kardia


This is part of the Medical Humanities Series on Op-Med, which showcases creative work by our members. Do you have a poem, short story, creative nonfiction or visual art piece related to medicine that you’d like to share with the community? Send it to us here.


doctors aren’t supposed to get
heart attacks

their myocardium is supposed to
be sprinkled with fairy dust

you know
aspirin
nitro
the works

and doctors who are daddies?

they’re definitely not supposed to
get heart attacks

my stomach
still flip flops
at 11:30

i throw a few PVCs
and then think about
how lucky we were

dad,
your myocardium was sprinkled
with something that night

aspirin
nitro
the works

love

What inspired this piece?

My father had a heart attack when I was sixteen years old. It had an immense impact on me. He's a physician who tries to take care of himself and who loves talking about all things health so this was the last thing that I ever expected to happen to him. This experience made me realize how vulnerable we all are no matter how many fancy degrees we may have. And I’m so grateful that he is still with us.

How long have you been doing this activity? How did you get into it? How does it relate to your medical practice? 

When I was in second grade, someone visited my class and did a poetry workshop with us. I ended up falling in love with poetry and have been writing ever since. I've often come home from a day with patients and scribbled down lines about something that caught my attention that day. Writing has always been a cathartic and meditative experience for me.

Why did you choose this form?

Poetry is my favorite type of writing. I love that poems allow us to say so much with so few words. I love that every word, space, and punctuation mark matters.

Slavena Salve Nissan is a medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She was introduced to poetry as a second grader, and it was love at first sight. Her work has been published in Hektoen International, The Healing Muse, in-Training, and The Pharos. 

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