Art & Poetry in Medicine
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For the Love of Medicine

I spent years of my life preparing for you 
before I even knew the ways you would make my soul come alive, 
How much you would spark my curiosity and give me purpose
When you chose me, me — out of so many others longing for you, I finally felt seen
And with your attention I saw myself shining
The world through your eyes was suddenly special and bountiful
You gave me purpose, and meaning, and pride
I willingly rose to your expectations with grace and you set me above the rest
I was yours, and so I was special

You taught me to be better
You needed me to be smarter, kinder, and quicker
More dedicated, more patient, more resilient
You needed me to be more
I was blind to your selfishness, still believed you were molding me for my own benefit
Who was I to question you — the artist, the sculptor?
If the clay knew of its glazed potential, would it resist the kiln?
I craved the version of me you were creating

The awakening to the real you was almost as slow as the falling
It started with the ones who had been yours before
Some tried to warn me, but many passed by us silently knowing I needed to learn for myself
I pretended I didn’t see it, the forlorn and broken looks they carried, having survived you
Instead of doubting you, I doubted myself
The sacrifices were small at first — slicing off pieces of me for the sake of us
I saw my family less often and cancelled more plans
You asked me to put off having children fearing I wouldn’t have time for you
I say “This is what I wanted”

I begin to notice your faults
You are full of contradictions
You turn my world from black and white — successes and failures
Into a gradient of grays — rights buried inside of wrongs
More than once you leave me to cry alone in cold hallways
I mistake the new responsibilities you entrust to me as apologies, as gifts
But still I change my name, branding myself with your title: MD
My family says “This is what you wanted”

Each time the thought of leaving you vanishes just as quickly as it comes to me
The reasons to stay flood through and flush out the doubts about us
Because you made me who I am
Because I can fix you
Because without you, who am I?
Looking in the mirror I can’t separate the parts of me that were there before you
And so I stay
I think I will always choose to stay

Image credit: skylight by Dean Hochman is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Carly Schmidt, MD Carly Schmidt, MD (2 Posts)

Resident Physician Contributing Writer

Warren Alpert Medical School

Carly is a pediatrics resident in Providence, RI at Brown University's Hasbro Children's Hospital. She attended University of Michigan followed by Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. She uses writing as a way to process experiences in residency and hopes to encourage others to explore narrative medicine as a form of therapy. In her free time she enjoys hiking with her husband and rescue pup, reading true crime novels, and playing "punishingly intricate" board games.