Fan Favorite

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

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Mad Man

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

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Beginner’s Mind

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

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More Voices

Every month readers tell their stories — in 40 to 400 words — on a different healthcare theme.

Not Knowing
Telling the truth

The Last Call of the Day

Why is it always the last call of the day, Bag packed by the door, and sometimes I’ve even put my coat on, And then I know that I have to make the call.If I was smart, I’d schedule a visit, have the nurse set up a time To have the patient drop by after the test is done, If only I was smart! But today it is too late for that, Friday night, And

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Ode to the Uterus

They call it A woman’s coin purse Buried away like an afterthought In the folds of her body. But hers is a feral little thing Throwing away angry outbursts With the tide of each moon. It scoffs at being Belittled and unused Writing her opinion in bloody letters. I have seen it Grown to its full power like Mt. St. Helens erupting from her slumber, Joan of Arc exchanging her skirts, Magwayen risen from the

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Heightened Awareness

No power-down switch to arrest That incessant activity of the mind and senses Not even for our wedding anniversary Getaway. At the airport my eyes reflexively dart From the cashier’s cheery smile to fix on her arm Laid bare by her Dunkin’ Donuts uniform And the glaring track-mark trail As she carefully hands me my scalding hot coffee. On board American Airlines my ears instinctively pinpoint That paroxysmal brassy cough of the man in seat

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Encounters: “You know…sometimes I don’t remember that I have it.”

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

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Encounters: “Who am I to tell someone facing disease how to feel?”

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

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