Art & Poetry in Medicine, Clinical, Family Medicine, Intern Year
Leave a comment

9/31, Code Status: Full

I’m supposed to be able to explain this.
The details to paint a picture.
But it’s too much, and I don’t want to relive it,
Don’t want to discuss the darkness,
The fingers not just trembling, not just shaking, fully oscillating centimeters,
Unable to scroll on a phone to find the family names she needs to call.

You can’t hug someone well with a stethoscope on.
The bell of it impales the other person’s chest or collarbone.
I rubbed her hair once when I hugged her,
When she chose to let him go.
How softly her knees gave when she saw him, just enough for her to catch herself,
With her oldest son providing just enough cushion.
The first wail, No,
The second, Tell Them To Close His Mouth
The son tells her, after he sees the doctors trying,
They can’t close his mouth.
i did not know this man
i don’t know if he was supposed to die

how softly her knees gave.
We walked them slowly to the room where he died.
We are used to a steady stride, distance an inconvenience thrust on us
By an inconsiderate, three-dimensional world.
I tried not to show that I had slowed my pace for them.
Let this long march.
Wife clutching son, another daughter on her arm.
This is the first time she has been so unsteady on her feet.
Her daughter slows, lets her mother see first.
How softly her knees gave.

We had prepped him.
Removed tubes and IVs, wiped away blood,
Covered the lifelines screwed into his bones,
Tucking the ports away from sight,
The soft blanket neatly swaddling his legs and feet.
Oh, God, He’s Cold.

Kate Bock, MD Kate Bock, MD (1 Posts)

Resident Physician Contributing Writer

Adventist Hinsdale Hospital

Kate Bock is a family medicine intern in Hinsdale, Illinois. A native of a little town of a thousand people out in the cornfields of Illinois, she graduated from Northwestern with a creative writing degree and completed medical school at University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. On the rare occasion that she has an empty Sunday night, she can be found performing her poetry at The Green Mill. Her fiction can be found at