I got a request to post my previous publications from Reflections, IUSM’s Creative Art Therapy Interest Group’s annual thematic journal, which is a collection of work by students, staff, and affiliates that is distributed at the White Coat Ceremony inaugurating each incoming first year class. My musings have been accepted to the journal the past three years, and I suppose they’re an appropriate addition here to help relay my medical school experience.
I’ll start with the most recent ones, which are free verse pieces from the 2015 issue, Reflections: Me in Medicine—Self in the Sprint. The first, entitled “Your Final Code,” recalls raw emotions during my first code situation early in third year. And the second, “Running,” compares medical education to distance running, one of my favorite hobbies. Hope you enjoy!
P.S. Some previous issues of Reflections can be found here: http://medicine.iu.edu/sig/cat/past-editions/
Your Final Code
I skirted out of your room dripping the sweat
of exertion and stress and caffeine and August heat.
It was my first real code
and your third and last.
And it was all a blur.
We tried long and hard, you know,
until you were incontinent and puffy and blue.
Because your loved ones had just arrived.
Because we didn’t know what was going on.
Because you don’t give up on a thirty-six-year-old.
I saw a few people die that summer,
but your chest was the first I compressed.
Your mother’s were the first tears I shared.
And in that moment,
from somewhere amidst the drudgery of studying,
the seemingly endless bureaucracy,
my long list of tasks,
and my doubts and fears that my career choice was more than I bargained for,
you brought me back to reality.
Back to humanity.
You brought me back to the girl who craved the privilege of serving so intimately through life and death, health and illness, solidarity and strife. The girl who once knew for certain she could never see herself in any other profession.
Your frothy blood-tinged sputum officially baptized me into my internal medicine rotation. And though your family couldn’t afford a memorial service in your honor, I promise that like they, I will never forget.
We run far
through the trails and the wards
because we love to,
‘cause we need to
(and think those may be the same).
but we don’t sprint
because a sprint implies a pace
that we just can’t sustain for long.
And a sprint suggests some finish line
that’s far too near in sight.
No, we like the journey
and the distance
(that we’re training all our lives).
Some will always say we’re crazy,
but we know it keeps us sane.
We don’t know ourselves without it
(and we know that that must change).
But this is what we do
and much of who we are.
And so we run.
Not on a straight or easy path,
instead through woods
in shifting landscapes,
where we’re not sure where we’re going
(that’s the mystery and allure).
We’re blessed our minds and bodies let us—
the tough trek so worthwhile.
As our feet strike the ground and floor,
our moves and thoughts are freely flowing,
and we’re right where we belong,
yes, we are running.