Poetry in Medicine



Earl Stewart, Jr.


She lay there, frail

And feeble with increased work of breathing.

Unbeknownst to her the travail we employ to aid her,

Her mental status altered, her strength

Failing, our strength in full force.

Acute hypoxia is her definition, she is

Short of breath and stature.

88% on 3 LPM, her lethargy

Not lethargic, her mental status


Lung exam coarse.

Stat chest X-ray.

Stat arterial blood gas.

Increase her oxygen requirement to 4 LPM.

Continuous pulse oximetry.

Initially to 91% . . . then 92% . . .  and 94%.  We are relieved.


In the middle of the night, in the flight

Of time, such is rather expected.


I leave in pursuit of other fulfillments

Of my time, my calling.


A page—now to 88% on 4 LPM, then 5, then 6.

Consider BiPaP.  BiPaP it is.

97% and stable, occasionally to 99%.  Sheer relief.


One hour later, she is alert, awake, asking for eye drops,

Rather jovial, even for lipstick, and a sip of water, with crunchy ice.

Denies lethargy.

Short, stubby, pleasant disposition.

88 years young, very Pickwickian, and



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