Art & Poetry in Medicine, Clinical, Emergency Medicine, Featured, Housestaff Wellness
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The following manuscript was submitted to the May 2017 Mental Health Themed Writing Contest.

Humor …
it’s what saves me
keeps me from dying inside
from going insane

is it shift work?
disrespectful patients?
patient “encounters” so brief
it’s hard to remember their name?

we joke because we’re lonely
staving off fear
trying to do it in secret
mustn’t let our patients hear!

they think it’s so serious
it’s all business
what we do in the ED
if they could walk in our shoes
just a day
maybe, then, they’d see

certainly it must always be
a balancing act
between life and death!

they don’t know after their
crushing chest pain
it’s off to the meth …

… overdoses, the drunks,
anxiety attacks,
toe pain, hair pain,
chronic aching backs,

stuffiness, fevers,
but haven’t tried a thing,
can’t afford my meds
but look at my bling

a bed to sleep in
a note for work
a patient I tried to help
just called me a jerk!

texting on your phone
while I’m trying to talk,
“I just need 12 Norcos
to be able to walk”

I think I got knocked up
can I have a pregnancy test?
a narcissistic who is obviously
better than the rest

true, some patients are thankful
but some spit when I’m near
others are too sick
to even know they’re here

Some patients are deceitful
act lovely then bite
some cry from the pain
while others fight

THIS … this is why we laugh
why we chuckle and grin
how could we not
with the line of work we’re in?

it’s not all easy work
interesting diseases
cardiac arrests

Though maybe that’s
what we pictured
when taking premed tests

please forgive us if we smile
after leaving your side
the bureaucracy of medicine
we can’t always abide

it’s not that we don’t care
or think your disease is a joke
it’s just that humor saves us all
from going up in smoke

Dustin Holland, MD, MPH Dustin Holland, MD, MPH (3 Posts)

Resident Physician Contributing Writer

Indiana University School of Medicine

Dustin is a PGY-3 emergency medicine resident at the Indiana University School of Medicine.