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Education  |   October 2013
The Anesthesiologist Breathes for You
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Audrey Shafer, M.D.
    Stanford University School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, California. ashafer@stanford.edu
  • Accepted for publication October 11, 2012.
    Accepted for publication October 11, 2012.×
Article Information
Education / Mind to Mind
Education   |   October 2013
The Anesthesiologist Breathes for You
Anesthesiology 10 2013, Vol.119, 982-983. doi:10.1097/ALN.0b013e318278c79f
Anesthesiology 10 2013, Vol.119, 982-983. doi:10.1097/ALN.0b013e318278c79f
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I say: fill your lungs

take a deep breath

I breathe deeply too

perhaps less to demonstrate

than to participate, to enter in

Good–nice deep breath

the words billow–

I push medicines into your iv tubing

and squeeze the long oval balloon

how tenderly your chest rises

just there below your clavicles

I tape your eyelids closed and

listen, between your ribs

then to the song of the bellows

The surgeon chisels at the little window of you

a square of burnt sienna framed by a fake blue sea –

the oxygen of your pulse ticks, marks me in your time

clocks the myriad motions and measures I make

as the surgeon burrows and scrapes

At the end, I pull off the eyetape and on the tape

curves a faint smile of eyelashes

free for the briefest moment from worry

Now it’s time for you to re-enter –

leaning over the crown of your head, upside down above your face

I command: open your eyes

then smile behind my mask

because, like the magic of spring trees blossoming

your eyelids flutter, you breathe without my asking

you push open the gate

and you’re back.

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