This painting, utilizing oil and acrylic paints, was made in the midst of studying for my ongoing classes and boards. There have been a couple diseases that have stuck with me throughout my studies. One of them is type 1 achalasia from the GI block I did recently.
March 13, 2020. A date engraved in many of our minds. The day the President declared a National Emergency concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease Outbreak.
What if I could see the emotions that flood my patient’s mind? What if I could know how much space anger, frustration, joy, sorrow, hope took up in their mind’s real estate?
Grandpapa had a gift for storytelling. / Sitting on the two-legged stools at the end of the Hutong,
As I unzip the synthetic shroud, / he breathes his last, first breath: / one final exhalation from the plastic pleura / before we make acquaintance.
She sat on her bed in a bright magenta shirt covered in glittery animals, with her arms folded tightly across her chest. Her green eyes were trained on the muted television broadcasting Disney cartoons, and her bed was strewn with coloring books and crayons. This scene looked quite different from the other overdoses we had been consulted on. Still, our attending calmly walked up to her bedside, introduced our bustling team and asked the universal question,
Nineteen. Oh the joy of being 19 years old. Can you remember back that far? Reminisce on the butterflies you felt as you waited for your date to pick you up for your very first college party.
There is a fine line between medicine and mortality: give too much and it can kill someone; give too little and even that could kill someone. We show up to the hospital with the intent to save lives, and anything that deviates from that goal is seen as a failure of the system, or, at times, of ourselves. However, over time, we come to learn that there is an in-between where we are at once trying to preserve life, all the while embracing the idea of human mortality.
Studies have shown that physicians with exposure and background in the humanities are more empathetic, ethical, expressive and even healthier. Recently, medical school curricula across the country have begun to emphasize communication, teamwork, problem solving and humanistic care, as the dichotomous view of the sciences as a separate entity from art and literature is becoming obsolete.
“This one is a handful. She brought a long list, too, so good luck with that,” the nurse said as she handed me the patient prep sheet. This was a new patient to the family medicine practice. I was seeing her near the end of a long day, so I took a deep breath to reset my mind as I entered the exam room, prepared to listen.
My relaxed reveal / faked a fool / while tanking time / with failing fuel.
I knew she was in a difficult legal situation that was taking an emotional toll on her. After learning that she had few visitors, I asked about her depression and how she was coping. As she spoke, I could not help but think about the degree to which her social isolation was worsening her symptoms.