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MUSE - Medical Humanities Section Newsletter - Summer 2016

Summer Sagacity


From The Editor

“Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city”

-The Lovin’ Spoonful

Summer 2016 is turning out to be quite a hot one, in more ways than one. Literally it is beginning to look like the hottest on record. A giant “heat dome” has nestled over the USA and is bringing all kinds of unpleasantness with it. A nice shade tree and cold lemonade can be most helpful in these circumstances.

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From the Chair

BaruchWriting and an Emergency Medicine Life

I’m an emergency physician and a writer of fiction, and there is an inherent paradox in these two activities. When writing, I work with words on a page to create lives that readers will hopefully care deeply about. Meanwhile, when I’m working in the emergency department, there are moments when I’m faced with real people experiencing real suffering and I wonder why I don’t care more.

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Is This How We Celebrate Our Country?

Our country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty. Liberty smelled like gunpowder and burnt flesh. The smell drifted through the valley of the emergency department. The source followed closely behind. This was indeed a low point in the time of our work as emergency physicians. It’s something that we’re unfortunately used to, however: celebrations turning tragic in one way or another. Emergency physicians see the worst part of the celebrations. Brides always wear new heels, but we only see them when they fall and break their ankle. The eve of the festive Puerto Rican Day Parade is the busiest day of the year for violent trauma in Bronx, New York. Drunk drivers amass on the highways on the weekend and a few end up in our emergency departments, every week. On July 4th, we celebrate our country’s independence.

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I love poetry and medicine
because John Keats was a physician, 
Oliver Sacks was a poet
maybe the opposite, maybe both.
I wear every day the same white coat 
and going out in the evening
I see the starry heavens above me
the dancing stars of Nietzsche
and the Pink Floyd’s dark side of the Moon, over my head.
I do not know if my hands are electric
and able to resuscitate a heart
but I swore to myself
to save your feelings.

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Baseball, Father’s Day, Remembrance and Redemption

This past Sunday was Father’s Day 2016. I was scheduled to work the 2:30pm to 10:30pm shift in the emergency department. This shift was certainly not very conducive to any sort of significant celebration. My children are all grown and essentially live on their own. My wife and oldest daughter were out of town for the weekend so I found myself alone. I lost my own father almost exactly one and a half years ago, so needless to say it was a rather melancholy day for me. I thought about my Dad and how much I miss him. I realized what a hollow day it has become without him. On top of it, being alone was a real bummer too. My children called, texted and even sent me thoughtful cards and gifts, but it could not replace my profound feelings of loneliness. As I prepared for my Sunday afternoon shift I had a baseball game on in the background. I love baseball, and perhaps the biggest reason I love it so much is my father and his influence. I thought about him as I watched the hitter step into the batter’s box. I heard his words in my head about how to stand at the plate. How he used to coach me and play catch with me. I smiled, almost laughed out loud, and then I found myself crying. I have lost a part of me I can never get back except in memory.

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Kalium Carcharodon


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You Are So Lucky


It was a phrase I didn’t hear a lot as a fourth year medical student. It came from a patient who was badly burned in a fire that claimed a number of his digits and siblings. His body was mostly covered in bandages, but his eyes were exposed. His eyes cut through the thoughts running through my head in the same way his words had moments before. I was captivated. His eyes did not move when he spoke; they forced me to connect with him as a human being not as a patient.

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Boost Vignette

Boost Vignette

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Summer Hoop Dreams


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