Family Physician

I am a physician.
I have ten patients to see in the next hour, and the first is already late.
“Physical exam” — the simple-sounding ones always take the longest;
Maybe even a psych case.
I wonder who his insurance is?

I am a patient.
I kept meaning to call, and when I finally did,
The receptionist tells me it’s six weeks for the next spot.
I’m afraid to tell her what it’s for, too embarrassed
To say that things just aren’t right.

I am a physician
Six-month-old with a diffuse rash, otherwise
Acting normal.  Taking PO, lots of wet diapers.
A little bit of a runny nose, probably a virus.
First-time mom is freaking out.

I am a parent.
Oh my God, why does my baby look like that?
What did I do wrong?  I’ve read all the books.
My aunt says it’s because I breastfeed.
I feel so helpless.

I am a physician.
She’s a primip, seven centimeters, 100% effaced,
Contractions Q3-4 minutes.  GBS positive, on amp.
No problems yet.  I’m going to bed;
Page me when she wants to push.

I am a woman.
I’ve been in labor
36 hours now, and I don’t know if I can take it any more.
I’m scared; will my baby be OK?
It hurts so bad; will I be OK?

I am a physician.
Heavy-set, 55-year old man here for work physical.
Such a cough potato; BMI of 35.
Check his BP, cholesterol, all high.
Heart attack waiting to happen.

I am a man.
I work two jobs, wife was laid off.
We try to take walks, but the neighborhood’s not safe.
My dad passed at 57, just dropped dead.
I’m scared I’ll end up like him.

I am a physician.
Poor kid; there go his ACL, MCL, needs surgery.
Was hit pretty hard, good thing for helmets or he’d have a concussion.
I know he’s disappointed, but it’s probably just as well;
He’s too little to make it to the pros, anyway.

I am an athlete.
Damn it, why did this happen now?
The big game is next Saturday!  I could get a
Scholarship; no one in my family has ever been to college.
Can’t you just tape it up, Doc?

I am a physician.
She’s got an STD from her partner, but doesn’t want to tell him.
Her mother’s out in the waiting room; I guess I’ll have to make up a story.
Actually, it could be worse.  She could be pregnant,
Or have HIV.

I am a teenager.
I have what?  Clamidy-what?  Just don’t tell my mom;
I know, I know, we should use condoms, but Joe doesn’t like them.
I didn’t want him to think I’m paranoid or anything.
God, I hope I’m not pregnant…

I am a physician.
She’s back again, CHF exacerbation, better admit her.
Her basic issue is non-compliance.
Drug list a mile long; I don’t know how she remembers them all.
Can we get a social worker up to see her?

I am a senior.
I’m OK, really I am.  Such a fuss over nothing.
My ankles just swell up like that sometimes,
Especially when I run out of medication.
I have so many bottles, and money’s pretty tight.

I am a physician.
So says my degree and license.
I’m challenged daily by humanity, great and small;
But throughout my career let me never forget
That, underneath it all, I am human first.

Catherine Zeh, Class of 2002