Housestaff Wellness
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A Patient’s Relative

One of my good friends was in critical condition in the intensive care unit for weeks due to the coronavirus. I had become her point of contact. I, a physician, had for the first time become a patient’s “relative” in this pandemic. And with that, I thought I would share an excerpt from my diary.

My Dear Friend,

It is 4:30 in the morning — 4 a.m. happens to be the time in which I have been texting you every night since you were first intubated and I have been working nights. Texting you about your current clinical status, updating you on how things have been rapidly evolving around us, sharing how devastated I have been over your ailment, asking you to stay strong and to continue fighting and explaining how I have upheld the promises I made to you when you were taking your last waking breaths. I missed you. More than anything, I needed you … I needed you to survive … You had made this pandemic personal, and I wanted nothing more than for you to wake up and to breathe comfortably on your own. We were lucky; I was lucky, because you did.

I had a random urge to text you at 4 a.m. this morning. I text you to thank you for being alive. I text you on this night just like I had every other … except that for the first time in weeks, a little message appeared under my text as “Read” and three dots appeared as I awaited your text. For the first time, you had responded.

Within minutes you went back to being your typical, ridiculous self (yes, ridiculous). I couldn’t help but laugh at what you considered serious, as I cherished and adored your every word irrespective of what now seemed to be irrelevant and unimportant content. Because at the end of the day, none of these things mattered. At the end of the day, what mattered was that you were responding, that you had come back to me and that you had made it alive.


A Patient’s Relative, MD, MA

Montreh Tavakkoli, MD, MA Montreh Tavakkoli, MD, MA (3 Posts)

Resident Physician Contributing Writer

New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

Montreh Tavakkoli is a resident in internal medicine at New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell. She obtained her master's degree in Biotechnology from Columbia University and her medical degree from UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. Her background is in cancer research, having contributed to the development of a leukemic stem cell directed therapy in acute myeloid leukemia as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Fellow at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She is starting her fellowship in hematology/oncology at the University of Pennsylvania in July.