Our First Patient

There is a part of me amazed, a part of me penitent. I am sorry to drag a blade down the middle of your chest, and then to the side, peeling away the first layer of skin and fat. I am sorry to cut through your skin with no intention of sewing it back together again. I am sorry that one of us will crack your ribs, one by one, and watch our professor use a loud saw to separate your sternum. I am sorry that between my cringing, I am still curious, still excited to see what lies beneath. I am sorry that we change our scalpel blades when they get dulled on your body, so that they are sharp again. Continue reading Our First Patient

Letters from Kaohsiung

Mrs. H’s kidneys had failed. She had also developed severe anemia necessitating a blood transfusion, a procedure which she had refused. Dr. Tsao was somewhat perplexed. Patients in Taiwan don’t typically refuse treatment. If anything, they tend to agree with the physician out of deference and decide later not to carry out the ‘doctors orders.’ Rather than resorting to force of authority, however, Dr. Tsao simply turned to the patient and asked a simple question – Why? Continue reading Letters from Kaohsiung

Variante XXI (English translation)

At the operating room he found his patient: a little girl. She had already received the appropriate liquids, and machines had been installed on her body. Thus, he began. “Scalpel.” “Forceps.” “Suture.” Everything was quick to arrive. He was sweating. “Her heart, doctor,” he heard. Come on! Answer me! he whispered as his hand pressed and released, pressed and released, pressed and released the small heart. Wake up! Wake up! Come on, wake up,  for goodness’ sake!  Continue reading Variante XXI (English translation)