Pagers in the Night

Pagers in the night

Buzzing and beeping

Alarms sound through the night

Instead of sleeping

Our nervous system jolts

Like lighting bolts all night

Every so often nurses call me

Relaying vital signs and pain

Each one a stone thrown

Sending ripples through my brain

Countless as pages through the night

I know I’ll be alright, if I live to see the sunrise

Get through another night

Like I’ve done and I will do again

Sleep was just a glance away, a brief and fleeting chance away

Pulled away by pagers in the night

Glam Glam Life

Up all night like electric light

I live that glam glam life

Listening to rhythm of beating hearts

Ordering a shots when the sky is dark

I’m on call, solving 99 problems 

Shout out to my night shift team

Working til the break of dawn

All night long

I’ve got a call room with a hospital bed

My patients on my mind, overflowin my head

I keep it tight like a tourniquet

Saving lives like I was born for this

In scrubs I still look glamorous

Pagers blowing up on my hips

I’m on demand like your favorite flicks

Nurses asking me can you handle this

Under my mask I blow them a kiss

I prescribe drugs for all manner of bugs

I’ll give you one puff, I’ll give you two

When you feel short of breath, I’m there for you

When your blood pressure is high,

and when it gets low,

I’ll be there for you sure as your pulse ox glows

Some people watch medical drama on TV

While I be living it glamorously

I used to party like a rockstar

Now I practice as a doctor

Workaholic

I went into medicine partly due to heartbreak

The exhaustive training of medical school and residency was a welcome albeit ineffective distraction from my sorrow and loneliness
24-hour shifts are a convenient justification for not keeping in touch with loved ones
Even though the real excuse is my social anxiety and sense of inadequacy
Living within hospital walls, I suspect that I am not the only physician who became a medical doctor to try to forget unrequited love, to escape the world of human relationships
My older colleagues work far more than they need to to make ends meet, far more than any reasonable person would work in a week
Who needs friends or feelings when you have patients and science?
Our skin grows pale under fluorescent lights
Our vision becomes shortsighted as the screens stare unblinkingly
Our hearts forget how to feel carefree
Our muscles atrophy as our brains hypertrophy
Our minds become boxed in with facts, our mental filing cabinets overflow
I am a recovering workaholic working alongside workaholics who do not appear to be in recovery
Perhaps they suspect the same of me
Heads down in the trenches, none of us can know another’s heart
We can only know our own heart, if we listen
We carefully administer medications, surgeries and therapies
We measure progress in numerical metrics of lab values, calculated scores and vital signs
We arrive early and stay late
We work day and night without a break
We always have too much on our plates
We deprive ourselves of sleep, fresh air and food
We know why we have irritable moods
Practicing medicine is an unhealthy, imbalanced lifestyle and we know it
We can only ever heal ourselves
I’m ready to show it
I am finally healing my broken heart
I found that I had to begin at the start
Childhood wounds tangle and bloom
Trauma begets trauma until we change our thoughts, words and actions
Breaking old patterns even as we hold traction
I am love itself, I am the source of what I sought
My cup overflows, it was not all for naught

Watchu Know

Watchu know about germs?

Watchu know about warfare? (nothing)
Watchu know about heading into battle
Feeling like slaughter-bound cattle
Whatchu know about washing hands
Whatchu know about yes we can
My mind sees a sparkling vibrant land
My heart holds a silent marching band
Whatchu know about foam-in, foam-out?
Whatchu know about keeping tiny terrors out?
Whatchu know about watching your mouth
Whatchu know about pushing through doubt
Whatchu know about alcoholic hand gel?
Whatchu know about alcoholics from hell?
Whatchu know about face shields and masks
Whatchu know about drowning in endless tasks
Whatchu know about blue plastic gowns?
I wear a surgical cap for a crown
Whatchu know about double-gloving?
Coming home from work too stressed to make lovin’
I am a public servant
With grace and strength I shed PPE smooth as a serpent
Slow and steady, I move when I’m ready
I never was one to throw things away
But I’ve learned you’ve got to know what to let go of
So that what you love can stay

HPV

She told me that I have HPV

Human papilloma virus: the ghost of ex-partners past came back to haunt me
I want to line up my exes: the awkward horn-bag teens, the sex clients who shortchanged and stole from me, the abusive drunks, dramatic douchebags, one-night-too-long one night stands, and interrogate them whodunnit.
I will never know, of course
I may have gotten HPV from dreadful fingering, though it was probably from unprotected intercourse
Intercourse most likely undesired, as most of the sex I’ve had was unwanted by me
It could have been worse, at least it was only HPV which I contracted after riding bareback on so many dozens of dicks- I don’t know now many men have slept with me, but any one of them could have easily given me HIV, somehow I was spared
God, you were there
Kids, don’t try this at home
I tell my cervix to hang in there, I will make it up to you, treat you right
My ex-boyfriends aimed and fired at my cervix: the bullseye of my reproductive tract
Whether I got HPV long ago or from my most recent mistake, it is in me now and I may lose a piece of me in a LEEP if I don’t overcome this virus
My LEEP will be a leap of faith that I will regrow intact and complete, heal myself and still have the power to create and give my baby a better life than mine
That is the goal in all I do, even the abortions I’ve endured were to make a better future for my children than the hell I’ve lived through
So listen little virus, I am a strong, powerful giant and I will destroy you
I’ve survived too much to be taken down by the likes of you- senseless double-strand of DNA who has consumed too many of my sisters, lost to the sands of time
You won’t take me, the war is on and it got personal
There is no way I’m going to let one of those awful men leave a lasting lesion on my body
I am the supreme iron dragon goddess warrior, and my healing potential is infinite
My abilities to love and forgive and understand are among my many strengths
Watch out, virus, watch out
Instead of spreading you to someone new, I will melt you with my amazing body, take you down with my brilliant immune system
You will no longer struggle to survive, you will unite with the Spirit which flows through all things, and you will flow right out of me in peace

 

In Case I Die Early

In case I die early

From the virus which I will be in close contact with for the foreseeable future
Rest assured that I lived a full life
I was intermittently enlightened, and there is no higher bliss than that
It took nearly my whole life, but I finally found love
I enjoyed exquisite physical pleasures and the connection of sacred partnership
My mind was often filled with colorful visions and my heart overflowed with music
I wrote wild poetry which I shared only with you, and a great many other things too
If you want to remember my life, take a deep breath and know that you are loved by the universe, that you are love itself
If you want to see me, look up at the sky and trees
If you want to hear my voice, listen to the river and the birds singing
If you want to feel me, place your hand over your heart, and know that we are not far apart
If I don’t die early, I’ll keep creating my visions to promote vibrant healing
But in case I die soon, I wanted you to know that I go peacefully, though I long to see my family and turn my dreams into reality to share them with you
Take care of yourselves, and each other
Take care of Mother Earth
You are supported by spirit with every breath

Die How You Want

It’s our body, we can die how we want

It’s our death, we can go how we want

It’s our code status, we choose what we want

DNR, DNI

Or full code if we want

It’s your body you can die how you want to

It’s your death, you can go how you want to

It’s your code, let us know what you’d want

Before your heart drops the beat

Or your lungs cease to breathe

Wires, tubes, saline flushes everywhere

Hands on your chest cuz we do care

We came to resuscitate you now

And intubate you now

We’ll call your healthcare proxy

Cuz we’ve got that moxy

Hope you told ‘em what you’d want

When your heart stops pumpin’

When your body’s at the end of its rope

Our default is to run a code

We’ll do our very best now

Slap electrodes on your chest now

So la da di da da

We’ll do what you want

Shove a tube down your throat

Drill right into your bone

This is your death

This is your code

And we’ll shock you

And we’ll rock you

Even if we break hella ribs

If we said we wouldn’t it’d be a fib

And we’ll shock you

And we’ll rock you

Shove needles and drugs into your veins

Trying to get perfusion to your brain

It’s our body we can die how we want

It’s our death, we can go how we want

It’s our code status, we choose what we want

DNR, DNI

Full code if we want

To my patients who are good to go

Say the world, I’ll make you CMO

We’ll focus on your comfort

Gather the people who love yaaaa

To all my patients in the CCU

Hooked up to machines and feeding tubes

If need be, we’ll trach ya

2 weeks after we intubate ya

So la da di da da

We’ll do what you want

Keep your body alive

Long after you fail to thrive

This is our hospital

But it’s your body

So let us know

Long before you code

If you want to be full code

Or DNR, just let us know

And we can stop

And we will stop

But we gotta know what you wish

The default is to force air through your lips

It’s my body I can die how I want

It’s my death I can go how I want

It’s my code status- I choose what I want

DNR, DNI

Or full code if I want

It’s your body you die how you want to

It’s your death you can go how you want to

It’s your code status, choose what you want to

DNR, DNI, full code if you want to

Got people in line to help you

Trying to get a line in to help you

Fluids running wide open

Keep those chest compressions going

And we’ll shock you

And we’ll rock you

Can’t you see it’s we who work all night

Can’t you see who we who save your life

Or die trying

We won’t be denying

Most of the time

You’ll still be dying

That’s just a fact- do what you want with that

This is our job, but it’s your body

It’s your choice, let us hear your voice

It’s your body you can die how you want- DNR, DNI or full code if you want.

Only you can choose

Do what you want to do

Die how you want to die

Either way, we’ll be by your side

Yeah yeah

Emergency Room

Emerging from the emergency room, gasping to find my breath, I weep.

I finished my last shift in that hell-hole, and I thought I would cry tears of joy, but instead I am crying tears of raw emotional release.
My patients called me an angel, but many of them were also angels to me- holding my spirit buoyantly with their sparkling eyes, a much-needed balance to my co-workers who seemed mostly dead inside.
Crushed inside the machine
Their eyes see only the screen
Their skin knows no fresh air or sunlight
As they toil day and night
In a crowded, chaotic space filled with alarms
Long ago, they replaced their charms
With rigid motions, mechanical minds
Without windows, they don’t notice the passage of time
When did they become so cold and bitter?
It must have been little by little
The fire in their hearts was starved of oxygen, their spirits wore away
I hope I keep my heartspirit intact, at the end of the day
Flashback to a line of gurneys in the ambulance bay
My attending grilling me, I didn’t know what to say
Broken bones and chronic pain
STAT CT to look for a bleed in the brain
Patients sustained on turkey sandwiches and diet ginger-ale
We wait on them, they wait for us, but we are all stuck in this jail
Trapped in a health care system which is systematically inhumane
No wonder so many of us don’t feel quite sane
My vision is blurred by tears
I’ve finished one more day in the middle of many hard years
Of sacrificing my life, enduring unfathomable strife
Just to help others survive another night
I want to get off this roller coaster, but I’m strapped in
Though I am sick to my stomach and deafened by the din
I return to my breath, breathe in new air
I have the rest of my life to move on towards
Tomorrow night, I’ll be back in the wards
With renewed gratitude, I leave this emergency beast
I walk past patients waiting to suckle the mechanical teat
Finally allowing room for my own emergency
My meltdown of tears isn’t enough to drown out the blaze
Which burnt me out long before today
I struggle to justify
Why I put myself in situations that make me cry

Salt

My patient had hypovolemic hyponatremia

His serum sodium was low, and we all need salt in our blood to live

Overall, he was dehydrated- dry, though his blood pressure was high

I looked at his moist tongue, and didn’t see the storm clouds amassing in the sky

Until my attending physician came thundering down

Pummeling my eardrums with his voice so loud

Taking lightning strikes at my fledgeling ego

Making me feel scared, small and trapped

How dare I not approach this case the same way he would

How could I take a vast constellation of data points, and see a different image than him?

How dare I not know everything he wants me to know when he thinks I should know it.

The audacity of me!

I went into this job to help people, but who helps me when confronted with an abusive boss, the way I am all day every day?

I have grit, and that’s it.

How can I justify the harm I inflict on myself by trodding this path of not harming others? Am I not also a person worthy of non-harm?

I drag myself through another day of sheer exhaustion, violent levels of stress, junk food scavenging, flooding my veins with the same poison I encourage my patients to avoid.

I practice this art of self-abuse day after day, year after year.

I don’t have the time or personal space to cry, until many hours have passed by, and my work, imperfectly executed, is temporarily done.

Tomorrow, more work will come at a nauseating pace, in unpredictable swells and storms.

Tonight, I cling to the knot I’ve tied at the end of my rope.

At home, my partner speaks to me, but I do not hear him.

He softly reaches out to me, but I do not feel his touch.

He serves me dinner, though I do not feel hunger.

I try to breathe through my shell-shock, remind myself that I am safe, worthy, lovable.

As if concussed, I feel foggy, irritable, and want only to cry.

I close my bedroom door, and I finally let my tears fall, though I don’t know how they will ever stop.

I take stock of the things I am grateful for.

I have energy to release:

I visualize a cord of light between my attending physician and I, solar plexus to solar plexus, and I send his rageful, toxic energy back to him, riddled with his scathing judgement.

I send him back the shame he so generously tried to pile on me.

That is his energy, not mine.

I feel the sting of tears as they dry on my cheek- my personal Sahara.

For a minute there, I lost myself.

I feel raw, delicate.

I cried so much, I have lost volume and salt like my hypovolemic hyponatremic patient.

This time, I know the recommended remedy: fluid.

Keeping myself fluid, I bow in respect and gratitude to the teachers on my journey- those who still trick me into believing that I am lesser-than, who make me temporarily forget that I am a dreamer in this cosmic kaleidoscope.

I bow with respect and gratitude to water, and salt.

Codes

We stay up all night

We walk the edge of a knife

At any moment, behold the sight

In our hands, is this death or is this life?

Plunging into bodies big and small

Chest compressions, intubations, we do it all

Breathing and beating, we make the call

When to quit, and spirits fall

Another memory formed between these walls

We know the code-

Sweat, tension, palpitations

Chaotic flurry, slow-motion hurry

If only we could lend our beating hearts

To those who are dying in front of our eyes