My Toes are Black

Their toes are blue.

In this clinical, patient-student dance for two.

When they push vascular surgery,

I retort (in my family medicine way) why the hurry!?!

Quit smoking,

quit sitting,

quit blaming,

quit choking–

over your own words… and mine.

As I keep talking, you’ll find

that I am as incomprehensibly

lost in my own mortality,

that I struggle to be the doctor I wish I could be,

then we could have a fruitful discussion of surgery.

Let’s try




Medicine never promised either of us to makes an end or make anew.

Our Maker promised.

He knows, will know, has known

that it took time to step on toes

and time for us to grow.

My toes black,

your toes blue,

I trust that He is making all things new.




Hopeful Notes:

Thanks for reading my frustrations regarding today’s surgery clinic. My last ever rotation of medical school is a general/vascular surgery rotation. I am having a blast. I am also struggling with the inadequacy of medicine to meet deep human needs and my own inability to juggle humans/EMR/time schedules and all the finer points of practicing efficient medicine within 15 minute slots.

This rotation has also highlighted what I call “atrophy of clinical compassion” common to the last two years of medical school. Maybe I exaggerate yet feel the weight! When people don’t respond how I wish, I often take it personally. When people continue to respond unfavorably, I often begin to blame them. Burnout is when you can no longer tell the difference. Left to my own devices, my compassion would be next to nil.

Thank God, people are not multiple choice tests. To be wrong does not mean either party failed.

Also, thank God for His constant compassion and mercy to me as I bumble through my rotation and life in general. Jesus did not look at my non-compliance and discharge me from his practice. No. Christ  gave up his own life in exchange for my infirmities and conquered death. He died a thousand deaths and arose, that I might not die if I believe that He is the Son of God and He, not medicine or science or myself, holds the key to all of life’s mysteries. He is life!

Romans 5


  1. Keep going!! Surgeons are known for their straightforwardness (no offense if you were planning on being one) and I’m sure in final year (as am I) we are below the bottom of the food chain and take the brunt in some things.
    You’re not alone!

    • Thank you, Artful Healer! I ended up in family medicine (starting intern year now) but very much loved surgery and felt like I found my medical calling while transporting patients and watching surgeries on my down time. We are never alone!


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