"I don't just read Pulse, I adore it." --Donald Berwick MD
In 1996, visiting a mall during an out-of-town trip, I suddenly felt dizzy while descending on the escalator. The sensation rapidly resolved, but to be on the safe side, I went to a local emergency room. My evaluation included a CT scan of my head; the results, I was told, were "normal."
Shortly after returning home I received another call. The CT results were not normal, and I should see a neurologist to have an MRI scan.
Donald is large. Very large.
At more than 600 pounds, he is a mountain of flesh with a small opening at the top through which he speaks.
"My stomach hurts," he says, his voice surprisingly high and childlike.
It is 10:00 pm in the emergency room, and I am already swamped with patients I'm trying to move through the ER before my shift is over.
Asked if he's ever felt this kind of pain before, Donald says, "No, never. At least, not like this."
Tears should be surprising.
He is, after all, well over six feet tall,
must top 250 pounds,
always quick and confident
with a joke upon his lips.
Most of his patients weigh a pound or two.
Eyes fused shut, translucent skin,
with lives of needles, tubes,
machines and probing hands.
On this week there are too many
who will never have a chance.
Chocolate, silence, and he hauls
himself up from the office couch.
"At least I can still cry," he says
and turns back up the stairs to work.
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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