On Match Day, you are assigned to a new family for the next three to seven years. This will be the city where you might buy your first home, the city where you may meet the people who will speak at your wedding. An algorithm shuffles you into your assigned place in a new family tree.
Good afternoon, ma’am. Wow, what a contagious smile you have. I hear that you are here because of a stuffy nose? They said that you tried Claritin and that did not help. You feel congested, and it’s hard to blow anything out? And no fevers, no cough, no difficulty breathing or any wheezing?
Back in that operating room, I am dutifully holding onto the basin just beyond and under the table edge. What I see is what the mother would never wish to see; being a part of her care, we accept that burden for her, and in a much different way that she ever could from her intimate connection with it. It is our service to her, to alleviate that pain, to be an open support to her health and well-being. It is an acceptable cost, but a cost all the same.
Several months ago, I was asked by an attending about my future plans. “So I can pimp you,” he said. I told him that I am pursuing further training in addiction medicine. “Isn’t that just for psychiatrists?”
Writing is the greatest self-excavation tool I have found. It was always something I enjoyed, but during my medical training it became something much more important than that.
A haiku about screening for colon cancer.
“Compassion” / A pale moon hangs above / The workroom clock reads six, but / Is it day or night?
Shrouded in a plastic blanket / Raising the temperature of your / Frail limbs and famished core
With just a few months left of residency, I’ve started to pay a lot more attention to what is going on around me. I’m realizing what a unique perspective we have as housestaff physicians. The best way for me to explain what I mean is with this story of one particularly busy shift in the ER.
Residency is hard. Anyone who tells you differently needs a stat GI consult because they’re full of it. You will be tired physically, mentally, and emotionally, regardless of what specialty you enter.
“Bunny!” my mom shouted from the foot of the steps, hurrying me out of bed the morning after my medical school graduation. She used the childhood nickname that came from my brother who was unable to pronounce “Dominic” as a toddler, a name that had stuck well into adulthood.
One of the most poignant and gut-wrenching examples I’ve witnessed of the interplay between the social determinants of health and clinical practice arises in a particular patient population: those who suffer from addiction.