I was a third-year medical student, doing my internal-medicine rotation in a large regional teaching hospital. “We have a new admit that I want you to pick up,” my team’s senior resident told me on my third day. “Mr. Ngo is a seventy-one-year-old man with congestive heart failure. He came into the ER with worsening shortness of breath and edema.” I read Mr. Ngo’s chart and went to his hospital room. He sat on the
In my third year of medical school, I started a rotation at the nearby VA hospital. Walking toward the polished glass doors that morning, I saw my reflection–clean white coat, assured expression to cover up how lost I felt. It was my second clinical rotation ever, and my first time at the VA. I found my team and soon met a patient I’d be seeing for the next month. His name was Jim. He’d already
I paced in the hallway outside of the patient’s room, going over my mental checklist of items to do during the history and physical examination. Bringing in a paper list was discouraged; we were meant to “flow” through the exam “naturally.” I stuffed my hands into the pockets of the white coat I’d received three weeks earlier, during the White Coat Ceremony for first-year medical students. Feeling around the deep pockets to make sure that
Every month readers tell their stories — in 40 to 400 words — on a different healthcare theme.
Marianne Peel ~ The last time we talkedshe said she wantedevery bone in her bodyto break. And so I picture her on a ledgeflirting with the idea of flying,knowing she admires the flitting of butterfliesfrom one pollen hive to another I watch her wingsopen and close open and closelike they are breathinglike her wings are lungs
Laura Altshul ~ I never grew Virginia creeper,this twining shiny vine rapidly unfurling its five-leafed bouquet, yet it crept into my garden, stealthilywrapping its strong tendrils round stems and bushes and treesin lusty demanding embrace,attaching onto the house foundation,embedding into cement and wood.
Pam Kress-Dunn ~ This boy of mine triedto be a sportsman. Jane and I watched his team,heedless ducklings clutching plastic bats behind the T-ball, the ball up high, right there where they couldn’t miss it, but they did. When shouts from other parents roused us from our chat, we tossed encouragement into the ballfield’s air, no matter whose kid got a hit. Things got serious the next summer, one level up onto the honest-to-GodLittle League
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Bronx, New York About this Encounter: I had my first baby when I was thirteen, and my mother died when I was thirteen. I’ve been through a lot in my life, but when my faith is not consistent, that’s when I start getting all those crazy thoughts, like “Oh, my life, my life…”
Should I talk about the bad stories or the good stories? Okay, the bad part is hearing that something’s wrong with you. That burns me. I don’t want doctors bothering me–just leave me alone. I don’t know why I’m afraid of doctors. Sometimes I just don’t like to hear them talk. I just found myself going more to the doctor after I was diagnosed. Before, I didn’t have to go to the doctor. I was
I’m caring for my sister, who’s very ill. When I feel like I’m coming up short, it kind of creates a depression for me. I’ve learned to establish boundaries for myself, because when people become ill like that, they become bitter and mean sometimes. And I’ve really, really, really had to struggle. I’ve been trying to help my sister, but I’ve also got to help myself. Some people, when they feel that they’re near their