Him: "Is that a tattoo on your wrist?"
Me: "Yes, sir."
Him: *scowls with disapproval* "You a doctor with a tattoo on your wrist?"
Me: *chuckle* "Yup."
Him: *squinting* "Is it real? Like. . . permanent?"
He leaned a little closer. 2/ Him: "What do it even say?"
Me: "It says 'sister.'"
Him: "'What you go and do that for? Was ya scared you was gon' forget you somebody sister or what?"
Me: "No, sir. I actually had a sister pass away in 2012."
Him: *eyes widening* "Really? Aww, sugar. I'm sorry."
Jul 27 • 21 tweets • 5 min read
1/ There are things that happened that led to things that happened that led to things that are happening. If you don't want to call it by a name, just describe it.
And instead of it feeling like some pressured mandate, look at it the way we look at all things.
Not something designed to make someone else feel ashamed. Not a wagging finger or even a quest for moral distress. Just the things we do when we care for patients. We ask questions.
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."
2/ 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 reconciled your name on my note card. You looked up at me with an inexplicable expression.
Your eyes narrowed in suspicion. And I bristled. 2/
I stood up taller and cleared my throat in an effort to increase my psychological size. You placed your crossword puzzle face down on the tray table and raised your eyebrows.
Me: “Um, yes. My name is Dr. Draper and I’m one of the doctors that’ll be caring for you.”
Pt: “Hey Doc Manning, you got any crumbsnatchers?”
Me: “Yup. Two wild ones.”
Pt: *squints* “Ooooh! They ain’t wild, is they?”
Me: “Chile. One of ‘em fell out last night in the toy aisle at Target.”
Pt: “Whaat? Lawd!”
*laughter* 2/ My team looked puzzled.
Me: “Hold up. Do y’all know what a crumbsnatcher is?”
One of the interns spoke first.
Her: “I mean, from context clues, my guess is . . is it . . . kids?”
Pt: *points* “Ding-Ding!”
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. 2/ I felt like I was affirming you. And modeling all the the things that should be modeled.
Then one day we were talking about a transgender patient on rounds. And, while gender had nothing to do with why she was hospitalized, that aspect kept taking center stage.
Jul 2 • 18 tweets • 4 min read
1/ July 1, 1996
Her: “This one looks straightforward. Ran out of meds, feels short-winded.” *stares at index card* “Vitals underwhelming.”
I stared at her trying to look cool. Although cool is not what I felt.
Her: “You know where the Red Zone is, right?” 2/ I mean, yeah. Technically I did know where it was from our orientation week a few days before. But I didn’t KNOW know.
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.”
Jun 21 • 14 tweets • 4 min read
1/ I was rounding with my team recently and you were our new patient. A student had presented your case at the bedside. You listened intently and offered corrections where needed. After examining you, I paused and twisted my mouth under my mask.
I narrowed my eyes. 2/ This didn’t make sense to me. And to be clear— it may very well have made sense to someone else.
Just not me.
You: “You alright over there, doc? Look like your wheels turning hard.”
Me: “You got me. Yeah, I’m just trying to put this all together.”
May 28 • 16 tweets • 4 min read
1/ Time of death: 3:46 PM.
The ICU fell silent. A heavy cloak of sorrow pressed down on the room.
The familiar rush of heat came to my face. Next came the prickling in my eyes. Once the tears started I knew they wouldn’t stop.
I needed to get out of there. 2/ She was my patient. And out of deference I knew I should still myself and stand in the awful with the team.
But I needed to get out of there. Before I started to cry.
Because we don’t do that. Not here. Not in front of people.
At least, that’s what I’d been taught.
May 10 • 12 tweets • 3 min read
1/ Grady wards
Him: “I got a bone to pick with you.”
He pointed at me for emphasis.
Him: “I’m not so sure I like how you was talking ‘bout me.”
I sifted through my head to try to think of any verbal missteps. I waited to see what he’d say next. 2/ Him: “I know you said y’all was gon’ do some ‘shop talking’ about me. But look like you forgot I was even there when you got to saying what you was gon’ say.”
I felt my face grow warm. I decided to just keep listening.
Him: “You talking ‘bout some ‘That’s impressive!’”
Apr 14 • 7 tweets • 2 min read
1/ I was sitting down doing some work in a quiet area at Grady one day and this little girl, who was with her grandma, walked right up to me and touched my stethoscope.
Her: “Are you a doctor?”
Me: “I sure am.”
Her: “For real?”
Me: “For real!”
I handed her my stethoscope. 2/ She slung it around her neck.
Her: “Is it fun being a doctor?”
Me: *squinting an eye* “Hmmm. You know what? It’s hard sometimes but, to me? It really is fun on most days.”
She seemed to like that answer. Now she was putting the ear tips into her ears. I helped adjust them.
1. If you are planning Grand Rounds or national/regional conferences, I’m suggesting #URiM people you should invite to speak.
2. This is a way to increase the number of professors from underrepresented & historically excluded backgrounds.
Mmm hmm. 2/ Because, for example, out of ~ 39K full professors in US med schools only ~ 300 are Black women. (Do that math—it’s <1%!🤬)
So while it’s cool to follow them here, I’m saying INVITE THEM and CITE THEM so that they can get promoted.
But wait—there’s more. . . .
Mar 6 • 11 tweets • 3 min read
1/ Grady Hospital Wards
It was a Sunday. The students and interns had the day off so it was just the senior resident and me. This Grady elder was our last patient.
Me: "What questions do you have for us?"
Her: "I don't have any questions. Y'all answered them. Thank you." 2/ Me: "Okay. Is there anything else you need before we go?"
Her: "May I have one minute of your time?"
Us: *looking at each other*
Resident: "Sure. Tell us what you need."
She extended both of her hands out toward us, gesturing for each of us to take one of them.
Feb 27 • 6 tweets • 2 min read
1/ Random moment while in line in the Grady coffee shop:
Her: "I remember you. You that lady that said I need to lose weight and get a better fitting bra when I said my back hurt."
Me: "I remember you, too. You changed your hair. It looks nice." 2/ Her: "It's a wig.”
Me: *shrugs* “I still like it on you.”
She folded her arms and sucked her teeth.
Her: “I didn't like you at all."
Me: "I can respect that choice. How's your back?"
Her: "Respect what choice? A wig or me not liking you?"
Feb 24 • 15 tweets • 5 min read
1/ Grady Hospital Clinic
I could feel your grief the moment I stepped into the room. The resident had already told me of your loss.
They said you cried on an off for the whole visit. BP controlled. Labs fine. And a depression screen was negative.
Yeah. 2/ So me? I was just tasked with closing the loop as the attending physician. And, with no concerns with your chronic conditions, there wasn’t much to add or teach.
I mean, other than sorry. Because I was.
I so was.
Feb 5 • 15 tweets • 5 min read
1/ Grady Primary Care Clinic, last week
Me: “I know other people have mentioned this to you already, but just wanted to check in about the #COVIDVaccine. I’m told you’re still thinking about it.”
Me: “Wait, so yeah, you thinking about it?”
You: “Yeah.” 2/ *laughter*
Me: “Would you be okay with me talking to you a little more about it? Like, to give you more things to consider as you deliberate about it?”
You gave one eyebrow a playful raise.
Jan 30 • 11 tweets • 3 min read
1/ You used such beautiful words. Words like “gingerly” to describe how you approached the physical therapy maneuvers you tried that morning. And “cacophony” in reference to the food tray someone accidentally knocked to the floor.
I loved them all. 2/ Me: “You have such beautiful words. Such lovely and unexpected ones. It’s becoming my favorite thing on rounds this week.”
You: “Oh, aren’t words just grand? And so many to choose.”
You released a gentle chuckle. Then you coughed.
Jan 17 • 9 tweets • 3 min read
1/ Grady Hospital
Him: "I like the way you look at me."
Me: "Excuse me, sir?"
Him: "I mean. . . I like how your eyes look at me."
His words caught me off guard. I’d only been there a few moments. It seemed misplaced.
Me: "I want to receive that. Tell me what you mean, sir." 2/ Him: "It's like your eyes they look at me like . . . I don't know. Like I'm somebody worth you looking at.”
Him: “Like they happy to see me. Do that make sense?"
Me: "I think so."
Jan 9 • 19 tweets • 5 min read
1/ The hospital is on diversion. And is at 106% capacity.
The jeopardy backup system has been exhausted. Because people keep testing positive.
Oh, and the kids' school will be remote this week.
And the 750 emails I missed on vacation? Everyone is "looping back." 2/ All of this is swirling through my head as I am walking through the hallway at Grady.
A text reminding me to check my email.
I pause for a moment and close my eyes. I take in a drag of air. A simple reset that I do when I need a break.
Jan 5 • 14 tweets • 4 min read
1/ Grady Wards
Them: "Hey Dr. M. You busy?"
Me: "Not at the moment. What's up?"
Them: "Wondering if you could weigh in on rash on our new patient. It's on her backside. Kind of looks like yeast but I'm not sure."
Them: *pointing at door* "She's in bed 2." 2/ Me: "Okey dokey."
Them: "I need to run and see someone with chest pain. Can you let me know if I should call derm after you look?"
I watched the resident disappear down the corridor as I stopped to open the chart in the EMR.
Ooooh. A Grady elder.
Jan 3 • 10 tweets • 3 min read
1/ Grady Wards
Him: "You know? My friend had a heart attack just like me. Just a year older than me. He died. My tight man, too."
His brother was sitting in a bedside chair and chimed in.
Brother: "And don't forget the dude from the car wash.” 2/ Brother: “Wasn't even 50. Left a wife and 4 kids behind."
Him: "Ahh man. I forgot about that. He was good people, too.”
Brother: "Oh yeah."
Him: *snaps finger* “And remember ol' dude from The Sopranos? He died from a heart attack, too. Young."