Tag: pediatrics

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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Holiday Concert

Holiday Concert

The door opens, we pause again.
Voices singing in the lobby drown out
her parents and the specialists alike.
I think they added bells this year,
the cheerful carols carefully chosen
to celebrate the season, not a faith.
A guitar picks up a riff, the same
one my daughter played so long ago
in her one embarrassed solo
on the school stage. A song both

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Fighting the Odds

Evelyn Lai ~

Monday

I walk into your room in the pediatric intensive-care unit as two nurses are repositioning you. Your parents stand nearby–your dad in his frayed baseball cap and khaki cargo shorts; your mom, her baggy jeans wrinkled with the same worry as the lines near her eyes. Your little sister sits near the window with a blue hospital mask over her mouth, hugging her knees; Grandma sits snug beside her, back

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After “All We Could”

 
She is now six years old, attending first grade and riding a bike.

But six years ago, she was in the NICU, with six chest tubes, a ventilator on its maximum settings, and pulse oximetry readings–which should have been close to a hundred–that were dropping into the sixties. X-rays showed everything in its proper place, but this preemie was failing fast.

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Patient Belongings

Wynne Morrison

A man a few feet ahead of me
is pulling a rolling carry-on,
a clear plastic “belongings” bag tied
to the top by a white drawstring.

I can’t resist a glance in the bag,
like a stranger who wonders about lives
in the elevator or grocery line.
It holds some clothes, playing cards,

the ordinary things. And lying on its side
is a

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Withering Away on the Outside


You are an angel, undeserving of such tortuous demise.

I bit my tongue to hold back these words I was thinking but couldn’t say to our young, male patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The attending physician had just exclaimed, “Foot drop is often one of the first signs of ALS. Do you notice here the distal muscle atrophy, including the intrinsic muscles of the hand, namely the dorsal interosseus muscles and

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Interpreter of Cries

 
It happens daily. I enter a room and come face to face with someone who’s afraid of me. But we make friends, we may even laugh and share a high five or two. Then I leave. And from the room next door, I can hear the horrendous cry. The aftermath. 

I’m a pediatrician, and the aftermath is when my capable medical assistant or nurse goes in after me to give a vaccine or

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A Doctor Confesses: I Screwed Up

Marc D. Wager

When I was in medical school, more than thirty years ago, I felt I received pretty good training on how to communicate clearly and effectively with patients and families. I even remember the name of the fictitious character we had to practice telling about his wife’s demise: “Mr. Gottrocks, I’m afraid that your wife has taken a turn for the worse; I think you should come to the ICU right now.”

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Resilience1 Mahan 042117

Resilience

Cathleen Mahan

About the artist: 

Cathleen Mahan is a contemporary visual artist and a former critical-care nurse. She maintains an active studio practice in Portland, Maine. “Putting pencil to paper or hands to clay is, for me, a doorway into a nonverbal world outside of time that offers

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Before Ultrasound

Mary looks not too bad for having a two-week-old baby only now getting good at nursing. He looks content. His weight is not quite where I would like to see it, but not worrisome.

Lifted in my hands, his tone is great, his gaze intensely locks on mine. Put back down, his arms and legs flail enthusiastically. Cheeks are chubby, soft skin is pink. He passes the gestalt test – no worrisome sense that something

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Haunting Diagnosis

The day began like every other summer day. My eight-year-old son and six-year-old daughter ate their cereal, watched Sesame Street, and played—him with his Star Wars figures and her with her Barbies. After lunch, they gathered a few favorite books and toys to entertain them while they waited in the pediatrician’s office for their annual physicals.

Normalcy ended when the physician announced: “Your daughter has a severe curvature of the spine. She needs to see

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Going Through the Grits

Scott Newport

It was another day at a renovation project on the fourth floor of an office building. Glancing at my iPhone, I noticed that my buddy Dave had called a couple of times. Now, coming down a stepladder for what seemed like the hundredth time, I saw his name pop up again. This time I set down my hammer and found a quiet place.

“Hey Scott, ol’ buddy, I got a request,”

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