How Art Thou Out of Breath
I live two blocks from a hospital, so that the moans of passing ambulances never diminish but are choked off mid-cry. At the start of the pandemic, the ambulances wailed by my apartment building so consistently that it became a soundtrack, the woodwind section of a diabolical orchestra in a perpetual, unresolved tune-up.
The AIDS Quilt
The AIDS quilt panels spread out over a quarter mile in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall. People slowly, reverently, walk looking down, taking in endless panels. The reality of it all jolted me.
On Splitting a Pizza Before Saying Goodbye
She is thin, frail, and sickly when I meet her. The right side of her chest is tattooed with a dark purple bruise that spreads up her neck – the aftermath of her port removal. She is tethered to an IV pole by multiple infusions of antibiotics, vasopressors, and fluids. She is bald. Her husband is next to her bed, his skin rough and tanned, shadowed by white hair and a stiff beard. He is feeding her watermelon with a spoon as she smiles when I walk in, her smile lighting up the room.
“Help! Help! Help!” The repeated cries carried down the hospital corridor as I quickened my pace.
I turned a corner and the yelling stopped. There was my mother lying in a bed, flanked by two nurses failing in their effort to remove her IV line.
Resist, in the Name of God
Her voice was loud and insistent: “Michael, get up! GET UP! Open your eyes and GET UP! GET UP NOW, Michael. I COMMAND YOU, in the name of God, GET UP!”
COVID: Remembering the Early Days
It’s easy to forget what those first months were like. I drove to work on the Southeast Expressway; a highway once clogged with rush hour traffic was near empty. COVID followed everyone everywhere – TV, radio, print media, the Internet, signs on doors to any stores still open.
A Letter to the Lonely Medical Student
I am living the dream that my five-year-old self couldn’t even fully imagine, yet some days, actually a lot of days, the dream and idea of being a doctor one day is the only thing that keeps me going. This is lonely. This is hard.
Black and White
She began to wheel me through the door and offer encouraging words of farewell when she suddenly stopped. “Wait a minute,” she said. “That’s not him.” She promptly spun me around and headed back into the building.
Who Am I?
A positive diagnosis of HIV and I’m stripped of my identity. I’m no longer a person but a case, a number to be polled or studied, tracked by a system that doesn’t always have my back – a system that speaks of double standards and hypocrisy. If called to question we will look over your rights […]
How Many People Does It Take to Get a Crazy Old Man a Glass of Water So He Can Pee?
My father just threatened another resident – “I’ll kill you!” – during dinner at his retirement community, the assistant director tells me on the phone. He must get checked tonight at the emergency room for a urinary tract infection, which can cause erratic behavior, she says.
A month after I retired from the University of Florida in 2007, two letters came in the mail from England: my birth certificate (February 23, 1942), replacing the one I’d lost somewhere on my travels, and my final pension award from Newcastle-on-Tyne. Newcastle is not only home to the British Pension Office but also the city of my father’s recent death. This full life cycle, tucked into two envelopes resting one on the other in my mailbox, sent me off on a journey of reminiscence.
A Life Struggled Well
Everybody has one. Everybody has their person. The one who was “the reason for going into it.” Who knows how many different names show up in each medical school application? Clarke Wesley Johnson. Not born to but adopted by Hans and Judy Johnson; the first boy of the family. He had darker skin than the rest of the household and a large scar from the top of his chest to his belly button.
Oh COVID-19 , why don’t you just go away!
Well, it has been since January 2020 that we have been talking about COVID-19. It was December 2019 when first cases of infection were described in China, or maybe when the first case appeared in these United States on the West Coast. The disease or the pandemic as it is called now has affected several […]
White Coats and Blue Collars
It was during this time – elementary school and high school – that I vacillated in my dreams of a chosen profession. I wanted to be either a doctor or a writer.
A Life of Faith: Sister Marietta Fecteau
No one knows how long the tattered box lay by the side of the road. Maybe a week passed before a curious traveler stopped to peel back the tape and take a peek inside.
A Seemingly Simple Smile
On a beautiful Friday morning in the spring of 2020, Mr. B awaited his first dose of pembrolizumab in the chemotherapy infusion room. By this time he wrestled with cancer for about three years and underwent several lines of treatment, yet he was so resilient that that he continued weight training at home. He said, “It was still worth a try, if this could buy me some more time with my family.”
East and West – Cultural Contrasts in Social Interacting and Physical Distancing
Before I moved to the United States from India almost two decades ago, my usual way to greet people was namaste — a Sanskrit word referring to a gesture widely used throughout the Indian subcontinent as a respectful form of greeting, acknowledging, and welcoming a relative, a guest, or stranger.
Puffy Girl Problems
Lights, bright lights, blurry lights, headlights, flashing ambulance lights, EMT flashlights, fluorescent hospital lights. That’s probably some of the only things I actually can recall about that night.
George Macready and the Art of Family Medicine Publications
I’m not a medical doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. My background is in education and journalism, and I came to work in a Family Medicine residency program long after I diagnosed myself as having a serious case of classic film passion.
The Shoes Have Eyes
Her eyes, still fixed on her Converse, began to well up with tears. One escaped and traced an uneven river down her face. She did not move to brush it away.
The Revolution in Neuroscience
…neuroscientists feel overwhelmed by the proliferation of their own literature, but also the sheer number of “breakthroughs” published adds to the inordinate weight of the competition. We should remember that most theories are actually proven wrong, and that is “business as usual” in science.
Love in the Time of Cholera
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, perhaps the most honored and well-known Latin American novelist of the modern age was born in Aracataca, Colombia, in 1927. These origins identify him in Colombia as a “Costeño,” a native of the Caribbean coastal region of the country known for its color, vibrancy, and the rhythm of its music and language, contrary to the dreary, wet, mountainous interior where the capital city of Bogota is located.