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A Poem

Posted By Natercia Rodrigues, Monday, December 02, 2013

This is the first in a new blog series by early career professionals and trainees. Check back each month for a new post by up and coming professionals!

Smiling, he told me he didn’t know
That his heart had stopped in the ICU

I probably didn’t need to mention it
But here he is, with newly diagnosed end-stage everything
And he’s still smiling.

Wow, he breathed.
I know, I said. Crazy.

A year later, his teeth still shone
He wore three pairs of pants to keep his skinny legs warm in the Rochester winter

I saw him sporadically
He had his calendar filled with doctors for each organ

One evening, when I was on call for our practice a page came through with his name
Seven hours of vomiting with no fever.
He never gets a fever, I remembered.

He said he had a ride to the ED and that he’d go now.

The next day, with no ED visit recorded, our nurse called to check in on him. There was no answer.
The next day, the coroner’s office called.

I called all of his specialists. I told my close colleagues.
It was therapy, repeating the story and its abrupt ending

I sought no reassurance, just shared shock

On my last phone call, my eyes rested on the new green surrounding the trees outside the window.
A Scarlet Tanager, bright red and sparrow-shaped, jumped from branch to branch.
Fearless, open to predators, and not caring to blend into upstate gray
It stayed in my view for 30 seconds.
I relayed its movements, like a sportscaster to the gracious ear
It kept jumping, brilliant wings aflutter until it flew west
The branch bounced and I grew quiet 

Wow, I breathed.
I know, She said, Crazy


I'm a 3rd year resident at the University of Rochester Family Medicine program where my patients' stories become a part of my life.  I like writing, taking photographs in Iceland and buying produce at the public market.

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amanda dustin says...
Posted Sunday, December 29, 2013
Enjoyed your thoughts. They all stay with us. Some more present then others.
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