“As a professional woman who most identifies as a physician more than any other title, I know that I run the risk of losing myself to this disease. I am not ignorant to the risk. I understand that my identity is supposed to be separate from my achievements and that my babies …Read more…
This has been a very difficult year. COVID-19 has rampaged the country, worked hospitals to their breaking point, torn families apart, and kept families apart. The grief seems never-ending. At the beginning of 2020, we watched in horror at the destruction in Wuhan, China, and Italy. We could not fathom what was happening over there,
Everyone loved Mrs. Maria. She was everyone’s mom, grandma, teacher. Maria grew up in poverty. Though her family was poor, she knew her parents and siblings loved her and loved each other. But the one thing she knew her passion was at was school. Every morning she couldn’t wait to go to school and learn
When the pediatrician woke me at midnight to get a blood test from my three-month-old son, I knew things were serious. I should have known this already. Four weeks prior, my four-year-old daughter passed along a respiratory virus to my husband, me, and her brother. Her brother’s low oxygen level and inability to keep down milk
I fear that I’m not doing the right thing. You’re trusting me with your life. I hear you telling me that you don’t want me to do what I am about to do. I see it in your eyes, the resentment as you look toward your family. And hatred for me, your physician. You trust
The thing I think would surprise people the most is my relationship with death. I’m a critical care anesthesiologist. It’s an exciting, rewarding field – I tell my medical students and residents that it blends expertise in the human body with mastery over crisis. I started my career imagining every day in the ICU as
Medicine is an art. One can learn about symptoms, diagnostics, and treatment plans for various diseases, from textbooks and journal articles. It is harder to study empathy, compassion, and human connection from conventional academic resources. The art of medicine is discovered, acquired, and absorbed on the job by interacting and connecting with patients and their
“Being a neonatologist and a mother is living with the knowledge that the question ‘What would you do?’ could so easily become real, not hypothetical. And so what would I do? I don’t know, heartbroken mama. Because I feel too much, but I don’t feel enough. Because I know too well, but …Read more…
“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” – George Orwell The “difficult” family At 2 a.m., on my first night shift as a pediatric resident, a patient, Casey, transferred from another hospital. She had a rare, progressive chronic illness, was medically complex, and was currently receiving treatment for an acute systemic infection.
It was a cold winter morning in January 2021. Another day in the ICU, another day caring for critically ill patients with complex medical conditions, another day caring for patients on their death beds, another day interacting with patients’ families and their emotions, another day of putting on a strong face for my patients, their
General Douglas McArthur said: “However horrible the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and give his life for his country, is the noblest development of mankind.” The soldier is trained to kill, and they learn to kill well, they have endured great physical and psychologic trauma and horror
I was an assistant nurse manager (ANM) in a 24 bed ICU in my younger, energetic years. Before that, I was a manager in a very small emergency department. I must say, I loved it. I loved the thrill and the challenge. I was able to work with the Joint Commission; I ordered EKG monitors
Drip. Drip. Drip. It’s 8:00 p.m. I’m staring at the IV tubing. We forgot to stop the fluids. I’m standing in the resuscitation room alongside the naked, broken body of a teenage male. Unable to break my gaze on that dripping IV line, thinking, We’re going to flood him. But it doesn’t really matter. Somewhere
“Early in the pandemic, in thinking of and discussing possible solutions to help protect health care workers, two of my former colleagues and I recalled a device called the Surgical Smoke Evacuator (SSE), which we used extensively since the 1990s when we worked together at the University of Pittsburgh to collect and …Read more…
“I write this as a caregiver, patient educator, and clinical researcher. The coronavirus pandemic has shone a spotlight on intensive care units (ICUs). Due to the rapid and continued increase in critical illness from COVID-19 infection, discussions about capacity and specialized equipment have become commonplace. Terms such as ventilators, ECMO, PPE, emergency use …Read more…
After 33 years as an ICU RN, I had finally decided I couldn’t do this anymore. It was my last nightshift. The last shift convinced me I had made the right decision. The CNA and I went door to door to turn each ICU patient that was not capable of turning themselves. ICU-06: Mrs. Thelma
I enter the hospital to work again. I must work as I have three small children and a husband presently out of work because of COVID. He is “non-essential.” A violinist is playing at the employee entrance. I know they do this to lift our spirits. But it’s a slow, sad string that reminds me
I am a critical care and emergency medicine physician, I have had COVID-19 infection twice, and I’m tired. My first infection was early on in the pandemic. I had to place a Blakemore tube in a young man who was going to die from his massive bleeding from cirrhosis. I didn’t know then that the
As I’ve written before, I have to confess I’ve never been a huge fan of pathways and protocols. They often struck me as rigid and insensitive to the nuances of differences between patients. There are also times when they are just absurd when physicians, especially mid-level providers, implement them when analysis of the clinical situation
I have a video visit in the pulmonary clinic with one of my favorite patients. I ask her how she’s doing and wave to her husband sitting in the background of the living room where she is set up. Deborah says, “We’re good. We’re healthy. We are staying home. We miss our grandchildren and have
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