It’s been a while.  I’m sorry; peds and surgery have taken over my life.  More on them later, but for now, a little appetizer:

The other day, I held a human heart, beating, in my hand. It was bigger than my fist and finely slippery, like satin on bare skin. The aorta throbbed away just cephalad. Think of it — a human heart! Not brown-gray like my cadaver, nor red like cartoons. Yellow, bright neon smiley-face yellow, shout-to-the-world yellow, lovely protective pericardial fat yellow.

Clamp clamp clamp, suddenly tubes everywhere, a word from the attending and dark blood flew through the tubes to the machines behind us, a second later bright red blood flew back, all with the precision of model trains. I looked down into the body cavity again: the heart just lay there. The lungs began to shrink away.

We did the graft — two coronaries; this was a sick guy. Microanastomosis through microscopes, beautiful perfect whipstitching. Another word from the surgeon and the tubes came out and the heart, which had lain there most obligingly, began to contract. Just a little at first. The attending prodded it with a finger and it angrily kicked back. He pulled out the paddles and shocked non-chatantly, as though it were merely a formality. That started the heart galloping. We closed (and by we, I mean the surgeon said “Have you sutured before? Go for it!” as he scrubbed out and my classmate and I closed this man’s midline sternotomy).

Today, I held a human heart, beating and then not and then beating again, in my hand. I begin to see why people like this field.


5 thoughts on “

  1. Hi there,

    So, maybe this is a little weird, but I am currently a medical school applicant, and this entry is the first of yours I read. I’m now addicted. I grew up the daughter of two physicians, and have worked as an EMT for about 7 years (I’m 26, F), and have sort of ambled my way along. I always felt like my decisions lead me closer and closer to medicine, but because of my parents, I was nervous that it was too obvious; too destined. I’ve decided that I love it more than anything I’ve ever done in my life, and I’m biting the bullet and doing it. I know I’m late in the cycle, and I have yet to take the MCAT, but my hope beyond hope is that it will work out. Anyway, all this being said, I wanted to know that one of the things that has kept me going through all of it lately, is your blog. You truly are an incredible writer, and I love “hearing” from you in one way or another. Thank you for what you’re doing, and for whatever it’s worth, it does make a difference to someone. If you have ANY advice, please give me a shout. I would be forever grateful. Thanks again, KC

    1. Aw, shucks! I’m glad these scribblings make sense to someone else. Best of luck in the application process — if you want any advice feel free to send me a private message. is also a great resource; I used it heavily during the application process, but caveat lector — it may make you paranoid and insane for a few months.

      1. Hey!

        I’m so sorry for not responding sooner. I took the MCAT on Aug 20th, and oh my GOSH. I feel like applying is a waste of time. Terrified, but we shall see. I just moved to a new apartment, and am basically settled and need to start secondaries! Woohoo! Thanks so much for the offer, and I’ll do my best to not harass you often. Now, I’m going to go catch up on your blog…

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