The first thing I notice are his boots. He’s still in his street clothes, having just been admitted. He looks thin, emaciated — his clothes hang off him, shirt collar drooping down from his neck like peeling paint. His boots, however, seem to fit him properly. They look warm, well-worn but sturdy, like they have weathered a hundred bitter winters and could withstand a hundred more. For some reason, this comforts me.
He and I became friends and fell in love, in part over our shared love of running. I think he would be proud to see how quickly I cover the ground between the chemistry building, my house on campus and my car.
Today, my grandparents are older than Saul was when distanced from his family. Now during the coronavirus pandemic, they too are isolated. This time it’s not because they are the fomites, but because I might be. Those big enveloping hugs that grandma lives for and kisses from grandpa will likely become a thing of the past.
Your body lay on the table, wrapped in shrouds / while robed students gathered around, / Your body lay on the table, skin leathery and strong, / I imagined what stories it bore, what paths it traveled along.
“Time of death: 12:26 p.m.” Hearing those words on the first day of my Intensive Care Unit (ICU) rotation was surreal when just a few hours ago we were discussing the patient’s status during rounds.
Hearts that beat, / Turn into hearts that don’t.
I had felt strange during the week leading up to the last ultrasound. Pregnancy is a roller coaster of sensations, but that week had been off a little. I barely noticed the ultrasound tech rubbing the cold, blue gel on my massive belly. I wanted to hear that sound: that quiet, pulsing sound of my baby racing to be born.
Soon, we were jolted to attention by an overhead announcement, “Attention, code blue. Six south. Attention. Code blue. Six south.”
It can be difficult to fully appreciate the events that transpire on a busy transplant surgery service, and as a fledgling third year student on my first rotation, I’d often find myself in stimulus overload — like a five year old who stops to look at every flower on a walk with their parents.
Whenever I go to the hospital, I wear my grandpa’s socks. They looked distinguished on an older man, but a little childish on a me, a 25-year-old medical student. I’m okay with that. Feeling like an overdressed kid on Easter helps to balance the overwhelming pressure of becoming a physician.
An indulgent gasp / grasps the molded corners / dry tongue to chipping paint / searching for a word to say
We huddled around in a circle. Some rubbing our necks, some touching our wrists, and some listening with tears streaming down our faces. It was a room of physicians and physicians-in-training, listening as one resident shared her story of watching her patient pass away when she ran a code for the first time. At the conclusion of her story, physicians and students approached the resident with hugs and advice.