The little things? The little moments? They aren't little ... I noticed the two of them shortly after I arrived for my shift. I was standing at the counter, immersed in a chart, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw them walk out of their treatment room. Together. Slowly, they walked into the hallway, looking first to their left and then to their right, wondering which way to go. One of ...

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The patient arrived in cardiac arrest. He had been brought to our emergency department in the middle of the night. Although he had a significant cardiac history, including bypass surgery, he was only in his late 40s. His transport from his house to our department had been less than 10 minutes, and the pre-hospital team had done an excellent job of intubating this patient and establishing an IV to begin ...

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I walked into Room 30 to find two eager sets of eyes awaiting me. One set belonged to a young man, late-20s, muscular and imposing, sitting in a chair in the corner of the room. His eyes were hazel brown, big and inviting, relieved at seeing my entry into their sheltered world. The other set of eyes, darker brown and magnified by her gold-stemmed glasses, belonged to my patient, a ...

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This breath is a gift ... This moment is a gift ... This life is a gift ... As with every other person, I am struggling to comprehend the staggering effects that COVID-19 has had on our society in such a short time. Gone are the carefree smiles, the uncomplicated daily lives, and the thought that we and our families are immune to unexpected death. Instead, we are witnessing a collapse in society ...

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One of the largest problems in our ER, it seems, is that there is a subset of patients who visit us on a routine basis. Commonly known as "the regulars," these familiar faces are sprinkled throughout our day between all our other patient visits. Whether it be for chronic pain, for chronic illness, for companionship, simply to have a place to hang out for a few hours, or to get ...

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"The death of a child is the single most traumatic event in medicine. To lose a child is to lose a piece of yourself." I walked into work yesterday morning, and it only took seconds to appreciate the immense sorrow and sadness that permeated the air. My beautiful work family was despondent and deflated. Shoulders were slumped, feet were shuffling, faces wore defeat. Something terrible had occurred during the night shift. Damn ...

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Several years ago, my daughter Emma introduced me to some videos on YouTube of a dermatologist from California who posted her sometimes shocking but always intriguing encounters with patients who suffered from a variety of dermatologic issues. Of all of these videos, it seemed like the ones which made Emma happiest to watch were the videos in which this doctor's treatment resulted in gallons of pus draining from some part ...

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"Sometimes sh*t just happens." Just a few days ago, I finished yet another string of four hectic shifts in the ER of our incredibly busy trauma center. After saying my goodbyes to my coworkers and transferring the care of my remaining patients to my partner, I left the building through our ambulance doors, avoiding the main pedestrian entranceway where the hectic waiting room sat. It was a safe choice to leave this ...

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Senator Walsh ... thank you. Because of your flagrant words against some of the hardest-working members of our medical community, we have united to stand against you and rally for our "card-playing" nurses. Like most of my medical family, I was astounded and frustrated at the belittling ignorance of Senator Walsh's recent comments about the amazing nurses throughout our great country. Senator Walsh's comments were felt not only by our hard-working nurses, ...

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Can someone please tell me the exact moment when fleece pajama bottoms became the fashion sensibility of America? I can't pinpoint the moment exactly, but several years ago I began to notice that many of our ER patients were presenting for treatment wearing nice fluffy fleece bottoms. Men. Women. Old. Young. These fleece bottoms seemed to be enjoyed by a variety of the population. Most of these earlier bottoms for the ...

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I dedicate this to each of you who have cared for or are currently caring for an ill parent or family member.  Recently, due to the stress that several of my dearest friends have been experiencing in caring for their elderly parents, I am even more appreciative and respectful of my privilege in caring for elderly patients who have attentive and loving adult children who accompany them to our ER. Although this ...

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Although I pride myself on catching the obscure snapshots of typical life moments that occur daily while dealing with patients and their families in the emergency department, occasionally there are times when I am so focused on the task at hand that I completely fail to see a glaring moment of obvious humor, sadness, or tenderness. At times like this, then, I am glad to have our hard-working nurses and ...

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I walked into room 30 to find two eager sets of eyes awaiting me. One set belonged to a young man, late-twenties, muscular and imposing, sitting in a chair in the corner of the room. His eyes were hazel brown, big and inviting, relieved at seeing my entry into their sheltered world. The other set of eyes, darker brown and magnified by her gold-stemmed glasses, belonged to my patient, a ...

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Despite the furious pace of the emergency department, he sat within his private bubble of calm on a hallway cot situated just outside the entrance of room 31. He sat upright, facing the opposite direction from which I approached, with the thinning brown hair of his broad occiput splayed across the upper edge of his pillow. From this approach, I paused for several seconds to appreciate this serene, surreal view ...

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Her wary eyes, magnified from her thick-lensed spectacles, watched my every move as I pulled room 21's curtain to the side and entered her room. In her early eighties, it was apparent to me that my entrance into her life was more important than the abdominal pain that brought her to our emergency department. In the corner sat a slight man with wispy gray hair poking out from the border ...

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He was an ornery kind of fellow, evident by his scowl and beady, glaring eyes that greeted me upon my entrance into his room. The nurse, thankfully, had given me a heads-up on this eighty-five year-old gentleman's demeanor. With her kind warning, I felt prepared to be tested by this patient's demanding and abrupt nature. What I wasn't ready for, though, was this man's physical appearance. He was extremely small in ...

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I smelled the patient, unfortunately, even before walking into his room to introduce myself. From the hallway, his odor of lingering stale smoke flared my nostrils, instigating childhood recollections of the wood-burning furnace at my grandmother's home. From a distance, the scent of smoke was just that -- charred-burnt air, its weight clinging to my nostrils. As I approached the patient, however, the scent of smoke smoldered my wishful memories ...

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Although I rarely get sick with the numerous strains of “bugs” that seem to go around our community this time of year, the week prior to my return to work for my next scheduled string of four shifts was spent mainly in bed, coughing and aching and whining about how miserable I felt. Fully recovered, though, I was excited to return to the emergency department to do my fair share ...

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Sometimes as human beings, despite all the layers we consciously build upon the shell of our souls to shelter us, define us, and project an image to others of what we hope we are, our basic inherent quality of goodness emerges on its own free will. A kind word, a gentle touch, a hint of a smile, an understanding patience--these are all things that escape uncontrollably in moments where our ...

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Faith.  A simple word with complicated meaning.  It is a seed buried deep within our spiritual cores, ready to be nourished and blossom with the sprinklings of tragedy.  It is a belief that things will work out, despite our lack of vision for fate's secretive reasons of the bumpy journey we must endure.  It is an inherent hope that has either sustained us or has failed us miserably.  Yes, to ...

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