Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Poetry from nurses and doctors -- Part I

I'm taking a blogging break for several days and leave you with some poems written by doctors and nurses here that were presented at one of our Schwartz Center Rounds several weeks ago. They appear with the permission of the authors, and I will present others in the future. (Apologies to the poets if I made formatting errors.)

With all the talk on this blog and elsewhere about the business aspects of running a hospital, these poems and poets provide a fine reminder of the intensely personal aspects of health care. I hope you appreciate them and the sentiments presented.


By Warner V. Slack, MD

Next to Children’s Hospital, in a hurry
Down the stairs, two at a time
Slowed down by a family, moving slowly
Blocking the stairway, I’m in a hurry
I stop, annoyed, I’m in a hurry
Seeing me, they move to the side
A woman says softly, “sorry” in Spanish
I look down in passing, there’s a little boy
Unsteady in gait, holding onto an arm
Head shaved, stitches in scalp
Patch over eye, thin and pale
He catches my eye and gives me a smile
My walk is slower for the rest of the day


Silent Burial
By Janet Greene, RN

Loving in secret takes its toll.
Afraid to discover my twisted soul
which loves things without beauty,
I close the door hoping to find shelter.
Feeling the chill from the wind of people’s voices,
I wrap my sweater to me,
And tuck my hands carefully in the cuffs.
Quietly I cherish someone others loathed to touch.
Her mind grew like a crooked branch,
And her laugh had a silly shrill.
Restless eyes betrayed her childish spirit
That earned no wisdom over time.
Distance keeps my secret even in death.
May the earth
Gently bury my untidy companion,
And let me mourn in peace.

In Memory of Bertha Ann, 1984


By Anupama Gangavati, MD

Inside the nursing home
In a small corner
There…I saw her
Eyes dark and dried of tears
Wrinkled face
Reflecting fatigue
Her gray hair in a total mess
Like the evening of her life.

“I lost my best friend…of eighty years”
She said
“I hope my time will come soon”
Overwhelmed, I got confused
Didn’t know how to react
I even lost my own smile
And now,
In my solitude,
The silence of the night
Seems to be telling me something
That I hate to believe
Perhaps a sheer reality

And now,
Those dark eyes haunt me
As I close my eyes
And ask myself
“Does old age bring miseries?”

And now,
The silence of the night
Leaves me wondering
And just wondering….


The Baby Killer
Susan Lane, RN, MSN, MBA

Pain… searing
Belly… throbbing
There is no baby.
There will be no baby.


Finding meaning while on call in early daily light savings time…..
By Booker T. Bush, MD

I remember teaching some of you
How to be on call
‘Not an architect, but a fireman be’.
Round early
Before the family
Who will
Express their need and wanting
Their time usually after noon
You must grant, but can avoid
Rounding early

And the white cloud
Granted’on Friday an easy evening
With no calls,
So much so that you tested your beeper,
And Saturday evening and night,
By an act of a cowardly congress,
Made you arise early, to meet
A woman
Admitted with delirium
Perhaps due to too much medication for pain
Who said
While tearing at her hair,
(there is a witness, an intern enthralled)
I am in pain and you withhold it from me,
isn’t there an imbetween place with the medications…?
Something between pain and confusion
And we stood barriered,
For she had this before done.
But while tearing at her hair
(straightened though
Black but now returned to not)
said I have my lung cancer,
And my breast disfigured
But one of my daughters, has just been told
She also, has a breast that must be removed,
And another, who has been told,
That both breasts must
Be removed
And another who also must
Sacrifice her uterus…
And perhaps her breasts also
Finding meaning…

I raised them
As best I could
I gave them
My all, and now there is this
Only tears
And pain,
And no imbetween
Daughters with
No breasts,
No uterus
And you withhold
My pain medication

And we can only listen
And listen
And she becomes more calm
And she apologizes
And she becomes calm
And we listen.
And she begins to heal
And because of the white cloud, and
Because of the easy evening,
And because of a cowardly congress.

I go to church to sing
And I have time to think,
Before seeing more patients.
This is what we do,
We listen, we take the time
And the Corelli.

So I won’t write of the call
About the cats, biting toes
That 2 Percoset
Every 4 hours
Can’t heal
It is the time,
Un imbursed that the architect, nor the Fireman
Wishes to offer.

Thank God,
For the time
For the Corelli


By Nagma KC, RN

With an inspiration to heal
Eyes open up without much sleep
Rushing, off I go towards my journey
Heart full of love and care
hands full of devine touch
less load, alas! no
much work there is,
and so is hope

I try my best to heal
Lessen the sorrow and erase
the inner soul with pain
Easy work it ain't,
Emotionally drenching it is,
My heart is filled with pain
Seeing the moans, and the groans
helplessness and shrill cries
Oh Lord! I whisper
Please Help Him/ Help Her
Dear God, I say
take away their sorrow,
Oh Please! take away their pain

Doctors are called, medicines are given
Eyes become teary and my heart heavy
Why is there so much pain, I ask
Everyday, every hour, every second
Hazy my view becomes
I quit! I say
A hand on my shoulder
A smiling face, it's my colleague
It's the Nurse
It's okay she says,
You can do it

With a new vision, off I go
Helping again, the sick
8 hours are gone, now is the time
Mercy Lord, I survived I say
And, I healed and spread love
Tired, sad, happy
I leave for home
Will be back tomorrow, I say
Will do a better job, I dream
Help us all, I pray
Dear God! Dear Lord
take away all sorrow and pain!


NYC EMS said...

stopped me in my blogging tracks.

Anonymous said...

Please don't go!

Anonymous said...

I wish someone could explain why it was necessary to create a new organization with the mission of training "caregivers" to care about their patients and show some human compassion. Its a sad commentary on the professions of medicine and nursing. Ken did not create the center because he thought the system was working.

T. said...

Thank you so much for sharing clinicians' more "human" side...

ENCOUNTER ON THE STAIRS is profound and masterful.

Anonymous said...

Thought Provoking Poems by People We Presume to be De-sensitized.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing these poems Paul. Perfect for labor day weekend-

Anonymous said...

Emotions...great poem...

Anonymous said...

Emotions Poem

It's well written...and so true about nursing. Amazing. I must say that t'm a nurse too and I got goose bumps reading it. Some of my days are like the poet describes in her poem.

Barbiegirl said...

Thank you for acknowledging endometriosis and how horrible the disease really is. xox

manjiT said...

applauds .. applauds!!

bestamommy said...

I love your poems, as a mom and a RN. This a.m. I was once again reminded of the need for care and compassion in the healthcar field. A rather arrogant doc. "treating" my daughter reminded me. I made a pinky promise to myself to treat others with compassion each day no matter insurance status or any of the often unstated reasons for mistreatment.

Thanks for your recognition of the need to do that!

Kim ;0)

Sarah said...

Hi there,
Looking for poems written by doctors about death/dying. Know of any?