#WeBelong, Day 6 of 7

A Friday on Grady wards

Him: "How is 1PM for rounds on our new patients?"
Me: "That works."

Your head whipped up from the computer when we said that.

Him: "Cool." *standing up and turning to the team* "Okay, peeps. Go get some lunch. See you at 1."
Everyone stood up to go and began filing out of the team room. Except you. You stayed put and began punching a text into your phone.

Me: "You packed your lunch?"
You: "Umm. . . actually, yeah."
Me: "Wow, you're far more organized than I was as an intern."

I began to make my way to the door.

Me: "See you at 1."
You: "Okay."

Your mouth turned upward in a forced smile. The screen on your phone lit up with a text.

Me: "You okay?"
You: "Me? Oh. Yeah."
Me: "Okey doke."

I decided not to probe.
As I rode the elevator down to the cafeteria, I felt my phone buzz in my pocket.

"Dr. M, do you have a minute?"

It was you. Instead of responding, I pushed the button to return to our team room instead of getting off. As suspected, you were still there holding your phone.
You startled when I walked back in.

Me: "I decided to just come on back. What's up?"

You paused for a beat and then spoke.

You: "Um. . .I was just wondering. Is it possible for us to maybe round at 2 instead of 1? Or even like 1:30 or so?"
Me: "Uhhh... I guess."
I remembered how much I hated when my attending usurped my plans as a resident.

Me: "If it's okay with our resident it's okay with me."


Me: "Did you need more time to prepare? Because it doesn't have to be perfect. We can tackle everything together."

You: "You know what? That's okay. 1 is fine."

You offered a bright smile to reassure me. Then held a thumbs up.

Me: "I'm not against rounding at 2, you know." *furrowing brow* "Do you mind telling me what's up?"

You drew in drag of air and began to speak.
You: "Umm. . .yeah. So, a group of Muslim residents meet up on Fridays at one for prayer. So, I was trying to go but it's cool."

I froze.

Me: "Dude. Of course we can push back to 2."

I took out my phone to text the team but paused to look back at you.
Me: "Wait. Is this, like, a new thing?"
You: "What?"
Me: "The Friday prayer thing."
You: *laughing* "I mean it's pretty ancient for Islam. But as for us residents, it's been going for a while."

I sifted my brain to wonder who else on my team missed this.

Me: "Shoot. Now I'm kicking myself for never knowing this. I appreciate you speaking up."
You: "I mean, everybody has different levels of observance, you know? So not every Muslim resident would feel the same about this."

I nodded. And that was it.

From then on, I created a space for that option. Which opened my eyes to the other observances that I'd never considered.

You weren't the last resident who wanted that time preserved. But you were the first one to tell me without me asking.

There is so much that others people and forces them to say "never mind" because they're in the minority.

But that really shouldn't be, you know?

I'm grateful for your honesty.
I'm grateful for your example.

Now. If only you could get me to pack my lunch.😂

#WeBelong 💛

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Jul 10
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Hospital ward, circa 1998

*knocking on the wall*

Me: “Hello. . . Um, are you. , .”

I reconciled your name on my note card. You looked up at me with an inexplicable expression.

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Your eyes narrowed in suspicion. And I bristled.
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My team looked puzzled.

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The patient and I exchanged glances. Then we exploded in laughter. So did the nurse who was flushing his IV.
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I considered myself one of the ones who knew. Knew what to say and what things weren’t cool.


I spoke your pronouns with my whole chest. Bent over backwards to prove that I was one of the good ones. And, for the most part, you seemed appreciative.
I felt like I was affirming you. And modeling all the the things that should be modeled.

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I could feel things getting weird. You shifted on your feet and stared at a spot on the floor. That’s how I knew.

Then someone said something that made you look up.

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I stared at her trying to look cool. Although cool is not what I felt.

Her: “You know where the Red Zone is, right?”
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She must’ve read my mind.

Her: “Don’t worry. There’s only 2 zones. I’ll be right down. Just go do the H&P and start the work up while I finish up here.”
She stomped her feet back into her clogs and walked off.

I turned her words over in my head:

“Do the H&P” — okay, that I could manage. But that other part? That’s what scared me to death:

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I wiped my face with my palm and bit my lip.

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I narrowed my eyes.
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Like, your physical exam fit the story. And part of your lab tests and imaging aligned with the leading diagnosis. But then there was this other part of your blood work that threw a curveball.


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The ICU fell silent. A heavy cloak of sorrow pressed down on the room.


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All hell broke loose.

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