The Patient Voice

27 dec alan blum sister

About the Artwork

“My sister was havin’ too much stress on the job; and she got real sick, had to be put in the hospital.
And when she got home, she started tryin’ to stay well, even used that nicotine gum to stop smoking.
But when she went back, they called her in and told her she’s usin’ too much sick time…
and guess who started smokin’ again?”


“He doesn’t know anything now about the coins…
I give him his albums, and he go like this, page after page…after two minutes, he look up and stare.
He sit on the couch and he looks into the nothing…
so I took his hand and we both sat on the couch and we look at the nothing…
he remember nothing, his social security number he knew perfect,
now he forgets his name, his mother’s name.”
27 dec alan blum busy

“Upstairs got robbed. See, she’s got diamonds on her fingers, cause this is her second marriage…
I’ll talk fast, cause I know you’re busy.”

Alan Blum is a professor and Gerald Leon Wallace MD Endowed Chair in family medicine at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Tuscaloosa. A self-taught artist, he has published three books of his sketches and stories of patients, and his artworks have appeared in more than a dozen medical journals and textbooks. Many of his sketches have appeared in Pulse. He is a frequent guest speaker in medical-school courses in the humanities.


3 thoughts on “The Patient Voice”

  1. Love these expressive sketches and haiku-type poetry that just seem like quick flashes of brilliance expressing the frustrations and limitations of the aging process. I still miss my parents….

  2. I always enjoy seeing Dr. Blum’s drawings and reading the vignettes. “I’ll talk fast, cause I know you’re busy.” For some reason, that’s the sentence that got me.

    (Maybe because my 38 yo son had emergency surgery two weeks ago following a bicycle accident…and after his surgery, the surgeon never fully entered the OR waiting room and kept his hand on the door for the 30 seconds he talked to us. PS My son should make a full recovery.)

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