A Letter to My First Patient (Poem)

My voice is unfamiliar to you,

As I rub your back.

I say your name and draw you away,

From your world of pleasant dreams.

My fingers glide over that protruding place

Between your shoulder blades,

You moan in pain;

All your bones ache,

And more loudly, I say your name again.

You hear me this time, through muffled ears,

And you grunt in acknowledgement.

You do not remember me,

But I remember you.

You see, every morning, I wake you up.

In that first moment when you open your eyes,

I make sure you see my smile.

I look into your sleepy blue eyes,

And I say,

“I am here to help you.”

I change your brief,

I take you to the shower,

Cover you in blankets,

And I promise that you won’t get cold,

While you are being cleaned.

I moisturize your dry, flaking skin.

I pick your clothes,

Put your favorite hat on your head,

And make sure you look handsome.

I brush your hair,

Clean your teeth,

Wash your face,

And teach you how to eat.


This is a spoon, which I place in your fingers,

And I guide your hand to your plate.

I am proud of every bite you take.

And when you tire,

I will feed you.

I’ll rub your back again,

Remind you to swallow,

And wipe your mouth when you’re finished.

Back inside your room again,

I’ll do something that not many people will ever get to do.

With my stethoscope, I’ll listen to your heart,

Take your pulse,

And count your breaths.

I know what your temperature is,

Your blood pressure,

Your pain level.

I know the sound your heart makes,

Each murmur, each thud, each beat.

If anything is abnormal,

I promise that I’ll alert the nurse.

In my care, you are safe,

Your needs are met,

And you are respected,

I promise that you will be

Treated with dignity.

Copyright 2013


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