Tag Archives: Thoughts

First Code: Part 2

My resident says to call her after I finish my work. It’s early evening, and I’ve just returned from a teaching session, which was relatively uneventful except for a code blue announcement that made us pause our discussion on antibiotics. Two sets of closed doors had muted the words so I didn’t catch the exact location, but it hadn’t been in a place close enough for us to respond to.  We had finished talking about penicillins and moved on to fluoroquinolones.

I click the mouse to sign my note, adding it to the plethora of documentation in the electronic medical record.  As a medical student, my information bytes don’t count towards anything, but I go through the motions to help me prepare for when they will. I pick up my phone and I punch in the five-digit extension to my resident.

“Before you leave, stop by the computer room at the emergency department. I need to talk with you,” she says.

A brief flash of anxiety. Does that mean I messed up on something?

Take two flights of stairs down, make a quick turn, press my badge to the reader and wait for the beige emergency department doors to ponderously swing open.  Two turns down two more halls, right and right again. I slip into the computer room where we often type up our notes and slide onto a stool next to my resident, slightly breathless.

She swivels her chair to face me. “I have some bad news,” she says gently, her eyes meeting mine. “You know the code blue called this afternoon—”

Somehow, I know what she’s going to say, and everything instantly goes still inside me.

“It was for Ms. ——. She died.”

Silence inside me, the eye of a hurricane.

You died?

You were not supposed to die.

You were supposed to get better in the ICU and come back to our team and I was going to take care of you and you were going to get physical therapy and get stronger and go home and you






This wasn’t part of my plan.

You were alive yesterday.

“She might still be at her room… you could go see her if it would help you find closure,” my resident says.

I know I need that closure—I need to see you one more time. You were my patient for nine days. You were my responsibility. You still are my patient.

I’m biting my lip the whole way down the hall.

I’m not going to cry in the middle of the hospital.

I show up at the wrong ICU on the wrong floor and have to stop to look up your room number on the computer.  Backtracking down a floor, I try again.  This time I get it right.

As I approach your room, counting off the numbers on the walls, I see the curtain is drawn. The room looks deserted; no legs or shoes are visible beneath the fabric hem.

The early evening sunlight spills though the window and the curtain is a glowing sheet of sea-foam green. I peek around it before entering to see if you are still there. Your familiar gray hair spills onto the pillow as I catch sight of you.

I still clean my hands with the slippery foam sanitizer as I step into the quiet ICU room.  Habit, I suppose.

It is so still.

No beeping monitors, no waveform peaking and falling with the rhythm of your heart and the pace of your breaths. For the briefest moment, I entertain the thought that maybe you still are alive. Maybe they made a mistake, and you are just sleeping.

I’ve wakened you so many times over the past week, stirred you from sleep to check your heart and lungs and to see if you’re still having nausea. Maybe I can wake you again. You look so quiet, your eyes closed tight, lashes interlaced. You could be asleep.

But as I pause, I realize there is no breath in you.

That’s when I break down, standing alone beside your bed in the same white coat I’ve worn since I met you. I touch your forehead—your skin is smooth over your skull and not quite cold—and brush away your strands of hair.

I am still crying beside you when the nurses arrive to begin preparing your body, removing the stiff plastic tube protruding from between your lips, pulling off the array of cords and bandages we connected to you in our attempt to stave off the inevitability of death.

One of the nurses gives me a hug and hands me a couple of paper towels.

“She was my patient,” I say by way of explanation. “I’ve only been on wards for six weeks,” I add, trying to excuse myself.

I’m a novice still. I have not seen death like this before.


Perhaps with time, I will stop crying so much when this happens, when time runs out and red bleeds to blue.  Perhaps I will grow to accept that the air we inhale at birth is only on loan and must one day be returned to the sky.

But you were my first.


Intention: Humanity

I’ve heard that at the beginning of a yoga session, people may set an intention to guide that period of time and help it translate into life as a whole.  While I haven’t formally done yoga before, I really like the idea of setting intentions.

In past years, I’ve picked a word or phrase to help guide the year in lieu of writing out a list of January resolutions (which I never seem to look at again anyways).  This year, I set an intention to be curious about life and each new experience it brings.  I was in the tentative first few weeks of a new relationship as 2016 rolled in, and my goal of embracing curiosity helped me to keep my heart open to the day-by-day unfolding of what has now become a beautiful part of my life.


I’m finding that sometimes life can knock the wind out of you, and other times it can give you wings to fly.  The relationship that started with curiosity has been an incredibly wonderful instance of the latter.

Time has been moving quickly, and now I’m exactly 30 days away from starting my first clinical rotation.  The idea of setting an intention is coming up again, this time because I’ve spent a portion of the past two days thinking about what it means to be a compassionate medical caregiver.  I’ve also been spending a good deal of time pondering how on earth I’m going to manage being a clinical student.  I’m 26 now, and I can see that I’ve grown a lot (especially in the past year), but I’m still trying to figure out who I am.  So perhaps part of this is a cry from my soul to reaffirm who I am, to reconnect with the reasons I am in medicine.


I’ve decided I want to set an official intention for my clinical years.  I already have one (hopefully) realistic goal for clinics: walk into my rotation on Day 1 with my head up, get along well with my team, learn from the mistakes I make, connect with the patients I’m assigned to follow, and walk out the door at the end of the day with my head still up.

As the lyrics go, chin up buttercup.

I also want to have a broader intention for my full 16 months of clerkships.  I think I’m starting to sort that out as I try to chart the courses of the rivers draining into the cognitive and emotional depths of who I am.  What are the reasons at the core of why I want to be a physician?  Why am I doing this?  What is going to get me out of bed every day for the next several decades?

It reminds me of when I was in the throes of applying to medical school several years ago, asking the same question–why medicine?–as I agonized over my AMCAS application form and the ensuing secondary essay questions. I actually went back to some of those essays today, blowing dust from the computer files.  It was like opening a time capsule and reliving the tense anticipation of applying to medical school: waiting for a secondary application invitation…waiting for an interview…waiting on pins-and-needles for an acceptance.


Are my reasons still the same as they were when I was a 22-year old student fresh out of undergrad?  I believe they are, at their core, although they’ve evolved and grown with the passage of time.

Sitting down with my journal, I parsed out four reasons why I am in medicine:

  1. When I’m able to bring a moment of compassionate connection into a hospital room or patient interaction, I feel like my soul has been nourished (and hope the feeling is mutual with the person I’ve connected with).
  2. I enjoy being able to share information; it’s gratifying and gives me the sense that I’m contributing something to other’s lives.
  3. Medicine is full of stories if I stop to pay attention and listen to them.  I want to learn people’s stories and give them the space to share them, if they want to.  This ties in to reason #1.
  4. Learning engages my mind and makes me feel incredibly happy and alive.  The medical field is one of lifelong learning.  This leads to reason #2.

Ultimately, I found that everything can be reduced to the following: (1) I find compassionate connection with other humans to be deeply satisfying and meaningful and (2) I enjoy the personal growth and sense of contribution to society that comes from learning new information, thinking critically, and teaching others.

So these are the bare-bones reasons of why I am in medicine.  Medicine is an environment where compassion and information-sharing can be practiced on a daily basis, and it positions me at a time point in peoples’ lives where this is especially needed.  I personally found, when undergoing a minor (but painful) medical procedure recently, the only two things I cared about were whether I trusted my provider (i.e. whether I felt he cared about and respected me as a person) and whether he was competent (i.e. could do everything efficiency and effectively).  I know everyone has unique priorities when interacting with the medical team, but I feel that trust and competency would likely show up as common themes.  And those are words I’d like to be able to be applied to me.

I actually feel a bit vulnerable sharing all this on my blog, because it gets down to why I’m doing what I’m doing.  And of course, there’s always the question, is it enough?  Are my reasons good enough?  And am I?  I have to believe that I am, and that I can do this.  I may not become the absolute best at what I do, but I will try my absolute best.

So my intention for the next year and a half?  To be compassionate, to pay attention to people’s stories, to accept that I’ll make mistakes, and to do what I can to learn from them.

In a word?



Just One Step

Attempting a new endeavor sometimes leaves me feeling like I’m standing in my hiking boots at the base of a slope, debating whether there are enough handholds to scramble up without falling and breaking my leg.  Or my neck.  Whether it’s writing papers, doing research, or starting a new phase of medical school, it’s often daunting to summon the internal energy needed to begin.

I’m beginning to realize, however, that my ability to gauge the energy required to take a particular action is not always so accurate.  I enjoy meeting goals, and I have some long-term ones in place as guiding stars for my life journey.  It’s like picking a distant mountain peak and saying, I am going to trek from here to there.  Doing so may keep me from getting completely off-course, but if I think that I need to have enough energy to make the 100-mile hike in a single shot, I’m not likely to ever get out the door.


In reality, I would only need to have enough energy to make it to my first campsite.  I wouldn’t presume to have enough stamina to make it to the end without pausing, and if I felt beaten at the thought of doing so I wouldn’t blame myself.  But I certainly do that with less tangible journeys.  If need to start something and feel overwhelmed at the thought of carrying it to completion, I can respond to myself in any number of ways and they usually aren’t positive.  It’s something I’m trying to become more aware of, and perhaps this post is, in its own way, a part of sorting this out.

Being more realistic certainly would help.  If I realize that I only need enough internal power to get started–to create the ignition spark–it will help keep me keep the big picture in mind without feeling daunted by its implications.  One strategy I’ve used is committing to a first step that is so small, it would be ridiculous not to do it.  Need to write an email I’ve been putting off because it feels like too much to do?  Just log into my computer and open my inbox, and that is all.  No expectations beyond than that–if I get into my inbox, I’ve accomplished my goal.

By beginning with something small like that, I’m able to overcome the inertia of starting because I narrow my focus to what I need for the step right in front of me.  I’m no longer trying to bully myself into walking for miles; I’m just lifting one foot off the ground. I’m surprised each time I do this by how well it works–usually I end up getting far more accomplished than I had planned.

So far, I’ve applied this strategy mostly for writing-related things like papers or emails.  We all face more in life than emails, however.  I have a few landmark peaks in the distance, and the highest one would be realizing my dream to become a physician-writer.  That’s what I’m aiming for: to be someone who cares for the body without forgetting that it contains the human spirit.  It will be a lifelong journey, one that will hopefully include matching into residency, graduating from medical school, finishing my post-graduate training and finding my place in the world as an attending physician.  Right now, I’m just trying to figure out how I’m going to make it through clinics.  It feels overwhelming to think about right now, but I’m going to try taking the one–step approach to starting my rotations this April.

Review how to take a medical history.  One step.

Find one video to practice the eye movements in the neurological exam.  One step.

Watch the video.  One step.

Sign up to volunteer again at one of Stanford’s free clinics.  One step.

They’re little steps, and they don’t seem like much, but they’ll keep me from postponing everything until I feel ready.  Because, honestly, I’ll never feel completely ready.

And one day near the end of April, I’ll take a deep breath and remember to keep my head up.  And I’ll take one step that will carry my over the threshold into my clinical years.



I think I’ve found a new favorite refuge, sitting here on a cold cement balustrade in the damp January twilight.  It is the only thing left from Meyer Library, which Stanford demolished last year in a project that morphed the seismically unsound structure into a verdant circle of greenery and flagstones.  Normally I walk right past the out-of-place block of concrete, but tonight I paused for a while as dusk faded to deep blue. Settling down in the driest area I could find, I watched as illuminated windows turned to gold and became the spines of books lined neatly on shelves, bursting with a thousand imagined worlds.


Above me, branches fringed with silver-green needles held back the ghosts of dissipating clouds. Lamps along the path floated like spheres, their posts fading into the dusk until the lights seemed suspended from the sky — the lures of stars fishing for dreams.  I watched the ebb and flow of people around me: a lady in high heels and a glittering dress, a toddler trailing behind his family, countless bicycles and their riders.  It was like being a drop of water, watching the ocean.

My brain has been a hundred whirring gears, ready to overheat with too many questions about life and not enough answers.  I had decided to go outside partly because I needed to mail a letter, and partly because the paced rhythm of walking has a calming effect on me.  Now, settled beneath the trees, I found it remarkably soothing to simply sit and focus on the illuminated geometry of rectangles and spheres before me.  A line from one of Coldplay’s songs echoed over the clamoring of my mind:

Lights will guide you home

I let my scattered fragments of attention converge on the rails leading down to the paved circle where Meyer Library once stood.  They were lit from below, and the gleaming lines looked like spiderwebs beaded with dew.  Lights guiding the way.

It felt amazing to just sit and notice the metaphors and similes around me.  It was like I used to do all the time as a kid, before college and adult life carried me away from my imaginary worlds.  Stopping to notice things with an open mind is so simple and yet so difficult — like trying to catch sunlight.  Conceptually, catching a sunbeam should be easy: to grasp something, you simply put your hand where it is and close your fingers snugly around it.  The execution is nearly impossible: no matter how many times I clench my fist in the light, I cannot hold it.

It is only when I place my hand into the light with an open palm, that finally, it rests there.

All right, right now


I love the idea of time and space being a fabric with folds and multiple dimensions.  It intrigues me like a song sung in a language I cannot understand: mysterious and perplexing, even, but also deeply beautiful.  If time and space are woven together, I wonder, what if I were able to loop back in time like a backstitch formed by needle and thread?

What if I were actually a time traveller?

My mom told me about a thought experiment she tried recently, where she imagined that she was a few decades older and had been granted a wish to go back in time to the present day.  What would it be like, she wondered, to live this moment–this afternoon in January 2016–with the perspective of her older self?  The poignancy of her description struck a chord deep inside me, and it came to mind again today while I was driving through Palo Alto beneath a brooding sky.

I realize that I spent a lot of time last year wishing for the future.  It’s because my vision of my future self often feels more comfortable than the skin I’m currently in…the future me is confident and experienced, someone who has navigated her clinical rotations, finished residency interviews, graduated from medical school, and survived her intern year.  She is taller (which is completely unrealistic, since the growth plates in my bones fused long ago), wiser, and stronger.  At least, that is what I hope.

While it is important to have goals and a vision for the future, I’m beginning to understand at a deeper level that they should not obliterate my ability to experience and enjoy the present moment.  It does me little good to dream if doing so makes me sleep away the life I have right now.  I want to wake up.  Even if my present life feels overwhelming and intimidating at times, I want to stay open to however it unfolds.  This is something I’ve been focusing on more recently, and I’m gradually seeing that many of the things I’m afraid of are shadows cast by my own mind.

The mind is powerful, capable of either intimidating or inspiring me with a simple flip of perspective.  So as I was driving today, I wondered what would happen if I were actually 70 years old and no longer able to practice medicine because my body couldn’t keep up with my soul any longer.  Perhaps I’d have silver hair cropped close to my head and tendrils of blue veins winding beneath rice-paper skin.  Maybe I’d be sitting in a chair by a window with dust motes catching the light.  Or maybe I’d not even have lived that long.  But if I did live to that age and were granted a wish to return to this week in January, what would I think?  What would I do?

I don’t think I’d be wishing for the days to pass quickly.  I don’t think I’d be as afraid of failing, either, because I’d know that my mistakes had helped me learn and grow into the person I had become.  I would probably be wildly, vividly grateful to be here, in this very moment, a Stanford med student and a daughter and sister and friend.  To be nearly 26 years old and very much alive.

It’s hard to keep this perspective; honestly, it’s easier for me to worry and wish for an imaginary future where things are easier.  But I know that sort of a future is simply a mirage, and that life is always going to be challenging.  It is for everyone.  And I’m starting to be much more okay with that.  I am part of humanity in all its joy and agony, and I may not love everything about that but I do love being human.

This year, I’m going to try to stop more frequently and realize that I am all right, right here, right now. 🙂



I survived boards!

To sum it up as concisely as possible, preparing for my Step 1 exam was like diving into the ocean, and I ended up going for a longer swim than I anticipated.  Long story short, I took boards in September instead of during the summer, which is partly why I’ve been away from blogging for so long.


I also wasn’t sure where to start writing again.  Which is why this post if being written in December, long past the reasonable timeframe for using my I’M-STUDYING-FOR-BOARDS-AND-CAN’T-WRITE excusplanation (my latest neologism: a cross between an excuse and an explanation.  I coined it specifically for this post). 🙂


Since I’ve taken time off for research before starting my clinical rotations, I had the flexibility to extend my study period, and that’s what I ultimately did.  For some reason, saying I took additional time almost feels like a confession.  I suppose part of me feels a little guilty for having the opportunity to study longer (other med students may not have schedules that are so accommodating), and part of me wonders if I should’ve felt ready sooner.  However, a friend passed on some advice from his sister (a medical resident) that helped to ease my decision: take the time you need, and take the exam when you feel ready.  It’s okay not to rush it.

I think it’s unlikely that any student ever feels completely ready for boards, but at least it’s possible to feel that we’ve done everything we can with the time and resources each of us have.  For me, this was the right choice even if it did mean doing a lot of swimming and diving (figuratively speaking, of course, since my real-life water skills fall into the category of barely-good-enough-to-not-drown).

I finally came up for air after my full day at the Prometric testing center, only to realize that life was waiting for me above water like a clamoring flock of seagulls.  To be honest, part of me wanted to just go back into the water and turn into a mermaid.  Over the last several years, the life of studying (for college, the MCAT, med school, and finally Step 1) has become a familiar ebb and flow around me, and it’s comfortable in its own odd way.

Well, I guess it’s time to get pushed out of that comfort zone.  I’m done with my preclinical years, and there will be no more quarters to define the pace of my life, or daily lectures and midterms, or labs where curiously-shaped cells make faces at me through the microscope lens.

Now I’m gearing up for my clinical years.  I still have a few months to prepare myself, but it’s daunting for me to think about functioning as part of the medical team.  I’ve had opportunities to participate with patients throughout the first two years of medical school, but it was always briefly, as if our interaction were a haiku of three lines instead of an essay of three hundred.  I’ll still have supervision and guidance, but my responsibilities and expectations will be greater, including the expectations I place upon myself.

One thing I’ve been thinking about is how to connect with people on a personal level, because that is important to me.  Sometimes medicine can feel very mechanized, and with the pressures of being a clinical student, I can see myself losing sight of the more ephemeral aspects–the very things that make this pursuit worthwhile.  I’m worried that in trying to navigate wards and find my way around, I’ll lose some of myself.

And maybe I will for a little while, as I try to orient to the life of a clinical student with its early hours (on some rotations) or intense schedules (on others).  But I also have faith that I’ll be able to find myself again if I do.  Beneath my white coat (which still feels like a costume when I wear it), I’m an artist and a writer.  That, I think, will help me find my way home to what I care about: the story, the healing art of listening, the release of telling, the feeling of having been seen and understood.  That’s my hope, at least.


I was surprised by a rain shower today as I left a meeting at the hospital.  I found some leaves with pearlescent water droplets reflecting the diffuse light, and the constellation of spheres made me think of a universe in miniature.  Maybe this is what souls look like, with droplets of memory and experience coalescing to reflect the light and shadow of who we are inside?

My imagination is getting the best of me.

But I like to think that if each droplet were a little world of its own, and if I were as small as an ant, I’d be able to see and appreciate each one.  And when we meet people, that’s really what we do, isn’t it?

Each of us has our oceans, and each of us is a universe of our own.


Remind me why I chose this way
Where I am going,
The meaning of knowing

Remind me who I really am
All that defines me,
The pen that outlines me

Remind me what colors fill this life
The red of blood,
The white of light

Remind me why I walk this path
A serpent bound
Upon the staff

– The Stethoscopist

Pancreatic Passion

On Monday, we had our renal system exam.  After two-and-a-half weeks, we’ve finished our journey through the kidneys and their combined 2.5 million nephrons, as well as the ureters, bladder, urethra and prostate (where applicable).  It was a fast-paced and fascinating journey, although I’ve barely caught my breath and we’re already on to studying the GI system.

Today we learned about the pancreas, which I’ve found to be more interesting than any other organ I’ve studied so far.  Including the brain.  IMG_0361 - Version 2Some people may argue that the brain is much more fascinating than the pancreas, but I really like the pancreas.  (Please excuse my bias if you happen to be a passionate lover of the brain.  It really is amazing also.)  I guess I just never pondered how I have the ability to digest myself, and I think it’s amazing that I don’t.  I mean, it sounds rather like science fiction, doesn’t it?  The power of self-digestion.  It’s the closest thing I have at this point to a super-power, except it’s one that wouldn’t save the world. :/

Let’s talk a little about the pancreas and why I’m digesting my dinner and not myself right now (unless I were to get acute pancreatitis at some point.  Which I rather hope I don’t.).  The pancreas produces several different digestive enzymes to break down protein, fat, and nucleic acids.  This arsenal is essential for digesting the nutrients in the steak salad I ate this evening, but it’s also perfectly capable of breaking down my own cells.  However, these enzymes are actually stored as inactive precursors, so they aren’t able to do any damage in the pancreas.  It’s only once they’re released into the intestine that they can be activated, and by that point it’s safe to do so.

The activation cascade itself is quite beautiful.  In the intestine, there is an enzyme that activates trypsinogen (an inactive precursor) into trypsin (a protein-digesting enzyme).  Trypsin then cleaves all the other inactive enzyme precursors into their active forms, and suddenly your intestine has all the digestive enzymes it needs.

On top of all this, there are mechanisms inside the pancreas to stop this cascade from taking place just in case it’s accidentally triggered too early.  There’s another protein hanging around that inhibits any trypsin that might have been aberrantly activated.  And there are to more enzyme precursors that, if activated in the pancreas by trypsin, will actually turn around and break it down!

I’ve tried to make this easier to read by omitting most of the specific enzyme names, as words like “mesotrypsinogen” and “phospholipase A2” are a bit of a mouthful (but still much easier to say than “focal segmental glomerulosclerosis,” one of the diseases we learned about in renal block!).  If you’re interested in learning about it in much more detail, though, there’s information here!

How is it possibly 1:30 AM?  I guess I’d better go study about the pancreas a little more before going to bed…goodnight!

P.S. What do you think of the title of this post?  It sounds like a fruit juice blend… 🙂

A sleepy pancreas

Grounding Moments

Late in the morning, I sat on a stone step near the Clark Center and planted my palm into the freshly-cut grass beside me.  The sunlight danced through the leaves of the slender tree to my right, scattering confetti of light across the vivid green patch of lawn.  I could almost feel the coming autumn in the air.  Since September has begun, some mornings carry a slight crispness that make me think of misty dawns, fire-colored leaves, pumpkins and home-baked joy.

I probably didn’t draw much attention sitting there with my hand in the grass, surrounded by the glass curvature of the Clark’s windowed walls.  On the outside, I was a student breathing in the sunlit air.  On the inside, though, I was struggling against a vague loneliness that had unexpectedly caught me in the middle of my day.  I think it had something to do with not sleeping quite enough this week, if my drowsiness earlier that morning was any indication.  After class, I wandered down the walkway and settled down on the step, feeling the beauty of the golden leaves against the clear blue sky even as I grappled to understand my own emotions.

photo 1

And I determinedly pressed my hand to the ground.

photo 2

Last week, a wonderful friend from my class shared with me what another classmate and friend had told her about experiencing the moment–about feeling the earth beneath your hand and the sunlight on your face, and realizing in that moment you are there, alive.  So here I was, my eyes closed and my face to the wind as I tried to regroup myself for the afternoon.

That’s why I was sitting there with my hand in the grass.  And I was reminded of the simple yet intricate beauty of a few willowy branches waving in the wind, painting the sky.

I was reminded just how good it is to be alive. 🙂

A Photo Essay in Textures

IMG_0721  IMG_0722

I was heading back from med school today when I paused to snap some photos at Memorial Church.  It was a bright afternoon, and the alcoves were boldly patterned with shadow and dashes of afternoon sunlight.  


On an impulse, I switched the filter on my iPhone to the tonal setting and peered around, catching the interplay of light and dark.

 I have long loved the concept of chiaroscuro, the dance of light and shadow in photography and other forms of art.  More often, though, I focus on the palette of colors around me–the different shades of green in the sunlit leaves, the heaven-sent blue of the sky, or even the dull black of the asphalt beneath my shoes.




In the absence of color, however, my eyes were instinctively drawn to the patterns and textures around me.  Rough stone, shadow-ink, arches of light.


Even an anonymous bicyclist passing by me became a whirling dance of shapes and shadows.



Later this evening, after watching an instructional video on placing IVs, I paused to examine the snaking paths of my own veins.  We’ll be practicing on each other, and I’ve never had an IV before.  It looks like it’ll be more complicated than drawing blood, and I’m mainly nervous about having one of my valves get in the way of the thin plastic catheter we’ll be threading into my vein.


Yes, I’m a little nervous.  But this is an essential part of my training and a skill that will enable me to help others.


Maybe my stethoscope will be a bit like my camera filter…it provides a new lens, teaching me to see with my ears, to notice things I might miss otherwise.  Reminding me to pause and listen, which is a good thing to do any day, regardless of whether or not I’m in the hospital or classroom or clinic.  

It’s easy to let life and others slip by.  It’s like how my heart is always beating; blood is always pulsing through my veins, but I rarely stop to think about it and appreciate this rushing gift of life.  It’s only when I see my blood flashing into the hub of a needle that I really remember it’s there, or when I have to palpate for a vein, or bandage my finger after a mishap in the kitchen.  But it’s always there, just like everything around us.

I can hear the pulse of this life in the footsteps around me as I cross the med school sidewalks, or in the rhythm of voices lost in dialogue.  And with a clock to my ear, I can almost hear the heartbeat of time.

Campus bell tower – September 2014