Pectoriloquy |


William French, MA, RRT
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Editor’s Note: William French is a respiratory therapist. He writes, “As a clinician, I have participated in many futile situations and had conversations with family members and other clinicians who were desperate for hope when the situation was truly hopeless. I tried to imagine this from the patient’s point of view. Perhaps this will prompt we health-care professionals to consider the implications of what we do.”

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

Chest. 2015;147(3):862. doi:10.1378/chest.14-2085
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The eyes will tell
the story if you let them.
The eyes that have seen
everything and
now see nothing.
Shine the light
and watch. Do
the pupils, black
and deep as a
starless night,
sharpen to a pinpoint
to mitigate the assault?
The heart beats on.
The chest rises rhythmically
with each mechanical whisper
of the ventilator. An
involuntary twitch of
a muscle heralds the miracle
that never comes. All lies.
If you really want
to know the truth,
it’s in the eyes.




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