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Pectoriloquy |

Grown up FREE TO VIEW

Maya Kotas, MD, PhD
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Editor’s Note: The author writes, “The shift from being the recipients of our parents’ care to being their caregivers is the experience I hoped to capture, and to share with you, in ‘Grown up.’” Maya Kotas is a second year internal medicine resident at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia University Medical Center, and will soon begin fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at UCSF.

Editor’s note for authors of submissions to Pectoriloquy: Poems should not exceed 350 words, should not have been previously published, and should be related to concerns of physicians and medicine. First submissions to the Pectoriloquy Section should be submitted via e-mail to poetrychest@aol.com. Authors of accepted poems will be asked to submit the final version to CHEST Manuscript Central.

Michael Zack, MD, FCCP

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


Chest. 2015;148(3):840-841. doi:10.1378/chest.15-1072
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Published online

I became a doctor the day Mom called
to ask,     what should she do
about him found face down on the front lawn in the summer heat
just sleeping drunk or
oh God what if it’s worse what if it’s
   And what about the way my smile doesn’t look the same and these
   spots that have appeared?
Medical advice for free     (or really just paid in advance with
diapers from a colicky infant
       working overtime
and night classes
to make ends meet.)
My inexperienced second opinion and I’d never say out loud I’m
    relieved when the internist agrees.
I scold Dad now
who used to snarl
    MUST you swing your legs under the table at dinner?
(to me too small to reach the floor when seated
and fearing him displeased)
Strict instructions to reduce his sweets and those mixed nuts that are full of fat that’s not bad fat like a
Twinkie but still fat
    that gut has got to go!
for your back  and knees       and blood pressure and
Sheepishly staring at the floor.
Doctor is the name for not a child
    but not a parent
hiding your fear for their sake
and helping with math problems like
3500 calories is a pound of fat and if 150 is 30 points too high for the top number
   where are we aiming?
And for speaking a foreign tongue to be secretive and sound important
or other times translating big words into little ones,
answering questions like
    how long will this pain go on?
           I promise to behave I promise
    Are we there yet?
when they heard something said they didn’t understand about themselves
or a friend who is ailing.
Medicine is rational.
    But it makes no sense for me to be in charge
when I’m the child still growing up not sure what the answer is
       and not old enough for them to      not yet
They are waiting for my definitive reply.
          Of course it’s the truth
because you should believe what your parents say
and also the doctor.


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