Called from the surgeons’ lounge
By the resident who is now ready,
Having prepped the site —
Shaven, marked and cleaned —
Draped the head and steadied the bed
For the life-saving aneurysm clipping,
I stop thinking of my former life.
A life this resident lives
At a pace patients require
From health care, from us, from me —
For an improved quality of life,
To live without impending doom,
To have body and mind reprieved —
Such is the pledge she committed to.
Not that she is alone in this:
With duties spread among only seven
From intern to chief resident,
There is much to do, much to listen.
She is to set the example
They all aspire to emulate
And will set, as I did moons ago.
Heading through the OR doors,
She provides me with the summary
Of her approach, her execution,
Guided by CT and 3-D mapping MRI,
To save future complications
From becoming reality.
I listen to her every word as we enter.
Donning the gown and glasses,
I speak with the anesthesiologists,
The scrub tech, the device rep,
That all we need is now at our hands,
Now scrubbed and poised in silence
For this prayer that need not be spoken,
The prayer that we acquire by caring.
We must be quiet now
As our respected nurse calls a time-out
To ensure this is the correct patient,
The correct procedure,
The correct site.
When all is agreed by all attending
The incision into the scalp is made.
With bleeding exposed, we now apply
Knowledge and research to close,
And as I guide her through this case,
Another calls to seek advice from me.
Pausing, I listen to the OR nurse
“The floor wants to know
What you will like to have…”
“…what will you like to have?”
Distracts my sturdy attention
As I look in the mirror
At my white coat and slicked hair
As I wait in line
For coffee between classes
In my MS2 year.
Poetry Thursdays is a weekly newsletter that highlights poems by medical students and physicians. This initiative is led by Slavena Salve Nissan at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. If you are interested in contributing, please contact Slavena.