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Education  |   July 2020
An ER Doctor Finds His Daughter in Critical Condition
Author Notes
  • This poem is one of the finalists of Anesthesiology’s 2019 annual creative writing competition, The Letheon.
    This poem is one of the finalists of Anesthesiology’s 2019 annual creative writing competition, The Letheon.×
  • Accepted for publication January 29, 2020. Published online first on February 25, 2020.
    Accepted for publication January 29, 2020. Published online first on February 25, 2020.×
Article Information
Education / Mind to Mind / Cardiovascular Anesthesia / Coagulation and Transfusion / Gastrointestinal and Hepatic Systems / Geriatric Anesthesia / Ophthalmologic Anesthesia / Pain Medicine / Radiological and Other Imaging / Respiratory System / Technology / Equipment / Monitoring / Trauma / Burn Care
Education   |   July 2020
An ER Doctor Finds His Daughter in Critical Condition
Anesthesiology 7 2020, Vol.133, 233-234. doi:https://doi.org/10.1097/ALN.0000000000003214
Anesthesiology 7 2020, Vol.133, 233-234. doi:https://doi.org/10.1097/ALN.0000000000003214
The operating room sounds oddly like jazz.
The beep of her heart monitor
The trickle of her blood transfusion
The snap of hospital gloves as the team prepares to cut into her tiny body.
The stretcher had rolled in through the aluminum double doors
at the end of the trauma wing.
I knew it was her when I saw the strawberry sandals.
One had fallen off.
I imagined its partner
Ripped into rubber scraps, pinned beneath the wheel
that collided with my daughter’s bike.
The clank of the stretcher’s metal,
The thwap of a blanket thrown onto her,
The bump of the door as it found its casing and closed.
I had been too busy listening to see which room they’d assigned her.
I stared at the silver frame still wavering
as her frail, mangled body was carried down the narrow hall.
Operating Room #3.
Beep. Trickle. Snap.
I glance around the Operating Room;
I don’t remember how I got here.
I’m drunk with the pain of my daughter’s broken body.
4 feet. 58 pounds.
I watch as they try to turn my little girl into a number.
She’s not a number.
But the words are caught in my throat,
playing tag with the brigade of tears that form as I watch
my daughter’s threads unravel before my eyes.
I hear the nurse to my right chanting
that I don’t need to see this
that it’s not my fault.
I glance towards her. She sees my words.
I wasn’t supposed to watch them operate.
I wasn’t supposed to be in the room.
I wasn’t supposed to let her get hurt.
As a stranger’s blood becomes one with hers, I wonder how
the porcelain doll I’d given life to had been cracked.
And where the hell was I when she needed me most?