Around the corner, I heard a soft, but labored, panting.
Curious, I walked into my patient’s room to find him breathing rapidly. I took his vital signs: blood pressure was a little high, pulse ok, temperature ok. His respirations were fast, but his oxygen saturation was 100%.
Normally, when I call a doctor to report a patient’s worsening condition, I’m ahead of the game. If my patient’s short of breath, I hook them up to oxygen. If they have ‘as needed’ medications available, I give them. If he’s aspirating (choking on fluids), I raise the
head of the bed, I shove a yankauer in their mouth and suction the crap
But this time, I was empty handed. Continue reading
Spring in Boston. 2017.
Tucked into the front pocket of my scrubs, I carried a fresh, blank notebook and pen for scribbling notes and responsibilities.
“Welcome,” my coworkers greeted. “Glad to have you here.”
“Thanks, I’m happy to be here.” But hiding behind my toothy smile, my knees were shaking, like a new student on the first day of class. Continue reading
Remembering & Looking Forward. (Hong Kong, 2013)
After hearing some news today, I felt like flinging my gloves in the trash.
Not in an angry manner, but in a different way…
~ ~ ~
August 4, 2005
“I can’t find a pulse…” he said, with urgency in his voice. The nurse was scrambling around the bedside trying to get the patient to respond.
“YOU NEED TO START CPR, it doesn’t matter Continue reading
The Ruins of Rome. Summer 2014.
Strange. The door was ajar, a moment ago. I knocked, then pushed it open.
I had expected my patient to be on the phone. Instead, she sat on the exam table, her young daughter standing at her side. The little girl’s left hand wrapped the blood pressure cuff over her mom’s arm, and the other hand squeezed the inflation bulb. Startled by my interruption, she hurriedly put the cuff away.
“When you grow up, do you want to be a doctor or nurse?” I smiled, reaching for a pair of gloves.
“A nurse,” she replied. Continue reading
It’s supposed to snow tomorrow, but oh, how I have autumn written on my heart! Christmas just passed, and autumn has come and long gone, yet I never had a chance to write about it.
This year was the first time I realized that autumn has its own soundtrack. During my lunch breaks, I circled around the park, listening to the seasons change. When the wind blew, I imagined a conductor lifting his arms, inhaling with a large gesture, and signaling the orchestra to play. There was a dissonance, as the wind carried certain branches in one direction, and other branches in an opposing direction- they were flutes, clarinets, oboes, playing different notes on a minor chord. Then when the conductor cued all the leaves, collectively, to play at the same time, the rustling was like the string section of an orchestra. The violins played a somber melody. (Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks autumn sounds like violins, so did this famous French poet!) When the wind rushed quickly past my ears, I heard ringing like the hollow sounds of a vibraphone. Continue reading
In honor of Veteran’s Day, reposting an old blog post that includes a vignette of one of my patients.
For all those who have served our country.. a sincerest thank you.
~ ~ ~
April 9, 2010
He glanced out the window, then looked at me. “I’m 92. I’ve been through a lot.”
He began to story tell. “It was winter time, and I was stationed in Europe during World War II. At night, we wore all of our gear and slept in the trenches. They were these deep, buried holes in the Earth. I thought it was going to be cold, but that first night, it was rather warm. Then in the morning, I emerged from my trench, and Continue reading
Two bags of egg noodles, frozen shrimp, and a head of garlic.
At the local Asian market, my feet tapped impatiently. It was getting late, and I still needed to cook.
While the cashier rang up my items, I noticed some fliers by the register. One flier, printed in black and white, caught my eye.
I squinted to focus on a woman’s photo, printed at the top.
Those sad eyes…
where had I seen her before? Continue reading