Writing Is Remembering

Story: Chapter 5

Part 5 of my graduation speech accompanied a series of photos. Formatting and phrasing reflect the oral presentation.

“People come and go in our lives; that’s as old a story as there is. But some of them the heart cries out to keep forever; and that is a fresh saga every time.” – Ivan Doig, The Bartender’s Tale

Writing helps me remember, process, and think through the questions that go beyond how to treat an individual. Parsing the stories reminds me of the humanity of my most difficult patients.

My patients have taught me more than how to treat an “ear, nose, and throat problem.” They’ve given me an intimate knowledge of their lives beyond their diseases, and pointed troubling fingers at social injustices that I don’t know how to solve.

I don’t want to forget the intoxicated man whose face I sutured on two consecutive weekends in the emergency department, or the woman I called to explain that her pathology showed lymphoma and she had to follow up with Oncology right away, or the multiple patients with emergent airways who always seemed to come to the ED when one particular junior resident was on call.

Most of all, I don’t want to forget any of you, my colleagues and friends. You’re pretty unforgettable. But just in case, I have some photographic evidence to take with me.

Here’s how I will remember residency:

Four people from vastly different backgrounds showed up in this city and formed an instant bond. Practically inseparable. At first, we were the juniors. But then we got older and had our own juniors. We had fun in the OR. And sometimes fun outside. We celebrated holidays with our faculty.

Once, I did a tonsillectomy on the child of someone who works in the lab; this individual made a Christmas ornament with photos of the gross and microscopic path on it!

Our faculty enjoyed photobombing and bunny ears. We made our program director pose for photos with us. We make our juniors pose for photos with us.

Dr. X loves [redacted] Wilderness Area and made sure we checked it off our bucket lists. Co-resident Z could survive in the wilderness. Fishing with Dr. B was a blast.

Resident T could have been a radiologist. Resident S has mixed feelings about the pre-6 AM selfie when he was post-call.

In other words, stories matter. We are who we are because of them. I’m extraordinarily thankful to stand here today, having had the privilege of being part of your stories and having had you be part of mine.

Story: Part 5 of 5. Fin.

About the Author

Single With Scalpel is a Pediatric Otolaryngology fellow who tweets about life, humor, and medical education. She blogs here when 140 characters simply aren't enough.

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