Saturday, August 14, 2010

In the house of God

I just finished reading 'The House of God.' If you're in medicine, you're supposed to read it at some point, as some kind of right of passage.

To an outsider, the book must seem to present a sick uncaring world. Some things have changed in medicine, since the time the book was written (nobody uses words like 'gomer' anymore, except in reference to the book), but the experience for an intern has remained essentially the same. Coming face-to-face with mortality, and its frightening predecessor of dementia, in the context of withering fatigue and isolation, continues to rip the psyches of interns apart. The book splits the internal responses to it into different characters. The dark humour, the bizarre obsessions, the self-destruction, the intellectual separation from the moment, the suspension of reality; some mixture of these happens to everyone.

Funny enough, I had my appendix out at Beth Israel, the House of God.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Christmas in July

I'm working in a CCU across the street from a big church these days. The window was open the other day, and you could hear the carillon playing. It took me a couple of minutes to realize that they were playing Christmas music!

Perhaps under the subliminal influence of the church bells, I've found myself listening to Joni Mitchell, on repeat.

It's coming on Christmas
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
I wish I had a river
I could skate away on

The other explanation is that maybe I want to skate away from this place.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Code Blue

"See, there's a big difference between mostly dead, and all dead. Now, mostly dead: he's slightly alive." -- Miracle Max, The Princess Bride

Apparently, Max had studied ACLS.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Randomly, we came across the carousel. She bought a ticket immediately. Most of the riders were kids, but there were a few more like her. She found a horse, and got on. I found a park bench. The carousel started up, and began to spin, much faster than I expected. She put her arms out and arched her head back, like she was in a movie, riding into the wind on some southern beach. I looked at my watch; we were running late.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Even Rainbows are Poisoned with Damnation

When someone asks what there is to do,
light the candle in his hand.

Like this.

-- Rumi

I hate going to half-days. To explain: we get half a day a week off from work, to go for teaching. Don't get me wrong, I love teaching, but somehow, half-days just aren't what they're supposed to be. People spend half
of the time going for coffee, or sitting around complaining about inappropriate consults. My half-day is Friday morning, and as I sit at half-day, inside I'm burning with the need to get back to patients. Every second spent listening to complaints makes me think about how my patients are losing out because of this waste of time.

I'm unhappy to be there. Meanwhile, everyone else calls it "protected time" (a phrase I hate, obviously) that is their right by contract to take off from work.

Incredibly to me, I finally found support for my position in the writings of Rumi:

The intellectual is always showing off;
the lover is always getting lost.

The intellectual runs away, afraid of drowning;
the whole business of love is to drown in the sea.
Intellectuals plan their repose;
lovers are ashamed to rest.
-- Rumi

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Waitin' for my Odometer to Roll Straight Sevens

Screw rehab, I love my addiction
No sleep, no sleep, I am always on a mission.
-- J. Dupri

I was the only car on the 278, the only car on the Triborough, as I drove into Manhattan at 1:45 in the morning. Who knew that was possible, to be alone on the road into NYC. I found a parking spot at the entrance to the Museum of Natural Sciences, and made my way along the west side of central park to my hotel. The city was abandoned.

Meds has absorbed me into its lifestyle. One night, I'm asleep by 8:30; the next, I'm waiting for the sunrise so I can leave work and head into town. This pattern has creeped into my vacations as well.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


It's December again. Summer is long over; short days, long nights, and a reminder that we're all dying, and not that slowly. Haruki wrote:

The bloom of summer came home to me after all these years. The tidewater smell, the cry of distant steam whistles, the touch of girls' skin, the lemon scent of hair rinse, the evening breeze, fond hopes, summer dreams...
Even so, everything was ever so slightly off, as if little by little the tracing paper had slipped irretrievably from the lines of summers past.

Anyways, 10 p.m., and I'm off to work, trying to put the tracing paper back in place for one more night.