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The Other End of the Tube FREE TO VIEW

Larry Greenbaum, MD
Author and Funding Information

Indianapolis, IN

Correspondence to: Larry Greenbaum, MD, 701 E County Line Rd, Suite 101, Greenwood, IN 46143; e-mail: lgreenbaum@SBCGLOBAL.net

Chest. 2008;133(5):1287. doi:10.1378/chest.08-0062
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Dementia and stroke

stole your words

leaving only dry silence,

but your face still speaks.

When I reach out my stethoscope,

that short tube of hope,

to hear your clicks, murmurs,

and rales, my talking face

is very close to your silent one

but I can see that you’d like

to tell me something,

perhaps a thought to take

on rounds, but you can’t

do more than moan

or grab my hand as it

skillfully glides the scope

here and there on your thin

chest, as if you mean to say

“pay attention to the me that

can’t get out of this bed”, but

the presence of your thin hand

on mine impedes my purpose.

I must keep moving since

there’s many more

like you, waiting to be seen

(they are there, but perhaps

it’s too optimistic to say

they are waiting to see me)

followed by a tired lunch

and a similar afternoon,

so I look away

my hand eluding yours

and flee to the

nurses station to

write in your chart some

dry words about gurgles,

rales, ronchi, and these other

things we prize so highly:

that thing we call

a progress note.

Editor’s Note: Larry Greenbaum, MD, is a rheumatologist and internist practicing in Indianapolis.

Michael Zack, MD, Section Editor of Pectoriloquy




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