I wrote this poem a long time ago. I was thinking about how being a physician and taking care of other people let me avoid my own feelings. Doctors are trained to hide their feelings. When I was an intern, a patient died on my day off. I came back to find the person gone. No one on the team said anything. I was afraid I’d done something wrong. Was it my fault? Finally I screwed up my courage and spoke the the attending physician. “Oh!” he said, “I meant to talk to you about that patient. They had a lethal pulmonary embolus from the clot in their leg. They were appropriately anticoagulated. You did nothing wrong. This happens.”

I think the war is more of the same. Chaos, to avoid feeling. Let’s not do that. Let us grieve as a world. Let us not melt down in a conflagration. That is my prayer.


So familiar

If there’s a mess And chaos
Home that’s home
Busy busy
Run around
Fire fire
Fix it
Now what
Deal with it

No time for feelings

No no

No time

I don’t want chaos
Liar liar

Chaos is so safe

Hero hero
Put out the fire
Catch the baby
Not a hero really

If I stop the chaos
I will have to feel

Maybe it’s ok
To feel a little

I forgive myself
I understand the chaos
I can let go of it      by degrees

I feel so vulnerable
In the quiet clean
     safe place
Take your time
sweet self


For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: WAR.


30 thoughts on “Chaos

  1. […] put up a poem that I wrote before 2009 last week. I’d have to look up exactly when I wrote it: either in […]

  2. Lou Carreras says:

    In the medical and nursing professions we all carry around a few individuals who stay with us. I think it’s unavoidable ,and even though it can truly hurt, if we didn’t I don’t think we’d be effective at our calling. I am long gone from my OR days, but still ache for a woman who died following a reduction mammoplasty.

  3. choas in poetry, that’s very good.

    • drkottaway says:

      Thank you. Hmmm, poetry as organized chaos?

      • Seems contradictory but you made it work well.

        • drkottaway says:

          I always like the confusing edges of things. Made me a really good diagnostician because I was all about the weird puzzle pieces that didn’t fit.

          • For sure I think being a doctor is a lot like being a detective isn’t it. I keep trying to put the puzzle of my insomnia together. Its been since november 1st that I cant sleep this time. I tried everything but nothing works. I wonder if its thyroid, lyme disease, or something else undiagnosed this time.

          • drkottaway says:

            Hmmm. I have a sleep essay. Let me update and post it, hopefully in the next couple days. The year my father died I had trouble sleeping, 13 months after my sister died, with an out of date will from my father. I used my own oppositional defiance to sleep. I would listen to John Kabot Zinn’s mindfulness meditation. There was one place he’d say, “This is to fall awake. Do NOT fall asleep.” I would always go to sleep…..

          • I love the idea of falling awake ha!

            I get up at 8Am Sharp I walk easily 10k a day with Lucy dog another 5k on the treadmill at night. I don’t take caffeine and I’m really tired but I can lay with my eyes closed and relaxed all night and never get close to sleeping! it’s like my brain clean forgot how to do it.

          • drkottaway says:

            One of my tricks is to get up and read a certain book. It is a book that a friend gave me. I find it nearly unreadable and confusing. Half a page knocks me out. What is your most boring thing you can imagine reading? Heh, insurance contracts rank up there too, cept they make me mad because I don’t understand attorney speak.

          • Wow amazing that got published! its a good trick I will get a book on politics that’s sure to work.

          • drkottaway says:

            The sleep specialists do say not to read it in bed. They say get up. And no screens in bed ever. I plug my phone in in the bathroom where I can hear it but no light pollution.

          • Makes sense to have bed only for sleeping. I switch of everything by 10PM and just read paperbacks in bed by dim light until I feel I should try to sleep.

        • drkottaway says:

          I had one new patient who had ONE SYMPTOM that didn’t fit with the usual back pain. On the second visit that symptom diagnosed multiple sclerosis.

          • Oh wow, thats was an awful ending for the patient. Shows that every symptom needs noting down so you can find the odd one that’ll lead to true diagnosis.

          • drkottaway says:

            She had chronic back pain AND multiple sclerosis. Rather sucked. At lease we figured it out.

          • Thats miserable isn’t it, poot thing. At least you were able to provide the right meds to ease things a bit once you solved the mystery.

          • drkottaway says:

            Oh, no, off to the MS specialist in the city two hours away. Above my skill level.

          • Thats wise always best to have a specialist on the case.

          • drkottaway says:

            Rare diagnoses should see the specialist at least every two years because the medicine CHANGES and in Family Practice I get to try to keep up with ALL OF THE SPECIALTIES. And rural is even more fun, because some patients respond with horror when I try to send them to a city. “I don’t go to Seattle.” So before Covid-19 it would be me bugging the specialist for how to manage someone who would not go see them. Eeeeeeee…..

          • I get that I live in a little village. The thought of venturing to the city can be daunting. Must be a headache at times trying to get people to go to the help they need.

          • drkottaway says:

            Some don’t and won’t, sigh. Addiction of all sorts being the worst.

          • In those can you can only offer as handcuffing and dragging isn’t legal unfortunately.

          • drkottaway says:

            Well, the hypertension folks some times do not take their medicine either. Isn’t it interesting to be paid to give advice that people won’t follow?

          • For sure, you tell them what’s wrong and what they must do and then they don’t and come back because they don’t feel better. Even being paid that must be frustrating!

          • drkottaway says:

            Well, in my first job a neighbor came to see me. She said that she didn’t have much respect for Family Practice but that her asthma was flaring. She came back the next day no better. “You are mad at me,” she said. I laughed, “Nope. You didn’t do anything I said. You aren’t better. You could drive 250 miles to your pulmonologist in Denver or you could try what I told you. Up to you, I am not taking what you do personally.” She decided to try my recommendations which worked. I thought it was funny.

          • Haha! Lesson learned – if you ask the good doctor advice – take what she tells you and do it.

          • drkottaway says:

            Yeah, but I don’t even follow my OWN advice… None of us do, do we?

          • No I don’t think we do.

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