Wednesday, September 23, 2015


like is there ever a time I shouldn't add a picture from my window to a post? XD

not of my writing, but of my story. of the stories that intersect my story. pieces of the people I have seen. pieces of myself. things have been changed if necessary to protect patient privacy, of course.

My fellow student ends a call, starts laughing as she looks at me. That was our attending; he has a patient for me. When I answered, he wanted to know if I was the tall med student.
I look down at my high heeled boots and laugh with her. We've already discussed how we're both girls, we're both blonde-ish, our names both start with the same letter, we both have white coats, and we both carry the exact same white and blue bag stuffed full of study materials over our shoulder. He has found the distinguishing characteristic to keep us straight.

Do you have a magic wand? I've got a patient dying, and there's nothing I can do. The young surgeon shuts the folder with a bang and gets heavily to his feet. It's 9am and he's already done all he can.

What do you mean? The woman narrows her eyes at me, and my words stumble, trying to explain a machine I don't fully understand. At this point in my studies, patient care remains unaffected whether or not I can eloquently explain the inner workings of magnetic resonance imaging, but someone she loves is sick, and I fully understand the inflection of her voice. Knowing or not knowing makes no difference...but I wish I knew it all. 

A little melody comes abruptly over the hospital intercom, and I look up from my studies to meet the blue eyes of my fellow student. We smile at each other, sharing a moment of joy that no matter what is happening in the rest of the hospital, someone on the floor below us is taking their first breath in this strange world of ours.

My patient is a seventy-three year old woman with a past medical history pertinent for hypertension and atrial fibrillation diagnosed in 2013, for which she is on heparin. She comes in today with a two day history of melena and - A crackling voice on the loudspeakers interrupts me and an instant later my attending is on her feet. 
Code in rehab, she says, and then we're both running for the stairs. 
Please let whoever it is be all right; please let whoever it is be all right; please let whoever it is be all right.
My silent prayer tangles with the clatter of my shoes inside my head.

My attending runs down the hallway, see me through the open staff room door, catches himself long enough to call in I'll be with you in a moment! That slowing is long enough for the lake to catch his eye and he stops fully, staring past me at our seventh story view of sun on water, shimmering glory just beyond the glass. That's beautiful, he says, and there's awe in his voice. 

Is there a chance the cancer has spread to my brain? I hear the question amid a small flurry of activity in the room and freeze inside. Of course there's a chance. We're all wondering it, but no one knows yet. I don't know how to answer - I have no idea of percentages or likelihoods, only that this is my patient and recurrent cancer with new-onset neurological symptoms is not a good sign. I let the question slip by under cover of the busyness.
The patient does not ask again, and I realize my silence was also an answer. 
May I learn how to do all these things I must do the way I should do them soon.

Thirteen years of higher education, and I can't find the on button. 
I smother my laughter in a corner of the physician dining room, watching three doctors attempting to turn on a computer in the corner. How many neurosurgeons does it take to turn on a computer? I still don't know, because they never did find that button.

2 thoughts shared:

wisdomcreates said...

Thanks for the reminder of things I love about the medical profession.

Katherine Sophia said...

:) I'm glad it was a good reminder.


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