Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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To Be a Kid

Just a five-year-old kid
Yet always in and out of the hospital,
Since her first beautiful breath
Through each breath after,
With her life-giving
Yet ever-faltering lungs.

Even this time,
During what probably felt like the millionth admission
At her now familiar home away from home,
We had no answers.

She had tantrums;
She had trouble communicating;
She had tears;
But we had no answers.

She had joy in her iPad
And her stuffed animals
And her hospital room decorated with pink flowers
And Disney princesses.
She had nurse friends and doctor enemies.
She had a mom, always by her side, who loved and protected her —
And no answers.

After snapping black and white images of her chest,
Viewing a colorfully stained piece of her lung under a microscope,
Meeting with pulmonologists, rheumatologists,
Pathologists and more, we still
Had no answers.

But as long as we could make her better like last time,
She could go home
To be a kid.

Three weeks into her stay,
She could no longer eat by mouth.
Normal neuro exam,
Normal speech and swallow study,
Normal endoscopy,
But she couldn’t eat by mouth.

As her oxygen saturation improved
And she looked forward to going home,
She still couldn’t eat by mouth.

A nasogastric tube was placed;
Mom learned how to feed and how to flush.
A psych evaluation was concerning for “behavioral issues”
Because she still wouldn’t eat by mouth.

But what she would do
Was paint my nails and play games with me.
We discussed our favorite candies and flavors of frozen yogurt —
When she could be a kid,
She was a happy kid.

I surprised her with the froyo of her dreams,
And suddenly,
She could eat by mouth.
As she cheated her way through the Candyland path
And up Chutes and Ladders,
She ate not one, not two, but many
Bites by mouth.

Not enough to take her tube out,
But she went home cheerfully,
Remembering what it was like,
For now,
To be a kid.

Poetry Thursdays is an initiative that highlights poems by medical students. If you are interested in contributing or would like to learn more, please contact our editors.

Chandni Jain Chandni Jain (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Boston University School of Medicine

Chandni Jain (she/her/hers) is a fourth-year medical student at Boston University School of Medicine in Boston, MA, Class of 2021. In 2015, she graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in molecular and cell biology and a minor in global poverty and practice, after completing an internship at the Family Planning Institute of India working on reproductive health education and access as a means to address poverty. She then worked for two years as the Northwest Region Community Engagement Fellow at UNICEF USA to advocate for the world's most vulnerable children. She enjoys dancing, painting, yoga, and vegan cooking in her free time. After graduating from medical school, Chandni would like to pursue a career in pediatrics and looks forward to working with underserved communities. Her passions include adolescent and reproductive health, social/racial and health equity, universal healthcare, and environmentalism.