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There’s a COVID-19 patient on your list

It’s 6:55 AM. First day jitters, first day introductions.

“She likely won’t make it.” That was the gist.

Welcome to residency. That was my induction.

What am I doing? What is going on?

I don’t know where to go! Where is the workroom?

That COVID-19 patient, off my list 2 hours later — she was gone

Did I do something wrong? Is this white coat just some costume?

Alone, confused, scared, shock, lost.

Empowered, responsible, knowledgeable, trusted.

Right now, I was the former, feeling some type of crossed

I wanted to be the latter, polished and adjusted.

Medical school had prepped me for this moment

I had the MD, I had achieved what I wanted for so long

Day one brought me down to earth, prepping me for the long ascent

Residency was going to be this drawn out song.

Discordant, unharmonious, painful to the ears

That’s how great music starts out.

At first, it’s a cacophony of unsureness and fears,

Which changes into a musical masterpiece full of clout.

Day 2 was what made me realize this journey

It was a patient of mine, my very first as a doctor.

I go to the room, assert my position as a result of this MD degree.

Let me introduce myself as his doctor. My mind concurs.

What are you coming in with? What’s going on?

Reading the chart, my face turns from glee to gloom.

That river full of life, after years of living, now bygone

Lying in bed, weak, sullen, sort of a flume.

The story then begins to unfold

I begin to listen, intent on getting all the details down.

I’m the doctor, I need all this info, lest I forget something I was told

And so the patient musters up strength, resting in his generic hospital gown.

Soon enough, I’m grappled in the story

It’s hard to bear, afflicted wounds for such a young soul

I know I’m getting a history, but it’s now become a story

Infused with emotion and his mental toll.

My mind takes a seat, it’s a lot to bear

The patient keeps talking, off-loading all this burden.

And now we’re intertwined, it’s his story that I now share

30 minutes later, he says, “Thanks young doc.” I take it now we’re friends.

Day by day, I begin to learn a lot more

Visits to the room become more of an event.

That’s MY patient on the floor

His wife by his side, sitting on his bed, upright and unbent.

She speaks motivating dialogues

My patient has told her about me.

She says she doesn’t like I’ve become a hog

I stand alarmed, shocked, unsure of what she sees.

She says, you got more out of him than she could have imagined

It’s not just the cancer, the breathing problems, the pain.

I know his life story, she says out of compassion

It makes our day to see you, to pick your brain.

He begins to say, “You’re a young man just starting out

I can’t leave a bad impression

First impressions last, no doubt

I’m excited to see your exponential progression”

First day jitters, first day introductions

Second day histories, second day stories.

The life of a training physician is this great transduction

of energy garnered by gathering stories upon stories

Stories — that’s what I gather now

They’ve become quite like a collection

Some generically unique, some which are like wow

But all which have a genuine patient connection.

Stories — that’s what each patient brings

I am a physician. But I am also a listener, an observer

An appreciation is made from the little things

Medicine is the body’s preserver, stories are the soul’s preserver.

KC,MD

Internal Medicine resident at the Baylor College of Medicine. Interested in bridging the gap between healthcare inequity & innovation for the 21st century