most oral medicines.

Tired from the long drive, I thought back on my years of marriage. Back pain was the first problem, I think. Then GERD, then migraines, dizziness, TMJ, panic attacks, fibromyalgia. They were all tough, serious problems.

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A Day in the Life of a Psychiatrically Hospitalized Clinician (Part 2)

Liat Katz

Editor’s Note: This is the conclusion of Liat Katz’s remarkable story. Part 1 was published last week.

Lying here on this hard bed on the psych floor, staring at the white walls and ceiling, I think of my clients–and I don’t feel so alone. Their everyday experience is not so different from my short-lived experience here at the hospital. Often, they endure a whole day’s wait in the dirty Social Security

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A Day in the Life of a Psychiatrically Hospitalized Clinician (Part 1)

Liat Katz

Editor’s Note: This week Pulse presents the first installment of Liat Katz’s brave and forthright story. The conclusion will appear next week.

I am a licensed clinical social worker. And, occasionally, a mental patient. Today, in this inpatient psychiatric unit, I am more a patient than a social worker.

It is Monday morning, and I am eating breakfast across from Owen, a muscular, flannel-clad, Paul Bunyan-looking patient. Little pieces of his

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Finding a Bed in Bedlam

Jo Marie Reilly

There’s a full moon tonight.

“That’s when crazy things happen,” my superstitious mom always says.

I’m a family physician doing weekend call at my urban community hospital. My pager rings incessantly. As I answer yet another call from the emergency room downstairs, I think, Maybe Mom has a point.

“Got a suicidal patient with nowhere to go,” the ER physician yells into the phone, against the background commotion.

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bless our children - kasman

Bless Our Children

 

Deborah Kasman

About the artist: 

Deborah Kasman is a family physician and mother of two teens. A practicing clinician and academic bioethicist, she works as a bioethics director for Kaiser Permanente in southern California. “Two-and-a-half years ago, I started painting to reconnect to my own soul, having gone through my own experience of trauma while raising

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Help Me

Jennifer Reckrey

Editor’s Note: Jennifer Reckrey kept a weekly journal of her experiences during her intern year.


Week 13

I had a few free minutes at the end of my clinic session this past Thursday morning, so I took over a walk-in patient from an overbooked colleague.

The patient was a large, muscular Salvadoran man in his early forties who had long-standing hypertension. He said that for the

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Hard Facts and Fiction

Brian T. Maurer

At Daniel’s first visit, it had been like pulling teeth to get this fourteen-year-old slip of a boy to talk. Despite my thirty years experience as a physician assistant, I hadn’t made much headway. I’d pose a question, and his mother would jump in to answer it. He’d slouched on the exam table, staring at the floor. Occasionally he’d lift his eyes to meet mine, then quickly look away.

Daniel’s mother had

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