"Suppose we did our work like the snow, quietly, quietly, leaving nothing out." -Wendell Berry Greetings from the hospital. It's a ghost town around here. The roads are empty. Shops are shuttered. Churches won't be meeting for months. Yet the medical staff parking garage is actually rather full. We trickle into the hospital, through the deafening silence. No one talks. The air is blue and crisp. Gulls from Lake Erie call to each other, uninterrupted. A ...

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Collectively across our country, as society shuts down, physicians, along with our brave co-workers in the hospital, will be going to work to combat the largest pandemic we have seen in our lifetimes. While such a crisis frightens us all, it has also served as a soul-renewing time for medicine. Over the next several months, our tribe worldwide will be risking their health and lives to serve and treat patients ...

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COVID-19 has changed the way we live our lives for at least the foreseeable future. What hasn't changed in America is the complacency of our people. Living in our self proclaimed "greatest country in the world" comes with many benefits, one of which is feeling fairly removed from the daily strife of life, especially if you're in the middle class or ...

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News trends come, and news trends go. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is a news topic that, for the time being, is here to stay. This pandemic has already revealed deeper issues within the culture of medicine here in the United States and focused young physicians on what really matters. As this pandemic progresses, a debate will undoubtedly emerge in our system as to whether or not doctors may avoid treating ...

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I'm breaking up with you. I fell in love with you when I was just a child sitting in my grandfather’s family practice office. He put that magical white coat on me, sat me at his desk, welcomed in my first patient, and I was smitten. I grew up playing medical guessing games with him and his best friend, the town surgeon. They told stories of home visits, generations of families they ...

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I am angry.

I am going to be working to care for patients to the best of my ability. But will continue to be angry.

Angry at the lack of resources we seem to have access to.

Angry at the lack of testing supplies we have.

Angry at the social isolation that I and others will feel in these coming weeks.

Angry that ...

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He was a logical man. A northeast Ohio man. Who worked all his life and worked hard. I can see it in his hands. They are entirely calloused with traces of grease impervious even to pumice soap. A family man. His wife and sons and daughters are at bedside. And proud grandson, just a man, not dry-eyed, stands in the corner, in his college jacket, the spitting image of his bedridden ...

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February is a short month. Even this year with leap day. So short. Maybe that is why I am so mad at what Company X did to me. My health insurance company stole eight hours and six minutes from me in February. I will never get it back. This is my story of trying to get Company X to pay its part of two drugs I take for seizures. Very important drugs. ...

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The need for a refreshed perspective on life and practice, a renewed sense of the concerns of our patients, and an appreciation for the subject matter: This is what so many of us need while in residency training. There are rare moments in the midst of it all when a renewing of sorts takes place, is noticed, and makes a small difference. Let me share one of those moments with ...

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As a child, when I first read The Little Prince and saw the picture of the boa constrictor swallowing an elephant, I would often ponder what it felt like to be the elephant. Later in seventh-grade science class, when I learned of amoebae and how they surround and digest neighboring life forms for their sustenance, the same wonder followed. Enlightenment to what it feels like to be subsumed came to ...

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About three months ago, something awful happened. The oncology nurse practitioner (NP) whom I trained for the past two years in my subspecialty decided to seek employment elsewhere in order to have a more flexible work schedule. My team and I lamented we had a going-away dinner to say thank you for her work. And for the next three months, I trudged through my days in a busy oncology clinic, seeing ...

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I feel like I’m in prison. Vacation was a small taste of freedom. A fresh breeze on my face at 9:00 a.m.—the feeling of my mom’s breakfast casserole in my stomach—the small things that remind me I’m still human. I don’t know what I stand for anymore. I just yelled at the intern for not feeling comfortable consenting our kidney transplant patient. “Aren’t you a physician?!” I asked. How did I get ...

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Physicians across all levels of training are familiar with the widely recognized truth that our medical system is broken. This damage is evidenced by a paradox; perhaps it will become the great paradox of our time – physicians who were driven to a profession by a desire to help others are now the same doctors who secretly hope they don’t have to help you. It is 9 p.m. on a fairly ...

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The first day I sought counseling, I felt like I was committing a crime. Our afternoon anatomy lecture had just ended, and the entirety of our first-year medical class—clad in hunter green scrubs and reciting the intrinsic muscles of the back—paraded in what looked like a single-file line to our cafeteria. "Act natural," I thought. "Don't let anyone find out what you're up to." My friends veered right to enter the cafeteria as ...

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In my very first job as a doctor — working in a London hospital in the 1980s. I always took a ridiculously detailed past medical history for every patient I saw. I started to notice how many elderly women had had septicemia, a life-threatening infection in which enormous amounts of bacteria enter the bloodstream. The neighborhood surrounding the hospital had once been the worst slum in London. And it didn't take ...

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Navy SEALs are America's elite fighting force.

They are America's most qualified soldiers who elect to undertake the most difficult selection process and training in existence. They are preselected by a number of traits, including intelligence, physical strength, incredible perseverance, and prior military service. Those who attain the title come from a variety of backgrounds, but without fail, they are exceptional. These most remarkable individuals are then ...

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"Aren't you happy for me?" asks the patient smiling from the exam chair in my office. I say yes, but that's not entirely true. Happiness isn't the right word. Conflicted might be it. How do I reconcile my feelings when this patient, who I am not sure is deserving, reports that he was awarded Social Security disability? Sure, he has severe arthritis, wildly uncontrolled diabetes, and a massive skin breakdown of his ...

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"I should explain to you, Socrates, that our friend Cratylus has been arguing about names; he says they are natural and not conventional; […] that there is a truth or correctness in them." - Plato I once heard that the sound of one’s name is the most beautiful thing in the universe, which is probably an overstatement. But one’s name is one of the first words one hears from birth, as parents ...

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The sun sets a cascade of pink and yellow in the window of an ICU room. The slow hum of ventilation dampens the buzzes and beeps from machines. I stand in a room inundated by equipment. A machine to monitor vital signs with purple, green, blue, and red on a black background displays peaking and rolling waveforms. Two IV poles with twelve pumps click and murmur sounds of fluid migration ...

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I had been diagnosed three days prior, given lithium to stabilize and a benzodiazepine to sleep. I went home. Things did not get better. I had been admitted just that morning after a long, confusing night in the ED. I did not yet understand the severity of what had happened -- or even what had happened. The mania was still mostly euphoric and speckled with bursts of joy, but between these ...

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