From the Wards
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Soliloquy in a Yellow Gown

Yellow does not mean sunshine, nor lemons.
Definitely not daffodils, nor sharp, new Number 2’s.
Yellow means sick. Dirty. Dangerous.
It means the worst Starburst flavor.

The cart lies outside the room — nonchalant, naïve.
It has no idea the message it carries, the war against armies it wages.
The yellow gowns pool in the drawer intertwined, like snakes.
I grab a cuff and pull, praying its twin wasn’t just picked up by another.
The yellow sleeves slide over our arms like sickness, shrouding us,
Taunting the sharp white of our coats.
Stilling air flow,
The suffocating humidity is quick to follow.

With our faces shielded behind yellow masks, we march in single file,
Our eyes surveying for evidence of the small creatures we mean to battle.
The killer cooties.
Our backs tense as we pull aside the curtain,
Almost as if expecting disease to spray our faces like acid.
At least I know I do.

How comical we must look.
Army of yellow drones.
Minions to the Joint Commission.

The air is thick. Hot. Sticky.
I imagine my perspiration running in tiny, sparkling rivulets down the inside of my gown.
I sniff hesitantly,
Expecting the vengeance that is C.diff colitis to overwhelm my nostrils.
Instead I smell cologne de hospital.
Essence of IV bag plastic with lingering hints of working kidneys and a pinch of cleaner.
I prefer this reassuring scent.

The yellow stands strong, no battle today.

But the patient’s eyes trail over us, seeing not doctors,
And instead, harbingers of stigma and isolation.
His girlfriend sits beside him in plain clothes.
Her shrewd gaze narrows as she begins to wonder of the kiss he just gave her,
And if we know something she knows not.
I stare at the space between them,
Wishing I could measure the new iotas of emotional distance.

There is already a sea of it between him and my yellow gown.

Nia Sathiamoorthi Nia Sathiamoorthi (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Mayo Clinic School of Medicine

Nia Sathiamoorthi is a fourth-year medical student at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and majored in science journalism and pharmacology. Her time there cultivated her love for Badger sports, cheese, and science journalism.