Reflections on Palliative Care: Uncomfortable

By: Dr. Allison Schneider

Throughout my Palliative Care rotation during this last year of medical school at UCSF, I began turning to writing as a way to both process and remember some of my patients and the intimate moments we shared. This is the second pair of poems I’ve written as a small way to pay tribute to them. (For the first installment in the series, click here.)


Where is your pain?
Please give me something.
I just want to sleep.

It’s okay not to fight anymore.
Thank you.

But will he wake up?
My kids are in school.
They’ll be here at five.
Can you be here?
Thank you.
Thank you so much.

Mr. L, metastatic nasopharyngeal carcinoma, age 49

45 Liters

I led 1000 men into battle.
Most of them didn’t make it to 93.
Isn’t that right, Bruce?
It’s been a good life.

So can I go home now?
I’m missing my Torah class.
Can’t I just buy one of these machines?
You just breathe slow now, Dad.
But, I can go home Friday?
We’ll see.

Mr. A, respiratory failure, age 93

Dr. Allison Schneider grew up in Washington, D.C., and received a BA in Public Policy and American Institutions from Brown University. She then worked for the Kaiser Family Foundation Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured prior to entering medical school at the University of California, San Francisco. She graduated this month and will be starting her residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Kaiser Oakland Medical Center in July.

1 Comment

  1. Carme on June 12, 2016 at 8:56 am

    So beautiful

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