Saturday, July 29, 2006

Formerly on

I used to have a regular stint on, but after eight months of random readers writing harsh, unprovoked comments and some writers' block on my part, I pulled the plug and set out on my own. So here I am. I can write about medicine or not. I can write in verse or not. The choices are endless! I continue to be a resident in Internal Medicine, but I am finally done with internship. I don't recommend two internships to anyone. And I wonder daily why I'm so tired and whether or not it's my thyroid. [It's not.]

I will be sure to post some poetry, even some plays, in the future, but for now, let's start with a short story. A vignette, if you will.


I went to Catholic mass and heard my pastor preach about sin. He had his right hand in the air, I presume, pointing to God, and a large hardcover Bible cradled in the crook of his left arm. He looked quite holy and kind of scary, but strong. This is my pastor, I thought to myself. My pastor, whom I have seen naked twice.

He was in the military before he became a priest. I took care of him when he came in for chest pain at the local Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center. His voice sounded calm and deep, a quality in it deserving of reverence. I didn’t know whether to call him Father or Sir or Mr. He was half-dressed in a hospital gown and reading a novel by the window. He was a tall, thin man who thought he had a heart attack.

I perused his medical records. I asked him if he was taking his anti-retroviral medications daily. He said, Yes. My viral load has always been undetectable and my CD4 count above 350.

I nodded, penned his answers in my notes. I would schedule him for a stress test. His cardiac enzymes were negative, normal. He likely did not have a heart attack, but we wanted to be sure. I never asked him the one question everyone wanted to ask him but could and did not have a medically relevant reason to do so: How did you contract HIV?

Instead, I asked, How many sexual partners have you had in the last year?

I asked, Do you use protection? Every time?

I asked every question around the actual question. Perhaps I myself did not want to know. When I saw him again, months later, in church, he seemed to look through me. I don’t think he knew who I was. When I receive the holy host from his fingers each Sunday, I avert my eyes, and I have a feeling he knows who I am, but he chooses not to know.


MedStudentGod said...


I am glad that you have decided to post again - at least on another format. SDN has taken steps in eliminating those kinds of absurd attacks and it was purported to be the work of one or two people.

But anyway, really good post. I have thought about this for a while - how one deals with knowing people's diseases and having an attachment to them outside of medicine. The awkward scenarious that undoubtedly play out when meeting. This was intriguing reading. Keep 'em coming.

Pentultimate said...

OH! I am so glad you are writing again!!!! I'm always checking the diaries and hoping you put something up. I am so sorry you had to read comments and all. I can't imagine what they were complaining about because I thought and still do, think you're a very talented writer! Welcome back! =)