"I don't just read Pulse, I adore it." --Donald Berwick MD
Knotted seams gather scrubbed skin
and titanium plumbs a heart--
guide wires routing an improvised pulse
and tracing an erratic existence.
In the beginning doctors said
genetic mistake, detrimental
mutation, one in 10,000
statistically speaking. God's will.
At night we wrestle with angels.
Celestial static, incandescent
blue they search our souls
and finger a laboring heart,
heavy like dense lumpy clay
waterlogged and unformed.
I stood right beside them as they slowly slid your head into a plastic bag, looped the coarse twine about your neck and tied it tightly. Like the amateurs they were, they double-knotted it to make sure nothing came loose or dripped out. Then they casually walked away, chatting about what would come next.
Within minutes the bag fogged up, and a clear red liquid pooled at the bottom.
That was just the beginning of the ritual.
I'm sure that under other circumstances you would have put up a fight, Joseph, but today you were no match for them. No matter that they were six slender twenty-somethings, and you at least six feet and 250 pounds; you were on their turf and utterly at their mercy.
You will never see my face or know my name. You probably won't give much thought to what happens to your blood after your doctor says, "I think we need to run some tests," and the phlebotomist draws it into the tubes with their colored tops. I know I never did, until I became a medical laboratory technologist.
Over the course of a normal day at the hospital lab, my coworkers and I process hundreds of patient specimens--everything from blood to bone, from sputum to spinal fluid. Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, the specimens come to us from the hospital's ER and ICU, from doctor's offices and nursing homes, from the inpatients on the floors above us and from outpatients who walk in through the hospital's doors.
a treasury of compelling stories and poems.
Includes The Resilient Heart , Babel: The Voices of a Medical Trauma and Confessions of a Seventy-Five-Year-Old Drug Addict. Foreword by Maureen Bisognano, President of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
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