Pandemic Yell

I’ve developed a new appreciation for my own voice – a scream so forceful it took me by surprise. I called it my “pandemic yell”. I recorded it and listened to it over and over again. It was exhilarating to hear and feel the rage inside burst its way out finally. I made it my ringtone.

Mimi Lam, DVM, CCFP, Dip.Path
Faculty Member

Thank You Corona!

You helped me realize life isn’t all about living nor death about dying.
Every death is but a reminder of what I yet need to let die within me. And I die a little when someone else dies too to in let the new life while still alive.
Your tough love made me more humane!

Sailaja Devaguptapu
Senior Research Officer

Danger in the Air

We assemble.
Respiratory therapist,
Me
Nurse
He booms,
“1!”
Hold on…
“2!”
I still need to…
“3!”
And with our might
our patient’s face suddenly emerges.
Tube disconnects
Machine air abounds
I hold my breath.
In that moment we praise mask and shield.
Before I can blink,
our airy captain re-attaches the tube.
I exhale.

Chuma Obineme
Fellow


Uncertainty

Who am I? Now and when I’m gone.
How have I lived? How will I die?
Questions burning in my mind
Ask my mom to let me go.
This is not who I’ve chosen to be
But who I was born to be
Who I’ve grown to be
Who I may die to be.

Amanda Pensiero
Faculty Member

Phone Calls Make me Angry and Tired

An ex-wife hearing of imminent death. An interpreter conveys another failed spontaneous breathing trial. Again, a son and daughter ask why he cannot receive convalescent plasma. I lay awake hearing the words of a terrified husband- “you are my doctor, thank you”. I prepare for another day’s sorrow with an open heart and empty soul.

Noah Rosenberg
Medical Student

Earth-Shattering Career Obstacles

We are sorry, you did not match to any position.

Tunnel vision, seasick, mute, colorless world.

Pick up pieces, stand tall, and persevere.

Covid-19 siphon energy, dissolve opportunity.

Covid-19 deaths, screams, financial burden, social isolation.

Covid-19 innovation, virtual togetherness, newfound unity.

Develop dedication, enhance grit, broaden resourcefulness.

I am strong. We are COVID strong.

Joseph Toth
Medical Student

“Rinse and Repeat”

Wake up, get up, login, treat
Hear their stories
Uncertainty, oppression, chaos, defeat
Fearful eyes, painful voices
Gulping reality one sip at a time like scalding coffee
Listen, support, find common ground
Fatigue rising, shields engaging, boundaries setting
Wake up, get up, login, treat

Israel M. Labao, MD, MPH
Resident

Virtual Connections

Apart but still together
These connections already exist
We were just afraid to try something different
until there is no alternative
Some say there’s no replacement for the face-to-face
Some say the connection is weak
Not real, as its name would imply
But it turns out
Sometimes, an imitation
a Virtual connection is good enough

Jiajun Li
Student

day after day after day

Up before dawn
Head strong
The weight of a heavy coat
Upon her shoulders
The weight of daily suffering
Entrenched in her heart
Peeling away layers
Exposes deeply etched scars
Left behind by this life of service
The head knows it’s true
The heart pretends it will pass
The scars tell a different story

Kimberley Williamson
Registered Nurse

Boston Hope Music

When the pandemic struck, we were stopped in our tracks. Is music still relevant? Are the arts still relevant? Then the melodies began flowing again. Music is never silenced. We played together again to bring wellness to Covid patients and to restore wellness in ourselves. A way of healing, giving back, restoring our disrupted world.

Lisa Wong
Faculty Member

My Frontline

I don’t work in the ER.
Nor in the ICU.
The traditional “COVID frontline,”
displayed on CNN,
is not my daily experience.
January was routine medication checks.
March became crisis management,
keeping stable depression and paranoia
in a depressed and paranoid pandemic.
I don’t work on traditional “frontlines,”
but
mental health frontlines hurt too.

Marissa Flaherty, MD
Faculty Member

First day of school

The box arrives after dark. Parts eagerly scattered across the floor. Fat black cushions. Gyrating legs. So many classic plastic wheels. Calling it an office chair is unimaginative. A throne? Facetious. A saddle, perhaps? Screws twisted. Joints locked. A lovingly assembled new home. I climb in and spin around, ready for the long journey ahead.

Benjamin French
Medical Student

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

Can You See It?

We give each other company, Fear and I
Sometimes in the absence of others,
Sometimes in a room so full, you cannot see your own feet

Fear can take a lifetime to wrangle away
But one moment, one instance
Leaves us vulnerable to Fear’s claws
Claws sunk so deep, you feel them with every breath.

Nikitha Pothireddy
Medical Student

Medical School in the COVID era

I wake up at 7:45. I shower while listening to two Teddy-Afro songs. I get dressed. I quickly type in the password to my computer and pull up my zoom. I yawn, sip my instant coffee, and glance over at the picture of me and my mom. I smile and turn on my camera.

Maranatha Genet
Medical Student

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

COVID19 Musings as Haiku

1.
Science non grata
Lack of trust cuts deeper now
How did we get here?

2.
Not doing enough
Colleagues suffer, I am spared
Guilt laced tears fall down

3.
Fear of the unknown
Waiting, hoping all will clear
Calm before the storm

4.
Quiet clinic rooms
Missing laughter, hugs, and smiles
New normal too still

Nicole Kucine
Faculty Member

One Step at a Time in NYC

Unwound, we were and still are unraveling. In many ways, we feel paralyzed in March forever.
There’s a fire burning in the distance. What has happened to my city? Try to stare at the screen. Distant sirens ring. Just try to focus. A three digit score can give you the world- what’s left of it.

Zoha Huda
Medical Student

Connection heals

These days you understand me more than before
We long for the loved ones who we’re not able to see
We worry for them
We look tired in the mornings, wondering all night how next day will be
But everyday your warm thoughts melt my plastic costume
So happy to see each other again

Dana Giza
Fellow

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

Med-student Do not Forget: The Strength of our Physician Formation

Butterfly= Physician
Chrysalis= Formation

It was dark inside, harsh noises outside.
Strong winds—a hurricane— stealing my breath away,
depriving the light of tomorrow.
It is my time, time to get out.
A droplet reflects my wings,
Are they broken or are they stronger?
I take a jump and soar high; I learn and fight.

Vivian V. Altiery De Jesús, MBE
Medical Student

For Once

For Once, I take a
Moment for our nature.
To see stories unspoken
Behind smiling eyes.
To finally forget
The lip’s wasted language
and other luxuries.

For once I find myself
In meditation
Observing human harmony
Within the realm of discord.

For once
I take a moment for myself
To take in the natural world.

John Newman
Medical Student

Hero

Called a “Hero”
While just doing my job…
The career I chose,
Before chaos stroke.

If I had just been that hero,
To make it all stop,
Hopelessness wouldn’t have robbed,
Who this pandemic longed for.

I was no hero after all.
I just fulfilled the vow I vowed:
To help others…

At what cost?

Rosa Lizeth Frias
Medical Student

Cry

Death, everywhere. In NY, my home, in the hospital, the world. I cry for the losses: weddings, birthdays, family, life. I cry for the people who choose to doubt instead of support. As if we chose this field not to help but to make political statements. I cry for patients: scared, confused, sick. I cry.

Danielle Cirillo
Resident

Chaos and Confusion in a Pandemic

How does it spread? How can I stay safe?
Am I infected? Was I exposed?
Will I recover?
Stay 6 feet apart. Stay 3 feet apart.
Those asymptomatic can’t spread the infection.
On second thought, yes, they can.
We wait, we experience, we try to learn, but yet, still none of us know the answers.

Rachel Fields
Medical Student

July Attending 2020

Now with mask and face shield but no patient interactions for five months,
are these newly minted third year medical students ready for clerkships? Am I ready?
Imprinting: watch me closely but not too closely. Grow and be yourselves.
I pray, let the enthusiasm for the profession persist in these young minds and hearts.

Rebecca R. Pauly, MD
Faculty Member

COVID Storm

Prospects darkened pre-pandemic.
Foggy thoughts clouded the brilliant mind.
Weathered hurricanes that came with destructive fury but did depart.
Exempted by age. Isolated for safety. Exhausted by the marathon.
Surrounded with gale-force pressures. Tasks demanded. Teams prepared.
Would a hug have squeezed out the insidious inside?
Social distance maintained. Thunderous goodbye. Yet, unheard.
COVID slain.

Anonymous

Virtually Impossible Grief

My intern and I stand with an ipad to facetime the family -too far away, with travel restrictions. The grandmother starts to keen at the sight of her boy. He is too still now, fixed and dilated, only ventilator breaths. “He cannot be that!” broken English, broken hearts, broken composure and we all weep together.

Katherine Mason
Faculty Member

Despairing Monotony

For me, the allure of an Infectious Diseases career was twofold: the somewhat guilty thrill of the differential diagnosis, paired with and mitigated by the fact that cure was typically within grasp. COVID-19 robbed me of these gratifications: diagnostic mystery and the capacity to heal. Practicing during the pandemic has been a dreadful, despairing monotony.

Emily Abdoler
Faculty Member

There Was A Day

There was a day when life felt warm; serene and calm,
Perhaps foretold of an approaching storm,
Then there is today, like a shadowy squall,
As life dissipated into a helpless yowl,
But there is always tomorrow, unseen but felt
Of hope and love, far but near,
Like a story of history and time itself.

Hamza Ali Lodhi
Fellow

Sacrifice

Spend my days taking care of sick patients.
Exposing myself.
As a result, I’m radioactive.
When I need care, I fail the screening questionnaire. Any known exposures? Yes. Lots.
My appointment delayed. Once, twice, three times.
Doctor and nurse won’t come near me. Testing delayed. Diagnosis delayed.
Caring for others, at the expense of myself.

Anonymous

Vermont Spring

A Vermont lake cabin reserved for childhood weekends suddenly became our home for three months. My fiancée and I arrived in early March, early enough to watch the spring ice melt. We cancelled our forthcoming wedding, baked sourdough bread, and warily, perhaps idyllically, welcomed a new, inexplicable world.

Andrew Catomeris
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

Shumard Oaks

Breaking through societal imposed expectations, statistics, and reignited resentment.

Proceeding through a heightened awareness of what Mr.Roth would refer to as The Human Stain.

I rebuke self-imposed limitations. My mind is durable, my will is tenacious, and my humanity will serve all the same.

Vanessa Vides
Medical Student

The Quake and the Virus

A year earlier, no one would have believed you; that Puerto Rico would live through two major earthquakes and a pandemic in the span of 5 months. Yet, here we are. The psychological and financial impact of the earthquakes was worsened by the pandemic. Nevertheless, we as medical students continue to prepare for tomorrow.

Ramon Misla David
Medical Student

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

The Transformation

A once bustling unit transformed.
All patients were moved.
Short-lived quiet set in,
Broken by the construction crew,
Adding monitors, exhaust fans to the windows.
Would this be another COVID ICU?
Overnight every bed would be occupied.
This process repeated day after day,
Spreading throughout the hospital like a virus.
Tears flowed.
Back to work.

Steven J. Sperber, 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

Like Stars

Like stars we shine and burn
Like a noble army of white coats
In eternal defense of the earth from the moon.
Armed with any number of antidotes
To save all but ourselves. For we are not immune.
Like stars we shine and burn
And burn out.

Matt Tsai
Medical Student

Fractured

They say, “It’s not a great time to enter medicine”.
They say, “This country is fractured beyond repair”.

“So America is like a skeleton”?

“Then who’s better to repair,
than those in healthcare”?

We might be scared of what’s to come.
But we will work til’ we’ve gone numb.

Lauren Pomerantz
Medical Student

Becoming a Physician During the Pandemic

I choke down coffee in the parking lot. Once the mask is on, it’s on. Under blaring E.D. lights, I quake. I am your doctor. Mask, goggles, face-shield: PPE protects patients from my fear.

Taking the Hippocratic Oath, I had imagined my future fear: Will I hurt you?

But now, also: Will you hurt me?

Hanna M. Saltzman
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

Everyday

“What’s your name?”
The dreaded question
You can’t pronounce it
I’ll have to spell it out
Repeat myself
Do I butcher the very thing that identifies me
For your ease
Or suffer through the routine
Of trying to assuage your discomfort
I love my name
I hate the way you make me feel about it

Anmol Hans
Medical Student

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