"Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability" ~ William Osler

untitled thoughts. 240105 - a poem and the inspiration to pursue medicine

untitled thoughts. 240105

and maybe one day, i will know
what it's like to be on the other side of
why the nurses looked at me
with quiet pity in silence.
why they seemed to have the word
"sorry," on the tips of their tongues
when my father yelled in the cafeteria.
and i wonder if he remembers how
they looked at him with fury
when he made a fuss,
sitting on the floor because no one left space
for us to sit together.

and maybe i will know
the feeling of not finding any words
to express what i feel for my patients.
that their families know they are alive;
they are physically healthy;
they can breathe and run and eat unassisted;
but how do you say,
"im sorry for your loss,"
when someone is living and breathing in front of you?

how do you tell the people
that they will never again see this person
act in the way they once knew?

what do you tell a 15 year old,
standing awkwardly with a tray,
who watches and follows as his father
sits on the dirty floor
of an involuntary psychiatric institution
because there were no seats left
to eat lunch together?

what do you say
after watching a family shift around awkwardly
waiting for their dad to be brought out,
on his favorite holiday of the year,
on a religious holiday that
they have to get special letters for,
and he is brought out with two strong guards
on each side of him
and every door requires a nurse to scan him through
just to sit with him for 15 minutes?

how do you fill the silence
after he hands the children each $100
that their mother handed him in an envelope
in front of them
and he is then taken back
behind all the doors and all the scans through
and all they are left with is
$100 in their hands
and ringing words of anger
because he started remembering his delusions?

these words will lay heavy
in your mouth and heart and mind
because there is no language alive
that could express
the anguish
the pity
the sorrow
the regret
the remorse
the unfairness
of losing someone who is still alive and in front of you.


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