Partial Craniectomy

Two weeks into the quarantine, and the teenager’s recovering from a bout of bacterial meningitis he contracted before everything happened. He’s finally doing better. “This feels normal now,” the mother says, gesturing to the slender tubing snaking from his cranium. “I wish the rest of the world felt the same way.”

Gregory Plemmons
Faculty Member

Who remembers to call the family?

Four hours after the surgery should have ended, my mother paced anxiously. “Should I call?” Not allowed in the hospital, we received no updates during the procedure. “They’ll call if something is wrong.” “I don’t want to annoy the doctors.” Grandma was already in recovery, it turned out. No one had bothered to tell us.

Allison Neeson, BS
Student

For Months

Four Months
Watching charts, statistics, news commentators
Wondering where my place was in this strange new world of
Staying home, begging relatives to
My first day back in the hospital
Realizing the cost
In fear, in loneliness, in too-early goodbyes
But I know
With hope and courage
We are finding brightness
And brighter days ahead

Emily Marra, BA
Student

My Pandemic Baby

She didnt know she was being, born in a pandemic,
a world where there would be no faces.
Where smiles wont prevail.
Where handshakes will be scary, and hugs would be scarce.
She only knew the warmth of the womb and,
now here she was in this cold dark world.
This cold dark world.

Saba Fatima, MD
Faculty Member

Patients of Color #1

Brown like me
Amir and Sarah bounced off the walls of the clinic. I smiled and showed them my stethoscope. Their dad just lost his job and with that went his health insurance. He was grateful for this free clinic. I was grateful he trusted me. They looked just like me and my brother when we were kids.

Roshan Bransden, MS4
Student

Travel Ban

“Mom, this is not your regular 77th birthday message.

My upbringing, instilled with your trust, faith, and values;
I treasure.

We clash, but our relationship is strong and lasting;
‘vergeef me’, when I hurt you.

I need you to know how much I love you
in case something happens, and I can’t come home.”

J.M.Monica van de Ridder
Faculty Member

For The Kulture

2020 was supposed to be the year of manifestation.
A pandemic shook the table and brought endless devastation.

Tragedy took Kobe and Pop Smoke.
COVID took my stepfather and the rest of my folk.

As humans, we all matter.
But all lives can’t matter until black lives matter.

Tilicea Henry
Medical Student

Ingenuity

He was tired and wanted to go home. This was his 14th hospitalization in 3 years. He wanted his wife, his bed and his food. We could always do more. He wanted less. The pandemic made everything uncertain. No one was wearing masks yet. But Mr C did. Cancer might get him, but coronavirus wouldn’t.

R. Michelle Schmidt, MD, MPH
Faculty Member

Happiness Reset 2020

Vacation “Home” for vacation,
Working in, for, and from “home.”
Cooking added dopamine in dishes,
Cleaning is a new mindfulness.
“Zoom” is a new craving,
“Facetime” with family and friends is my free CBT,
“Old Fashioned” “New Yorker” “Netflix” are chips of micro-happiness,
Ongoing systole for hedonic treadmill
is now replaced with COVIDiastole.
“COVID” is a “Midas touch.”

Vijay Rajput
Faculty Member

The Veteran’s Wife

On worn waiting room chairs, I held her thin, papery hand- gold band secured between arthritic knots. “No, you can’t stay with him. No visitors.” Isolation, protocol, pandemic- excuses that could not excuse tearing apart the decades of tucked midnight embraces. Milky halos encompassing the blueness of her eyes. A blink, a departure, alone.

Rebecca Tuttle, MD MS
Faculty Member

One in a Million

POSITIVE.
A lightening bolt in my electronic health record.
Covid – still early, we know so little.
Masked, scrubbed, extra cautious.
Quarantine.
Temperature checks.
Symptom monitoring.
Worrying about exposed family.
Daily Health Department check-ins
The national numbers have reached one million.
Days pass, my birthday in quarantine
My daughter sends a cake.
I celebrate being okay.

Karen Szauter
Administrator

Fever

She can’t stay seated, fake lashes concealing tears.
Her husband is at home due to the pandemic restrictions.
Oh, my baby, she screams, aerosolizing her grief into the room.
The diagnosis slowly bruises her mind like leukemia into her son’s body.
He’s our youngest. He still sleeps with us.
She wishes he had COVID-19 instead.

Benjamin Drum
Resident

Flexed to Inpatient

I cut my nails to the quick that night. God forbid my body betray me or my family, virus somewhere I couldn’t scrub clean. The morning: first COVID patient, ICU transfer, her survival a blessing, her gratitude shattering. Remembering my oath, I leaned stethoscope close, listened, touched. Finally—home. Scalding shower. Called kids; dinner alone.

Sarah L. Clever, MD, MS, FACP
Faculty Member

Responsibilities

I have a child, husband, elderly parents, job.
Work with colleagues, residents, students, and COVID.
Busy days…lots of responsibilities.
No more vacations, no more school.
Now fear of infection is the reality.
Now fear of infecting my family is the reality.
Have to stay healthy, optimistic, strong.
I am a mother, wife, daughter, and doctor.

Doris Lin
Faculty Member

The Time for Family

My daughter just turned one. She likes to play pull-the-mask-off-mommy’s-face. We stayed home from March to June, took clerkships online, sat for boards, got a puppy, read a lot of Winnie-the-Pooh and Goodnight Moon. I became essential. I got what I longed for – family, and a course in courage, reflection, and how-to-be-a-Mom.

Laura Jorgenson
Medical Student

Out of One’s Mind

My grandfather calls my father for the third time. He does not remember the previous calls. He’s scared and doesn’t know why he is in the nursing home, even though this has been his home for the past year. He thinks the staff is keeping something from him. He thinks he may have the virus.

Olivia A Murray
Medical Student

ALL THE MEN

… who said she couldn’t:
Survive medical school: “you’re not a good test-taker”
Obtain a fellowship: “must have ‘connections’ ”
Direct a program: “young, inexperienced”
Run a board meeting: “you don’t know enough”
…who cheered her on:
Holding her son, husband’s hand on her back, her father’s words remembered:
“You’re a strong woman”.

Taraneh Soleymani, MD
Faculty Member

Caught Useless

Seventy-something, Italian immigrant, dementia. In the COVID pandemic, there are no activities, nothing open. He worsens. Me, a soon-to-be medical student, but the lack of an MD degree stings. I cannot help my grandfather, nor dying COVID patients. If I spent a year convincing schools I am qualified, then why do I feel so useless?

Anonymous

The wrong patient

Chart review: 82 y/o female with multiple cancer relapses and a poor prognosis.

”I married my high school love sixty years back. We travelled, raised kids and are blessed with great-grandkids. I have had a wonderful life ”

She started treatment before I was even born.

I wondered if I was with the wrong patient.

Roshan Chudal
Resident

Adapting

Our family
Moved cross-country to start medical school.
All day I learn science and humanities
So that I won’t lose my humanity
When my future patients need it most.
My wife,
Pregnant, nauseated,
Isolated from old friends by distance
And from new friends by COVID-19,
Somehow cares for our son without me.
No regrets.
Grateful.

Zachary Jensen
Medical Student

Love in the time of Corona

The wedding was canceled. A package came from my mom – two masks, one white with lace, one black with a bowtie. We asked our Medicine program director to marry us on the nearby bridge. We walked down the street, our families in our pockets, our dog replacing the bridal party. It was wonderful.

Sarah Rhoads
Resident

Misfortune Rising

Balancing on tightrope
Rural America and inner-city staring me down
Death haunting those I love
Lack of hospitals- grim reaper looming
Family casualties in the war of inequality and racism
New threat of COVID-19- misinformation rising
The first medical degree- potential savior
A long path- bringing awareness hopefully home.

Evelyn Darden
Medical Student

Moving Pieces

His days are long at sixty,
As they have always been.
His eyes closed briefly between cases
When the adrenaline fades.
His cough is better now.

My time is still consumed by
Books and flashcards and
Mock patient encounters,
But I’m coming, Dad.
I’ll be there soon.

Winston Whiting Oliver
Medical Student

Into the Unknown

She’d only let her phone ring once before she excitedly answered.
“Hi, honey! How’s work?”
“We had our first COVID patient today.”
She sat down, silently.
“It’s bad.” He paused. “Don’t…come home tonight. Just stay at your mom’s for now.”
“Until when?”
“Until it’s over.”
“But when is that?”
“…I don’t know.” He whispered.

Estelle Vu
Medical Student

The gift of touch, through PPE

Sick teen, dialysis. Went to tell her mother: ‘no changes’. She told me the loss of an infant prepared her for this child’s diagnosis, and another daughter’s. Four months ‘cancer-free’ before relapse. Grateful for ‘the talk’… “it was OK to die”. I listened, thanked her. Through PPE, I touched her shoulder: “see you tomorrow”. Tears.

Don Batisky, MD
Faculty Member

A Double Toxic Kiss

Days after both feeling sick.

“You might want to get checked.”
“Checked for what?”
“I’m at urgent care- nose swabbed and blood drawn.”
“Wait there- I’m coming.”

He arrives and gets tested.

“Where’s my kiss?”
Kisses me rather hesitantly.

Nurse comes over with my results.

“Reactive.”
“For!?”
“..M. Pneumonia.”

We patiently wait.

“…..mine says nonreactive.”

Tiffany Rebecca Sánchez
Medical Student

A Good-bye

Your wan face appears on my screen.
Disappears.
A voice I don’t know says something I can’t make out.
You re-appear.
You are small amongst white sheets and blue tubes.
Silent amongst beeps and alarms.
Still amongst calamity.
The heat of your skin after gardening on a sun-scorched day or making love-
a distant memory.

Nan Barbas
Faculty Member

When Being Safe Doesn’t Mean Being Free

Often felt helpless as a doctor. Hopeless, too. Par for the
course.
Unrestrained virus isn’t affecting me, though.
Watching friends and family on the front lines, exposed,
vulnerable.
This is devastating me.
The guilt feels quite heavy. Should I seek out ways to help?
Or do I indulge in the lack of personal risk?

Gabriel Sarah, MD
Faculty Member

Sole Soul

For my patient, I act as their loved one.
Standing vigil outside a glass door,
holding their hand in my gloved palms,
watching over them behind googles and mask.
For loved ones, I am the sole soul
standing between their family member
and the dark cloak of Death
who paces the halls watching in turn.

Sara Journeay
Resident

Stamford

We pray before dawn
Preparing our walk along the Rippowam
Protect us, protect our child, give us strength

Holding coffee and hands
We turn quietly up Broad
Protect us, protect our child, give us peace

We kiss before masking
I follow her tired eyes and growing womb
Protect her, protect our child, help us all

Ethan McGann
Medical Student

Did my grandmother send her?

Two girls were born on the same day
thousands of miles apart. They grew up speaking Spanish.
Thirty years later, CoVID and pregnancy would bring them to meet across an ICU window.
Over shared prayers and a rosary;
intubation;
delivery;
finally – a crying baby at home with his mom.
It’s our birthday this week.

Diana Robles
Fellow

Physician Parenting during the Big Germ

To our daughters,
We needed to be at the hospital – to take care of other kids – but you needed us too. Daycare closed.
What you learned during the big germ isn’t what we planned to teach you.
About Sickness,
Hugging,
Sharing,
Childhood spring and summers.
Smiles covered by masks, tears visible.
Love,
Mama and Papa

C. Paula Lewis-de los Angeles, MD, PhD (Resident) and William Lewis-de los Angeles, MD (Faculty Member)

Up ↑