Robin Berenholz ~
In my very first job as a doctor, working in a London hospital in the 1980s, I always took a ridiculously detailed past medical history for every patient I saw. I started to notice how many elderly women had had septicemia, a life-threatening infection in which enormous amounts of bacteria enter the bloodstream.
The neighborhood surrounding the hospital had once been the worst slum in London, and it didn't take me long to guess that these infections were probably caused by illegal self-induced abortions during the hungry years of the Depression.
When I asked--slowly, carefully, subtly--I was told some intensely personal and secret stories.
Elaine Huang ~
The first thing I notice are the dark circles under Mr. Jones's eyes.
It's 4:30 pm on a Wednesday during my third year of medical school. I'm in the fifth week of my family-medicine rotation, and we're deep into our daily routine: triage, history, physical examination, differential diagnosis, present the case to the attending physician, repeat.
Mr. Jones is a new patient. His face and belly are round, his arms and legs lanky. His unkempt facial hair and calloused hands reflect a life of physical labor that has worn him down. According to his chart, he's just started an office job. Slumped apathetically in a chair in the corner, he seems apprehensive and hesitant to talk to me. Understandably so: I'm a stranger with the word "student" attached to my name.
"I can’t remember how long it's been since I've seen a primary-care doctor," he begins.
Paula Mahon ~
If you had told me thirty years ago,
when I took call on endless sleepless nights
on incandescent AIDS wards full of fear
on which I tried to do the healing work
of drawing blood and packing leaking wounds
and viewing films of microbes gone berserk
in lungs and brains of patients wasted frail
to postpone certain death from HIV,
if you had told me then that I would see
a family with an AIDS tale just as bad---
today, two parents with disease but well,
their uncontaminated child, alive--
my doubt would equal that of Didymus
who disbelieved the Resurrection tale.
Like he who needed proof with sight and touch,
I'd need this scene to change my mind as much.