Chief complaint: arm pain, / Waiting in room 4. / As I enter, he looks me up and down — / What is it he’s looking for?
A first-year medical student’s stress and anxiety begin to take physical form as she navigates her first year of medical school.
A scalpel, a corpse — / His beard is neat, his eyes are / Empty. Gloves hide clammy hands / Afraid of what awaits beneath
You call me on a Thursday to tell me / You were diagnosed with leukemia in October.
Investigate. / Deeper, / deeper, / deeper: / To a depth of understanding beyond understanding.
I sit in the classroom, / staring blankly at the wall. / The professor has gone off once again, / regaling a story of some elderly patient’s fall.
Never committed a crime, / but now I feel like a prisoner. // Trapped in our minds, / our spirits leashed,
March 2020 One inch more than the measure of me, and one inch less than that of my father. It’s been a while since I lined up, back to back. But if I did, the space between us would only read two inches. Maybe less now that he is older. Nearly sixty. Closer to the next decade than the last. It’s common knowledge that people shrink as they get older. Or at least I think …
I didn’t know / many can’t / sip coral pulpy bitter / juice from narrow glasses.
A loud cry as we enter the world. / A silent cry as we depart.
There were seven of us standing around the table as the attending surgeon debrided the infected fascia. The vascular surgeon came in the room and barked at us to identify the structures before us. “What’s that artery?” he interrogated us. “I’ll give you a hint,” he said, “there’s a deep and a superficial.” We named the sural nerve and iliotibialis band and the great saphenous vein. As we clamored around the table, I suddenly thought of the Rembrandt painting: The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp.
Unmotivated to study, I dedicated myself to researching the virus as well as its epidemiological, social and economical impact on our communities. Adjusting to life in quarantine was frustrating, and I felt like I was watching the world turn upside down. However, researching the pandemic felt much more relevant than trying to use all these anatomy apps to fill in gaps created by a lack of practical hands-on learning.