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I Can’t Breathe

Voices in Humanism

June 5, 2020 brought the Black Lives Matter protest to the Short North in Columbus, Ohio. George Floyd, Eric Garner and so many others have repeated the words, “I Can’t Breathe” and yet the police did not stop.
Doctors are supposed to be objective and I hope that we can be better at listening to our patients than the police to their victims.
The photos speak for themselves: What if people in America loved black people as much as they love black culture?

Phil Anjum
OSU College of Medicine, Class of 2022
Photographer, Videographer

Quarantine Still Life

Voices in Humanism

Quarantine Still Life
Graphite on Paper

“Art is an escape for me. With everything going on in the world, I needed recentering. This still life, created from things I found in my apartment, (my wildly growing green onions and a Honeycrisp apple I ate afterwards) brought me back to my studio drawing days in Undergrad, which I deeply miss. I loved the way
the light came through the glass and the shadows they cast. It was just what I needed.”

Sabrina Mackey-Alfonso
MD/PhD Student, Second Year


Voices in Humanism

Hold still and wear bright colors

Voices in Humanism

Hold still and wear bright colors

Don’t listen to what anyone else has to say about you or to you or with you or for you. You have nothing to
worry about, sweets, it’s just the second coffee you drank that’s making your heart race and your stomach
roll up like a sleeping bag. You didn’t do anything wrong! How could you? You were born bright and shining
innocence, with a love around you so big you haven’t ever been able to find its edges, it’s always hugged you
so tight that you could hardly move around your world. You are a hero. A protagonist! Everybody loves you!

Why are you being chased? Who knows? Some people just like to chase sweet little things like you.

You run and run until you’re ragged. The cold air slides over the insides of your lungs like sandpaper, you
must have blooming spots of blood in your perfect pink lungs and you cough it up and your chest hurts. And
still they don’t leave you alone. Nobody else knows you like I do. They don’t know how good you are and how much you care. Look how much you’ve done for people! They’re trying to take a gorgeous golden textured little piece of you for no reason at all, no reason at all. No reason at all. You didn’t do anything wrong.

Why are they chasing for no reason? That doesn’t make any sense! Some people like to deny you the things
you deserve. You were born into this world and you deserve things and that’s what you’re getting, there’s no sense in asking why they want to take it from you. Just keep running whenever you need to, sweets, it’ll stop eventually, because things that don’t make sense don’t keep happening for very long.

Do they?

It’s still happening. You’re being attacked and the blood keeps coming up into your mouth like an iron stake
on your tongue and the bright red makes violent flowers on your perfectly clean tissue. You have to keep
tissues in your pocket now. Sometimes they crawl out of your pocket and are left to the wind while you run.
You don’t have time to pick up after yourself anymore? Ridiculous. You deserve everything! And yet, your
lungs plume up blood and you can’t hold still hardly at all anymore.

You’ve been caught?

The piece was taken from you then, I suppose?

It wasn’t golden, was it?

It was dark, sticky, and inspissated, brown and red and black. You’re disgusted by it. Aren’t you? Has it been
inside of you this whole time?

Of course it has.

You thought you were a hero. And you’ve been chased, had blood and sweat and life and ragged breath given for you, had magic spent on you, because you kept running away. You thought you were being denied your freedom. Now you understand that you can’t ever be free unless the truth is violently rooted out of you so you can see. See yourself as you were before in your bright colors, standing still, unknowing. And see the love and healing that was gifted to you in the chase.

Abby Madden
Class of 2021
Ohio State University College of Medicine


Voices in Humanism

The Whimsical World of Wilbur:
“FAITH is taking the first step, even when
you don’t see the whole staircase.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jody Glaser Sobol
Medical Student Mom
Voices in Humanism Advisor


Voices in Humanism


Mother, I walked into your room
in the geriatric wing, disrupting a scene
between you and the doctor.

The prop was your hospital bed.
He sat on the edge of it, worried that you wouldn’t eat,
spoon-feeding you oatmeal.

The window was solid sun.

You’d had a fall, a head wound,
a minor heart attack, another.

The day before, a nurse washed bloody clumps,
a few strands at a time, from your hair.

Your monitor was a television
broadcasting poorly plotted yet compelling shows.

Technicians hidden in clouds hung haloes
on you, the doctor, the nurse, not me—
only those playing leading roles.

I was an extra with a small speaking part.
“Are you on a diet?” I got to ask.
“Something like that,” you said.

How I laughed at your Vicodin vision
of a dog in the room across the hall
sitting up, reading the newspaper!

Rock-a-bye Baby played on the intercom
with each live birth, counterpoints
to the crescendo of my grief.

Previously published in Literary Imagination

Charlene Fix, Emeritus Professor
Columbus College of Art and Design
Hospital Poets, OSU College of Medicine


Voices in Humanism

“The roses are in three stages, bud (baby), about to bloom (young) and older; just like our lives. We look at a rose and it reminds us that nothing is forever. We hope that message helps us understand the impermanence of life and to practice letting go. Through this understanding, we come to the Buddhist way of encouraging us to live with the now. The beauty of life is before us, to enjoy today, in this simple rose.”

Nongnuch Inpanbutr, DVM, MS, PhD
Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine
Ohio State University
Photographer and Gardner

Voting Wilbur

Voices in Humanism

The Whimsical World of Wilbur:
“Voting Wilbur”

Jody Glasser Sobol
Medical Student Mom

Group Gardening

Voices in Humanism

“Quarantine isolation creates a toll on a medical student’s mental health. Group activities like gardening
together in person (socially distanced) helps to get me through the week and allows me to look forward to
starting clinics in July.”

Phil Anjum
OSU College of Medicine Class of 2022
Photographer, Videographer

Virtual Residency Lecture

Voices in Humanism

Virtual Residency Lecture:
Lectures for residents have also ‘gone virtual’ as shown here with Sophie being the only other lecture attendee.

Jessica Rutsky, MD
PGY-3, Pediatrics, Nationwide Children’s Hospital
2017 College of Medicine Graduate

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