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Home Explore Synapses Vol. 5 (2021)

Synapses Vol. 5 (2021)

Published by candice.kosanke, 2021-03-08 20:55:59

Description: This is the fifth issue of Chicago Medical School's creative journal, published annually in the spring. Synapses seeks to publish quality works that focus on experiences in medicine and expressions of the human condition. Submissions are open to faculty, staff, students, residents, fellows, and alumni of Chicago Medical School.


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S Y N A P S E SSYNAPSES A Creative Journal of Chicago Medical School VOLUME 5, SPRING 2021 CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 1


SYNAPSES SYNAPSES A Creative Journal of Chicago Medical School EDITORIAL STAFF William Agbor Baiyee, PhD Editor-in-Chief Candice Kosanke Managing Editor EDITORIAL BOARD Karen Black, MD ’88 Alumna Jeffrey Bulger, PhD Faculty Barbara Hales, MD ’76 Alumna Victoria Johnson Staff Gloria Joo Student Julie Phelan, MD ’01 Alumna Liza Pilch, MD Faculty Hector Rasgado-Flores, PhD Faculty REVIEW BOARD Saira Ahmed Student Salvatore Aiello, MS Student Natalie Bodnar Student Allison Cassidy Staff Andrew Chapman Student Noemi Cocone Student Christopher Collier Student Michael Drake Student Vanessa Fan Student Anna Gomez Student Jessica Liang Student Chiemeziem Ohiri Student Alvin Onyewuenyi Student Kieran Palumbo Student Barbara Vertel, PhD Faculty JOURNAL OVERSIGHT BOARD Archana Chatterjee, MD, PhD Dean, Chicago Medical School; Vice President for Medical Affairs, Rosalind Franklin University Nutan Vaidya, MD Senior Associate Dean for Academic Learning Environment, Chicago Medical School Lee Concha, MA Senior Vice President for University Enhancement and Chief of Staff, Rosalind Franklin University Shelly Brzycki Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Rosalind Franklin University Chad Ruback, MSEd, MBA Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Rosalind Franklin University Judith Stoecker, PT, PhD Vice President for Academic Affairs, Rosalind Franklin University CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 3

SYNAPSES Front cover: “Synapses,” artwork by Natalie Kieruzel, CMS ’24 Artist’s Statement: I was drawn to the idea of using the connections between neurons to represent the new connections we have had to make with each other during the COVID-19 pandemic. Zoom, FaceTime, etc. have become primary methods of communication since our country has enacted COVID-19 restrictions. Similar to the brain’s neuroplasticity, we have had to train ourselves to find the new “norm” in the world we live in now. The background is reminiscent of the galaxy, which I wanted to convey due to the isolation that we have experienced between our family, friends, and coworkers. Despite this, we have found ways to connect to each other through this pandemic, represented by the “stars” throughout the painting that convey the passing of neurotransmitters to transmit new ideas, thoughts, and feelings to each other. Acrylic on canvas. 4 ROSALIND FRANKLIN UNIVERSITY


SYNAPSES ABOUT SYNAPSES Synapses is a creative journal of Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University. The journal provides a forum for the expression and dissemination of creative works demonstrating Chicago Medical School’s commitment to develop a community of reflective learners and practitioners. The journal seeks to publish on an annual basis quality works that focus on experiences in medicine and expressions of the human condition. Submissions of creative works of poetry, art, photography, fiction and non-fiction, including narrative and reflections, to Synapses are open to faculty, staff, students, residents, fellows and alumni of Chicago Medical School. Each submission is reviewed blindly at two levels, first by reviewers followed by editors. Authors will be notified of editorial decisions. Submissions will open in mid-October and close in mid- January. The journal is published annually in the spring. To view past volumes and information about the submission process, please visit © 2021 Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. The University has obtained permission to use the literary and artistic works that appear in this journal. The authors reserve all other copyrights for their works. All ideas and opinions expressed belong to the authors. Credit for image on back cover: iStock. 6 ROSALIND FRANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES TABLE OF CONTENTS Recycled Thoughts Victoria Johnson 18 21 POETRY Clouds William Agbor Baiyee, PhD 33 38 The Shadow of a Bird Chiemeziem Ohiri, CMS ’24 41 47 Approaching Storm Leo Kelly, MD 54 56 Lockdown Haikus Edwin Korouri, CMS ’23 62 Surprise William Agbor Baiyee, PhD I Am Enough James Nardini, CMS ’23 Winter Moon L e o K e l l y , M D Dreams Zbigniew Lorenc, MD A Spark of Joy in a Pair of Sophia Yang, CMS ’23 13 Feathers 14 FINE ART 19 22 Not All Heroes Wear Capes Kuhn Hong, MD 26 27 Epicene V a n e s s a F a n , C M S ’ 2 4 31 Colors J o r d a n N e w m a n , C M S ’ 2 1 Untitled G l o r i a J o o , C M S ’ 2 1 Rushing COVID-19 Patient Kuhn Hong, MD from Ambulance Staying in Touch: Human Sophia Yang, CMS ’23 Connection in Times of COVID-19 CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 7

SYNAPSES The Fallen Heroes Kuhn Hong, MD 36 39 Treading Water 2020 Jaspreet Amar, CMS ’22 40 42 2020 G l o r i a J o o , C M S ’ 2 1 43 45 Drama G a r y B o d n e r , M D ’ 7 5 46 Posies A l l i s o n C a s s i d y 53 55 Fun Guy Gloria Joo, CMS ’21 58 Masked Picasso Sculpture Kuhn Hong, MD 61 at the Daley Plaza 63 Fifty Shades of Red Gary Bodner, MD ’75 66 Taking Care of COVID-19 Kuhn Hong, MD Patient in ICU Inevitable A l l i s o n C a s s i d y Masked Lions at the Entrance Kuhn Hong, MD of the Art Institute of Chicago My Favorite Kind of Day G a r y B o d n e r , M D ’ 7 5 In Memory of Lost Lives in Kuhn Hong, MD a Convent 8 ROSALIND FRANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES Respite M e l i s s a C h e n , M D 11 16 PHOTOGRAPHY Among the Poppies Leslie H. Stevens, MD ’81 20 28 Cloud Break M e l i s s a C h e n , M D 32 35 Macabre Votum Connor Haszto, CMS ’23 38 52 Dragon Ridge Terrace Mirek Dundr, PhD 56 57 Helix Nebula Stuart Meyer, MD ’60 60 64 Fallen M i r e k D u n d r , P h D 65 Uphill M e l i s s a C h e n , M D Fall and Winter in Chicago Edwin Korouri, CMS ’23 Deer in Arches National Park A a y u s h B o d d u , C M S ’ 2 3 Black Sands Beach Grant Christensen, CMS ’23 Dragonfly M i r e k D u n d r , P h D Diversity H e n r y S a c k i n , P h D NON-FICTION The Age of Elbow Taps and Melody Fang, CMS ’21 12 Fist Bumps A a y u s h B o d d u , C M S ’ 2 3 23 Pacific Coast Highway 30 Theresa Kunnel, CMS ’21 At the Bedside CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 9

SYNAPSES A Christmas to Remember Sidharth Mahapatra, MD ’09, 34 44 P h D ’ 0 7 48 A Contemporary Essay on Elliot Levine, MD ’78 59 Medical Education My First Patient Aayush Boddu, CMS ’23 Wai Sidharth Mahapatra, MD ’09, P h D ’ 0 7 10 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 10

SYNAPSES ME L ISSA CH E N, MD, FACULTY Respite Artist’s Statement: Refuge When the pandemic makes indoor escapes unappealing, these gardens offer a welcome respite in the autumn of our year. Rockford, IL. CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 11

SYNAPSES MELODY FANG, CMS ’21 The Age of Elbow Taps and Fist Bumps Being a medical student in the age of the Coronavirus-19 pandemic is stressful, uncertain, exciting, and inspiring all at the same time. Having been withdrawn from clinical duties in March as a third-year medical student, I am grateful to have been able to resume clinical rotations as a fourth-year medical student. As an aspiring emergency medicine resident, I was excited to be back in the emergency department (ED) seeing patients again in the south side of Chicago. Many things looked and felt different in the ED: the masks, face shields, gowns, sicker patients, and constant talk of COVID. However, many things remained the same: the camaraderie, team spirit, focus on patient care, and turnover of patients. One sentiment shared by many healthcare providers is the decreased ability to convey our full, complete emotions with half of our faces covered. We all realize now that the bottom half of our faces contribute greatly to expressing how we feel and providing expressive feedback to each other. Now, patients cannot see our comforting smiles under our masks to convey trust, comfort, and compassion. Handshakes with patients are now also taboo in efforts to decrease spread. I never realized how important physical touch could be to some patients until one of my recent shifts in the Emergency Department. There was an eighteen-year-old girl with many complicated psychosocial issues brought in by police officers after being assaulted. When I walked into the room, my priorities were to create a safe environment and listen to her story while assessing her injuries. When I sat down next to her, she was looking down at the floor, avoiding eye contact, and slowly starting to answer my questions. By the end of our conversation, she began to look up more and became more comfortable. As I made my closing remarks for the initial encounter and stood up to leave the room, she subtly and gingerly stuck out her hand. I did not realize she was trying to initiate a handshake. After a couple of seconds, she chuckled and told me she was trying to shake my hand. I apologized for missing the cue, laughed, and extended my elbow instead for an elbow tap. I was glad she was comfortable enough with me to call me out on not returning her handshake. With the pandemic, we are all hesitant about having unnecessary physical contact. However, we must not forget the power of connectivity, whether through eye contact or a safe form of physical touch. Arguably, eye contact is more important now than ever, as they are really the only visible features of our faces. These are the unspoken modalities of healing and coping for both patients and healthcare providers. Nowadays, we have exchanged handshakes for elbow taps and fist bumps in an attempt to maintain some normalcy of physical touch with our fellow colleagues and patients. I miss seeing the beautiful smiles of coworkers and patients alike, and hopefully, with more good news coming, we can see them again. ■ 12 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES S O P H I A YA N G , C M S ’ 2 3 A Spark of Joy in a Pair of Feathers Artist’s Statement: During this pandemic, I have been focused on how to create more joy in my life, whether it is through moments of comfort and connection or quiet self-compassion. Synapses can strengthen between two neurons when they are repeatedly stimulated, like when we routinely think a positive thought or feel joy, love, or peace about a particular set of experiences. That means it can get easier and easier to feel positive if we just think it. Isn’t that so powerful? This painting of two birds meeting in the clouds attempts to capture my mind’s ability to spark joy as I dream of freedom and connection in a brighter future. 5 by 7 inches, acrylic paint. CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 13

SYNAPSES KUH N H O NG , MD, FACULTY Not All Heroes Wear Capes Artist’s Statement: Oil on canvas. Two panels, 30 x 40 inches each. Summer 2020. Dedicated healthcare workers around the world wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and work extended hours without proper rest and sleeping. I painted two panels of a few of them in appreciation of their perseverance and care during this pandemic. Top row, D r. G iovan n a Cez a r i n o Infectious Disease Brazil from left Dr. Christopher Reverte Dr. Francis X. Riedo ER Manhattan, NY Susanna deAnda Infectious Disease Wa s h i n g t o n ER Nurse Mexico Bottom row, Everett Moss II ER Critical Nurse Atlanta from left M ou ssa M oh am a d o u Nurse Niger Nuria Poreda EMT Spain Dr. Timothy Wong I n fe c ti o u s D i s e a s e Singapore 14 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES Top row, Pat ricia L afon t an t ER Nurse Practioner Washington DC from left Vascular Surgeon Japan Dr. Keiji Oi N u r s i n g Te c h Brazil Physician Assistant Atlanta Vanda Ortega Witoto Illinois Colleen Hill Ivory Coast Indiana Bottom row, Dr. Viquar Mundozie Family Medicine Italy from left Dr. Lysette Masendu Droh GP Dr. Laura Bishop Internist & Pediatrics Fr. Claudio DelMonte C h a p l a i n CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 15


SYNAPSES Artist’s Statement: This photo was taken in April 2019 at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve State Natural Reserve in Lancaster, CA. It had been a particularly wet winter so the poppies were quite abundant. CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 17

SYNAPSES VICTORIA JOHNSON, STAFF Recycled Thoughts You are the only one left Body, cold, meeting the edge of the concrete You know this space all too well It is like they have forgotten about you Like you’ve served your purpose long enough for them to discard you They have learned to fill you with empty words, broken dreams, and recycled thoughts Thoughts that will become something better at another point Sustainability and stability has never been what they’ve known you for You have become convenient and accessible to many Only needed when shallow things need a body or a home to go through I wonder, at what point will you realize your worth? When they give you permission to? Have you not considered the way they drag your body back and forth? You are the epitome of being all of everything at the same time, you are convenient. They have made a mockery out of you and I cannot protect you I am sorry that their toxicity and trauma has found you I am sorry that they made you feel welcomed in a room they hoped you were not articulate enough to fit in They told you to be a seat, not to have one To be a cushion for everyone else’s insecurities & “you better be grateful that you have a place here too” You be but solace to them. Cradling their Social inhibitions. Your rigidness makes you target and tactful You are amusement and to be amazed But you will never be enough, they say, to belong here So, you will be the only one left You will know this space all too well For they have forgotten about you — they always do… ■ 18 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES VA N E SSA FAN, CMS ’24 Epicene Artist’s Statement: Challenging gender norms as social constructs means embracing that there is a place for both the masculine and feminine in everyone. This piece was loosely inspired by Chinese opera makeup, in order to demonstrate feminity as something empowering that anyone can partake in. Digital Media. CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 19

SYNAPSES MELISSA CH E N, MD, FACULTY Cloud Break Artist’s Statement: Cloud break Will it In an otherwise bleak riverscape, the sun emerges with a brief ray of hope. sustain? Des Plaines River, Illinois. 20 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES WIL L IA M AGB O R BAIYE E , PhD, FACULTY Clouds The season is here. The sky opens for The clouds to descend In this place To bring darkness. We are spellbound. We see the storm. There is fear. There is trepidation. There is uncertainty. There is confusion As we seek solace. We are left to ourselves. We fend for ourselves. We must protect ourselves They pretend it’s not real. We must stay away To be whole. They are working. They are curious. They are creative. They are benevolent. They are competent. They found the elixir. The season is here again. The sky opens for The clouds to ascend From this place To bring light. We are witnesses again. We see the rainbow emerge. There is laughter again. There is joy. There is freedom. There is hope again In this place. ■ CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 21

SYNAPSES JORDAN NEWMAN, CMS ’21 Colors Artist’s Statement: I was inspired to create this painting by the cover art of In Colour by Jamie xx, one of my favorite albums. I was listening to this album when I noticed certain aspects of medicine begin to click for me during my licensing exam preparation. Consequently, I decided to depict colors melding together in a way that represents how all aspects of medicine are truly connected, as well as my interpretation of what it felt like to make those connections. Purposefully, certain aspects blend better than others, which is representative of the long road ahead of us as students and lifelong learners; it also visually represents different levels of understanding of different concepts, as well as alternative strengths amongst different people. Acrylic paint on canvas. 22 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES AAY U S H B O D D U, C M S ’ 2 3 Pacific Coast Highway I was in Big Sur yesterday going on a trip with Cody and we had a lot of interesting discussions. “Poor old, good old Cody sitting there with his chess set, wants immediately to challenge somebody to a chess game but only has an hour to talk to us before he goes to work supporting the family by rushing out and pushing his Nash Rambler down the quiet Los Gatos suburb street, jumping in, starting the motor, in fact his only complaint is that the Nash won’t start without a push — No bitter complaints about society whatever from this grand and ideal man who really loves me moreover as if I deserved it, but I’m bursting to explain everything to him, not even Big Sur but the past several years, but there’s no chance with everybody yakking — And in fact I can see in Cody’s eyes that he can see in my own eyes the regret we both feel that recently we haven’t had chances to talk whatever, like we used to do driving across America and back in the old road days, too many people now want to talk to us and tell us their stories, we’ve been hemmed in and surrounded and outnumbered.” We began from my home in Los Gatos and decided to take the 101 to 156 west through Salinas and out to the crashing cliffs of Big Sur. Somewhere along the way I asked if I could hop into the driver’s seat of Cody’s plucky Prius to hopefully show Cody how to drive it more smoothly. The moment I got in I readjusted my mirrors and got used to the feel of the car — right away I noticed how unique the engine was. The gas was not very responsive and it lumbered to get up to speed while climbing those curvy hills, but once it got coasting I could always trust on the brakes and battery to catch me from going too fast. I also noticed that the car did not have any gears and relayed to Cody that this is why it was not very good at climbing hills. It’s like when we went to Barcelona and he had to use a bike that was stuck in second gear, it was tough to get up hill but once he got to speed it was easy to ride. Anyway, we got to the Pfeiffer State Park and paid the pretty park ranger a petty $10 and got ready for the hike. On the way up we began talking about economic theory, especially having read Picketty and his predictions about socioeconomics and politics as we hurtle through the 20th century. I like how he talks about things in layman’s terms, I think that some of the best innovators of the world take something that seems very complicated and somehow change the paradigm or prism of how we look at that issue such that the answer becomes very simple... Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs. These dudes were geniuses not only because they excelled in their field but because they were able to communicate in very simple terms their craft to the masses. We reached the peak of the hike and that’s when the feeling became very apparent. I played some Youth Lagoon as we threw the Frisbee atop the hill. We improved quite considerably from about a year ago when we went to Europe. There was no fear about losing it to the depths below. We kept climbing and all of a sudden a mother and her daughter walked by as we were contemplating such things as living without attachment to things, without labeling something as good or bad but rather as just existing. The moment we put a label on something it changes the way we think. The philosopher Emmanuel Levinas described the moment when you just meet someone and feel a rush because they can be anything and you feel — as Cody so elegantly put it — “aeeuhhh.” Aeeuhh? Oh, I know what you mean. Anyway I lowered the volume to maintain the sanctity of the spot and continued talking. It was strange, CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 23

SYNAPSES but the woman stayed and kindly appreciated the view and listened to what we were saying. After all, who talks about strange crap like that? Then her uncle and mother came. I had shed my layers and was wearing my brother’s UCSD Frisbee sweater when the uncle mentioned that he was from Encinitas and the mother’s husband was completing a PhD in immunology. I wanted to ask which lab he worked at but we kept climbing. As we journeyed on we continued talking about Nobel Prizes and concluded that the Peace Prize especially is something that probably should be given posthumously, because oftentimes the people who win can use their distinction to oppress others. I feel like even for science, people tend to focus too much on trying to achieve the prize rather than doing good research. Betsy Komives and a book called Rigor Mortis from some NPR broadcaster mentioned that nearly 50% of things published in Nature turn out to be absolutely false. I’m not blaming the researchers because obviously some researchers do their absolute best to make sure their information is factual, but in a world where your funding is based on publishing, the structure incentivizes cutting corners. We got back down to the river and hung out for a bit, listening to Astrud Gilberto. Cody danced too much and I thought he looked weird, so I thought we should go back to the car. Full blast, where are we even going, this doesn’t look familiar. I don’t remember crossing the road. Pull out the AllTrails app. No reception. GPS gone gooky. Oh, we went UNDER the bridge, okay this looks familiar. The GPS has helped in some ways, but has hurt in others. It is neither good nor bad, but being aware of the pluses and minuses is crucial. It helped us get to the park, but by becoming too reliant on it we ended up getting lost in the woods for a little bit. What if there’s a mountain lion? I’ve never seen one before, but I would stare at him in the eye and look at him without cowering. Show power but without antagonism — I’m cool with staring if you are. If I run, he’ll charge at me. If he charges and I’m still (which he won’t) then worst case I’ll hit him dead with my Frisbee. Practice practice practice. The redwoods are incredible; how can they be so tall? Why is California burning to a crisp? Where is the rain? Dad, just sell the house. Hey! Stop trying to flat tire me, Cody; it’s annoying. That McD’s sausage, egg, and cheese is disgusting, put that away. Stop worrying so much and let me drive. We got back to the parking lot and I got more paranoid about how many people were at the park. They just bring in more trash and pollute the land with their Coca-Cola cans and disposable Covid masks. So many damn masks. “But every time a problem ends, another one begins.” We rolled in to Andrew Molera State Park, but it was packed. We also had to pay in cash to park and I was “cash-strapped.” I feel like cash-strapped should mean that you’re flush with cash, but alas it’s the opposite. English is such a strange language, but if you have command over language then the world is your oyster. The drive back north to Monterrey Beach was incredible. The cliffside was lined with hues of red, orange, fuchsia (my new favorite color), yellow, green, blue — all the colors imaginable. Why don’t we stop here for a bit and soak it all in? But we’re trying to make moves to the beach. 24 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES THE BEACH! That is where we’ll find some PEACE OF MIND. We were going for those big boy moves on the kingside planning our final attack. There’s no need to pick up the free rook on the queenside, we’re pushing Harry the h-pawn and going for the king. Another question: why is it that when chess engines evaluate a position in which black is winning, it is “minus” and when white is winning it is “plus?” It’s the implicit things that make a difference. The inner city child growing up in the projects whose cousin and uncle were dragged into gang life, who got shot several times, has a snowball’s chance in hell in making it into medical school. They blame the African American community for being aggressive, dangerous, cold-hearted killers. They brought the Africans on ships from their homeland 200 years ago to work their fields. They lynch them even to this day despite the fact that they live their lives. Still they are here, still they yearn for our love, still they will save us from ourselves. Who’s looking out for them? Me, I hope. In the past, in the present, in the future. Maybe you too, just look at things with fair eyes, detached from what society says is good and bad, and see the truth. That’s what I said to Cody anyway. We see Kyle, Diego, and Cat. I play the rolling through life playlist and bump it on the sound box. Kyle and Diego set up a sand ring and train in martial arts for a while. It reminds me of Arya and Apollo when they play dogfight. Kyle is the little Apollo who tries to hit the big Diego with quick, well-timed jabs to get him off balance. Diego, the looney lefty, is the big Arya who stands sturdy, blocks the pesky little one, and delivers those massive face shots. Cody and I talk about how lefties always have an advantage in every sport — tennis, soccer, fencing, fighting. Lionel Messi is the best soccer player in the world, most likely because he was a lefty. It activates a different part of the mind — he makes intuitive decisions that few righties can ever make. We play soccer, I myself am a lefty and try to use my decidedly inherent advantage to create chaos on the sand. We still lose — come on, Cody, step it up! That’s why I like team sports, you can always blame your teammates… just kidding. We look as the sun sets over the horizon and varying shades of orange paint the skyline. Peace of mind…I miss the ocean. Bye-bye Diego, nice to meet you Cat, I’ll see you soon Kyle — let’s study for boards together in Chicago. Cody and I continue the drive through Highway 1 to UC Santa Cruz and play a few games of chess under the lights. Cody beats me in the Sicilian, but I maintain that I had a winning position and only lost because I blundered my rook. He lost in the Orangutan because he kept the b-file open and hung his bishop several times. These past few weeks my chess game has improved significantly from playing longer games with Cody. Maybe we’ll try to become grandmasters someday — we just need more time to read some chess books and learn the theory. One thing is for sure: don’t play 1. b4. You for sure lose the advantage that way. We drive to Bellarmine and get some tacos and reminisce on what we accomplished. What a day, what a day. If only it could last a little while longer. ■ CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 25

SYNAPSES GLORIA JOO, CMS ’21 Untitled Artist’s Statement: This piece was inspired by a research paper investigating a universal microarray for SARS-CoV detection. Medium: Adobe Photoshop. 26 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES KU HN HO NG , MD, FACULTY Rushing COVID-19 Patient from Ambulance Artist’s Statement: Oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches. Spring 2020. This painting, inspired by photo images from SNS, captures the dedication of nurses and EMTs as t h ey ru sh to brin g in t h e c r i ti c a l p ati e n t f ro m th e a m b u l a n ce. This painting was displayed at my solo exhibition “Art in the Time of Covid” at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts in Michigan City, IN from October 1 - 31, 2020. CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 27

SYNAPSES CONNOR HASZTO, CMS ’23 Macabre Votum Artist’s Statement: This is a photo that I took in Florida. My primary focus was on the juxtaposition between natural scenery and the transformers / power cords in the background. This led me to contemplate the duality of nature and its similarities with the human condition. The tall grass, ripples in the water, and cloudy sky evoke imagery of the beauty of the natural world, yet hidden in the foreground is a stark reminder of the dangers of the natural 28 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES world. A duality that’s characterized by beauty and an inherent hostility. The power lines and transformers in the background represent that essence of humanity, imposed upon a seemingly alien land. Like nature, we also contain the duality of being endowed with the potential to create beauty and the tendency to “devour” through expanding across the natural world. The title “Macabre Votum” translates to “ Disturbing Desire” or “Disturbing Prayer.” I believe this title is fitting for the relationship described above. CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 29

SYNAPSES THERESA KUNNEL, CMS ’21 At the Bedside “Open wide, please, and say Ah!” A familiar phrase, a command that creates a distinct visual in the medical realm. Even as a second-year medical student, I knew what this meant for my patients. I was taught to look at the posterior oropharynx, decide if it was erythematous, and then give my recommendation to the attending physician for a rapid strep test, as if it hadn’t already been ordered before I set foot in the room. As my education progressed, I began to look for other signs on the oral exam that reflected my *supposed* increased knowledge base. I started to grade tonsillar enlargement, assess for hypoglossal nerve dysfunction on tongue movement, and look for fasciculations that could point towards a hyperthyroid picture. You can then imagine how complicated things became when patients were clad in both their hospital gowns and masks during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At this junction in time, it felt like the physical exam briefly took a backseat to the mounting uncertainty and fear surrounding this new public health threat. Our physicians were overwhelmed, our ancillary staff was overworked, and our patients were scared. We entered rooms with a newfound caution that hadn’t been there only a few weeks prior. Our smiles covered, our eyes doing little to emote how we truly felt, we were stuck in a perpetual game of “Guess Who.” My evolving and improving physical exam skills now felt stifled under this new weight. I didn’t feel challenged in the clinical setting. Rather, I felt timid, calculating the number of times I needed to enter the respiratory patients’ rooms in this new climate. I was distancing myself physically and, truth be told, emotionally from my patients. This changed for me when I encountered patient “K.S.” in June during my time at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. He was a soft-spoken man, appearing as a small fixation in his giant, empty room. Family members were not allowed on the unit, so this patient sat by himself most of the day, writhing and twisting in pain. K.S. had Behcet’s disease, an autoimmune condition that leads to inflammation of the blood vessels, resulting in arthritis, eye irritation, skin rashes/lesions, and oral ulcers. This patient was an enigma to our inpatient team. This was partly complicated by a language barrier, variably accessible translators on the unit, and the lack of family supplementation of the patient’s condition. Our hands were tied, and we looked for other causes of his immense pain. We did our due diligence to examine his extremities, his back, his eyes, and every body part in between. After a few days of phone correspondence with his niece, trying to decipher how his current flare is physically manifesting, it dawned on me. An almost silly blunder, one that I could justify as a first-year medical student but not as a rising fourth-year. I never checked his mouth. Call it negligence or a simple mistake, but I did not do an oral assessment on my patient, a fundamental part of any physical exam. I reentered the room, my mask hiding the apologetic look on my face. I flashed my ID page with my smiling headshot to my patient, so he knew which care team provider was entering his space. Using the translator, I asked him to lower his mask, revealing several aphthous ulcers in his oral mucosa. I informed the team, and we increased his steroid dose to manage this presentation. It seems like a small omission, an inconsequential detail missed that doesn’t really necessitate this feeling 30 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES of guilt. But for me, this moment was eye-opening in every dimension possible. Using a global pandemic as a shield to cut corners in the name of trepidation does not translate to healthcare. As providers, we must compensate even more so. Not only are we the physician, but during this unprecedented health crisis, we serve as the family, friends, confidants, and advocates. We are at the bedside, a position enviable by every loved one waiting on the outskirts of the hospital. Especially now, as we continue to curate our craft as medical students, it is vital to hold tight to these daily reminders. My advice to all those entering the medical field: place hands on your patients, create a safe space for them to be vulnerable, and never forget to take a peek inside their mouths. ■ S O P H I A YA N G , C M S ’ 2 3 Staying in Touch: Human Connection in Times of COVID-19 Artist’s Statement: Digital sketch on the app Procreate. CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 31

SYNAPSES MIRE K DUNDR, Ph D, FACULTY Dragon Ridge Terrace Artist’s Statement: The te rrace d rice fie lds t u rn ing ye l l ow a s fa l l co m e s i n D ra g o n R i d g e Te r ra ce, G u a ngXi Province, China. 32 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES CHIEMEZIEM OHIRI, CMS ’24 The Shadow of a Bird This man I knew was a bird. His chirp symbolized salvation, a reckoning that only good was to come. His wings, albeit seldom ever fully outstretched, enabled him to glide from cloud to cloud, only perching when the sky was unsound. Foolishly I watched, convincing myself that the world consisted of the space between the sky and the clouds. But on these cloudless days, his absence was the only stain. I am his replacement Have you ever seen an airplane with clipped wings, anchored down to the roots of a family tree, trying to be stainless, yet riddled with soil and debris? Poor airplane, somebody somewhere decided a long time ago that you were never meant to fly. This man I knew was a bird. He sang, not because he loved the sound of his voice, but because he understood the wisdom littered in-between the seams of every story. He had more stories than he did feathers and a song for every day. I sing the songs I remember. I am searching for the stories I forgot. I could never be his replacement Poor airplane, the tips of those wings take an awfully long time to grow back. Yet you seem confidently stranded in a crowded hangar, so close to form yet so far from function. But, I know you. You’re pretending like it doesn’t hurt. Sometimes, you’re just pretending to be a bird. This man I knew was a bird. The man I know now is an airplane. ■ CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 33

SYNAPSES SIDHARTH MAHAPATRA, MD ’09, PhD ’07 A Christmas to Remember “Close your mouth, Michael, we are not a codfish.” We excitedly settled in to an evening showing of a much-awaited remake of a childhood classic, Mary Poppins. The smell of popcorn pervaded as fingers dipped into the butter-soaked fluff treats that punctuate the movie experience. The recliner droned into position and the gleeful music was only interrupted by the constant crunch of popcorn or slurp of an icy Coke. As my daughter nuzzled into my lap, my phone rudely buzzed its entry to mark the beginning of a Christmas to remember. “He’s become suddenly unresponsive. His pupils are dilating. I can’t get him to breathe over the ventilator.” Stark fear underscored every word that tumbled forward across the receiver. I nodded to my wife and she readily understood that I had to leave, a melancholic smile forcing its way upon her face. My daughter clung to me desperately and whined her protest. But I had to go. I burst into the ICU and made a bee-line to the patient’s room. The team was prepared with all the first- and second-line therapies I had ordered as I made my way in. Central lines were rapidly procured. All therapies were instituted. Multiple difficult conversations were initiated with the family. After six hours of vigilant and diligent struggle at the bedside, he began to stabilize. Vitals were acceptable, pupils were responsive, he was initiating breaths on the ventilator, and thus his brain seemed to be in a more comfortable state. I drove home. However, this honeymoon was destined to end. The early morning hours heralded a rapidly deteriorating situation, punctuated by code events and further declines in overall patient health. The distraught mother, who had seen me multiple times throughout the night, could tell from my expression that her son’s time was galloping rapidly to its end. She had an impossible choice to make — let him linger on life support until a code event claims him or make the decision to take away life support and hasten the inevitable. Through tears her shaking voice came forth: “I can’t pull the plug, but how can I let him continue to suffer?” This Christmas Day was neither holly nor jolly. There were no cups of cheer and she was reminded that her child will never jingle-bell again. Her gift this Christmas Day to her dying son was the gift of a dignified end to his suffering. I stood back after giving the order to discontinue life support and watched quietly as she encircled him and sobbed a prayer for his peaceful departure. A Christmas to remember, to know that some will suffer and some will lose, that some will lie awake forever wondering why they were cursed to spend the rest of this holiday remembering a loss like no other. And the internal storm that engulfed me filled me with a regret and a guilt, for I knew that this was not my reality and that expectant children were waiting for me to spend their holiday with pomp and cheer. A Christmas to remember when one brought the grim reaper to one mother’s doorstep and Santa Claus to another... ■ 34 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES STUART MEYER, MD ’60 Helix Nebula Artist’s Statement: Since retirement, I have studied to become an amateur astronomer and astrophotographer. The helix is so important in the minds of all of us associated with Rosalind Franklin University. It is fitting, then, that I observe and study the Helix Nebula. A nebula, simply defined, is a gaseous cloud of hydrogen, helium, and other materials that often acts as an incubator for the formation of stars. It reminds me of the mission of our University! The Helix Nebula is 450 light years away in the constellation of Aquarius. It is the closest planetary nebula to Earth. It gives me great pleasure to meld my two passions — The helix associated with the practice of medicine and the Helix associated with the Universe. CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 35


SYNAPSES Artist’s Statement: Oil on stretched canvas. Two panels, 30 x 40 inches each. January 2021. Many precious lives were lost in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, including numerous medical doctors around the world. According to The, as of November 2020, 2,921 U.S. healthcare workers had died from Covid, and 220 physicians and 460 nurses were among them. I painted their portraits from collected images into two panels to celebrate their lives and to memorialize their dedication and sacrifice. First panel: Top row, Dr. Herbert Henderson Jr. Family Medicine Age 56 from left C a rd i o l o g i st Age 85 Dr. Eugene Sayfire Psychiatrist Age 57 P u l m o n o l o g i st Age 75 Dr. Luis Caldera Nieves Dr. Barry Sakowitz Middle row, D r. Tomas Pat t u galan Internal Medicine Age 70 from left Dr. Michael Giuliano Family Medicine Age 64 Dr. Joseph Bongiorno Age 78 Dr. Santo Buccheri Psychiatrist Age 60 D r. I van Rodrigu ez Medical Director Age 61 Internal Medicine Bottom row, Dr. Gary Sclar Neurologist Age 66 Age 73 from left Dr. Jesus Manuel Zambrano Pediatric Neurosurgeon Age 59 Dr. J. Ronald Verrier Surgeon Second panel: Top row, D r. Yde lfon so D e coo Pediatrician Age 70 from left Age 68 Dr. Steven Perez Internal Medicine Age 57 Age 67 Dr. Leo Dela Cruz Geriatric Psychiatrist Age 72 Dr. Alex Hsu Internal Medicine Age 28 Age 62 Middle row, Dr. Jeffrey Ethan Escher Geriatrician Age 70 from left Ob-Gyn Resident Age 78 Dr. Adeline Fagan Pulmonologist Physician Age 74 Dr. James Mahoney Family Medicine Age 60 Age 75 Dr. Francis Molinari Age 62 D r. Robe rt Hu ll Bottom row, Dr. David Wolin Radiologist from left D r. F ran k G abrin E R Dr. Sam Scolaro Family Medicine Dr. Arthur Friedman U rg e n t C a re CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 37

SYNAPSES L E O K E L LY, M D, FAC U LT Y Approaching Storm A storm approaches from the Bay. The darkening sky stains the water gray As we watch from the bluff late on a summer’s day. Gliding gulls are pushed to shore by the freshening breeze. Now we smell the coming rain with ease And the only sound we hear is the rustle of the trees. The songbirds fall silent on the bough. We have witnessed all that nature will allow, The storm is upon us now. ■ MIRE K DUNDR, Ph D, FACULTY Fallen Artist’s Statement: Fall, falling, fallen. 38 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES JASPREET AMAR, CMS ’22 Treading Water 2020 Artist’s Statement: This is an interpretation of the current healthcare system as we navigate the unknown seas of a global pandemic. Acrylic on canvas. CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 39

SYNAPSES GLORIA JOO, CMS ’21 2020 Artist’s Statement: Pre-2020 I wanted to capture the chaotic essence of 2020 by blending different media and experimenting with color theory. I first painted an abstracted landscape (see “pre-2020”) to serve as the base of my piece, before making further edits with Photoshop. The hyperpolarization of politics, the politicization of science, and the fragmentation of our society were illustrated by warping the original painting into random fragments of psychedelic colors. Acrylic paint, Adobe Photoshop. 40 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES EDWIN KOROURI, CMS ’23 Lockdown Haikus Each day since going remote on March 13th, 2020, I wrote one haiku. I titled the series “Lockdown Haikus,” of which I have chosen seven of my favorites to share. Lockdown Haiku #3 Must quarantine I am social distancing See you in fourteen Lockdown Haiku #24 Passover on Zoom What? You are on mute, Grandma Please pass me more wine Lockdown Haiku #33 Meet my new roommates I call them mom and dad Quarantine please end Lockdown Haiku #52 Pfizer, Moderna I really need the vaccine AstraZeneca Lockdown Haiku #129 RT-PCR What’s the sensitivity? At last, negative Lockdown Haiku #254 Dentist appointment A trap or healthcare, not sure Yes, I floss each day Lockdown Haiku #281 Zoom or Google Meet? Please turn on your cameras Was there a password? ■ CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 41

SYNAPSES GARY BODNER, MD ’75 Drama Artist’s Statement: Mixed media on canvas. 42 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES A L L I S O N C A S S I DY, S TA F F Posies Artist’s Statement: I have thought more about the Black Death in the last year than in the rest of my life combined. From there, I would end up thinking about the plague doctors who would carry herbs and aromatics in the beaks of their masks, believing it would cleanse the air they breathed (at least according to my high school history teacher). Now whenever I venture into public spaces, I can’t help but imagine a funnel cloud of flower petals going with me. Acrylic, gouache, and modeling paste on canvas. CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 43

SYNAPSES ELLIOT LEVINE, MD ’78 A Contemporary Essay on Medical Education Reflecting on the training of individuals for medical practice (i.e. medical education), and the impact it has on the individuals who participate in it — both the teachers and the students who inevitably become those teachers — prompted me to write this for Synapses. As a senior practitioner, I now wish to share the perspective I’ve gained as a result of these past four decades. The vast changes in medical science, medical practice, available technology, and society in general, over these decades is most impressive, in view of the pace of change, as well as the content and the language that we have come to use. For example, the phrases, “multi-tasking” and “device security” and “social media” were never spoken (or even understood) forty years ago. This probably speaks to today’s life complexity, as well as the amount of knowledge we all need to absorb — most especially physicians. Mastering our own selected medical specialty is naturally challenging. I do not recall initially being taught how to actually be the “life-long learner” that is expected of today’s physician. Social media certainly supports the continued spread of advanced information technology. Regarding my own medical education, by the way, in contrast to today’s medical student, I was given textbooks to read, rather than the use of today’s online links to various sites where the most current information may exist. This meaningful change in information science is absolutely appreciated by many of us. Of course, many medical consumers (i.e. patients) take advantage of current information technology, by “googling” their symptoms to arrive at their diagnosis. Unfortunately, there can be an abundance of gross misinformation to be found in social media, which can ultimately harm people. As physicians, bearing the responsibility to provide optimal healthcare, we may often need to direct our patients to more credible, valid medical information sources, in that we need to propose the use of proper, understandable online sources. We should even know our own ideal medically-oriented information sources for such efficiently delivered information (e.g. UpToDate, DynaMed, etc.). While we may be partially compensated by the personal satisfaction scores provided by our patients, we should not lose sight of our main purpose — to provide optimal healthcare backed by a high level of evidence, having less concern with the popularity of the medical facts which we present. We just need to be able to navigate on the platforms in which we operate (e.g. electronic health records, patient portals, etc.), to engage our patients, and to achieve optimal healthcare outcomes with whatever resources we have, while keeping up with the rapid pace of expanding medical information. It may even be amusing to illustrate this vast expansion of medical knowledge, by describing an example of published medical treatment of preterm labor with I.V. alcohol in 1978, watching patients becoming inebriated while in labor.1 Of course, evidence dictates the use of other medications for the treatment of preterm labor today, in contrast to what was recommended a half century ago. Another example of the advances of modern medicine can include the current vaginal use of focused laser treatment for genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM), which was not even considered to be a realistic treatment of this common condition, when I was taught OB/GYN in 1978.2 There are many specialty-specific examples that can show an almost revolutionary change of standard medical practice to very different practices resulting from published evidence promoting such change. 44 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES This underscores the need for physician awareness of medical society Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE), representing a modern systematic approach to recognizing evidence for medical practice. All should note the difference between medical education provided in the last century and what constitutes standard practice today. Appreciation of the advancement in medical education — with the use of today’s technology — affecting the current practice of medicine is something that deserves everyone’s reflection. References: 1. Fuchs: Use of ethanol in prevention of premature delivery. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1971;110(8):1148-9 2. Paraiso MFR, et al: A randomized clinical trial comparing vaginal laser therapy to vaginal estrogen therapy in women with genitourinary syndrome of menopause: the VeLVET trial. Menopause 2019 ■ GLORIA JOO, CMS ’21 Fun Guy Artist’s Statement: Surgery rotation... 16 by 20 inches, acrylic paint. CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 45

SYNAPSES KUH N H O NG , MD, FACULTY Masked Picasso Sculpture at the Daley Plaza Artist’s Statement: Oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches. Spring 2020. Many shops, government offices, restaurants and other businesses in downtown Chicago have been closed during the early stage of the Covid pandemic. A large mask was attached to the Picasso sculpture in the Daley Plaza to promote awareness of city mask mandates. I went to the spot to draw quick sketches and take photographs for this painting. There was one lone pedestrian in the plaza. No crowds in sight. 46 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES WIL L IA M AGB O R BAIYE E , PhD, FACULTY Surprise It is early in the year. The storm is everywhere. There is no time to prepare. You see the fury of the sea. The waves ebb and flow. You are calm and overwhelmed. You stare into the abyss of fear. You bare your heart to the isolation. You let your anxiety just be. The ocean starts to recede. Perhaps your star in the sky is teaching a lesson. Maybe the moon is guiding your journey. One day you may remember with wonder. You may see the footprints. You may wonder if the flower will blossom again. ■ CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 47

SYNAPSES AAY U S H B O D D U, C M S ’ 2 3 My First Patient The birds they sang, at break of day “Start again”, I hear them say It’s so hard to just walk away The birds they sang, all a choir “Start again a little higher” It’s a spark in a sea of grey The sky is blue Dreamed out loud ‘til it’s true Then takin’ back the punch I threw My arms turn wings Oh, those clumsy things Send me up to that wonderful world And then I’m up with the birds Might have to go Where they don’t know my name Float all over the world Just to see her again And I won’t show or fear any pain Even though all my armor Might rust in the rain A simple plot but I know one day Good things are coming our way A simple plot but I know one day Good things are coming our way Oh, yeah — Coldplay, “Up with the Birds” I came back from sunny California a couple days ago, my faith in humanity diminishing with each passing second. I woke up at 5:15 AM, getting ready for my first day practicing skills I’d use to be a real doctor. Maybe something good will come of today. My boy Matt offered to drive us 1 hour, 45 minutes to Rockford. This was the first time I drove such a long time westward in the icy state of Illinois. The snow had fallen a few days ago and outlined the brown branches of the “heaven trees” — skeletons of their former selves. Sorry, Dr. Affinati, looks like we’ll be 20 minutes late because we went to the wrong location. Hello, Dr. Luqman, thanks for telling us that we were actually 40 minutes early, I feel better now. Looks like I’m going to be in the same room as Drew for the initial rounds of the day. Maybe I can show him my study methods and maybe we can talk about the lecture material for today — endocrine and diabetes is actually pretty interesting, huh? Benign prostatic hyperplasia seems to be causing this patient’s hematuria, constipation, and kidney cysts — why didn’t that come up on anybody else’s radar? Time to begin rounds — hey, looks like I’m going to be interviewing the patient in room 617. Oh, I guess everyone is walking in on to this patient’s room too. My first patient… let’s make it special! I give Drew a fist bump as he left the room because I realize “Cheryl” is going to be super fun to talk to after she mentioned that she was going to be a “guinea pig” because nine people came into the room to see her. 48 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

SYNAPSES Hey, this 70-year-old has a good sense of humor! The following one and a half hours was a real trip — we are always told that a good history and physical leads us to the proper diagnosis more than 90% of the time… how come nobody follows this mantra? Because the easy way out of obtaining labs and reading values in morning rounds makes it seem like you have done a lot of work, when in reality we have no idea what to pick out as pertinent. The only real truth is what you hear when you listen to your patient. The 15-minute time limit that we place on ourselves to figure out what is going wrong with our patient is efficient, but it forces us physicians to approach our patients as just another person that we need to check off our list of things to do in the day. It prevents us from actually listening to our patients talk about their trials and tribulations. Without taking the time to listen, there is no way that I would have learned the following about my patient. She was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the beginning of the year as she was trying to get her cataracts replaced. After receiving a positive COVID test, she was denied new lenses. This prevented her from being able to walk; she lost her 3D vision and would trip over things — she felt absolutely incompetent and powerless. It was best for her to just sit in place. But how does that help with her ability to reduce her blood glucose via exercise? Her husband now goes to the grocery store for her. Just like my dad, her husband does not try as hard as she does to find the right ingredients to cook her meals. She needs a high-protein, high-fiber, low-sugar diet, but that stuff is all expensive. Cheryl had tried all kinds of different diets and weight loss programs but found that three things matter: First, eliminate sugar as much as possible and eat vegetables. Second, get rid of stress. And third, have someone who actually listens to you. I tried to help with the third criterion, which in turn would help with the second. She and I agree that nobody really understands nutrition and so much of the marketing companies just prey on individuals who want to get back to being healthy — nobody really knows what the best diet for each of us is. I think the best diet is one of balance. I bought a scented candle at Target named Harmony and Balance. A tag on the tea I drank the night before said “You don’t need to be love; you are the love.” Was that a sign? Cheryl and I share a love for animals — they live with no worries. She talked about how her husband started gardening and leaving bird feeders in the backyard. Now ALL THE BIRDS come to her place — finches, hummingbirds and the like. Apparently the finches sit on her chimney for warmth, and sometimes they get burned. It’s a tough life trying to find balance. Cheryl now tries not to turn the heat on to save the birds. The lack of worry is apparent with Cheryl’s two shih tzus. They live in the moment. So what brings about the worries? Mainly money, I think. Money attributes value to things which makes it easy to judge something. It’s a useful tool, but not the “be-all, end-all” that we make it out to be. I told Cheryl that teachers like her need to be paid more than $80,000 a year. She was a schoolteacher for 40 years. She looked at me with a straight face and said, “You know, when you get to my age, you realize that there are more important things than money. My profession kept me young and has motivated me to live my best life.” CHICAGO MEDICAL SCHOOL 49

SYNAPSES I agreed with her. After all, Gandhi died with almost no possessions but lived perhaps the richest life in history. Cheryl told me her opinion that COVID was a message from God telling us to become closer to our families. I agreed with that, in a sense. Had it not been for COVID, I would not have gone back home to my family for a month, I would not have gone on a California road trip with my cousin’s dog for three days, and I would not have shown my full potential to my parents. I told Cheryl how I was reading all these books and coming to a fundamental truth about my nature. As I revealed more about myself, she became more comfortable sharing her true feelings as well — about how she really relied on her family (husband and son) to help her completely fulfill her activities of daily living. She would probably need to be sent to a nursing home at some point, which made me sad. She was mentally there; she just couldn’t move. All of a sudden, I saw her catheter bag fill up. She stared at it. “It amazes me how these machines work, why can’t I have this at home?” she asked me. Then it struck me: she was peeing right in front of me! I asked her if I should I leave? She didn’t give a damn. We both cracked up. Why can’t more people take their sticks out of their butts and just be more carefree? I told her that the machine probably cost $2,000 and that’s why she couldn’t have it at home. She told me how she also did not qualify for an oxygen tank because of the way the insurance laws are set. The insurance companies are out for money; they force doctors to make poorly incentivized decisions. At her baseline state, Cheryl does not require extra oxygen, but if she is performing her daily activities like walking up and down steps, moving around the house, or cooking food, she gets exhausted quickly. But since they only test her oxygen consumption at one point in time, while she is lying flat in bed, she never qualifies for it. Is that fair? Are resources being allocated justly? Wait, we got sidetracked! Why are you here again? “I had pneumonia which I’m taking antibiotics for now,” she tells me, “but my stomach hurts in the right upper quadrant because apparently I have a hematoma. They stuck a needle in me to get rid of a kidney stone that I apparently had in July.” Apparently she was readmitted to the hospital after her initial discharge because she fell trying to get in her car, probably because of the cold AND because she didn’t have her normal walker that has good brakes on it. She was readmitted and continued to receive treatment for her pneumonia. I keep talking to her. She grew up a Mormon, surrounded by men, which is why she believes God had to have been in a relationship with a woman because “he would only have focused on the center of a girl otherwise.” Haha! True that. I told her that I was a Hindu but went to an all-boys Jesuit school, so she could continue cracking jokes like that because I thought they were funny. She asked me my name and I showed her my name tag. The first part of my name means “live long,” and the second part means the belly button, which supposedly represents the origin of life. Or it could mean a belly button that lives very long. 50 ROSALIND FR ANKLIN UNIVERSITY

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