"I don't just read Pulse, I adore it." --Donald Berwick MD
A Little Ray of Hope
He marked a copy of da Vinci's sketch
To map his ailments: drew an arrow from
The eye to cataracts, the feet nerve pain.
The groin said hernia, the navel at
The center of it all colostomy.
He offers up this artifact to his
New doctor: fills the outline with a tale
Of his true flesh unique in variance
From all ideal cosmographies of man.
Jo Marie Reilly
There's a full moon tonight.
"That's when crazy things happen," my superstitious mom always says.
I'm a family physician doing weekend call at my urban community hospital. My pager rings incessantly. As I answer yet another call from the emergency room downstairs, I think, Maybe Mom has a point.
"Got a suicidal patient with nowhere to go," the ER physician yells into the phone, against the background commotion. "This guy John has been here for three days. He's casted on both feet and can't walk. The insurance company's authorization nurse says she can't admit him because it's not medically indicated--but if a doctor gives her an indication, she'll authorize it. Can you do it?"
It was a Wednesday in late spring, 1972. I was a nursing student in my final months of training, eagerly awaiting graduation.
When I arrived on the maternity ward that morning, my nursing instructor told me that I'd be caring for a baby, only hours old, with special needs.
I thought she'd send me to the neonatal ICU. Instead, to my surprise, she motioned toward the linen closet, its doors closed tight.
"The baby was born without a complete brain," she said. "A condition called anencephaly. He can't see or hear. And," she added, "they don't expect he'll live out the day. So try not to get attached."
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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