I opened their chart and scrolled to the recent notes section. A new title I had never seen before popped on the screen. There, at the top of the chart, “Deceased Note” was written in bold letters.
Because I could not stop for death, / He kindly asked I pause. / My arms were full of sterile wraps, / Scissors, tape, and gauze.
Pink playdough littered the exam table, sink, counter and floor. In a flash, a thin child, all elbows and knees, jumped athletically from the sink counter to the exam table and then to the floor, stomping over my feet in the process.
“Three, two, one … lift,” the circulating nurse directs as I raise the patient’s feet from the trauma table onto the recovery bed, gushing with the giddiness of getting to use my hands in a medical setting for the first time.
What does it mean to “grieve appropriately?” / To silently cry / as to not break the fragility in the air.
One of the most powerful paradoxes of medical education is that we learn how to heal the living by dissecting the dead. Our cadavers house the beauty and intricacies of human creation, the distinctiveness yet commonality of each human body and the finality of decline.
His diseased lungs / stiff like dry clay / function like gills out of the water.
Dying is not / as romantic as I once thought. / I think you always knew this.
Mr. G was a patient I met while on the surgical oncology service. He was in his early 50s, a loving husband and the father of two children. He was the middle sibling with two brothers. He also battled metastatic cancer.
My mother likes to tell the story of how, as a small child, I referred to the superficial wounds sustained in my first head-over-handlebars accident as an “abrasion.” I remember staring at my knee, fascinated by my body’s ability to heal itself. The sacred anatomy of wounds, atoms as spacious as galaxies, coalescing and woven with no instruction of my own to renew what had been lost.
Should the symbol of medicine bear one snake or two? / If you answered two, then the joke is on you! / Or, at least, that’s the current popular view.
I imagine her mother / Squeezing daughter’s limp hand / Silent tears