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A Measure

Katers, Laura MS, PA; LaBoy, Clara MS, PA-C

Journal of the American Academy of PAs: December 2013 - Volume 26 - Issue 12 - p 1
doi: 10.1097/01.JAA.0000437808.10740.83
Mindful Practice

Laura Katers is an August 2013 graduate of the University of Washington-Seattle MEDEX Physician Assistant Program.

Clara LaBoy is an assistant professor in the PA program at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Worcester, Massachusetts, and a PA practicing in psychiatry.

Tanya Gregory, PhD, department editor

The man offers his hand

as though it held a baby bird;

his index and middle fingers

rise like bread dough.

He slammed them in a car door,

“Because of the visions,” he tells me.

“Is it scary? Seeing those flashes of light?”

“No, not really—I don't remember.”

His hand coos.

I listen to his heart instead:

lub dub—whoosh,

the knock at the door,

a stiletto over the thrill,

a paper printout,

a machine

in the young man's chest


And I know

as I know too much about so many,

that his mind won't kill him, no—

not the visions, the nightmares,

the measure of each madness—

not the forgetting of each

intractable moment that

slips by.

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Eye Contact

Her bed is surrounded by festive, ribbon-tailed balloons that cling to the ceiling

A quivering twisted mound covered in stiff white linen lies in the center of the bed

I approach quietly

There is a stain on my white lab coat—it's yesterday's coffee

“How are you feeling today?” I say, feeling vacant

She does not answer

The silence is interrupted, broken by the television selling rejuvenating cream

I need to speak with her

I was trained to make eye contact

I was trained to engage patients in meaningful exchanges

I was trained to conceal ambiguity, fear, and love

“Can I help you?” I say, my voice distant and small

She uncovers her head; skin like unhoned marble, eyes that see through the helplessness

“Yes!” she responds wild eyed, “bring back my life!”

I look away, my vision distorted by the balloon ribbons dancing between us.

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Box 1

© 2013 American Academy of Physician Assistants.