No One Told Me

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.

They told me I would have to work hard, study hard,
But they never told me that I would have to feel hard, too.
No one prepared me for that journey.
No one told me.
There was no class.

But if there was a class,
I would’ve studied for it,
Gone to office hours.
I would’ve watched videos on it.
I would cram it.
“Will this be on boards?”
I believe I would have.
Or would I lean away from it? Would I turn my cheek on it, pretend not to see it?
Because it’s hard to feel this hard.

And because no one told me, I was not prepared to feel this intensely, this immensely:
To feel my pain, my peers’ pain, my patients’ pain.
Grief, fear, sadness, disappointment, anger, fatigue, impatience, hopelessness.
Have you ever smelled shame on a person?
I feel all of it
So much of the time.
You never told me.
And why didn't you tell me?
Why don’t you speak of it?
Does it bask in our silence?
I think our struggle, our pain,
The emotions, ours and others, the ones that keep us up at night and drive us to the therapist or the bottom of bottles,
I think that if we shined light on them, they’d lose their power over us.
They’d loosen their grip on us all.

What inspired this piece?

My own journey with mental illness inspired this piece. In the last two years, I’ve tried to be more honest and open about it, and in my experience, it has given people the strength to do the same. 

Why did you choose this form?

I love poetry; I love reading and creating it. Prose can be so beautiful, expressive, poignant, and when done right, so viscerally affecting. 

How long have you been writing poetry? How does it relate to your medical practice?

I've written poems for as long as I remember. It probably started in childhood when I wrote poems to my mom. Currently, it helps me paint a picture of my internal environment and connect to others who might feel the same way. 

Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your involvement in or views on creative arts and medicine? 

I think poems and other creative mediums are a great way for our community, a community so trained to exercise their logical brain, to experience and celebrate creativity. 

Kate is an OMS2 at Idaho COM. She aspires to be an orthopod. In her spare time she likes to read and write poetry, practice and teach yoga, rock climb, and walk her dog, Leonard.

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