Picture of Arnav AgarwalArnav Agarwal is an Internal Medicine Resident (R1) at the University of Toronto. Check back the last Thursday of each month for a new featured piece as part of his series (Doc Talks: Reflections to Reality)!



No S1Q3T3

on the waveforms of her ECG,

but nobody turned to check

for signs of right heart strain in me.


Alarm beeping cuts through cold silence

only to leave the same void behind on cue;

my mother, ‘the patient’, is fading away,

and I, ‘the bystander’, am too.

One doc in, one doc out,

the same questions, one after another;

the answers leaving more questions behind,

making a ‘medical mystery’ out of my mother.


But what about me, I wonder

as I sit on the sidelines alone, mind reeling in stagnancy.

The doc says left heart failure can cause right heart failure,

and now left right out was mine, shaken by the malady.


She had raised me from the womb

and made me the woman I was proud to be.

Now I sit by her bedside, a lifetime’s weight on my shoulders,

watching her slip away helplessly.


The doc comes in and tells me,

still a medical mystery, no S1Q3T3.

Then he turns away without as much as

a second glance, ever-so callously.


For a moment, I selfishly wish that he had turned once more

to connect eye to tear-soaked eye to let me know I matter,

for there is more than one vulnerable soul here tonight,

and nobody checked for signs of heart strain in the latter.