Pectoriloquy |

Returning to Practice FREE TO VIEW

Molly L. O’Dell, MD, MFA
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Editor’s Note: Dr O’Dell writes that “The experience of stepping back into the familiar rhythm of practice with the camaraderie of staff after the transformation from my mastectomies was surreal. I was me yet different from the person who used to inhabit these rooms.” She is a public health officer for the Virginia Department of Health, practicing in the New River Valley of southwest Virginia. She received her MFA from the University of Nebraska in 2008.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.

Chest. 2012;142(4):1068. doi:10.1378/chest.11-3055
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February, after lunch. Every chief complaint
includes aches and sore throat. Nine
women. Two men. Deep lined faces seek
relief in this familiar space with blue
countertops. Three exam rooms, ordered
exactly, labels on drawers and doors.
I can’t find the correct swab I need
in this pile of white-tipped applicators:
compressed foam for viral cultures,
difficult-to-open rayon heads for strep,
and so on. I can’t catch a rhythm. It’s like
cooking dinner in someone else’s kitchen.
Between patients, one of the nurses tells
me about her trip to Mayo. She starts chemo
next week. Stethoscope thumps gawky against
my chest without breasts to damper the bumps.




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