As her gaze converges onto
enameled surface, she notes its
texture- the evenness a comfort to
a moment of hesitation within. Smooth and finished–flowing imprints mapping the course of fine fibers swept over timber.
She makes a move to knock,
but her hand pauses,
and for a moment she wonders
whether you will find her pleasant. Whether she will be worthy of your trust. Whether you will believe in her.
Because she is flawed.
Like veneer upon wooden door, she
is but a polished version of herself. As she again surveys its exterior, she is let in upon a different truth– that from underneath the surface the grain peeks through, coarse and jagged, its valleys exposed, blemish revealed, age betrayed. It is but fresh lacquer upon a damaged interior, eroded and
frayed by the stress of time. Like a white coat to the skin, it cloaks the imperfection
and vulnerability of that
which lies beneath.
A coat enshrouding
scars of personal defeats–
of critical introspection while
striving to exhibit confidence and certainty.
to remain objective while
craving to empathize with you.
to continue feeling through perpetual
immersion into death and suffering,
while self-preservation casts increasingly impenetrable layers of emotional shield.
And a fear
of not doing enough, while similarly
recognizing the peril of doing too much.
But as her knuckles meet the door, she is reminded of an oath–taken at the dawn of this journey– an oath of compassion, of
integrity, of humility– an oath to do no harm.
So as she enters
your room, she smiles– for she never forgot its concluding admonition:
That one would never lose the joy of helping others.
Therefore as an imperfect human being, she will do her best to ease your suffering, treat your illness, be your advocate– Not because it is her obligation, but because this is her love–
To help her fellow man.
To care for you.
• • •
“…may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”
A cardiac arrest. A resuscitation made. A life recovered. One patient tells me his experience.
This is his story.
Death. Amid the chaos enclosing, beseeched by an ambiance of ages to come, I hear the seraph’s dulcet calls. Immured by words divine and bittersweet, they sculpt the frigid air, and I am comforted. As flesh is pierced, poisons forced, I am held in tender embrace– its whispers an oasis to the fears that boil within my breast.
A skyward calling, its promised hope glistens the starlight above me. Memories, regret, longings and dreams– a cycle ripened to revolve anew cascades within my being. I then behold a fleeting sight– a son, wife, a father, my life– their love commanding,
with a strength untold I fight until with the sun
I am ushered
out of the grasp
of the ebbing eve.
Lines, tubes, wires, chains. Dignity stripped, cavities drained. The metronome of your pulse above the beeping orchestra, dissonant buzz. Each gesture tracked, beat recorded, breathing measured, life distorted. Do you still feel free?
The body, its function a masterpiece to muse, altered by poison, fluid infused. Vesicles, vessels, organs affixed, shrouded in blood, lymph intermixed. Adhered in oneness by tendon and skin, scarcely quickened by a pump grown dim. Do you still feel strong?
Risen before the dawning sun, a swarm of stoic white has come to declare the status of your issues– Liver, kidney, heart, lung, tissue. To examine and prod, inspect then move a person, a soul, or a number to improve? I hope you still feel human.
A code called. She races as the seas part
for her crossing. Reposed before her– rhythm without pulse,
fluid without flow, substance without life– is you.
as lines in your thigh penetrate a pump paralyzed, as tube between ashen lips thrusts into stagnant air.
Poison pushed into a heart
quivering, she watches as your chest rises
with the force of each counterfeit breath.
The symphony begins.
Thump Shock delivered. Strike through the breast. Voltage down your limbs. Buoyant, jerking, Each retort a life feigned by lightening.
Crunch Bones crush. The carol of ribs, a surrender to the fury
of each compression, quickens with her pounding heart. Each chord
a dissonant harmony.
Glazed are your eyes as they pulsate with the cadence of their dance. She looks at you. Pleads for you to return. Prays to the god she plays. But your eyes plead for something more.
Fluid. Limbs flooded, lungs immersed, skin engorged- you chase it off. Pill
Twilight wheezes upon three pillows. Four.
Bare are your breaths as you gasp, fight-
Stairs unconquerable, indomitable, fatigue intractable. Slowly you ascend.
Still you conquer, embrace
strength. Your heart full.
Your dilated cardiomyopathy.
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Founded in 2013 by Phoebe Chi, MD, PhoebeMD: Medicine + Poetry is a health information and literary arts website that aims to inspire, empower, and inform through a curated mix of essential health information, uplifting stories, and original poetry.