At 5:07 pm on July 27 of last year, my pager’s beep pierced the bustle of the hospital hallway: “CARDIAC ARREST, 6GS room 356 bed 2. Need cards STAT.”
It was only seven minutes into my first overnight call as a cardiology (“cards”) fellow, and I felt like I’d received a code-dose shot of epinephrine. In a most un-doctorly manner, I sprinted up the four flights of stairs to the ward.
“If my father dies, you’re going down with him.”
The words pierced the air, and suddenly there was silence.
I hadn’t noticed Frank’s son at first. He’d been pacing in the back of the family group gathered in our ICU waiting room. Now, up close, I could appreciate how large and intimidating he was. And I’d just had the thankless job of telling him, along with the rest of his
“Why do you want to go into family medicine?” my internal-medicine preceptor asked.
It was an innocent enough question. I’d known from day one of medical school what I wanted to do, so I answered with confidence, and perhaps a bit of a chip on my shoulder.
“I love being with people and getting to know them,” I said. “I’ve always been this way, so it makes sense that’s what
I notice a familiar figure, dressed in bright red, who stands out from the others. With a start, I realize it’s Joyce, one of
“You drew a perfect circle!” she exclaims.
I nod and smile as I explain,
“Yes, well, thank you…
And now this circle is a plate.
Half is vegetables.
A quarter is starch or sugar.
A quarter is protein–meat, dairy, eggs, or beans.”
Now she nods and smiles.
We discuss her diabetes,
asking her son to help her do weekly foot exams.
July first Fellow,
a pager blares announcing
my initiating consult, a 29-year-old
(just my age)
and a first-time seizure
while receiving an infusion
of experimental treatment.
When I arrive
she’s already gotten
two milligrams of ativan
dilantin load is hanging
and I examine
a somnolent young woman
now coming ’round,
could be my friend, my
Melissa Zhu Murphy
On Mother’s Day 2007, as I was finishing my freshman year at Vanderbilt University, I joined my parents for a warm, happy reunion in an Italian restaurant, celebrating both the day and the completion of my first year of premedical studies.
My father was blissfully breathing in the steam wafting up from his ravioli in lobster cream sauce as my mother prepared to dig into an enormous plate of basil
When I was nine years old, I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that triggers an inflammatory response of the joints, causing swelling, stiffness and severe pain. The disease sped through my body like wildfire.
By the time I was fifteen, my hip joints were utterly ruined. Just getting out of bed was a slow, carefully choreographed sequence of movements, with frequent pauses to allow the pain to