December 20, 2012

Surgery Rotation: 55 Word Poems


Soap and Water
The first scrub is best,
peeling open the sponge while
a high-pitched rush of water
splashes into the stainless sink.

My mind empties, meditative,
counting rapid brush strokes
under every nail, over every plane.

The bristles are soft
and harsh, simultaneously.
This is the cleanest I feel all day.


This is a Surgical Disease
“This is a surgical disease.”
They mean the condition has only one treatment:
a trip to the operating room.

What I hear instead is a disease
because of surgery
scalpels leaving trails of infection, 
wounds gangrenous and necrotic;

Maybe an abscess,
an abyss left behind with an organ removed
filled to the brim with fluid.


Butt Pus 101
Feel that? he asks.
Take this and cut
right there.

I do not say “really?!”
but take the scalpel
and incise. The blade
goes in with just enough resistance.

The surgeon squeezes hard
and bloody contents spill
out onto the field.

Five minutes and it is over,
the wound packed and dressed,
butt pus vanquished.


Surgical Asana
One hand extended
the other tucked, tight
against the solar plexus
keeping sterile.

Shoulders tense up first,
then I relax back into position.
A dull ache settles in place
and I breathe into the pose.

My wrist balances just so
on the field, barely lifting
the weight from my arm.
Mind and body unite,
retracting.


Holding
She is a leaf in a hurricane.
"Are you nervous?" I ask,
the answer obvious.

We are taking her breasts
to save her from genetics.

In the operating room,
she lies on the table,
her body quaking.
I grip her hand
and do not look away.

"We will take good care of you,"
I promise.


Panacea
The surgeon offers up 
a call and response:
What is the cure 
for cancer in a solid organ?
“Resection” is the murmur
throughout the room.

Hubris mingles with truth
into heady vapors.
How formidable a power--
how worthy of awe--
to effect a cure?

Medicine more often struggles to contain disease;
true remedies are rare.


Nativity
Morning rounds are like church,
opening doors soundlessly
and using a penlight to check incisions.

Whispered questions are reverent,
invoking pain and suffering,
meting out longer fasts and purifications.

The surgeons gather around the bed
their faces lit from below:
magi come to see a miracle,
each patient at the center of its tiny universe.



December 14, 2012

Sharpshooter

I took a pistol class, a few years ago,
and I was good: bull's-eye.
We shot at red circles on paper
and the instructor, a cop, said

Human-shaped targets are only for
law-enforcement.

My uncle wanted me to be prepared
for anything: to shoot if
someone were threatening me.
I asked about aiming for a knee,
or the arm; he said

If you shoot at someone
aim to kill.
If your life is not in danger
don't shoot.
If your life is in danger
aim for the heart
so they don't kill you instead.

He wanted me to have a gun
for my room at college.
He wanted me to be the one
who could stop a shooter.
I said no.
It was against the dorm rules.

But really,
I could not see myself pulling the trigger.

December 13, 2012

Twenty-five and counting

Twenty-four was a crazy year.  A lot has happened since last December: finishing M2 year, starting in the hospital, acting more like a "doctor" and less like a "student" (sometimes); my family has dwindled once again but other branches got a new lease on life; I feel like I'm moving toward where I'm supposed to be in life and it feels really good.

There were a couple of moments this fall when I realized that I am, despite all the scary reality of it all, becoming a doctor.  When a patient would ask me a question and I could actually explain what was going on, when I was no longer nervous going in to speak to a complete stranger, now that the OSCE tests are starting to feel more like just going to see another patient instead of play-acting--all of these moments have made me realize that I've been picking up skills and knowledge and with them, the confidence that I do know what's going on and I can do all this.  Even better, I've started to feel more settled in my own skin, as if I'm catching up to being Lindsey and am no longer worried about who she is.

Who I am:
-a woman
-a student doctor
-a feminist
-a liberal
-a public-health enthusiast
-a cook
-a crafter
-a music-maker
-a writer

I am also:
-principled
-empathetic
-listening
-caring
-dedicated
-hard-working
-hard-playing
-easy-going
-Type A-ish

Things that happened this year:
-I passed 2nd year classes, woo!
-I studied for, took & passed Step 1.
-I went to therapy and actually got a lot out of it.
-I started my hospital clerkships (and love them so far!)
-I tried internet dating.  Let's just say it makes for some excellent stories.
-My mom tried internet dating
-I moved into my first solo apartment
-I planted my own garden and ate out of it all summer (and fall!)
-My grandpa passed away
-My uncle got a new heart
-My brother turned 21 in style and I was there
-I didn't go home to KC for Thanksgiving, but I did cook a whole Thanksgiving meal for Ben and myself!
-I might have convinced my brother to go into medicine
-I found my first (2?) gray hairs.  (Thanks a lot, genetics...you too, med school!)

Things I've learned this year:
-I have a "type" and apparently it is often redheaded, but always nerdy/dorky
-Some things actually are dealbreakers.  For the record, a man should live in a place that has a kitchen and a bathroom, and minimal social skills are required.
-I'm an indifferent housekeeper, but I can put a shine on a place with an hour and some elbow grease.
-I like spending time alone
-I'm a "surgical" person, not a "medicine" person, but I'm probably not a full-throttle Surgeon.
-I'm still really, really excited about OB/GYN and can't wait to do it next April

Plans and Goals for being 25:
-I want to read 26 books (one every 2 weeks.  This seems doable!  Book list suggestions welcome, full list to follow.)
-Learn to speak Spanish better (or...at all.  Hablo un poco de espanol.  Soy estudiante de medicina...No soy doctora, soy estudiante!)
-Adopt a new habit every month (full list at later date, probably things like "eat 5 fruits/veg a day" and "exercise every day" and "make my bed every day" etc.  The goal is to turn into a real adult by the end.)
-Take Step 2 and destroy it!
-Apply to residency programs! (Must figure out where.)
-NaNoWriMo. For real.  I'm going to do it.  I'll even be on vacation in November, so it will be the perfect time to finally write the bodice-ripper I've been planning (and talking up) all these years.
-Submit a poem or an essay for publication

I'm ready for the next year.  This year was long and hard in the first half, and way better in the second half.  Next year already seems brighter.